This love story began before Mia was born, intensified when she entered our lives, and it will continue to burn strongly forever. Mia is my red-headed flame, my sweet pea, my noisy sprite. Mia is joy, she is love, she is every good thing you can imagine. And I am so incredibly proud to be her mummy.
Yet she is gone. Mia died totally unexpectedly last October at the age of 13 months. Impossible, but true.
We miss Mias cuddles, her weight and her little legs curled around us, her face against our cheeks and her warm arms around our necks, the soothing pats on the back that she would give us as we in turn patted her. She was intimate, coming to us, arms raised, for a reassuring cuddle, but then with a smile, content she would wiggle free, independent and inquisitive about everything around her, exploring her world, looking in cupboards, peeking between the banisters as she climbed the stairs and just revelling in her existence.
I have tried to estimate how many times a day we kissed Mia. Picking her up, putting her down, dressing her, feeding her, washing her hands, just because it must have been hundreds. Equally, we always made a point to tell Mia every day just how much we loved her. We know she listened.
I cannot begin to adequately describe the love that we have for our little girl. I can only ask you to imagine the most perfect feeling of love and warmth that you can, to double its intensity, and extend it to infinity and you are still not even close to the amount of love that we shared with Mia every second of the her 13 months.
I attended a meeting of Mother's Instinct today, a group which has been set up to support bereaved parents whose children died within the system, despite a parental instinct knowing something was wrong. Listening to others' stories, there are certainly common themes
- as a parent, knowing that something was wrong, and doing all the right things by seeking medical help - often, again and again - opportunities for lifesaving interventions were missed - situations which started out so innocently, but which had fatal consequences, because important health signals were missed, due to poor direct or indirect communications, especially those related to active listening.
All these make me wonder. As a first-time parent, you aren't warned about anything, except for meningitis. If anything, the medical system is geared to downplay your parental anxieties, and in most cases, it is correct to do so.
But the consequences of not listening, or pre-deciding what is wrong with a child, or categorising a parent as neurotic / over-anxious, or being simply too busy to concentrate on a single child's symptoms have been terrible for us all. I do wonder whether the "99% times when things are ok" attitude is now inbuilt into our medical system, and the failure rate is deemed acceptable? It is certainly not deliberate, and there are all kinds of reasons pushing the system in this direction. Yet it is not right.
I am watching the outcome of the Francis report and his recommendations for Being Open very carefully. We deserve a system that cares. If nothing more, a legacy for all the children whose parents' concerns were not adequately heard, and they paid with their lives. We are still paying.
Mia. Jessica. Jasmine. Our little girls. For you, darlings. xx
Today Finn met his new cousin. The age gap between them is the same as the one between Mia and her Cousin Brown Hair, three and a half months.
I can't help but remember their first meeting - where Cousin Brown Hair was 7 months old, and poke her hand experimentally into Mia's mouth (who didn't mind at all) and then promptly taught Mia to do her famous high-pitched scream. Mia thought Cousin Brown Hair was fantastic, gurgling, smiling and chatting in baby talk to her.
Cousin Brown Hair is now nearly 3 years old, and a feisty, charming, whimsical little girl. She loved spending time with Finn at Christmas, wanting to change his nappy and trying to breastfeed her own doll. She and Mia would have had so much fun together.
So, watching Finn today as the 'big cousin', it was tinged with sadness. These cousins will grow up together. May they have all the adventures that Mia will not, and more. Such a simple wish.
Mothers instinct is doing a wonderful job and I'm glad that they have you with them although it must be heartbreaking work- too much sadness that could and should have been prevented. The illness my son has is commonly misdiagnosed in little children and I hear of deaths occurring frequently because of late diagnosis. So many people are working to change it and to educate health care professionals.
Thinking of you tomorrow on your birthday and of Mia on her 2 1/2 birthday a few days back. I hope your day is filled with happiness and love and you feel the love of Mia around you.
Happy Birthday, Mia's. And for Mia's 2.5 birthday a few days ago. My little Maia (12!) has her birthday this week, too. Hope you've had a really lovely day. Such poignancy and sweetness in your post. A simple wish indeed ... Lots of love, TMD xx
One year and five months. Memory does not fade. Seeing a photo of Mia at six months of age, looking up with her crooked little smile, immediately transports me back to that day. We all bounced on the trampoline with her cousins, the youngest dragging Mia bemusedly into enthusiastic embraces. It was so much fun.
My birthday this week was a full day of love and friendship. MrMia and I went out that night, to the restaurant where we had first gone three years ago, excited about my pregnancy, and our secret marriage plans. Again, whisked back to a time of blissful innocence and expectation.
Sweet red-headed girl. The gap your smile leaves make each one from your brother doubly precious.
Last night, I was watching a film in which a well-known actor died. "oh, it's only a story," I thought. Then, for the briefest of moments, I somehow transposed this onto my own life, and that Mia dying was a terrible dream. I cannot tell you how wonderful that felt, even for those few milliseconds. A torrent of happiness flowed through me, and a great whirlwind of calm, relief, joy right alongside. Mia was alive!!! I had been having a nightmare!!! These emotions made me feel I was glowing like a beacon of love. But too soon, they disappeared as reality reasserted itself. This was real. She is no longer in my arms.
Unsurprisingly, my dreams last night were very vivid, of change and turmoil and upset.
Up date on Mia's brother. To all those who post and to those who just read. Finn is dark headed (so far), and is obviously a boy. Mia was red headed, and obviously a girl, but it is also obvious that they are brother and sister. Unmissable. Both are beautiful children, and although I have not seen Finn in the flesh for two months, Skype and videos keep me up to date. Mia lives in Finn, and in our memories forever.
We have just returned from a whirlwind Easter tour of the family down south, as we went Mr Mia's aunt's 80th birthday that had worried me so. Exactly a year before Mia died, we had proudly gone to another aunt's 80th birthday, a day she shared with MrMia. How proud we were, showing off our 5-week-old redheaded daughter!
I had only met many of this extended family twice, the first time at this party, and the second a year later, at the celebration of Mia's life...So when we received this invite, both MrMia and I had been illogically, superstitiously, reluctant to attend this party.
And yet it was fine - everyone was just lovely, and to my surprise, they all openly talked about Mia, alongside sharing their pleasure in meeting Finn. It's nice when people behave unexpectedly like that.
MrMia has spent the afternoon cleaning up Mia's cot for Finn, as he had packed it up and stored it, not knowing if we might ever use it again - or if we would want to. There are little teethmarks on one end where Mia would stand and shriek for me after a nap, just to let me know she wanted to get up. The cot is now standing in the same spot in the bedroom. Bittersweet memories.
I love both my children so much. Finn's sweet adoring smiles melt my heart. The memories of Mia's gorgeous smiles fill my head.
It's hard not to compare moments in time. This time last year, we had just discovered I was pregnant with Finn. This time the year before, we were in France enjoying a sunny holiday with Mia's cousins, a smiley sunshiny special time.
And while we had always wanted to have more than one child, I am very conscious that by having Finn here in my life, here with me, that Mia is not. Their paths never crossed, although I retain the strong conviction that Finn is my birthday present from Mia.
So I am in the strange situation of being 'forced' to live in the present, while there is so much of me, so much of my love, sitting in the past. No, that is too strong. I have to recognise and accept that this is my present, my life, with every moment I adore having with Finn. If I live too strongly in the past, I diminish my "now".
By saying that, it does not mean my love for Mia is any smaller. It is huge, all-encompassing. I just have to keep it as part of my present too. And I do. I carry her in my heart forever.
The "Mia" iris is in bloom on the other side of the world. It is grown with pure love.
Coincidentally, this is a description sent to us about this beautiful flower
The dwarf Winter flowering Iris is one of the true treasures of the winter garden. They are simply charming and make a most welcome and colourful addition. Mia has dwarf foliage to ensure that the intense deep blue flowers are highly visible and enjoyable.There are few pleasures that compare to one enjoyed when you see a clump of these delicate blooms in full flower on a cold and dull winter day.
I realise they are describing a flower but these words also fit Mia perfectly. Despite being small, she had such presence, delighting those that met her. She really would brighten any dull day and bring so much colour.