Pregnant with First Child
You are becoming a mom. After months of trying, suddenly there is news. You are pregnant. After your husband, who is the first person you want to tell? Your mother. But what if she has died?
Such was the case when my adult daughter Charlotte became pregnant with her first child. She wanted to share the new journey with her mother. But her mother — my wife — had died 17 years before.
Charlotte had already experienced so much pain from her mom’s early death: the “Sweet 16” celebration without Mom, high school graduation, college graduation, first job, first home, wedding, and others.
May Trigger Gratitude or Grief
Then this new one snuck up—having her first child and becoming a mother, like her mother. Interestingly, this “first” triggered gratitude more than grief.
Several weeks after the big news, she called and said, “You know, I am about Mom’s age when she had me.” This began a series of introspective discussions about motherhood, family, and parenting. The early stages of becoming a mom had already enhanced her understanding of her own mother.
It was surprisingly significant. She was particularly aware of her mom talking with her friends when her daughters wanted more attention. Would that perception change as she feels the weight of parenting?
“I have several friends,” she said, “who have just had or are having children and now I have a greater understanding of mom’s need for a support network of friends, having the same experience with children the same age! It is comforting to have a shared experience.”
Reimagining our Own Parents
Becoming a parent, I recall a similar realization—a fresh understanding—of my parents. In many ways, they helped me be a good parent by what they had done, but also by what they did not do that I wish they had done. It is a surprisingly complex and interesting new awareness that your parents worked, played, and raised children just as you are about to do.
Since her mother’s death, Charlotte’s resilience had grown exponentially. Rather than grieving anew at her daughter’s birth, Carlotte felt the calming warmth of sunshine as she appreciated the role her mom played in making her the person she is today. And she felt grateful to be living her own life with gusto. So, let’s get going on the baby shower!
A Bridge Back to Memories
Some of the key elements of success for this happy get together were built around her stepmom, quietly coordinating the effort as a go-between for all. Actively involving her siblings in decisions and duties, and the company of great friends helped create a great occasion with no clouds in the sky. And importantly she had the help and participation of her mother’s friends, women she had grown up with, who created a bridge back to her memories. She said, “I miss my mom, but I am not alone.”
Thus, the nine months of becoming a new mom held all the excitement and promise that building a new family can bring. We made the baby shower for friends and family a joyful event. And we acknowledged her mother while focusing on the present. This warm support, and embracing personal accountability, helped her grow, strengthening the bridge from grief to gratitude.
My hope is that in some way, this story of success will help other new young mothers along the emotional pathway.
Stedman Stevens is the author of A Beautiful Life: THE LITTLE THINGS THAT HELP GRIEVING FAMILIES: Stevens, Stedman: 9781734372007: Amazon.com: Books
Read more about gratitude: https://www.opentohope.com/gratitude-is-mos…n-difficult-days/