This time last year life was fairly horrendous.
I think most of you on my 'client list' were getting fairly short shrift
and I think you all know that I am eternally grateful that you all
cut me some slack.
Also my friends, who picked up the fragments and tried to glue them back together
as life at home just fell apart taking me with it.
There is a saying:-
'The Littlest Feet make the Biggest Footprints in our Hearts'
Well - my niece - Erin Jessica - certainly achieved this on every level!
Within days of this photograph being taken Erin was in hospital.
Over the next two weeks a catalogue of disaster and misdiagnosis was to occur which would eventually lead to this little soul giving up and flat-lining..... not once, but twice.
I was with Becky and Richard (Erins Mum and Dad, and my brother and sister in law) when it happened for the second time.
I cannot even begin to find the words that can describe to you what it is like to watch a baby 'die' in front of your very eyes. To watch a team of medics frantically working on such a tiny little body....all eyes on the flat green line on the monitor next to the cot. The eerie 'flat line alarm' filling the room and your soul.
And it is only when that flat, green line suddenly 'bleeps' back into life that you realise that your own heart has been stopped for exactly the same length of time as your nieces.
But this little fighter WAS resuscitated - for the second time - and placed on life support. And Birmingham Childrens Hospital were summoned.
When the team from BCH arrived a rather superfluous Auntie tried to keep out of the way. And it took for ever. Literally. I can't even be sure now how long.....but it was hours rather than minutes to move this tiny baby from hospital life support to a mobile-life-support-unit.
However, what I DO know for sure is that BCH did not just send an ambulance. This overstretched, underfunded health service that we all complain about sent an ambulance..... with a paediatric intensive care nurse.... AND a paediatric consultant!
Just for Erin. To supervise her transfer and to be with her as she was blued and two-ed out of Northampton and whisked up the hard shoulder of a blocked and stationary motorway. I vowed there and then that I would never complain about my tax bill ever again.
I can also tell you that, as they closed the perspex lid over her - cocooned in an air cushioned crib to protect her from the jolts of a journey up the M1 and M6 - I cried like a baby. It brought to mind the glass coffin I'd always imagined in tales of Snow White. Except this was no Fairy Tale - this was an absolute nightmare with no guarantee of a Prince Charming to kiss it all better.
And so started our very own nightmare.... which was to consume us all for months to come.
If you have been lucky enough to never find yourself on a specialist paediatric intensive care unit - no matter how much you want to try - you will never even begin to understand
Nor will you ever see.
You won't ever see that a baby gets a nurse.....all to themselves. 24 hours a day.
You won't ever see that a Mum and Dad ...... already at the limits of human endurance..... get a room, with a bed.
You won't ever know that their room has a phone line direct to the nurse in charge of their daughter.... 'just in case'
You won't ever see the difference that makes to two people who have already done two weeks 'sleeping' in a hard-backed chair next to their daughters cot in a county hospital.
You won't ever see these staff who - in the depths of absolute despair - restore more than just a degree of normality in the most abnormal of situations.......they restore faith, and hope.
It was only thanks to the skill and expertise and diligence of Birmingham Childrens Hospital that we discovered that Erin wasn't just 'poorly' .... she was having seizures.
Moreover , she had actually already had two strokes.
It is only thanks to the skill and expertise and diligence of Birmingham Childrens Hospital that Auntie Anne got to buy a giant, inflatable pink rabbit as a first birthday present...... a first birthday that we never thought we would ever see.
There may still be a long way to go. We still don't know the long term effects of two infantile strokes.
Erin is still on medication to prevent further seizures. But she is also still under the excellent care of BCH.
And Richard and Becks want to give something back, although how you say can say 'thank-you' well enough for returning your daughter , your niece, your grand-daughter to you is a mystery to us all
There will be an 'Auction of Promises' at the Saracens Head in Little Brington on 3rd December with all proceeds going to Birmingham Childrens Hospital.
In amongst the amazing gifts already pledged AWP will have two lots on offer:-
1. A portrait shoot of your choice - to include all images and a canvas or acrylic wall hanging.
2. A 'Photo Booth' at any event of your choice (please check date availability before bidding!)
Tickets are £10 each and will include a Hog Roast and your Bidding Number. They can be purchased at the Saracens Head or by emailing me - firstname.lastname@example.org
We would love to see you there
(If you really cannot attend on the night but would still like to bid - please email me your details and your 'top price'!. Postal bids will be given to the auctioneer on the night)
UPDATE - TO SEE OUR AMAZING LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS TO THIS AUCTION PLEASE GO TO:-