On the last day of June 2015 I am taking a moment to reflect on what has been an overwhelming month. It started just after my 35th birthday, in the middle of half term, and I had every reason to believe that it would be focused on #FlamingJune, the Month of Action for the #MatExp campaign. It certainly started with a bang!
My partner in crime Emma Sasaru has written a fab round up of the activities of the campaign over the last month, but you would have to look on so many platforms to get a true feeling for just how much activity there has been since 1 June. The Pinterest board has barely kept up with the pace of actions and posts, the Facebook group has been incredibly busy, Twitter has been FULL of #MatExp discussions and the website has had thousands of hits. Oh and there have been at least four short films launched as well!!
Film Number 1: Improving Experiences Across NHS Maternity Services
Film Number 2: LSCN Maternity Experience
Film Number 3: #FlamingJune #MatExp #BloodtoBaby – Waiting before clamping and cutting the cord
Film Number 4: #FlamingJune #MatExp – #BloodtoBaby and Optimal Cord Clamping
I have been so very proud to be a part of all of this, and have contributed my own blog posts along the way. I have completed 3 out of my 4 #FlamingJune actions, namely:
Contributing to Sheena Byrom’s blog series on What the National Maternity Review team needs to know.
Continuing to campaign for better breastfeeding support on children’s wards.
My final action is to bring WhoseShoes to Manchester, and I know that Nikki Mather and Cathy Brewster have already mentioned this idea to Manchester CCG. I am hoping to meet with Nikki and Cathy to discuss this very soon.
There have been such rich discussions on the MatExp Facebook group which a few of us have tried to capture in blog posts, and I have so far written up the group’s views and ideas on Anxiety, Dads & Partners and the pressure that Midwives are under. I am hoping to write up a few more over the coming weeks, before collapsing in a big heap for the summer holidays! Add to all of that the ABM Conference and the Breastfeeding Festival, both of which I was privileged to attend, and you have a month that looks something like this:
So from my perspective of one online campaign, June has indeed been FlamingBrilliant!
Life doesn’t just happen online though. Away from the phone, the tablet and the PC, real life continues with precious little regard to what we have planned and mapped out. You may have noticed the “I need a hug please” in the collage above. That was a picture I tweeted on a day when the daughter of a friend of mine was fighting for her life in hospital, and one of my best friends was also struggling on ICU. My friend’s little girl is now much more stable, although still fighting a hard battle in Alder Hey. Sadly, devastatingly, my beautiful friend Jane Hanley passed away on Wednesday 17 June.
Jane had been living with chronic lung disease for some time, and her journey can be found here on her blog. She was taken into Wigan Infirmary with an infection and it just proved too much for her. I was privileged to be able to visit her on ICU on the day that she died, and whilst her body was working so very hard for every breath, her toes were still painted a beautiful sparkly silver. Those who knew her will not be surprised that she was a glamorous patient.
Just like MatExp, Jane contributed to many online platforms, particularly once it became hard for her to get out and about. She was a deputy admin on my private Facebook group for mums, and she was also active in discussing lung disease on Twitter – one doctor was planning to use her blog posts in training and presentations.
On Pinterest Jane welcomed in June just as she had welcomed in earlier months.
This afternoon I will be writing my speech for her funeral.
We never know what is just around the corner. And it is so important to remember that in the middle of any campaign, there are those people who are experiencing real life RIGHT NOW, away from the hashtags and postings. People are being born today. People are dying today. Some of them, tragically, will be the same people. All of us have the chance, TODAY, to make a difference to those lives. And to our own. Today is the day. It is the only day that exists.