Come join me in my misadventures at altitude!

I'll be blogging about all sorts of shenanigans from my everyday life.
From mountains to running.........
From tales at altitude to fundraising............

Places I explore and places I love from all over the world.

I hope you enjoy reading.......

Monday, 13 August 2012

Understanding and compassion. It's not hard is it?

The news has recently broken that Gary Barlows baby daughter has been born 'still'. The details are still not fully known as I write this but it is believed his wife was 37 weeks pregnant, just three weeks from her due date.
Last night Gary performed at the closing ceremony of The Olympic Games. As a bereaved mummy myself, did I look at his performance with distaste? Of course not. This was history. He is a musician. An artist. It was natural for him to perform and I imagine his family gave him their blessing.

The comedian Jason Manford commented on his blog that he too thought Gary was brave to do this.
Hours later his blog had been hit with over 300 comments. Comment number four caught his eye and prompted a response from the comedian.
Please read on. Well done Jason. It's a brilliant and warming response. Thank you.


"Okay, last one. And I actually went from hating this guy to just thinking, maybe he just wrote something without thinking and is now, quite rightfully, getting it in the neck.

Person D writes:
“It's not quite the same as losing a child who's actually lived properly though, so why are people making out like it is? If the kid was like 5 years old it'd be 100x worse!”

Yes, read it again, someone did, not only think this, but also wrote it down online. I mean, where does this end? So you love a child more the older it gets? When is the cut off point? What are the maths behind it? Do we love our ten year olds twice as much as our 5 year olds? When they reach twenty does our adoration double again?

From the follow up posts of Person D I can see that he is neither a father, nor a lover of children but still, what a very odd, inhumane and heartless thing to think and write. I suppose it goes back to the argument of when does life begin? I personally think it begins when you and your partner decide that you want this child. And that is when love starts too. I mean it’s obvious that for a mother, the bonding process starts sooner than for a father. The mother goes through all the emotions, the cravings, the pains, the sickness, the worry, she feels the kicks, the pressure on her bladder, her swollen feet, her baby brain, her body changing, her mind changing, the nesting, the tears and the laughs that come during the 38 weeks. She is the one who can’t get comfortable in the night, who is cold when everyone else is hot and hot when everyone else is cold, who is trying not to waddle, who is still doing too much when she should be resting, who is doing her pelvic floor exercises and who just wants a healthy baby at the end of it.
But the Dad is bonding too all this while. He is scared, he is worried, both for his baby and his wife. From the moment his wife comes in with the ClearBlue, he is on it. He is thinking about the extra mouth that needs feeding, he is wondering where he is going to get the energy from to go through it all again, he is wondering how long he can afford to take off work, he is worried for his wife, he wants to keep her happy, but she’s crying and throwing up and keeps leaving the key in the door, and he comes home from work and she’s up some step ladders, 7 months pregnant putting up some curtains and he shouts, scared that he could lose them both at any moment. He goes to the hospital with her, he hears the heartbeat and his eyes fill with tears, partly with relief but also with ultimate pride, that this woman has done this for him, has given her body, and mind and maybe even her career so that they can, together, bring a child into the world.
He rubs her feet, he makes her tea, he does his job and then comes home to look after his family, he holds her hair whilst she is sick, and he tells her that she doesn’t look fat even though she obviously does because there’s a baby in her womb! He kisses her tummy while she sleeps and he sings songs to this huge bump with his baby inside. And all the time he worries. About the future. Will he be a good Dad, will the child be healthy, will he do the right things and set good examples, will he be as good as his Dad and will the child love him as much as he loves the child.
And together the future parents plan. They paint rooms, Blue or Pink, or keep it neutral because they want the surprise on the day. They buy cots, and clothes, and bedding and nappies and cotton wool balls and one time he’s out and he sees an outfit that says “Been inside for 9 months” and he buys it because it makes him smile, and he knows his wife will smile too. They go to the hospital and they see the baby on the screen and they hold each other’s hand and smile and he tells her how brilliant she is and she says she couldn’t do it without him.
They discuss names and she makes lists, they buy a buggy and a car seat and then the big day comes, and she shouts him from the other room, or calls him at work and says ‘it’s happening’. And even though he’s prepared, even though the bag has been packed for weeks and he’s worked the quickest four routes to the hospital, his mind goes blank and he doesn’t know where he is for a minute. Then she helps him, they do it together.
They get to the hospital, they’re way too early but the contractions have started, and they will go on for the next few hours. She can’t get comfortable, she walks, she sits, she kneels, she perches. He paces and he watches, and he rubs her back and he holds her hand. The contractions get closer, the midwife tells them both that the baby is on the way and then they’re off, after 9 months of waiting they’re finally going to get to meet their new baby. He gets dressed up like George Clooney in ER, and she smiles even though she is in the most pain she has ever been in her life. They go in together, the excitement is tearing through his body, as the pain tears through hers.

And then the moment comes, they’re both waiting to find out if they’ve had a little boy or girl. They’re waiting to find out who they need to look after for the rest of their lives, who will one day look after them when they can no longer. They’re waiting, hoping, praying that this little tiny helpless human being, will keep them awake for the next few months, will cry in the night and will need changing every 5 minutes. They wait for the cry and for the midwives and doctors to turn to them and say “here’s your baby guys, well done......"
And then, nothing.
Nothing. For the longest time. Nothing.

But then, Person D, it's not quite the same as losing a child who's actually lived properly, is it?"

Ok!! Karen here again. That piece of writing moved me. I hope it moved you too.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Goodbye Kenya

As I write this Virgin Atlantic are winding down their services to Nairobi and the route will be ending. This is sad news indeed. Kenya is a country that I have grown to love. The people are probably the kindest, most humble people I've met. Their faith in God coupled with strong values and high morals make them truly beautiful people to be around. I've made some good friendships over the years. I love reading their status updates on Facebook. So different to the usual boring ones we are all accustomed to! I've been blown away and inspired by Julio Mwangi, an incredible runner whose marathon PB is just 2 hrs 14 minutes. I watch in awe as he trains hard, works hard and raises a young family in the Masai Mara. His dedication to his faith sees him through every time.

I've had some incredible times in Kenya and met people that have changed my life and humbled me. People like Brandon, a Canadian working with the charity Me To We in conjunction with Free The Children. People who tirelessly give and never take back. I've been fortunate enough to do several safaris in Kenya too. One of the best days happened completely by accident. I couldn't sleep so hailed a taxi and headed off to the elephant and rhino orphanage. I took blankets and SMA Gold baby milk with me as I'd heard they relish these donations. That is where I met Eric. We got chatting and before I knew it I was being whisked away to Kenyas national park for a one on one tour. I came up close and personal with a giraffe. So close that it leaned down and licked my face! "He likes you" said Eric.

But perhaps my most incredible memory to date will be the time I climbed Mount Kenya. Africa's second highest mountain at 17,000 feet. She's not congested like Kilimanjaro and for the four days and four nights that we climbed we didn't see a single other climber. We drank from streams, crossed the equator and saw sights that will stay with me a lifetime. I shared my tent with two Masai warriors and felt strangely protected as each night bush babies and buffalo tried to get into our tent. We detoured and scaled Mount Mugi, swam in Lake Ellis and marvelled at the beauty of the mountain. On summit day we were split into three teams. Fast, medium and slow. It was a thrill to be in fast group as I'd only had a Caesarian six months earlier and wasn't confident about my fitness. But I did it!!! Summit was incredible. We saw Mt Kili off in the distance. We took the Chogoria route and although a little tougher was definitely worth it! As usual getting off the mountain terrified me! I descended the first few thousand feet on my arse!
As we celebrated with Tusker beer and cries of Jamba Jamba I knew that I loved this country.
I hope that one day I can return and bring my children. Show them the incredible wildlife. Immerse them in the culture, visit one of the many orphanages crying out for donations. Give them a different perspective on life. So until then.....farewell Kenya. Im going to really miss you.