There’s never a dull moment in the Smith household!


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It’s been a busy time since our last post to this blog! We have made good progress with all things triathlon related…..we’ve booked our flights and car, sorted our accommodation, reserved bikes and ‘booked’ the kids in with Mum for the weekend of the event. We have also had a lovely family Christmas and New a Year and as always Father Christmas was very good to us, but I bet no one can guess my favourite present?! I’ll give you a couple of clues….it’s hard, funny looking and essential! Yep, you guessed it, a new bike helmet! Now that we have all of the correct gear we can officially say our training has begun!!

Anyone that knows us well will know that Neal is already quite fit! He swims with Kenilworth Masters three times a week and goes to the gym three times a week too. I, on the other hand do nothing, nadda, zilch! I have A LOT of catching up to do!! So, I joined a gym and plan on going as often as I can!

Everything was going to plan: I was getting into a nice routine of going to the gym in the mornings doing a mixture of weights, combat, spinning, swimming and running, and  Meanwhile Neal was continuing his normal fitness routine but adding in some running too. We even managed a 25km bike ride a few weeks back, albeit with a brief stop half way at a pub for refreshments!

We had a big family holiday coming up to Cape Town in February for 2 weeks and we had even made contact with a masters swimming club to make sure we didn’t lose any of our training momentum!

However, 9 days before we were due to go Arthur had picked up what we presumed was a sickness bug but after 4 days of him getting worse and not better we decided to go to BCH to get him checked out (mainly for our peace of mind before travelling). Much to everyone’s surprise, scans showed that the catheter from Arthurs shunt had fractured (snapped) and had a four inch gap in it so the fluid was not able to drain adequately. It was this that was causing his symptoms and not a bug. The only way to treat this was to have a second brain operation which we always knew deep down was inevitable but we had hoped it would have been further down the line than this. Luckily the wonderful surgeons at BCH were able to replace just the catheter rather than have to replace the whole shunt. Arthur was still left with three sets of stitches (one quite large wound on his head and two on his abdomen) and a rather humorous 90’s style undercut! He recovered remarkably quickly and after just 4 days in hospital we were on our way home.

Home was where we were destined to stay after Arthurs consultant informed us traveling was out of the question. So, after all the planning and excitement the rest of the family continued on their holiday without us. Charlotte and George both decided they still wanted to go so the house has been very quiet for the last two weeks! Whilst Arthur is growing in character, he’s not yet a great conservationist! They say every cloud has a silver lining and with less running around to do with the big kids we have had more time to get our training back on track……and that is where we are now!

With eight weeks to go until the triathlon we are stepping up out training regime as much as work and parenting commitments allow us! One thing we have not practised yet are the transitions between the different disciplines. We’re not sure the best way to do these but we’ll no doubt have some fun trying! We also want to raise more awareness of our participation in the triathlon and the excellent cause we are doing this for – Birmingham Childrens Hospital. So please share this blog and the details of our Just Giving page on your social media platforms to get the word around and hopefully help us raise more money for this fantastic cause.




Why oh why are we doing this?!



I have decided to write this blog to document a new and exciting chapter in what has so far been a very turbulent journey. Neal and I have decided to take part in the Praia da Luz triathlon in Portugal which takes place on 25th April, 2015 and are hoping to raise as much money as we can for Birmingham Children’s Hospital (BCH). This poses lots of questions; why this charity?, why this location? Hopefully along the way in this post I will give you some understanding.

In November 2012 Neal and I were beyond excited to find out we were expecting a baby, due the following July. Charlotte and George and the rest of our families were also so excited at what was already a difficult time, especially for my side of the family. My Dad had just been given the news that not only was his cancer terminal, which we had known for a few months, but that now there was little they could do to help prolong the awful inevitable. He was thrilled at the thought of being Poppa to another child.

In December and January I experienced a couple of bleeds, nothing major but a worry for any mom to be, especially in the early stages of pregnancy. These were put down to the normal processes of pregnancy and I was just told to be a little more careful. In March I woke during the night and could feel blood pouring from me. After a nervous and very messy dash to Warwick Hospital we were told that if the bleeding didn’t stop in five minutes they would have to deliver the baby as both our lives were at risk. After five minutes the bleeding had slowed down but not stopped. I begged for another couple of minutes and as I was being prepped for theatre the bleeding stopped. I was 23 weeks pregnant and although babies are able to survive being born at this gestation, it is only possible in a large hospital with a Level 3 neonatal unit, which Warwick doesn’t have. There would have only been one outcome if our baby had been born at this time.

In the days to come I was diagnosed with complete placenta previa. A condition where the placenta is positioned very low in the uterus and as a result some of it is not attached. I was put on bed rest and although hard to slow down, it proved to be a blessing in disguise as I spent many a day sat with my Dad watching telly, moaning about normal day to day things and annoying each other with our strong, often differing opinions on things!

On 29th March, two days after Mum and Dads 41st wedding anniversary, Dad passed away. Although it was expected it was relatively sudden. Dad’s funeral was on 17th April and on the 19th April I had another large bleed, luckily whilst at a routine appointment at the hospital. From that day I was told I would have to stay in hospital for the duration of my pregnancy which was potentially was another 13 weeks! I feel so fortunate that I was able to attend dad’s funeral, to say my goodbyes and support my mum, sister and children.

I didn’t manage to hold out that long and a week later, after five more bleeds, Arthur David Smith was born at 28 weeks by emergency cesarean in ‘poor condition’. He weighed 3lbs 5ozs and was put on a ventilator. The same day he was moved to Leicester Royal Infirmary neonatal unit. After 4 weeks he was moved to Queens Medical Centre and after two more weeks he was moved to BCH. Along the way Arthur overcame so many problems; infections, suspected NEC (a deadly bowel infection in pre term babies), three resuscitations, to list just a few.

The one problem Arthur wasn’t able to overcome was a bleed he had on the brain at birth as a result of not being able to maintain his blood pressure. This bleed led to the ventricles in Arthur’s brain becoming blocked, making the fluid in the brain unable to flow freely, a condition called hydrochepalus. We were told the bleed on the brain and the hydrochepalus would have caused him a degree of brain damage, something we would not be able to quantify until he was older. The feeling of being taken into the ‘quiet’ room where we saw so many parents being taken to be told devastating news is one that we will never forget. At BCH he underwent brain surgery to implant a shunt…a valve that regulates the amount of fluid on his brain. When there is too much it drains through a catheter down his neck and into his abdomen and recirculates in his body.

Although the care Arthur had, with the exception of Nottingham, was truly outstanding we feel that BCH had the experience and knowledge needed to gauge the best treatment for Arthur at the best time for him. The care we received and continue to receive from every single member of staff from domestic to nurse to consultant was amazing and life saving. The insertion of a shunt comes with high risks; further brain damage, infection and failure. Arthur was so lucky to escape any of these complications and we truly believe this was due to the expertise of the dedicated staff at BCH.

We have spoken many times about giving something back but have never found the best way to do it. It was during our first family holiday since Arthur had been born and long enough after the event that we were able to reflect with clarity that had we our lightbulb moment. Sat in a bar on a lovely spring day in Praia Da Luz we noticed signs advertising the upcoming triathlon in the town. One drink after the next, the idea of doing it ourselves became more and more appealing! So, on that day in 2014 Neal and I shook on the fact that we would do it together next year and raise money for BCH, a thought that was cemented when the 2015 date was released….Arthur’s Birthday weekend.

Let the training begin…..

If you enjoyed reading our blog, are enjoying the thought of us suffering doing the training or just think BCH is a worthy cause please visit our JustGiving page and give what you can….THANK YOU! IMG_0293.JPG IMG_0296.JPG IMG_0292.JPG IMG_0297.JPG