It's been a while since I've posted here. I've been a little bit preoccupied with the baptism of fire that has been our introduction into the world of foster care. I can't believe it's been 2 months since we got our first placement. We're thoroughly enjoying having an extra little person staying with us for this season and are currently trying to get our heads around the prospect of her moving on all be it not imminently. People often ask me how long she'll be with us and if she'll stay. The answer is, quite simply, I don't know. I don't know what the future holds but right now we know that we are called to foster care and not adoption so I guess that answers that question. I know that that may change in the future and, with suffering from infertility, we may well choose to adopt a child at some point in the future but now we're enjoying foster care and the experiences that come with that. Foster carers often say that it is the best and hardest thing they have ever done. I'd agree. Every day we get to see our little visitor increase in confidence and develop new skills. We get to be reward by the love and affection she shows us and get to see her change in ways we never thought possible 2 months ago. We get to do all of this to prepare her for her final place of care - wherever that may be - and that, in itself, is enough reward for now. Yes, it's hard. Yes, we'll struggle moving her on but then we will meet another child; another child who's life we can sew into and support them to grow and develop preparing them to be a resilient adult. What a responsibility that we are trusted with!
To me, this is my year of running. Of sometimes feeling like I'm running a race that we could never win. Last year was a year of loss, of waiting and of fertility treatment and I feel like I missed out on everything else that was promised to me. Not a wasted year, as such, but a year of putting my life on hold. After our last loss in September, we decided to move on - to start running forward rather than looking back and wondering what could have been. As as I've mentioned before, so many doors have opened to us. The pain is still there and some days it consumes me, but having a new focus, having something to move forward towards has really helped. We will continue running the race for as long as is needed.
Last night was Comic Relief and like most people, I'm sure, I sobbed my way through the stories, put in my donation and felt frustrated that a. There was not more I could do and b. our Westernised society leads us to see loss in a very different way to how people in other countries may see it. We are so lucky to have the resources, medical care, research, transport, hospitals, and sanitation needed to ensure that loss IS something that shocks us - it's not something that we endure every day. It's not (really) something that we live in fear of and, as a result, is something that (quite rightly) completely rocks us when it happens.
Whilst watching Comic Relief, and the documentaries leading up to it, I was struck hard by a number of statistics. The first was that an estimated
655 000 people DIE from malaria deaths each year - with 600 000 of those estimated to be children. That's 600 000 parents who have to experience the grief that we have - the grief of losing a child. (http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/malaria/malaria_facts/en/index1.html). The other thing that shocked me us that approximately 800 women die every day from PREVENTABLE pregnancy related causes (http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs348/en/index.html) and 99% of these deaths occur in developing countries. In 2009 there were also 2.6 million stillbirths globally (http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/epidemiology/stillbirth/en/index.html) with 98% of those being in low and middle income countries. 2.6 million and Emilie is just one of these. The reason I'm still here, however, is because of the amazing care that Liverpool Women's Hospital offer but it could easily have been a different story. This terrifies me and shocks me - especially seeing as a lot of the deaths worldwide are deemed as 'preventable'.
And that begged the question - what can we do/what do we do? I'll be honest - I'll donate to charities. I'll support sponsored events but I'm never going to run a marathon or climb a mountain - not least as I don't have the time to train (that's how I justify it!!) but I still try to make a difference - I share my story whenever I can. I try, as much as I can, to provide support and love to other women who have suffered recurrent miscarriage, still birth and infant loss, and I will happily bake cakes to sell but I wanted to introduce you to a friend who is giving his everything to change statistics like the above.
Nearly 4 years ago, as a childminder, I would walk to and from the local primary school to do school drop offs and pick ups. During that time I met a mum who lives very close to me and walks the same walk to take her children to and from school. Her daughter was in the same class as the little boy I picked up so we got chatting both on the school run and outside school. Eventually, as we chatted, we realised that both of us suffered from PCOS but amazingly she was pregnant again. We were trying for Emilie and her story gave me hope. However, on 12th November 2010 my colleague came home from the school run with the colour drained from her face. She asked me if I knew Karen and explained that, at 38 weeks pregnant Karen had lost her baby girl to stillbirth. I remember feeling terror for her and willing myself not to think about what she must be going through. A few days later I saw her up at school with her husband. They both looked obviously grief stricken and pale and were stood on their own. I badly wanted to go and tell her how sorry I was but I barely knew her, couldn't find the words and desperately didn't want to cause more upset.
10 months later on 26 th September 2011 the same terror happened to us at 32 weeks. Within days Karen got in touch to offer her condolences and, even though the grief was still raw for her, met up with me on a regular basis and helped to carry me through it. Needless to say a friendship formed.
On the times that we met, Karen would share with me stories of her husband, Dom's, weight loss and fundraising which had arisen out of there loss of Ella. He had raised a very significant amount of money for charities such as Bliss, Tommys and Count the Kicks in Ella's memory and the transformation in his life, and courage he had shown were amazing.
In April 2012 Dom set himself and team Ella runners the challenge of a year of running starting with the Great Ireland Run and ending at the London Marathon in April 2013! Dom had never run before Ella's death! I'll let him tell the rest of his story here: http://www.teamella.co.uk/page5/index.html
One of the incredible things about Dom and Karen's story is that a few short weeks after the London Marathon Karen will give birth to Violet - Ella's baby sister - a 'Rainbow Baby'. What an amazing story of hope.
The Year of Running is drawing to a close. Please help Dom and Karen to support the amazing charities that can help to change the terrible statistics mentioned above by donating on the Team Ella 'just giving' page. We can make a difference.
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