Thursday, November 25, 2010
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel” Maya Angelou
I have spent the last few days remonstrating on what I was going to write my next blog on, there has been so much said, so much training done, we have been busy running around raising money, putting up posters, pushing pretend incubators along the streets of the Best Little Capital in the World so what to write about.
If you have read the previous blogs then you will know the last three years has been a huge journey and being part of the Pushing It For Prems team has been an experience and journey I wouldn’t have missed for a moment. So what have I learnt. Quite a lot about bikes – I confess I even bought a copy of a Lance Armstrong book, a bit about weight loss and that, shock horror, sometimes its ok to eat Carbs.
I have learnt that I can do more than I thought, juggle more balls without dropping them and push myself a little further but the best thing I have learnt on this journey is more about the other wonderful people that make up our teams. I thought I knew them very well as we have shared such intense experiences but they say it’s the parts that make up the whole and this certainly is another part in our friendships. So what have I learnt:
Lets start first with Kyla, we both had 23 weekers within such a short space of time that our kids “roomed” next door each other for so long we know each other very well. But through this experience I have witnessed Kyla’s ability to overcome her personal fear and immense dislike of cycling to embrace it for the greater good – I am even sure she said she enjoyed a ride or two!
Naughty Nic. What I have learnt about this lovely, intelligent lady is that she has a naughty sense of humour and has been a great inspiration and support to me. She on the other hand is not adverse to telling the odd white lie when it comes to getting me up a very big hill…… the end is just around the corner, your nearly there - ring any bells Nic?
Don’t know where to start but this warm, generous and dignified woman who has always been a great friend to me and that big stretch of water that lies between us evaporates when needs be. She’s funny and wise counsel even when we haven’t had a wine or two.
Anyone who knows Tamar’s story knows she has had to be brave and courageous but through our Pushing It For Prems experience, I seen Tamar put herself out there – pushing that incubator through town and answering the all the questions from the public showed real mettle. She is has also our all things technical – this blog and fundraising website is her responsibility – thank you!
Debs and I are neighbours and good friends. She is kind, caring and not as quiet as you might think! A bit of a dark horse she has a typically wicked English sense of humour, what I have learnt about her is that we can indeed talk for hours (to be precise for at least for 38kms), that she owns a very dodgy dancing stuffed toy and through mutually placed trust our friendship has gone even further during this time.
My friend Yvette has jumped in and supported us with all her heart. She’s a hard working woman but despite that this creative soul set about making us a life size incubator at my request and within three days of our hair brained conversation. Who could know she had a thing for hot glue guns! We raised nearly $1300 in one evening and I watched her going out into the thronging crowds telling our stories with so much heart and love it made me cry.
Most importantly this entire journey is about giving back and saying thank you. Thank you to all of those wonderful people who worked so hard and saved our babies lives, thank you to all of you who have supported this effort – please believe me when I say you will have made a difference , thank you to all of you that make up Pushing It For Prems – word’s don’t suffice but from the bottom of my heart thank you! Xxx
We will be Tweeting our progress tomorrow so don't forget to follow us... #pushitforprems
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
A week ago I took part in the ‘Tour of the Wairarapa’ race to try and remove some pre Taupo nerves and get some good practice. I started fast (for me) and after only 10kms my lungs were exploding and my legs burning. I had to slow and move into a more sustainable pace.
Every time I am out on the bike now, I think back to those early days, to what our kids went through and reflect on our own struggles and sensitivities surrounding their early arrival.
When my body was screaming out “NO!” at the start of the race, I couldn’t help but feel strength to go on. I thought how can I even think this is tough going – its been 15minutes and our kids had to fight for every breath they took for days, if not weeks and in some cases months.
I tried to imagine what it would actually feel like to be born without lung development, but of course it is impossible. I thought it would be good to dedicate this blog to all our kids - what they went through and how much they have achieved. Speaking for myself those early days were filled with so much pride and admiration for the strength Sophie and Holly showed coupled with a very real understanding of their fragility and fear surrounding their immensely weak immune systems.
I asked the mums belonging to Pushing it for Prems to give me the statistics of their kids. I have all but one – so these statistics are from only 6 kiddies, mostly from the first 6months of life, but in some cases ongoing. Let me give you a summary…..
Total Number of:
Blood Transfusions – 55+
Eye Operations – 4
Heart Operations – 2
Hospital Admissions – 25+
Hernia Operations – 3
Digestive Operations – 1
Trips in Life Flight – 4
Long lines – stacks
IV Lines – stacks
C.P.R – 19+ (including fractured ribs but with a life saved)
Brain Scans – loads
X-rays (head, lungs) – 20+
Eye examinations (= eyes held open with steel clamps) – 2
Overcame Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) – 1
Nitrous Oxide Treatment – 1
Oscillating Ventillator Treatment – 3
Wow, its quite staggering to see it all written out like that!
As for the mums, I will not be letting their efforts go unreported. The figures are low as I couldn’t get the stats for one member, but 5 mums in our group expressed for their tube fed babies for a solid 1995 hours!! That is 83 days of non-stop expressing! Not to mention a couple of years of breastfeeding on top of that.
Obviously and thank goodness not all babies that are born prematurely are born as extremely prematurely as the bunch we parent. Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) admits on average 1000 babies annually. 67% are Wellington and Kapiti Coast babies, 31% Central Region babies, and 2% is made up of babies in other DHBs outside the Central Region.
I have found our whole journey to be so immensely touching. The generosity and genuine want to support our cause from so many people is staggering. I have loved hearing stories from work colleagues and people on the street. I have wanted to hug and kiss more than a few of them, especially the grown-up ex-prems who all seem to have the hugest hearts.
We will be riding on the day in our PUSHING IT FOR PREMS team kit. The team at Tineli have been supportive and accommodating from the first phone call helping us get decked out and ready to take on the challenge. Keep an eye out for us and give us a toot if you see us whizzing, or should I say, meandering past.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
So the big day is fast approaching and it is about time for me to Choose My Attitude. This rather annoying catchphrase was drilled into us as employees of ASB Bank. We made fun of it, rolled our eyes when we heard it and absolutely scoffed about it. When we were continuously not meeting sales targets; when were in extremely busy period or when we were just having a bad day with things going wrong, we would hear “Choose Your Attitude”. I used to think, what a load of rubbish! It’s not our fault this stuff is happening, we’ve got every right to be negative blah blah blah. Bollocks! If there is one thing I’ve learnt from this whole Prem Journey, it’s that bad stuff does happen to good people, it’s how you handle it that counts.
Eva chose her attitude every single day for a very very long time. For her it must have been like cycling up Hatepe Hill over and over, even while she slept. But she never, ever gave up. When she fell off the bike, she got right back on and I can tell you that happened a lot. So yes, the big race is only 4 sleeps away and I still can’t cycle and reach down for my drink bottle at the same time, my legs are covered in nick marks from the cycle chain, my shoulders and thumbs are screaming from leaning forward on a bike that is a smidge too big for me, my bum is still sore (even with a much more comfortable womans seat), I still can’t take even one hand off the handlebars without wobbling all over the road, and I’m petrified of The Big Hill Hatepe like you wouldn’t believe, BUT Eva didn’t give up and neither will I. It is time for me to Choose My Attitude – So come on Taupo – BRING IT ON!!!
Monday, November 22, 2010
What a lucky Hector I am, Mummy and Daddy bought me a bicycle for my birthday, so I thought I could keep Mummy company on her leg around Taupo. Unfortunately my legs need to grow a bit more and I tend to spend more time off the bike than on it, so maybe next year.
I do feel as though I’m missing out a bit though. It’s one thing to have Mummy disappearing to the gym or trying out her cycling legs with Liza, but now Daddy is joining in too. As Tamar has pulled out due to injury Daddy has said he will give it a go. I helped him find his old bike under a pile of rubbish in the garage (I’d never treat my bike like that!) and we took it to the local bike shop for a service. Daddy was most put out when they said it would look quite good in their cycling museum. Now that he’s taken the wicker basket off the front at least it looks a bit more streamlined. I’ve also now got my own comfy armchair on the back. I have to say that the view is not that great and on our ride together today I was reminded on more than one occasion that Daddy had enjoyed a particularly strong curry last night. Daddy’s told me that I couldn’t ride with him on the day - probably just as well really.
Dad received his relay entry information yesterday and immediately said he’d be starting in the fast relay group. Mummy muttered something about it being twenty years too late, and what with the issues he is having with his bike seat he’s decided that he’d better start with the recreational group.
Oh well, I’ll be cheering for you Mummy and Daddy. Good luck …… Mummy says she’s going to need it! Good luck to everyone else too, it’ll be a great experience.
Thank you very much to everyone who has supported our cause. Maybe one day us wee ones will join in too.
Friday, November 19, 2010
It took me a bit of deciding on what I wanted to write my next blog about.
In the end it was simple really. We owe a million thanks to so many people. I think I'll list them. If there should be anyone I haven't mentioned, then I apologise now - you have most definitely had an impact in our lives.
From day dot, we had doctors, specialists and nurses involved in our day to day care. We were micro-managed for want of a better term and we know of and appreciate the behind the scenes care and discussions and meetings that were held on our behalf. Dr Flora Gastrell kicked it off for us in conjunction with our midwife Anna Bannister. She gave Greer the opportunity to still be here today by sending us to Wellington for further investigation. In Wellington, we had an amazing radiology team care for us, led by our very favourite Dr Jeremy Tuohy. He worked with several specialists and registrars who were so good at involving us at every turn. The nurses in Ward 12 and 14 saved my sanity in the three weeks I sat in that hospital bed holding on. I spent 5 days up and down from the delivery ward and in one 12 hour stint down there, heard 16 babies be born and give out huge healthy cries. The night we had Greer, Dr Anju Basu was on duty and along with the surgical team and incredible anaethetists, saved my life in a delivery I was grateful to have no part of as it gave her an enormous challenge to try and overcome.
The NICU team at Wellington Hospital who cared for our most precious daughter in her 7 week stay there - the doctors, nurses, and support crew of Neonates and the Neonatal Trust go so far above and beyond and always made time to make sure us parents were okay (well, as okay as you can be when your child is desperately ill).
Ronald McDonald House - well what else to say than James loves you and so do we. He thought he was the cats pyjamas at your place and we were so lucky to be so well provided for - this is an incredible facility for families in crisis - another cause which is so well deserving of as much support as can be given. To the mass of local businesses who volunteer their time and resources to come in several times a week and cook the families in the house dinner.
The Life Flight air ambulance team who transferred us between Wellington and Nelson on three trips with our little cargo.
The team at SCBU in Nelson where we spent a further 7 weeks after Wellington. To this day we still have paediatric, child development, opthamologist and audiology appointments as well as thyroid function tests and have a team that we love who oversee Greer's progress and development. Greer still gets blood tests for her thyroid and while she hates being held down for them, quickly forgives the nurses who unfortunately have to do this procedure - especially if she has bubbles blown for her and a Wiggles plaster put on her hand afterwards.
To our midwife Anna, who didn't get to continue care for us through to delivery but who still made several visits and phone calls to check upon our progress - this meant a lot to us.
To our local GP and practice who on our frequent visits in the year post-discharge always kept a room clear for us instead of having to wait in the waiting room like 'regular' people. They understood and respected our need for vigilance in avoiding unnecessary exposure to illness. To Paediatric Inpatients who had us for an 8 day stint over winter with bronchiolitis and pneumonia. To our preschool - Little People and kindergarten - Waverley Street, who have been so amazing and supportive - James attended these two centres for a start and now Greer is settled in beautifully at both.
To our family and friends who kept the home fires burning - Nanna Rob and Poppa cared for James full time with the help of Nanna Jen. For a 2 1/2 year old child who hadn't long been toilet trained he was kept in his usual routine and never once woke at night in the 10 weeks he was out of our care. In the 7 weeks after when we were back in Nelson it was still a big juggle and James went seamlessly from one person to another so we could manage hospital visits, preschool and a busy home life. He was so spoiled with evening trips to the beach for a swim with Poppa and brought to Wellington to meet his wee sister and spend Christmas.
For Hector, Mitchell, Sophie, Holly, Joss and Eva, you and your families are entwined in our lives and we think of each of you precious babies every day.
There is Greer, our true miracle and little battler. Sometimes I wonder how she did it. To go through so many painful procedures - constantly and multiple times a day. To struggle for breath, to fall ill so many times and fight her way back up each time - I am so glad for her determination and zest for life.
I think the last thanks has to go to James. The best big brother any child could ask for. In our Pushing It For Prems team, he is the only 'other' sibling. To be taken away from your parents for such a long time and to 'lose' the spotlight is a huge call on a toddler - at the best of times with a new baby in the house, let alone in circumstances like we found ourselves in. He has always loved Greer to bits and she just idolises him - a good case of 'monkey see, monkey do'. I put a lot of her progress and learning down to the huge influence he has had in her life and the enormous amounts of time he has patiently spent with her reading stories and playing games.
We know and we appreciate what all you amazing people have done for us, it never has been and never will be forgotten - so often when we look at our daughter, we think of you and are so proud to be a family of four, and parents to two beautiful children and these are the thoughts that will be running through my mind as I tackle Kuratau next weekend...wish me luck!!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
A sinus infection is not an easy thing to train with. There aren't many places to keep a tissue while you ride and riding more than 3km gives you a headache. HOWEVER, I am now healed and managed to ride 20km last night. I'm saving the big ride for the weekend. I managed to ride 45km in the Tour de Manawatu 2 weeks ago and was so pleased with my effort. I'm actually getting very excited about the big day and feel as prepared as I'll ever be.
I'm stunned at how much money we have raised for the Neonatal Trust. It's fabulous that so many people can be so generous.
Thanks to everyone!!!
See you all in Taupo!!!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Costumes and an awesome mock up of an incubator definitely caught the eye of Wellingtonians last night!
Starting at Liza's local pub in Eastbourne, they were met by Jackie, one of the nurses from Wellington Neonates. Jackie then did a great job setting up the CPAP mask correctly on our baby doll for us. While we went and spoke to people about what we were doing.
After leaving Eastbourne, we headed straight into Wellington. The group of pseudo Dr's and Nurses definitely got a lot of attention. Quite often we were mistaken for a hens night, a lot of people did a double take and thought (for a second) that the baby was real and once thought we were SPCA collectors! But as people spoke to us, they were impressed with the lengths we were going to reach our fundraising target. We started on Featherston St and worked our way through over 13 bars, however a there were a few stand out people that we met and want to mention.
We met Lisa at one of the bars on the waterfront where after doing collecting from the awesome patrons, we were having a quiet drink at the bar before moving on. She came over and talked to us for a while about what we were up to and our experiences with our kids. We gave her our blog address and thinking that she was about to head on she surprised us. She pulled out her wallet. She donated $20 for each of the prem mums there. $20 for Liza, $20 for Nicola and $20 for Tamar. Thats a total of $60. We were floored and she certainly got enormous hugs from all of us.
Not long after that we were in a great little bar (3C) in Chews Lane. The band was just setting up to play for the night and we met a great guy called Colin Bailey. He listened as we told him what we were up to and then decided he was going to donate. Awesome. What was even more awesome, was that he gave us a $100 note. Wow. We got some tips of where to go from one of the other guys there as well so we headed down Willis Street and onto Manners. Just after Cuba Mall we were stopped by a young women asking what we were doing. She squealed and told us she was a prem and would love to donate. We were very surprised when she told us to wait right there and she would be back with some money. She ducked into the shop to use their eftpos and next thing we know she is back to drop her hard earned cash into one of our buckets. We learnt that she and her brother were twins born at 24 weeks. They are both grown up now and attending their first year of university. We gave her this blog address, and I'm sorry that we didn't get her name before she went off to enjoy the rest of her night.
Meeting this charming young lady was just one of the touching stories that we heard last night (we heard a lot). It certainly seems that while the neonatal journey isn't something that everyone goes through, it seems like it touches an awful lot of people when someone does. A lot of people we spoke to had nieces, or nephews or friends babies (if not their own) who had spent some time in a neonatal unit. It truly was an eye opening experience.
And then to top it all off, Kahn the lovely taxi driver from Wellington Combined dropped us (and the incubator!) back to Featherston Street for free. How about that for a charitable donation.... He did get a fair few hugs though.....=0)
So how much did we raise from inhabitants of this fair city? An absolutely phenomenal $1264.30! An absolutely HUGE thank you to everyone that "threw a few coins" in the bucket. Those few coins have all added up and we are now unbelievably close to the $5k half way point for our fundraising.
If you missed us while we were out and about, the please head over to our fundraising page to donate, as we keep saying every little bit helps.
Lastly a big thank you to Yvette, one our team members who isn't a premmie Mum but is a solo Mum of 3 children with her own business and she still found the time to make us our terrific incubator!