Wednesday, 13 February 2013


Amanda and I go way back.  We knew each other before having babies, before college graduation, and even before marrying our husbands.  She was one of the first people I told when Jeff and I started dating seriously.  I have seen Amanda during some of the happiest times of her life, and also durring some of the hardest moments of her life.  And yet, through thick and thin, her countenance never stops beaming her testimony and JOY of the gospel.  It is really wonderful to see her example.

Amanda is hard working and a very talented musician.  She makes friends easily and keeps them FOREVER.  She has a fantastic smile that makes you feel like a million bucks.  It doesn't seem fair that even she, as amazing as she is, had to face infertility and then post-partum depression.  It seems like the woes of women never end!  But I love Amanda's perspective on the infinite LOVE motherhood brings.

Something I have loved about writing this blog is recognizing the strengths of real women all around me.  You don't have to be famous or well-known to be deeply admired and loved.  I hope that when people read this blog they feel empowered by recognizing their own strengths a little better and realizing that we can all make a difference in our circle of influence.

Here is what Amanda has to say about her trials with infertility and post-partum depression:

Hello! My name is Amanda. I have been married for 5 1/2 years and have one 9 month old son. What's that you say? You're Mormon and you've been married for nearly 6 years and you only have one kid? Yep. Just one. My husband and I had to go through a few years of infertility treatments and a miscarriage before we were able to get pregnant. And my dad died during that time. It was pretty hard. But it was also a beautiful time. I would not trade those years that I had with just my husband for anything in the entire world.

I think what got me through those years of infertility was adopting the mindset "Just because Heavenly Father is blessing Mary and Susie and Polly with babies doesn't mean there are fewer babies in heaven for me. Babies are not a commodity" and "Life is not a race." Because let's face it: at BYU where everyone is getting married and having babies sometimes life feels like a race. But it isn't. I actually still have to keep telling myself both of those things. Because my kids won't be 2 years apart. I can't plan like that. They will probably be 4 or 5 years apart. But that is okay. Because life isn't a race.

Another thing that really got me through it was finding friends going through it. Because even though you try to stay positive and happy for others there is always a little (or a large) part of you that is sad for yourself because you want to be a mother so badly.

And now I am a mom! Motherhood is one of the greatest blessings in my life. Period. And because I went through infertility I feel like I have a special understanding of just what it is to be blessed with children. It doesn't make you love your children more than someone who doesn't have to struggle through infertility. Saying that is totally unfair. Every mother loves her children and would do anything, even die, for them. It doesn't make you a better mother. You are just as imperfect as everyone else out there. But going through infertility helps you see motherhood in a little bit of a different light.

It has helped me to realize that even the unpleasant things about motherhood are a blessing because it means you have a child. I would rather have vomit and baby poop all over me and have to change my clothes 10 times a day if it meant I could have a child. And I do. (Have a child I mean, I usually don't have to change my clothes 10 times a day :)

But even with the added level of awareness (via infertility) of the enormous blessing that motherhood is, it is still a huge challenge. There are days when I have yelled, literally yelled, at my 9 month old son. And why? Because I am frustrated and tired and loose my temper. Thankfully I can number those times on one hand. But they have happened. There are days when I long for some me time and I am counting down the minutes until bedtime. My son is going through this screeching phase right now. It is earsplitting. And I don't know what to do!! I want to stop it but how in the world do you discipline a baby? 

I also worry. I worry that in some way I am going to screw up his life or screw up our relationship. Because I just want to be a good mom. And I just want him to know that I love him and would do anything for him. But what if I give him issues? Those are thoughts that run through my head almost on a daily basis.

All that being said, the most difficult aspect of motherhood so far (and by far) was suffering through postpartum depression. Here I was. A new mom. 2 weeks in. And I was crying uncontrollably at the most random times. I was exhausted. I wasn't bonding to my baby. I was a total recluse. I avoided everyone. I avoided the people who brought me meals. It was rough. But here is the clincher. Here is how I knew it was more than just the baby blues or something that would pass on its own: I wanted to hurt my baby. I wanted to shake him and make him sleep and stop crying. I didn't. I had enough self control that I didn't do that. But I wanted to. And it scared me so badly that I called my doctor just bawling my eyes out. In the midst of my uncontrollable crying they comforted me and prescribed me an anti-depressant. Which I took for 4 months. I tried to stop at 2. But all the old feelings started coming back. So I got back on and they magically (or mercifully...) disappeared.

The anti-depressant was my salvation. As soon as it kicked in (about a week after I started taking it) suddenly my life was amazing. Even though my nights were sleepless still and I was still exhausted I couldn't get enough of my baby. I just treasured every. single. moment. Motherhood suddenly became the wonderful thing I heard it was. It was better than I ever dreamed possible. Eventually I weaned myself off the anti-depressant and started exercising regularly. Motherhood still feels awesome-even without medicine now :)

The greatest blessing of motherhood has been the exponential amount of love that has abounded in my life since the birth of my child. I feel this incredible amount of love for him. I feel a closer bond with my husband. I love my mother in a new and deeper way. When I rock my little child I imagine my own mother doing the same for me and my heart wells up with gratitude and a new love and appreciation for her. But most of all my relationship with my Heavenly Father has changed. How must he love me if I love like this? So I would say the greatest blessing of motherhood is the love that has abounded in my life. 

A truly memorable moment was when my boy was about seven weeks old. He was just starting to smile. I had my glasses off and was holding him close to my face. He was smiling at me and I thought we were just bonding and having this beautiful experience together when suddenly *bleh*. He vomited (projectile) all over my face: in my eyes, nose, mouth. I was dripping. And I just started to laugh. Because at a moment like that you can either laugh or cry. So I laughed. It was awesome. 

I feel like becoming a mother is something I do every day. Because even though you do become a mother in an instant (when the baby is born) becoming a true mother in every sense of the word is something that happens slowly. Each dad that passes I learn to love more, be more patient, and be less selfish. Some days are better than others. But motherhood is something that is growing on me. 

I think the absolute most important lesson I have learned from motherhood so far has been patience. I wrote a whole blog post on it: Though I waded through infertility for several years before I became a mother I believe that part of the reason was for me to learn patience. Infertility gave my patience- a great deal of it. A great deal more than I had ever had in my life. My loving Heavenly Father knows what a great deal of patience it takes to be a mother. And he knew I didn't have enough to even get started. So he blessed me with infertility to get me on the path and to teach me enough to get by for the first little while. But my patience has grown in spades since my son was born. 

Advice for a new mom? Get out. Make friends. Schedule at least one outing a week to go and visit a friend. Invite her to come to you or go to her. Make play dates. It doesn't matter if your baby is only an 8 week old blob. The play date is not for him/her. It is for you. You need a supportive network of mothers with whom you are in contact regularly-- in real life too. Facebook doesn't count. 

More advice: Find a babysitter. As soon as you can get someone to watch your kid. Our first date was when Austin was six weeks old. If you're nursing pump off some breast milk or give the kid a bottle. But go out! You and your husband need time together away from the baby and away from the house. Don't forget about that relationship!

Last bit of advice: Don't worry about what the books/other moms tell you. Your child is unique and you have what it takes to be the mom for that child! That is why they are with you and no one else! Trust your instincts. You will know what is best. Go ahead and read books (My bible is Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child). Get advice. But take it all with a grain of salt and adjust it to suit your own needs and personal circumstances. There is no one right way to be a mom. There is no one perfect method. Just trust yourself. You can do this. You can get through it. You had a baby! You are strong.