Yesterday, for the first time ever, I took my four year old son with me to an evening birthday party.
It was an extravagant affair with food and a reputable live-band. He was in his element – enchanted every grown-up he came into contact with and was transfixed by the music. Later, not taking his eyes off the band for a second, he lay his head in my lap and happily drifted off to sleep. He felt proud to be included. I felt proud to be his mother.
This morning, I awoke late, with my heart in my mouth.
I heard nothing.
I can always hear my child breathing in his sleep in the room next door.
Today the flat was perfectly silent.
In my semi-awake state, my mind played tag and I no longer knew what was real and what was dream. In my dream, the improbable became the now and I became aware of a sound I had never heard before. It took an indefinable amount of time for me to work out that the sound had come from somewhere within my own being – but the feeling was one I could hardly identify as being my own. It was as if the core of me was experiencing something my brain could neither comprehend, nor compartmentalise and there was no known emotion I could attribute to it. Nevertheless, it doubled me up in pain.
For me, the improbable proved to be just that and minutes later, my son called, having slept off the late night and I went to him, living a new reality – one intensified by the bizarre visualisation my subconscious had just experienced.
Lying with him cuddled up in my arms, I wondered just how many mothers do not have that privilege … how many thousands of mothers are awakened by silence … one which is then never broken again, penetrated only by the cry of their own soul when they realise their child has truly passed. Whether or not their child has passed unnecessarily is irrelevant to them in that moment, of this I am sure; the point is, they have lost a child. They have lost a part of themselves. They have lost an element of life which is critical to their own will to live.
Whether or not the family is capable of considering the “what if’s” or the injustice of futility at the time, or indeed ever, the western world surely knows better; the developed world of medicine knows that these deaths can be avoided. Every last case of a child losing his or her life when it could have been saved is surely highlighting the fact that there is something fundamentally wrong. We cannot be doing our best here yet … can we.
Later this afternoon, among a seemingly endless string of banter, L called through to me that he was going downstairs and that he had propped the front door open with the metal stopper, OK?
For weeks, I have been trying to get him to do this, to avoid the door slamming shut and wakening the old man downstairs who takes a nap for an hour after lunch.
“Good Boy”, was my automated reply, through gritted teeth in my preoccupation with drawing a straight line with an eye-pencil.
A second or so later, it occurred to me that I had almost missed a unique moment in my son’s development – one in which he, proactively and completely of his own accord, had done something I have been asking him to do (in vain) for weeks. He grew two inches in pride at his achievement when I then went to him and held him in acknowledgement.
Again, we both had that privilege. I almost gave mine away through misplaced focus. So many mothers don’t get to see their children reach that stage in their development when they can start to think for themselves and do things ‘because they want to’. Many children never have the opportunity to grow and to start to feel their own minds function independently of that of their parents. Due to lack of basic medical care, many children simply never get the opportunity to be children. Ever.
In January Save the Children launched its most ambitious campaign to date, No Child Born to Die. Every year 8 million children under five die from illnesses we know how to treat or prevent, such as diarrhoea and pneumonia.
Save The Children is focusing on the provision of vaccinations and healthcare workers. In June there is a meeting in London hosted by David Cameron and attended by other world leaders. Save The Children aims to make as much noise as possible to ensure the funding shortfall for vaccinations (4.7 billion) is met by all the donor countries.
If this funding gap is met the vaccines that could then be provided would save the lives of millions of children.
This week 3 bloggers/ vloggers are going to Mozambique to follow the journey of a vaccine from the coldstore in the city right down to a rural community. They will write, make films and tweet about their experiences, the children and families they meet and the challenges of “cold” vaccinations in hot countries.
The bloggers going are diverse, Lindsay Atkin (@Liliesarelike) is a hugely popular YouTuber, Chris Mosler (@christinemosler) is an influential parenting blogger and Tracey Cheetham (@tchee) is a popular political blogger and recently elected councilor.
What you can do:
- If you have a blog, pass it on. (You could get your child to draw a self portrait of themselves now or in the future, as in the meme I was originally tagged for by the lovely Mary at A Small Hand in Mine, write a post about this or another associated thought or experience, then pass this on by tagging other bloggers). The main aim is to stress the point again … and again … that every child has the right to the same priveleges as our own; no mother deserves to lose a child unnecessarily and no child is born to die if there is a means to prevent it. Help spread the word. Thank you.
I am tagging: