I can't quite believe it has been almost a year since our very first Rainbow Running Club Run in Hertford on Sunday 15th of September, a date that I don't think I will ever forget. When I had the idea to start a "running club" no one was more surprised than I was, I'm not someone who is "sporty" or who is a lover of exercise - I've exercised sporadically over the years, but never really found my "thing". I am also shy and often get told I speak too quietly - something that I have become very self conscious of over the years.
As we drove to Hertford that sunny Sunday morning my legs were shaking and I kept saying to Gemma over and over again;
What am I doing? What if no one comes? What if no one can hear me? What if everyone is expecting this big professional experience and realise that it's not the case. What will I say?
As we arrived and slowly others did too I felt the adrenaline kick in, the nervousness being replaced by excitement, people were turning up it wasn't just going to me and Gemma and my family there. The rest of the morning proceeded in a blur of nervous excitement and a real feeling of maybe together we could be creating something really special here.
Standing in the Mill House in Hertford seeing all of these incredibly brave women who had put their trust in me (a stranger from the internet) and been the first to come to one of our events, I felt such a sense of pride. Here they were chatting to each other, smiling, sharing their tears and stories and I was utterly blown away. This had exceeded my wildest dreams, people were chatting to each other, connecting, friendships were being created. This was so needed - to finally be with others who understand, who "get it".
You may think that it could be really somber being in a room filled with women going through the hardest moments of their lives, who have endured such heartache but in fact it is incredible uplifting and freeing to know that you are no longer alone. Until that moment I had no idea just how much that would really mean or how much this would help me to heal over the next year. I had no idea the life changing year that lay ahead of me and all of the opportunities that would come my way. All I knew in that moment was that this was something I believed in with every ounce of my being, that I had found my "tribe", I finally belonged somewhere.
Over this past year I have learnt thanks to the incredible ladies that I have met that
Rainbow's don't necessarily have to mean babies, they can also be the moments that bring you joy and happiness and glimmers of light after the darkness.
The Rainbow Running and Yoga Club is my Rainbow - it has given me a safe space to pour all of my heart ache and grief into, it has helped me to find my passion, to re discover who I am (outside of infertility and loss which consumed my life for so long) but who "Lucy" is. What brings me joy, what makes my heart sing?
The Rainbow Running and Yoga Club has also connected me to the most wonderful group of women, I have made life long friends. I feel heard, supported and free. For that I cannot thank you all enough. Thank you for supporting me and my dreams and for making our amazing community all that it is today.
Who knew that a moment in March just six months before when I lay on the bed at the fertility clinic feeling as though my world had ended, would lead to this?
As we drove to our 10 week scan excitedly chatting about how much our little pip would have grown & how we would get to find out if we were expecting a boy or a girl, I never imagined what lay ahead. It’s a girl I said I know it is, the way I feel is the same as when I was pregnant with our daughter. I felt nervous of course I did, five years of trying to have babies, two miscarriages & two rounds of IVF will do that to you and means you never allow yourself to fully believe that this could be the time. But this time I felt different, we’d made it to seven weeks (the time I’d previously miscarried) we had a scan we saw a teeny tiny heart beating away, a strong heart beat we were told. I felt pregnant, exactly as I had in my pregnancy with my daughter. My tummy had already started to pop out, (my maternity jeans were on) I was constantly nauseous and tired. This time I thought, this time luck might just be on our side.
I knew before the Dr said those heart breaking words that something was wrong, I’ve seen what a baby at 10 weeks looks like and what the screen showed didn’t match that, I can’t remember the lines our kind Doctor used as it’s all a bit of a blur but I think it was I’m sorry your pregnancy hasn’t progressed as we would have expected I’m sorry there is no heartbeat. In that moment our world fell a part, all our hopes & dreams for a sibling for M we’re gone. How can this be happening again & why does my body still think that I’m pregnant? Previously it felt as though my body had failed, this time it felt as though my body was as desperate as I was to cling on to this baby and wasn’t going to let go.
This was our second loss in six months, five of which I’d been pregnant for. We found out later that the baby was a girl, a little sister, our daughter. I didn’t know how I was going to pull myself back up again but I knew I didn’t have a choice I had our daughter to look after. Coming home from the scan I’ve never been so grateful to be able to hug her so tightly, I’m equally grateful for the fact she was too little to remember the huge sobs that escaped the moment I held her as I got home and as I watched my friend Gemma's confused face as she tried to grasp what was happening.
We were told to go home and to see if I would miscarry naturally, but just a few days in I decide I couldn't. It was the most heartbreaking situation to be in, I desperately didn't want to let go of my baby, but I also couldn't deal with the pregnancy symptoms any longer knowing that I wasn't pregnant. Previously I didn't know I was about to miscarry but I was terrified this time of when the moment might happen. I called the clinic and asked to know more about the "medical management of a miscarriage" - I will never forget the nurse that I spoke to and how much she cared for me over the coming days. Her kindness and compassion at a time of utter heartbreak made such a difficult time that much easier. The moment I decided to go ahead with the surgery on the Friday morning she did everything she could to get me booked in for the Monday morning, because she understood I needed closure. Surgery would also mean that this time we could have genetic testing carried out and maybe we would finally have some answers to our questions of why? I will also never forget how much Gemma was there for me during this time, she came to look after me and help with M at a time when I couldn't deal with sharing with anyone else. I didn't need to ask she was just there.
My confidence and self worth were on the floor my heart was broken and despite the love and kindness I had been shown by those I had shared with I still felt so alone. I needed to do something to get “me” back. I started running as I wanted to lose weight, I know it’s vain to say but I felt uncomfortable and wanted to make myself feel better and my appearance was my first place to start. But quickly running turned in to so much more than about losing pounds. It became an escape from my frazzled emotional mind. As I ran I was so focused on getting to the next goal that my mind had a break. Then the rush of endorphins would come as I came home feeling proud that today I’d ran for 10 minutes, 20 minutes etc without stopping.
After five years of constantly beating my body up for failing to do what others seemed to do so naturally it felt good to do something that made me appreciate what my body could do.
My running & Sunday night yoga lessons became my salvation and slowly I felt the “old” me creeping back in along with my confidence & self worth.
One Sunday night at yoga I thought to myself if Running & yoga make me feel this good then maybe I can help others to feel the same and the idea for the Rainbow Running Club was formed. I need to turn life’s most awful moments in to something positive a need to channel my grief into something worthwhile and to show my daughter that you cannot let fear stop you doing what you love. Even if the thought of sharing my experiences seemed terrifying, I also thought if I can help just one woman to feel a tiny bit better than it will all be worth it.
I didn’t share my experiences with many when I was going through them, I think it was a mixture of shame and not know what to say or wanting to make others feel uncomfortable. It felt as though everyone around me were popping out babies, having their first, second & sometimes third and I’d still not yet managed to have one. But in keeping quiet I isolated myself and made an already awful time a very lonely place too.
So I set about setting up the Rainbow Running Club, a Running Club for women who have experienced baby loss and or infertility. When I pressed the go live button on my website I envisaged maybe a couple of people would see it and if we had two or three people turn up to our first run we would have done well. But from the start the response and support has been phenomenal and has far exceeded all of my hopes and wishes.
The overwhelming message is that people have struggled to find support or to know where to meet others who understand their feelings & emotions and through the Rainbow Running Club they have had the chance to meet other ladies who “get” them.
I am so incredibly grateful for all of the women who have supported my dream, who have contacted me, who have bravely shared their stories with me, who have turned up when they didn’t know what to expect and who have shared with others and gone on to hold their own Rainbow Running Club Events. I am so excited to see where the Rainbow Running Club can go and my hope is as we continue to grow our #rainbowrunningtribe across the world that we reach as many women as is possible so that no one is left feeling alone or as though they are the only one.