Challenge 12- Relaxation ๐Ÿ’ค๐Ÿ’ค

Another challenge that I was really looking forward to. Originally I had just thought I would have a nice relaxing bath with a few candles but I decided it would be nice to try something new and different.

Rachel, a friend from parkrun, then kindly offered to do a treatment for me. Being a complete novice I wasn’t sure what to have so I left it for Rachel to suggest something for me. She told me all of the treatments that she does and sent me her website link.

So much to choose from!

We decided to go with Reflexology. I didn’t know much about it but knew it was to do with feet! Jess was hoping to come but had to work in the end.

Rachel began by explaining to me all about reflexology. I won’t try to explain as I am sure to get something wrong!

We went through a few questions before we started and I explained that I am generally fit and healthy (touch wood) but that when I run if I do get any injuries it is always in my left leg. Also that I had a bad running injury just over 3 years ago when I tore my abductor muscle.

Rachel got me sat comfortably in her chair with some relaxing music playing in the background. It is a very relaxing room.

We staged these photos afterwards but just to give you the image.

The first thing Rachel noticed is that I had really cold feet, not unusual for me as I am often cold! Her hands were lovely and warm though. She began by taking a photo of my feet for a before and after! Not sure I have ever had a photo of my feet taken before!

Then for the treatment. I won’t describe every part of it but I definitely recommend that it is something you try if you haven’t before.

I could have easily fallen asleep and could have sat there all day.

I was trying to decide during it which part I liked best but it was all so nice. I did feel a few twinges in my leg whilst it was happening and my stomach rumbled throughout! Clearly an apple for breakfast wasn’t enough. I did decide though that I liked the massaging from the bottom to the top of my feet a lot, as well as in the instep of my feet. Mostly though just Rachel’s really warm hands.

It went so quickly and my feet felt super soft by the end (and warmer!) At the end David came in to take a few photos for my blog. I think a first for Rachel!

Then Rachel finished by talking me through what she had found during the treatment. She is able to tell different things in your body from specific areas on your feet.

So for me she picked up an area in my right foot that relates to my shoulder. I had forgotten to tell her that I do suffer sometimes with my right shoulder and have to be particularly careful how I sleep! Amazing ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

She also picked up two spots, the same area on each foot that relates to my large intestines. Not sure what that is about! Then she showed me the before and after photos, the main difference being that my feet had more colour in the after photo. Rachel also explained about the different colours of skin on your feet and what they mean. All very fascinating.

So overall it was a lovely relaxing treatment, something I would definitely recommend and have again myself. I have also told Jess she can come another time since she missed it! We also had a chat about the Bowen treatment that Rachel offers which I would like to try at some point too. I have had a couple of sports massages but find them very painful, this however sounds like a much nicer option. Apparently after a race it helps with aching- maybe when I do that marathon!! (I also like the sound of hot stone reflexology.)

It was World Reflexology week this week too.

Thank you so much Rachel for doing this treatment for me and being part of my 18 challenges. It certainly was relaxing and one of my favourite challenges so far. โค


18 mile bike ride ๐Ÿšดโ€โ™€๏ธ

This was the first challenge that I wasn’t looking forward to as much. I started off the morning at Banbury parkrun’s 3rd Anniversary with Samuel. I did wear a nightshirt and kept it on for the first lap as it was a Pyjama Party theme this year. It wasn’t a great time for me and was hard today but I was still first in my age category so not too bad! Quite a few people mentioned the 18 mile run which was nice. We stayed for a few nibbles and then raced back to start our bike ride. Rose biked down to parkrun and back to ours so actually did an additional 10 miles or so. Well done Rose! Unfortunately Jess is not feeling well so she didn’t bike this morning which is a shame as she was looking forward to this one. We set off on our usual route through the village with Samuel trying to avoid seeing any friends! Then out of Middleton and into Overthorpe. I actually quite enjoy biking I decided along the way unless there are any hills! We went down into Banbury, had a little detour to say hello to Oliver and Chris (Rose’s son and husband) and along to Spiceball park. Then a similar way through the park, feeling like de ja vu to Rose and I who had just been running the same route. We then did the same 4 miles up from Spiceball to Chacombe as last week before turning left and taking a longer but more gradual hill to Welsh lane. We had to avoid a tractor or two along here and had quite a smelly section! We had a pretty busy section for a few minutes until we turned off towards Thenford. We were just over half way by now. We then cycled along a quiet road that I often run along, and turned towards Marston St Lawrence. The route was still fairly familiar up until now before turning along to Greatworth. This is where I was expecting a hill ๐Ÿ˜ฏ I was pleasantly surprised though. It was another quite gradual hill although I was pretty worn out by this one! The village was quite scenic and we stopped just after the village to take a few photos of the lovely view. The sun was starting to shine too. โ˜€๏ธ๐ŸŒž We then had a massive down hill section where I got to 25.9 miles per hour. I think Samuel was faster though as he was catching me. I was concentrating hard as I didn’t want to end up in the ditch! We rode back through Marston St Lawrence and back along my normal running route into Middleton. This time we avoided riding past the shops and half of Samuel’s school year. Half a mile to go and I was pretty thankful. It was lovely but my legs were feeling it by then! We got back and my bike showed 18 miles but my watch was slightly under where I had started it a bit late! So I added a tiny bit on to get to 18 miles! All in all a good morning. Thank you for joining us Rose and thanks to Dominic and Samuel for doing this challenge too. Looking forward to my relaxation tomorrow. โค

Share 18 facts about Charlie and Joshua

I have been thinking a lot about this blog especially the last few days. I am going to share some special memories and thoughts about the twins with you all. Some of you will probably know some of these things already but hopefully not all of it.

  1. Names

We found out that they were twin boys at the 20 week scan so began thinking of boys names shortly after. Typically we had lots of girls names we liked but not so many boys. We both decided on Charlie quite quickly but that was really as far as we had got before I went into labour. There were a few we both liked but not necessarily the same few! Once they were born they were whisked away to the neonatal unit very quickly without us seeing them. When we were taken round to see them a little later they were labelled twin 1 and twin 2. We were asked straight away what we were going to call them. I was in complete shock and did not even realise that you named babies that might die, I feel guilty for thinking that. So twin 1 became Charlie and twin 2 became Joshua, one of the other names we both liked. Charlie Robert, the same middle name as Dominic and Joshua Thomas, Thomas meaning twin apparently.20170427_155250I like that we can find things with their names on like these teddies that are nearly 18 years old too.

2. Family trees

Over the years at school Jessica and Samuel have been asked about their family, brothers and sisters etc. I love the fact that they have always been completely open and included Charlie and Joshua in our family, probably easier for them when they were younger but they always seem happy to talk about them even now. Often, in Spanish and German particularly it has made me smile to see their names in their books and also included on family trees. I remember so clearly Jessica asking if she could take a photo in of the twins to show her first teacher, not your normal show and tell! Luckily Jess had the best teacher and teaching assistant in Reception who were lovely and did not seem at all fazed by the photo. Thanks Tracey and Valda.

3. About the pregnancy

I think I have touched on this before in previous blogs. I was so sick with this pregnancy (and the next two in fact!). I was sick every single day of the pregnancy and had to eat whatever I could manage to keep down. I kept thinking that the sickness would stop after the first 12 weeks but it never did with me. Nothing tasted right either- I certainly didn’t bloom. I was definitely fit though as that year I had been moved into the brand new class room at the school I was teaching in, that was great except it was quite a run to the toilet. I had a great TA who would cover as I was running down the corridor yet again!

4. I knew it was twins!

I just had a feeling that it was twins right from the beginning! I am not even sure if I mentioned my thoughts to anyone. When we went for our first appointment I expected them to say they could hear two, but that wasn’t the case when they listened to the heart beat(s) using the doppler. I didn’t realise at that point that it was difficult to distinguish between both especially when it was presumed to be one baby! So when we went for the scan at 14 weeks ( a bit late) I had got the idea out of my head. When we were told it was twins it was one of the happiest moments of my life. I felt so important, so special, a mum of twins- how amazing is that? Dominic and I came out a little shell shocked. We then had the lovely task of telling our parents, it was by text to my mum and dad as they were on holiday. I think they were a little surprised too!

5. Their bedroom and their things

We waited until the 20 week scan before we bought very much as we wanted to make sure everything was okay. Once we knew they were boys and that everything seemed fine we began to buy things and sort out their bedroom. We bought 2 cot beds and decorated their bedroom mostly in blue. We were so excited and so organised. Everything was ready for them before I went into labour- except me. We had cots, car seats, bouncy chairs, clothes and much more- all bought in the space of 6 weeks. The pram was another story, I wanted a pram where they could face each other not a side by side pram. We did a lot of research and finally found the one that we wanted in London. We went to see it on the 12th September, loved it, bought it and arranged for it to be delivered. It was a busy day in London and I was exhausted when I got home. It was the next day that I went into labour. I felt so guilty for a long time afterwards that I had done too much that day and thought that was why I had a premature labour. After being pregnant with Samuel and Jessica being so little I realised that this was not the case. I had to do far more to look after Jess than I did that day in London.

6. Blood group

The twins blood group was the same as mine A-. We found that out soon after they were born. I don’t know what Jess and Samuel are but would like to know. Both twins had to have blood transfusions, Joshua more than Charlie in his extra week of life. At that point I decided that I would give blood at some point. I rang soon after they died to be told that I had to wait until a year after being pregnant. I then didn’t try again until many years later, it was always on my ‘to do’ list. It was seeing a friend of mines Facebook post that made me get it sorted. Thanks Lindsey. I have given blood twice now and have my next appointment booked.

7. Bringing them home

After they had both died we had to stay an extra night to register their births and deaths- one of the hardest things I have ever done. Then we had the problem of getting them home. They were going to Humphris Funeral Directors but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving them. They could get them home for us but I wanted to be with them. Then it was suggested that we could bring them home ourselves in our car. We needed a letter to take with us and then we basically wrapped them in their blankets, carried them out of the hospital and Dominic drove us all back to Banbury with them on my lap. I couldn’t actually believe what I was doing really, but was so glad that we could take them ourselves.

ย 8.ย Apgar scores

Definition of Apgar score

:an index used to evaluate the condition of a newborn infant based on a rating of 0, 1, or 2 for each of the five characteristics of colour, heart rate, response to stimulation of the sole of the foot, muscle tone, and respiration with 10 being a perfect score.

At the time I wasn’t overly familiar with what the Apgar scores were measuring and what they should be scoring. At Stoke on Trent they took the scores at 1 minute and 5 minutes. Charlie scored 8 at 1 minute and 9 at 5 minutes. Joshua scored 1 at 1 minute, basically needing resuscitating and 5 at 5 minutes. Joshua’s condition at birth is recorded in the notes. ‘pale, cold, cord around neck’ His low apgar scores are listed as problems throughout his notes too. So at that point Charlie was the healthier twin.

9. Jessica’s Christening

Jessica was Christened on the 26th November at almost 3 months old. The twins had a Baptism in hospital when we found out Charlie was going to die. We wanted them Christened together but also wanted to be able to Christen Joshua if he lived once he was out of hospital so it was a difficult decision to make.

Charlie’s memory box and Baptism certificate Joshua’s

Anyway back to Jess! We met with the lovely vicar who married Dominic and I and asked him if he could include the twins in some way in the service. ย It was beautiful as he talked a little about her twin brothers and their individual characters during the service and at the end he gave us candles for both Charlie, Joshua and Jessica. ย It had been hard to decide on God Parents for Jess as we had already chosen for the twins and now couldn’t have them all. Heather my friend who also lost her twins just before me was Jessica’s God Mother along with my friend Mary and our two brothers. ย Ellen, was then God Parent to Samuel as she was also one that we wanted for the twins.

We had a get together after the Christening where we could proudly show Jess off and get together with our friends and family. ย Everyone was so supportive as it was quite a difficult day. ย We had kept the top tier of our wedding cake ready for our first baby so decided to still have it for the twins. ย Mum kindly made another one for Jess and decorated them both.


10. Notes

I shared a blog about the hospital notes before I started the challenges. ย We wanted the notes to have a written record of our stay in hospital. ย They are hard to read as they are very to the point but I am glad we have them.




11.ย Tamba Memebership Card

I found this the other day when I was sorting through the treasure chest. I don’t actually remember getting this. ย At the time it wasn’t really a group that I wanted to be a member of! I mean that in the way that obviously I was very glad of Tamba and their support but I would have rather be a member of a toddler group with them alive and well.


12.ย Newspaper articles

We had our story in a few newspapers after I lost them. ย I had a friend who worked at Tommy’s who arranged some of them. ย I liked to share my experience whenever I could. This article was in The Times.


I was pregnant with Samuel, laid on the sofa feeling dreadful trying to play with Jess and I got a phone call to say they wanted to come later that day. ย I managed some how to get showered and put some make up on ahead of having the interview and my photo taken.

13. My favourite photographs

These are my two (or maybe a few more) favourite photos of them both.



This photo is so special as it is the first time I held Joshua and he was doing fairly well. ย It was the middle of the night and Erica, one of the nurses let me hold him. ย Such a special memory.


These photos are taken after they had died. ย We don’t have any photos of them both together alive as they were always both in different incubators fighting to live.

14.ย Family Occasions

I have been so touched that for every significant occasion that has happened since they died my lovely family has included the twins in some ways, at my mum and dad’s Silver Wedding, Neil and Adele’s wedding, Heather and Stuart’s wedding to name a few. ย I truly did not expect it at any of these and I think it has made me cry (happy tears) every time.

Heather and Stuart’s wedding.


Neil and Adele’s wedding


The C and J were on the table with two red roses at mum and dad’s Silver Wedding


These things are so precious- it means so much and helps so much on days like these.

15. Family- who met them

We were so lucky that quite a few people came to meet Charlie and Joshua, mainly whilst they were alive but also a few people after they had died. ย The neonatal unit were great in allowing visitors. ย I will try hard to remember everyone but some of the time we spent there is a little blurry so let me know if I have forgotten you

Mum, Dad, Neil, Dominic’s mum and dad, Stuart, Ellen, Danielle, Carla, Mary, Isabel

I am so pleased that they were real little people and characters to more than just Dominic and I. We were proud to show them off, they were our perfect little twin boys.

16.ย About the birth

You might already know some of this but just a few facts from the birth. ย Charlie was born at 10.31 a.m. and weighed 1lb 12oz. ย Joshua was born 13 minutes later at 10.44 a.m. and weighed 1lb 10oz. ย They were identical although I could easily tell them apart. ย They had dark hair like Dominic. They were whisked off to special care before we even saw them. ย Charlie made a little cry but Joshua didn’t. ย Joshua began to open his eyes in the second week of his life. ย He also had a tiny dummy. ย I only held Charlie as he died but held Joshua on two separate occasions. ย To begin with I just wanted to leave everything to the doctors and get them better but that changed once Charlie died as I realised I needed to do everything I could then. ย For that reason I did so much more for Joshua which I do feel guilty about. ย I could go on forever but I will leave you with the fact that they were absolutely perfect in every way, just tiny.

17. A few odd facts from the notes-


  • temperature at birth 35.2degrees
  • weight in grams 760
  • bloods at birth 3mm- should be between 4 and 7
  • theatre booked for long line at Birmingham Children’s hospital on 23/9/99. Ambulance booked for 11 o’clock.
  • Operation 2.30 p.m- temperature 30 degrees in theatre. Out of theatre at 5 p.m. and warmed with nurses and mum’s hands. 7 p.m still awaiting ambulance.
  • 25/9/99 8.50 a.m top up transfusion, 5 p.m tried to intubate, not responding to resuscitation 6.12 p.m. no breaths and no heartbeat


  • Admitted to neonatal unit at 10.45 a.m.
  • 800 grams
  • Head circumference 26.7 cms, temp 35.8 and pulse 169
  • Bloods at birth 2 mm- given sugar
  • bloods very up and down each day- insulin and sugar given on many occasions
  • 19/9/99 12.55 p.m. Christened with Joshua, 1.05 p.m. Mum asks to hold Charlie before he dies. 1.34 p.m No heartbeat

18. Twins in the family

We do not have any live twins in our family but there were twins in my mums family, a few generations back on my Grandad’s side. ย Sadly they didn’t live either.







18 Carat Gold Jewellery ๐Ÿ’

This challenge has had lots of interest right from when I first shared the list. Firstly from Dominic(!) and then from quite a few friends offering to do this one for me including my sister in law Adele. My Mother in law tried to tell Dominic that two 9 carat items of jewellery would work just as well. Mmm no!

When I was choosing the 18 challenges I hadn’t really considered how expensive 18 carat gold could be! I have explained on previous blogs that I always wanted it to be a ring as my ring from 18 years ago is very faded now and you can only just make out their names.

We began looking in jewellers quite early on as I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted. I knew that I would know when I saw it but that is not that helpful to anyone looking with me! To begin with I thought I would just have a wedding band engraved due to the lack of choice in my price range.

In the summer we had a week staying in Blackpool and Liverpool and I had decided to look there. There was nothing much in Blackpool so I was hopeful Liverpool would be the place I would find something.

There were some lovely jewellers there which had some different styles of rings. I wanted something that I could relate to the twins- maybe stars, hearts, two of something… not that easy to find. We found a shop called Miltons…

and I explained the whole story to the lady as she was very sweet and interested. Nothing I liked was in my size though and still not quite what I wanted. The lady sent us off to another Milton store in Liverpool which she said was bigger and had more choice. It was a jewellers that you had to be let in and out of! Dominic, Jess and Samuel were very patient while I had a good look around. There was a very friendly man who had a good chat with Samuel. I think it started from the fact that he was wearing his Liverpool football shirt- the man supported Everton! And then our accents- where were we from, where were we staying etc.

Then I found a few rings I liked. The first one being a ring with 2 stones side by side, perfect, but it didn’t fit. The other one I loved was really different, a rose gold and white gold intertwined together, again perfect. It didn’t fit either. I again found myself telling the lady. She was so lovely and determined to help me find something. I don’t often tell strangers about the twins but sometimes you can just tell that they are going to say the right thing and be really kind. There were lots of other nice rings but I kept coming back to these two. The very kind lady then suggested having them resized. We tried to work out if we could pick them up the next day on the way to Alton Towers. Meanwhile she went off to talk to someone who resizes them. She came back overjoyed that they could do it that day to be picked up a few hours later. What a fantastic shop with great customer service.

Then it was just the decision of which one to have. I tried them on numerous times and had already decided I didn’t want them engraved anymore as they already had such meaning; 2 stones just like 2 babies, intertwined just like twins especially when I was pregnant. Also reminding me of the photo that we have in our lounge of them holding hands.


The definition says:

connect or link (two or more things) closely.

I hadn’t thought about the fact that the word twin is also present. ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

The rings also looked perfect together!! Without too much persuasion my lovely husband Dominic suggested I have both- one for each twin ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸhow could I possibly refuse?

So many people have asked me about this challenge. I am not quite sure how I managed not to tell anyone- well I might have mentioned it to my mum, but even she didn’t know anything about them.

So this is the first one I found…

and the second.

I forgot to say that she also gave them a clean to make them nice and shiny!

Finally to show you them together.

I have put them both on this evening and love them โ™ฅ๏ธโ™ฅ๏ธ

Thanks Dominic ๐Ÿ’•

Dominic is so supportive of everything I do and is also the best dad. Jess and Sam keep him very busy with football, dropping here and there, revision etc. I think he would be standing in a lot of fields watching sport if Charlie and Joshua had lived! And he would love every minute of it.

Halfway through my challenges now and loving every one. Thank you for your amazing support.

18,000 steps in Stratford ๐Ÿ‘ฃ๐Ÿ‘ฃ

Mum and I decided on Stratford for our 18,000 steps today. We set off after Jess and Samuel left for school calling in to Waitrose in Stratford for our usual Stratford coffee stop.

After enjoying a strong black coffee and a banana we parked on the edge of Stratford to help increase our steps. It was dry and fairly warm but quite a dull day as we approached the river.

I decided to take a few more photos later on in the day when it had hopefully brightened up.

We walked up through the town, via a few shops, and through the tourist section stopping for a photo.

We headed up to the retail park and must have increased the pace as we both got hot.

We stopped for a selfie at the canal (just to make Jess laugh๐Ÿ˜‚).

Still not great at Selfies!! Mum was a bit concerned about the two swans in the lock.

We added a fair few steps walking around the shops at the retail park, avoiding buying too much as I had to carry it.

We came back the same way into Stratford and then walked a different route back towards the river and park. We decided to try the Dirty Duck or Black Swan for lunch which is along the front by the theatre and river.

Dirty Duck one side of the pub sign and Black Swan the other.

We were greated by a snowman as we walked in โ›„(Bit early!)

We chose a nice seat in the window looking out on to the river…

and both chose Veggie Chilli. It was delicious! My watch was showing 15,000 steps by now so it was nice to sit down. My legs haven’t recovered fully yet from the run. Hope they do before I bike.

After lunch we added a loop down the side of the river towards the Greenway before crossing the river on the bridge where I took a photo as it had brightened up.

We decided to walk back down the river, part of the parkrun route, before catching the ferry back over.

Mum did suggest I put on the buoyancy ring for a better photo. I think the man on the ferry definitely thought we were tourists- taking photos.

As we walked back down towards where we had started my watch was almost at 18,000 steps. I tried hard to get it exactly but it didn’t quite happen!

Mum was tracking hers on her phone and was just a little after mine. I obviously did a bit more that morning!

We had a lovely day and are well exercised today! I always spend Wednesday’s with my mum and look forward to them every week โ™ฅ๏ธ

‘You have a few days off now mum from challenges but do have a few more left to do with me!’


Challenge 7 – Swim 18 lengths

Today’s challenge was to swim 18 lengths. I swim every weekday morning between 32 and 64 lengths so this was an easy one for me.

It was very nice getting out today after 18 lengths as it is usually a bit of a rush before school. I often use my swimming as my thinking time so today I was thinking about all the challenges so far- mostly my run which I still can’t believe I did so easily and the messages yesterday which are still coming back to me today. I did have to concentrate on counting the lengths though!

Thank you so much for all the donations. I have reached 74% of my target already which is wonderful.


Update: My lovely friend Vikki, who also happens to be Jessica’s best friends mum, also swam 18 lengths today. Thank you so much Vikki- so thoughtful and very kind. โ™ฅ๏ธโ™ฅ๏ธ

Challenge 6- Message 18 of my Tamba/ Sands friends

I thought this would be an easier challenge but then I realised that I had many more than 18 friends to text. After thinking, during my swim (and losing count of my lengths) I decided on a plan. Many of my friends that I have made through both Tamba and Sands are also friends on my private Facebook account or on our bereavement support group Facebook page so I decided to post on each to include as many people as possible in this challenge.

I asked people to share their babies names and birthdays if they would like to and I have had the loveliest response. (As an aside I have realised through writing this blog that I use the word ‘lovely’ far too much- good job I am not an English teacher!)

So many people have shared with me to be part of this challenge and also written such kind things. At the moment and I will update again tomorrow I have had 60 replies just on Facebook and it keeps increasing. Thank you so much.


I also decided to text 18 friends, mostly people who have been with me on this journey for a long time, a few people I have befriended and become good friends with, some that are not on Facebook and a few that I have become friends with more recently. It was so hard to just text 18 hence my Facebook posts too.

The first and second texts were easy, two of my best friends- Vicky and Heather. I have known Heather slightly longer than Vicky as we were introduced straight after I lost Charlie and Joshua as she had lost her twins 3 months before. Vicky and Annette (who I have also known for ages and was another easy choice) were there when I became involved with my local Sands group, both of them having lost their babies before me.

Vicky made me cry with her response- in a nice way! Not that hard at the moment either- I kept everything together yesterday morning but that has not been the case since. It is such a hard thing to get your head around, if Charlie and Joshua hadn’t died my life would be so different now. I wouldn’t have made such lovely friends and be the person who I am now. But of course I wanted them to live so much and would be so happy if they were alive now, we would have a busy house! I am not quite sure if that makes sense but basically I love my life, I feel very lucky to have such amazing family and friends and two jobs that I love but there is always a void.

Heather made me laugh, she agreed with me that even though we have been meeting most weeks for 18 years that we always have loads to talk about and added ‘I expect that it will be the same for the next 18 years (but maybe repeating ourselves!!!)’ I hope not for a while.

This blog was supposed to be a short one after the last few so I won’t mention everyone by name. All of my friends- some I have known for years, some I have only met maybe once or twice as we do not live near each other and we have not known each other as long, and some that I haven’t met at all and we just support each other through social media, whatever the circumstances it is a special friendship brought together by our babies.

Thinking of all of our babies playing together โ™ฅ๏ธโ™ฅ๏ธ Xx

Update: I have now had almost 100 people respond to my Facebook posts๐Ÿ˜