Keeping parents and babies together.

A few years ago at a La Leche League conference I had the privilege of hearing Dr Nils Bergman speak. In his talk he outlined the history of incubators and spoke of how they began as Dr. Martin Couney’s “Incubator Baby Exhibits” in a freakshow in Coney Island. He spoke of his clinic and his research in Third World countries and the amazing outcomes of Kangaroo Mother care as opposed to Western incubators. He described how simply being against their mothers’ chests stabilised babies’ heartrates, breathing, and temperature – babies born as prematurely as 24 weeks. More on this research can be found on the Irish Premature Babies site.

Some of the images and what seemed to me radical ideas in his presentation never left me. One statement stayed with me too. ‘In no published paper is a single adverse outcome reported for Kangaroo Mother Care’ Then I began to listen to the parents of premature babies in Ireland. Time and time again I heard ‘I was discharged but baby was kept in for weeks.’ This just feels wrong to me. I have been blessed with two full term healthy babies and the physical need to have them constantly close to me in those early weeks was overpowering. I discovered that in Ireland there are currently not enough facilities to keep parents close to their premature infants. Instead, mothers are sent home with an industrial electric breastpump and a photo. All of Ireland’s neo natal intensive care units are in Dublin. Many parents have travelled for hours everyday to be with their sick babies, some have slept in their cars. Others have sold all their valuables to pay for private accommodation. This is a very sad situation that I would love to be able to wave a magic wand and change.

Unfortunately, I don’t possess a working magic wand but when I saw that the charity CHY19532 Irish Premature Babies was organising a group to climb Mt Kilimanjaro to raise funds to address this situation and also to raise awareness of the problem, I jumped on board. It will be a hard slog up that mountain but nothing compared to the hard slog our tiniest babies have to simply survive and their parents have just to cope. Please support my climb by donating here or through the buttons on the right of this post. All donations are much appreciated. You can also sign a petition to increase awareness of the problem here. I would also like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated so far and supported me by offering their time and by sharing this blog.


The Machame Route

I’m not sure if it’s a good idea for me to watch these things or not. At least there is no evidence of baked beans. 😉

This is the route we will be taking but as it will be June the weather will be different and there is likely to be snow at the summit.

Thank you so much for all your donations so far. Still a long way to go though. Just click the button on the right to support my climb. Irish Premature Babies CHY19532 and I are very grateful for all your support.

Back in the saddle.

I am sorry for the delay between updates. There was some confusion, some doubt, some sickness, some other charity work and an annual festivity that provokes major excitement in my house between the last post and this. I didn’t want to push for donations while there was any uncertainty that I may go.

The agency that is running the trek have cancelled the trek that we were supposed to be on. However, we are STILL GOING because they’ve given us a new date of June 7th. This is a whole month sooner than scheduled. Now I’m wishing I pushed on with the fundraising because I’m really going to be  under pressure.

My current fundraising total is €170….of €5000 – approximately 3.5% so I’ve a long way to go. In addition to this I will need equipment; boots, sleeping bag, hiking trousers etc. It gets quite cold at night up there I’m told. Also, because now we are going in June and not July it is likely to be snowing.

So I need help.  Most of all I need your donations. If all the hits on this blog so far had translated to a donation of €10 I’d have the entire amount – but they haven’t. I am so so grateful to those that have sponsored me already and I know Irish Premature Babies are too. They’ve told me so. I need people who will help me pack bags in supermarkets. I need bands that will play a gig for the charity. I need  people to hold coffee mornings for me. I need people to share this blog and ask their friends and colleagues to donate. Hey, its like I’ve actually become a charity myself!

Please donate here now to JennyClimbsKili Please share this blog. Please leave comments and come back often so I can sell advertising on it. Please help make it easier for parents of tiny tiny babies to be close to them. Please help me climb this mountain.




We have lift off!

This was my first actual donation! Received around 1am on 26th November. Even better – it was quickly followed by another matching one online. Another 480 like this and I’m done 🙂

There is more excellent news though:
A good friend and excellent baker has very kindly offered to host a coffee morning on my behalf after Christmas. Fundraising help and cake – win win.

My lovely husband has donated a mini weekend break at the Silverbirch hotel in Omagh that he won. I will probably use this as a raffle prize at an event.

And I have a few meetings lined up this week for corporate sponsorship. Will keep you posted how they go. If you could visit this blog often and share it around it will help me a lot with these.

If you would like to donate you can use the button to the right or at my charity page

Again, thank you so much for your support. People are so great!

The plans

Today I received my official authorisation letter to fundraise on behalf of the charity Irish Premature Babies for the Climb for Prem babies 2012. The funds raised from this trek will go towards providing emergency accommodation for parents who find themselves separated from their infants due to transfer to specialised treatment units. In order to take part in this climb I have to raise €5000.

So far this is how I plan to do it:

I would like to make this blog worth some corporate sponsorship. I’ll keep posting on it with updates of how the fundraising is going. My thoughts on the fundraising, photos of events, info on the climb itself etc. I’ll try to keep it interesting. Please check it regularly and share it around. Then I can approach some companies with the stats. The Twitter hashtag is #kilimanjenny

You can use the donate button to the right or donate money directly on my charity page at
I would really like to see these figures creeping up.

I am hoping to arrange a fundraising night in early February. For this I still need some bands and musicians to give their time and talent, a venue, some more spot prizes and of course guests. If you can help with any of these please let me know and if not just come along on the night, it will be fun and I already have some great spot prizes lined up.

If you would like any further information or wish to offer any help, goods or suggestions please email me at jennyfoxe[at]gmail[dot]com

Thanks so much for your support,

The Fears

I would be lying if I said nothing about this project  terrifies me. When I’ve told people who know me what I’m planning to do they have had either of two reactions; the first is, ‘Wow, that will be amazing!’, the second is, ‘Have you gone completely mad?’ Having initially been on the first celebratory positive side myself, the second set of realists have started to make me question myself a little. These are thoughts that have struck me late at night, lying in the dark when the worries worm in:

1. Will I have to eat baked beans?

I HATE baked beans. You know the ones, in the turquoise can with the sticky orange lavaesque sauce. I hate the taste, I hate the smell and I hate the sight of them. I’m not great with any types of beans really for the simple reason that the texture of them reminds me too much of the offensive ones. I won’t have them cooked in my house in my presence and woe betide anyone who cooks them while I’m out and fails to wash the pot or plates. When I order a cooked breakfast, Irish or English, I try to make it very clear that I do not want baked beans in case there is any confusion. It is not enough for me to just push the beans to the side, nor is it acceptable to me to have the beans scraped off as certain establishments have offered to do (horrified face!). It is not even good enough for me that they remove the other breakfast components and serve them to me on a clean plate because  if there is even the teeniest smudge of bean juice on a sausage, that sausage and anything it has been in contact with is bean tainted and so lost to me. In fact, even if there isn’t an obvious bean contamination, I find it so hard to trust that there isn’t that I won’t enjoy it for my compulsive scrutinizing. You get the point. I can’t stand them. So half way up the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, on campers’ rations, after a day’s trekking, in desperate need of protein and carbohydrates, what on earth will I do if baked beans turns out to be all that is on offer to eat?

2. Will there be creepy crawlies?

Being a mother of two boys, I have been exposed to a fair few insects. I have had to learn to tone down the hysterical screaming and running on the spot that the mere sight of an earwig used to evoke in me to a cool ‘Could you take that outside please because I’m very silly and even though I know that that caterpillar can’t hurt me, I’m still a little bit scared of it.’  Then I remove myself to another room and let the frantic head scratching and shoulder shuddering commence in private. I’ve lived in countries frequented by cockroaches, the absolute creepiest of all the crawlies, and I have fearfaced enough to be able to control myself within a distance of about 2m from one without completely freaking out. Any closer than that though and the manical jumping on tables and incontrollable shrieking and pointing begins. Mt Kilimanjaro is in Africa. There are insects like this:

and this:

and much much unimaginably worse. I will be sleeping in a tent on the ground at night and wandering through rainforests during the day. D’ya think I’m going to manage to stay within my 2m comfort zone? Hmmm.

3. Will I manage to raise the funds?

It’s €5000. I’ve to raise €5000. So far I’ve raised a grand total of …zero. As my 4 year old helpfully pointed out a few days ago ‘Zero means nothing at all!’ So help me out here. Hit that donate button to the right. Any little amount will help and encourage me. There’s a My Charity page if you prefer at JennyclimbsKili It really is a worthy cause. All babies need their parents with them. Tiny, sick, too-early to this world ones need them even more. Not just for their comfort and peace of mind but for their health; to help stabilise their breathing and heart rate by their mothers’ very presence. Let’s try to take some of the financial pressure off parents in this situation at least.

You can  also help by sharing this blog around the Internet. If I can get a decent amount of traffic on it some local companies might be prepared to sponsor me in return for a banner or a mention.

I really do appreciate all the support.

Thank you,


The Challenge.

Not being one to do things by halves. I’ve set myself a challenge. I’m going to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in 8 months time. The tallest free standing mountain in the world. Sounds daunting right? The trek is 5895m over eight days. This doesn’t phase me at all, probably because I can’t even fathom how high it is. In fact before I signed up to do this I wasn’t even sure what continent it was in. Africa, apparently – Tanzania. I’m reassured that it is not climbing with ropes and harnesses and things but more of a strenuous marathon stroll in an upwards direction. Hey, I figure if Cheryl Cole and co. can do it so can I. What I do find pretty scary is how to raise the €5000 I need to do it.

The money raised will go towards funding for emergency accommodation for parents of premature babies. To be separated from my newborn would be my worst nightmare and unfortunately at present there is no accommodation for parents in the three Dublin maternity hospitals that contain the country’s neonatal intensive care units. Parents must raise the money themselves to stay in private accommodation or else are forced to be separated from their tiny ill newborn who’s wellbeing depends on its mother’s touch. The Facebook page is here Climb for Prem Babies

Here you can follow my journey as I try to raise the funds needed and get myself in physical condition to climb my highest mountain yet.

There are many ways you can help.

  • I’m hoping that this blog will gain enough momentum to be worth some corporate sponsorship so please like, share and comment on it as much as possible.
  • I will be arranging charity nights with raffles etc in the months after Christmas, so if you are in a position to donate something as a spot prize or offer me a location please do. also please come along. I promise to make them as much fun as possible.
  • If you are in a band or dancetroupe or are a musician and are willing to offer your services, I will be looking for entertainers for these evenings. Please get in touch
  • Or you can donate cold hard cash. Any amount will help. The donate button is over there to the right.

Also, if you have any other fundraising ideas I might be able to use please add them in the comments. Thank you so much for your support.