There are lovely words

I’m in hospital with my son. We have been here all week. I have been too tired to write a coherent blog post but my brain is still a jumble of words. I have written bits and pieces over the last few days. Here are some feelings. Some things I’ve been thinking. Not particularly eloquent, but I wanted to put them out there anyway.

There are some lovely words.
Ya’aburnee is a word commonly used in Lebanon, it is Arabic, and it is difficult to translate. It is the wish that you will die before the one you love. Simply: You bury me.
Unsurprisingly, it is a sentiment that lives mostly in the hearts of mothers. I have watched my two babies fragile in their hospital beds, fighting for breath, too many times now. Each time Ya’aburnee escapes from my lips as a whisper, a fervent prayer.
It is the same every time – when my babies are at rest, their chests still straining but their eyes closed, I too close my eyes. I picture them at peace and content with loved ones, partners, children, grandchildren, friends, cuddles, kisses, travel, wine, cheese, trampolines, laughter, happy tears, celebrations. I picture them proud watching recitals, performances, gigs, shows, races – karate, swimming, guitar, ballet? I picture them at graduations, awards, writing CVs, creating art. I picture them with a faceless love by their side who brings them as much joy as their father brings me. And I imagine them saying “your Nanna used to say…” to their grown children in remembrance of me. And even though I’m gone, they’re not broken by my absence. They have their own beautiful lives now. And they look at their babies and whisper ya’aburnee.

If a woman’s work is never done a mother is never allowed to rest. I am told to rest. To sleep. To “have a cup of tea”. I hate tea. It tastes like dirt. I am fuelled by coffee.
I am anchored to my son’s cot. I am a lumbering ship. Slow. Not in the best condition really. But determined. I need things to be repeated, I don’t understand what the doctors say to me the first time around. I cry in private. It is too hard to rest. When I sleep it is through sheer force. My body drags me down into the ground and it’s dark and cool and then a cry launches me up. My body acts before my brain does. I am here, it’s ok, I am here. I will rest later.

My second boy came into the world screaming. His face was a deep purple. He was nine pounds and three ounces and he was born angry, screaming at the sky. I love that fight in him. His labour was long, far too long. He fought to be here, to be heard, and he fights to stay here. He seems so resilient even as he struggles. I did not have drugs during his labour because I did not want to be away from my Eddie overnight. It was agony. I felt like my pain could crack the sky. But it wasn’t as painful as being away from my Eddie for so many days now. My arms feel empty. I long to kiss his forehead. To push his dirty blonde hair from his face. To hear his incessant chatter. The ward even with the crying, the constant alarms, the yelling, the sound of so much marching past our door, sounds too quiet without his relentless commentary. I saw him briefly and he said to me “you ok my darling? My dear mama?” He is so compassionate. He is a born mother. A study in care and empathy.
Missing someone  even when you know they’re close and not gone, can feel like physical pain. I just know I never want to be apart from my babies.

This place is misery. Surely, there is no sadder more isolated place than the children’s ward in a hospital. Mothers rock even when their babies aren’t in their arms. Fathers have red ringed eyes. Their shoulders are tense. Their footsteps are the heaviest. Nurses are patient but parents are quick to anger. There is so much crying, screeching, babies in pain – but I think the worst cry is the lonely, desperate crying in the night of parents who just want their babies to be better. Torture is not being able to fix your baby. To not be able to hold them because of tubes and monitors and chords like delicate ropes that feel like they’re strangling you. To stand with teeth clenched, nails digging into your arms, as strangers work, speaking a language you don’t understand, too busy to translate, on your precious baby – it is some specific type of Hell. But there is so much humanity here too. The doctor who gently sings a lullaby to your baby as he tries to get a line in. The nurse who gets you a hot chocolate just because you look like you need one. The texts and tweets and calls and financial support because Heaven knows nothing is more terrifying that not being able to pay your bills when you’re in here. The man at the coffee stand who remembers your order and starts making it so you don’t have to speak through tears. The other parents who nod and say “need anything?” No energy for themselves but they are machines with one setting – to care for their babies, and anyone else who needs it right now. Because we share this Hell together.

I will get to leave. My baby will be ok. But some won’t. And I weep for them. Nobody should ever have to bury their child. Every time I leave hospital I have a renewed dedication to frantic, compulsory empathy and compassion for others. The world is too mean too often. We have to be kinder. Always. Gentle. Always. Because some people never get to leave here.



If you liked this, follow me on Facebook for more of the same. I’m on Instagram too!

22 Comments on “There are lovely words

  1. (((hugs))) I hope you and Ronnie are home with Eddie and Mr B soon.

  2. Emily, I am so sorry. Thank you so much for sharing these words. My brother was born with severe disabilities and you’ve given me a glimpse into what it was/is like for my Mum. When the time is right I will tell her about Ya’aburnee. Sending love and strength to you and your family <3

  3. Oh my goodness, you say not particularly eloquent but that nearly brought me to tears. I hope Ronnie is home soon <3

  4. This is so beautiful, I’m in tears. All of my family’s love to yours.

  5. Thinking of you. And crying for the beautiful words your wrote, and for the parents with broken hearts.

  6. I am so so sorry that you are going through this. You’re writing is beautiful. How comforting for other parents to read this and know that they are not alone. I hope that you are back home with your babies very very soon x x x

  7. I’m so sorry that you and Eddie are going through this. I really hope you get to leave soon with your beautiful boy. Your writing is beautiful. We are thinking of you both, here in the UK. X

  8. Your writing is actually perfect, and this one particularly is beautiful. I lost my son when he wAs 19 months and he wAs in and out of hospital for the eight months from diagnosis until he died. Your thoughts on childrens wards are spot on. I hope your little man is home and happy with you as quickly as possible. You are amazing.

    • I’m so very, very sorry for the loss of your son. You’re in my thoughts Sam. It’s an unimaginable horror to lose a child, and I’m so terribly sorry you have gone through that pain. Arohanui x

  9. So wish your baby well…..I too know the terror of a small child and then an older child in hospital. Now I have the terror of a grandchild having to spend time in a hospital over ‘the ditch’ in my memory as well.
    Fortunately my child survived his asthma, survived his head injury and his son has been well since his horrible time as a 6week old in hospital.
    Your words did bring back the worry and pain, the memories leaked out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
    All good thoughts and healing energy going your way from my heart to yours.

  10. This is extremely powerful, compassionate and wise beyond years. Beautiful writing.

  11. Reading through tears. Every parent’s nightmare, too often reality. Hugs.

  12. I wish I could find the words that would encompass everything in a simple sentence, but … I can’t. All I can do is say I’m so sorry you’re going through this. xxx

    • Thank you. We are home now – and that helps a lot. Your kind words are appreciated.

  13. That is beautiful, thank you for sharing. The hospital is indeed a horrible place to be with a child. I’m so glad you’re home with your babies now. x

  14. Tears from me too, your words paint a very real picture that took me back to my time in hospital with both babies. My daughter contracted a bone disease as a newborn from the injections and nearly lost her leg at three weeks old. She’s 11 now and just had her third operation trying to lengthen and straighten it. There’s still more to come 🙁
    My son was born 2 years later and I thought I would never have to spend weeks in hospital with this one, well I was very wrong because at 20 hrs old he was transferred to the same children’s hospital my daughter was operated on and he had open heart surgery at 3 days old. He’s now 9 and diagnosed with VCFS / 22q11 so he too has had several operations and a lot more time in hospital. Recently he fell from a bunk bed at a friends house and fractured his little skull, eye socket and cheek resulting in a bleed on the brain! That was 2 months ago and he has recovered amazingly well. Sorry for the long post but as I say, you bought it all back and told it in a way I never could. I hope your family is well, I really