Will it be worth it?
This is the thought that I secretly played through my mind during the past several years in my thinking about motherhood.
Our journey to becoming parents was more complicated than most, including the pain of infertility and miscarriage. Even after becoming pregnant again, I felt anxiety when people would joke: “Your days of sleep are over!” and “Say goodbye to date night!”
Honestly, I didn’t love pregnancy, and I worried our struggles would somehow not live up to the hype my parents and others had built up around the joys of raising a child.
But then: On Feb. 9, 2019, the doctor put my son on my chest and I heard his first whimpering cry. I can’t even write that sentence without blubbering onto my keyboard. The moment I saw him, I felt a joy and gratitude I can’t explain. My husband and mom were there to witness it, and it was the best moment of my life.
I’m writing this just a few weeks after stepping into my new role as a mother: I don’t know how to do the perfect swaddle. I’m still figuring out how to do my hair without the aid of dry shampoo. And I’ve worn my maternity yoga pants more often than I’d care to admit.
But I do know that being Rowan’s mom is the best thing that’s ever happened to me.
My dad used to tell me you couldn’t explain the unconditional love of a parent. Sure, I heard him. But I don’t think I understood.
I now have a whole new respect for — and perspective on — my parents. I want to hug them and tell them that I’m sorry I never understood. Now I understand the all-encompassing love. I understand that you can cry just looking at your child as you think about him getting bigger; that you can totally deal with your body looking like a potato (because it was all worth it); that every parent thinks their kid is the bee’s knees.
My pastor told me my dad struggled to keep it together when he shared our news of Rowan’s birth. And now … I just get it. (Hugs, parents!)
Already, there have been so many nights where I’ve probably had the opportunity to sleep, but I just couldn’t — because I wanted to look at my baby. I wanted to make sure he was safe and happy. I want him to know his mom is always here. Some of these feelings may be driven by fear and worry, but I’m learning that such is the life of a parent … possibly forever?
I think my favorite part so far has been our alone time. Those nights people warned me about — when they said I’d never sleep again — are frustrating at times, but they’re also one of things I cherish the most. Sometimes when I’m up feeding Rowan at 3 a.m., it’s a special feeling knowing the rest of the world is sleeping while I take care of this tiny human.
Becoming a mother changes your relationships, too. It’s made me more connected to my other mom friends, made me respect my parents more and made me love my husband in a different way. It’s also opened up our lives to this amazing community of other parents on social media. I was open about our struggle to get pregnant, our miscarriage and my pregnancy (and now postpartum journey) on Instagram and the response has been like having a whole tribe of moms available for help.
Becoming a mother changed how I think about my body. I was fit pre-pregnancy and was nervous how I’d feel postpartum, especially working in TV. The thing is, after Rowan was born, I was proud of my body.
I heard other mothers say this, but I didn’t think I’d feel the same. Now my focus is less about having abs and more about being fit and strong to be a healthy example for my son — to eat right to help feed him (and keep his chubby little legs).
My least favorite part has been keeping the present just that. It’s easy for me to get carried away, wishing he wouldn’t grow up so fast. I even cried over booking pediatrician appointments in the future! I now see why my parents cling to those memories of our infancy, childhood and adulthood.
Perhaps the most surprising benefit of motherhood for me has been my trust in life. I feel like I was meant to be Rowan’s mom, and that all the good and bad led up to this purpose.
There’s a phrase I’ve never liked: “Mom life is the best life.”
You will never hear me say it. You can absolutely live a fulfilling, best life without being a mom. Plenty of people aren’t able to have children or choose to be child free. I think the way I would better put it is that motherhood is a different life. I worried how our lives would change when Rowan came.
But, in a way, I feel like it didn’t change at all. Rather, my new life began. I’ve started a new chapter and I’m just so glad he’s in it.
If you’re struggling to get pregnant, nervous about having children or having a difficult pregnancy — and wondering if it’s all worth it — my answer is: Yes, without question.
Kate Raddatz is a Midwest Emmy Award-winning reporter at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. Follow her journey as a journalist and new mom on Instagram @katewcco.