Making a Mother: Humor, Anxiety, and a Lot of Weird Body Stuff


couple walking down a path lined with trees in the fall

I am at a loss for how to start this blog post so I’ll just tell you that my current status is that of a 6.5 months pregnant person. A walking, talking, waddling ball of hormones. Baby or burrito? This is no longer in question. I look decidedly ripe and am feeling all the feels. Joe is so lucky!

I have long thought about how—or if—I would talk about motherhood, pregnancy, and childbearing on Wit & Delight. For many of you, children were/are in your future, no question. For me, it was always a murky subject. At twenty-three, it was a no. At twenty-nine, it was a maybe. On vacation shortly before my thirty-second birthday, it was an “If we can.” For a big heap of reasons that go way, way back, I didn’t want to talk about that muddy part of my projected future publicly because I have felt some shame in the presumed selfishness that comes with being all ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ on having a family.

But here I am writing about it, because just as life finds a way, motherhood will find you in the most traditional and untraditional ways. It feels as if I’ve been inducted into a club and at the same time banished by another. Conflicting feelings have been a big theme for my pregnancy. Overwhelming joy peppered with a hint of melancholy. Lightness and heaviness. Togetherness and loneliness. All of this wrapped in cautious optimism. It has been difficult to put this experience into words and even as I type this I find myself at a loss. Perhaps privacy (or pride) further perpetuates these complicated feelings and if I open up about the parts of my conscious that scare me I will be able to better deal with them. And still, at the back of my mind, I fear judgment for going about this in my own way. But that, I think, is for a separate post.

Conflicting feelings have been a big theme for my pregnancy. Overwhelming joy peppered with a hint of melancholy. Lightness and heaviness. Togetherness and loneliness. All of this wrapped in cautious optimism.

So I guess… I will start from the beginning. The crisp November morning when I emerged from the bathroom clutching a positive pregnancy test, wearing sweats and a blank expression. Joe had insisted on being there when I ceremoniously peed on the stick, and he had driven home early that morning after a week spent in Red Wing with his team. I had been up all night prior running the different outcomes in my head. We had decided that we were ready for any outcome, that positive test or negative test, we were going to be OK. But that morning I didn’t feel cool, calm, or collected. I didn’t feel ready for a positive result.

River Couple Photo

I set the test down on the counter. Joe smiled broadly and tears twinkled at the creases of his eyes. I would later find out he was just as terrified as I was but knew I needed a dose of his contagious optimism more than he needed mine at that moment.

“What are we going to do?” I said.

“This is the best thing ever!” he said.

Joe put me in the car and we drove east, to Stillwater, and then up and down the Minnesota and Wisconsin border. I drifted in and out of sleep. I left a voicemail with my therapist and asked to get on her calendar as soon as possible. We told two of our closest friends, our parents, and our siblings. We took on our roles, Joe proudly announcing the news, me sitting hand clasped with a clenched smile thinking, Wow this is actually happening.

Four days later, the doctor confirmed. “Yep, definitely pregnant. Congrats—how are you feeling?” For the first time, I spoke with an impartial third party about what was about to happen to my body. There was no expectation, no one afraid to get hurt by my chances of miscarriage, no guilt around being able to get pregnant, and no big smiles for people who required them. “The thing I want you to remember, Kate, is that you are not sick. You are pregnant. Take your weekly flights, go on your run, stay away from the short list of no-nos and you’ll be fine. Let’s get you scheduled for your first ultrasound.”

For the first time in a week, the heaviness lifted. A week later, I would learn that even at seven weeks, this little baby had a head, little stubs for arms and legs, and a rapidly beating heart.

I was in love. My heart bursting and breaking all at once. I was finally understanding the desire to be a mother, all the while knowing life is fragile and things were not in my control.

We were lucky and here we sit, fifteen weeks to our due date, crossing our fingers that the potential complications for natural childbirth will work themselves out and we will have a healthy baby and healthy mother. And in all the unknowing, we are finding the opportunity to laugh. Laugh off the worry, the weight gain, the less-than-perfect ultrasounds. The midnight leg cramps and heartburn and giant bras and name suggestions we both love and hate. I have a feeling this practice—to laugh instead of fret—is only going to become more important.

I have decided to not look back at my younger self and wrestle with her idea of our future any longer. If anything, I feel empathy for her. I see my friends who are mothers and my friends who are struggling to conceive in an entirely new light. I have a newfound respect for my body and a newfound respect for the power of faith.

And in all the unknowing, we are finding the opportunity to laugh. Laugh off the worry, the weight gain, the less-than-perfect ultrasounds. . . . I have a feeling this practice—to laugh instead of fret—is only going to become more important.


One thing is certain: It may take ten months to make a life out of a couple of cells, but it takes a lifetime to make us mothers. All my collective experiences, the work I’ve done to stay healthy and balanced, the experiences my friends and family have generously shared with me—they all play a part in preparing us for dealing with the things we cannot always prepare for.

And perhaps that is what motherhood is about. Maybe it isn’t defined by bringing life into the world, but by how we nurture others and ourselves. Maybe it’s about making safe spaces for the people we care about to be who they are and realize their own potential; to find themselves in the strength of our own resilience and sense of self.

As for what this means for Wit & Delight? We’re going to play it by ear. The nursery, the names, the planning—we’re just now getting started. The only thing that won’t be happening is many bump photos on the blog. That’s what Snapchat is for! You can find me with the username: WitInRealLife.

BY Kate Arends - April 5, 2016

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April 5, 2016 10:07 am

Congratulations! And kudos to you for sharing such an honest account of all of the emotions and thoughts I imagine (haven’t been there yet) coming with pregnancy. xo

April 5, 2016 10:08 am

Congratulations! This is awesome news! I’m currently experiencing the unsure feelings about starting a family. I know I would like to start a family, but it is such a scary decision. This post was encouraging, thanks for sharing. And again, congrats!

April 5, 2016 10:13 am

This is such wonderful news Kate! Congratulations! I’m so so happy/excited for you all (Winnie too)! 🙂

April 5, 2016 10:22 am

I love your heart and love you and love this little nugget, too.

April 5, 2016 10:26 am

Oh congratulations!! You’re going to be an Ah-MAZ-Ing Mama!

Jessica Hulse Dillon
April 5, 2016 10:32 am

What a beautiful post. Being a mom is all about feeling conflicted so you are ahead of the game with your attitude of you will figure it out. I am excited to see how you navigate becoming a mom. My tiny human is 16 months and everyday there is something new to learn and figure out but its pretty cool (most days).

April 5, 2016 10:33 am

Congratulations! And thank you for continuing to share your thoughts on these real life topics. I think it’s safe to say you’re not alone in your feelings on motherhood. I’m the same age as you and have experienced all the same thoughts – shame, brokenness, confusion. But as the years go on and I’m still undecided, I’m content in knowing that (like you more elegantly state) life has a funny way of working out the way it is meant to for each of us. Thank you! I look forward to, and hope you will share more about your new journey… Read more »

April 5, 2016 10:41 am

Congratulaions, Kate!! It’s a rollercoaster but one that is totally worth it. My girl will be 13 this Thursday and I have loved every age so far even when it’s difficult. Welcome to motherhood… 🙂

April 5, 2016 10:47 am

What a beautiful article. I really appreciate your honest and down to earth approach on writing down your feelings; it’s just what I want to read about (impending) motherhood! Congratulations, and I wish you both many beautiful moments in the time to come!

April 5, 2016 10:58 am

Congratulations! I’m the same age and I experienced similar feelings before my child was born (and shortly after, if I’m honest).We were shocked to become pregnant almost immediately and I was not entirely prepared for that reality, we too had the mentality of “let’s just see…” This coupled with being surrounded by people who had experienced a loss, were desperate to get pregnant, or who were seemingly over-the-moon to be pregnant meant I had lots of guilt early on for my mixed bag of emotions. (we joked that the guilt was a sign from God that I was ready to… Read more »

April 5, 2016 11:31 am

Thank you for sharing these honest and heartfelt words. At 25, I know that I would love to raise children some day but it feels like a distant (and anxious) future, and the way you wrote about your shifting perspective really resonates with and reassures me. Congratulations and thanks for sharing this beautiful piece.

April 5, 2016 12:20 pm

huge congratulations kate! that’s so lovely. i was waiting on a post after seeing the big surprise on snapchat.

not a mother yet myself, but i’m happily training to run the NYC marathon this year on behalf of Every Mother Counts, which helps ensure safe childbirth for every mother. so happy that you’re one of the ones i’m running for!

(ps i’m raising funds if you are so interested. if not, a run in solidarity on nov 6 is good too ;))

you’ll be a great momma. i’m very excited for you.

April 5, 2016 2:00 pm

Biggest congrats to you and Joe, Kate! I saw on your snapchat, but wasn’t 100%.. but I’m so excited for you guys! Thanks for sharing your honesty in your journey into and through pregnancy. I hope you’re doing well! 🙂 Our babies will be one week apart 🙂

April 5, 2016 3:45 pm

Congratulations! When I found out I was pregnant last winter, I shortly found out about my mental illness shortly after. Hormones makes me suicidal depress (try to explain that to your grand-mother). It was a nightmare and my kid is going to be an only child for sure. Anyway, I’m telling you this because you show so much interest in mental health that Iwanted to shared. For the specifics, I have premenstrual(pregnancy) dysphoria syndrome. Stay true and honest to your feelings as they grow and do be alarm if you don’t feel that motherly love when they’ll put that tiny… Read more »

April 5, 2016 3:56 pm

Kate, I’ve been following your blog/Insta since you were living in some cute apartment in Minneapolis on your own. I was also on my own and had moved from California to Minnesota. Married and two kids later, I’m just over joyed for you. Motherhood is such a gift and a challenge. I read somewhere yesterday that motherhood is preparing another person to walk out on their own, which is an honor and at the same time heartbreaking.

I hope you have a safe and healthy rest of your pregnancy and delivery. Thank you for sharing your exciting news.

April 5, 2016 4:04 pm

This is truly wonderful news! I know from experience that you can be who you are and do the things you love and still be a great mom 🙂 x

April 5, 2016 4:36 pm

Congratulations, Kate! As always, your perspective on life is enlightening and honest. Thank you for sharing your journey with us.

April 5, 2016 5:24 pm

This was so beautifully written. I am new to your blog and this was a great first post to read! I will be back.

April 5, 2016 6:24 pm

Wow, I have never commented on any of your posts before (normally just an objective bystander who enjoys seeing your content pop up in my feed) but just had to say what a commendable and poignant post this was. Thank you for sharing. I feel privileged to feel included in this aspect of your journey!

April 5, 2016 7:42 pm

Congrats! This blog post definitely hit home for me. I’m newly married and my career finally has hit a solid and stable point but I worry about when and even if to have kids. It’s so refreshing to hear others who are feeling the same way as I do. I’m sure you will make a wonderful mom!

April 5, 2016 8:17 pm

This post has come at the perfect time for me to read it. I am in the exact same unsure frame of mind. Just turning 30, a year married, in a big expensive city, and the though of committing to having a family just feels so foreign.
This post reads to me as optimistic at a time where I needed an honest open heart to hear from.


April 5, 2016 8:43 pm


April 5, 2016 8:52 pm

Many many happy congratulations to you Kate and Joe (and Winnie)! This was beautifully written. As an adoptive mama I especially loved your sentiment and reflections about what motherhood is really about. Wonderful insights!

April 6, 2016 12:40 am

I saw your snapchat today and was like, “WHAT?!!”

Amazing, wonderful news! Wishing you a healthy pregnancy and excited to follow along this new path in your life.

April 6, 2016 4:37 am

This made my heart burst because a) it was so beautifully and honestly written and b) I am also pregnant (26 weeks!) and hormones.

April 6, 2016 8:03 am

Wonderful news! Thank you so much for sharing your motherhood journey so far – ups and downs, fears and joys. It’s all intermingled, I’ve found, and we tend to focus on the sunnier side of things – which, in my opinion, diminishes the rawness and depth of the entire experience. I appreciate your honesty so much, and think you will be an excellent mother.

April 6, 2016 8:14 am

!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS to you both!! so well written – you perfectly capture the feelings of being a late 20-something/early 30-something and not quite knowing whether kids are in the cards. love the honesty.

April 6, 2016 9:13 am


courtney n.
April 6, 2016 9:44 am

Congratulations! What a beautiful post!
I love the line about your hurt bursting and breaking. I know you will manage to keep the blog an honest reflection of yourself – which will now include some aspects of motherhood but so many other dimensions as well. As a longtime reader, I’m personally excited to see how you take on some of the design related challenges that come with children.

April 6, 2016 11:33 am

I am at 15 weeks and have similar feelings. I can entirely completely understand how someone can never have children and live full enriching complete lives. I have always wanted kids, like since I was 15, but waited until I was 30, the second I got pregnant I started to doubt if it would be worth it. Everyone gushes that it will be, but I won’t know until I start my parenting journey I guess. Early in my pregnancy I was depressed, but saying goodbye to that first trimester meant a happier demeanor. Now, I find myself being excited and… Read more »

April 6, 2016 1:09 pm

CONGRATS Kate & Joe !I wish you both the best of luck with this new adventure.I can’t wait to watch the story unfold on Wit & Delight. Best wishes hon.


April 6, 2016 1:41 pm

Warmest congratulations!

April 6, 2016 6:33 pm

So excited for you three. Life is a fucking roller coaster. I completely understand your feelings. They are feelings I relate to in so many ways…

April 6, 2016 8:22 pm

Well said my friend! It’s every emotion you’ve ever experienced right in the center of your body. ?

April 7, 2016 12:57 am

Congrats, Kate! As a 29 year old thinking “maybe”, I appreciate your honesty so much – thanks for sharing.

April 7, 2016 7:04 am

Congratulations! So beautiful.

The one thing that my friends kept saying about motherhood: rewarding.

April 7, 2016 7:18 am

aw sweet! I’m thrilled for you Kate 🙂 I just happened to pop in your blog today (it has been awhile as I have become a mother myself and doing anything online is my lowest priority). You will be A BEAUTIFUL FANTASTIC MOTHER. 🙂 It will change you in all the best ways possible. My heart soars when I think of someone getting ready to embark on this journey of parenthood, because I know what a beautiful wonderful thing it has been for Jon and I. Nothing I say can prepare you for what is inevitably going to be the… Read more »

April 7, 2016 8:12 am

This is beautifully written, thank you for sharing so honestly! Sending good thoughts as you begin this new adventure. xx Liz (longtime reader!)

April 7, 2016 8:24 am

Congrats! The best advice I can offer you as a single mom of a now 14 year old boy is throw away all the pictures in magazines of the ideal mother, child, family. There is no such thing as perfect, right or wrong. I took my son on holidays, backpacking trips, I cooked with him, I talked to him about my fears, my dreams and past mistakes that I made in life and I always assured him that no matter what I had his back. Blaze your own path!

April 7, 2016 8:39 am

Congratulations! And THANK YOU for sharing your ambivalence and your very human feelings in all their complexity. I’m older than you and still very ambivalent (for serious health reasons I had to put the whole idea on hold for 5 years at 32 and I’m still in the on hold part), which might mean that I never become a parent. But the older I get, the more I feel that there isn’t a right or wrong answer to the question. Or rather, there are only right answers, but right in that complicated messy imperfect way life is. I wish you… Read more »

April 7, 2016 8:45 am

Congratulations!! I genuinely loved this post. It was honest, refreshing and beautifully written. I’ve been a longtime reader and though I love all the content, your more personal posts have truly been my favorites and I find myself rereading them over the years. Thank you for sharing. Wishing you all the best and looking forward to reading more!

April 7, 2016 8:54 am

As a non-parent, non-pregnant woman who is 32, you seriously nailed this post. Whatever weird feelings you have, comments you receive, and “failures” you feel, if it helps at all, this person is rooting for you.

April 7, 2016 1:45 pm

This is such a beautiful post–I’ve always known I wanted kids, but as I get to the age where it’s actually in the realm of possibility to have them, the thought of having an actual baby is kind of terrifying. Thank you for your honesty, and congratulations!

April 7, 2016 8:34 pm

Hi, Kate.
This is such a beautiful post. I had a smile on throughout while reading it. Congratulations and I wish you all the best!

April 8, 2016 4:58 pm

Congratulations, Kate. I was 33 & 35 when I had my children and had been ambivalent about being a mother my entire adult life up to the point of conception. and here I am now with a 16 & 18 year old. Although I worried about motherhood’s negative impact on my career, the new role actually brought me into a much richer way of being in the world and my art practice blossomed along with my children.

April 8, 2016 7:17 pm

Congratulation! I love hearing about your motherhood journey.

girl C

[…] – Refreshment: These days, I’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth, and when I light these candles, my house smells like the Curate […]

April 11, 2016 2:52 pm

Thanks for sharing Kate. I am currently 31 weeks with my first and have felt many of the same feelings: ambivalence, joy, excitement, loneliness, togetherness–all the feels. It’s so warming to know that I’m not alone. Hugs from Colorado.

April 11, 2016 2:54 pm

Congratulations, Kate! I heard on snapchat a little while back, and I’m so happy for you all. I’m not in your place yet (maybe not ever), but I appreciate your honesty. I’m 30 and single, and have always wanted to have kids, but I found myself looking around at a 6-year-old’s birthday party yesterday and wondering if I was cut out for the job. I suppose it will work itself out, either way. Stay well!

April 12, 2016 8:00 am

So refreshing to hear such honesty 🙂 Congratulations on your little one, may there be many magical moments!

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