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- Who has seen Toy Story 4…?!
So…. I’m Sarah, I’m 28, I live in Watford, and I am a trolley dolly for Virgin Atlantic, I have 2 kiddies (Jack 4 and Sophie 14 months) and in under 3 weeks my partner of 10 years James and I are running the London Marathon, aaarrrrggghhh!
Why, you ask??
Well, let me tell you our story.
I already had my Jacky who was born at 39wks with no complications and this time I was pregnant with a little girl, Sophie.
I was 28wks pregnant when it happened; my waters went in the middle of the night and I started to go into labour. We managed to get to hospital quickly where they gave me steroids and thank goodness the labour stopped, I spent the majority of the following 2 weeks in hospital having constant scans, blood tests and monitoring and that’s when it really started to sink in that I’m going to be having a premature baby girl very very soon.
The consultant gave me the 3 possible outcomes,
1 – I would go into labour naturally at any time
2 – I would become ill and need an emergency C-section
3 – They would let my pregnancy continue with no waters until I was 34wks when they would induce me, as the risk of infection is greater.
This really scared me, obviously we were wishing for option 3 but I knew deep down that my body wasn’t going to be able to last another 6 weeks, I was felt so weak already and being away from home and Jack was starting to take its toll on our little family.
I spent hours on google researching all sorts of prem baby facts, survival rates for every extra week I could stay pregnant with no waters, birth defects, you know all the kind of information that would naturally scare you even more.
I wanted to know more about what would happen when Sophie was born, where she would go? Would she be breathing? What she would look like? The midwifes were so lovely on my ward and arranged for all of us to visit the special care baby unit (SCBU)
As soon as we went in I was amazed by how calm and quiet it was, no hustle and bustle just the noise of machines beeping and the gentle whispers of parents caring for their babies in there little incubators. It was like being inside a bubble, nothing else in the world mattered when you were there except caring for these poorly bubbas.
I couldn’t believe how tiny the babies were, some with lots of tubes and wires and some just in incubators all so different, it really made me think about what help if any would Sophie need when she was born?
I did however feel better that I knew where she was going to when she arrived and I knew they would do their best for her.
So I was 30wks when I went into labour naturally again in the middle of the night, It was a very different labour to jack, the contractions were very different, so much so that I didn’t think I was in labour. The pain was just in my side I was petrified that something was seriously wrong and when the consultant told me that I wasn’t dilated at all it made me worry even more.
Half an hour later I was in agony and they checked me again – I was 10cms and about to give birth any minute!! (mental I know) As you can imagine there was a frantic dash up to the SCBU to get all the equipment. I couldn’t believe it and as the reality and pain began to really sink In I closed my eyes and wished, hoped and prayed that she would be breathing and well.
14 minutes later Sophie arrived and she let out a little cry, it was the best sound that I have ever heard, but before I knew it she was gone.
2 hours later I was able to see her, my tiny little 3lb4oz Thumbelina was on a breathing machine and covered in wires and tubes, her eyes were covered as she was having UV treatment for jaundice so I couldn’t see what she looked like just yet but I knew she was a fighter.
She underwent lots of tests and thank goodness everything was fine, I think having the steroids in my system for 2 weeks really helped to boost her lungs as she was off the breathing machine within 5 days.
Over the next 7 weeks we spent all our time in the SCBU bubble, I was expressing like a demon, morning noon and night. Jack was an absolute star the whole time and soon was on first name terms with all the doctors and nurses. Don’t get me wrong it was tough, really tough. Trying to care for a 3 year old but also be at hospital for Sophie was draining, whatever I did I felt guilty, I was either leaving jack to go to the hospital or having to leave Sophie all alone to go home and do the dinner. The first time I left her at the hospital I cried all the way home, it was so unfair but I knew she was in the best hands.
We met lots of other families while we were in there going through similar situations and they soon became my support circle and still are today. They understood all the hospital jargon and how I felt. We soon all learnt what the noises and beeps from the machines were and we celebrated together when a baby put on weight or came off a machine, it really was like a secret world on the top floor of a hospital that no one really knew about.
After a while it became apparent that Sophie was suffering with severe reflux and was having trouble keeping anything down and soon the cycle of meds started, it was constant battle to keep her clean, fed and not in pain. It was something that we then battled with until she was 1; believe me it was one of the most stressful, soul destroying and constant illnesses for a baby and family to deal with. Eventually she started to grow out of it but even today she has problems with her gag reflex and still has a lot of pureed foods.
She slowly moved up through the wards and was soon ready to go home at a whooping 5lbs! The sense of achievement was immense, we had all worked so hard to get to this point and it was finally going to happen.
The day she came home was amazing, it was the first time that I really felt like she was mine, I could hold her when I wanted and not have to share special cuddles in a room full of other people, it was lovely.
The weeks that followed were really hard, it was like having a hospital at home, everyone that was desperate to meet her had to wait patiently, visitors had to be few and far between to avoid germs, any bugs etc would have sent her straight back to hospital. They had to wash and gel their hands before going near her and we had to give her medication for her reflux every 2-3 hours 24hrs a day.it was a mental time, thinking back now I don’t know how we managed to do it but we did.
Eventually as spring came round and she started to become stronger and things got easier and we started to get into a routine, I began to really enjoy being Sophie’s mum and not just someone that fed and forced horrible medicines down her.
That’s when we saw the marathon on the tele, James and I both joked that one year we should do it and we soon laughed it off.
A couple of months later James said that he been thinking more about the marathon and raising money for babies like Sophie. I instantly thought it was a great idea but the thought of running a marathon was a daunting one.
He had already been in contact with a premature baby charity called BLISS they help babies that are born too soon, too small or too sick in the UK to have the best possible chance of survival and reaching their full potential. They offer a free phone line for parents, counselling sessions and lots of information for parents to help them look after their baby.
They were a perfect choice for us and after a long chat with one of their staff we had signed ourselves up, not only to run the marathon but promise them £5000 in sponsorship!!!
The money that all the BLISS runners raise from the marathon is going towards a new scheme called the Bliss nurse programme, it is a non-clinical role focusing solely on supporting the families of premature babies, helping them to cope with the stress and anxiety that often accompanies their babies condition.
Wow, thinking back now I don’t think we really knew what we were letting ourselves in for, the training has been intense, 24wks of training in one of the coldest and miserable winters ever has not been fun (especially when you run past friends houses and you can picture them snuggled up watching eastenders!)
I have followed a beginners plan from the London marathon website and I completed the Watford half marathon back in feb in 2hrs40mins, considering id only been running for 12 weeks I was happy with that.
Last week was our longest run (18miles) it was tough but we both got through it, so now were tapering down our training and starting to save energy for the day.
It has been really hard for both of us to be able to actually get the training in, we have to tag team in the evenings once the kids are asleep so we haven’t actually spent many evening at home together for a long time. We have never trained together and the first time we will run together will be the marathon. We have always joked about who was going to win but we’ve recently decided that we will run together. I almost feel like this is closure for us and once we finish it together then we can say goodbye to the hardest 16 months of lives knowing that we’ve raised money and awareness for a charity so close to our hearts.
When it came to the raising the £5000, we were full of great ideas and plans but when it came down to it, we literally ran out of time, with 2 children to look after and training everyday it just became impossible to fit it all in, but I needn’t of worried because as soon we made our giving page active sponsors came flooding in. it truly has been overwhelming the amount of money and the lovely messages our friends and family have left for us. To date we have raised £4,301 so were really nearly there and we will be forever grateful to you all for your support.
We are however thinking about having a party afterwards to celebrate and enjoy a couple of hard earned vinos with our lovely family and friends.
Then in May its back to the skies for me after what was a rather eventful maternity leave!!
Thank you so much for spending the time to read my blog, I’ll keep you up to date with the last couple of weeks training and then will let you know how it all went on the day (keep your fingers crossed for good weather) if you would to sponsor or share our sponsor page you can here
There also lots more pics of beautiful Sophie on there.
To find out more information about BLISS their website is
Sophie 1 day old in the SCBU