By Pumpkin’s Mother
Dear Newly Bereaved Mother,It has now been 17 years since I lost my precious baby. My husband and I had been trying to have our first child and Pumpkin was the result of our sixth IVF attempt. We had miscarried two previous babies and were thrilled that this time we had made it all the way to three months. Sadly, you all understand only too well the devastation that came with learning that our son had Down syndrome. I am not going to go into the agony of the decision we made to end the pregnancy, nor the year of darkness we lived in after our son was gone. This is darkness you all know and are living. And I can’t lie to you and say that the darkness ever completely goes away, because it doesn’t. But I can tell you that once the light starts coming back into your life, that it shines with a richer and brighter hue than ever before. I believe our lost babies leave us with something very special. Losing my Pumpkin has forever changed my ability to love. It has deepened it and made it so sacred that not a day goes by that I take that love for granted. When I lost Pumpkin, I was in my early forties and I knew my time was running out for having a baby of my own genetics. But one day I realized that if I needed a heart for my child, I would go get one. If my baby needed a lung, I would go get one. After three babies with chromosomal abnormalities, I realized that my baby needed a body, so I went and got one. I used donor eggs and have the two most beautiful and enchanting angels ever born. I moved quickly to have these babies. I didn’t wait for my grieving to be over because I had no idea how long that would be. Grief was a form of love that my baby deserved and deserves and I didn’t know how long it would last. I still cry when I come upon the tiny box I’ve saved with his things or when the anniversary of his loss approaches. I still feel a great swell in my stomach when I come across someone with Down syndrome at a store or at the park. My mind wonders what my life would have been like if Pumpkin had stayed instead of gone. I don’t mind these moments. They are important to me because I don’t want to ever forget my lost babies. Remembering their loss makes the love for the babies that are with me so much more vibrant. I look at my adorable little 22-month-old angels and know I did the best thing for us. It was hard letting go of the idea of a baby made of my genes, but these babies were made from my blood, my love and my soul. They are profoundly mine because of how I ached for them for so long. When other mothers are busy trying to find ways to “escape” from their toddlers, I savor every second I have with them. The main thing I want to say to you is that your lost baby will leave you immeasurable gifts of the soul. That is their legacy to us. It is too painful a price to pay, I am sure, but there it is. You will feel joy again. You will be able to love your next baby. It will be a wiser and deeper love. I have never been happier than this moment, this Christmas with my twins and my husband. I send love and healing prayers to all the newly bereaved mothers. There is no way to get through, past or over the grief. But there is life and love and beauty at the other end of it.
Hugs, Mother of Pumpkin, AHC October 2001