Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Pamper evening in the pipeline

Plans are now underway for some serious post-Christmas pampering … all in aid of Pregnancy Sickness Support, of course! Thanks to my friend, Julia, for the tip-off that the salon she goes to runs charity pamper evenings.  What better way to raise a bit of money while being pampered and spending the evening with friends?

Here’s the deal:
Tickets are £10 (£5 of which goes to PSS); bubbly and canap├ęs are provided; and everyone gets:
  • a head, shoulder and neck massage,
  • a stress relieving hand and arm massage, and
  • hair style or colour advice.
As well as a choice of:
  • a mini facial,
  • a mini massage,
  • threading,
  • a mini manicure   or mini pedicure, or
  • a part-body spray tan.
What’s not to like?

The date is yet to be confirmed but is likely to be towards the end of January (when I’m sure we will all be desperately in need of some pampering!)

So, keep an eye out for more details shortly.  Tickets will be limited so make sure you snap yours up quickly.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Is all publicity good publicity?


My only experience of dealing with the press so far has been a very positive one. My local paper ran a great article about my role as a volunteer for Pregnancy Sickness Support.  However, I am also well aware of the media’s ability to distort things.  A fellow volunteer, for example, once spoke in good faith to the media about her own experience of hyperemesis gravidarum. When she saw the article, she was horrified to see that the headline was “My hubbie made me vomit”.  Not exactly a triumph of British journalism!

Two or three months ago, I contacted a different newspaper in an attempt to get some publicity for Pregnancy Sickness Support and the nine months of campaign.  The initial response was great.  A health correspondent contacted me and said she was planning to run a double page spread. Fantastic!  She needed a case study which I was happy to do and so we set up a date for an interview.   But from the start of the interview, it was abundantly clear that the reporter had a very different article in mind to the one I had intended.

First question: “So, how did you feel when you found out you were pregnant – were you happy about it?” Whoa ... hang on a minute. What has that got to do with Pregnancy Sickness Support and the nine months of … campaign?  Alarm bells started to ring!  After a few more questions a picture was emerging of the type of article that would appear in the paper.

Although I tried at every possible opportunity to mention PSS and nine months of (probably to the point of annoyance!) the reporter seemed far more interested in an almost day-by-day diary of my pregnancy and HG symptoms.  She also seemed a little too preoccupied with the mental and emotional impact of the condition.  It’s difficult to put my finger on why but I was beginning to feel uneasy about the whole thing.

They say “there is no such thing as bad publicity” but I beg to differ.  I admit that I might not be the easiest subject.  I like to be in control.  I am a lawyer and naturally cautious.  I am also concerned (rightly or wrongly) about how I come across and what people think of me.  I did not want the focus of the article to be me going into great detail about what I went through from the moment I found out I was pregnant to the day I gave birth in case this was somehow portrayed in a negative way.  Of course, I wanted to convey how awful and devastating HG is but my intention was to have a positive message (i.e. the work of the charity and the nine months of … campaign) to give hope to women who are suffering that they can get through it and to let them know that there is support and treatment available.  It was clear the reporter had a very different agenda.

Although the reporter would not agree to let me see the article before publication, we eventually agreed (or at least so I thought) that she would focus instead on statistics from recent PSS research into HG which showed that 60% of women who have suffered from HG experienced symptoms throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy, and so the section about me would less prominent.  I then went on holiday for a couple of weeks and the plan was that she would read through the article with me when I got back. That was in August and I have not heard anything since.  It may be that the article has been shelved for the time being but it is far more likely that the reporter has decided not to run the article.

With hindsight this is probably for the best.  If my gut instinct was right then our expectations for the article were clearly just too far apart.  Whilst it is extremely disappointing that Pregnancy Sickness Support and the nine months of … campaign did not get the publicity I wanted, I certainly did not want publicity at any cost.

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Mums in the Know Play Date

My latest Roadshow Event took me to a Play Date organised by Mums in the Know Sutton Coldfield. 
I have to admit that, in the days running up to the event, I was wondering whether I had made a mistake arranging something so soon after my knee op.  I knew that I would be on crutches but I thought it would still be manageable. All I would need to do would be to find a chair, Little Miss would play and my mum would be there to help if needed.  Easy?  Unfortunately, I had not bargained on the painkillers making me feel drained and a bit fuzzy-headed.  But I am not the sort of person who likes to let people down ...

I was a little late arriving at the Play Date as I had been invited to my son’s school assembly which ran on longer than expected.  This was a shame as it meant that when I arrived the baby/toddler music session was already in full swing and I didn’t have the opportunity to introduce myself or explain a little bit about the charity.  Nevertheless, I set out my leaflets, unrolled the PSS banner (actually my poor mum climbed on a chair to do that as I am still struggling on crutches!) and installed myself on a chair.  One or two people looked at the leaflets, but I wasn’t sure whether many people had even noticed the banner/leaflets or me in my lovely PSS t-shirt. They were all busy enjoying the Play Date. 

However, since the Play Date I have been very encouraged by the response.  Two of the mums who were at the event have since posted comments on the MITK Facebook page about their experiences of hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) and Pregnancy Sickness Support.

The first mum received support from PSS during her pregnancy and described it as a “fantastic charity” which supported her through her dark HG days.  She would like to become a volunteer for PSS in the future which is absolutely brilliant news! The second mum also suffered dreadfully from HG and really wished she had known about the charity at the time.  She described PSS as an “amazing charity” and said she would be happy to write an article or speak to other sufferers about the devastating effects of HG.  It just goes to show that HG is an issue that many mums know and care an awful lot about.

This is the third event of this type I have attended so far and it has been difficult to know how much of an impact I am making on behalf of Pregnancy Sickness Support and the nine months of campaign.  So it is really positive that this event was much more of a success than I had initially thought.  HG is a little-known and often misunderstood complication of pregnancy and the aim of my nine months of challenge is to raise awareness of HG as well as Pregnancy Sickness Support.  It seems that on this occasion I succeeded.  So, thank you to Mums in the Know Sutton Coldfield for giving me this opportunity.

If you have enjoyed reading this please sponsor me to ensure that the charity can continue to help sufferers and their families.  It would mean a lot to me. Thank you.


Friday, 18 October 2013

The importance of support

In some ways, this week has reminded me of being pregnant. It was the first time I have been in hospital since I was admitted with pre-eclampsia at the end of my second pregnancy. My knee surgery has also left me physically incapacitated and unable to look after myself or my children properly. Being utterly reliant on others is a concept that is alien to me, apart from the times when I was desperately ill with hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) during both my pregnancies.

My new best friends
However, it would be wrong of me and very misleading to equate my current situation with what I went through when I suffered from HG. Although the physio will be a lengthy process, I know that the inconvenience and discomfort I am experiencing at the moment will pass relatively quickly. In a week or so I should be off crutches and far more self-sufficient. In six weeks I should be able to drive again.
It's this one! 

With HG, on the other hand, the sickness and vomiting came out of nowhere and for months there was no sign of it letting up. I remember week nine well. It was a particularly low time in my life. I had already been very ill for weeks and had lost a lot of weight and yet I was not even a quarter of the way through my pregnancy. It felt as though I had a mountain to climb but I had no idea how high that mountain would be or how long it would take to reach the top. Each timescale I was given for my symptoms subsiding – 12 weeks, 16 weeks, 18 weeks, 20 weeks – came and went and still I was suffering. I, like 60% of women who have HG, experienced symptoms throughout the whole nine months of pregnancy. It was not just physically debilitating but also mentally tough.

Nevertheless, there is one issue that is common to my current circumstances and to when I had HG and that is support from others.

This week I have relied heavily on others for support. In fact I don’t know how I would have managed without my husband and my parents getting the children dressed; taking them to school/nursery; cooking their tea; bathing them and putting them to bed. The importance of support cannot be overstated for women suffering from HG.

I consider myself extremely lucky to have amazingly supportive family and friends: my parents who dropped everything and travelled from Lancashire to look after me this week and did so on innumerable occasions when I was pregnant; my husband who works long hours in a demanding job but will gladly, and without complaint, start the household chores when he gets home; and my friends who alleviated the isolation of hospital this week with numerous texts and messages and also supported me and helped with childcare during my second pregnancy. I know that others are not so fortunate.

As well as practical support, women suffering from HG also need emotional support and reassurance and this is why the work that Pregnancy Sickness Support does is so important. Pregnancy Sickness Support runs a network of volunteers who provide one-to-one support for women struggling to cope with HG/pregnancy sickness and an online forum where sufferers can seek support from others who are going through, or have previously experienced, HG or severe pregnancy sickness.

These vital resources would not be possible without donations as the charity receives no funding. So please, please sponsor me to ensure that the charity can continue to provide this support which has been, and will continue to be, crucial to so many women. Thank you.

Please support our 'nine months of…' campaign by donating here.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

PSS Roadshow continues

This week I managed to squeeze in another Pregnancy Sickness Support Roadshow event, so here I am with an update a little earlier than expected.

I was kindly invited to speak to the mums at Mere Green 0-5 Stay and Play in Sutton Coldfield.  I would like to say a few thank yous.  Firstly, thank you very much to Lindsay, Karen and all the mums at Mere Green 0-5 for welcoming me so warmly to your playgroup.  Thank you also to my friend, Katie, for coming along to give me some moral support.  Finally, thank you to all the little ones who waited very patiently for their story time while I said a few words about hyperemesis gravidarum, Pregnancy Sickness Support and the nine months of campaign.

Can't beat a bit of potato printing!
On a different note, this week I also received written confirmation from Birmingham City University that I will be lecturing their student midwives in February. So I am now officially a visiting lecturer! I will even get paid a modest fee which I will of course donate to the nine months of campaign.

My next event is a Play Date organised by Mums in the Know on 18 October. I will have the added complication of being just one week into my recovery following knee surgery.  Perhaps a little ambitious but, thankfully, my wonderfully supportive mum and dad will be on hand to chauffeur me door to door and to play with Little Miss while I find a chair to park myself on! Check back in a couple of weeks to see how I manage on my crutches!

Please support our 'nine months of…' campaign by donating here.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Let's get this show on the road

My PSS stall 
 After a lot of planning and preparation, it was finally time to get my show on the road. I got everything ready the night before - Pregnancy Sickness Support leaflets, posters, roll-up banner, t-shirt ... and travel potty. The last item is of course not strictly PSS-related but I find it's always best to be prepared when in the early stages of toilet training a 2 year old!

I decided the best approach would be to ease myself in gently (and build up gradually to the task of lecturing student midwives in February!). So, I chose a very familiar and friendly place as my first Road Show venue - my local playgroup, Pop in and Play. It's fair to say that it's a regular haunt of mine (perhaps second only to Costa Coffee!) as I've been there almost every week since Little Miss was a tiny baby and she's now two and a half. The ladies there are all so lovely and they work very hard to make everyone feel welcome. I really don't know what I'd do without my coffee and toast on a Friday morning!


I'm delighted that my first Road Show event was Pop in and Play and I would like to thank Penny and all the wonderful ladies who run the playgroup, as well as all the mums and dads.

Little Miss and her playdough worm 
My next event is on 18 October. Keep an eye out for updates and please sponsor me. Thank you.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Coffee afternoon 2013 and a big "thank you"

In March this year I held a coffee afternoon to raise money for Pregnancy Sickness Support.  It was the first time I had ever done this kind of thing and I had no idea what to expect. How many people would turn up? How much money I would raise?

Well, I didn't run out of cups ... or cake (which was my main concern!) and I made over £160.

I was struck by two things:  First, I was surprised to discover how many people who came had either suffered themselves, or knew a close friend or relative who had suffered, from bad pregnancy sickness or HG.  If only I had known when I was pregnant, particularly the first time round, that it was not just me then maybe I wouldn't have felt so desperately alone.

Second, I was overwhelmed by the support I received from friends and family.  Pregnancy Sickness Support is a charity that is very personal to me.  However, I also understand that there are many other worthy charities and that people may prefer to donate their money to other causes.  So I was touched to receive such a positive response.  Everyone was incredibly generous - even people who couldn’t come along were handing me money and cakes in the school playground. It meant a lot to me that others were so amazingly supportive of a cause that is very close to my own heart.
So, I would like to say a massive thank you to everyone who supported my coffee afternoon in any way, whether by coming along, baking cakes or donating money or raffle prizes – you all know who you are!
As part of my Nine Months of … challenge I will hold my second fundraising coffee afternoon to coincide with HG Awareness Day in May next year.  I hope that I can make it even more successful than the first.

Please support our 'nine months of…' campaign by donating here.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Positive developments and raring to go

Even before the official launch of the Nine Months Of campaign, I was busy contacting different organisations to try to arrange to see them as part of my PSS Awareness Roadshow.  It is surprising how time consuming this is and I was starting to get a little disheartened that I had put in a lot of time and effort without having any dates fixed in my diary.

So I was over the moon to receive an extremely positive response from Birmingham City University.  I am delighted that they want me to contribute to their midwifery course by speaking about HG and Pregnancy Sickness Support to 60 (yes, SIXTY!) of their student midwives as part of their studies.  The focus will be on my own personal experiences of HG, how midwives can best care for women suffering from HG and, of course, the resources and support that Pregnancy Sickness Support offers.

I am particularly excited at this opportunity because, of all the groups I contacted, student midwives are perhaps the one I wanted to speak to most.  As future midwives, they will be an important point of contact for women suffering from any level of pregnancy sickness and are therefore a key factor in whether a woman receives the treatment and support she needs. 

But I have to admit that with the excitement comes a little trepidation at the responsibility I have to those women who will be looked after in the future by these students. It is crucial that I convey to the students not only the enormous and devastating impact that severe pregnancy sickness and HG can have on a woman, her family and their daily lives but also what midwives can do to help. If successful, I will hopefully (indirectly) help many women in the future to get the support, information and treatment that they need. Thankfully the training is not until February and so I have plenty of time to prepare.

Having had such a positive start to my campaign, I feel inspired and raring to go. Keep an eye out for updates on my blog and please sponsor me if you can spare a pound or two.

Please support our 'nine months of…' campaign by donating here.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Holidays... with and without HG

We have just returned from two fabulous weeks in France.  The sun shone, the wine flowed and the children were so exhausted from playing in the swimming pool and on the waterslides that they slept well.  Perhaps the French shutters hiding the early morning sun contributed to this. Food was an important part of the holiday (well it was France after all); breakfasts were late, lazy and outdoors and lunches were typically long and French. Bliss!

It made me think of our holidays three years ago: a very different affair. In May, we went to Devon for a long weekend.  I had just found out I was pregnant but I felt fine.  For a brief time, I dared to hope that maybe I had escaped this time.  But no, sadly I was wrong. Shortly after returning home, it hit me and I was soon in the depths of HG again only this time it was worse.  
Our next holiday was supposed to be a week by the beach in Cornwall at the end of June (booked pre-pregnancy, of course). What I would have given for a change of scene.  A different toilet to be sick in and a different bed to lie in would have been a welcome relief after weeks of being housebound, staring at the same four walls. But I was too ill to leave the house, let alone manage a four hour car journey and so the holiday had to be cancelled.

Along with Christmas, holidays are perhaps the only time of the year when we are able to spend uninterrupted, precious time with our families without distractions from school or work.   They are times to be cherished.  Having missed two entire summers while in bed suffering from HG, I have come to appreciate holidays even more.  

But thoughts of holidays will have to wait a while as I now have to return to my Nine months of ... challenge to raise awareness.  It's only a few days since we returned home but already there have been interesting and positive developments on this front.  So watch this space ...

Thursday, 15 August 2013


“Mummy, please don’t sick the baby up.”

As my little boy, (who was three at the time) spoke those words he rubbed my back. Mummy was being sick again. It was a sight he was all too familiar with. His comment made me smile. Yes, smile. That might not sound very significant, but not very much made me smile when I was pregnant. It was a very low time in my life and a struggle to make it to the end of each day. It was heartbreaking not being able to care for my little boy properly. I couldn’t even care for myself. And then there was the guilt … I am his mummy, I should have been there for him.

But here I am three years later and he has a beautiful little sister. The bond between them melts my heart. I don't know how I would have got through two HG pregnancies without the amazing help and support I had from my husband, family and friends. I really wish I had known about Pregnancy Sickness Support when I was pregnant and this is why I want to highlight the fantastic work that the charity does so that other sufferers can get the treatment and support they need. 

So for nine months I will be doing what I can to increase awareness of HG and to publicise the charity by attending different groups and events each month armed with leaflets, banners, pens, balloons and a willingness to talk to anyone who will listen. I will end the nine months by holding a charity coffee afternoon to coincide with HG Awareness Day to raise funds for the charity.

Hopefully one day, through the work of PSS, we will find a cause and a cure for HG so that my daughter, and your daughters, granddaughters, wives, sisters and nieces do not have to go through the same ordeal. The work PSS does is funded entirely by donations. So please support our “Nine months of …” campaign.