Chocolate Cake and Babies

These last few months have held the most achingly beautiful moments of my life, bubbling over with joy and newness. They have also been hard.

I was never one of those women who knew she wanted children, who felt that sure and steady beckoning to motherhood. No, I thought, mine is a life too heavy with ambition and big, hairy flaws, chock-full of dreams and Things to Figure Out. As it turns out, it still is – but here I am anyway, showing up for a journey that has already been fragrant with surprise.

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If I could sift out a measure of courage, I would tell you that beneath my honest contentment is a thin layer of loneliness.

I would tell you this is not what I imagined.

I would tell you that every day brings a new worry about how we will shepherd a tiny soul with grace and kindness in this mad, mad world.

I would tell you about friendship, about the people one street over and across the world who remind me how precious it is to be cared for, how simple and lovely.

I would tell you that for all of those cherished tethers, the ties that are strung with vulnerability and meaning, this is still a solitary journey. It is just us two.

I would tell you that when I look in the mirror at the sweet and weighty rounding of my belly, I have never loved myself more.

I would tell you about the curious, unbidden wellspring of connection I feel to life itself - to my mother and grandmothers and the women before them; to towering trees and the ocean’s roar and the night-soaked moon; to the thrum of my own heartbeat.

I would tell you that I’m already mourning the loss of my solitude.

I would tell you about the gentle, easy devotion of a man who loves this wee speck of stardust with a mightiness that leaves me breathless. I would tell you about the tenderness of soft hugs and nightly belly rubs and the warmest hope-sparked eyes. Surely, I think, such fierce father-love bears a sacredness all its own.

I would tell you that I ate three slices of chocolate cake in one day.

I would tell you how the sight of a final, lonesome leaf clinging to a winter-ready branch makes me weep. (Not to worry; this is precisely the kind of thing that makes me weep on an average day.)

I would tell you that for all my mantras and meditations, sometimes I am still scared.

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I hold my grief and gratitude in the same hand. For every tender shoot of awe at the kicks and flutters and tiny hiccups, there is a cracked seed of sadness rooted next to it.

But then I remember that this - this is our deep, primordial task as human beings: to grapple clumsily with the soft edges of uncertainty, not to emerge victorious or whole, but to be a little more gracious with our own doubt and wondering.

I have always prized listening as a high calling. In these final days of watchful waiting, it feels like a hallowed duty to listen with a fervency I never have before: to listen to birdsong and silence and my own emboldening voice…and soon enough, to baby cries.

We are custodians of deep and ancient thresholds.

Martin Heidegger

Credit for these incredible photos goes to my talented friend and sorceress of the lens, Steph of Stephanie Defregger Photography. She captures me like no one else, and every photo she produces is a treasured heirloom. We had originally planned to do this shoot when I was adorably pregnant at 30 weeks. Instead, New Zealand went into lockdown and we ended up capturing these in a spontaneous half-hour session on a crispy autumn afternoon when I was more whaleishly pregnant at 38.5 weeks. I wouldn't have it any other way. Thank you, Steph.

13 Comments

  1. Cheryl Rickman on May 26, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Your words! You are a truly wonderful writer Natasha! And I have no doubt that your balance between grief and gratitude, solidarity and solitude, courage and vulnerability will make you a truly wonderful mother too! Because balance is how us mothers can mother well 🥰🙏 Thank you for sharing and putting into words what motherhood can feel like. Wishing you and bumpitybump all the very best. Sending lots of love and warm hugs from one mum to another. 🥰

    • Natasha on May 28, 2020 at 7:53 pm

      Thank you so much, Cheryl! It feels nearly impossible to wrap words around the experience of pregnancy, and I can only imagine that motherhood brings an entirely new set of challenges and delights. Huge gratitude for your kind words and warm wishes!

  2. camila on May 25, 2020 at 1:21 am

    golly you never cease to amaze me with your depth and beauty, thank you for your generous sharing of your experience, of your truth. utterly beautiful and deeply moving. you are so loved, you are such love

    ps not to fear i’d eat three slices of your chocolate cake any day i could hehe

    • Natasha on May 28, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Thank YOU, Camila, for all the ways you’ve been such a gorgeous friend and cheerleader for us and these beautiful, surprising life changes. Can’t wait to share this next stage of the journey with you!

  3. Chris the hobbit on May 24, 2020 at 4:50 am

    Such truth and openness; qualities you shine so bright friend. I so enjoy receiving your expressions! <3

    • Natasha on May 28, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      Thank you, Chris! I’m grateful for the warmth and wisdom you bring to my life – and soon, to the life of this wee one too. Such a lucky kiddo already!

  4. Tonya Zimmerman Kerzmann on May 22, 2020 at 10:25 pm

    Thank you for the tears. Sending all the love I can! Your sissy

    • Natasha on May 28, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      I wish you could be here to experience it all with me, but I’m grateful for all the ways we’ve found to be connected all the way across the world. Can’t wait for this little one to meet Auntie Tata one day soon!

  5. Stephanie on May 22, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    ♥️

  6. Elyssia on May 22, 2020 at 6:29 am

    So so beautiful Natasha. I can in every bit relate to these words. Exquisite writing

    • Jenny Roman on May 27, 2020 at 5:34 am

      Unsurprisingly, you captured the essence of child bearing in such a beautiful, unique way… but at the same time, the words and expressions and experiences are those of every woman who has been tasked and blessed to bring life into this world. Wishing I could hug you… thank you for this beautiful reflection!

      • Natasha on May 28, 2020 at 8:11 pm

        Thank you, my dear friend. I have thought of your own pregnancy journey many times over and just how little I understood at the time. It’s hard to articulate the depth and wonder wrapped up in something that all women experience, each in our own way. Thank you for all the ways you have been there, and I’m grateful to have an experienced mom on standby for all the questions that are sure to come!

    • Natasha on May 28, 2020 at 8:18 pm

      Thank you, Elyssia. This came from such a vulnerable place and I’m deeply grateful it resonated for you.

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