Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Update

Hello all, thanks for taking the time to read this.

I just wanted to post an update about the challenge, and also explain a little bit about the situation I'm in now. Since the start of the year, we have walked 470 miles (excluding holidays and illnesses) and have raised £1157 for Tommy's baby charity! It's been a really eye-opening experience and has been difficult at times, especially in the wind and rain, but the support we've received and the money that's been raised has made it all worthwhile.

As you may/may not have noticed, I've been significantly quieter on Twitter and on this blog than I used to be. As I explained a little while ago, promoting the challenge was taking up a lot of my time and was beginning to encroach on my studies, so I had to cut back on the amount of time I was spending on it! I've still been reading all your messages of support, and it's been lovely to know you're still thinking of us.

Recently, things have been a bit difficult and I've developed some health issues that I hope to overcome, but which have affected the things that I can do on a daily basis. I'm currently seeking help so that I can put these issues to bed, but until that's happened, I've realised that I need to try and alleviate some of the pressure so that I can rebuild my coping mechanism. I've thought long and hard about this, and it isn't a decision that I've taken lightly at all. While I don't want to end the challenge altogether, I don't feel able to continue at the pace at which I started it.


UPDATE - Following the publication of this blog post, I've been approached by the lovely Kylie from Not Even A Bag of Sugar, who has very kindly offered to pick up where I've left off and continue the 1000 Miles Mummy challenge. Kylie's son Joseph was born prematurely at 27 weeks, and she has since become a prominent figure in the premmie community, and is a staunch supporter of Tommy's. Kylie will be posting her own updates from this blog and also on the Twitter page. I'm sure you'll all show her the same support that you've given me over the past months! 

For obvious reasons, I don't want to go into too much detail about the changes to my situation, but as I said before, this isn't a decision that I've taken lightly, and I've held off for months now as it's really not something that I want to do. I do hope that you'll all understand - the money that you've donated has gone directly to Tommy's and is being used right now to help save the lives of unborn babies - none of that has changed. 

I'm sorry to have to do this. Thank you all again for your support and kindness, you've been brilliant.

Heather x

Thursday, 1 March 2012

183 miles!

So sorry I've been quiet recently - my degree course is requiring a lot more concentration and time than it has done before, so while I'm still finding the time to walk, I'm struggling to find time to update my blog and post on Twitter. I've decided that my blog posts will now only be weekly as I simply don't have enough time to write them daily, and don't want to end up churning out a load of rubbish in order to do so. I'll also be quiet on Twitter, which is a real shame as we've had so much support and sponsorship from people on there. If anybody is willing to volunteer themselves to help raise awareness and support for our challenge on Twitter, then that would be greatly appreciated.

In other news, I've had an email to say we'll be featured in Take a Break in the letters section, it'll be the 22nd March! Hopefully that'll give the campaign a bit of a boost!

Thank you, please do keep donating, it really is important - www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy x

Friday, 24 February 2012

165 Miles!

Firstly I must apologise for having been absent the last few days - due to illness and the mounting pressure of an essay deadline, I've found it difficult to sit down and write my blog. However, the walking has continued and I'm now at 165 miles! Tuesday was a bad day as I'd set aside 6 hours to study and then planned to walk to the childminder's house to collect Lola, but by 4pm I felt awful and had to lie on the sofa with my eyes shut! So unfortunately I was unable to walk that day, but thankfully I'd already done some extra miles through the journey I've walked to Lola's creche, so I've been able to borrow from my bank of spare miles in order to make up for it.

I was feeling much better on Wednesday, and my friend joined me on Thursday for our walk around the Marine Lake. There's a couple of photos below, it was a lovely day although getting the whole way round the lake was a bit difficult with the pram once the concrete path turned into a sand dirt track!





Yesterday's walk was lovely too - we went to the park to feed the ducks and then played on the swings and the slide. Lola walked the whole way around the park and loved getting really close to the birds and roaring at the dragon carving!

Remember you can donate at any time - www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you!
x

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Saralouise & Tobias' Story

Last year (2011), me and my partner were expecting our first born child, unplanned and as much of a shock he was, we loved him from the very first moment we saw him. As months went by, every movement, every kick, every hiccup we felt, until our sudden bundle of joy had stopped wriggling.


I was 33.5 weeks , so not to long to go... I said to my partner "I'm a little worried, I want to just nip to hospital and have a check". Obviously he thought I was over reacting but non the less we went. We thought we would be in and out, we never in our wildest dreams imagined we would be staring at a screen whilst the nurse tells us our son has passed away. I had never felt pain like I had felt then.


6 months have only passed and it's still quite raw as you can imagine, I no longer feel pain, I feel lost, empty, like a part of me is missing. I think I will always feel like that. Our baby tobias is the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me and his father, and he will never be forgotten. Just wish things were different.


I'm writing this because I'm not the first and certainly won't be the last person to experience this heart wrenching loss but if people were more aware they can keep an eye on their babies movements, listen to your midwife read the books and count the kicks, I was never given this advice or books or I may of found out sooner.

Monday, 20 February 2012

£1000 and beyond

I can now proudly say that we have raised over £1000 in just 50 days. Thank you to each and every one of you for making this possible and for the tremendous support you've shown throughout our fundraising. I never imagined that we'd raise this much money, let alone that we'd raise it in the first two months! So thank you!

I realise that I've not really told you very much about myself, and given that we now have lots of new supporters on Twitter, I thought it might be nice to explain a little more about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. In 2010, I gave birth to my beautiful little Lola, weighing a perfect 8lb 8oz and encapsulating all my hopes and dreams for the future. I was a frequent user of a baby forum throughout my pregnancy and I loved reading the journals of other mums-to-be on the same journey as me. During my pregnancy, I shut myself off from any mention of stillbirth or prematurity or pregnancy complications as the thought of it, naturally, terrified me. I think this is a perfectly normal reaction - the vast majority of pregnant ladies don't want to hear about stillbirth. What troubles me now is that learning about the causes of stillbirth and prematurity can greatly help in preventing these tragedies from occurring.

When my little girl was a few months old, I stumbled upon one of the journals of the mums I'd been following on the baby forum. I'd only dipped into a few of her journals during my pregnancy, but I couldn't believe what I discovered that day. Her baby, due in the Winter of 2009, had been born still - 3 days before her scheduled C-Section. Chloe's Mum, Sophia, launched herself into a campaign to raise awareness of what she believed could have saved her daughter - Count the Kicks. I contacted Sophia and offered my help and quickly became heavily involved with the campaign, which is now a registered charity. I ran auctions on Facebook to raise money for Count the Kicks, and also arranged a Sponsored Sing-a-long at my local children's centre. All of these simple yet affective schemes helped to raise over £6000 for the campaign. Count the Kicks are succeeding in breaking down the taboo surrounding stillbirth, you can follow their work here: www.countthekicks.org.uk

In Autumn of 2011, I resigned from Count the Kicks to concentrate on my next venture - my degree. I started studying for my History degree with the OU in October, and this soon came to consume the vast majority of my time and energy. Towards the end of the year, however, I began to miss fundraising, and decided that I would do something in 2012 to continue making a difference. That's when, on New Years Eve, I hatched my 1000 Miles Mummy challenge - and now here we are!

The most important point I want to stress through all of this work is that stillbirth needs to be talked about. It is much more common than most people think. Around 6500 babies are born still every year in the UK and yet there is a massive lack of readily available, consistent information for expectant mums on what they can do to spot the early signs of a problem. Don't get me wrong - it's not always preventable. But sometimes, it is. In contrast, around 300 babies die from cot death each year in the UK, and there is so much advice given about this to expectant mums. So why is this different? Why are we led to believe that stillbirth is such a rarity when, in actual fact, it is 21 times more common than cot death - a subject that is openly spoken about in antenatal classes and midwife appointments.

I just want to make a difference. The work that Tommy's do to help protect tiny lives is amazing. They need your support and help in order to continue this vital research and to raise the profile of stillbirth and prematurity in the UK. The £1000 we've raised so far will go towards helping Tommy's open a fourth research centre, focusing on early pregnancy loss.

Thank you so much, once again, for all your help.
www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
x

Sunday, 19 February 2012

153 miles!

Well firstly I must apologise for not writing my blog yesterday! I totally forgot, I was so busy yesterday and needed to knuckle down with some uni work that it completely slipped my mind. Yesterday was 150 miles day! So that felt like a lovely achievement - we're now 15% of the way there, still a long way to go but already so close to £1000! Just £71 left to be raised! One of my Twitter followers, Craig Lawrie, has very kindly agreed to donate the last £30 provided that we raise the remaining £31 ourselves. So all we're waiting for now is for you lovely people to give whatever you can in order to get that extra £31 in the pot, and then it's over to Craig to take us to the £1000 mark! I'd absolutely love to do this today, it's totally achievable and with a little bit of help from you, we'll get there.

Please give whatever you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy or you can text MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070!

Thank you! x

Friday, 17 February 2012

147 Miles!

Sometimes, people ask me how I keep motivated to walk 3 miles every single day. The answer is simple. 17 families experience stillbirth every single day. That's 17 heartbreaks, 17 crushed dreams, every single day. And that's just in the UK. For them, there is no relief from that pain. There's no option to take a day off from the pain, or cut the pain short. They have to ride that journey every day for the rest of their lives. Walking 3 miles a day is no sacrifice at all in comparison with this. Whenever I wake up and dread my walk, I remind myself of why I'm doing it, and why it's so important.

We're just £12 away from raising £900 now. We're drawing ever closer to £1000 and I just can't wait to hit it! Please donate anything you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy or text MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070!
x

Thursday, 16 February 2012

144 miles!

We've raced across the 140 miles mark now and heading towards 150 yay! This week has been amazing - can't believe we're only £22 away from hitting £900! So, so close to £1000 now, how exciting! Thanks again for all your support!

I've been locked in battle with an essay most of the day and so only started my walk at about 3:45pm. It was wet and miserable but I sheltered at my Mum's half way through before walking the rest of the way back. Noticed today that I've been struggling to take a deep breath while I'm walking - my chest feels quite tight. I'm okay and can still breathe, don't feel light-headed etc but it's something for me to keep an eye on!

Thank you for pushing me and raising awareness, we're getting there!

Please donate to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy or TEXT MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070!

x

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Hannah & Calvin's story

I never even thought I wanted children. Until I hit 30.  Then it hit me like a train, a huge overwhelming urge, that started with a flippant comment by my (now) husband in Asda.  We agreed we wouldn't ever become the couple that used ovulation kits and charts.  We'd just lose the protection and hope for the best.  Initially, it took a year to get pregnant, and when I had my first scan, they told me they thought I was carrying 5 babies.  I nearly died with fright.  As it happens, there were 6 babies, but I sadly miscarried at 11 weeks. They told me at the first scan they weren't that hopeful as there were so many of them, but although I quietly hoped, they were right and they lost their heart beats.

We took a little time out, terrified it might happen again.  A doctor told me that this could be something I just do...maybe one month I release no eggs, the next month 6.  That this could have been why it took me a long time to conceive.

I eventually realised that the need to become a mother, outweighed my fear of having a multiple birth, even a multiple miscarriage.  So we tried again.  This time I got pregnant within about six months.  I spent the first 14 weeks or so switching from terrified to horrendous morning sickness, literally hugging the toilet between 10 and 12 times per day.  I eventually got signed off work for 4 weeks, as doctors were worried I might become dehydrated.  Thankfully, I was only carrying 1 baby, and after the 14 week period, everything became calm again, the whole pregnancy was pretty easy and calm, and the only crazy aspect was my ridiculous craving for Elton John music.  All the time, from first thing in the morning, listening to him all day in work, right up until bedtime...I was never even a particular fan of his prior to this pregnancy...but ridiculously, I couldn't get enough of him.

At the end of the pregnancy, I was huge, and shattered pretty much all of the time.  I left work at the end of my 36th week and had a month of peace. Sleeping, walking my dogs, eating fruit, and preparing my nest.

I ended up going 8 days over when I finally started contractions. It was 15 May 2010, early afternoon.  I was so excited, as was my fiance (now husband), Paulo.  I knew it was early on, but I was having light contractions around every 7 minutes.  That evening, I called the hospital.  They told me if possible to wait till they were about every 4 minutes.  I told them I would do my best.

Although the contractions weren't incredibly painful, they kept me awake all night.  The following morning, 16 May 2010, I called the hospital again and said the contractions weren't regular, but were coming between every 4 and 7 minutes.  They told me to come in to be checked.  When I was checked by the midwife, she said it was very early labour, but I was only 1cm dilated, and that especially the first baby, it can be very slow.  They sent me home.

Around 6pm, the contractions were about every 4-5 minutes, but still inconsistent.  I called the hospital again, and they invited me back.  After checking me out, they said I was still only 1cm dilated and sent me home again.

That night, although still inconsistent, they got a lot more painful.  I think partly due to the lack of sleep from the night before, I got a bit tearful and worried I wouldn't have the energy to actually give birth when baby decided to make an entrance.  At 2am on 17 May 2010, my fiance told me to call the hospital again.  He was worried and didn't know what to do.  Again I was asked back.  When they told me I was still only 1cm dilated, I burst into tears and told them my fears.  This was now my second night without sleep.

Because it was late, and because I was upset, they said to me, why didn't I stay there overnight.  They told me I wasn't being admitted, but that it might make me calmer to feel like I was at least in the right place.  In my hospital bed, I tried to stay quiet, to give my fiance at least a little sleep, as it would also be a long day ahead for him too, but at 6am, with no sleep once again, I pressed the buzzer for the midwife.  I was desperate not to be seen as an hysterical first time mother, but the pain was hugely magnified by the lack of sleep.  She offered me paracetamol, and I told her they did nothing.   She said she'd speak to a doctor.

She came back, and said more than anything, due to the lack of sleep, they would give me pethadine.  If I wanted it.  She said it wasn't normally given under my circumstances, but due to the lack of sleep, it would probably just help me rest for an hour or 2.  So I agreed.  Maybe too easily.

I woke up at 7.30am, just as a midwife came in.  She told me I would shortly be examined, to see whether I had progressed during the night.  If I had, then I could stay.  If I hadn't, then I would have to go home again.  She went to get her examining implements.  My heartbeat and blood pressure were fine.  She just had to check my baby's heart beat.  Calvin.  That was his name.  Calvin.

She couldn't find it, but said it was perfectly natural, he had probably turned and in a funny angle.  She got a different piece of equipment. Tried again.  Still couldn't find it.  Got the senior midwife in.  She couldn't find it either.  With either piece of equipment.  They each tried to reassure me that everything was still fine, and I refused to think about the unthinkable.  They said the easiest way forward, was to just give me a scan...it was accurate, it was clear, there would obviously be a picture for me to look at and reassure myself with. I said ok, and they went to get the mobile scanning machine.

I think I knew my son had died when they came back. They brought a consultant, the head midwife, a whole bunch of other people.  There were 9 of them in my room. Plus my fiance and me. I looked at him, and he gave me his most reassuring look. His look made me scared, I could see the fear in his eyes.  The consultant looked at the scanning machine for a long time. It actually could have been a minute.  It felt like a decade.  I could hear my own heart hammering away in my ears, and then she told me, the consultant I mean, she told me.  She was sorry.  There was no heartbeat. A piece of me died that day. A piece of me that will never recover.

They induced me, to help me get into established labour quicker.   They gave me an epidural, and so much more pethadine, to make it as painless as possible.  Cutting off my head would have been less painful. I gave birth at 12.33am on 18 May 2010.  I pushed so hard to deliver him before the 18 May, as that was my mums birthday.  She had been so excited about Calvin, she had recently retired, and had promised to have him when I returned to work.  It was such a bitter irony to give birth to him on her birthday.  Even when he was born, I felt a strange elation, I had been so looking forward to seeing him.  And when I did, well, he was just beautiful.  Perfect in fact. And I kept looking, just hoping for him to prove the Consultant wrong, that they had made a mistake. I just said, "breathe baby, just one little tiny breath"...and waited.  It obviously didn't happen.

We had our cuddles.  For an hour or so I held him.  Then they took me away.  To a private room.  I'm pretty ashamed to say I slept.  I think my body just shut down.

The next day, I left the hospital.  Went back to my empty home.  It was torture. It's like the sickest joke in the world to be on maternity leave with no baby.

The postmortem revealed nothing.  They had no idea why or how he died.  Possibly pethadine had an effect, but they said it wouldn't kill a healthy baby, only a baby in serious difficulty.  Who knows what happened? It's torture not knowing.

In November 2010, I found I was pregnant again.  It was a horrible pregnancy.  Full of worry, full of stress. Physically, it wasn't a difficult pregancy, but I was going out of my mind with worry.  I was now classed as high risk.  I was called to the hospital regularly for scans.  I was 7 months pregnant when Calvin would have been 1 year old.  My fiance and I wanted to 'celebrate' our boy, our beautiful angel.  I told him I was terrified that 18 May would forever be the saddest day in the world for us.  We wanted to do something, something good, for us, for our beautiful boy, for our families, who had been a tower of support for both of us.

So we got married.  A very, very quiet service.  We told our parents on the day.  And that was it.  We had Calvin's ashes with us when we got married.  And then we had a dinner out for all the family that night.  And told them what we had done.

On July 12 2011, after being induced at 38 weeks, I gave birth to a beautiful son, Daniel, who is now 6 months old.  I adore him, he is perfect and my honeybee.

But I will never forget my firstborn, Calvin, who would have been 2 on 18 May 2012.  Daniel cannot fill the void I have from Calvin. It is indescribable the pain, even now, nearly 2 years on.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

138 miles!

Phew, almost at 140 miles now! I've got two essays to write before the 2nd March so I'm feeling a bit up against it, so sadly won't be around as much tonight as I'd like to be, but as always I'm aiming for another £13 to be donated today so that we can stay on track for reaching £1000 by the end of the month!

Today's walk was good, I had to rush a bit this morning in order to get to creche on time, but I had quite a relaxing walk back. I even mowed the lawn for the first time this year straight after I got in - I was feeling inspired!

Hoping some of that inspiration rubs off on me when I'm writing my essay tonight...!

Please continue to donate - we're only £170 away from hitting the big £1000 and I just KNOW it's achievable before the end of Feb, we've just got to keep pushing. Please help me! www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks so much!
x

Monday, 13 February 2012

135 miles!

Just got back from walking my 135th mile! My sciatica kicked in on the way back though which meant I could hardly put any pressure on my right leg at all. Very painful, not had it much since pregnancy but occasionally it rears its ugly head. Hoping it'll die down soon as I definitely don't want to miss any walking!

So the brilliant news from last night is that we hit £800! Well, in fact, £805! I'm absolutely thrilled - that's £100 raised in just two days! Thank you so much! As you know, I'm aiming to smash £1000 by the end of February. Because of how much we've raised over the last couple of days, we now only need to raise £13 each day between now and the end of the month in order to smash our target! Please help in any way you can - no matter how small your donation, it all counts!

www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
TEXT MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070!

Thanks!
x

Sunday, 12 February 2012

132 Miles!

Yay we've crossed over into the 130s now! This weekend has been brilliant for morale, I'm feeling really positive and have a spring in my step knowing how much has been raised! The support has once again been fantastic, and I can't thank you all enough for putting up with me sending numerous tweets/statuses throughout the day! Your donations are now mounting up and we've raised £778! Just £22 away from £800 - it'll be amazing if we hit this tonight!

When I stepped out the door for my walk this afternoon, it definitely felt warmer than it has been recently, so I'm really hoping that it's a sign of things to come! Could do with some nice warm weather so that I'm not having to go out in all my layers and big walking boots! Would much rather a dress and sandals! Roll on Summer!

Once again, you can donate to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy or you can text MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070! Anything you can give, even if it's just a £1, will be brilliant and will take us a step closer to our target.

Thank you so, so much!
x

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Fantastic day!

Wow what a great day we've had! After setting a challenge this morning of raising £10 today, we've ended up raising £45 which means we're now at £750! Not only that, but I promised that I'd walk an extra mile if we hit £750 before 3pm, and that's exactly what happened! I'm so, so pleased - the response today has been great! But I'm not one to rest on my laurels (sadly!) and I've now set myself the task of raising an extra £250 before the end of February! That's about £15 a day from now until the end of the month! This is achievable - today has proven that. But it's going to take a lot of work and support - I need everyone to help and rally round with raising awareness of the challenge so that we can get the most money raised as quickly as possible!

Really looking forward to seeing what happens - wouldn't it be amazing to say that we raised £1000 in our first two months?! I really hope to be in a position to say this on 1st March, and more importantly, think of what £1000 can do for Tommy's and their research! I received a letter from them today explaining that they'd love to open a fourth research centre, specialising in early miscarriage. I hope to be able to play a part in making this dream a reality - please help me!

DONATE:
Online - www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
Text - MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070
In Person - give me the cash and I'll donate it via Just Giving

Thank you!
x

Friday, 10 February 2012

125 Miles!

Well I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do my walk today. I woke up and had a really bad shooting pain right up the left side of my back. It hurt even to sit down and I couldn't lift Lola out of her cot this morning, I just had to let her hold onto my shoulder and then quickly swung round so that she made it over the railing! I took some ibuprofen and sat with a hot water bottle on it for an hour or so which definitely eased the pain, so I was able to go for my walk a few hours later. Cold again!

Please please keep sponsoring me - www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thursday, 9 February 2012

122 miles!

As I'm sure you can imagine, the weather this week has been less than inspiring! The worst thing is the slipperiness (if that's even a word!). I stopped off at the shop today and there's a big tiled area outside it, and I was literally skidding all over the place. If I didn't have the pram to hold onto, I'm sure I would've fallen over at least once! Just can't wait for the weather to get a little bit warmer so that it's not so miserable all the time!

My little girl has started going to creche three days a week, so I've been walking there, which is a 4 mile-round walk. I've only been adding 3 miles to my total each time though as I'm now starting to 'bank' miles in preparation for a few days in March and April where I won't be able to do the full 3 miles (hen do, cousin's wedding) I'll keep you all updated about this - if I ever miss a day's walking, I promise to make the miles up.

I'm hoping to raise £750 by this time next week so I really need your help to get the word out. Please keep telling your friends and encourage everyone to sponsor me! Ideally I'd love to at least be sponsored a £1 per mile, currently it's 70p (for the 1000 miles, anyway)

The link to donate is www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks!
x

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

David Fazollah Upeska Ashwell

The Brief and Beautiful life of David Fazollah Upeksa Ashwell: having a baby with an undiagnosed rare condition.

As you begin to read this, it is worth noting that this is rare; this is unlikely to happen to you – but it happened to us and we have a story to tell. 

On the 4th of March 2012 our son David should be one year.  I say should have been, because at 15 days old, after 13 days of his short life spent in PICU units at the Freeman Hospital Newcastle and The James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, David died in my arms. 

At 1518 on Friday 4th March after an unremarkable delivery and a very easy pregnancy David Fazollah Upeksa Ashwell was born.  A beautiful boy weighing 3.6kg or 7lb 14oz with lots of dark hair and the softest skin imaginable came into our world and we were overwhelmed with love and emotion.  I was rather exhausted after over 11 hours of labour but every second was worth it for the stunning boy that appeared.  I held David in my arms through the corridors and was met with admiring glances at our beautiful son.  I was so proud of my gorgeous little man, and was so looking forward to showing him off to the world.  Little did I know then, how our days were numbered and how much I would treasure that feeling of holding him in my arms.

To cut a long, and very difficult, story short David became ill on his second night, first night at home.  Over the next 10 days or so, David would show signs of improvement followed by great dips of deterioration.  On the 13th day of his life, David went to theatre to have a lung biopsy.  After two weeks of watching David being poked, prodded and attached to machines that made loud noises, this was yet another traumatic day.  But the worse was still to come.  On the 14th day of his life we were given the results of the lung biopsy.  David had Alveolar Capillary Dysplasia (ACD) a rare and fatal lung condition.  There is no cure, there is no treatment; it was time to turn the machines with all their incessant beeping off.  All our immediate family came back to Newcastle to say goodbye to the little baby who was going to be with us so briefly.

While we only had two short days while David was in good health, the following 2 weeks were the most difficult of our lives and, at the same time, the most consciously precious.  It frequently felt like being trapped in a nightmare from which we couldn’t wake and we pinched ourselves on a number of occasions. We had a number of highly fraught journeys up and down the A19 in the middle of the night, phone calls which brought only bad news and sleep was something which we caught in snatches on hospital waiting room chairs. 
However amongst the nightmare were some precious moments. The cuddles with David on PICU and the brief moments when he opened his eyes and looked straight into ours, when he gripped our fingers tightly. These moments made all of the waiting, uncertainty, and sitting on PICU worthwhile and provided us with some hope.

ACD is extremely rare, only 200 reported cases worldwide, so many basic questions need to be answered about this condition.  More research is required to try to answer parent’s questions, like will this happen again?  Simon and I have focused much of our energy into running The David Ashwell Foundation, which fundraises for ACD research.  We have a number of fundraisers including Simon and colleagues from James Cook cycling coast-to-coast in one day.  There is more information about the foundation and the fundraisers here: www.virginmoneygiving.com/char ities/davidashwellfoundation

While this is unlikely to happen to you, I think it is important to remember that infant death could affect someone you know or even someone you went to antenatal class with.  When it does, unfortunately, happen the parents-to-be will have just had the most huge disappointment of their life.  This is a particular kind of grief and a unique form of grieving; they are grieving a future with the child that never came home.  Everyone handles grief differently, but please don’t forget these parents, please include them.  They can say no, but it hurts more being excluded.  Being with young infants or pregnant women may be painful for them, however they simply want their own child and are not jealous or craving to have yours.  Don’t ignore them; don’t ignore the fact that they had a baby.  Try to show sympathy without crying every time you see them.  Being immersed in grief and having people talk to you with tear filled eyes doesn’t necessarily help, but then neither does ignoring the fact.  It’s a fine balance and it’s better to be up-front with them and ask ‘would you like me to talk about [baby’s name]?’  Most important, in our opinion, is to talk to them about that precious infant, because acknowledgment of that life, however brief is most precious. 

On a personal level, I miss so many things.  Mainly I miss my beautiful little boy and my chance to be his mother, but there are other small things.  Hardly anyone has asked me about the delivery after weeks and months of preparing for that event, it got overtaken by a somewhat larger event.  I don’t see or have any contact from any of my antenatal friends, I’d love to know how they are getting on, how their babies are...
Simon and I are almost 12 months down the line from losing our precious son.  Time doesn’t heal, you just get better adapted to living with your loss. Some of the most supportive people locally have been friends whose son is 3 weeks older than David and who we see regularly. Huge amounts of support have been found with the small group of international and UK ACD parents.  Our common shared experience unites us across all kinds of cultural even language barriers.  We have found comfort in turning our grief into energy to fundraise for a condition which is so rare and where so little is known.  Research will only happen if the group of parents worldwide fundraise. 

If we could capture and save the happiness, joy and contentment that we felt in the first few minutes, hours and days following David’s birth we would be smiling for the rest of our lives.  However events have turned out somewhat differently. My son is known to the wonderful nurses and medics on the wards at Freeman and James Cook, however to those who ask I am more than happy to share the beautiful and the heart wrenching story of our son’s short life.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

116 miles!

Just got back from what was probably one of the most challenging walks so far. I set off quite early as I was taking Lola to the creche - I had half an hour to walk there so was really pounding the streets. The problem was that the ground frost was making it really difficult to get a firm grip on the pavement, so I was wasting energy on trying to keep my balance! Very tiring. Once I got home, I felt quite ill as I'd just exerted myself so much. Hoping to set off earlier tomorrow to give myself more time to walk so that I hopefully won't burn out as quickly!

So thrilled that I managed to hit the £700 mark last night, please do keep donating! I've love to reach the big £1000 in the next few weeks but that'll require your help and support. Please give anything you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks!
x

Monday, 6 February 2012

113 miles done!

My legs are really starting to hurt this week - I don't know if I've been walking faster or whether it's just because it's been cold and my muscles are seizing up, but every night this week I've been waking in the night with pains! Hoping it'll pass and that I'll be able to stretch the pain out eventually.

I've now raised £700 yay! Really pleased, that's now 70p per mile. Still need to raise more money though, aiming to get at least £1000 now so fingers crossed I'll be able to hit that over the next few weeks.

The blogs have been shorter this week as I'm studying all evening at the moment, so I apologise for being quiet, but as always your support really does mean so much and it's great to see the fundraising total going up and up! It really does give me a big boost of motivation before each walk

Thanks again, please keep giving!
www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Sunday, 5 February 2012

110 miles!

Sorry for the late blog, I've been studying all evening and decided to treat myself with a bit of TOWIE before settling down to write this. Today's walk was pretty uneventful, although it was the first time this year that I've not had to wear a coat for the whole walk! It was pretty mild this afternoon despite there being snow in most of the country. Southport seems to have avoided it so far, hoping it stays that way! 110 miles now completed and I'm really hoping to get some more donations in so we can hit £700! Please keep donating, it really does make a difference x

www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

No snow...yet!

I left for my walk nice and early this morning as I was desperate not to get caught in the snow - it was absolutely freezing. At one point, I wasn't sure I'd be able to continue, more for Lola's sake than anything, but I wrapped a few more layers round her and put the rain cover on the pram and she soon warmed up. I tried walking really fast just to warm myself up, which worked in the end, luckily! The wind didn't help either as it just sent chills through the gaps in my clothes - brrr!

There was only a slight bit of sleet this morning and there's been no snow since so far, it's been raining quite heavily all evening so I'm hoping that it'll be too wet for the snow to stick. Although I'm still a bit concerned about the amount of ice that could be around tomorrow, will just have to tread carefully and try not to slip over!

I've raised £640 now - so, so pleased! It keeps creeping up which is lovely to see!

I went into the big Tesco Extra today and was shocked to see that almost the entire newspaper stand was taken up by my face!! See below:



My Mum has been showing the article to all her friends as well, bless her!

Thanks again for all your support, 107 miles done now yippee! x

Friday, 3 February 2012

104 miles

I'm well and truly into triple figures now which is really exciting, if not slightly daunting! The response from yesterday's newspaper article has been lovely in terms of support, lots of people have seen it and got in touch, and I'm hoping there'll also be some more donations to follow. My Mum has just collected some donations tonight from her friends so I'll add those to the total once I've got them. I'm really, really pleased with the progress that we're making in terms of fundraising, hopefully it won't be too long before we hit the big £1000 mark!

I'm at a university tutorial tomorrow but I'm hoping to walk beforehand so that I can (fingers crossed!) avoid the snowfall that's forecast. It wouldn't be a problem except for the fact that prams are very difficult to push through snow, so I'm hoping that whatever does fall, doesn't stick, and if it does, then I hope it's disappeared by Sunday so that I can continue walking! I don't want to lose my momentum by missing a day due to bad weather, so I'm really hoping it doesn't get too bad!

I've now raised £635 - you can donate here: www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you!
x

Thursday, 2 February 2012

100 miles done & in the paper!

Wow, what a day this has turned out to be! I found out last night that my piece for the local paper would be featured on the front page, so needless to say I felt like a bit of a geek this morning buying it in Tesco with my face splattered on the cover! The checkout lady said she'd recognised me when she saw the paper this morning!

You can view the article online here: http://www.southportvisiter.co.uk/southport-news/southport-southport-news/2012/02/02/southport-mum-and-22-month-old-daughter-walk-1-000-miles-for-children-s-charity-tommy-101022-30245995/

The photos from the article are below!



















I've also just walked my 100th mile - can't believe how quickly it seems to have gone so far! Although my legs were definitely aching this morning!

£620 has been raised so far which is just brilliant, please keep giving, the next big target is £1000 which will be amazing to hit! You can donate at www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy or by texting MAMA50 followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070 - texts are free so it'll only cost you the amount you donate!

Thank you so much! x

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Ella's Story

Ella Gilvarry - Born sleeping 12.11.10

My daughter Ella was born sleeping on the 12.11.10 at 2.57pm in Liverpool Womans Hospital My wife had a normal birth and Ella was as beautiful as her 3 sisters in every way but one! She never had the chance to laugh, cry, smile and show the world her beauty. WHY!

We knew we had lost Ella before she was born, we had been told at a routine midwife appointment 2 days previous. She was 39 week term when she died. My wife is a fit, healthy young mother and we never had any signs throughout the pregnancy of any issues. To walk into a maternity ward hand in hand knowing we would have nothing at the end of it was horrendous. No need for a car seat, a bag of clothes for a few days. Just a life of lost dreams. We were given a private room and my wife was induced, we sat patiently...The cries of new born babies everywhere, this was unbearable. After Ella was born, I cut her cord, as I had for her 3 sisters, I told my wife how she looked just like them, I broke down. At that moment my attention turned directly to my wife. My job was to protect her, support her, love her. The midwives did what they could but no words will cover these moments. In hindsight I should have asked so much more, maybe I was afraid of the answers. WHY!

We spent most of the day with Ella, we held her, kissed her and remarked how beautiful she was. We decided to allow her sisters to come to see her, they were 5, 3 and 18 months. We felt it was important that they knew Ella was born, knew what she looked like and understand that she was too special for this world. Ella existed and shouldn't be hidden away. It was lovely to see them stroke her and kiss her goodbye, I'm happy we did this.

The days after were filled with pain, pity and anger. I tried to create a bubble around my family, it's my job to protect them, we shut the world out. Ella's funeral was a very private event and I'm comfortable with how we dealt with it. I was hoping to carry her basket on my own but couldn't manage it. My dad who walks with a stick, helped me, I'm proud and grateful for that. The support and love we received truly changed my life. After 3/4 months of utter self pity we decided to try and make a difference. We decided that as Ella never had a chance, we would use her spirit to make a mark on this world. Before we lost Ella, I know nothing about stillbirth, knew no one that had lost (although I'm sure they were in my life) On researching this, I was shocked and horrified with the results that came back.4000 babies a year, average of 11 a day WHY!

How could we live in a country as advanced as ours, where 11 babies a day die and 30% of them are unknown deaths (4) I'm a practical sort of man and I couldn't understand that 4 babies deaths everyday are unexplained and we not only know nothing  about it, we are also doing very little about it. WHY!

We set up a fundraising foundation in Feb 2011 in memory of Ella. Our aim was to gather like minded people to raise awareness of stillbirth and also help sick children’s charities. We just wanted to make a difference and breakdown the taboo to stillbirth. People get shocked at how openly we talk about Ella and stillbirth, it's not a dirty word. Ella is my daughter, just like her sisters and I love her and will talk about until my last breath. In August 2011 we organised a charity team to take part in a 5km fun run in Liverpool for Tommys baby charity. We had 44 Team Ella runners from all over the UK and Ireland and we raised in excess of £8000 for Tommys. For us, this was immense and was a fitting day for Ella. It was the opposite to her sad private funeral. All our closest and dearest friends and family came, we had a marquee and food with happy smiling people everywhere. It was a celebration of her spirit. Ella never lived, but while we do what we can to raise awareness to stillbirth...She will never really die. In 2011 we raised £17,000 for stillbirth and childrens charities, this is how I've come to know Heather and the fantastic work she is doing. We aim to work harder in 2012 and do more, thats all we can do. I've realised in life now, that I can make a difference, I can help, charity is very important. WHY!

Because we can make a difference x

Ella's Dad

Follow us on Facebook - Team Ella
Twitter - @teamella1
Web - www.teamella.co.uk

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Sprinkle of Snow

As the title suggests, there was a sprinkling of snow during my walk today. Normally I'm so hot during my walk that I take off most of the layers that I pile on before leaving the house, but today they stayed firmly on!

Cannot believe I've walked 95 miles! Thursday will be the 100 mile day, which is so exciting, can't believe it's here already!

Thanks again to you all for your support. I really am blown away by your generosity - your donations are so, so important to Tommy's and they really will help their fabulous work to continue.

Hoping to pass the £600 mark by this time next week, so let's get February off to a flying start with some more donations! Every little helps, dontcha know!

www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
x

Monday, 30 January 2012

92 miles!

Yay the 90 mile mark has now been crossed and I'm well on the way to celebrating my first 100! Today's walk was pretty cold, as you can imagine judging by the weather forecasts, but it was sunny and surprisingly refreshing. We stopped off for lunch at the local pub before going for a walk around the park. I love weather like this, where the ground shimmers and the light catches every glimmering leaf and twinkle of an icicle! Beautiful.

Often when I'm on my walks, I find it gives me a great opportunity to really clear my head and organise my thoughts. I'm studying for a history degree and I really value the peace that I get during my walks as it allows me to really think through my answers. Similarly, my mind often drifts to the families who have suffered terrible losses, the ones who inspire my fundraising each day and really keep everything in perspective.

On beautiful days like today, when walking past the play area in the park, it's hard not to think about the children who will never play on a swing, or feed the ducks, or see the twinkle of an icicle. There are so many people affected by infant loss, I try to remind myself often of just how lucky I am to have this life - it could've so easily been so different.

I'd love to raise £550 by the end of January (end of tomorrow!) - only £25 to go!
Please give anything you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you!
x

Sunday, 29 January 2012

£500 and beyond!

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I've now raised £515 - can't believe how generous everyone has been! When I first started out with this challenge, my aim was to raise £500 by the END of 2012! Who would've thought that I'd have exceeded it before the end of the first month! Fabulous, thank you all so much! Long may it continue!

There are several ways you can donate to my challenge:
- Just Giving - www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
- Text - just send "MAMA50" followed by £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 to 70070 (this is a free text so will only cost you the amount you donate, which will come off your credit/bill)
- If you know me in person, then feel free to give me cash so that I can total it with the rest of the donations

Remember - if you're not in a position to donate a lot, it doesn't matter. Every penny really does count, so anything you can give will put a smile on my face and help to continue the amazing work that Tommy's do.

As ever, I'm looking for people to share their experiences of stillbirth/premature birth or pregnancy complications so that I can continue to raise awareness of Tommy's' fab work on my weekly guest blog. If you'd like to take part, or know someone who would, please email me at heathercook@hotmail.co.uk or comment below.

Finally, thanks again, you're all stars!
89 miles walked wahay!
x

Saturday, 28 January 2012

What a week!

Wow well it's been quite a week - last night I was interviewed by BBC Radio Merseyside about my challenge (video below)



Plus I broke my next target and have now raised £420 which is just fantastic! Thank you to everyone who has donated and supported me this far!

Twitter has been buzzing all day and I've had so many re-tweets, so thank you!

I've now walked 86 miles - can't quite believe it myself as it definitely doesn't feel like I've walked as far as that! That's the equivalent of me walking from where I live in Southport to just beyond the Isle of Mann!

I had a photographer round this morning for my local newspaper so I'll hopefully be featured in there this week, I'll post a link when it's released!

Thanks again for all your brilliant support. If any of you are getting paid over the next couple of days then please do consider sponsoring me, I'd love to reach the £500 mark! Only £80 to go! www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

x

Friday, 27 January 2012

Feeling peaky :(

Urgh well I woke up this morning feeling a bit groggy and unwell, and it's just got worse over the course of the day. Think I caught a chill during yesterday's hail-stoney walk, so today I'm definitely suffering for it! Went on another walk today - the way there was quite dry and refreshing, but it absolutely chucked it down on the way back, and I'm just shattered now! Definitely in need of an early night, just hope it doesn't develop into anything and I can continue my walking this weekend!

I'm seeing a photographer from my local newspaper tomorrow which I'm looking forward to, and I've also been featured on the local news website: http://www.southport.gb.com/southport/news_list/Southport_mum_raising_money_for_Tommy%27s_Baby_Charity-51091514.htm

I'm in the process of contacting lots of media outlets about featuring my challenge so hopefully that'll generate more interest.

I'm just £5 away from the £400 mark now - PLEASE give whatever you can, it'll be a real boost if I can hit this before the weekend is over, and it'll also sound good when I'm interviewed for the local paper! Can I hit £400 before the end of January?! I definitely think so! x www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy 

Thanks! x

Thursday, 26 January 2012

80 Miles!!!

Wow! I can't believe I've walked 80 miles, how exciting!!

Today was probably the most difficult walk so far, and thankfully my friend was with me to take over pushing the pram half way through. It was absolutely chucking it down, and not only that, but it was hail-stoning too, plus there was quite a wind blowing against the pram which made it really difficult to walk. It really was the most unpleasant walk so far, and I'm just hoping that these forecasts of snow don't hit Southport - I don't know how I'll get on with pushing a pram through that!!

I've been contacted by my local newspaper about the challenge being featured (hopefully) next week, which is great! I've got a press release written and ready so if you'd like me to send it to you for your local news then please let me know. I'm aiming to raise some publicity about the challenge so that we can get as much raised as possible!

So far I've raised £385 which I'm really pleased about - pay day is approaching for many now, so if you'll be getting paid in the next couple of days, please do consider giving whatever you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you!
x

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Heidi and Aidan's Story

Becoming MAMA

In May 2009 my life was about to change forever. I was 36 weeks pregnant with my first baby and had everything ready for his arrival. I was a healthy young Mum having a wonderful pregnancy. I developed gestational diabetes as it runs in the family but my sugar levels were very good, being managed by diet alone and all my antenatal appointments had been filled with excitement.  I went to work excited as it was my last day before going on maternity leave and my leaving do was being held that evening. I popped out quickly in the afternoon to see my Midwife for a check up but to her dismay, she couldn’t find my baby’s heartbeat.
Aidan James Eldridge was born still the following lunch time on the 15th May 2009 weighing 5lb 4oz. His death is marked as “unexplained” on the post mortem results but it is thought that my placenta had stopped working. The shock and devastation that followed cannot be described & my life was completely turned upside down.

I had no idea that babies were still dying in the UK, or how common it is. The UK has nearly the highest stillbirth rates amongst high income countries. 6,500 babies are stillborn or die shortly after birth each year which results in 17 every day which is 1 in 200 births. These figures remain unchanged over the last 10 years.
I have since been blessed with another son, Tobiah (Goodness of God) who arrived safely into the world on the 1st October 2010. During this pregnancy I made sure I was well educated & armed myself with as much knowledge as possible so I knew the warning signs & when to get checked by my maternity team.
Last year I decided I wanted to help prevent stillbirth affecting other parents.  From attending Sands meetings I noticed that there was a common link in baby loss which was the reduction of babies movements and that many Mums were receiving inconsistent advice from their Midwives. I did a lot of research and got in touch with my local hospitals to present my findings at their MSLC meetings which resulted in them changing their practises on informing Mums the importance of monitoring movements. I also learnt the true value of Midwives, and how they need support & vital education, just as much as expectant Mums do. This led me to set up MAMA Academy, the pregnancy school!

MAMA (Mums And Midwives Awareness) Academy has just been born to provide vital education to both expectant Mums and healthcare providers.  We aim to help Mums have a healthy pregnancy and keep Midwives up-to-date with all the latest guidelines, studies and research.  We are currently on facebook and will be launching an educational website in the next couple of months. We shall also be helping to raise awareness of baby loss but in an educational way. Our mission is to make a difference in the world and see the numbers of baby loss decrease by the end of the year.

You can make a difference too by sharing our page on facebook and supporting Heather on her incredible challenge for an amazing cause. Your money for Tommy’s will assist in vital stillbirth research which will help 17 parents in the UK every day.

Thank you for making a difference

Twitter: @MAMAAcademy
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MAMAAcademy

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

74 miles!

I'm so, so sorry I'm only writing this now! I've been writing an essay all day and totally forgot to update the blog.

Just found out that GO Outdoors are sending me some 1000 Mile Socks to help with my walking! Thank you so much, and thanks to Jenni Saunders for appealing to them, you're a star!

Sorry it's a short one, but thank you for all your support!
x

Monday, 23 January 2012

71 miles!

Wow can't believe I'm at 71 miles already! Although I'm really starting to feel it now, legs are so tired! Had a very stressful afternoon yesterday as Lola dislocated her elbow, so I had to take her up to A&E to get it put back into place. Very worrying at the time but she's absolutely fine now, thankfully! Poor little thing, she was so brave, I'm a very proud Mummy!

Today we walked into town to buy Lola's little friend a birthday present and we also spent one of her Christmas vouchers in Next, she tried on her new clothes in the fitting rooms for the first time which was really cute!

Once again, please donate anything you can: www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks!
x

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Feeling brighter

Well after yesterday's struggle and exhaustion, I wasn't exactly looking forward to my 3 miles today, but I think my hot bath last night did me good as I actually quite enjoyed it. Once I'd got over the hurdle of the first mile or so, I got into the swing of it and just powered on. I only got rained on during the last couple of minutes of the first half before seeking shelter at my cousin's house. The walk back was dry although it's still really bitter - really cannot express how much I'm looking forward to the weather being warmer!

Anyway, I've discovered a new way that I can prevent my hair from getting absolutely soaked/turning into an afro during my walks. It's not the most stylish of solutions and if you're at all fashion conscious then I definitely wouldn't recommend it, but basically I wear a hat with ear flaps that tie under the chin, then tuck all of my hair into it at the beginning of the walk (before it's started to rain or got caught in the wind). It gets pretty hot and uncomfortable after a while but it's a good tip for if you're walking to somewhere that requires you to look half decent!

I had a dream last night that someone donated £60 - want to make it a reality?! Then go to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

68 miles done, over and out!
Thank you!
x

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Exhausted!

I think all the walking has finally caught up with me. I'm so flaked out this afternoon, Lola is in bed having a nap and I just feel exhausted! Walked another 3 miles today, half of which was spent battling against the wind which was blowing against us, which was made worse by the rain and the fact that I had the rain cover on the pram. I might as well have stuck a sail on the pram! It was horrible. The way back wasn't too bad, at least it didn't rain! The wind was behind us which was better, but it was still very difficult to keep control of the pram and I almost got pushed into the road at one point! Plus Lola kept rocking back and forth which made it even more difficult to keep momentum going. Oh dear, not a good walk today!

But - 65 miles have been done now so yay! Fast approaching the 70 mark and I think I'll be at about 90-odd miles by the end of the month, so that'll really feel like an achievement. I think as I enter February I'll get a boost from knowing that (hopefully) the worst weather is behind us. At the moment I feel like I'm constantly ducking and diving the rain and having to take ridiculous amounts of clothing out with me just to stay warm! Can't wait until the Summer and I can go out, wait for it...without a coat!!! Amazing!

Please sponsor me at www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy - I've raised £325 now which is just fantastic, so so pleased! It really does give me a push every time I see that total go up, so please give anything you can. Thanks! x

Friday, 20 January 2012

I knew it!

I just knew, after yesterday post, I'd get caught in the rain! I walked to my friend's house in light rain but then it really started chucking it down. Luckily I avoided the worst but it was still miserable on the walk back, I had to wear two coats! I've had a bit of a mad week this week, had to temporarily move into my mum's house but have finally moved back today and I'm enjoying the comfort of my brand new sofas! Feeling very chilled and ready to settle down for Corrie before I do some uni work (boo!)

I've now walked 62 miles yay!

Please sponsor me at www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
x

Thursday, 19 January 2012

59 miles

59 miles done and I'm feeling smug at having just narrowly avoided the rain wahoo! We walked 4 miles yesterday into town and back (my friend joined us which was lovely) and then 3 miles today. It's been pretty cold this week, well actually, for the whole of the month! But this week has felt especially cold and brisk. Luckily I've now got it down to a fine art and I'm managing to duck and dive the bouts of rain that are expected on the weather forecast. I bet I'll get my come-uppance tomorrow and get caught in a massive downpour!

I decided to power walk the first 1.5 miles today, which was fine until I began the walk back and my legs were still burning! I had to stop off at a cafe for an emergency Diet Coke and some polos!

I've now raised £315 yay! Thanks for all your comments about yesterday's guest post from Gemma, there'll be another guest feature next Wednesday. Remember, if you'd like to share your story regarding stillbirth, prematurity or anything else relating to the work that Tommy's do then just get in touch. Awareness is key!

To donate, please go to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

"This is the story of my beautiful Jack" by Gemma

This is the story of my beautiful Jack's birth.

Weds 12th Aug, 3 days overdue and I have my first sweep but I am closed and posterior so other than a small show nothing happens. The midwife says that they usually do sweeps every 2 days but because she is not my midwife and mine is not back from hols until Monday that I can wait until my next one, bit disappointed but except it.

Mon 17th Aug, 8 days overdue. I call my midwife to arrange for her to come and do my second sweep, she says as she has only just come back off holiday can I give her a while and she will call me back to arrange to come over. 12.30 - still no call, 2.30 still no call so I ring her and leave a message. 5.10pm she calls me and says she had been too busy so didn't make it (never mind that I waited in all day for her!) and she will come on weds to do the honours.

Tues 18th Aug, 9 days overdue. Still no signs of Jack so go for a long walk around Topsham with mum and then for tea and cake! Go home and have a hot chilli for tea to try and get things moving! About 7pm start having contractions, really strong but not very close together. When they start to feel unbearable I call the hospital and they tell me to have a hot bath, which I do, after about 15mins the contractions are too much to bear so get out of the bath and make our way to the hospital, picking up my best friend (birthing partner) on the way. Mum (other birthing partner) meets us there. We go into the examination room where we have to wait about 30mins to be seen as the midwife was coming in from home. Cope with contractions by being on all fours on the floor!!
Midwife arrives and says she is going to check babies heartbeat, the doppler does not seem to  be working so she goes to get another machine, still no heartbeat - I am now worried, she goes and gets a doctor and a scan machine, 15 excruciating minutes later the doctor turns to me and says just one word - sorry.
Who knew that one word could make your world fall apart and all your hopes and dreams fall away.
Me and DH are left to take in the news and then I am given a shot of morphine - from here thins get a little hazy. We were taken to a different room away from the delivery suites so I wouldn't have to hear other ladies giving birth. I am given oral morphine which I tell everyone is delicious and then promptly throw up!
I am then hooked up to self administered morphine and my dad arrives.
I labour through the night on morphine and gas and air. At about 6.30am I am ready to push so DH and Dad leave the room and an hour later at exactly 7.30am Jack Peter is stillborn weighing 6lb 9oz and measuring 52cm. He has a mop of black hair like his dad and is beautiful.
After having 2 stitches for grazes and being cleaned up, I spend some time with my baby. I stay another night in the hospital and leave on Thurs 20th with locks of hair and hand and footprints - no consolation; I should be leaving with my baby boy.

Friday 18th Sept was Jacks funeral, just a small blessing to say goodbye.

In terms of why this happened to Jack, they found some clots in the placenta and the umbilical cord but no indication as to why he died, I have no clotting disorders or anything. During my pregnancy with Milo (Jack’s little brother) I took a baby aspirin every day and was closely monitored, extra scans etc. Unfortunately I had an anterior placenta so his movements were muffled and I turned up at the hospital often for a quick check! I was also not allowed to go overdue and Milo arrived by C-section at 38 weeks, my little ray of sunshine!

We love you Jack, always xxxxx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

52 miles!

I'm soooo tired today! Think all the walking and fresh air has finally hit me and I'm shattered! It was really cold today, too cold really, as Lola wanted to walk by herself some of the way which meant she wasn't wrapped up in her blanket in the pram, so she ended up freezing and got very upset! Didn't help of course that she wouldn't put a hat on or keep her hands under her blanket! I even wrapped my scarf around her but she wasn't interested. Bless her, she cried all the way home, we were both very glad to get back into the warmth! Hoping this cold weather starts to improve soon as it really does get to your bones after a while. I'm just about to jump in a hot bath before sinking into my sofa for the evening!

In other news, a friend has just recorded some footage that was meant to be shown on BBC News about her son's stillbirth and the campaign that she's now started to try and educate mums and midwives. The BBC have just informed her, however, that they already reported on stillbirth back in April 2011 and so it's too soon to report about it again.

What a sad reflection of today's media. This is why awareness campaigns are so important - the message about stillbirth is being lost and the help that expectant parents need just isn't provided universally in the correct way. The media argue that stillbirth 'puts people off their breakfast' so to speak. It's not the sort of thing that they want to have to report on as it's not a nice story. And that's true. It isn't. But for 17 families a day, it's more than a story. It's reality. And those 17 families don't just miraculously recover from the trauma after a few weeks or months. They don't recover after the birth of a subsequent baby either. The loss of a child must be the most devastating experience imaginable, and I think the lack of empathy and support shown by our media is awful.

Please donate to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
x

Monday, 16 January 2012

49 miles (and a new sofa!)

Had a lovely day today! The weather was freezing this morning when we went out for a walk, but again the air was so crisps, it was really refreshing. My new sofas were delivered this morning, they had to take the window pane out to get it into the front room but we got there eventually!

This afternoon, we went to play with all Lola's friends and had a great time. I'm really beginning to adjust to walking 3 miles each day, some days I even look forward to it haha!

Another short post tonight as I've got an essay to get cracking on (sigh!) but thanks again for all your support!
www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks x

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Week 3 begins!

Wow can't believe it's only week 3, feels like I've been doing this forever!

We went on another (very cold) walk this afternoon, I stupidly opted for pumps instead of my walking boots so my feet were absolutely frozen by the end of it! We stopped off at my house on the way round to get Lola some crisps as she was getting a little bit restless, she's full of cold so needs lots of cuddles! But you wouldn't think it looking at this photo...!



In other news, a friend suggested today that it would be a good idea to promote weekly or monthly donations rather than just one-off donations. That way, it's not such a big lump out of your pocket all at once, it's spread across a longer period of time. Every donation really does give me a boost - remember that I'm going to be doing this for the whole year, so I need lots of support and need to know that I'm continuing to raise money, even if it's just a couple of pounds a week!

So if you don't want to pay in a lump but would like to give something, how about considering a small amount each month, say a couple of £, or perhaps 50p a week, or whatever it is that you want to give. I'd really appreciate it and Tommy's will benefit so much from the money raised!

I've now raised £305, so just £195 to go until I hit my original target of £500! So exciting! Please keep sharing with your friends and ask people to support by donating to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you so much! x

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Brrrrr!

Wow, today was cold! I even had to de-ice my car this morning, first time in about a year! Still, having said that, I wasn't actually that cold during my walk. I think it made a big difference that the air was quite still, there wasn't much of a breeze and so it didn't feel as bitter as it did at the beginning of the month when it was howling. I didn't even have to wear a hat today! Although I did stick my walking boots and 3 pairs of socks on - I braved it in pumps yesterday but wasn't prepared to freeze my toes off today!

So that's 43 miles done as of today, we're almost half way through our first month woo!

Still not hit the £300 mark but I'm sure we'll do it soon, maybe I should post some more photos of me shivering in the rain to make you feel sorry for me!!

The link to donate is www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you!
x

Friday, 13 January 2012

40 miles!

Wow 40 miles done! I'm having a bit of a 'mare at the moment so not finding as much time as usual to write the blog this week, but rest assured I'm still walking my 3 miles each day!

The weather was lovely again today, it was quite cold but very dry and crisp, great walking weather as I always end up boiling so it's nice to have a bit of a chill in the air to cool me down!

This will only be a quick blog tonight as Lola is asking me to draw her a picture! But please take the time to share my challenge with your friends so that we can raise as much money as possible! www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you x

Thursday, 12 January 2012

37 miles done!

I'd just like to start today's post by saying thank you for the lovely feedback you gave about yesterday's guest blog. The Wednesday guest blog will be a regular feature from now on and I'm glad so many of you received it so well. Stillbirth isn't an easy topic of conversation, but it shouldn't be a taboo, and I'm really pleased you all seem to feel the same!

Today's walk was lovely - it was quite chilly to start with but the sun was shining so it was really nice. We went to a new activity at our local children's centre, Sticky Fingers, which Lola really enjoyed! I treated her to a gingerbread man on the way back and she's now having a nap. She woke at 4am today before finally going for a 3 hour nap at about half 7 so I feel a bit out of sync!

Two milestones happening (hopefully) this week!
I'm just £10 away from hitting the £300 mark - it would be amazing if I could get to £300 before the end of the week! Please, please give anything you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
I'll also be walking my 40th mile tomorrow which, I'm fairly certain, is more than I've ever walked in such a short space of time in my life! The numbers are climbing and by the end of the month I'll be close to triple figures! Very exciting!

Thanks again for your support
x

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Guest Blog - Stacey & Benjamin's Story

It was a dreary, normal Monday afternoon in cold November. I was 41+2 weeks pregnant and walking to a routine antenatal clinic to organise inducement as I was getting impatient to see my first bubba. Little did I know I would be meeting him very, very soon, but not in the way we all expected. I was in there just a few minutes when my midwife wanted to check on his heartbeat (didn't know it was a ‘he’ at the time). We couldn't find it. I'm quite big so I thought it might be that she thought there was too much water, but deep down I knew he was gone. She sent me on my way to the hospital on my own (bearing in mind I was only 18 at the time), so I called my mum, who was the closest one to me with a car, in tears saying “My baby has gone, I need to get to the hospital”. How she wasn't pulled over for speeding, I don't know.

We got to the hospital and they took me in straight away for an emergency scan, only to confirm what I already knew. All they said was “I'm sorry”. I just curled up into a ball and didn't want anyone near me or my baby until Gary (my DP) got there. He worked two hours away so it took him ages. My daddy had already warned him outside the hospital and I remember his face as he walked into my room. That’s a look I never want to see again, and we just hugged for what seemed forever, then they gave me some medication and sent me home!

I was to come back on the Wednesday for an inducement so they gave us a room. There was me, Gary, my mum, my dad, and my dad’s mum. My nan was fantastic, she never left my side the whole time, I love my nanny. Some family members came to visit but most of them just didn't know what to do or say so that didn't really help that much. I told all of the midwives and family members that I wanted it to be born on the 11th, and if I was to lose my baby, I wanted it to be on Remembrance Day. They all told me if it doesn't happen that way, it doesn't happen that way, but I was determined and after a nice short labour that shocked everyone, as they told us to prepare for a long painful labour as I would have to do it all myself, Benjamin was born on 11/11/04 at 2.55am and weighed a nice 6lbs 3oz.

The days after that are all such a blur, I get the odd flash back now and again but nothing really that clear. We buried Benjamin on the 16th of December. It was a small ceremony with the chaplain who blessed Benjamin when he was born. I wrote and tried to read out a poem (mum had to finish it for me) then we finally said goodbye.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

I'm past the 30 mile mark!

31 miles now complete yay!
Today, we walked to my Mum's and round the park. It was drizzling all the way there and had just started again towards the end of the walk back - definitely not as pleasant as it was yesterday! But I'm feeling energised - at the beginning of the week, I was exhausted and had nowhere in particular to walk to, so I have to admit that I wasn't feeling very motivated when I woke on Sunday morning! But I'm feeling good again, we've had some more sponsor money in and we're not just £25 away from having raised £300! Thank you so, so much to everyone who has given so far!

Tomorrow's blog will be slightly different. Instead of me giving you the round up of the day's walk, I'll be featuring a story from a lovely lady, Stacey, who I met online through some of the charity work I did last year. Stacey's son Benjamin was stillborn - the work that Tommy's do and the research they carry out is so, so vital for the welfare of our unborn children. Ultimately, Tommy's research could hold the key to eliminating stillbirth in the UK - the awareness that they spread is so important for expectant parents, and hopefully Stacey's story will help to explain a little more about what it is that Tommy's are trying to prevent, and why the challenge and the money raised from it is so important.

You can sponsor me at any time here: www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thank you!
x

Monday, 9 January 2012

4 miles today!

Yes, I went a bit mad and walked 4 miles today! I was invited to my friend's house so decided to use the opportunity to do my walk - luckily the weather was actually really pleasant. It stayed dry and I even saw blue sky! Really enjoyed today's walk, it's definitely getting easier now that I'm into the routine of it, and walking a variety of different routes also helps to keep it interesting. My walking boots now don't hurt at all and although I can still feel a stitch niggling, it hasn't developed into a full-blown, buckled-over-in-two stitch like it did at the beginning! Having said that, it'll probably start again now!



By the time we set off to walk home, it was half 4 and it was getting dark, but the air was so crisp and the sky was really clear, it was really nice walking in it. Looking forward to tomorrow's walk! 28 miles done wahay!

Over the last couple of days, I've had a few questions about the challenge; "are you walking 1000 miles or 3 miles a day?" etc - so to clarify, here it is:
I'm aiming to walk 1000 miles in 2012 by walking 3 miles a day. If I walk 3 miles a day for the whole of 2012 then this'll bring me closer to 1100 miles. My aim is to do 1000 miles - with a toddler, I need to be able to account for illness, lack of sleep and anything else that might prevent me from walking for a day or two, so in order to make sure that missing a couple of days wouldn't result in me failing the challenge, I've set myself the task of completing 3 miles a day so that I'm pretty much guaranteed to get to 1000 miles, even if I do have to miss the odd day. I plan to carry on walking even after I've hit 1000 miles as I'd like to see just how much I can do in one year. Anyway I've waffled on but I hope that makes more sense!

As always, your sponsorship really is the key to the success of all this. I'm so grateful for all your support so far, please do keep sharing my blog and encouraging your friends to sponsor! The link (as if you didn't know it already haha!) is www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

Thanks! x

Sunday, 8 January 2012

3 more rainy miles!

Well I knew what to expect today - my weather app said it was going to be drizzly all day, and so far it has been! I couldn't decide where to walk to, I was going to go to the park but then decided it was too wet and I wouldn't have a chance to dry off and sit down midway (I like my comforts!) so instead we walked up to the shops. Lola was given a Next voucher for Christmas so I thought it was an ideal opportunity to spend it!

This was pretty much the dreary view that we had the whole way there and back:



When we got to the shops, Next wasn't open so I treated myself to a dress in Topshop instead (I also had a voucher for Christmas - woo!)

We went for a muffin in Costa and Lola stretched her legs a little, then I decided to try and get back before the heavy rain set in. It was wetter on the way back and pretty miserable, but we managed to avoid anything too heavy - my clothes are still on the radiator though!

24 miles down, 976 to go!

I say it every time but PLEASE keep sponsoring me - it gives me a real boost and a kick out of the door each day if I know that I've raised some money, even if it's only a small amount. Your support and comments are always greatly appreciated too, it really does make a difference. Please keep sharing my blog! Thank you!
www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy
x

Saturday, 7 January 2012

21 miles done!

Yay! My first 21 miles are now complete! Only another 979 to go!
Our walk this morning was a quick one - I had to drop Lola off at my Mum's so that I could go to Liverpool for a university tutorial (as it turns out, the tutorial was cancelled, but I only found out once there - doh!)

The weather was okay, there was a 50% chance of rain but I managed to time it right so that we avoided it.

So how would I sum up my first week? Eventful, successful, surprising, motivational and inspiring. I'm totally blown away by the response the challenge has had. To think that I'm just £15 away from hitting the halfway mark of the fundraising target I'd set for the entire year is just madness! I've now got over 260 followers on Twitter, over 50 on Facebook, I've had a blog written about me and been invited to take part in guest blogs. The support I've received is unbelievable - people offering to write to companies for sponsorship, others offering to promote my challenge to their friends, not to mention the amount of re-tweets I've had! Celebrities who have re-tweeted so far are:


Sid Sloane (CBeebies)
Dr Hilary Jones
Sadie Frost 
Tamsin Outhwaite 
Angela Griffin
Lisa Faulkner
Sarah-Jane Honeywell (CBeebies)
Ryan Thomas
Keith Duffy
Annabel Karmel
Carol Vorderman
The Jeremy Kyle Show
One Born Every Minute
Kate Silverton
Lauren Laverne
Dean Piper (Sunday Mirror)
Natalie Cassidy
Emma Forbes
Savannah Miller
Arlene Phillips

And that's just in the space of one week!
This coming week, I'll be starting a new feature on my blog. Each Wednesday will be the turn of a guest blogger, someone who has experienced stillbirth first hand. I want to share their experiences in order to highlight just how important Tommy's' research and work really is. If you'd like your story to be featured, please get in touch by leaving a comment below or email me at heathercook@hotmail.co.uk 

That leaves nothing else to say except thank you so, so much for all the support and encouragement you've given me so far! I'm really excited about continuing the challenge. Please keep spreading the word and donate anything you can to www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy - thank you! x

Friday, 6 January 2012

Miles 16, 17 & 18

Just got back from our Day 6 walk! The weather was lovely this morning, we set off quite early as it was lovely and sunny when we woke up, the wind has really died down which made such a difference, and it stayed dry for the whole walk! As usual, we dressed up nice and warm and Lola looked very cosy in her pram!



I decided to walk up to Hesketh Park which is a lovely, Victorian park near our town centre. I love the route up to the park from my house, we pass lots of big old Victorian houses which I just love. Unfortunately, some are now in danger of demolition which I think it a real shame. Perhaps next year I should walk to raise money to renovate them?! Here's one of my favourites, recently shut down as a nursing home, hopefully it won't disappear



As we were walking round the park, I got so thirsty that I had to steal a bit of Lola's drink! The park cafe was closed, so I decided to conserve some energy by one of my favourite spots - the fountain. It's recently just been done up and I love the view out onto the lake. We really are lucky to live in such a lovely town. So here's the view:



So we've not been home long, Lola will be going for a nap soon and I'll be catching up with some uni work. We've so far raised £180, £30 of which was this morning alone! Please, please donate anything you can, I'd love to hit £200 by the end of the week!: www.justgiving.co.uk/1000milesmummy

I've also got a guest blog today over at Antenatal Online - check it out here: http://antenatalonline.co.uk/blog/2011/35/meet-the-1000-miles-mummy

Thanks again everyone, and thanks for letting me warble on about my lovely Victorian town! x