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.