How Mom Gloria Vanderbilt's Death Pushed Anderson Cooper to Become a Dad: 'It Made Me Think'

Anderson Cooper's mother Gloria Vanderbilt helped the CNN anchor make the most important decision in his life: to become a dad.

For this week's Pride issue, Cooper tells PEOPLE what it was like telling his late mother, who died last June at the age of 95, he wanted to have a baby.

"She was thrilled," says the new dad, 53. "I told her maybe two weeks before she died. When she started to get ill, it was very quick. [Son Wyatt Morgan, 6 weeks] was just an idea in my head and a desire — but I thought, 'This is the time to tell her.' "

He continues, "We had this incredible last few weeks of her life where we spent every day together, just talking and watching TV, listening to music, laughing and telling stories. She said instantly, 'Of course it's going to be a boy.' "

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Anderson Cooper Opens Up About Why He Chose Surrogacy — and If He's Considering Having More Kids

Cooper was 10 when his father died during open-heart surgery at 50; his brother Carter died by suicide in 1988 at 23.

"It was a very lonely feeling that I hadn't really anticipated," Cooper tells PEOPLE. "It made me think, 'Well, all right, this is definitely meant to be.' "

For more from Anderson Cooper, pick up this week's Pride issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

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