This is not the type of post I usually write, and I hardly know where to begin. The issues I'm about to discuss are difficult, heart-rending ones, but I can't really write about anything else, as I've been struggling to think about anything else.
I was heartbroken to read a Tweet about a week ago from a fellow blogger who I follow, Jennie at Edspire: 'Our beautiful daughter Matilda Mae was taken from us last night to join the angels in the sky x RIP Beautiful angel daughter x We love you x' She was just nine months old.
At first, I tried to convince myself that this was some perverse joke, that some mentally ill individual had hacked Jennie's account and written these terrible words. But no. Jennie has since explained that Matilda died in her cot on the day she learned to crawl, tragically finding her way under her blanket and suffocating. Cot death. The words every parent dreads from the moment they hold their child in their arms. But though it is the stuff of all our nightmares, none of us really believe it will happen to us. But it does happen. And it happens to people just like me.
I follow Jennie and read her blog because we are alike. Very alike. We are the same age, we both struggled to have children, and we were both blessed with twins thanks to IVF, then, less than two years later, we both welcomed a miracle baby girl we never dreamed we would be able to have naturally. Our little ones even have similar names. I never imagined our lives would suddenly split in such a brutal and devastating way. I feel so utterly overwhelmed by sadness for what Jennie, her husband and the twins are going through, and so angry and confused as to why that beautiful little girl was taken. I feel guilty, too. Because I still have my baby. I can hold her, hear her laugh, see her smile. It's so unfair. And I feel helpless. I want to help, to somehow support Jennie through the nightmare, but my efforts seem so pathetic. I've replied to her Tweets, but my words hardly seem enough. I just hope the volume of the voices joining together to tell her we care is helping in some way. Jennie says many people don't understand why she has turned to Twitter, and I can't imagine that's where I'd want to be right now, but it doesn't matter the tiniest bit what I'd do, or what anyone else thinks. Whatever Jennie wants or needs to do, is the absolute right thing. And all we can do is let her know we're there. We all wish so desperately that we could make this unhappen, but we can't. It did happen, it does happen and we're all having to face that.
I can barely watch an episode of ER if a child is dying, and have so far refused to read one book by my favourite author, as it concerns a family's loss of a little one. But this isn't a story. It's brutal and cruel and incomprehensible. But it's real. Whenever my brain tries to get me to think about what it would be like if my little M had been the one taken, instead of Matilda Mae, I can't get it into focus. I simply can't process the thought. The idea of life without one of my girls is horrific, and I can't imagine wanting to go on. But I'd have to for the other two. Just like Jennie has to for her beautiful twins.
So it is Jennie I've turned to to know what to do. She asked that we all hold our children close, tell them we love them and don't put things off. I have been showering the girls with more cuddles and kisses than ever, the urge to hold them close is almost overwhelming. M fell asleep in the buggy yesterday as I brought her back from dropping her sisters at nursery. I parked her in the sunroom while I got on with tidying up. After about an hour, she cried and I went to get her up, but when I lifted her, she snuggled in and fell straight back asleep in my arms. Any other day, I'd probably try to get her back in her cot and make the most of my twin-free time to get things done. But I didn't. I sat on the sofa and held her until she woke up. She's 16 months old now and the early days of being trapped under her as she refused to sleep anywhere else are long gone but cherished memories. I savoured the weight of her, the warmth against me, the feel of her hair. When the twins got home, I didn't try to get the kitchen clean or put the laundry away. I built elaborate train tracks and sang endless nursery rhymes. I made the most of every minute.
And that's what I will do my best to keep doing. Of course I am going to get exasperated with the girls, frustrated by their demands and overwhelmed at times. But I will never forget Jennie's wish. I will do it in your name Matilda Mae. I will do my best every day to honour you by being the best mum I can. Sleep tight, angel. I hope you and your family all find peace.