Last Summer I had the pleasure of holding a newborn baby. I'd known her mummy for two years and she had become a friend. Yes, an online friend, but a friend nonetheless. Before I met the little girl's mummy, I'd asked if I could have a cuddle from the baby and the mummy very happily agreed.
So at Britmums 2012 I had the pleasure of cuddling Jennie's youngest daughter, Matilda Mae. As I rubbed antibacterial handgel in my hands, I could feel a slight stirring. This was further compounded by the rush of affection and maternal instincts kicking in when I held Baby Tilda in my arms. I smelled her sweet, newborn smell, felt her little squiggliness and looked up at Jennie with tears stinging my eyes. She was the first baby that I'd held since The Boy was born. Suddenly all those desires for another child which had been quashed and locked away, rose up inside me and I knew without a shadow of a doubt that I wanted another baby.
That is the legacy that Matilda Mae has left me. Thanks to that beautiful baby girl and her very kind mummy, I've been getting help with my birth trauma from The Boy, and am making headway to extending our family.
The heartbreak that I feel from hearing about the sudden and unexplained death of Matilda a month ago, is nothing in comparison to how Jennie and her family feel. Yet I, and many other parent bloggers, feel connected to their loss.
Jennie asked me to write about why the parent blogging community has felt the loss of her life so strongly, this is being included in the funeral service.
Community and society evolve. In the 21st century where friends and family are separated by great distances, methods of communication have had to change for relationships to survive. Yet with this world of sending 'instant' messages virtually, time differences and busy lives create yet another obstacle, another barrier to feeling connected. Barriers which, to a new mother, can feel just as isolating as the geographical separation.
As a new mother, I discovered the 'world' of twitter, and in turn the online parent community. It's hard to explain how a group of people can find solice, comfort and friendship via the Internet, but they can. In the same way our parents' and grandparents' generations could be more open through a letter to a penpal, so can parents today. Friendships are struck up through real-time discussions on twitter; lives, hopes and dreams are explored through blogs. No-one judges or condemns; we are all parents, we are all people with feelings, and we are an army of moral support in each other's pockets. There is always someone there.
The parent blogging community is a special one; to show empathy, caring and compassion for a 'stranger' is humbling and restores my faith in humanity.
Most of us start blogs as a way of recording everyday life or verbalising our anxieties. We never dream that people are reading, enjoying, empathising; yet all too soon we find words of comfort and advice, experiences shared and solutions offered. Edspire is a blog that is full of a mother's love for her determined and amazing twins, and her miracle baby, Matilda. Jennie writes with such heartfelt emotion, sharing her innermost thoughts, fears and hopes and inviting the reader to be part of her life. I've followed the wedding story and the secret that was Matilda when vows were exchanged, felt the joy of a natural birth, the anguish of losing her prematurely.
Through blogs we see each other's relationships develop, marriages happen, babies be born and grow. We feel the pride when they sit for the first time, we feel the tiredness due to a night spent nursing a teething baby, and we feel the grief when one of ours is lost. Some of use will never meet in person (I am lucky enough to have met Jennie and to have held Matilda), but it does not diminish our bond.
Shine brightly Matilda Mae
(02.05.2012 – 02.02.2013)