Friday, 30 August 2013

Erin's little brother

It has been almost a year since I last wrote a blog post - in that year I have experienced some great changes in my life, although one important thing remains unchanged.

Erin's little brother was born earlier this year. He looks so much like his brave big sister and has brought light and laughter back into our lives. However, the grief remains. I feel Erin's absence so strongly every day. It is often the times that should be the most happy, such as family birthdays, that bring with them so much pain. I imagine what Erin would be like - what would she be wearing, what would she be doing, what would she look like now? It is the most tender of moments that I share with my son - feeding him at night, cuddling him tenderly, blowing kisses to make him giggle - that cause my tears to fall. These special moments that I love and cherish remind me of all that Erin missed out on. Sometimes I worry that maybe she is watching and it pains me to think that she may feel sad. I love my son, I would not change him for the world, but I miss my daughter with an intensity that physically hurts.

Erin is my first born - my brave and beautiful girl who will forever be a part of our family. Her photographs are all over our home, we talk about her frequently and we visit her resting place with flowers every week. Similarly, our intentions to continue raising money for charity in her memory remain, although we have taken a break from this recently as we have been getting to know our gorgeous boy. In the year following Erin's death, with the help of our fantastic family and friends, we managed to raise over £16,000 for some wonderful charities though. The approximate figures are:

Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey - £6,700
Alder Hey Childrens Hospital - £6,000
The Turner Syndrome Support Society - £3,000
Aching Arms - £1,500

We are so grateful for all the help and support we have received and are beginning to think about our next fundraising ventures. We would really appreciate your continued support.

“Without you in my arms, I feel an emptiness in my soul. I find myself searching the crowds for your face - I know it's an impossibility, but I cannot help myself.”
―    Nicholas Sparks, Message in a Bottle

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Saying Goodbye

Saying goodbye to little Erin was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. I remember the day of her funeral so clearly. A day I had been planning and thinking about constantly for the week before. I had immersed myself in trying to make this day into a fitting tribute for my beautiful girl. There were so many things I was no longer going to be able to do for her...I would never arrange her christening, throw her a birthday party or shop excitedly for her christmas presents....her funeral had to be perfect. I threw all the love I held for her into organising this one day, spending hours on the internet looking for the perfect songs with words that expressed how we felt and poems that echoed our feelings of love, loss and despair. We wrote a eulogy for the vicar to read, telling those who came about how wonderful little Erin was and about how she had completely stolen our hearts. We wanted everyone to know how proud we were of her- pride that will stay with us forever. I printed out photograph after photograph and found it so difficult to choose which ones should be on display. In the end I took several photo albums with me - I wanted everyone to see how gorgeous my baby girl was - how gorgeous and how brave.

As difficult as saying goodbye to my beautiful baby girl was, I am grateful that we had the opportunity. I am glad that we were able to share our memories with our friends and family - many of whom never got to meet her. I am glad that so many people took the time to come and think about Erin and pay tribute to her short life. She may have only lived for 22 days, but the impact she has had on my life cannot be put into words - she has changed me forever. Although I speak about saying goodbye to her, in truth I haven't really and I never will. She is with me forever, in my heart and in my soul, and I will never be apart from her.

I have spoken before about some of the lovely people I have met on twitter and today I would like to talk to you about some more. You may have noticed the new badge on my blog - I am proud to be a Saying Goodbye Champion. Saying Goodbye are a wonderful organisation run by Zoe and Andy who themselves have suffered tragic loss. They now organise remembrance services around the country to bring people together to remember and say goodbye to the precious babies they have lost. They provide an opportunity for families to think about and remember their babies and honour the memories. Organising Erin's funeral was extremely difficult, but I do appreciate having the opportunity to formally acknowledge her life and share my memories with family and friends. Those who suffer the loss of a baby through miscarriage often do not get this chance. Saying Goodbye Services are for people who have suffered the loss of a baby through any stage of pregnancy, at birth or in infancy. They are an opportunity to stand together with others who share our pain and pay tribute to the babies who we love with all our hearts. Our precious babies who will never be forgotten. To find out more about Saying Goodbye and see where the services are taking place, please visit their website You can also follow them on twitter @SayingGoodbyeUK

Little Snowdrop

The world may never notice
If a Snowdrop doesn't bloom,
Or even pause to wonder
If the petals fall too soon.
But every life that ever forms,
Or ever comes to be,
Touches the world in some small way
For all eternity.
The little one we long for
Was swiftly here and gone.
But the love that was then planted
Is a light that still shines on.
And though our arms are empty,
Our hearts know what to do.
Every beating of our hearts
Says that we love you.
(Author Unknown)

Monday, 16 July 2012

Cycling for Erin

On Sunday 8th July, 22 amazing cyclists rode from Manchester to Blackpool to raise money for the Turner Syndrome Support Society in memory of Erin. Among this group was Erin's daddy, grandpa, 3 of Erin's uncles and many of Erin's parents friends - it was a truly wonderful and humbling day. Another of Erin's uncles and her auntie also helped by driving some of our cyclists to Manchester very early in the morning.

The day began at 5:30am with a hearty breakfast for Erin's daddy before our 6:30am meet with 10 of the other cyclists. The remainder would be meeting us in Manchester at 8:00am. The cars were loaded up and we set off about 7:00am. After numerous mobile phone calls upon arrival we finally managed to assemble the group together - meeting under the 'M' of Manchester United outside the stadium shop. Brief introductions followed before the brave cyclists commenced their ride at 9:00am!

Some of the Erin's Gift team at the start of the ride

While the cyclists rode the 62 miles to Blackpool, their respective partners, children and friends began to assemble at the finishing point - by the glitter ball on Blackpool promenade. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny day and we had time for a lovely picnic before our incredible cyclists began to arrive. The quickest of the group, Jonny and Ant completed the ride in about 4 hours - which is amazing. The rest of the riders arrived over the next few hours - exhausted but proud of what they had done. Unfortunately we had one injury to a rider which meant he was unable to complete the ride - however, he has already confirmed that he wants to do it again next year, which is great! It was so overwhelming and amazing to see the cyclists in their Erin's Gift t-shirts and I feel so proud and grateful to each an every one.

Thank you so much to all the cyclists who took parts and to all the drivers who delivered them to the starting point, family and friends who cheered them on and generous people who sponsored them. So far our total is £1830, but with the sponsorship that is still to be collected I think we will have raised over £2000. You can visit the justgiving page here

Sunday, 24 June 2012

The Great North Swim

Today is the Great North Swim and one of our friends, Mike, is taking part in memory of Erin to raise money for a cause very close to our hearts - Aching Arms. I have written about the work that Aching Arms do to bring comfort to bereaved parents in previous posts. They give teddy bears to bereaved mothers to let them know that they are not alone or forgotten.

 I received my bear on the 20th February - over 4 months ago. She is called Maisie and was donated by Maisie's parents in memory of their precious daughter in order to give comfort to another grieving parent. Well, in this case, that grieving parent was me and Maisie bear truly does bring me comfort. Every night since receiving her I have gone to bed holding her tightly in my arms and it always amazes me each morning when I wake up and she is still tighly grasped there. I think this shows how much I need her and how much she means to me. I never let go - even in my sleep. Maisie bear has been to the Lake District twice with my husband and I and a few weeks ago even  came on a hen weekend with me. This was the first time I had been away from my husband since Erin's death and I was very anxious about it - but Maisie bear helped ease some of those nerves. She was a reminder of the support I have and the fact that even when it may feel like it, I am never alone.

I have received so much lovely support from friends, family and people that I have never met before since Erin's death, yet I never cease to be overwhelmed and truly grateful for it. Mike's swim this afternoon is going to be tough, wet and cold and yet he is doing it for little Erin. On twitter hundreds of people have retweeted the fundraising page and so far enough money has been raised to send 28 bears to grieving parents in memory of Erin. This is amazing and means so much to us. The thought that our gorgeous little girl can help bring comfort to others who are experiencing the horrendous grief and pain of losing their most precious baby is amazing. In fact, it is what Erin's Gift is all about - our gift to Erin is our fundraising in her name and Erin's gift to those who need it is the money and awareness that we raise. Through Mike's swim, the generous donations of others and the wonderful work of Aching Arms little Erin will be helping other people at a time when they really need it and that means more to me than I can express in words.

Here is Mike's fundraising page - please take a look and donate if you can and you can find out more about the work of Aching Arms here

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

T-shirts, mugs and more

I am so excited about the new Erin's Gift products that are now available. You can buy mugs, keyrings, bibs and t-shirts in various designs. The aim of these products is to raise awareness of the work we are doing in Erin's name and to raise money for the wonderful Ronald McDonald House at Alder Hey Children's Hospital. You can buy the products here but here is a sneak peak of a few of the products. I love them all!

I really find it quite overwhelming that you can now buys these products - my little girl is really making a difference. Thank you so much for your continued support xxx

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Do Something Amazing......

Logging onto twitter this morning I saw that it is International Blood Donor day. Straight away I knew that this was something I had to get involved in. I have been a blood donor since I was 18, but it was not until little Erin was in intensive care and dependent on the generosity of blood donors to make it through each day that I truly understood just what an amazing thing it is to do.

So today I have made it my mission to try and encourage more people to give blood - every pint donated is so precious, that even if only one person reads this blog entry or sees one of my tweets and books themselves into a blood donor session I will view it as a job well done.

I have seen two sides of blood donation - I have been the donor and I have been the fearful mother of a recipient who required blood tranfusions on a daily basis in order to survive. I am going to tell you a little about each of these experiences.

For me, donating blood is easy. For those of you who have never donated blood, I will tell you what happens. I go online to and enter my postcode. This tells me when and where the next local blood donation session will be taking place. I then book onto that session online - it really is that simple. On the day of the session I turn up and sign in at the desk then sit in the waiting area and drink a big glass of water. If it is your first session you will need to answer some questions to ensure your eligibility to give blood. Details of these can be found on the website.

When my name is called a friendly nurse takes me to a private area and asks me some questions about my recent health. They also take a pinprick of blood from my finger in order to test my haemoglobin levels. If all is okay I am ready to go. I am taken to lie down on a bed, the area on my chosen arm is numbed and the blood is taken - approximately 470ml. Afterwards I am given a drink and a biscuit in the waiting area and am able to book my next appointment for 3 months time. The whole process takes about 45 minutes.....that is all. Just 45 minutes of your time once every 3 months to help save lives. It really is an amazing thing to do.

The other side of blood donation is much more terrifying. I understand that some people are scared of needles and that the idea of donating blood is anxiety provoking, but I can promise you that this is the better side of blood donation to be on. Being on the other side, the side where your life or the life of someone you love with all your heart depends on the generosity of people you have never met giving up 45 minutes of their time every 3 months is desperate and terrifying. Little Erin was on an ECMO machine for the last 2 weeks of her life as her heart and lungs were unable to work on their own. The blood flow through this machine was closely monitored 24 hours a day and Erin required regular blood tranfusions. She also received platelets on a regular basis. We were told that when Erin was better her blood group would be tested again as she had received so many tranfusions that it was possible it may have changed from that which she was born with. As you are aware, tragically Erin never did get better...but many, many patients who receive blood transfusions do and one of the reason they get better is because of the blood they received. Quite simply, it is because of blood donors.

You can find out more about blood donation, where to do it, the eligibility critieria and how it is used here I hope you will consider doing something amazing today.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Making progress....

Once again I have to apologise for not updating my blog recently. Although I have been quiet on here things have been moving along with regards to our fundraising and I am very glad to be able to update you with two exciting pieces of news today!

The venue for our Imagine Appeal charity auction has been booked. It will take place on Friday 19th October at Fylde Rugby Club, Lytham St Annes. It is a truly lovely venue and has a capacity of 150 so we need to start selling tickets soon. All proceeds will go directly to the Alder Hey Imagine Appeal and I hope we can raise lots of money for them. The evening will consist of the auction, a raffle, food, live music, dancing and ultimately raising as much money as we can in memory of our precious little girl. Tickets will cost £10 per person.We continue to receive really generous donations of prizes and will continue to make requests for more over the coming months.

My second piece of news is that the Erin's Gift t-shirts are ready and on sale through the company who made them. They cost £10 each and proceeds will go to Ronald McDonald House Charities. I really love them and hope that you will too. There are four designs in total - two for women and two for men. Please take a look and consider buying one, not only to raise money for a wonderful cause, but also to help spread the word of what we do as Erin's Gift

If you do buy a t-shirt I hope you will wear it and tell people about the work that we are doing in Erin's name. If possible please ask people to google Erin's Gift to take a look at my blog and also to follow me on twitter @ErinsGift. Thank you

It seems poignant to me these two important developments in our fundraising have occured over the last few days as two days ago marked 6 months since Erin passed away. This makes me feel so sad and I can't really believe that so much time has passed. I feel in many ways as though my life has stood still and been on pause since I lost my little girl. I am certainly not the same person I was before she died and my life is far from how I thought it would be now. I thought I would be spending my days watching little Erin grow, instead I spend them tweeting in her memory and trying to raise awareness of Turner Syndrome and the charities who helped us. These developments help me to realise that although it may feel like it at times, my life has not stopped. Erin was never given the chance to make the impact on the world that I know she could have done, but we are continuing to make things happen in her name. I am proud to say that Erin's Gift has now raised over £6500 for some amazing charities and it is still just the beginning.....

"There is no foot too small, that it cannot leave an imprint on this world"
- Unknown