We looked at each other, tears streaming down both of our faces and we embraced. She was shaking as she uttered one sentence that crosses my mind almost daily:
“Jeni, I will never get to meet your babies.”
It was like an arrow went through my heart at that exact moment.
She had just come back from the doctor and they revealed the results of an abdominal scan that showed multiple tumors in her liver. Her very first words were so typical of a mother’s love – not thinking about herself, her pain and the fear of the unknown, but how she wouldn’t be there for me.
I can’t remember which was worse – when they gave us the results of the biopsy two days later that confirmed Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer, or when my mom said those words to me that solidified the one thing we all take for granted – Life.
It was at this exact moment that I had felt true regret, the kind that makes you feel sick to your stomach. I started to feel a hot burning sensation in my body, and I would feel a real pain in my heart for the next few days that only subsided when I was finally able to take a valium. Questions ran through my mind as well as so many fears.
Is my mom really going to die? Why did I wait so long to try and have a baby? Had I been trying hard enough? Is this really happening to me?
Ironically, the very day my mom got those test results, I had an appointment scheduled with a fertility specialist. I had been trying to conceive a baby for over a year with no success. After hugging my mom and reassuring her all would be okay, I left for the appointment and wondered when I would wake up from this bad dream.
Fast forward 6 months later and miraculous things were happening. My mom was responding to treatment and feeling good. I had undergone almost all of the fertility tests, as well as my husband, and nothing was coming up as being wrong. Then I got pregnant on my own and the omen of my mom not meeting my babies seemed like a distant memory. She would be here!
I remember her saying that God sent me this baby because it was going to be a way for me to have something good in my life after she was gone. Sadly, at a little over 9 weeks, I miscarried, and my dream of my mom getting to meet my baby disappeared just like that.
During the last months of my mom’s life, a miracle did happen. I got pregnant on my own after three rounds of failed fertility injections. My mom was able to see my growing belly, attend an ultrasound appointment, and she knew I was having a little boy. He would be the first boy in a family of three daughters and four granddaughters. She was so excited and she prayed every day that she would be here for his birth.
It was a difficult time for me as I watched my mom fight for her life while I tried to enjoy the beauty of the new life growing inside me. I would visit her daily, spending as much time as I could with her, and I would quietly sob and stare at how beautiful she was when she would doze off.
My mom lived 26 months to the day of diagnosis and passed away January 28, 2010, at the young age of 59. I was 35 years old and 6 months pregnant, and it will always be the saddest day of my life. I could have had two babies in the amount of time that she miraculously survived. Why didn’t I make it happen in that time frame? It is hard not to think back about having all of that time, and not “making it work.”
What is it like to lose your mom while pregnant? I think pregnant or not, the loss is indescribable, the pain so deep you cannot make it go away. I recently read a book on loss and the author said that waking up without her mother was like “waking up in a world without a sky: unimaginable.” That is exactly how it feels.
The very person who gave you life is now gone, so how can it not feel like a piece of you has died as well? The months after she passed were empty and lonely. I was so excited to become a mom, but her absence dimmed the light in what should have been the brightest of days. My excitement was tempered, and my body was filled with life, yet, my heart and soul felt depleted.
There are times and events in life that it is normal to have your mom by your side. I missed her at my baby shower, seeing her smile and tears at the hospital, walking through my door when my baby boy first came home. I miss the fact that she will never be able to spoil my little boy because she loved to shop. I miss the fact that she can’t see his perfect little face, cute little toes, amazing smile and infectious laugh. I miss that she never got to meet him, hold him and love him.
As a new mother, I find happiness in the twinkle of my son’s eyes, the smell of his skin and the warmth of his hug. What my mom felt with me, I now feel with my son, and I am confident that he will always have a piece of her in his heart. Mothers give the best blessings in the world – love, light and most importantly, something we should never take for granted – Life.
Is there someone that was once in your life who you wish could have met your children? How do you keep their memory alive?
This is an original guest post for World Moms Blog by Jennifer D’Ambrosio in New Jersey, USA. Jennifer is a working-mom on Wall St. and is a fan of World Moms Blog!
Photo credits to Joe D’Ambrosio and the author.