TEAM CONNELL TAKE ON HARLECH TRIATHLON WITH IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT BOWEL CANCER AWARENESS
On the 1st of December, my second daughter was born. I was only 24 weeks and 1 day pregnant.
In an instant everything as we knew it had changed. Things that don’t happen to us were happening to us.
Erin was only 750g (1lb 10oz) when she was born into the hands of the incredible Neonatal team at Liverpool Women's Hospital. I was lucky that my body had played the game and given me a few more days from when we found out her arrival was imminent. This time meant I could be blue lighted from North Wales to Liverpool.
Premature babies aren’t just small babies, they are small, really poorly babies who can be stable one day and then fighting for their lives the next. Erin was unable to breathe for herself for 4 weeks and was then still reliant on large quantities of oxygen. She was treated for 13 different infections, had multiple blood transfusions and heart surgery at 9 weeks old.
But she didn’t give up and neither did the people who worked day and night, caring for her and the other babies on the unit, every single day, at the most critical of times. 11 weeks after her birth we came back to Wales to the NICU at Ysbyty Glan Clywd where her incredible care was continued. At Glan Clywd her oxygen dependency started to reduce, and with the help of neo-natal physio and speech and language therapists we learnt to read her signals and started to prepare her for feeding orally and not just through a tube. She had her first bath and was able to sit in a little bouncer. When she reached 100 days old, her cot was decorated with bunting and posters.
5 weeks later Erin was on just a small amount of oxygen and was nearly 7lb. Erin was ready to go home. We just had to spend a couple of weeks in Special Care at Ysbyty Gwynedd building her feeding up, turning the monitors off and getting to know the team who would continue to support us.
On the 28th March, 6 days after her due date we brought Erin home. She is still on home oxygen but she is thriving. We were the lucky ones.
This brings me to this…another triathlon blog (and a little more).
One of the hardest things about being a parent in NICU is the absolute helplessness. I couldn’t do anything to help Erin, I just had to watch as those wonderful people kept her alive and supported her fight.
I couldn’t help Erin but I CAN help the units be equipped to support babies and parents in every possible way by contributing to the charities that support them. The staff in the units are way beyond skilled medics and therapists - they are counsellors, teachers and friends. This is my thank you, it will never be enough but at least now there is something I can do which will help.
My loyal blog followers (lol) will know I previously trained for the Harlech triathlon which got cancelled because of Covid. I had 12 weeks to train for that one and it was beginner-friendly. I had a love/hate relationship with my short career as an almost triathlete so it seemed a good point to start my challenge.
This time however I have chosen a not so beginner friendly event and in 10 weeks I will be at Newborough beach, one of my most favourite places in the world, standing on the start line of the Sandman.
To add to that in November, I’m going back to Newborough to run the Anglesey Trail Half Marathon.
Lastly, to complete my challenge on an as-yet undecided date, I will cycle 100km.
Sounds easy right…
On the plus side when I trained for Harlech I had never been on a road bike or swam a length of front crawl.
On the downside, in the last year, I have had a baby, sat in a hospital for 4 months, and eaten a lot of chocolate in an effort to cheer myself up. I am very unfit and I’m pretty sure I’m not going to fit into that nice Tri Suit that’s sitting in my room waiting to go to a triathlon.
With regards to the run, I have never run further than 10km in my life. I am not a good runner and my unique style has baffled and amused people since my school days.
The 100km cycle seemed like a good idea to top off the challenge. As I’ve got to survive the triathlon and the half marathon first I’m not even going to worry about it yet but rest assured, before you part with your hard-earned cash – It’s not going to be easy and I’m probably not going to enjoy it.
My aim is to raise £1000 which I will split between the Neonatal Units at Liverpool Women's and Glan Clywd hospital. It’s a tough challenge but I know I won’t need to fight nearly as hard or dig nearly as deep as Erin did on her journey. Her courage will get me through.
If you would like to sponsor me here are the links to my pages:
A big thank you to my amazing work family at Always Aim High Events who have given me such incredible support whilst I have been away from work and have kindly sponsored my entry costs.
Also to Rhian Roxburgh at TriRox Training who has the unenviable job of coaching me through this. I would never have the confidence or physical and mental ability to get through this without her expertise and I am so grateful for her sponsorship to help support my fundraising.
I will be blogging my training journey so please follow my blog on the AAHE website!