Gabriella’s Story – Why We Are Doing What We Are Doing………..

Life is quiet at the moment, suspiciously quiet, worryingly quiet and a bit damned well unnerving. Well, apart from the small matter of The London Marathon two weeks on Sunday, (and the Brighton Marathon a week on Sunday for the legend that is Tommo), and several open water swims in Windermere in the summer, (with or without wetsuit depending on the event), that is.

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So, in light of this I am going to take the opportunity to repost just one of the reasons we are doing what we are doing.

If you needed any prompting about sponsoring any of us for the various Sporting Challenges, this article should make up your mind. Every penny goes to Tommy’s, (www.Tommy’s.org).

The post was originally published on the Every Inch Of Tarmac blog back in January.


 

In memory of our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella.

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Today should be one of the most special days of my life. Today is the due date of our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella, who was born sleeping on October 9th 2015. I am writing this piece in honour of her memory, as a way of celebrating her life and the very special time we had together. I am also sharing our journey in the hope that it may help someone else, as learning about other people’s experiences has supported me.

Tuesday 19th May 2015 was the most special day of my life. This was the day I found out I was expecting our first baby. The moment I saw the blue cross on the pregnancy test, I felt my life change in a split second. My every move throughout the day revolved around our baby, wanting to protect as best as I possibly could.

Whilst visiting family in the UK later that month, I had a very light bleed and went to the hospital to be checked. This was the first moment I saw our baby and heard their heartbeat. I remember thinking it was the most special thing I had ever experienced. The hospital gave us the all clear, however I was reminded as this was my first pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage was quite high. Hearing this information made me feel quite anxious, but I tried to remain positive and hoped for the best.

Our 12 week scan was competed in Christchurch, New Zealand as we were away on holiday as part of our first wedding anniversary. This was the first time my husband saw and heard our baby’s heartbeat. I remember feeling anxious before the scan, thinking about the risk of miscarriage and hoping our baby’s heartbeat would be present. It was an incredibly moving and emotional experience again, hearing our baby’s heartbeat, seeing how much they had grown and changed since the early scan. We opted to keep the images and video clips from the scan on a memory stick, of which I am so pleased we did.

A few weeks after we returned from our holiday, I had another light bleed. As soon as I saw the speckles of blood I went into panic mode, petrified this was the start of us losing our baby. We went to A&E to be checked. It was a huge relief to see our baby appear on the screen and their heart was beating. I was told at this point the placenta was low lying and that more than likely this would move up as our baby grew. A huge sense of relief came over me knowing our little baby was safe and well. Around this time I began feeling little flutters which was such a magical feeling.

My birthday arrived in September and I remember thinking that being a mummy was the best gift I could ever wish for. It was the gift of all gifts. A few days later we went for our 20 week scan, although we were closer to 23 weeks. Those initial seconds waiting for our baby to appear on the screen felt forever and I remembering feeling petrified after the recent light bleed. I remember feeling a huge sense of relief again, seeing our baby and hearing their heartbeat. It was amazing to see how much our little baby had grown and developed, and we opted to keep our baby’s sex a surprise for their arrival. We were told our baby was measuring well and everything looked to be fine. I went away feeling reassured and a little more hopeful for the future.
A few weeks later we flew to New York and I struggled quite a bit with swollen feet. I thought this was a combination of flying and a typical sign of pregnancy. I also developed an itching around my belly. I looked into this as I was away from home, and read this was another typical symptom of pregnancy, as the skin stretches to accommodate a baby’s growth. Upon our return home, I obtained medical advice regarding my feet, and was advised to keep my feet up.

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Two days later I went to the hospital for a routine check-up with my Obstetrician. We went through the normal checks: weight, blood pressure etc. Since the scan of two weeks prior, my weight had increased rapidly by 4kg. I knew I had been away on a mini-break and had some nice meals out, however I ate healthy and sensibly. It was questioned why my weight had rapidly increased in such a short space of time.

Our Obstetrician said he wanted to complete an ultrasound to check the baby before finishing the appointment. I got on the bed and had the usual feelings of anxiety, worrying if our baby’s heart would be beating. I remember looking up and seeing a dark screen. It remained dark. The usual light image of our baby was not there. My heart sank. I knew immediately something wasn’t right. I was asked when I last felt the baby move and kick, of which I replied yesterday. Our Obstetrician told us he was struggling to find our baby’s heartbeat. My heart sank. The feelings which I had always feared had finally come true.

Our Obstetrician said he wanted us to go for a second scan so we went to the ultrasound department. I was asked by the Sonographer when I last felt baby kick and move, of which I gave the same reply of yesterday. I was told this was not the case and that our baby’s heart was no longer beating. The measurements calculated our baby had passed away possibly one to two weeks prior. Hearing this news shattered both my husband and I. I could not take in what had just been said. Time stood still. I remembering pinching myself, wondering if it was a dream. I couldn’t believe our little baby had gone to sleep.

Going home to tell our parents was incredibly difficult. I could not physically say to my parents what had happened. I felt I had lost the ability to speak. I couldn’t look at my family in the face, I felt so ashamed for what happened. I felt the biggest sense of guilt. I was our baby’s lifeline and felt I had not done the most important job of my life, keeping our baby alive and safe.

We returned to hospital the following day where I was induced. The contractions took some time to appear, and when they did they were incredibly painful. It was the most heart breaking thing to go through, going through labour and knowing your beautiful baby was going to arrive fast asleep. When our baby arrived into the world fast asleep, we learnt we were the very proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. We decided to call her Gabriella. She was beautiful and perfect in every way. Gabriella had her father’s nose and large feet like her mummy. My husband was a huge support and remained by my side throughout our time in hospital. We were also very lucky to have support from our local GP who helped us both during Gabriella’s labour, and once discharged from hospital.

When I was discharged from hospital, I saw a lady cradling her newborn baby, wearing a babygrow which we had got for Gabriella. It was incredibly difficult to see the babygrow on another baby, knowing Gabriella wouldn’t get the chance to wear it. Once home, the following weeks were incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally. I developed mastitis which was incredibly painful. It felt like a kick in the teeth, knowing my body was prepared to feed Gabriella but she was not here to receive it.

Because we live between the UK and overseas, we had to go through the repatriation process. This was another difficult experience for both my husband and I. Seeing Gabriella’s death certificate is indescribable. I think it was that moment, seeing the words on paper, made me realise all of this was real. The three of us flew back to London Heathrow on 3rd November, and were transported to my home town where Gabriella was placed in the Chapel of Rest.

Gabriella’s service was held on November 11th 2015. Laying your baby to rest is something no parent should ever have to do. Cradling Gabriella’s casket in the car on the way to the service was one of the most heart wrenching things I have done. At the same time, I remember thinking it was one of the most special things I could do and would be my last chance to hold her in my arms. The Lion King’s Circle of Life song was played at the end of her service. This was to symbolise one of the last times we were together as a family, watching the Lion King in New York. We also felt the lyrics were poignant to Gabriella’s journey and her life.

We have been incredibly lucky to be under the care of a fantastic Obstetrician who has supported us every step of the way. He has completed all necessary tests, all of which have come back clear. Receiving clear results has left me feeling a mixed bag of emotions, not having any explanations for Gabriella’s loss.

I would like to take the opportunity to say a very big thank you to our families and friends who have helped us through our darkest days. We live within a small community of some very kind and thoughtful people, who have gone the extra mile to take care of us. I am also incredibly lucky to have a couple of very special friends who have checked in on me most days. They have made it their business to keep Gabriella’s spirit alive in conversations, as well as finding various ways of helping me through (introducing me to Tommy’s, forwarding links, books). I am truly grateful for your love and support.

Another avenue of support has been meeting up with the other pregnant mum’s (now mummy’s) from our mums to be group. We began meeting up earlier in the year, once a week, to chat about pregnancy, babies etc. I found this important to continue after laying Gabriella to rest, as it was comforting being around the mums to be and helped me to feel close to Gabriella, knowing the bumps/babies would have been Gabriella’s first friends. Thursdays are the hardest day of the week, as it symbolises a new week in Gabriella’s pregnancy. Therefore meeting up on Thursday mornings helped me through part of the difficult day.

So here we are, January 14th 2016 and the due date of our little baby girl. I hope Gabriella can feel the endless love that is felt for her, and I wish more than anything her journey into the world had begun today. Instead, I am the very proud mummy of a beautiful angel baby who is resting in peace. Today will always be Gabriella’s day and hold a very special place in our hearts.

I hope sharing our journey is of help to others, just as I found support in reading and listening to other people’s experiences. A dear friend has set up numerous fundraising campaigns to raise funds for Tommy’s. You can follow her facebook page ‘Every Inch of Tarmac’. If you would like to make a donation towards the fundraising, which will help Tommy’s medical research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, you can do so at the following link: http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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One Of ‘Those’ Questions & A Crackin’ Run……

Apologies for the lack of a post yesterday – just on the off chance that anybody actually missed it or was wondering, a combination of an afternoon in the pub and England v Wales made for a situation not conducive to a coherent blog – apologies!

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Well, the good news, apart from the England victory that is, is that I had a cracking run yesterday morning. It was decision day as yesterday was the day of the local half marathon – well to be honest it was more than a half marathon as it is over 14miles, but even so it is a major event and advertised as that.

Under normal circumstances both himself and I would have been there and ready to rumble, however this is Cumbria. We had a good look at the website and were really rather intimidated by the hills. Then we looked at last years finishing times and realised that this was no run of the mill race, no – it is massively competitive. The last placed lady in last year’s race was still quicker than my Sangcom Half-Marathon time, (which granted was not my best run), and so commons sense kicked in and we declined to enter.

I am however planning on running that route over the next couple of weeks and may choose to compete next year…

However, I did want to run, (yes I know but I suspect that you have about as much idea as I do about what is going on in mined), so first thing yesterday morning off I went. 2 hours & 11 minutes later I found myself in a completely different town, waiting for himself and the gruesome twosome to arrive. Up steep hills, dodging sheep and enjoying the gorgeous countryside…A cracking run and to be honest feeling pretty good after it.

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Swimming this morning – but short once again by the chaos in the swimming pool. Not the blue rinse brigade again I hasten to add, but the families out to wear the kids out on a Sunday morning. Fair enough I suppose but don’t they realise we have a target to reach this month???

Anyway, another half mile down – need to get some good distances in on the swimming front over the next couple of weeks….

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So, for once we have actually been a full and intact family here in the UK this weekend. The daughter was duly collected from school and despite the obvious and inevitable mother- daughter skirmishes we have so far had a great weekend.

The daughter managed to purloin my waterproof ear-phones on the way back from the pool and was quite happily sat listening to my music, humming and signing along and annoying us all greatly. However, any annoyance was outweighed by us all being together so we got on with it.

As we approached the village the humming stopped and the often heard cry of ‘Mum’, came from the back seat. ‘Yes’ I replied. Then the question came, ‘Mum, who sings the song ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but chains and whips excite me?” At this point I almost crashed the car into the sheep field, (well one of the many), and himself choked on his piece of fudge.

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Never one to hide things from the children I replied, ‘Rhianna, S&M’.

My heart sank as I waited for the inevitable question from either child, ‘what is S&M mummy?’

I am still waiting with an air of resignation and dread………..

I will keep you posted……

Swimming and or gym/running tomorrow…..

Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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As Jamie Lawson Recently Said – ‘Wasn’t Expecting That….’????

Well Jamie Lawson – never a truer word and all that and nobody was more shocked and surprised than me….

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So, what happened? I hear you cry…..well maybe not but I will tell you anyway.

So, as I snuggled up under the duvet this morning I started to think about my plans for today. Officially it is a rest day today after the major gym session and subsequent swimming in blue rinse minestrone soup of yesterday. But then something quite extraordinary happened – especially considering the purgatory that has been ongoing in my head for sometime regarding running.

Yeap, for some odd reason I had an overwhelming urge to go running.I have no idea where it came from but it was definitely there. I pinched myself to make sure I was not dreaming and if I had had a thermometer here I would probably have checked to see if I had a temperature.

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A quick glance out of the window confirmed that while it was drizzling there was no snow and so there should be no ice. Still the urge to go running was still there – without any of the usual panicking or feeling, (or being physically sick), at the thought.

So, let’s not look a gift horse in the mouth, strike while the irons hot, grab the bull by the horns etc etc……..

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One rather tasty bowl of porridge later the ultimate test came round – getting the running kit out. But no, the desire to run was still there.

So, off I trotted, and trotted and trotted. A very good friend messaged me last night and suggested that as sheep are a lot more common up here than Sports Psychologists that I chat to them as I go. So today I had a few rather one sided conversations but gee it was better than nothing. I did find myself singing a few times – much to the disgust of the sheep.

This was the view on my run today - gorgeous!

This was the view on my run today – gorgeous!

Now please remember the geography of the area I am in – there are hills, chuffin’ big hills that are pretty evil. I did allow myself a little flexibility with the really big and evil hills and power walked up them but on the whole I was a panic free zone.

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I even managed to incorporate some speed training which involved screaming at myself to ‘get moving’ and ‘keep moving’ – now those outbursts did upset the sheep who scattered like balls on a snooker table with an opening shot and I suspect that Mr & Mrs Pheasant who were I think trying to make baby pheasants were not too impressed either. However, it worked for me.

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Anyway, 8.5 miles later I arrived back feeling pretty good – with no retching!

So, am I any further on in my training? I hope so. Have I put my demons to rest? I don’t know. Do I know what the heck is going on? Nope, no idea. Will I be out running again soon? Yes. Am I going to finish the London Marathon? Absolutely, yes. Am I going to raise more money for Tommy’s? Hell yes!

Right, I have a dinner appointment with the daughter this evening so best I start to think about getting myself sorted out – don’t want to embarrass her do I?, (well, yes I do actually – after all it is part of my job isn’t it?)

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Oh, by the way – I was totting up the money that is still scattered around from the various events and with several events still to go we have broken the the £10,000 mark – how fab is that??? Thank you to everybody who has supported, is supporting or is planning on supporting in the future. You are all fab!

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Laters!

Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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It’s March Swimming Challenge Time – Get Those Speedo’s Out……

Out of the frying pan and into the fire!

No sooner is the Spinathon over, our bottoms are still glowing red, the wheels on the bikes are still steaming and the Compound’s Brufen consumption has gone through the roof – then it is March, (well tomorrow anyway).cartoon-swimmer-child-thumb8775022

We all know what March is – yeap, it is Swimming Challenge Month. The month where those Speedo’s come out of hiding, people decide how far they would like to swim in total over the month of March, get some sponsors, get wet and raise some money for Tommy’s.

Don’t forget – the Swimming Challenge is not just for people here in Saudi, anybody anywhere in the world can do this – just as long as there is a swimming pool!!! No excuses now folks….

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It’s open to the kids as well – they choose how far they would like to swim, get their sponsorship and away they go.

You have the whole of March to do this, there are no set events – it is up to each individual person to set their target and go swimming.

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The official Tommy’s Sponsor form can be found here – so let’s get swimming!

I am delighted to say that the Salwa Amateur Swimming Club have come on board with the March Swimming Challenge and are encouraging all their members to take part.

Click on this link to find a promotional video that Christina and I made last week, (among much hilarity and a lot of editing…..)

So, come on folks – get wet, get fit, have fun and raise money for Tommy’s……

Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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Gabriella’s Journey – A Special Post On A Special Day

Readers,

I do not need to introduce the following post, other than to say that regular readers will know the background to Every Inch Of Tarmac and the reasoning behind what we as a group are all doing.

If you are not familiar with it, please read the first ever post on this blog – way back in October.

Below is today’s post written by our very good friends whose little sunflower slipped away.


 

In memory of our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella.

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Today should be one of the most special days of my life. Today is the due date of our beautiful baby girl, Gabriella, who was born sleeping on October 9th 2015. I am writing this piece in honour of her memory, as a way of celebrating her life and the very special time we had together. I am also sharing our journey in the hope that it may help someone else, as learning about other people’s experiences has supported me.

Tuesday 19th May 2015 was the most special day of my life. This was the day I found out I was expecting our first baby. The moment I saw the blue cross on the pregnancy test, I felt my life change in a split second. My every move throughout the day revolved around our baby, wanting to protect as best as I possibly could.

Whilst visiting family in the UK later that month, I had a very light bleed and went to the hospital to be checked. This was the first moment I saw our baby and heard their heartbeat. I remember thinking it was the most special thing I had ever experienced. The hospital gave us the all clear, however I was reminded as this was my first pregnancy, the risk of miscarriage was quite high. Hearing this information made me feel quite anxious, but I tried to remain positive and hoped for the best.

Our 12 week scan was competed in Christchurch, New Zealand as we were away on holiday as part of our first wedding anniversary. This was the first time my husband saw and heard our baby’s heartbeat. I remember feeling anxious before the scan, thinking about the risk of miscarriage and hoping our baby’s heartbeat would be present. It was an incredibly moving and emotional experience again, hearing our baby’s heartbeat, seeing how much they had grown and changed since the early scan. We opted to keep the images and video clips from the scan on a memory stick, of which I am so pleased we did.

A few weeks after we returned from our holiday, I had another light bleed. As soon as I saw the speckles of blood I went into panic mode, petrified this was the start of us losing our baby. We went to A&E to be checked. It was a huge relief to see our baby appear on the screen and their heart was beating. I was told at this point the placenta was low lying and that more than likely this would move up as our baby grew. A huge sense of relief came over me knowing our little baby was safe and well. Around this time I began feeling little flutters which was such a magical feeling.

My birthday arrived in September and I remember thinking that being a mummy was the best gift I could ever wish for. It was the gift of all gifts. A few days later we went for our 20 week scan, although we were closer to 23 weeks. Those initial seconds waiting for our baby to appear on the screen felt forever and I remembering feeling petrified after the recent light bleed. I remember feeling a huge sense of relief again, seeing our baby and hearing their heartbeat. It was amazing to see how much our little baby had grown and developed, and we opted to keep our baby’s sex a surprise for their arrival. We were told our baby was measuring well and everything looked to be fine. I went away feeling reassured and a little more hopeful for the future.
A few weeks later we flew to New York and I struggled quite a bit with swollen feet. I thought this was a combination of flying and a typical sign of pregnancy. I also developed an itching around my belly. I looked into this as I was away from home, and read this was another typical symptom of pregnancy, as the skin stretches to accommodate a baby’s growth. Upon our return home, I obtained medical advice regarding my feet, and was advised to keep my feet up.

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Two days later I went to the hospital for a routine check-up with my Obstetrician. We went through the normal checks: weight, blood pressure etc. Since the scan of two weeks prior, my weight had increased rapidly by 4kg. I knew I had been away on a mini-break and had some nice meals out, however I ate healthy and sensibly. It was questioned why my weight had rapidly increased in such a short space of time.

Our Obstetrician said he wanted to complete an ultrasound to check the baby before finishing the appointment. I got on the bed and had the usual feelings of anxiety, worrying if our baby’s heart would be beating. I remember looking up and seeing a dark screen. It remained dark. The usual light image of our baby was not there. My heart sank. I knew immediately something wasn’t right. I was asked when I last felt the baby move and kick, of which I replied yesterday. Our Obstetrician told us he was struggling to find our baby’s heartbeat. My heart sank. The feelings which I had always feared had finally come true.

Our Obstetrician said he wanted us to go for a second scan so we went to the ultrasound department. I was asked by the Sonographer when I last felt baby kick and move, of which I gave the same reply of yesterday. I was told this was not the case and that our baby’s heart was no longer beating. The measurements calculated our baby had passed away possibly one to two weeks prior. Hearing this news shattered both my husband and I. I could not take in what had just been said. Time stood still. I remembering pinching myself, wondering if it was a dream. I couldn’t believe our little baby had gone to sleep.

Going home to tell our parents was incredibly difficult. I could not physically say to my parents what had happened. I felt I had lost the ability to speak. I couldn’t look at my family in the face, I felt so ashamed for what happened. I felt the biggest sense of guilt. I was our baby’s lifeline and felt I had not done the most important job of my life, keeping our baby alive and safe.

We returned to hospital the following day where I was induced. The contractions took some time to appear, and when they did they were incredibly painful. It was the most heart breaking thing to go through, going through labour and knowing your beautiful baby was going to arrive fast asleep. When our baby arrived into the world fast asleep, we learnt we were the very proud parents of a beautiful baby girl. We decided to call her Gabriella. She was beautiful and perfect in every way. Gabriella had her father’s nose and large feet like her mummy. My husband was a huge support and remained by my side throughout our time in hospital. We were also very lucky to have support from our local GP who helped us both during Gabriella’s labour, and once discharged from hospital.

When I was discharged from hospital, I saw a lady cradling her newborn baby, wearing a babygrow which we had got for Gabriella. It was incredibly difficult to see the babygrow on another baby, knowing Gabriella wouldn’t get the chance to wear it. Once home, the following weeks were incredibly tough, both physically and emotionally. I developed mastitis which was incredibly painful. It felt like a kick in the teeth, knowing my body was prepared to feed Gabriella but she was not here to receive it.

Because we live between the UK and overseas, we had to go through the repatriation process. This was another difficult experience for both my husband and I. Seeing Gabriella’s death certificate is indescribable. I think it was that moment, seeing the words on paper, made me realise all of this was real. The three of us flew back to London Heathrow on 3rd November, and were transported to my home town where Gabriella was placed in the Chapel of Rest.

Gabriella’s service was held on November 11th 2015. Laying your baby to rest is something no parent should ever have to do. Cradling Gabriella’s casket in the car on the way to the service was one of the most heart wrenching things I have done. At the same time, I remember thinking it was one of the most special things I could do and would be my last chance to hold her in my arms. The Lion King’s Circle of Life song was played at the end of her service. This was to symbolise one of the last times we were together as a family, watching the Lion King in New York. We also felt the lyrics were poignant to Gabriella’s journey and her life.

We have been incredibly lucky to be under the care of a fantastic Obstetrician who has supported us every step of the way. He has completed all necessary tests, all of which have come back clear. Receiving clear results has left me feeling a mixed bag of emotions, not having any explanations for Gabriella’s loss.

I would like to take the opportunity to say a very big thank you to our families and friends who have helped us through our darkest days. We live within a small community of some very kind and thoughtful people, who have gone the extra mile to take care of us. I am also incredibly lucky to have a couple of very special friends who have checked in on me most days. They have made it their business to keep Gabriella’s spirit alive in conversations, as well as finding various ways of helping me through (introducing me to Tommy’s, forwarding links, books). I am truly grateful for your love and support.

Another avenue of support has been meeting up with the other pregnant mum’s (now mummy’s) from our mums to be group. We began meeting up earlier in the year, once a week, to chat about pregnancy, babies etc. I found this important to continue after laying Gabriella to rest, as it was comforting being around the mums to be and helped me to feel close to Gabriella, knowing the bumps/babies would have been Gabriella’s first friends. Thursdays are the hardest day of the week, as it symbolises a new week in Gabriella’s pregnancy. Therefore meeting up on Thursday mornings helped me through part of the difficult day.

So here we are, January 14th 2016 and the due date of our little baby girl. I hope Gabriella can feel the endless love that is felt for her, and I wish more than anything her journey into the world had begun today. Instead, I am the very proud mummy of a beautiful angel baby who is resting in peace. Today will always be Gabriella’s day and hold a very special place in our hearts.

I hope sharing our journey is of help to others, just as I found support in reading and listening to other people’s experiences. A dear friend has set up numerous fundraising campaigns to raise funds for Tommy’s. You can follow her facebook page ‘Every Inch of Tarmac’. If you would like to make a donation towards the fundraising, which will help Tommy’s medical research into miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth, you can do so at the following link: http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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Inspirational Annie – A Real Life Story Of Love and Determination

Sometimes it is all well and good writing a humorous blog that keeps people entertained in the hope that at the end of all the craziness and challenges people will be inspired to put their hands in their pockets and donate to Tommy’s.

Our primary reason for doing this is well known, to channel our grief on behalf of our good friends who recently lost their little sunflower at 6 months gestation.

However, everywhere we look there are other families that have been affected by stillbirth, premature birth and miscarriage.

Below is such a case. I am proud to call the McFadden family friends and truly inspirational. They live on our compound here in Riyadh and Annie, (as well as Michael, Cherie and Paul I hasten to add), is a regular face across the compound, at events and generally being a fantastic 8 – almost 9 year old.

Below is the widely available text of a national magazine article from Australia, published sometime ago which details Annie’s journey.

Cherie has today forwarded me the incredible photos which I have inserted in the text.

I hasten to add that I am publishing this on the Every Inch Of Tarmac Blog with Cherie and Paul’s full approval.

For Dear Life

BORN at just 23 weeks, Annie McFadden survived – partially blind, after months of traumatic surgery. But where should doctors draw the line between supporting life and letting go?

Cherie McFadden was just under six months pregnant and sitting at her desk in a high-rise office above Perth when she felt her body lurch suddenly into the early stages of labour.

It was January 2007, and within an hour the 33-year-old was sitting on a bus heading to King Edward Memorial Hospital for Women, crying and fearful, as her husband Paul drove madly down from RAAF Base Pearce on the city’s northern outskirts, where he worked as a pilot.

The couple can still recall every detail of that grim afternoon in the hospital’s maternity ward, in particular the grave face of the obstetrician who advised them that a 22-week-old foetus was almost certain to die outside the womb.

Its skin was so fragile that it could tear like wet paper; its lungs would struggle to process oxygen; its brain and other organs were still not fully formed. In theory, such a baby could be artificially resuscitated, the doctor said, but death or severe disability was almost inevitable.

The McFaddens knew their baby was a girl, and they had already decided to name her Annie.

Now they listened as the doctor explained how their first child would be delivered, would be laid on Cherie’s chest, would make several gasping attempts at breathing, and would die.

But that seeming inevitability never happened, because for the next week Cherie McFadden lay in a hospital bed fighting her body’s urge to give birth while her husband spent hours at home, hunched over his computer as he downloaded hundreds of pages of medical literature on premature birth.

In the course of that research Paul McFadden made a crucial discovery: in a few days’ time his wife’s pregnancy would enter an uncertain area of medical controversy known among neonatologists as the “Grey Zone”.

The Grey Zone is a term coined to describe the three-week span in an unborn baby’s life, between 23 and 25 weeks’ gestation, when survival outside the womb is possible but outcomes are terribly uncertain.

Fifty per cent of the babies born at this gestation will die, and those who live can often be afflicted cerebral palsy, intellectual disability or blindness. Some doctors refuse to resuscitate such fragile infants. But the McFaddens happened to be in the Australian hospital which had the most aggressive policy of supporting “23-weekers” if their parents requested it.

At 3am on January 23, only a few hours after Cherie’s pregnancy officially entered its 23rd week, the McFaddens made that request.

Annie McFadden was about the size of her father’s hand when she was delivered, weighing only 570 grams. “She looked like a baby bird that wouldn’t live,” remembers Paul. “Completely purple, almost black. Totally limp, way beyond anything you think could survive.”

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The pediatrician pressed a stethoscope to this tiny creature’s chest and announced, “She’s got a heartbeat”, then inserted a plastic breathing tube down her throat.

Within minutes the McFaddens’ daughter was laid on a steel intensive care warmer and connected by a tangle of tubes and wires to banks of computerised life-support systems. A ventilator delivered oxygen in carefully calibrated doses through her mouth; a catheter was inserted into the umbilical vein in her abdomen, and another pushed through to an artery near her heart to measure blood pressure; a tube was inserted in her stomach to drain off air pushed in by the ventilator, and a sensor attached to her foot measured oxygen saturation in her blood.

Rushed to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, she was hooked up to a drip which fed glucose, amino acids and nutrients through a third catheter in her arm. It would be a month before Cherie McFadden was allowed to touch her.

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With machines regulating her breathing, temperature, body fluids and nutrition levels, Annie spent the first two weeks hovering near death as she nearly succumbed to the shock of life outside the womb and a septic blood infection that required multiple transfusions.

Three weeks after delivery her bowel ruptured from a necrotising infection and she was transferred to Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, where surgeons cut open her abdomen from hip to hip and spent five hours mending and removing sections of her lower intestines which were barely wider than spaghetti. A faulty valve near her lungs caused wild gyrations in her blood oxygen levels, and at 30 weeks she developed a lung infection so dire it required the administration of four antibiotics.

In the second month following her birth she nearly died twice – first when a ventilation tube shifted in her airway, and shortly afterwards from severe pneumonia. Antibiotics kept her alive, and steroids were given to promote her lung development.

At 38 weeks severe gastroenteritis nearly killed her, and a week later the retina in her right eye began detaching. For four weeks she underwent a series of operations in which eye surgeons attempted to reattach the retina by burning blood vessels around it with a laser, injecting a gas bubble into the centre of the eyeball, applying microdroplets of dry-ice and finally wrapping the entire eyeball with an elasticised “scleral buckle”.

The surgery saved 20 per cent of her vision in the eye, but two weeks later the entire retina in the other eye detached.

It wasn’t until June 27, five months after her birth, that the McFaddens were finally allowed to bring their baby home.

Since then the couple have had a son, Michael, whose birth last November was perfectly normal.

On a recent winter evening the family’s home in Perth’s southern suburbs is a hive of post-dinner activity as baby Michael is put to bed and Annie runs energetically around the lounge room in her pyjamas. Only at a second glance do you notice that Annie still does not speak, and that the story books littering the floor are written in Braille.

Yes, this is Annie…

The McFaddens have thus become one of hundreds of families whose premature baby has miraculously survived, only to be significantly disabled. It’s an outcome that has led them to contemplate some big questions about the nature of life and the limits of medical intervention.

“The bad news doesn’t stop when you come home,” admits Paul. “One of the doctors we consulted compared it to the waves hitting the coast – it just keeps on coming. It might be five years before you discover whether your child is developmentally delayed.”

But as he looks at his daughter, his voice softens. “Whatever outcome Annie has, for her it will be normal. None of us are judged by what we don’t have. I don’t have Einstein’s intellect or Carl Lewis’s speed. Who makes the decision about what quality of life is acceptable?”

Read the full story in The Weekend Australian Magazine – http://m.theaustralian.com.au/life/weekend-australian-magazine/for-dear-life/story-e6frg8h6-1225771969107

So, there you have it. A truly inspiring and moving true story of a gorgeous little girl who we see perhaps not every day but certainly on a very, very regular basis.

So next time I am whinging about aching legs or being saddle sore, I will just look at the pictures of Annie, or even the real thing if she happens to be around, and will promptly shut up.

Can you do the same and help us raise as much money as possible for Tommy’s?

If you are not sure, then for those of you here in Riyadh and on our compound. next time you see a bubbly, laughing, smiling little girl by the name of Annie carrying a cane, please let that help you make your mind up.

Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys

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Tommys.org – #misCOURAGE

Take a look at this video, this is just one of the many reasons why we are doing what we are doing.

Tommy’s do incredible work researching stillbirth, miscarriage & premature birth as well as providing help for parents to be.

Click on the link below and let’s help them even more.

Don’t forget to donate, this is all about raising money for Tommy’s

Donate at

http://virginmoneygiving.com/TheCarbys