Carnival of Natural Mothering: What I Wish I Knew

We are excited to participate in this month’s Carnival of Natural Mothering from Growing Slower!

What You Wish You Knew

Remember when you got your first positive pregnancy test? What do you wish that woman knew? Write a letter of love and encouragement to that awesome mama just starting her journey.

Read more at http://www.growingslower.com/p/carnival-of-natural-mothering.html#BLyjPcmFfALHIW9e.99

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I found out I was pregnant one Friday after a long week of work and travel, I was so tired at my desk late that afternoon that I called my husband to come drive me home – I honestly thought I might fall asleep at the wheel because my eyelids were so heavy. I was wearing a long, loose, beach-y tunic with tights that day because I felt so bloated… I did not have even the slightest idea that I may be with child.

It was June 17th, 2011 and one trip to the bathroom, pee stick in hand, dramatically changed the course of that evening and every single day since. I was going to write a generic letter to any/all mamas that had just received that positive test but the real love and encouragement comes from addressing the very specific things I have experienced and/or struggled with throughout my journey, maybe some of you have or will encounter similar and can find a little solidarity that I was once there too, and came out the other side better than I could have imagined.

what I wish I knew

Dear Cassandra,

You will wake up tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day for many, many weeks and not believe or feel you are pregnant, don’t worry, really don’t, you are. You are and you will stay that way, pregnant, and then really pregnant until the very end. You do not have to worry about what is beyond your control, you are doing everything you can to stay healthy and happy and that is all that really matters. You will take great care of yourself and subsequently the baby growing inside of you during this journey that is pregnancy, no matter how other people make you feel: other women that have come before you, people at work, anyone, it is so very important. You will be extrememly grateful for every moment you spent stretching, every chiropractic appointment, every massage, every walk, every herbal tea, every green drink concoction, every yoga class, heck even every pedicure, when you naturally deliver a healthy baby that continues to grow into a very healthy child, while simultaneously taking up all of your time and energy leaving self care a distant, but fond memory :)

You will be in amazement the entire process, just because millions(?) of women have grown and birthed babies before you do not let it take away from how utterly miraculous the entire process is. You will think about pregnancy and birth 100% of the time, it is a lot, but do not fret. You will be prepared, prepared for birth yes, prepared for motherhood, no. There is nothing you could have done differently though, it truly is something that you can never be prepared for. It is instant and it is permanent, you will often feel like you are barely hanging on, but it will pass, and then return – it is one heck of a roller coaster that is for sure.

Adding a human being to your family who is entirely dependent on you every second he is not asleep (which in his case will not be often) is not like you imagine. It will be more exhausting, more demanding, more physically and emotionally draining, more trying, and more compromising then you can even wrap your brain around at this point. You will hate everyone who says that being a parent is hard, but SO WONDERFUL, you will feel lied to and you will feel frustrated with yourself for rushing into something you could not have second thoughts about. You will be mad that all you want is time alone but then do not enjoy it because being away from your baby makes you uneasy, you will be more tired than you could ever imagine yet unable to fall asleep because there is a small but heavy head cutting off the circulation to your arm that you would rather let lose blood flow permanently than move it and risk waking up the baby. You will wait for things; your body, your life, to feel “normal” again and constantly wonder how you missed the memo that once a baby comes out of your lady parts they are forever changed.  You will become a night owl, your body and brain will literally adapt to the fact that if you want to get anything done it will have to take place between the hours of 10PM-1AM. You will cry, a lot. And then cry some more and some days you will wake up and cry because all you want to do is go to the bathroom and brush your teeth by yourself. And then you will spend the first night away from your child, and you will wake up in the morning and cry because you miss him, and then cry harder because you don’t want to cry, you want to enjoy yourself gosh darn it and now you’re crying!

You will know that becoming a mother made you 6,567,943 times better as a person, you will know you would not be where you are today without embarking on this journey, you will know that every thing happens exactly as it should – but it will still be hard, too hard, and some days you will wonder how you can possibly live another day with no sleep, no alone time with your husband, carrying 25 pounds on a hip that definitely notices it, cleaning someone’s else’s extremely smelly poop, pushing a Cozy Coupe around the block 13 times and literally not having 10 seconds to drink water before it was seized by miniature hands and dumped on the floor.

You will wait to forget what it was like to stay out all night with your husband and how amazing all day Netflix marathons on the couch are, you will hope that the sadness you feel when you see a person reading in a coffee shop or while admiring someone’s nice, unwrinkled, unsoiled, new clothes won’t always be there. You will wonder why it is taking you longer than everyone else to use words like awesome, amazing, wonderful, joyful, and rewarding in relation to parenting.

You will know deep down that having a young child IS difficult no matter what, but that it is also temporary, a fleeting memory in the entire journey of parenthood and you will remind yourself of this, but it will not always help.

There will be times when you feel like you are losing, losing your mind, losing at marriage, losing at life.

You will wonder when you will ever be able to “do” anything ever again, and if there is re-emergence from the crazy, dirty, messy, chaos of your current daily survival called motherhood. And then one day, one day far away yet so close, you will realize you have in fact, surfaced.

You will make dinner multiple nights in a row, your son will be happy to spend hours with babysitters, you will be working again and able to feel good about getting yourself a few things just for you that you need/want, someone will say to you & Eric that you look young and in love, and when you tell your son that you’re going to put on makeup and do your hair in the bathroom and he can play with his kitchen/tools/legos in the playroom until you are done he will nod and *gasp* do it.

And the moment will come, the moment you are at the ocean’s edge on a beautiful day standing with your husband seeing your now toddler intently watching and listening to the waves crash, smiling and laughing profusely when some ocean spray gets his leg, running wildly, entirely carefree and lavishly happy that you will know that this moment would be nothing without him. Your capacity to feel the love, gratitude, overwhelming joy, happiness, reward and peace right then would not exist if he did not. His hugs, his kisses, his laughter, his stories, witnessing his connections with others,  they make life something it would not be otherwise.

Everyone’s children are different and therefore everyone’s experience of parenthood is vastly different. You may never not miss how much time you used to spend on yourself or with your husband, it may take you longer than the “norm” to describe parenthood as joyful and awesome, but you will arrive. You will take your son somewhere just for him, class, the park, the aquarium, a play date at least once everyday during the week, you will squeeze in emails during walks and work into the night, you will shop for healthy food and even if you don’t make dinner every night health will always be a priority for your family. You will share information, clothes, and baby gear with other mamas, make dishes for new families, get dressed up for work dinners despite a small person hanging on your leg, your hair will almost always be messy and your house even messier but you will be so happy. There will be shiny days, and hard days, days that fly by and days that drag on and you won’t be happy all day every day, but you will be happy every day. And most of all you will be grateful, grateful for the profound experience that is parenthood, grateful for the opportunity to grow and change into a mother and person that you are very proud of. Be easy on yourself, each day is a new opportunity to do better and be happier than the day before <3

Love & Mothering,

Cassandra, March 2014 

7 thoughts on “Carnival of Natural Mothering: What I Wish I Knew

  1. Donna @ Eco-Mothering

    It’s funny to read all these new mom stories that seem so similar (the crying, the sleepless torture, the breastfeeding problems, the love/hate baby relationship), yet none of us expected it. How can we prepare other new moms (without scaring them away)?

  2. krystynabowman@gmail.com

    Donna – great question! One I struggle with as we teach our pregnancy classes!
    I think carnivals like this help break the silence and inform gently. By reading these stories and that there is hope and love and joy on the other side of the sleeplessness…all these little things help to encourage mamas in pregnancy and the early days of mothering.

    1. Cassandra Okamoto Post author

      oh my goodness that darn Cozy Coupe, it drives me mad! Haha, our street is so bumpy and it is so loud and he is always trying to talk to me from inside but I can’t hear him and then he wants to push and then ride on the top and then lock the door himself, tries to jump out the window, etc. etc. etc. just pure insanity!

  3. All Natural Katie

    Beautiful letter! I appreciate that you covered some of the hardships of parenting. I feel like I have been going a little crazy with the baby who just turned one and wants to do nothing else by walk around holding onto my hands. And then one day, he decided to walk up the stairs (still holding on) and I am amazed by the little miracle.

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