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  • Writer's pictureEdwina Symonds

A mother, without

When the most precious gift you have ever been given is taken, forever.

The eyes of my angel

My ten-month-old baby died on July 31, 2018. He was healthy and flourishing, not terminally ill or sick. He didn’t drown or suffer a horrific accident. My husband found him in his cot, having a seizure. We rushed him to the hospital but the seizure proved catastrophic. He never woke up. We now know he was only ever going to shine for a short time on this earth. When his genetic pattern was materialising he chose an extremely rare flaw that determined his death sentence. I am grateful that we didn’t live with this knowledge, his life was full. Whilst I grieve, I attempt to make peace with the shock of how fast the events of his life and death transpired.

He was our firstborn, a perfect baby. He slept, he ate, he rarely cried. He was happy and joyous, he adored watching the trees swaying, his reflection, and the ocean. He hummed and haaahed his delight at all the small wonders around him. He was an absolute delight, and now he rests peacefully. In his final days, he rested, on life-support and our friends and family showered him with love and kisses.

Emotional shock is an intensely confusing state of being.

With his first birthday looming on the 23rd of September, to navigate the grief, I must find joy and reason. I am grateful he was born in this country, with access to phenomenal government-run healthcare, it is a gift we naturally take for granted but its value must never be underestimated. My baby’s perfect, unblemished kidneys have given life to a young man who’s days became a waiting game. I ache when I think of how my sadness was directly proportionate to the joy that family felt when they received this fateful phone call. I am so happy a piece of my baby lives on.

Emotional shock is an intensely confusing state of being. I wonder where he is. Some moments hit like a wave. I found some clothes that I had bought for him a few weeks ago, he won’t wear them. That brought on sobs so physically overwhelming I could not stand. As did the first load of washing that was without three little jumpers and six food-stained face washers. These small innocent moments remind me of that ten incredible months that were strung together by other small innocent moments.

I flounder in the emptiness that is grief. How can you create something, and love it so much, and now it is gone? Death is so final. This hollowness cannot be described. There is so much beauty in the science of creating a child. Any mother who has borne a child knows the intimacy that is built whilst a baby grows inside you. I am experiencing this now as another baby swells in my belly so close to my broken heart. This little love sits on a knife-edge, feeling new life thrive when a life has been lost is, at times, unbearable.

I don’t know where the future lies, or at what point that anything I do will have meaning. My world has been blown up and there is no aid coming for me. I hope that the future holds learnings, and wisdom and the lightbulb moment of some meaning as to why I was chosen to lose my baby. Though I wish not to compare my pain to anyone else, I know I am not alone, there are many who have shed similar tears. Grief is soul-destroying, private and all-consuming, but the navigation to brighter days is a well-tread path. I seek nothing except the promise that one day I will thrive again. That when I hold my new baby, I will have the strength to love and feel loved again.

I live with no regrets as a mother, I know that he knew he was loved and adored, and that is all that matters. I now treasure every photo, every video, everything he ever touched. For the moment our home is a museum, to the beautiful boy who lived here for an infinitesimal time. I am a mother without. My baby is resting, somewhere above. I see him in the stars, and the feel him in the wind. I light his room every night and read him a bedtime story. These rituals may fade with time, but my love for him will endure.

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