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

"She said instantly, 'Of course it's going to be a boy,' " Anderson Cooper says of how his mom, Gloria Vanderbilt, reacted to him wanting to have a child

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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Gloria Vanderbilt
Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. Jim Spellman/WireImage
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Anderson Cooper and son Wyatt. Melanie Acevedo

"I didn't say that I would name him after my dad, but she knew that's what it would be — and she knew that if it was a girl, she would be named after her," Cooper recalls.

Cooper welcomed son Wyatt via surrogate on April 27, and says his mother's death helped him decide he was ready to become a dad.

"When Mom died, she was 95, and she'd talked about her death for pretty much as long as I can remember, so I was ready for it. But I wasn't prepared for the realization that I don't really have any immediate family left."

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Anderson Cooper and son Wyatt on the cover of PEOPLE's Pride issue. Melanie Acevedo

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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