My mother passed away in March 2010. When I lost her I felt completely broken, as though my soul had left my body, like half of my heart was missing.
Something that was never far from my mind was how much more I would feel the pain of her loss when it came to special occasions in my life where having her by my side would have meant the world to me – finally getting a job as a journalist, getting married, moving into my own house. The list is endless but the most poignant was always having a baby.
I had always been incredibly close to my mum. We had the type of relationship where even though I lived with her I would always call her on my lunch break at work for a quick gossip. Every Thursday we would have our “girls night in” and crack open a bottle of bubbly, order a Chinese and put the world to rights. We went on holidays together – Paris and Australia hold particularly fond memories. I could tell my mother anything and everything. She would offer up advice when it was needed but also let me make mistakes when it was important for me to figure things out on my own. She was my biggest champion and growing up the love of my life and an inspirational, strong woman.
In August 2009 we found out that mum had terminal lung cancer (she wasn’t a smoker so my whole family was blindsided by this). It felt like the bottom fell out of my world but through it all and even up to her last day my mother was still her usual sunny, strong self and pragmatic about what she was going through. The only time she ever felt down was thinking about the fact that my brother and I were still in our twenties. She wanted to see us settle into our lives and the fact that she couldn’t broke her heart.
When I found out I was pregnant in 2013, although ecstatic about the new life that grew inside me, I started to grieve for my mum again in a raw sense. I was scared of entering into such a big phase of my life without her. Mum had always been very open about how happy she would be when I found a wonderful man who truly loved me with whom I could raise a family. All I could think was who could I go to if I didn’t know how to change a nappy properly or struggled with breastfeeding or got so knackered from the sleepless nights that I couldn’t see straight? Was it selfish to feel that I needed her so much so that I was angry about her not being here?
Pregnancy hormones can turn the strongest women out there into sensitive types. I’m pretty much a heart-on-sleeve kind of girl, so crying almost every other day over not having my mother with me became pretty standard but the positive side of me didn’t want to spend pregnancy and beyond in a spiral of grief…
How I coped
Be open with your partner – I’m not backward in coming forwards with my feelings and emotions. Whether down or downright excited during pregnancy my boy knew about it. I’m blessed to have a loving partner who wasn’t afraid of having a hormonal, tearful 35 weeks pregnant fiancée on his hands telling him how much she misses her mother and how scared she was to go into labour without her.
Use every lesson she gave you – I reminded myself often that although not here in body my mother was here in spirit. Every lesson I learned from her growing up was instilled in me. And although she couldn’t physically be by my side and give me advice, she had given me the tools I needed.
Make her proud – One of the best pieces of advice I received when I lost my mother was to try to live life like she was still here. If she was here I would want her to be proud of the mother I am and I hope I’m doing a good job!
Include your mother-in-law as much as poss – I’m very happy to have Mama W visit Lalita whenever possible and I ask her for advice when I need it. (I’m lucky, she’s a pretty fabulous lady. I know for some women this relationship can be tricky – but hopefully having the shared bond of your new baby will help!)
Your mother lives on in your little one – Every time I look at Lalita I see my mum, not just because she resembles her but because of her funny, sweet nature. I can see my mama’s personality in her a little and that’s so beautiful to me. I also tell her about my mother (we call her Gran Gran) and she has my mother’s name as one of her middle names, Florence.
Talk to her sisters and friends – Birds of a feather flock together and your mother’s besties typically embody some of the wonderful character traits that your mum had. Mama’s three closest friends (I call them Auntie) have been wonderfully kind to me. They have always made themselves available if I need advice. They always check in and see how we are and one of my Aunties gave me enough nappies, baby wipes and onesies to last the first year of Lalita’s life!
Don’t be afraid to – Call your Health Visitor/Doctor ten times a week (yes, they may think you’re crazy but dammit you don’t know why your baby is breathing so fast/has green poo/has a weird little cough today!).
Above all remain positive, your baby is a wonderful little human being and whatever hurdles you come across during motherhood you will get over them.
The Imperfect Supermum