Thursday, November 25, 2010

The last post before the big day....

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 first taste...

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.

Kia Kaha
Nicola Taylor

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Choose Your Attitude!

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

Hector’s Training Log

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

With Thanks....

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

Wow! What a night!

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!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A different kind of Fundraising!

The wellington girls will be out an about this evening (friday) trawling the likes of courtenay place asking punters to please part with their hard earned money!

The aim of the evening is to try and fill an incubator with cash ...... while dressed in costume! We hope our appeals will not go unheard and come tomorrow, we will be able to put up some pictures and announce how much we raised......

If you are going to be in town tonight, look out for us and come and say hello!

Stay tuned....

Sunday, November 7, 2010


“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong.

Cycling is my passion so when I heard my wife and other mums put together the ‘Pushing it for Prems’ cycling team and enter in the Taupo Cycling Challenge I decided I would also take part to help raise funds for the Neonatal Trust. I’ve been training for a few weeks now with the goal of finishing the 160km event in under five hours. I’ve found it’s been great getting out on the bike with a purpose and it’s been a nice opportunity to reflect on our time at Neonates. I feel extremely fortunate to live in New Zealand and have access to such amazing healthcare that ultimately gave our twin girls what they needed to survive and thrive after a rough start.

On December 11 2007 at 2am we woke to the shock of Nicola going into early labour at 29 weeks. I remember clearly some of the thoughts going through my head as we drove to Wellington hospital: This kind of thing doesn’t happen to us; we wont have the twins today - it will be a minor tummy upset; everything will be alright; if they are born we will have all kinds of complications.

Several hours later after attempts to slow contractions we were told it was time to go in and have the twins by emergency c-section. Overcome with emotion we went in to the theater scared, not knowing what was about to happen. Nic showed her strength all the way through the birth and while scared was positive throughout.

What felt like a few moments later Holly and Sophie were born, then in a flash they were whipped into incubators, wired up and I was told to follow them upstairs. The next thing I remember was walking into a room full of other prem babies and that’s when Anna Bolitho, another mum in the Pushing it for Prems cycling team, said ‘congratulations‘ with a big smile as she hugged little Greer for the first time. Next it was time to report back to Nic who had not yet seen her little girls, I had the fortune of being able to explain that although the girls were small they were doing good and fighting hard.

We were in the Neonatal Unit for two months, in that time we got to know most of the nursing staff on a first name basis and gained a whole new respect and understanding for all the dedicated and hard working nurses and doctors. I think like many people I had a rather negative view of premature babies and the experience changed my views completely.

So this is a chance for me to give something back and help raise funds for the Neonatal Trust. Look forward to seeing you all out on the bike soon.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Tough Choices

This is Griffin. He is a 7 month old black lab cross and he is our baby.

As you can imagine he needs a fair bit of exercise - and running round the house with a pair of stolen undies doesn't quite cut it. So most days I take him for a walk. One of our favourite walks is the Camborne walkway that walks around the edge of the Pauatahanui Inlet. It is really stunning and quite sheltered, but the best bit is that Griffin is allowed off the lead (and straight into the water!) for the
entire 3+ km walk.

So, a couple of weeks ago while doing this walk Griffin was running round like a puppy loon, splashing in the water and learning to properly swim. And I was watching him. Perhaps a little too much as I soon rolled my ankle in the drainage ditch. OW. Ow, was not the term I used at the time I tell you. I persevered with the walk as best I could and when I got home, applied R.I.C.E. The next morning it felt worse. A lot worse. So I was off to the doctor with visions of fractures and snapped tendons.

The good news was that I hadn't snapped my Achilles tendon, the bad news was that I had injured it quite badly. So strapped up and told to take it easy with the walking, but no cycling for 2 weeks! That’s not good for my training!

I also have a mild heart arrhythmia so my Doctor asked me while I was there if I had been having any heart palpitations after cycling ( which I had ) and how long it was taking to recover from a long ride. He also had a listen to my heart. He then took a deep breath and said that he was pretty sure that my arrhythmia was worse (an ECG would be needed to confirm), but I should give serious consideration to slowing down my training.

Seeing as I have a time frame (and now an injury!) its not really possible to slow down the training.

I was gutted. Without actually saying "You need to quit the challenge" this is what was being suggested. I took a bit to think about it but really, I can't mess with my heart.

So I have had to resign as a member of the relay team. I will be replaced have no doubt about that, and hopefully I will be able to tell you who that is shortly. I am really disappointed not to be able to complete this, but rest assured I am still committed to helping any way that I can to help meet our goals. And there is an awful lot to do to get there!


P.S we have a couple of great fundraising ideas coming up, so stay tuned to find out about them!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

When 8 becomes 9....

Hi All,

So over on The facebook and twitter page we promised an announcement! So here it is.

Angus Taylor (Holly & Sophie's Dad and Nicola's Husband) has been so inspired by all of us ladies getting out there and raising money for the neonatal trust, that he is going to join us!

Aah, but I hear you say how do you have 2 relay teams of 4 when you have 9 riders? The answer is you don't. Angus is such a legend, that he is going to ride the entire circuit (160kms) BY HIMSELF!!

How about that?! We think thats pretty awesome. It is great to have him on board and look out for a blog post (from a Dad's perspective) coming up shortly.

Have a great weekend!

The Pushing if For Prems

PS, in the blink of an eye we went from nearly $1500 on the fundraising page to over $1700!! A huge thank you to everyone that has donated and a special mention to a particularly large donation from Stuart and Sandra!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


You should see the rust & cobwebs on my dear old bike...........and I am a
blog-virgin too!!

Liza & her husband Dibs Patel came into my life only four years ago -
introduced through a mutual socialite - and they very quickly became firm

We had dinner parties, BBQ's and brazier fires together with a great circle
of people and Liza and I came to get to know one another very well.

Liza is one of the feistiest, driven and caring people I have come to love
and we spoke of times in the past when mountains had been climbed (as
friends do!) so it was a cautionary start to discovering the joy of a
miracle conception - Joss really had the odds against him as Liza had
experienced loss before.

This courageous woman did everything she could to ensure that carrying this
child would be conclusive - then all hell broke loose. I would have to say
the most frightening look on anyone's face I have ever seen, was at a nice
BBQ night at my home at 19 weeks of pregnancy when Liza returned from the
bathroom, ashen faced and announced she had had an early bleed.

Confined to bed rest in a hospital was the designated fate from that point
on, so Liza became all to familiar with a side of the hospital that appeared
hard at the time - try containing an organized, wilful business woman (yes
she still had wireless and a laptop in her room!) for long periods!!
Visiting with chocolates, and juices and other morsels to 'make it nice' was
a dawdle in comparison with what lay ahead.

I recieved a phone-call on Boxing Day 2007, when I was all the way up
country on Xmas break with my children and I could not comprehend what Dibs
was telling me! Liza had had the baby at 23 weeks gestation and he had been
named Joss. I experienced tears of both joy and fear for them and annoyance
at being so far away for a friend - and yet fate was beginning to bring her
closer to the most amazing network of woman, bound eternally in mutual love
and fighting spirit - at that very time.

There was nothing I could do in being there anyway as the care and nursing
for the entire family - Liza, Dibs and Joss - had begun in earnest and it
was an "around the clock" dedicated team that surrounded all of these new
friends and gave them 110% of their skills, love and time to get through
such an incredibly tough journey.

I had the pleasure of being 'snuck' into Wellington Hospital's inner sanctum
(where Joss was transferred to for only a few days).

This happened to coincide with my return from up North, thus being an early
rare moment I could meet my new wee friend!, and I was struck by three
things - the absolute miracle of casting one's eyes over the most perfect
human form at only 550g; the eerie peacefulness of such a place that had
such harrowing tales to tell when babies struggle (and all of my bike-riding
companions can and have told these very tales); and the stunning letters of
hope and support from the other mothers, fathers, families or, in fact, the
very children who had experienced this strange juxtaposition of both the
misfortune and the honour of being through the care of Neonates.

I have met most of these women I am riding with and I consider it a bloody
privilege to sweat my butt off for a great cause with them!
They are the greatest Mums and all have had the most beautiful children and
are so spirited after their collective ordeals.

Testament to my belief in this support - is that I, like my pal Liza -
actually abhor physical exercise generally and personally would rather sit
and observe others engaging in this sought of madness.

Joss is the dearest, sweetest, smiliest little mate in the whole damn world
- God bless to the team of folk that kept him here. May you continue to
unite together many more women, men, children and extended whanau like these
special ladies - I am SOOOO gonna enjoy comparing bruises and having a toast
to Neonates when we are done!!

A very special mention to Liza's Mum Liz who is Joss's caregiver too.... She
has relocated herself from London and jumped through hoops to regain her NZ
residency in order to be there for the family and her special grandson Joss
(no mean feat!!) - yet another example of how the Neonates journey has
created upheaval yet cemented caring, kindness and togetherness.

Monday, October 25, 2010


My name is Kyla, and I loathe bikes….or so I thought until 3 weeks ago. As you know we are a group of Mums who were thrown together by a twist of fate. From November 2007 until early January 2008, all of our worlds came crashing down when we gave birth to extremely premature babies. Whatever the outcome, our lives would change forever.

Rewind back to 29 December 2007. Only four days after Christmas and life was good. The old dude in the red suit had been kind, I was 5 months pregnant with our long awaited baby and my husband Mark and I were on top of the world. As it was the holiday season, Mark and I decided to drive to Wellington for the day for a spot of shopping. While we were happily trawling the streets of wellington, not a worry in the world, 6 babies I would soon become to know very well were in Wellington NICU fighting for their lives; 11 days later Eva became one of them.

My waters broke in Wellington that day, at 22 weeks gestation, and I was admitted to Palmerston North hospital that night. I was flown to Wellington Hospital on 8 January 2008 and at 23weeks 5 days gestation our darling wee girl was born at 11.33pm weighing 475gms, and so the roller coaster began.

The next few weeks were all a bit of a blur, our heads were spinning, we were on one very steep learning curve. Our journey wasn’t typical for a 23 weeker, Eva had a surprisingly good start to life and we were told she was doing very well. This was so hard for us to comprehend because she was so tiny and frail. After 10 days, things changed rapidly. The next four months were an extremely emotional and traumatic time for us all. Eva was one sick little girl. She never did anything by halves, she would be fabo well one day and then would hit rock bottom the next. She crashed so many times, I dreaded the phone ringing at Ronald McDonald house because it was usually the hospital to say she had taken a turn for the worst, get here fast. I feel sick just thinking about it.

But somehow she got through. After 4 months in Wellington NICU and 2 and half months in Palmerston North Neonates, our little girl came home. And now almost 3 years on it is time to give thanks. Thanks to the incredible medical team at Wellington NICU who saved Eva’s life and never gave up on her. Thanks to the Neonatal Trust who provided us so much support by way of a friendly smile, shoulder to cry on and offerings of hope in what seemed sometimes a very hopeless world. A huge part of this too is to say thank you to the incredibly bunch of women who ARE Pushing It For Prems. Nicola, you are the first person I met and were so kind and lovely to me when I was still in a state of shock. Tamar, I remember vividly seeing you for the first time too, Mitchell had just had his PDA ligated and you were in room A lovingly watching your son. You were always so friendly and positive and gave me hope. Debs, we were never in the same room were we?! We both walked those halls for so many months and you always gave me your lovely smile (plus you knew when to look away too which is equally as important). Anna, you my dear are loveliness personified! We were very briefly Ronald McDonald inmates at the same time, and you always looked so together! I’ll never forget meeting Greer for the first time, she was such a huge inspiration to us and I clung onto hope that Eva would one day follow suit and transfer out then make it home. Lynette, my wonderful Sister-In-Law and very dear friend, you were such a huge support to us while Eva was in hospital, you kept the home fires burning and it is something we will never forget. Your support didn’t stop when Eva got home, quite the opposite, you are still my number one support person to this day and it is only right that you ride with us. Eva told me today that you were her best friend (that’s my spot how rude), she loves you and Uncle Paul so much and is absolutely besotted with her cousins Thor and Luca. Thank you for everything, we love you all.

And finally, Liza. Liza, Liza, Liza. What can I possibly say that will cover what we have shared together? We have stood back and watched while each others babies have been teetering on the edge of life, we have witnessed things that nobody should ever have to see, and felt things together that nobody should ever have to feel. But also somehow we also managed to have a laugh, in such a crazy intense environment, we would sometimes be sitting there in hysterics! It was a wonderful escape from realism and I value your cheeky sense of humour so very much.
Having an extremely Premature baby is not something you would choose for your child, however if I had to choose the people I would share my journey with, I couldn’t pick a better group of women if I tried.

Despite Eva’s start to life, she is now a happy, chatty little girl who brings so much joy to those around her. She does have some visual impairment, but this doesn’t hold her back, her personality and feisty little nature carries her through. She is very headstrong and not a fan of the word No. Mark and I are so proud to be her parents, she is the centre of our universe.

If you are the parents of a baby in a Neonatal unit at the moment, the one bit of advice I can give is to please never, ever give up. Not all babies survive, that is true, but sometimes, just sometimes miracles do happen. We know this first hand.
So after the longest blog in history….my name is Kyla and I loathe bikes….rather - I loathe the bike seat! I’m sure my bottom is bruised. I’m finding the cycling surprisingly enjoyable, and I even did some hill work yesterday which went better than expected. Thank goodness its not a race, I think a snail could get up those hills quicker than I do. I have the final leg of Taupo, my goal is to do it in 2 hours and to NOT get off at Hatepe Hill! Bring on the Finish Line and the bucket of ice for my backside afterwards!


Friday, October 22, 2010

I never had a prem baby – I have a prem niece.

My story starts when beautiful Eva was born. What a journey her family has been on since then.

When people you love are facing hard times you hope and wish that your love for them will be enough to make a difference and pull them through. But, it takes more than that – and we realised that many times during Eva’s journey. Many times we would wait for a phone call to let us know if she had survived the night.

I wrote Eva and her Mum a letter every week to keep them up to date with the news at home, we cooked tea for her Dad and occasionally weeded the gardens. And, we prayed. We prayed that our precious niece, and cousin, would come home – soon!!!

My first photo with Eva was taken when she was 2 days old and in her incubator surrounded by nurses, tubes and machines. I didn’t get to touch her until she was 5 months old. For a devoted aunt that was extremely difficult. Her cousins Thor and Luca didn’t meet her until she was out of the Palmerston North neonatal ward.

Although I’m riding my bike to raise money to help other beautiful babies and their families, I’m also riding my bike to show Eva’s parents how much they mean to us. To let them know that they are so brave and have been an inspiration to all their extended family. We love you guys so much.

Eva - If riding my bike could help another child as beautiful as you I would do it all day. You are an amazing girl and we love you very much. Our life has been blessed having you in it.

Aunty Lynette, Uncle Paul, Thor and Luca xxxxx

PS. Training is nightmare. It’s too windy to be on a bike and I’m sick of the rain. I’m so worried I will get a puncture out in the middle of nowhere and have to walk home. We just have to keep going though and remember who we are helping.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Journey of a Lifetime

Its hard to believe our little miracle is now almost three years old - in fact, her birthday is 5 days after the Taupo challenge! My name is Anna and I am a proud Mum of two. Since having children I have been pretty inactive on the exercise front so this challenge has come along at the perfect time. Its a wee bit easier to head out and train now they are older - I just hope I am getting out often enough to cope come the big Taupo hills on race day - time will tell!

Our Neonate journey started 5 weeks into pregnancy from where a plethora of problems unravelled over the coming weeks.

Ultimately, Greer's early arrival was determined when my waters broke at 22 weeks + 3 days. We were sent yet again from Nelson to Wellington though this time it was to wait it out, which we did until Greer was delivered at 25 weeks + 3 days, weighing in at 1 lb 13 oz (840g).

At first Greer was the healthier of us two. I haemorraged badly, losing a lot of blood. Our surgical team performed an emergency hysterectomy and did what was necessary - they were incredible and we are so, so grateful to the team who cared for me and to Greer's enormous crew.

Greer was transferred from Main Theatre through the underground tunnel to NICU where we spent the next 7 weeks. We transferred back to Nelson Hospital for a further 7 weeks with a few days back in Wellington for laser eye surgery. Our girl came home before her due date, albeit on oxygen for a further two months - amazing!
Being in Neonates has opened our eyes to a world we never knew existed before we were thrown into it. We are honoured in so many ways to know the families of the children Greer spent time in the unit with.

Hector was one of the babies we were introduced to on our 'unit tour' at 23 weeks and who Greer was later housed beside for a while.
I was having my very first cuddle with Greer at 9 days old when Holly and Sophie were wheeled into NICU closely followed by a tired yet exhilirated Angus. It took a moment before it hit me that this is what Ben - Greer's Daddy would have experienced only days before.

One of the memories that we hold dearest came when Tamar and Glenn came in to visit Mitchell one day. Out of the blue that day Mitchell's nurse asked if they would like a cuddle - a whole month after Mitchell's birth and the only day they didn't have their camera! We had ours so offered to take some photos of them and then left them to snap away to their hearts content - priceless and precious! We are also so lucky to know Joss and Eva's families, both of who's journeys have been huge.

Today Miss G is a healthy, feisty, fun and very stubborn little girl who is about to start kindy. So much of her personality and progress we credit to her big brother James. He was 2 1/2 when Greer was born. For ten whole weeks his Nanna's cared for him, bringing him up for occasional and short visits. He loves his little sister to bits and she idolises him - he waited ten very long and patient weeks for his first cuddle with her - you should have seen his face! Today they play together so well, get into plenty of mischief and generally keep us busy! Only once has he asked for us to 'please put Greer back in Mummy's tummy' - how blessed we are.


Friday, October 15, 2010

All Thanks to Wellington Neonates!


My name is Deborah and I too am one of the mum's about to get in the saddle and experience a sore bottom and screaming legs all for an amazing cause.

Our son Hector was born 1st November 2007 gestation 24 weeks and 6 days, weighing in at a mighty 800grms. Hector's stay in Wellington Hospital lasted seven and a half months (five and a half of which were spent in the neonatal unit before transferring to the childrens ward). The tough little cookie overcame a few blips on the way and is now a healthy and strapping little boy with boundless energy and a cheeky, wilful character who is fast approaching his third birthday. A huge thank you to all the staff and consultants at Wellington Neonates who ensured that we brought home a healthy and happy little boy. Their care and support was second to none.

Not only is our participation in the Taupo Cycling Challenge for a fantastic cause (Wellington Neonatal Trust), in addition, it has forced me to exercise, lose weight and prepare so that I can hopefully enjoy the day. It is also helping me to keep pace with Hector who was, prior to starting training, beginning to out pace me at every turn. Now I at least have the energy to tire him out on the football pitch before bedtime.

I have not been on a bike since the age of 10 and most of my training has so far been in the gym although a couple of weeks ago, I borrowed a bike and with my able training companion Liza (Joss' mum), we completed 38km with lots of aaahhhs and ooooohs (from me at least) along the way. I didn't know cycling could be such fun. I hasten to add it was a very flat 38km. Oh well we will up the anti on the next one - 34km of hill after hill (I told Liza it would be a scenic route .. not sure if I mentioned the terrain!). Watch this space to see if we conquer the mountain!


Monday, October 11, 2010

Sschh I’m lovin’ it!

Hi Everyone

My name is Liza, like Nicola I have never written a blog before or competed in any kind of sporting challenge since school – not entirely sure it was my favourite thing to do back then either!

Our story started at 19 weeks when I had a scare and was immediately admitted to hospital to wait for what everyone thought would be another miscarriage. After four weeks of strict bed rest my beautiful boy Joss was born on Boxing Day at 23 weeks weighing 550 grams (just over 1lb). Having just crept into what the medical profession consider to be “viable” we lived on a knife edge, first waiting to make it through 24 hours, then the next day and eventually achieving the all important 2 week stage. Joss was intubated for 3 weeks but by 2 months he was on full feeds and whilst still on oxygen we were focused on his growth. Four months later – the day before his due date – we left the Neonatal Unit with Joss. The next year for us was joyful and terrifying almost in equal measure. After a couple of months at home Joss suddenly started stopping breathing, we would resuscitate him, go to hospital and be sent home again but eventually we were sent to Starship Hospital by Air Ambulance. Our little boy spent 10 days in Pediatric Intensive Care fighting for his life. He had gastric reflux which was silently aspirating into his lungs, the surgeons operated and within 48 hours Joss was off oxygen amazing everyone.

Rapidly approaching 3 Joss today is a beautiful (honestly) little boy who has a wicked sense of humour and laughs like Muttley, he is charming and flirtatious, laid back but incredibly focused. As a result of his journey he has been left with mild cerebral palsy which effects his gross motor skills but he has a will of iron and determination to get through like I have never seen before so I have no doubt he will get there.

As our stories show we didn’t get to have an antenatal group so we formed our own. What I have come to learn is that this is not that common and we were incredibly fortunate but there is so many families whose only support is the Neonatal Trust on a journey that could be a few weeks or that could last for months.

I decided sometime ago that I had better get into the gym and have been periodically battling the Wellington winds and cycling out to Pencarrow Lighthouse for sometime now. A couple of weeks ago Debs (one of the Mum’s you will meet soon) did a 38 km round trip along the Hutt River – all pretty flat so we will be tackling hills in the next few weeks, Whitemans Valley here we come. What I have discovered is that I love cycling – yeah I hear you say “talk to you after the Taupo hills” but for now I am enjoying myself. Time to clear your head, literally blow away the cobwebs and reflect away…

Thank you for taking the time to read our blogs, we would love you to follow us and if you can support us on our mission.


Thursday, October 7, 2010

Training with Twins!


This is my first time writing a blog, ever, it feels a bit intimidating almost as intimidating as entering the Taupo Cycling Challenge!

My name is Nicola. I am part of the relay team and very proud and nervous to be part of the challenge.

After a reasonably straight forward albeit uncomfortable pregnancy I woke suddenly one night to my waters breaking. I was 29 weeks pregnant. About 12 hours later our daughters Sophie and Holly were welcomed into the world. They weighed 1.29kg and 1.3kg respectively (about 3pounds each) and were rushed to the awaiting incubators and provided with oxygen. The days that followed we watched our little babies, clutching the incubators and willing them to grow.

Those first days we were reassured that our babies were doing ok but cautioned to take each day at a time. We were still in shock and having trouble adjusting to our situation. It wasn’t until I started talking to other mums that I realised just how easy a journey we were having (comparably) and my mood changed from feeling poor me – to wonderment and respect for the amazing mums and parents in the unit. I am sure the following blogs will attest to that.

We spent 8 weeks in neonatal care – and when we brought the girls home they weighed 2.4 kg each and were completely free of oxygen. The first year especially we were very careful and managed to keep out of hospital bar one 10-day stint back on oxygen and feeding tubes. Apart from that, we have experienced as near to normal first few years as you can hope for with twins born more than 2 months early.

In December this year Sophie and Holly turn 3. Everyday we feel gratitude for the wonderful care they received in their first few months at Wellington Hospital and the amazing supportive community of fellow premmie mums that I admire and respect more and more as time goes by.

My training for the challenge is haphazard to say the least. Now that the weather is better I am hoping to get out more regularly on the bike. I am generally pretty active but 40km of Taupo hills is rather daunting! Today I pushed our girls up and around some Wellington hills for a couple of hours. Does that count? They weigh quite a lot these days!! (har har) And tomorrow morning I am off to yoga at 6am. Really though I am going to have to bite the bullet soon and realise that cross training is not what I should be focusing on right now.
Im going to put it out there so I stick to it. By next blog I will have gone on at least three 40km rides in anticipation of November 27th.


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Its Hard work!


My name is Tamar and I am one of the 8 mum's completing this challenge and on the starting line for one of the relay teams.

Our son Mitchell was born on Dec 5th 2007 at 26 weeks gestation. He battled numerous infections, bowel problems, a heart op and eye surgery. He came through all of those over the 7 months that he was in the wellington neonatal unit, but his most serious ailment, unusually severe chronic lung disease he unfortunately could not win against and passed away on the 4th of July 2008. He is always in ours and a lot of peoples hearts as a wee boy with a lot of courage and an infectious smile.

I have stayed in contact with the other Mum's that we went through the unit with and have formed and enduring friendship based on the shared experiences we all have.

My training for this event so far has been quite limited. I was getting quite good on the exercycle so was pretty confident that a bike would be alright. How wrong I was. I bought a second hand bike from trademe a few weeks ago and decided that I would ride it the 4.5kms home. I haven't been on a bike since I was a teenager, but figured it would come back to me pretty quickly. I was wobbly for a bit but Ok. I was only about 1/2 a km into it before I started panting and puffing and wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into. Until that point I hadn't really taken into account the difference between an exercycle and a bike. On a bike, you are carrying your own weight and when you are a big girl like myself, that makes a hell of a difference!

I have been out a few times since then, but I get a really sore pelvic bone every time I ride which is quite off putting. I have a gel seat, but its not helping much ( the guy at the bike shop has since told me I have the wrong one, apparently I need one with grooves so the gel doesn't separate). BUT I have now bought the most unflattering bike pants that seem like they have an enormous maternity pad sewn into them! (haha)

So.... stay tuned to see if they help my training!


Friday, October 1, 2010

Welcome to our training page!

Hi All,

A little about us and what we are trying to do....

We are a group of 8 Premmie Mum's who all came through the Wellington Neonatal Unit at the tail end of 2007 - we are a group of ordinary woman who have had an extraordinary journey.

As you will appreciate we are a very different mix of people who have
all found a common bond through a very intense experience. Most of
our babies are extreme prems born around 25 weeks but with two 23
weekers and one set of twins in the crew. The babies and consequently
us have all faced adversity and challenges, some of our number still
do on a daily basis. We collectively refer to our babies as the
Blanket Club (a story for another time) and always in our hearts is
Mitchell who didn't make it through. Nearly three years on we are all
very close and Mitchell's Mum Tamar will be at the starting line for
this challenge.

As I am sure you will relate, this is not a journey that anyone would
choose but through it and our little "Club" we have seen incredible
joy, sorrow, pain and love. I am proud to stand next to anyone of
these incredible woman and I know they will give it their all for
their babies, themselves and the Unit. Our team name for the event is
Pushing It For Prems and proceeds will be donated to the Trust.

We will have 2 teams of 4 cyclists taking part in the round taupo cycle challenge this year, with each member cycling approx. 40km each. That is a long way for some of us that haven't been on a bike since we were teenagers!

We hope that you will read our training updates and support us and the Neonatal trust in the coming months. We will take turns with writing updates on how we are going, and you can learn more about us and our awesome children.

Happy cycling everyone!

The Blanket club.