So. Ladies and gentlemen… in 4 weeks’ time I will be ticking off one of my New Year’s Resolutions…. Running a 10K!
I’ve signed up for the St David’s Day Run, and I’m doing it for Bliss, the special care baby charity. They’ve sent me a t-shirt and everything. I’ve done a lot of fundraising in the past, for various things, but this is different. Because back in the day I was a special care baby too 🙂
My brother and I were both very early babies. Doug was 15 weeks early and was in an incubator for 2 months as his lungs kept collapsing. There’s this amazing picture of him next to a Bic biro – and the biro’s bigger. He had to breath through a tube, which the doctors realised he was ready to come off when he pulled it out himself! He came home 2 weeks before his due date weighing 4lbs. I was 10 weeks early, and while I never needed feeding or breathing tubes (Mum says I was “feisty”) I also spent my first few weeks in an incubator.
Mum spent a lot of time on the Special Care Baby Unit, cutting up nappies to make them fit, and making outfits for us and our roommates using patterns for dolls clothes. She told me about a little girl who was born around the same time as me, at just 21 weeks. Nowadays they wouldn’t necessarily treat such an early baby – it’s a guideline, not a rule, but the cut-off point is 22 weeks. Mum made the little girl “the prettiest yellow dress”, and she wore it to be christened in, but she didn’t survive. I didn’t know that, but then I didn’t know that much about what that whole period was like for Mum and Dad. It’s just kind of taken as given that it happened, but it wasn’t too big a deal because I am now a happy and healthy 24 year old. But you can’t know that at the time, when a tiny, doll-sized baby that you weren’t quite expecting yet has just turned up. I’ve been thinking about that little girl a lot recently.
Mum used to knit blankets for Bliss while she was there too, another thing I didn’t know when I decided to run for them. Bliss does amazing work for premature babies. They fund research into new treatments as well as providing support and counselling for parents. It must have been so scary for my parents to deal with two very early, very small babies in a row, despite how blasee Mum is about it now! She’s very much a ‘right, head down, let’s get on with it’ kind of person, and whenever I talk to her about it that’s her response. But I know she feels like it’s come full circle with me now fundraising as a thank you.
I’d love to be able to help parents having to cope with it now. Or help the parents of that little 21-week-girl – Mum never kept in contact with them, but they should know that their little girl hasn’t been forgotten. She may not have been here very long, but she was here. And thanks to the work of people like Bliss, I’m here too. And able to do this run. 1 kilometre for every week I was early.
I’m not going to lie, it’s going to be a challenge. But while I’ve been training, I’ve come to realise that so much of the effort involved in running is mental. You get to a point where you want to stop, and you just don’t. Because you know that really, you can keep going. I’m up to 4.5 miles (along the beach yesterday morning, lovely) and, bit scared, but starting to feel excited for the actual thing. I can do 5k in about 40 minutes so I’m aiming for an hour and a half. Wish me luck 🙂
I have, of course, got a fundraising page, and you’re very welcome to take a look and donate a pound or two if you can!
(Just so you know – I’m one of 4, and Mum got better with practice. My middle brother was 5 weeks early and the youngest was bang on time!)