OK, this one sounds smug; but I promise you it isn’t. I am sitting here, just one week away from Teddy’s first birthday, having written only weeks ago that it was my wish to raise £20k before 16th May. To this very moment, Teddy’s Fund has raised £25,181. I cannot quite believe that figure. I don’t know what I imagined when we started the fundraising. In fact, I am unsure as to what I was even trying to do. I wanted to tell the world about Teddy, and about his entrance into the world; and then the unexpected exit that followed. I wrote the story just one week after he died; every moment was still so fresh in my mind; every detail of that week in hospital and how it had played out. That story came from a place of raw emotion and sheer pride as Teddy’s mother. I am not sure I could write it again, not quite like that.
When I first posted our Just Giving page it was primarily to tell people what had happened. We still didn’t know why it had. Firstly it was family, friends and then friends of friends who started to donate. Then came donations from work colleagues, acquaintances and even strangers; people we had never met felt compelled to donate money to the NICU in memory of our little boy. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing; as the total racked up, so did my amazement at people’s generosity. I have found in the year that has (almost) passed us; that the more I have spoken about Teddy on social media, the more I have opened my heart and mind onto the pages of this blog; the more the fund total has crept up.
When the fund was sitting at around £16k last month, I felt like twenty thousand sounded like a good goal, a milestone; just like marking one year of Teddy is a milestone for us. A year of being his parents, a year of grief; one whole year of learning what our new “normal” feels like. I thought, that if we could make it to twenty thousand pounds then we would have raised a sum that would make such a huge difference to the NICU; a sum that could change lives. I thought we might just do it; I never imagine we would exceed it to the extent that we have.
I don’t ever want to come across as smug, I don’t want people to think I am writing with a sense of “Look how well I have done.” That’s because I don’t think it is me; Teddy’s fund hitting its total is down to so much more. It’s about people coming together and seeing the power of human spirit, about people believing that more should be done to prevent stillbirth and neonatal death, and about people wanting to help those dedicated doctors and nurses within the NHS to have the right equipment and environment in which to make that happen. I like to think of Teddy as a frontman to the campaign; a person, a face (a very cute one) that people can see and hopefully feel compelled to donate or help us in some way. He was here, he lived. Teddy is my own little star that has made this all possible. I feel so strongly that every little spirit that touches this earth is here to do so with his or her own purpose, no matter how short their time. Teddy’s purpose, in my mind anyway, just seems so great; so impactful.
When we visited the NICU last week, I got a sense of the enormity of the difference our fundraising has already made. I was so happy to be able to tell them that it was still continuing, and that it would continue for a long time yet. Walking back into that unit took every ounce of strength that I had; I can only describe many of the emotions as similar to walking back into flashbacks from a vivid nightmare. It didn’t occur to me until we were in the lift on the way up to the unit that the last time I had been there was the evening of 19th May 2016, the evening Teddy had just died. We were walking out of there with our hospital bags, but not with him. That wave of emotion came back to me with such intensity, I wasn’t prepared. I felt like I had to walk along the corridor to look through the glass into the first room of the unit; the room where Teddy had been. As I stood there I stared intensly at “his” corner; a place where he has been, where he had actually existed. As I stared, I felt strangely close to him. I felt as though he has given me the strength to walk back through those doors, to remind me why we were there; remind me of his purpose.
That intense emotion seems to have sparked a new sense in me to continue our fundraising. The outpouring of love from others to help us seems to have intensified also. An idea for a “Teddy for Teddy” from my wonderful friend Hannah, turned into a way for people to connect and engage with Teddy’s story by sharing photos of their teddy bears on Instagram. In the process Hannah exceeded all expectations she had had and raised a huge sum of money for the fund. An idea that started as a simple raffle hamper through Instagram quickly culminated into over fifty prize donations from talented artisans and makers, and almost £4500 raised. So many people get in touch and want to help us raise money. It never ceases to amaze me; people never cease to amaze me. I seem to say “Thank you” so much these days. thank you to people helping us fundraise with fabulous ideas; thank you to people who donate; thank you to people who offer kind words via Instagram or my blog. Most days, “thank you” doesn’t seem quite enough.
So what next? Where do we go from here when we’ve already exceeded any expectation we had? I guess my answer to that is; why stop now? If we can continue to help the NICU, we will. If we can continue to prevent more families from losing a child, we absolutely will. I wouldn’t call myself a “fundraiser”, but we do seem to be raising quite phenomenal funds these days.
So maybe, there is just one big thank you I should give…… Thank you Teddy, for touching our lives with such a strong and beautiful purpose; and thank you for showing me mine. Mummy xxx