A Special Little Girl (For Matilda Mae)

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.

Why?

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)

photo

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Comments

  1. says

    So beautifully put. It's a community that I think is hard to understand when you aren't a part of it, but one I am so proud to be part of. The outpouring of love and support between bloggers and for Jennie and her family is heart warming.
    And I think Matilda Mae will leave behind her an amazing legacy through Jennie's words on her blog. X

  2. says

    A beautifully written post.

    Since discovering twitter and blogging I have made and met some amazing people, many of whom I know will be lifelong friends. We laugh, cry and support each other on a daily basis.

    You are a credit to the community and to Jennie as a true friend. xxx

  3. says

    This is, in essence, ecactly how I feel. I have not shared very many of my baby days – not least because I wasn't blogging at that time. But I do very much appreciate what you have written and have explained (very well).

    On the surface my life looks amazing, happy days and lovely family moments (mainly in photographs) to share and lots of kitchen love (and cake).

    But when my beautiful first born (now almost 14) came into my life, I was unbelieveably elated, but lacked any support at all: non from my husband (now my x), no friends to share my ups and downs, no-one to hold the baby when I needed a moment. She was an amazing baby, barely cried and made little snuffling noises when she wanted feeding and I felt the best Mother in the world with the most amazing bond as I held her to my breast and continued to give her all I could to watch her grow.

    She was my fourth pregnancy and yet I had just this one child to hold in my arms and treasure and protect: At 28 years old, having been married four years and been with my husband for 8 years, she was the only perfect thing about my life. Everything else was soul-less! As a result of the lack of support I had, I suffered with post-natal depresion and I had another pregnancy that ended in tears and then, my life fell apart when my husband left us for another woman and left us homeless (selling our house before he shamelessly left us with nothing).

    The years that followed were very hard, but bitterness was the furthest thought from my mind. I had a child to support and the buck stopped here – so did all of the responisbility, the reasoning, the unconditional love and everything that she needed to help her grow and cope with this world.

    Needless to say they have been very hard years, but I am very lucky now. I have a husband that I adore and who is very much there for me and our family.

    But I also found support in my NCT friends, who have been, without the need to ask for any, the most amazing support and truly good friends. There has been ups and downs in all of our lives, lots of cake and we even communicate in cyber space when we can't meet up – it helps to offload what is going on in your life, even a status on Facebook or a squeezing your thoughts into 140 characters on Twitter, can help to put into perspective what is going on in your day. And sharing that, makes all the difference – it makes you part of community, a much bigger community. You are one of many parents going through the same experiences and it makes you realise, you are not alone – far from it!
    Blogging and Tweeting in cyber world helps me let go, allows me to share, enables me to listen and there are some genius tips and tricks and the most amazing sense of humilty and relief in knowing it's OK to admit…. you are not the perfect parent you aspire to be – you are YOU also.

    I affectionately refer to you as The Boy's Mother because it's my cheeky way of saying it's not all about the boy. Of course it is …. your blog, that is. But we know as Mums that there is not just a Mother (or Father) behind the keyboard. There is a person, a real live human being, coping with their day, finding ways to express themselves, allowing themselves to absorb into a world that tries to understand them and appreciates their anecdotes of wisdom. When I speak to you, it doesn't matter how long it's been, we've made a connection, an appreciation for each other, a respect for each other and shared advice beyond the timeline. When I talk to you I whisper your name in my head as I appreciate your anonimity – but I applaud your honesty and the wisdom of your words.
    I really hope to meet you one day, because for me, you are the one person that has a continuum of my experiences in this cyber world. You are present in all of my activity in cyber space. Of course there are people I know (actually know) on here, but I knew them before I was on here and so my friendship is entirely different. My online time is an extension of what I already have and this makes things often convenient and is a great tool to bridge the gaps. But a relationship over cyber space is quite special – because despite not knowing how a person is visually reactiing to your collection of typed out jumble of text, there is a sense of acceptance in the receipt of a reply or a comment or a re-tweet that is the uplifting feeling that allows us to realise we are 'real' and have been recognised and appreciated as part of a community that doesn't need to judge us visually.

  4. says

    Sorry to take up so much space, I didn't mean to talk about 'me', just why and how talking to each other we make such a huge differnece and what happens when we don't have that.
    My intention is to say that as a blogging community, we offer so much more than the occasional tips and advice. We have become much more and have formed a coping structure.

    It takes a community to bring up a child – it takes a community to support a parent!

  5. says

    Such a well written post chick, it's amazingly hard to explain how supportive the online parent community can be but you cracked it! Twitter is amazing today….all those twinkly stars lighting up timelines in memory of matilda mae are just beautiful :) a lovely way to remember her. Shine bright baby girl xx

  6. says

    Brilliant post…. I try so hard to convey this to my husband who, bless him, as a police officer is naturally cynical of suspicious of everything and thinks the worst before being presented with evidence to the contrary! I think this is a perfect way to explain the blogging community to anyone who isn't aware of it. Well done x

  7. says

    Perfectly sums up the online parenting community. It is amazing seeing all the stars on twitter & facebook today – such a lovely tribute.

  8. says

    Well done Mrs TBandM for putting it so succinctly! As a childless woman of advancing years, I have been privy to your world from the fringes, due to my job at Orchard Toys. I feel privileged to be in your community, allbeit by default!
    The pain of Jennie's loss hasn't only been felt by those within the mummy community, it has affected us on the fringes as well. Including us, childless ones. Just because we don't have children, it doesn't mean that we cannot feel pain for those that suffer from having children, or losing them. Okay, not having children of our own maybe the pain isn't the same, nevertheless it is still there. I got to the point that I couldn't read Jennie's blog without dissolving into tears. It is so raw, so honest… so painful. I felt guilty at thinking why such a beautiful, happy, smiling baby should be taken, so needlessly? But any baby that dies for what seems to be no reason, even if they're grumpy, ugly and a pain in the backside, should be cried for, grieved and missed. The tragedy, as you say has brought the blogging, tweeting community together, not just mummies, but it has touched all of us very deeply. It was heartwarming to see all the little stars on Twitter today. She has gone, bless her, but she certainly isn't forgotten!

  9. says

    such honest and true words, and i have twitter/blogging to thank for some amazing friendships which i am sure will last :)
    i think this is why i havent told my family yet because i dont think they will understand why i blog and share my life for the world to see!!
    i have been thinking of Jennie all day today
    what an honour to have your words included in the funeral today x x

  10. says

    How lovely is this, such very moving words. I hope it gives Jennie even an ounce of comfort. I will always remember Matilda Mae snuggled up to her amazing mummy at Britmums.

  11. Janmary says

    Baby Tilda took a wee bit of all our hearts that got a wee cuddle at BritMums Live while away from our own kids.

    Thanks for putting into words the strength and support that exists in the online parent blogging community and extends to the "real world" too.

  12. says

    It's been lovely seeing Twitter full of stars just for Matilda Mae… my heart breaks for Jennie and her family but I know she's got a lot of support from her virtual but very real friends xx

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