‘Love them like this is the last moment you have with them’: Grieving parents’ mission to honour their baby boy

Newly married and with the world at their feet, life was about to get even better for Nancy and Charlie McLean. They were expecting a baby – Nancy’s perfect bump stealing the show on their big day. But sometimes life can deal the cruellest of blows and sadly the McLeans know that all too well. Their beautiful baby boy, Edison Charles, could only be with them for days before they had to say goodbye.

Baby Edison was diagnosed with an extremely rare metabolic condition shortly after his birth. The ventilator, which had been breathing for him, was turned off and Edison died just three hours short of being a week old.

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Bravely sharing their story and last pictures with their son, the McLeans have decided to honour their baby by raising $20,000 to donate to the Royal Hospital for Women midwives group practice and the Randwick hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. So far more than $12,000 has been raised via a crowdfunding page set up in Edison’s name.

Intimate photographs, taken by photographer James Day, have been released of the last moments the family shared in the days before Edison died. They show the couple holding him close and letting their precious newborn know, through the power of touch, that they are there and that he is loved. James also took Nancy and Charlie’s wedding photographs only weeks earlier – both collections of photographs, although capturing opposite emotions, demonstrate nothing but love.

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“It is hard to find the positives in losing your child, but Edison has taught us a beautiful lesson that we need to share,” say the couple.

“Cherish every moment you have with your loved ones. Love them like this is the last moment you will ever have with them. Never wait.

“We only had seven days with our baby boy, but we take immense comfort out of the truth that in those seven days he knew only love.”

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The grieving Sydney couple say they spent their days with their son “laughing as much as possible”.

“We made a promise to each other and to Edison to celebrate his life, not to waste any second we had with our baby boy while we still had him with us,” say Edison’s parents.

“To be thankful for the present moment we can spend with him and not fearful of future ones without him. All he knew was love, and kiss attacks.

“No-one should ever have to say goodbye to their child, it is the cruellest demand on a parent, but our love for each other has given us the ladder to climb back up into the sunshine. Edison gave us three days after the diagnosis to say goodbye on his terms, in our arms, in our spaces and the climb up that ladder was able to begin. One day we’ll reach the top, but we’ll never forget our angel.”

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The McLeans write that the “cry of deep sorrow seems to have awakened the lost art of kindness in strangers”.

“We want to thank the amazing team of midwives, doctors, nurses and care providers at the Royal Women’s Hospital who treated our boy with such love and respect,” they say.

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A new fundraising goal has been set at $20,000 to update the birth centre rooms at the midwives group practice and for the NICU “to continue the amazing work they do”.

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(images via photographer James Day)

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