Sacred Music: How Firm a Foundation

It was a few years ago, when I lived an hour’s drive from the nearest church branch (we joked that it was a “twig”), that I started to download and listen to General Conference. It seemed rather pointless to me to drive for an hour to sit on uncomfortable, cheap chairs in a room with maybe 4 other people to watch the conference that the rest of the world has seen 2-3 weeks earlier. So I began the habit of listening to the talks online as I did dishes, folded clothes or worked otherwise on an almost daily basis.

As an audio learner, this turned out to improve the conference experience for me, and probably for the first time in my life, I really heard the layers of meaning in each of the speakers’ talks. But this experience was not limited to the talks.

aloneThis one morning, I was ridiculously stressed. It really was nothing new. I was undergoing IVF for either the 3rd of 4th time in preparation for a surrogate to hopefully carry my child. IVF itself was no easy task with my complicated medical conditions. And we lived rurally, purposefully so, for the job there would pay enough for us to undergo IVF and surrogacy. So I was preparing for a 2-day, 20-hour drive to the city where I actually undergo the IVF surgery. My surrogate lived even further away, and was having family and fertility problems of her own. On top of that, we needed to arrange for post-IVF transfer of the live embryos to the surrogate, which involved a number of additional governmental bureaucratic authorities that required additional medical test results from all of us.

I was ridiculously stressed. I cried daily, several times a day, often bitterly, sometimes for reasons I still can’t understand. Sometimes I cried tears of joy from General Conference e talks. Other times, I cried uncontrollably because of General Conference talks.

And I felt completely alone.

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Guest Post: Postpartum Depression

 

 

by Robyn Rowley

I expected motherhood to be hard. I was nervous about having a baby because I’m not great with kids and I loved going to work every day. I was pleasantly surprised the first few nights home from the hospital when I was (sleepily) excited to wake up to my baby’s cries and feed her. Despite recovering from major surgery and labor, motherhood didn’t seem as difficult or as dull as I had imagined.

But I began to struggle, and I soon couldn’t remember why I wanted to have a baby. My initial major difficulty was the inability to sleep, even though my baby slept like a champ at night. The exhaustion soon made me desperate, and I tried everything I could think of to get precious shut-eye. I counted sheep. I sang lullabies to myself. I relaxed every part of my body until I ran out of parts. I wore ear plugs. I removed the clock from the room so I couldn’t look at the time or hear the ticking through my ear plugs. I took melatonin before going to bed. And then I started taking melatonin every time I woke up during the night to help me go back to sleep. I decided one bleary morning when I had only slept two hours that I had discovered a new definition of hell.

I had plenty of support, especially from my husband, who studied at home to help with the baby. Despite his efforts to give me a break and let me rest as much as possible, I just couldn’t relax.

The anxiety quickly became unbearable. That, plus a sleep deficit, was giving me headaches. I lost my appetite.

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Book Review: Mormon Women Have Their Say

Mormon WomenIt took me a long time to read this book, 1) because I actually read it one and a half times, and 2) because I read it almost entirely out loud. The first “half time” came on a long, long road trip across the United States, and was enough for me to know that I wanted every member to read it. The reason was both simple and personal: reading Mormon women’s experiences in their words facilitated the most amiable discussion on Mormon feminism that my traveling companion and I had ever had. He heard the women’s pain and joy, and he could not ignore them. Mormon Women Have Their Say birthed compassion and understanding.

The “whole time” came after my babe was born. I started again, and read a few pages at time, while I fed her. We finished just a few days ago, and it felt like a marvelous accomplishment.

The book begins with a preface from a woman at my graduate school that I do not know well, and then a longer introduction by Claudia Bushman, about the project the book stems from, and its history and impetus. One of the things she talks about is how we have few records on Mormon women, and fewer records on Mormon women that weren’t named Emma Smith, Eliza R. Snow, Emmeline B. Wells, or so forth, and fewer records still on Mormon women in the 21st century. The Claremont Oral History Project begins to correct all three.

It offers hundreds of records on regular Mormon women. In Claudia’s words:

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Guest Post: A Mother of One

lori davisby Lori Davis

When I introduce my family at church, the wheels start turning in people’s heads. “Only one child . . . and the daughter’s not a baby.”

Most people assume that I can’t have more children. I must be facing a barrage of fertility treatments. I must be very depressed. No doubt I would be thrilled to hear about the latest alternative medicine miracle fix.

Some people assume that I don’t want more children. I must find motherhood less rewarding than the Church assures me it is. My testimony of families must be on shaky ground.

Either way, I am obviously coping with a major trial. People don’t like to mention it. They might be probing an open wound.

Few have the temerity to ask, but when they do, I find myself tongue-tied. I flounder and bluster, trying to explain myself. The truth is I love motherhood. I expected more children. Those high school sex education videos certainly led me to believe more would come. Reality has been a bit different. And apparently, I’m supposed to feel terrible about this.

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Birth/Rebirth: My Birth, Their Baby

Guest Post by Jen

Jen previously posted about why she became a gestational surrogate here. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children and is currently on her second journey as a Gestational Surrogate.

 

Photo of Jen and the baby she gave birth to, by Erin Gadd, Pink Daffodil Photograph

Photo of Jen and the baby she gave birth to, by Erin Gadd, Pink Daffodil Photograph

Being pregnant with another woman’s baby has many blessings. For me, I love being pregnant. I love feeling the baby kick. I love having others ask me about my pregnancy. I don’t always feel so cute, but when I see other pregnant women, I always think they look so beautiful, so I try to remember that maybe I look the same to others and I shouldn’t be so hard on myself. The heartbreaking part about carrying another woman’s baby is that this baby’s mother is not feeling the baby kick. Strangers are not looking at them and wondering questions like “when is she due?” and “is she having a boy or a girl?”

With my first journey as a surrogate, I would always ask the Intended mother if she was ok with me carrying for her. I always worried that it was hard for her to watch me go through what she wants to go through. I would think about the things that would break my heart if I were not able to carry my own child. She was always so positive about it and said, “I am ok. We knew and were prepared.” To this day, I wonder if she was just trying to be strong for me and for her baby boy.

I recently asked my current Intended Mother what was hardest for her. Her response was, “It’s hard to say goodbye to my baby as I watch her leave with another woman.” I can’t imagine the pain some must endure.  Therefore I would dream about how I could involve my Intended Mother as much as possible. I would dream about the birth and how I could make her experience unforgettable. I wanted her to be the first one to touch and hold her baby.

The day approached and I asked my doctor if she, the Intended Mother, could deliver her own baby boy.

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Birth/Rebirth: Adoption Story

Guest Post by Susan

My oldest daughter asked me to tell about the adoption of her sister. The names in the story have been changed to protect my adopted daughter’s privacy.

A little background of the family dynamics before I get started: my husband has one brother and one sister. His brother (John) is married to (Mary) with no children and his sister (Lucy) is not married and she had at this time 4 children living a son, and three daughters. Her youngest daughter (Anne) is whom this story is about.

I already had two children, a daughter and a son. I found out through the family that my nephew and two nieces were visiting John and Mary after Anne’s birth. It soon became known to John and Mary that the children had been abused. They contacted social services about the abuse. We all knew that Anne was living in this situation.

One night in September I had a dream that it was Christmas time. All I remember about the dream is a Christmas tree, me and a little baby girl. After waking up from this dream I had a distinct feeling, this baby girl was Anne and she was to be my daughter. We did not live close to the family, they lived on the east coast and we lived in the central part of the states. I was perplexed by how we would become her parents, but I knew it was to be. At that time all I could do was to pray for her safety and that there would be a way provided that we would have her at Christmas time. I prayed daily for her.

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