I’ve missed a few of these updates, but now as we approach the end of the year I thought I’d do a final review of where we are with all the aspects of the challenge. If you haven’t read before, the 5 for 5 Challenge was set up to mark a little boy called Seamus’ 5th birthday to raise money for SANDS and Tommys. We took inspiration from this, and set ourselves some objectives for how we wanted to approach this year.

You can read the first blog post here.

FUNNDRAISE : Raise £5,000 by Leo’s first birthday 

The fundraising has slowed since October, and the Miles in Memory challenge, but we have had a few people do different activities in Leo’s name, which is always so heartwarming. A colleague of mine, and his son, completed a long bike ride for SANDS earlier this month, and did fantastically raising money and are just £70 from target. 

Leo’s birthday is just weeks away, and to date, we have raised £14,850 – this number has been massively helped by a single £5,000 donation from a charitable trust on behalf of a friend of the family, which is mind blowing and greatly appreciated by all four charities that we split it with. I don’t anticipate it changing greatly by his first birthday but I am so proud of achieving this and so thankful for everyone who has donated, contributed and fundraised. Next year, The Wife is setting her sights on two events, and the focus will shift on to Tommys solely, as they help us navigate this pregnancy.

WELLBEING : To do everything I can to be healthy mentally and physically in general

This aspect has had many curves this year, generally in response to our overall motivation and focus. With being pregnant again, it obviously becomes more of a focus, and now I am heading into the second trimester, I hope to have more energy to get out and about, and will also to restart my yoga habit – although I think this will be exclusivey YouTube based, as the thought of going to an actual pregnancy yoga class doesn’t induce calming thoughts in me. I’m also hoping to be able to afford looking after myself a little bit more now I’ve returned to work, and plan on kick starting my massage habit again! I know being pregnant again is already presenting challenges that will only escalate as the weeks continue. We have already referred ourselves to a specific baby loss counselling service that also run specialised antenatal classes, and I do think this will be an important aspect of our care.

With this, I think whilst we had started to be able to balance more aspects of life again, I should imagine we will have a tendency of being rather minimalist with our brain power in order to conserve energy and freedom to ensure we have the capacity to cope with the inevitable ups and downs.

STUDY : To research stillbirth and IVF 

I think the research aspect of our journey wil refocus back onto pregnancy, and ensuring we are empowered with what we need to know, and utilising the trusted resources that we have discovered this year. I think it’s incredibly difficult to find trusted sources of unbiased information when it comes to pregnancy, especially information that fits with the mindset of a family already affected by stillbirth. That is why Tommys, MAMA Academy and the NHS information are the only places I feel able to trust, and alongside them the key organisations such as Kicks Count, GBS Support and The Lullaby Trust if and when we get to those points in the journey. I had barely heard of these places, if at all, in Leo’s pregnancy, but now I feel I know what is trustworthy, accurate and up to date and that does give a small bit of reassurance.

These infographics are already saved into my favourites on my camera roll.

VOLUNTEER : To enquire about working with a charity or organisation to help others

Whilst continuing my existing volunteering, I was approached by Pregnancy After Loss Support – an online magazine and community to support those affected by loss during their ongoing journey. They invited by to become a Bump Day blogger, and share our journey through the pregnancy. I have previously dipped into their magazine, and have found their approach very welcoming and supportive, and I’m honoured to have been asked. I will start blogging this week, hopefully every Friday. I’m pleased to have a dedicated space to write openly about this next stage, and I hope that it’ll help us tick over the weeks as they add up.

REMEMBER : To participate in some local & National SANDS remembrance events & take part in Capture your Grief in October amongst others 

With Christmas happening, remembering Leo was the only way we were going to get through the festive season. We decided back in summer to do #AdventForLeo which I wrote about specifically for Tommys, and shared on our Instagram and Facebook pages. It was a positive support for us and allowed us to create some more unique memories for Leo, and share his story a little wider.

We were also gifted a lot of Christmas decorations which is so heartwarming to receive from people. Christmas is such a challenge without your child, their absence is so loud and obvious, it’s hard to ignore, I am proud that we made it through without too much of a struggle, although there were plenty of tears at times. I don’t think I realised how much December was affecrting me until I woke up on Boxing Day feeling a lot lighter and far more relaxed.

Leo’s footprints also got the joy of spending Christmas in Thailand with some good friends of ours. I’ll share the pics over on Instagram once he is back, but here is a sneak peak of his adventure!

We have really enjoyed many of the activities that we have done this year to honour Leo. Obviously, we’d rather never had reason to do anything, but I’m proud of what we have achieved and how we have shared his story. I can only hope that by doing so, we have helped others whether affected directly by baby loss or not. The culmination of our activities this year, has led to us being nominated for an award by Tommys, which I was unbelievably honoured and touched to hear about. It’s such a celebration of Leo’s story, and I couldn’t be prouder – you can read more about it here.

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