Becoming a Parent After Losing a Parent

By Lauren Barth |

dad+amyThere were many heartbreaking aspects of losing my dad to leukemia in 2011. Too many to count and that’s not what this is about. One of the hardest realities that I had to accept was that he would never get to see me become a mother. He loved being Grandpa Dan. He was happy and laughing any time there was a baby in his lap. He thought talking to a toddler was one of the funniest parts of life. He knew how much I yearned to have a baby of my own and that I would be really good at it.

The night we transferred him from the cancer hospital to hospice, he and I had a few rare hours alone. We talked a lot. I promised him that I would have all the things I wanted in my life even though he wouldn’t be there to witness it. We agreed that it was totally shitty and unfair to each of us that he wouldn’t be alive to meet my children, be their Grandpa and experience me as a mother.  That is a conversation I won’t ever forget. It is also the conversation when I promised to name my first son after him. And when he told me not to take “any more jewelry from any other boys” while holding onto the necklace I was wearing from my then-ex boyfriend, the man who is now my husband.

Less than two years after that night, I have already achieved a few of those things I told him I knew I’d have. I am married to my Joseph, the obvious perfect match for me, and we are about to become parents to my father’s ninth grandchild. As I get closer each day to the arrival of this baby, the reality and emotions involved are getting closer too. I see that welcoming a child, becoming a parent, growing my family’s next generation is going to bring forth a new love I’ve never known, as well as a new wave of sadness for life without my dad.

The happiest event in my life is not the time to focus on my sadness though, and I know that. I’ve chosen to incorporate my dad, his memory and the things he loved into my baby’s life in as many creative and uplifting ways as I can. From the mobile above the crib made of all of my dad’s favorite things in nature, to the baby boy “Coming Home” outfit that includes a baseball hat because baby is due at the beginning of baseball season, dad’s favorite time of year. And the totally amazing song lyric artwork framed on the wall from one of the songs he chose to play at his funeral, Here Comes the Sun, by the Beatles. Although they will never know each other, I’ll never have a photograph of my dad holding my baby and we’ll never get to see their similar faces side by side, I will be sure that my baby knows how awesome Grandpa Dan was, how happy I am to be his daughter and how much everybody loved him.


Kate also wrote about Having a Baby After Losing a Parent when she was pregnant with Max.

  1. 1.

    I’m sure your dad is looking down on you so proudly.

  2. 2.
    Brittany Granger

    Great piece. I have been dealing with this since the birth of my daughter last year. I didn’t anticipate the difficulty I would have. But these wonderful ways you have incorporated your dad into your son’s life are amazing.
    Though we will never meet, it’s nice to know there is someone out there who understands; and who is also looking to do this the best way possible.

  3. 3.

    Oh Amy, this is so beautiful. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. 4.

    Aw, Amy, this is tear-jerker post but so beautiful at the same time. I’m so sorry that you didn’t get to experience so many milestones of your life with your Dad. I think it is wonderful how you plan to honor his memory!

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    My heart aches reading this. I am in tears too. Thinking of you & praying for your special day, I know your dad will be watching down on all of you. I love the special touches to include your dad.

    I lost my dad very unexpectedly just weeks after I found out I was pregnant with our 4th (and quite a surprise!). I was the last one to see my dad alive, we had a rare night together – just him, me and my 3 kids (my mom was visiting her mom & sister). I told him that night I was pregnant, he was thrilled (I have really difficult pregnancies so I was worried how others would react, but I was daddies girl and he was so happy for us). I left him that night and he seemed fine, never had any complaints, I received the call 3 hours later that he was gone.. my mom found him when she got home. I have dealt with horrible guilt (for leaving him that night) and just utter sadness that he’s not here.

    When my daughter was born, aside from the dark brown hair, she is THE spitting image of my dad. And as we near her first birthday… we are starting to see she not only looks like him, but she has his temper and acts just like him too – my dad was strong and stubborn (and irish LOL). It is a comfort to me, but I fully believe they know each other.. just not in the way I would have liked. She see’s pictures of him and has even started saying Papa!

  7. 7.
    Chelsea reboulet

    Thank you for sharing. My best friend lost her father to cancer and she is due with her first child (a little boy) the stories are very similar but I hope she embraces the goodness of life as you have.

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