Het kindje van Susana Butterworth (23) werd dood geboren. De fotograaf wilde iets speciaals doen voor haar zoontje Walter en wil een taboe doorbreken: in een fotoserie laat ze zien hoe verschrikkelijk pijnlijk het verlies van een kind is en hoe groot de leegte is die kindje dat er niet (meer) is bij een moeder achterlaat, voor de rest van haar leven.
Susana fotografeerde verschillende vrouwen die net als zij een kind moeten missen, doordat ze hun kindje verloren zijn tijdens de geboorte of zwangerschap maar bijvoorbeeld ook doordat ze het kindje hebben afgestaan voor adoptie. Alle vrouwen hebben één ding met elkaar gemeen: ze leven met een leegte; vierentwintig uur per dag, zeven dagen per week.
“Het verliezen van een kind is een onderwerp waar over gesproken moet worden”
Op de foto’s dragen de vrouwen een spiegel voor hun lichaam. De spiegel laat de leegte zien die het gemis van het kindje bij ze achterlaat. Bij iedere foto vertelt de moeder haar haar persoonlijke verhaal. Een van de vrouwen zegt: “Leegheid doet zoveel verdriet en zoveel pijn. Leegheid voelt alsof je als moeder bent mislukt omdat je je eerste kindje niet kon beschermen.”
Susana: “Het verliezen van een kind is een onderwerp waar over gesproken moet worden. Mensen die dit hebben meegemaakt kunnen het niet verwerken als ze zich alleen voelen en niemand hebben waarmee ze erover kunnen praten.” De fotoserie is zowel op de site als op de Instagrampagina van Susana te bewonderen en heet EMPTY fotoproject.
“My story is so hard to explain. The emptiness I feel is unexplainable. I knew that it was possible. I knew that what I went through was a possibility. But I never ever thought that it would actually happen. It all happened so slowly. Finding out that my beautiful son was affected by this horrible disease that is carried by me made my heart stop. It took the breath right out of my lungs. I instantly blamed myself. I fell straight to the floor and screamed. No tears even came out at that point. It was so unreal. I remember laying in the hospital bed while they induced me thinking, “Why is this happening to me? Why my baby boy?” It wasn’t very long before my water broke and I was holding my little boy. He was so beautiful…. So peaceful. He looked like he was sleeping. He had the cutest little nose the cutest little toes. I couldn’t believe that I created such a beautiful baby. When the nurse came up to me and told me that they needed to take him I lost it. I begged them not to but they said it was time. He was only in my belly for 17 weeks. I felt him kick. I felt him move. They kept me in the hospital for another day and I didn’t sleep at all. I just remember feeling so empty. I remember looking down at my stomach and not feeling anything. I remember pushing down on my belly hoping by some miracle this was a dream. I went from him moving around in my stomach to nothing at all. My whole life stood still. I will never see him grow up. I will never see him take his first steps. I will never see his smile. I saw my mom blame herself because she passed the gene down to me. I saw my grandmother blame herself because she passed it down to my mom. I watched my whole family cry. Emptiness is so much sadness and so much pain. Emptiness is feeling like you failed as a mom because you couldn’t protect your first child. It has been a long painful healing and I know that someday I won’t feel this empty anymore because I will hold him again someday. And I really do believe that. It gives me relief knowing that Emmy has her brother looking after her. I know he knows how much he’s loved. Emmy loves her brother so much. Landyn Gabriel, mommy’s little penguin, you are so loved.”
“Losing a child is something that nobody wants to talk about. Even myself most of the time, if I’m being honest. I was a little over eighteen years old when I found out I was going to be a mom. I was still a kid trying to figure out who I was and who I wanted to be. I wasn’t sure if I could handle the daily job that is being a mother. I had voices in my ear telling me to take the easy way out. But there was something inside me telling me I could do this. Even if I had to do it on my own. I had the support of a few family members and a couple close friends which made everything seem like it was going to eventually be okay and work itself out. I was just getting used to the idea of being a mother when I received news no parent ever wants to hear. My daughter Sophia Lynn had a neural tube defect which would keep her from being able to survive outside the womb. I was given the options to carry her to term or to be induced for early labor. What kind of choice is that? I didn’t want to make that decision. I wasn’t ready to play God and decide how she would enter and leave this world. But I had to move forward somehow, and the best choice I could think of was to deliver as soon as possible and save her from a difficult full term delivery that would most certainly cause her more harm that good. There was no doubt in the doctors mind that she would struggle for life as soon as she was born and that was something, as her mother, I couldn’t bare to watch. I was scheduled to be induced a couple of days later due to overcrowding at the hospital. I had to carry my daughter in my belly for 3 more days. I can’t even begin to describe the kind of pain I felt in those three days. Knowing those were the last times we’d spend together as mother and daughter. She was still physically attached to me but I had never felt so empty in my entire life. Time seemed to drag on and fly by all at once. I was ready for it all to be over and begging whatever God was listening to just let it all be a bad dream. The day finally came to deliver her and it’s honestly one giant blur. I don’t remember much of the time I spent in the hospital. […] (Continue reading in comments…)
“It’s been three years since I placed my son Liam in the arms of his forever family. I knew my entire pregnancy that he was not mine to keep, and I could not ever begin to describe the feeling of carrying a child that I would only have to say goodbye to. Throughout my entire pregnancy, I questioned if I could follow through with my decision. In the hospital, all I wanted was a single night alone with Liam. Before they left the hospital, his family gave me a little wooden box. I opened it up and found a customized book with pictures of their extended family and a locket with a quote by Desha Wood that said, “He is mine in a way that he will never be hers, and he is hers in a way that will never be mine. So together, we are motherhood.” In that moment, I knew that I would rather shatter my own heart a million times over than break theirs just once. I spent a week with Liam’s family, mentally preparing myself for the day I would return home empty-handed. When I got home, the town I spent 20 years of my life was no longer familiar to me. I took a walk along the river and sobbed. A stranger stopped and sat down next to me. We talked as we watched the beautiful hues of red, orange, and purple fall below the horizon. He told me his story about how he had lost his wife and kids, and I remember for just a moment, I didn’t feel so alone. We said our goodbyes and went on our way, never to speak again. Over a year later, my boss told me that the cable guy had left an envelope for me at her house. When I opened up the envelope, I pulled out an 8×10 photo of the sunset from that night, and I was reminded, once again, that I was not alone. I still speak to Liam’s family often and the adoption is still very open. I receive flowers on Mother’s Day, invitations to Birthday parties, and a Christmas card every year. I may be empty-handed, but my heart has never been so full. I will never regret my decision to place Liam for adoption, because in giving away everything I had, I gained more than I could ever need.”