The holidays are upon us again. I’m both looking forward to them and not. I’m looking forward to be at this big family event with a living baby. Two years ago I was at Thanksgiving, pregnant with a child that we knew had Down Syndrome, but did not yet know had failing kidneys. Though I was at the point in my pregnancy where I was trying to celebrate, I did so cautiously. I was still in the second trimester, when the risk of loss was 20%. I treaded lightly. I was among family, some of whom where pregnant with healthy babies, and I was secretly (or not so secretly) envious, wishing I could simply just be pregnant. It was a complicated holiday.
Last year was my first Thanksgiving without Mabel. I longed for the year before when I could still hope, even if cautiously, for a take home baby. Those were easier days. On this next family gathering, I was well acquainted with the new life of child loss and I did not like it. I did not like attending holidays without my daughter. It felt empty and and wrong. I even held within me a little secret- I was newly pregnant but this small developing life inside me was known only to me and my husband. The hope of this new baby was not enough to lighten my heavy heart- and it shouldn’t have been. A new baby did not negate the loss of my daughter. It was a complicated holiday.
And now this Thanksgiving, my second Mabel-less turkey day. This year I bring with me, my son, a warm squishy body to fill my once empty, aching arms. That hope of a new baby has turned into the reality of one. He is my protection- a shield against some of the sorrow that is bound to creep in. He is also my light- he has brought me so much joy and I am excited to share him with the family. Because he is here with me, I have begun to enjoy things again- but cautiously. I would hate for people to think that because he is here I am no longer sad, no longer long for my first baby. So still, it will be a complicated holiday.
May Thanksgiving be gentle to you.