Susan's story: Remembering special twins Erik and Bjorn
After entering the Sydney Half Marathon for 2013 I came across an article in the R4YL magazine about the Running For Premmie Babies team established by Sophie and Ashley. Touched by their story I knew straight away that I'd make contact and join.
Having been through a similar experience myself, I could relate to many of the feelings parents experience after the loss of their babies.
In 2003, my first pregnancy began with the joy and excitement of being told we were expecting identical twins. It was in my 23rd week of pregnancy that I went into early labour and gave birth to Erik (who lived for 5 minutes) and Bjorn (who was still born).
My husband Magnus and I were fortunate to be surrounded by loving, caring, nurturing family and friends, that helped us get through this traumatic time in our lives. We were able to grieve our babies knowing we had their support.
10 years on and Magnus and I are now blessed with 3 more beautiful boys Niklaus 9 (born @ 36 weeks), Tommy 6 (born @ 34 weeks - spending 18 days in the special care nursery) and Jonas 3 (born @ 38 weeks).
Erik and Bjorn are not forgotten members of our family. They have a special basket with their photo and mementos that sits on our tall boy drawers in our bedroom. Photo albums exist, gifts are given in their memory, their candle sits on the table at Xmas time and on their Birthday/Anniversary's, and our boys will often ask questions and talk freely about the twins whenever they need.
My 6 year old Tommy recently came home from school with a family tree he had made. They were asked to draw their family. It made me smile to see he'd drawn 2 angels and named them Erik and Bjorn.
Running has always been a big part of my life. Highlights of my running career include winning the Canberra marathon in 2001, representing Australia in the marathon at the World Track and Field champs in Edmonton, Canada in 2001, team member at the World Cross Country Champs in Switzerland (2003) and Japan (2006), Australian Cross Country Champion in 2005 and finishing 2nd Female overall in the Stockholm Marathon, Sweden in 2005.
Running certainly was good therapy for me after losing the twins. I felt love and security when I returned to my running group. Being in crowded places was often quite overwhelming during the early weeks but I felt safe whilst running.
I remember running on Xmas day (the 1st Xmas after our loss) and having tears trickle down my cheeks as I ran past happy families down at the beach. Happy for them but longing for that experience myself.
My first race back was a 10km fun run, 6 months after giving birth to Erik and Bjorn by caesarean. I finished 3rd that day but it felt just as good as any win. I could hear real love, care, and genuine support as I ran past spectators and other competitors. Many members of the athletic community knew my story and their support certainly aided my recovery. I particularly remember running past my sister and it brought tears to my eyes as she yelled loudly to me "Have a great run today Susan".
10 years on, as I competed in the wonderful RFPB's singlet I totally enjoyed being part of such a special team. Being able to wave, smile and encourage other members and receive encouragement back made my experience running again in the SMH Half Marathon that much better.
I thank and congratulate Sophie and Ashley for the amazing job they are doing fundraising for the Royal Women's Hospital neonatal ward. Such a positive and wonderful way to keep Henry, Jasper and Evan's spirit alive.
I look forward to proudly wearing my purple RFPB's singlet again in 2014!
On top of Susan's incredible story, she became our new female team champion in 2013, finishing the race in an astounding 82 minutes and setting a new RFPB team record. Her super-fast time also meant Susan was the 11th across the line in a field of more than 5000 female runners. Susan you are amazing!