It never crossed my mind that when I had children, they wouldn’t have their grandma and I wouldn’t have my mom. 

A terminal cancer diagnosis is never good, but especially not at the start of a global pandemic when all treatments are suddenly halted. 

I became pregnant on our second month of trying, and we found out when I was just 4-weeks pregnant. We FaceTimed our parents to let them know. Of course, it was very early, so we didn’t tell anyone else, but we knew my mom was dying, and I wanted her to know. I wanted her to know her dreams of her first little girl having a baby of her own would come true. We had an early 7-week scan on a Saturday, and although my mom was unconscious, I showed her the scan the next day and put it in her hand so she’d hold my baby, knowing this would be the only time she ever would. 

She died the next morning. 

Before she died, she said I would have a girl. We didn’t know yet, but she was right. We have a beautiful, smiley baby girl who is a fighter. She survived growing inside me while I was experiencing the hardest time of my life. While tears were flowing daily and my heart was breaking, my little girl was fighting and growing. I am beyond blessed by how God has given us such a smiley and happy baby out of a time of sheer grief and sadness.

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I don’t think you can fully appreciate your mom until you become a mom for yourself. You cannot appreciate how you truly give up your own life, how you experience this new type of love. Becoming a mom opens your eyes to this new side of your own mom that you were somehow blind to before.

And suddenly many things fall into place. When it was snowing so much it was dangerous to drive so she wouldn’t let you go out. When she didn’t get new clothes so you could go on that trip. 

And then she’s not there. She wasn’t there for me to say thank you to.

She wasn’t there when we found out it was a girl. She wasn’t there for me to ask questions like should I go to the doctors about this? or will she ever sleep?

I couldn’t tell her my birth story or ask when my first tooth came through or how old I was when I began walking. 

And the grief is new. It’s a grief for everything you lost but also for everything you could’ve had. The new relationship now that I’m a mom too. The new things I wanted to thank her for doing for me all those years ago. The way she would’ve loved my baby, and my girl would have adored her too.

Every day is tinted with sadness as my mom feels further away, yet every day brings new joy as my baby learns something new. 

There is never a good time to grieve, but God is always there. As a Philippa Hanna song reminded me “You (God) still reign and you’re still God.” 

In my darkest depths of a broken heart, God was knitting together a joyful baby in my womb. 

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In my mother’s death, I picked up the mantle and became a mother myself. 

In grief, God brought me the greatest gift. 

It never crossed my mind that when I had children, they wouldn’t have their grandma and I wouldn’t have my mom. 

But God is good. 

He brings great gifts and sustains through the wilderness and brokenness to bring new life from the darkness. 

Natalie Holman

Natalie is a co-founder and director of 4Front Theatre, a Christian theatre company based in the UK. In 2021, she and her husband Rob welcomed their first beautiful baby, Arrietty.