Wishing Pip a Happy 1st Birthday

Lucy (member and volunteer) started volunteering for us at the end of 2021 and decided that she would organise a fundraiser for us.

Lucy started her volunteering after the loss of her daughter Pip who was tragically stillborn in 2021. What follows are Lucy’s beautiful words about her motivation to raise £2,064 towards the running costs of our various programmes.

Almost a year ago to the day, I gave birth to my baby girl Pip who was tragically stillborn. My husband and I were overwhelmed with the kindness of family, friends, colleagues, my employer Legal & General, and even complete strangers who took the time to read Pip’s story on her memorial page and donate to one of our two chosen charities in her memory. Thank you to those people from the bottom of our hearts.

At the time, we didn’t know why Pip had died – but now, we have some answers and it felt like the right time to share the missing piece of the puzzle as her 1st birthday approaches. While there was not a conclusive cause of death, we did discover a number of contributing factors including that Pip had Down’s syndrome.

Learning this about Pip was a shock. It was overwhelming to discover that a life with Pip would have looked very different to the way we imagined it. But I didn’t want to feel scared. This was our beautiful daughter and I felt determined as her mummy to embrace everything about her. It felt unnatural for my journey of becoming a mother to a child with Down’s syndrome to simply end there, so I didn’t let it. 

My curiosity, and desire to channel my grief through doing something positive in Pip’s legacy, led me to volunteer with the Seaford support group. So once a month I spend my Saturday afternoon with Harry, Charlotte and other children with Down’s syndrome and other special needs. This gives their parents the chance to enjoy a well deserved cup of tea or coffee in a safe space while their children can play – something I know I would have appreciated.

Despite Seaford being 40 miles away, it would have been the closest source of support for our family. And it turns out that even without Pip here today, being involved in the group and meeting the amazing people who make it happen has given me so much in return. A greater understanding of Down’s syndrome, yes, but also a safe space for me where I can talk about Pip openly, without fear of judgement.

Since sharing with others Pip’s diagnosis, it has become clear that while things are moving in the right direction, there is sadly still stigma around Down’s syndrome. Comments that I won’t repeat here have haunted me. Pip deserves to be here, surrounded by her family and the people who would have loved her unconditionally. 

There is one person who I hope she is with today who I have no doubt would be showing her that unconditional love, and that is my dad who I lost to cancer exactly 7 years to the day when Pip died. My dad was brilliant with all children, including children with learning disabilities or special needs and in his lifetime fundraised for related causes. A friend of the family had a son who had Down’s syndrome and my dad adored him, often taking him to watch his team Chelsea FC play in London from Dorset. The moment that I discovered Pip had Down’s syndrome, I instantly remembered the warm hugs him and my dad would share and I suddenly understood why Pip died on the day she did. It gives me comfort in picturing them together. 

So yes, a life with Pip would have been different to how we imagined – but different isn’t necessarily a bad thing. While it is only natural for us to be afraid of things we don’t understand, unless we challenge ourselves and others to see beyond this then we will never live in a truly inclusive society. 

I was nervous and unsure the first time I walked into my support group, but Pip has given me courage and a new perspective. I challenge myself every day to live with an open heart and mind. I will challenge Pip’s big sister Maisie to live that way too. It is one of the many gifts Pip gave me and for those I am so thankful. My journey didn’t end the day Pip died, I now realise that’s where it all began. A journey not of loss, but of discovery, love and positive change. 

If reading this post makes you question your own thoughts or actions even just once, I hope you think of little Pip and receive it as a gift from her too. If you’d like to give Pip a birthday present in return, please make a donation (no matter how big or small) to the support group that would have made such a huge difference to her life, as it does to so many children and their parents. And in the meantime, never let fear get in the way of love.

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