This year will be my 4th half marathon run with the team. I just love it. Every year I’ve run for fun, to get fit and to support a truly wonderful cause and inspiring friends Sophie and Ash. However this year, and maybe every year from now on, it’s going to feel a little different.
Carolyn and I were so thrilled when our boy ‘Mad’ Max came into this world almost 5 years ago. He was 4 and a bit weeks premature which caught us by surprise, but I remember that he seemed like a giant in the NICU at 3.1kg next to tiny premature babies half his size. He only spent his first night for observation and then he was all ours.
But a month later we were back in hospital. Carolyn had unexpected complications after birth which required surgery. We thought nothing of it at the time – thankful that all seem sorted. A year or so later when we thought it was time to give Max a little brother or sister we had little luck. Then the specialists gave us the bad news. The previous complications had in fact caused a huge problem... Carolyn was diagnosed with severe Asherman’s Syndrome and our chances of having another baby were slim.
But, with a glimmer of hope we tried anyway and over the next 3 years we went through many surgeries and IVF cycles. We had many misses and a miscarriage during that time until we were physically and emotionally spent. We decided that we could surely only have one attempt left in us. So we went for it – no regrets. And then a miracle...we were pregnant, really pregnant. At 12 weeks our baby was healthy and at 20 weeks everything was going perfectly and we were looking forward to a holiday to Fiji to celebrate and recover from 3 tough years.
Then very unexpectedly, one week later at 21 weeks Carolyn’s waters broke. Our dreams were shattered and life would never be the same again. We rushed to hospital and were ushered into the delivery suite because the baby was not expected to hold on. We waited in the lonely delivery suite for 48hrs. The baby did hold on. Against all odds we were moved out of the delivery suite with the faintest of hopes that maybe the baby would be able to hold on at the very minimum for 3 more weeks, but preferably 6 more weeks to have a fighting chance to survive. We camped at hospital, praying that our baby would have a chance to benefit from the life saving equipment we have all helped raise funds for – to take even one breath because of it.
Tragically, a week later they found that Carolyn was developing an infection and the risk to the baby and mum was now too high so we were forced to induce labour. We prepared for the inevitable. The only unknown would be whether we would be losing a baby boy or a precious girl – we had never found out before as we wanted it to be a surprise. We thought we couldn’t possibly have any more tears to cry...we were wrong.
At 22 weeks and 2 days our dream had come true. The beautiful baby girl we always wanted was born. The little sister that her brother Max had asked for had come into the world. We named her Abigail (which means Father’s joy and she always will be). Abi was born too premature to survive labour. She was so perfect, so tiny at just 450 grams with perfectly formed features down to her tiny fingernails, precious toes and button nose. Our lives will never be the same.
It seemed almost unfair to have wonderful friends like Sophie and Ash to help guide us through the toughest time of our lives. I remember saying to Sophie we were so thankful to have her love and support, and at the same time so sorry that she had to experience what she has to become such an authority.
This year when you are running the race and you see a pink singlet, remember you are part of a special team full of amazing people running for a wonderful cause that will hopefully mean fewer parents suffer the unspeakable tragedy of going home from hospital without their dream baby.
Many of us will be running with heavy legs...and some of us like Carolyn and myself, will be running with heavy hearts. Your support and cheers for all in Pink Singlets will lift spirits more than you’ll ever know. Happy running...always.