***In an incredible display of support, Jane Blackmore and her Gallery partner Juliet Best are supporting The Neonatal Trust with their exhibition that runs 8 – 22 November. The Neonatal Trust will receive 15% of sales from the exhibition. This is in addition to supporting our ‘Evening with Richard Taylor’event on 6th November! Read more about this great support here and see below Violet’s story for other useful links***
Violet’s story, as told by her Mum Jane Blackmore.
I was three weeks away from my due date, I had had a pretty rough pregnancy with morning, noon and night sickness for 7 months! My husband and I were driving to Taupo to visit his family and spend time with his Dad who was dying. Before leaving I suddenly had a moment and thought “we need to take the baby seat”. Alan thought I was crazy but he was wise not to cross me at this stage.
We drove safely to Taupo for Christmas and most importantly to say goodbye to Alan’s Dad, Mike. It was Christmas Eve and we were all eating a ‘final’ meal together. Suddenly my waters broke and I’m thinking ‘what the heck?’. We are supposed to be focusing on Alan’s Dad, I’m three weeks away from my due date and I’m away from home!! We rang Taupo hospital but they said I couldn’t have the baby today or tomorrow because the hospital was closed for the next couple of days and we were told ‘when the time is ready’ to drive to Rotorua which is just over an hour away. Just what I wanted to hear!
Christmas Day, it’s a crazy storm, night is falling and I’m feeling the pain!!! We drive like crazy and both realize that strangely our baby girl is going to be born in Rotorua, just like me and just like Alan, it’s a very strange coincidence. The usual events take place, there’s pain, there’s swearing, there’s disbelief that this can even be possible and then Violet Rose Blackmore is born. She is beautiful but she is very small. Violet was taken to the Special Care Baby Unit and the nurses and doctors work their magic. It was all a bit shocking to have given birth and then instead of holding your baby, you are watching her in an incubator being feed and looked after by other people. Yet these other people are amazing. They are caring, gentle, capable, communicative and strong. It is these reasons that make it OK. They tell you what you need to do and scarily what they need to do to help your baby.
During the next few days I spoke and listened to many parents who were often holding their babies or touching their babies through incubators. There were many stories about the support they had received from SCBU and the incredible journeys they were all going through. After a few days, Violet had a heart murmur detected. She was transported to Waikato Hospital by ambulance. Alan and I drove behind in a daze thinking “what the hell is happening?”. We arrived and walked into the unit, immediately seeing about 15 very sick looking babies all connected to machines. I was blown away with how the parents, nurses and doctors lived and breathed this environment. This was our reality and this is the instant I realized how incredible these people and units were. Our babies were being cared for 24 hours a day by dedicated passionate people.
We were lucky, Violet’s heart murmur was small and the doctors said she would grow out of it. We drove back to Taupo to a room full of flowers at the Special Care Baby Unit, feeling truly blessed. We lived at SCBU for 2 weeks, Alan back and forth watching his dad slipping away and at the same time watching his baby girl Violet gain weight and get stronger. Life and death is so connected.
There were a few important things I took from the whole experience, the first being you don’t realise how important something is until you need it. Another one is that it’s important to take a little time out, a bit of ‘calm amongst the storm’. One day the staff reassured us they’d take special care of our Violet and basically pushed us out the door. We always remember that day, it seemed so special to have a day together after everything we’d been through. We really did get a lucky break in some ways, being there together forced to cope and being taught first hand by the nurses how to look after a newborn baby. We would have been lost without them.
After our stay, we said our thanks with tears in our eyes and we are forever grateful.
It was an incredible time, we were so lucky. Alan and I walked away with our beautiful healthy baby.
Born in Rotorua 1973, Jane moved to Nelson where she spent the majority of her formative years. She now resides in Seatoun, Wellington where she lives with her husband and two young daughters. Jane is an artist who has been painting since 1996 and graduated in Nelson with a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2002. She has exhibited in over 30 individual and group shows alongside renowned artists such as Rita Angus, Ralph Hotere and Toss Woollaston. Jane was awarded first prize in the New Zealand National Women’s Art Exhibition in 2007, was a finalist at NZ Art Show 2012 Signature piece awards and continues to gain critical acclaim for her artwork. She sells her work in galleries throughout New Zealand and has international clients in Australia, UK and the USA.