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Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert

Why I’m wearing a beanie in an Australian Summer

It’s taken me a while to write this blog. I thought if I could get the words out then it was time for me to return to SCN. I had all these ideas of what to say but when it came time to put them on paper it didn’t seem right. In the end, I realised to keep it simple and try not to be creative or witty.

For those of you who have got to know me, my life changed in November. I spent the weeks of October impatiently counting down the arrival of my first child. Boredom set in when I stopped work. My blogs and status updates this year had been reflections on how life would change (and how determined I was that it would remain the same). My keen determination to ‘have it all’ had me contemplating flying my son around the country attached to my hip as I continued to visit client sites. I convinced myself that I already have insomnia and wake up in the middle of the night so a newborn couldn’t get that more difficult. I know many of you had quick chuckles and I knew I was probably deluding myself.

The truth: I have no idea if I was right or not. I don’t know how I would have adapted to juggling consultancy work as a first time mum. I don’t know if my prioritisation in life would have changed or not. I wish I did. But I do know, my life has changed forever.

My son James William Benbow Hebbert was born 30 October 2015. After a low risk pregnancy (which I took for granted), there were complications during labour and it resulted in emergency surgery. But the surgery wasn’t fast enough. Due to oxygen deprivation  (caused by him contracting GBS – Group B Strep), he spent his short life in a neonatal ICU ward (NICU). I was a mum for 4 days. To my husband and me, he’ll forever be our little Jimmy – absolutely perfect.


In those 4 days I was ready to give up my career (my livelihood, obsession and hobby) without hesitation or regret to look after him. Instead I’m now working out how to return to work. How to go back to “normal”. In reality, I now have to redefine my “normal” and perhaps try to balance life out a bit more.

Returning to SCN and the SAP Mentor programme has been achievement milestones for me. As I slowly find my words, I’m still struggling how to show my appreciation for the community. In focussing on positives, I am learning more the true meaning and value of community.

Community is a place where what you give is repaid exponentially: you just don’t realise it at the time nor do you contribute with the expectation or being repaid. The more you participate and give of your time, effort and ideas can result in being repaid in ways you could never imagine. I found myself lost. But this community reached out to me with kindness and compassion and at the most random times. When life takes a turn for the worse, community has your back.

I sent two emails to people (most whom I have never) met to share my sad news. I told the community I don’t know when I’ll be back. I became overwhelmed with the replies and the generosity of my online family. You helped me to smile. You reminded me I was not alone. You motivated me to get better. You reminded me help was there if I asked. You showed your support. You have been patient and set no expectations on me to return. Only 10 people other than hospital staff met my son and he lived his entire life in a hospital. Yet, because of SCN he became known globally as messages of condolences arrives from around the world.

There are too many people to thank personally (and some I know don’t like the spot light). I’ll do my best to call out and thank you:

  • To those of you who sent me short messages through email, Twitter and SCN – those messages were, on some days, enough to get through the day
  • To those who coordinated email chains and update others for me – your assistance made my life easier and I felt less guilty for forgetting some
  • To the community members who contributed to a fundraiser in memory (– his short life has so far raised $10,000 of which some of the funds will be directed towards completion of a GBS study. Your contributions helped cement a legacy for him.
  • To the members who encouraged others to contribute to the fundraiser – thank you. I’ve never been good at asking others for help.
  • To those who covered my Moderator duties – your patience and help allowed me to let an obsession of mine take a back seat without guilt. I’m back now though 🙂
  • To the member who sent me a personal email thanking me for my contributions to GRC and security – it was a perfect timed emailed to stroke my ego enough as I questioned if I was any good anymore. It helped me realised I miss my work.
  • To the SAP Mentors – you are brilliant. Enough said.
  • To the members who sent me a lovely care package – the dressing gown is so soft and was very comfortable to lounge about it whilst I recovered.
  • To those who are taking the time to read this post – thanks for stopping by
  • To those who I interact with on SCN regularly – thanks for being awesome. You’re diverse views, opinions and expertise are the reasons I knew I’d make it back eventually.

Finally, to the member who sent me some knitted goods – your gift and hand written note was the first thing that made me genuinely smile. It was 40 degrees that day but it didn’t stop me from wearing a beanie. You are absolutely right: home-made stuff is comforting. I still wonder how you manage to find all the time. Do you ever sleep?

In short: I am honoured and privileged to belong and be accepted by this community. And as 2015 closes to an end, I consider myself back. Time for me to play catch up and get back blogging.

Hello 2016 – I hope it’s a better year. I’m determined for it to be. SCN rocks!

Happy New Year



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      Author's profile photo Shabarish V Nair
      Shabarish V Nair

      All i can say is .. thanks for sharing.

      Wish you and your family a peaceful, happier new year!

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Welcome back, Colleen, you most certainly have been much missed in the GRC space. Here's to 2016 being a better year for you and your husband.


      Author's profile photo Graham Robinson
      Graham Robinson

      Big hug

      Author's profile photo Jocelyn Dart
      Jocelyn Dart

      Dear Colleen, I know there's nothing I can say to ease your loss... but thinking of you and wishing you comfort and consolation in the days to come.  My older brother and his wife lost their baby in similar circumstances ... my niece was born a few years afterwards, but I know that even with their kids now approaching adulthood, their little lost one is never forgotten.  James will always be with you in memory if not in person.  Thank you for courage in sharing and wishing the unexpected sadness of 2015 is balanced by growing strength and many unexpected joys in 2016.



      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert
      Blog Post Author

      thanks Jocelyn for sharing your story. The more I open up the more I hear of other people have similar experience.

      Author's profile photo Susan Keohan
      Susan Keohan

      Dear Colleen,

      As usual, Graham Robinson sums up my feelings perfectly.

      You may not know it, but you shine a light for others - your wisdom, your wit, your talent - all are blessings for the rest of us.  So hugs back are the least we can do.


      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      I have no words, other than the ones Graham has already used. And the sooner I can find a way to deliver it in person, the better...


      Author's profile photo Colleen Hebbert
      Colleen Hebbert
      Blog Post Author

      I have a few family and friends offering me spare rooms in London. Very tempting to hop on a plane and head over. Main barrier is an expired passport... oh and money ($AUD fallen a bit)

      Author's profile photo Steve Rumsby
      Steve Rumsby

      Ooh, ooh, ooh. I'm excited now. Please say yes:-)

      Author's profile photo Jelena Perfiljeva
      Jelena Perfiljeva

      Welcome back, Colleen, we missed you!


      Author's profile photo Matt Fraser
      Matt Fraser

      Welcome back, dear friend, and yes, big hugs are in order. You have been missed -- sorely missed -- and we are all grateful for your shining light, as Sue so eloquently put it.

      Author's profile photo Caroleigh Deneen
      Caroleigh Deneen

      Welcome back Colleen! Sending virtual hugs.

      Author's profile photo Former Member
      Former Member

      Welcome back Mikki, it is nice to see you here again.

      My thoughts have been with you and James will be with you forever.

      I have also lost loved ones, but we must keep them in our memories and carry on. Absorb it, carry on, keep them, and constantly find yourself again and again as you are.

      Wishing you lots of strength for ever,


      Author's profile photo Gali Kling Schneider
      Gali Kling Schneider

      Such a beautiful baby boy, a heart breaking story and yet as I finish reading it, I am comforted. Thank you for sharing publically Colleen and so glad that you are back!