At the start of December last year my good friends, Dave and Claire got married. They had such a beautiful celebration of their love for each other and I was grateful to be a part of such a love filled, happy day. Wills and Zach followed Claire in matching kilts as Page Boys and the whole ceremony was awash with love.
Dave and Claire were expecting their first child, excited for the adventure of raising their son to begin.
Whilst on honeymoon in Mexico, Claire fell ill and was admitted to hospital. They weren't allowed to fly home at the end of their honeymoon. Her condition rapidly deteriorated and it turned out that Claire had Hellp Syndrome.
The only way to help a mother survive Hellp Syndrome is to have an emergency caesarean. After Claire's second seizure her life was increasingly in danger and Sebastian Thomas was born on Christmas Eve. He died on Christmas Day.
Sebastian shone his light in this world for such a short time but his touch will last a lifetime. He was a generous, precious and beautiful little boy. Sebastian brought enormous amounts of joy and excitement with him as we all eagerly awaited his arrival. He gave Claire and Dave his first Christmas with them. He gave Claire her life.
I cannot even begin to imagine what Dave and Claire went through and are going through still. Claire is open about the hard days, the days when she wishes she had her beautiful baby boy to cuddle. And she is also wholeheartedly embracing the gift of life. She has pursued the career of her dreams and has a new job doing what she is passionate about. They have moved to a beautiful new home in the Shropshire countryside, a place dear to their hearts. And she has started campaigning to raise awareness about Hellp Syndrome.
HELLP syndrome is a life-threatening pregnancy complication usually considered to be a variant of preeclampsia. Hellp Syndrome has some recognisable symptoms and Claire is concerned that neither she, nor any other woman she has come into contact with knows about it. In particular Claire had pain in her upper right side (caused by liver distention) which she had assumed was the baby lying in an uncomfortable position. Claire is now working out ways to raise awareness of this syndrome to ensure good comes from this.
In the weeks after Sebastian's death Claire sent me a link to the Sands website. She had found solace there. (Sands is the stillbirth and neonatal death charity. They operate throughout the UK, supporting anyone affected by the death of a baby and promoting research to reduce the loss of babies’ lives.)
It was such a gentle, helpful and supportive website. And it empowered me to know what I could do to help my friends at a time when I was feeling so helpless.
Sebastian's funeral was a beautiful, poignant celebration of all the joy and excitement that we all had around Claire as she radiated love during her pregnancy and an outlet for all the sadness and grief that we all had at such a brief spark of life, gone too soon. Such a different reason to all be together again so soon after the wedding. The snow fell and the landscape was a pure white as Sebastian's tiny coffin was lowered into the ground. Such a peaceful resting place.
At the funeral Dave and Claire asked for donations to Sands instead of flowers. And so, after the success of raising money for Willow in my triathlon last year, I pledged to do the triathlon again. This time to raise money for Sands, in memory of Sebastian, for Dave and Claire. And also to ensure that other people have the resources to help their friends and family with the difficult time of losing a baby.
I don't feel ready for this triathlon. I know what is to come, what I have to put myself through to cross that finish line. I'm pretty sure I can get through it again although I am perhaps more nervous because I know what is to come. Last year it was a fun challenge because I was turning 33 on the day of the triathlon. This year I return to the starting line with a triathlon medal hanging in my lounge. I am a triathlete. I have a time that I would love to beat but even more than this I have good friends who I want to support. Having said that, I've done it before and I lived to tell the tale. www.vickiclubleymoore.weebly.com/blog/gulp-its-tomorrow
I can do this.
I would be extremely grateful if you can help me show love and support to Dave and Claire by donating money to Sands on my just-giving page. Doing so will also give me extra incentive to complete the triathlon again this year.
Thank you so much.