Swimming On Aire
There are many kinds of champions in this world, many found in times of difficulty.
In January 2017 I agreed to become one of 150 Mariposa Fundraising Champions, each of us with the aim to raise £500 over the course of 2017 for 'Saying Goodbye', who support people through baby loss in pregnancy and infancy.
My main fundraising challenge is to swim 114km, the equivalent of the River Aire and I am swimming mostly in local pools. It is a challenge that is testing my physical and mental strength and endurance.
I am currently around 40km into the distance having just had to take a month out for surgery and some days it takes a lot of drive to go to the pool and keep swimming the lengths. However, having a purpose and drive to keep going is a big help.
When parents go through the devastating loss of a baby, whether during pregnancy, at birth or in infancy, they often feel isolated and unable to process the overwhelming grief and trauma that miscarriage, stillbirth, neonatal and early years loss brings.
This was my experience when we lost our babies, and yet I did my best to hide my feelings from people around me, especially my young son, Jamie.
We experienced our first miscarriage in July 2015 and our second in February 2016. Both of these losses were within the first 9 weeks of pregnancy. Having no public recognition of my babies, along with the trauma of their loss, sent me spiralling downwards and led me into the depths of depression and anxiety by July 2016. That was when I found 'Saying Goodbye'.
'Saying Goodbye' are a division of the Mariposa Trust and they provide comprehensive support solutions, including the 'Saying Goodbye' services of remembrance, which are held at cathedrals, minsters and abbeys across the UK and internationally.
These services allow parents and their extended family and friends to acknowledge and remember each child they have lost in a supportive and beautiful service.
It was this service in Bradford that was a huge turning point in my recovery. Having that space to publicly celebrate the babies that we lost gave me some peace that I had previously been unable to attain.
The Mariposa Trust also provide a range of other support options, including online support, befriending and therapy.
What most people do not realise is that they are not alone, and sadly around 700 other parents will go through the same loss each day in the UK.
The support and care that I have received from this charity has made the world of difference to me and has enabled me to move forwards, and I felt like I was able to come back to my family and friends, especially Jamie.
I want to help other people make that same journey from despair back to life and so I hope to raise as much money as I can to enable the wonderful work of 'Saying Goodbye' to continue and grow.
Being a champion is not always about winning a race, but about supporting and helping others on a difficult path and fighting for their right to grieve and move forwards. So I will continue to swim for my babies, swim for myself, and swim for those who need the support now and in the future.
This year's service at Bradford Cathedral is on Sunday 29th October at 4pm. This is the 98th service that the charity has held since September 2012, and will be one of over 20 taking place this year.
These uplifting and moving services are filled with music, poems and acts of remembrance are free and open to anyone of any faith or no faith.
If you are able to donate to my cause the link is https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/laurawarren1
If you want to know more about 'Saying Goodbye', the website is www.sayingoodbye.org or you can search 'Saying Goodbye' on social media.
Article written by Laura Warren
Swimming On Aire, 13th June 2017, 11:30 AM