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


Couple Walking Through Fall Trees

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 23, it was a no. At 29, it was a maybe. On vacation shortly before my 32nd 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 loss. Perhaps privacy (or pride) further perpetuates these complicated feelings and if I up 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 judgement for going about this in my own way. But that, I think, is for a separate post.

Piggy Back Ride Couple
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 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, collected. I didn’t feel ready for a positive result.

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 in 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.”

River Couple Photo

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-no’s 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 7 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. For 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, 15 weeks to our due date, crossing our fingers 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 wrestled 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.


One thing is certain, it may take 10 months to make life out of a couple 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. To make safe spaces for the people we care about to be who they are, to realize their own potential and find themselves in the strength of our own resilience, in our own sense of self.

As for what this means for WD? 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 are many bump photos on the blog. That’s what Snapchat is for! You can find me with username: WitInRealLife.

BY Kate Arends - April 5, 2016


add a comment

  1. Jen says:

    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

  2. Jackie says:

    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!

  3. Savannah says:

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

  4. Mel says:

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

  5. nikki says:

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

  6. Jessica Hulse Dillon says:

    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).

    • Kate says:

      That is great to hear. I really appreciate your honesty… Glad to know accepting the array of human emotion as part of motherhood will help in the future. THANKYOU!!

  7. Kelly says:

    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 into Motherhood and parenting.

  8. Kathryn says:

    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… 🙂

  9. 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!

  10. Danica says:

    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 be a mom.. haha) I think A LOT of people feel this way, it just isn’t always shared. The truth is, if you aren’t a little apprehensive/insecure/sad about some of the changes a baby brings, then you are in for a shock. Good news though, I’ve got a 15 month old that I adore. I still feel all. the. feels. some days, but it really is an incredible journey, and I’m thankful life chose me to be my kid’s momma.

    • Kate says:

      Danica– thank you so much for sharing!! It is so helpful to hear from other mothers who felt this way. I’m nervous about the first three months… I was a pretty difficult baby and when I think about Joe and my temperament… I think we’re in for a wild ride. Your story made me feel better 🙂 Thank you!!

  11. jess says:

    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.

  12. ashley says:

    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.

  13. Sora says:

    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 🙂

    • Kate says:

      Yes!! Congrats to you!! I have been enjoying following your pregnancy– you look great!! Hope the rest of your pregnancy goes well… Here we come 3rd trimester!

  14. Emilie says:


    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 human in your arms. All will come in it’s time.

    And for the record, my son first word is: maman.

    Take good care of you and Joe

    • Kate says:

      Thank you so much for sharing Emilie. Your story really stuck a cord with me. The first thing I thought when I found out I was pregnant was “what am I going to do about my ADHD?” Because without treatment depression and anxiety made daily life really difficult. Luckily it’s been a somewhat smooth road, and I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. These hormones are no joke. I hope you are feeling better and I appreciate your honesty. Take care of yourself and that babe!

  15. Jacqui says:

    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.

    • Kate says:

      Thanks for your sweet note, Jacqui! It means a lot to take this journey with readers who I have a history with. It is amazing how much we change and evolve over time. Looking forward to this new challenge and all it’s rewards 🙂

  16. Kasey says:

    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

  17. Mailinh says:

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

  18. Lucy says:

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

  19. Grace says:

    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!

  20. Jessica says:

    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!

  21. Danielle says:

    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.


  22. AMANDA L says:


  23. Brandy says:

    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!

  24. Sandy says:

    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.

  25. mariell oyre says:

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

  26. Thao says:

    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.

  27. tiffany says:

    !!!!! 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.

  28. Christa says:


  29. courtney n. says:

    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.

    • Kate says:

      I really appreciate that Courtney! I’m excited to see what writing about this process will uncover within myself. It’s a lot more challanging than I thought it would be… Which means it’s probably good for me 😉

  30. Emma says:

    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 terrified. I will say this baby has taught me something I haven’t had to practice diligently in such a long time, and that is self-care, the baths, massages, early nights to bed, taking it easy, reading, chatting. That’s it. Best of luck, I guess parents are all in this together kinda.

    • Kate says:

      I can so relate to what you are going through! I hope you are enjoying the 2nd trimester… It really helps to look pregnant. I found I felt less alone once Joe could see and feel the baby. Best of luck to you!

  31. Myrna says:

    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.


  32. Hannah says:

    Warmest congratulations!

  33. Jade Sheldon says:

    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…

  34. Neely says:

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

  35. Sarah says:

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

  36. Mun says:

    Congratulations! So beautiful.

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

  37. Alecia says:

    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 hardest best thing you will do in your entire life. xoxox All my love to you and Joe!!

  38. Liz says:

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

  39. Anne says:

    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!

  40. Mary says:

    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 all the best on this journey!

  41. Anna says:

    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!

    • Kate says:

      Thank you, Anna! I get a lot out of writing these posts. Makes me so happy to know they still resonate with you. I go back and read them again, too 🙂

  42. Sarah says:

    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.

  43. Maren says:

    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!

  44. Toju says:

    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!

  45. 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.

    • Kate says:

      That is so great to hear, Sharon. I feel like my priorities have shifted already– it has been easier to decide what’s next for W&D knowing other parts of my life will need to more flexible. Preparing myself to embrace the unknown!

  46. girl C says:

    Congratulation! I love hearing about your motherhood journey.

    girl C

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

  48. Alessandra says:

    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.

  49. Kate says:

    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!

    • Kate says:

      Thanks for your sweet note, Kate. I’ve learned never to say never. Still not sure I’m cut out for this job but I think it’ll make me a better person. At least that’s what I’ve been told from mothers who have shared similar worries. Things have a way of working themselves out. Kisses to Cookie for me 🙂

  50. Sandra says:

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

  51. Congratulations, Kate! I resonated with much of your thoughts, and what I love most is your appreciation for the sacred practice that is growing a soul and nurturing yourself/others. This was by far the greatest “pregnancy announcement” I’ve read, and likely because it didn’t feel like an announcement at all. (How do you announce a voyage you’re still navigating? How do you declare a course you’re still charting?)

    I have been, for all of my life, on the fence about motherhood. So when I became pregnant (Bee was a bit of a surprise), I met the positive sign with fear/anxiety/worry, and Ken offered the celebratory smile I needed in that moment. (What good, wise husbands we have.) And every moment since has been an exercise in growing our hearts, in learning to love, in committing to each other over and over again.

    In the hard times, I remind myself that loving any human (whether that someone shares my DNA, spills syrup on my counter, trails mud throughout my floors) is a choice, an exercise, a practice – the hardest and most wonderful thing that I’ll get wrong and right and wrong again.

    You’ve already got it right, friend. It’s going to be a lovely ride.


  52. Kara says:

    Congrats! Thanks for being vulnerable and real. I hope the last 15 weeks are the best weeks of pregnancy. I appreciated your comment that it is a journey of faith.

  53. […] far, this year is looking to be a light one, aside from the fact we have one a week before my due date! In the past, I’ve attended my fair share of weddings, and have seen the invites range the […]

  54. Chelsea says:

    This is beautiful- congratulations on becoming a trio! I loved this post

  55. Katie says:

    What a wonderful reflection on motherhood–it is the most thrilling and simultaneously terrifying thing I’ve done (and do on a daily basis!).

  56. Susanne says:

    Congratulations!! I’m 12 weeks along. I just started trying at age 37. I did not think it was possible at all, and now I’m knee deep in fear and awe. And tired all the time. And waiting for genetic tests to make sure this one’s a keeper. The anticipation is terrible, but your account is closest to my own feelings. Thanks for the share!

  57. Joanna says:

    What a really raw, but beautiful piece. Congrats, congrats, congrats. Looking forward to seeing how Wit & Delight grows with the growth of your family!!

  58. Ashley says:

    Congratulations! I’m expecting my second child right now and even though we had talked about it and planned for it I still experienced many of the same feelings you described. Today is my first child’s fourth birthday and it is hard to believe how life has changed, but at the same time stayed the same. You will find lots of fun and inspiration in every new day!

  59. maryam says:

    =)… wish you the best of luck

  60. […] recently spoke with a new mother about how being pregnant can look and feel so foreign. The physical changes are more extreme than I ever imagined, and finding ways to feel good in […]

  61. Daniela says:

    I remember having these same exact feelings when we found out I was pregnant and feeling so guilty about not really sharing the joy that came with this humongous life altering event. Our son is now more than a year old and although “the beginning” is now a blur I have to thank you for your honesty, it makes me feel like I wasn’t alone back then.
    Motherhood is nothing less than a blessing.
    Congratulations you two

  62. […] the last few months, quite a few things have changed. Aside from the obvious physical changes, I’m noticing an awareness of my environment and products that affect me in new and different […]

  63. Hello Sitter says:

    Thanks for your beautifully honest post, we really do wish you all the best for your new adventure as a mama.

  64. […] I’m not quite ready to replace the remaining art (I’ve got bigger fish to fry), there are a few pieces from Tappan that I have my eye on when things settle down […]

  65. […] full throttle nesting mode, I’m more focused than ever on the home (knowing I’ll be here for awhile this summer). We’re working on projects like finishing our basement bathroom, designing the nursery, […]

  66. […] I put it off. I blogged about the pregnancy, I took photos of myself and waxed poetic about embracing my shape and talked about feelings. […]

  67. TC says:

    Love this post. At 32, I was in exactly the same spot you were, and now that I’m six weeks along I’m having all the feels. Sometimes it’s incredible joy, sometimes it’s incredible sadness. It’s hard to say out loud because I feel guilty for not being happy about it all the time. I haven’t had my first scan yet — I have to wait until 10 weeks — but I’m hopeful that it will bring on a new dimension to this pregnancy, and deep down I look forward to this experience, all of it.

  68. Sarah says:

    At 32, even after a struggle to conceive, I felt the same things you felt when you first found out and the same about motherhood beforehand. At 8 weeks, I’m just emerging from feeling so sick, the worst flu/hangover ever, and am just starting to feel excited. Thank you so much for sharing and for helping lead me into excitement. 🙂

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  75. La says:

    Beautifully written! I couldn’t relate more! <3

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