From Pet Mom to Baby Mom: Thoughts on Pet Loss

Call it woman’s intuition– I walked in the house on a Saturday night, fresh off the airplane from a work conference, and the house was too quiet. Something wasn’t right. Then my husband immediately word vomited that our elderly, chronically ill cat had gone downhill while I was away. He didn’t want to tell me until I got home.

In the days to come, I felt a maternal instinct over Bean and everyone in my household. I comforted my husband, who was infinitely closer to Bean, when he realized it was time to let her go. I took care of the euthanasia arrangements, mindful of scheduling it while my daughter was still in daycare for the day. And for Bean, in her final moments; I stroked her fur and recited the Lord’s Prayer out loud until my mind went blank, and I forgot the words. Three days after my flight landed back in Kansas City, Bean was gone.

As a woman, and especially as a mother, I often find that we think that we could have done more, done better even when there was no possible way to. I felt that same pulsating emotion when I reflected on Bean’s final days. One night, I even cried to my best friend that all I had left to give Bean at the end was a half-said prayer, which felt woefully inadequate for such a good feline friend. But that night, I couldn’t cry for too long; my daughter had woken up again and was crying for me.

I felt unmoored in the weeks to come after her passing. It wasn’t just losing a pet, but a milestone. A before and after. I was once just a penniless 20-something who adopted a sad-looking cat for $35. Now I was a mother, a wife, a woman who’d hit the apex of her career– but the cat, almost a reminder of who I was before, was gone. In the weeks to come, I felt like I was drifting; exactly a week later I was swept away by the current of a product launch at work, tethered to a feisty baby, pulled from the grief that broke my heart in a million little ways.

It was then that I realized the paradox of mothers everywhere: I was rooted deeply in grief, but forced to push forward. Motherhood is demanding, even on our worst days. Grief and product launches are demanding too, in their own right.

Where I found my bravery was in holding a creature in their final moments, turning around and showing up for my daughter, then turning around again and pulling a heavy load on a product launch– because in the end, love never fails. Even our love for our pets.

Teresa Maly
Teresa is a transplant originally from Iowa and spent her twenties bouncing around the Midwest. She is expecting her first child in Summer 2022 after infertility, pregnancy loss, and IVF. Professionally, Teresa works in healthcare marketing at an advertising agency. When not at her laptop, you can find her enjoying the outdoors, putting her cats in tiny hats against their will, and beauty & fashion.