On Monday February 20 2017 I am doing a fitness challenge. I am doing this challenge to celebrate life: my own, and that of my son, because those lives might both have ended that day.
I am doing a fitness challenge because there was a time, three years ago, when for nearly a week my feet quite literally did not touch the ground. In a bed I was not permitted to leave, full of wires pumping things in to me and monitoring what was coming out of me. A central line going in to my jugular. Infused with magnesium sulphate that made me throw up, and feel like my whole body was on fire.
I was 24 weeks’ pregnant with my much-wanted first baby.
While a patient in hospital I was effectively a prisoner, deprived of my liberty. And if I had not submitted, I would have been deprived of my life, so what choice did I have?
My independence lost. Sudden extreme swelling damaged tendons in my hands and wrists leaving me unable to grip, to hold a pen or feed myself. Similar issues in my ankles and feet left me unable to walk.
No longer do I take for granted my independence or my freedom.
I value being able to lift and swing a kettlebell, to be able to do box jumps, press ups.
Because the outcome might have been very different.
I am also doing the challenge to raise money for two charities that are very important to me.
Because no woman should have HELLP syndrome. No woman in the 21st century should have her life threatened by pregnancy. No baby should die because of a lack of thorough understanding of the placenta, this organ that creates life but can also claim them.
We need to help Tommy’s fund crucial research into HELLP syndrome, preeclampsia, and other causes of maternal and baby death. In the case of HELLP and preeclampsia in particular we know what the symptoms are. We also know that the illness is related to a problem with the placenta, but we do not know why. We need to know more, understand more, so that we can hopefully one day prevent it.
I am raising money for First Touch, the charity for the neonatal unit at St George’s Hospital, south London because that is where Hugo lived during the 35 days of his life.
It is for all the mummies and daddies who find themselves thrust, often without warning, in to a neonatal environment. Terrified, lost, an uncertain future. Your precious baby in a clear plastic box.
First Touch helps provide state-of-the-art equipment that can help give those tiny babies an increased chance of leaving the plastic box, and going home.
They provide support with the little things that are oh-so important when your life has been turned upside-down, and you are perhaps a long way from home as we were. Things like a comfortable parents’ room, somewhere where you can take a break with a hot drink from the beeps of the nursery, while remaining close by.
And for when despite everything those kind, dedicated, wonderful staff have done everything they possibly can your baby will not return home the charity can provide training in giving difficult news, and helping support parents make impossible decisions. To make the pain even a tiny bit easier.
So when, during the challenge when inevitably my lungs start to burn, and my muscles scream for mercy I shall keep going.
I will be hearing Hugo’s voice in my head: “Come on Mummy, you can do it!” I will be channelling the incredible strength, fight, tenacity, and resilience my tiny Hugo Boss had.
I will be remembering that the pain of the challenge will be short-lived: I survived HELLP syndrome and the brink of multiple-organ failure, and I will smash this too.
I will be remembering all that I have survived the past three years. The trauma of Hugo’s birth; the heartbreak of his death, and finding a way to live through the aftermath.
Because it is things like that which show you exactly what you are made of.
An Awesomeness Challenge? Bring it on.
This is why the Awesomeness Challenge is so important to me.
If you would like to contribute to the Awesomeness Challenge you can donate by text:
Donate to First Touch by sending the code HCDP80 and your amount £x to 70070.
Donate to Tommy’s by sending the code HCDP90 and your amount £x to 70070.
(HCDP is Hugo’s initials: Hugo Christopher Dylan Parker).
If you would prefer to donate online, and for more information, please visit my JustGiving page, and/or read this post.