July 30, 2012

Pregnant Without My Mom

Having A Baby After The Loss Of My Mother Is Hard–But In Many Ways She’s Still By My Side

By Jess Michaels

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.   

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  • Nancysmom

    What an inspirational, well written piece! Can’t wait for more from Jess Michaels.

  • Ashleysmommy

    Thank you for this piece! I lost my mom 6 years ago, 1 week after I gave birth to her 1st grandchild. She unfortunately never saw her grandchild as she was in the hospital for an unexpected blood clot, which was in her lung. She died unexpectedly approx. 1 week after I had my daughter. Never even got to see a picture as she lives far away in another state. I am not pregnant with my 2nd daughter, and the longing for my mom is still as intense as it was the 1st time I gave birth. Nothing can replace a mother…especially when you are one yourself.

    • Jess Michaels

      Ashleys Mommy,
      I am so sorry for the loss of your mom, and so suddenly. I can’t imagine all the emotions you must have been going through giving birth and losing your mom within days. I hope it gives you some comfort that your mom knew you were going to be having her grandchild, even though she never got to meet your daughter.

  • lmc

    I lost my mom 1 year ago to breast cancer. I have 3 children and every single day I miss her input and advice and love for them. I feel your loss and understand the pain you are going through. It’s hard to navigate life with a toddler and manage relationships with teenagers without a mother’s support, and I am doing both. I have involved extended family more in our lives in the last year, and while it is not the same as a grandmother, it does add a wonderful richness to my children’s family experience. Involve aunts and uncles and cousins in events and meals, and special relationships start to develop.

    • Jess Michaels

      Thank you for your words. I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I have wonderful family and an amazing group of friends that I know will be there my daughter, and share in all her life’s events and moments. I am so thankful for that. It is so nice that your mother was able to meet your children–that must give you a great sense of peace.

  • NCP

    Those of us who have lost our moms before having our first child (and all moms for that matter ;-) need to reach out to other motherless daughters and lend our support- thanks for writing this. It is definitely a roller coaster of emotions, I can’t say it will be easy, but when you look into that little face you will know your mom is still there alive in that little being – I did!

    • Jess Michaels

      Thanks for your post NCP. It really is a roller coaster of emotions but I know there will be something about my daughter that reminds me of my mom.

  • KD

    Those words could have been mine…right up until the name of my son, James. My son is now 14 months and I am pregnant with my second. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of my mom. Sometimes when my son looks at me I can see my mom in his eyes. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jess Michaels

      Thanks for sharing KD. I look forward to looking at my daughter and seeing aspects of my mom in her.