kaitlin coghill doula ventura santa barbara thousand oaks ojai woodland hills birth postpartum blog

Dear Loreleisla*,

Many moons ago I told myself I would write to each of you every day of your lives. I love writing. I love you. And, clearly, I love overburdening myself with many small tasks to accomplish throughout the day while working and raising small children.

Picture this, because I have, many times: I’m dead (don’t worry, this is many many decades in the future because I think someone will soon figure out how to make us all live forever until we literally can’t take it anymore). So I’m dead and we all knew this was going to happen because in the future we get to plan our deaths. I’ve left huge tomes for each of you (and the future siblings you’ll probably have because I suffer from chronic baby fever that’s only cured with the births of babies), all filled with daily, beautiful, poetic journal entries and printed photographs. Accompanying each gigantic tome are boxes filled with your most memorable keepsakes, like your stuffed cat Olivia, Lorelei, and for you, Isla, little Pudgy (the bunny thing you wanted at the Irvine Spectrum).

The vibe of everything is super vintage because in the future nothing’s printed anymore, and all of my children feel so loved because I spent time commemorating your perfect childhoods. You get to relive them over and over again and this makes you incredibly stable as adults because you remember what it means to actually enjoy life in the way kids do.

Yeah, this was my dream as I began journaling to Lorelei when she was a baby. Then I went back to work and felt like I lost half of my brain and all of my happiness. I was journaling completely wrong (it was more like documenting all of your milestones that I was missing while I was at work) and it became super stressful trying to remember everything that I was essentially missing out on and learning of second hand from those who got to spend the day with you. It was torturous.

Then, I quit that shitty job (yay, mom!) and got to spend lots of time with you, but I was suffering from some serious anxiety, as well as trying to figure out how to become this thing I heard about called a “doula.” More on that later, but healing and learning and momming was all-consuming. Trying to find the time to calm myself and write actual meaningful letters to you was completely undoable.

Do I regret this? Yes, absolutely, but I’m also pretty sure anything I wrote at that time would have read as super fake and mushy and inherently sad, because I was inherently sad about the way my first year of motherhood turned out. I kind of didn’t want to remember it. Not because of you, but because it felt like a bunch of terrible events one after the other that made it so hard to be the mom I wanted to be.

Then I had Isla, and Isla, that was an interesting time. You didn’t like to sleep much during the day, and neither did Lorelei. So I had a potty-training toddler and a newborn baby who wanted to be awake and interacting with me constantly. I was breastfeeding every hour and Isla wouldn’t let anyone else hold her. Oddly, I loved this time because I was so into spending every moment with you guys, but it left me no time to write in the way I wanted to, and little did I know this lack of sleep was slowly contributing to an underlying illness I had but didn’t yet know about.

Then, I went back to work at a new but also toxic job, and from that point on I was the most stressed out person I had ever been in my entire life. Do you think that led to much poetic writing? Um, hell no! My mind was in survival mood, and it wasn’t doing that great of a job. Luckily I had been making lots of progress toward becoming a doula and having my own birth worker business, so I was able to quit my other job with somewhat of a backup plan in mind.

But THEN, I got sicker and couldn’t work any job at all, nor could I write anything because it literally hurt my entire body to do so (again, more on that later). So, I stopped writing completely. Mind you, writing is how my brain works. I think in novels. Since I’m intimidated by the idea of writing a novel at this point in my life, I turn my mental paragraphs into Instagram captions and blog posts instead, and I feel somewhat satisfied because, for me, writing is a really important form of self care. So, to sum this up, not only was I suffering physically, but I had no way to take care of myself mentally and emotionally anymore. It was, to put it mildly, awful (as you both know very well, because you lived through it too).

Now, it’s November of 2017. It’s been almost two years since I’ve been dealing with this illness and I am totally kicking its ass. I stayed on top of my symptoms, found a good doctor to help me get rid of them and am totally on a healing path now. The two best parts of it all? I'm a more patient mom (but still working on being better at it, for sure) and I can finally write again! So here I am, typing faster than ever in case this ability is taken away from me once more, and I’m making sure to write to you about everything I’ll ever want to tell you and teach you as you grow older and become adults (yikes!).

Essentially, these letters are going to be like little explanations for my crazy. They are ways to document my motherhood in relation to your childhood, so that one day you can see why I made the choices I did, why your family life was the way it was and, you know, why you turned into such amazing little people. I will never, ever be perfect (and, ahem, neither will you), but I will always have a really good reason for doing the things I do, and raising you the way I raise you. I want you to know that if I’m ever sad or in a bad mood, it’s not because of you, it’s because Donald Trump is president and I have a chronic pain disorder. It’s also because all of our food is crap and messes with the way our body functions. But mostly, it’s because I’ve never been a mom before, and I’m learning big time through trial, error, Facebook groups and Google.

I love you both so much and I hope that one day, when you can read and understand these letters, you will really appreciate them. Some are gonna be downers, some will be uplifting, but all will be intensely honest and real and like a window into the “behind the scenes” of your childhood. I also guarantee they will be a useful resource for your future therapists.

Love,
Mom/my*

*Do you like I how I began the letter with both of your names combined, and then signed it with both of my names combined and artfully separated with a / since you both call me something different right now? I thought it was clever, so if you also think you’re clever one day, you’ll know where it came from (me).

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