At the end of March we were honoured and lucky enough to be invited along to the Tommy’s Awards 2017. The Tommy’s Awards celebrates individuals who have survived unimaginable heartbreak, family members and professionals who have provided invaluable support, and those who have inspired and supported others despite their own loss. Along with celebrating the companies who make pregnancy and parenthood that little bit easier.
This year Tommy’s also celebrate 25 years of saving babies lives. Current day statistics on miscarriage (1 in 4 pregnancies) and stillbirth (10 babies per day) are not great, but 25 years ago they were even worse. Tommy’s have spent over two decades funding research which has helped to halve stillbirth rates since 2000, bringing more babies safely into the world. Their important work will only continue to save many more. They have set up four research centres across the UK, each working towards finding causes and preventions of miscarriage, stillbirth and premature birth. To sum up all the hard work Tommy’s do and the impact this has, I thought I’d share this brilliant little video:
The day started off with a champagne reception where we got to meet some of the lovely people from Tommy’s HQ who have helped us share our story over the past 12 months (Siobhan and Harry). We also got to catch up with our friends and fellow ‘Mum’s Voice’ nominees, have a few photos taken, and quickly meet the hostess for the ceremony, Giovanna Fletcher before heading to our tables for the ceremony.
After watching the 25 years of Tommy’s video, we got to hear from Sarah Stock, a consultant at the Tommy’s research centre in Edinburgh. She talked about their most recent research into pre-term birth, their new pre-term labour clinic supporting high risk women and the clinical trials in progress to find causes and preventions of pre-term labour. I’m in awe of the work being done across all of the Tommy’s centres. Everyone is so passionate and dedicated to ensuring every woman has a safe and healthy pregnancy, and every baby is born alive.
After a delicious meal, we got to celebrate all the individual award winners. Before each person was presented with their award, we watched a video of their story and heard why their friends and family nominated them. There were 8 individual awards: Healthcare Hero, Little Champion Award, Doting Dad, Angel Award, Courage Award, Super Sibling, Inspirational Mum Award and Mum’s Voice Award. You can watch all the winners videos over on the Tommy’s website. Word of warning though, you’ll need tissues. There are some very emotional and inspirational stories. Huge well done to everyone who was nominated, and massive congratulations to all the worthy winners.
Following this, we found out who had won all the company awards before heading off to the bar to celebrate everyones achivements. It really was a fantastic day. An ideal opportunity to reflect on the difficult, most heartbreaking experience we’ve ever been through and be selfishly proud of how far we have come over the last year.
Mum’s Voice Award
Of course, the whole reason I was at the Tommy’s awards was because I was nominated for their ‘Mum’s Voice Award’. This award celebrates individuals who have spoken out about baby loss, and by doing so, have been able to support other people going through similar experiences. I was so honoured and extremely proud to be nominated. Being nominated is also special because it gives recognition for the awareness we try to do through our blogs. It shows the non-baby loss world that there’s a purpose and place for those speaking out, helping to break the taboo and silence of miscarriage and stillbirth. It’s not for attention, but to help those going through this journey feel less alone.
It was Tommy’s #misCOURAGE campaign last year that first empowered me to share Guy’s story with a wider audience. It was a fantastic platform to share our experience with friends and family who didn’t really know the details of why Guy died, and maybe felt uncomfortable asking. I found it incredibly comforting reading other people’s stories knowing we all felt the same emotions, I wanted to share our story too.
Storms and Rainbows was born during my third pregnancy due to a strong desire to share my pregnancy after loss journey. I needed to be able to explain why it was impossible to enjoy pregnancy, why I might come across negative or pessimistic, and why I was so anxious. But most of all, I wanted other people in a similar situation to be able to relate. I wanted them to know that how they might be feeling is normal. Blogging has been a good source of self-therapy. It’s a great tool for getting down uninterrupted thoughts and feelings and I’ve found it useful documenting our journey, the care we receive, and the outcomes. This blog has become a bit of a diary really. It fills me with pride knowing I’m achieving what I set out to do, and be recognised for it too.
Just thought I’d share a little something about the other ladies who were also nominated for this award, and leave some links to their blogs for you to check out:
Michelle Cottle writes her blog, Dear Orla. Her daughter Orla was stillborn in May 2016 at 37 weeks after a normal, healthy pregnancy. Michelle eloquently and beautifully writes about life after Orla, an epic cycling adventure from Canada to Mexico which raised over £10,000 for SANDS, and now pregnancy after loss.
Jess Clasby-Monk at The Legacy of Leo writes about her son, Leo, who was stillborn at 37 weeks and 4 days. Jess honestly and openly talks about their fertility journey to conceive Leo, life after stillbirth, miscarriage, and pregnancy after loss. Not only is Jess an avid and inspiring fundraiser, she’s also a volunteer for Mama Academy, Aching Arms, and guest blogs for Pregnancy after Loss support.
Jemma Wilson at Mayflower blogs writes about recurrent miscarriage and the impact this has had on her mental health as she was diagnosed with PTSD. She blogs about parenting and raises awareness of important campaigns for pregnancy, baby loss and mental health.
Two of my fellow nominees, Michelle and Jess, have become very good friends over the last year. We found each other through the baby loss community on Instagram and a special friendship has formed. So grateful to know these ladies and their babies. Michelle and Jess’s blogs were such a source of comfort to me in those early months after Guy (and they still are now). Just reading words that felt as though they had been written from my own mind, knowing someone else was going through the same heart ache, made me feel less alone. I know how much their blogs have touched and helped so many other people, I felt extremely honoured to be nominated alongside them.
I was super proud watching Michelle collect the trophy for the “Mum’s Voice” award. Even though I know Orla’s story, watching Michelle’s video was very emotional. I love that everyone in that room got to hear all about and see Orla. It was very special.
Meeting the hostess:
A Personal highlight of the day for me was meeting the Giovanna Fletcher. She is one of my celeb idols. I’ve read all her non-fiction books and I love following her vlogs and Instagram posts about motherhood. She is so down to earth, open and honest about parenting and has recently just opened up about her own miscarriage experience in her latest book ‘Happy Mum, Happy Baby’. I also really admire her positive, can-do attitude. I’m a little worried I might have fan girled a bit much, but I was nervous and excited and only had a few moments meeting her… could have done with a week! haha. Sorry Gi, I’m not a weirdo, honest.
What I really wanted to do was thank her for being so open about her post-baby body shaming experience, and tell her how much this helped me. Just a few weeks after giving birth to Buddy, she posted on Instagram about being body shamed for her ‘mummy tummy’. Gi described how thankful she was to her body for what it had been through to bring her children into the world. At the time I was really hating my postpartum body. It had failed me in the biggest way possible by not growing my baby properly and keeping him safe. I had put on weight, felt frumpy, and some rather bright and ugly purple stretch marks had appeared on my hips and legs. I felt like they were mocking me, a cruel reminder that I had been pregnant and my baby wasn’t here anymore.
Gi’s post really helped to bring some light and perspective into a very dark and difficult time. Instead of looking at my body and stretch marks as reminder of what I had lost, I stopped giving myself such a hard time and accepted them as my battle scars. Those purple lines were Guy’s marks that he had left on me, his way of reminding me that he was here, he existed. In an instant I fell in love with those lines and stopped vigorously trying to rub them away with Palmers coconut balm. I was thankful that my body had grown and carried Guy for the 25 weeks we had, and realised it had done the best it could to keep him alive for as long as possible.
Thank you Gi for influencing a little positive thinking. You have no idea how much this small post helped to relieve a little fraction of grief post pregnancy loss (It’s probably a good job I didn’t say this to you in person, I’m a blubbering mess just writing this).
Thank you Tommy’s!
Finally, A huge thank you to Tommy’s for nominating me for one of your awards, for hosting a spectacular event and inviting us to celebrate with you, and generally being a massive support over the last 18 months. I am so proud to support this charity and everything they stand for. Yes, it might be mostly for personal reasons, but their work is so important to change the future of baby loss for everyone.
Also, thank you for my blog badge, I will display it proudly!