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Having a baby when you don’t have a mom

If you lost your own mother before you became a parent, it can be truly bittersweet to go through pregnancy, birth and the baby years without your mom being there for advice or simply to bask in the joy of a grandchild. We talk with moms who have been through parenthood without their own mothers by their sides.

When you have a child of your own, your relationship with your parents — particularly your mother — begins to change. Chances are you will begin to understand your relationship from her perspective, and her guidance and support during your early parenting years can be crucial.

How your sense of loss changes

If your mom died before you had a baby, it can really feel like you’re missing out on connecting with your mother in a special way. Her absence can be felt in a new way once you go through pregnancy and birth, and not having your mom by your side as you move through your parenting experience can make your loss even more pronounced.

Liz is the mother of two children and lives in Australia. Her mother passed away before she became a mother herself, and she shared a little of what that experience has been like for her.

“I think I missed learning about her experiences with her pregnancies,” she shared with us. “She had three children before having me, so I am sure she would have plenty to share with me. I also think that your relationship with your parents changes a lot when you have kids, so I feel like I have missed out on how our mother/daughter relationship would have changed and developed after their birth and as they have gotten older.”

When your relationship wasn’t ideal

If your relationship with your mother wasn’t the best, it can still be difficult to go through pregnancy, birth and parenting without your mother by your side. Melissa, whose mother was an alcoholic and passed away when she was pregnant with her third child, had mixed feelings and unique experiences when her mother died, and the years after.

“The thing is, she had been an addict for so many years that it kind of felt like I had already really lost her,” she shared. “But I could still go to her with all the exciting news I had or new pregnancy problems I had. I didn’t like my mom, but I loved her very much! Before she became an alcoholic, she was a wonderful mother that did her absolute best to raise my sister and I.”

Missing a grandparent

Missing your mom means that your child will grow up to miss a grandparent, and this can leave you wondering how to share your mother with him as he grows up. Sharing her life through photographs, the things she loved and your experiences growing up are great gifts to share with your children.

“My son is almost 6 now, and it was probably when he was around 5 that he started asking why his Poppy lives alone and I had to explain everything to him,” said Liz. “I think that was probably harder for me than him! I try to tell him as much as possible about her, because I grew up with only one grandparent, so I tell him about her music and what she used to do. I try to see the positives that they have three loving grandparents that are actively involved in their lives because even if your parents are still alive, this might not always be the case.”

As you move through your parenting years, your mother will be missed, yet she is a part of who you are. You can help keep her memory alive as your children grow and you will know that she is proud of the mother you have become.

More on relationships and death

My father died
How to talk to your kids about death
Rocky Road and Rainbows: Losing a father and appreciating life

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