This blog is for all those mums-to-be who have lost someone close to them, someone they relied on or looked forward to sharing new baby moments with.
I rarely discuss it but I lost my mum to cancer when I was 14. Although this was a tough time, kids are super resilient (as I mentioned in a recent post about mental health in lockdown). I coped well and have (I think!) become a rather successful and well-rounded adult. It helped that my amazing dad took on both parenting roles and shielded me from potentially far more devastating grief.
Moments without mum
Grief never completely fades. Since becoming a mum myself, my own mum has been on my mind far more. I wasn’t fully prepared for this and my own Google searches proved fruitless. There is surprisingly little out there for mums in this situation however this helpful Guardian article was actually published the day my son was born. To add to the paucity of helpful guidance on the matter, I felt I should share some of the things that have blindsided me since pregnancy.
Getting through pregnancy
Although I had a healthy pregnancy with Isaac, for various reasons it came with its difficulties and gave me a lot of anxiety. The nail-biting early weeks were the hardest and thank goodness for my amazing best friend who was a wonderful support to me during this time. I was constantly messaging her every symptom under the sun for validation that all was normal. Had my mum been here she would have carried that burden. I would have told her everything I felt from the moment I got those 2 beautiful pink lines! I was so lucky to have my friend there and other supportive people in my life. Nevertheless, it was hard to swallow the pang of jealousy when friends shared their pregnancy journeys with their mums.
The bittersweet baby shower
My husband and I organised our own ‘baby shower’ (though we felt it too cheesy to actually call it that!) I was 36 weeks pregnant, super healthy and happy and surrounded by friends and family who had come to show us their love. It was a wonderful day. However, I couldn’t shake the feeling of emptiness as someone particularly special should have been there.
Her first grandson
Isaac is my mum’s first grandson as she has two gorgeous granddaughters from my brother. When he was born (with the gender a surprise) I knew she would have been thrilled to have a baby boy in the family.
Navigating the way through raising a newborn is like navigating a minefield. Every day we are learning something new. While I have enjoyed working things out for myself, I miss having a mum to ask for advice (or, more likely, to disagree with!) I have also finally realised just how hard it is to be a parent while also experiencing a love like nothing else. Many people say you appreciate your own parents more when you become one and this is so true!
Coping with loss as a new mum
While it has been difficult re-experiencing the loss of my mum over the last year or so, here are some of the ways I have coped:
- Isaac’s family photo book – We made Isaac a photo book with all of his close family members. We ensured that my mum was included in the book so he could learn about his nanny in heaven. It is so important to me that she is a part of his life. The book helps us to honour her memory in an age-appropriate way for him.
- Other family members – I am very lucky that I have a fantastic family surrounding me, including my in-laws and my step family. No one has attempted to replace my mum (they would fail miserably if they did). Therefore, I have never felt guilty about my growing family or learning to love other mother figures. The same goes for my widening net of friends, including other new mums.
- Blogging – I only began blogging 2 months ago and I have found it such a great outlet. Not only has it allowed a little ‘me-time’ and a chance to be creative, I have also met loads of other parents and like-minded individuals on Instagram. I am learning loads of parenting hacks from others and contributing a little to the online community too.
Moving forward without forgetting
I hope this has helped any new parents suffering bereavement, however recent your loss. Your feelings of jealousy, guilt or loneliness at a time that society says should be 100% happy are completely justified and normal. Please reach out to me (and those in your life) for support.