I am 20 weeks pregnant with my first child (a girl!) and my husband and I are thrilled about our upcoming arrival. Like many women, I always thought the first person I would tell about my pregnancy, besides the father-to-be of course, would be my mom. I had long pictured the look of excitement on her face when I told her the news, us picking out baby furniture and a layette together, her being my go-to babysitter when my husband and I needed a break, and her answering of all my child-rearing questions for many years to come. I never envisioned being a mom without my mom.
But two years ago this month, I lost her to breast cancer. At age 34, I wasn’t prepared to be without my mom, let alone be a mom without her. As much as I always knew I wanted to be a parent, it took me until just a few months ago to even want to become pregnant and go on this journey without her. And now that I am pregnant, I find myself having to think about things I never thought I’d have to. I have to find a baby nurse (I didn’t envision needing one before because my mom lived so close and I knew she would help me in those first few days and weeks), and a full-time nanny for when I go back to work. (My mom had retired a few months before she was diagnosed with cancer and had already made it clear she wanted the job one day.)
People ask me how I am feeling during my pregnancy, and physically I feel great. The most pain I’ve had is not having my mom here to see the one thing she couldn’t wait for–me to have a child.
I know from the moment my daughter is born and through all the milestones of her life–her first steps, her first day of school–I will think about all of the special moments my mom is missing. But I am comforted by the fact that I know I will be a great mom because I had a wonderful role model. My mom was caring, fun, thoughtful, silly, and always made me feel like the most important person in the world.
Another comfort: a few months before she passed away, I told my mom the name I would give my daughter if I ever had a girl. I saw her face light up at my choice and heard her say the name out loud. My daughter will be given that name and I smile knowing my mom will know it.
JESS MICHAELS is the Director of Communications for the American Camp Association, New York and New Jersey, a not for profit organization dedicated to promoting and enhancing the quality of the summer camp experience and helping families find the right summer camp for their child. She and her husband Mike live on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and are expecting their first child this December. She looks forward to raising her child in New York City and taking advantage of all that the city has to offer young children.