I’m pretty sure most girls grow up thinking about their future lives in terms of qualities and quantities. A handsome, dark haired husband with blue eyes. Four children. A well appointed home with a white picket fence. The perfectly suited career that allows you to stay home with your children. We are told to dream; to never give up on what we want. But what happens when we get what we want, and it isn’t a dream? What happens when the exact thing we thought we wanted, actually makes us the most unhappy?
I, like many of you, knew life wouldn’t be easy, but also didn’t think it would be this hard. I married and had my first child at a young age (without the career). Nothing seemed to work the way it should. My sweet daughter was forced out of me due to complications with pre-eclampsia. After 28 hours of labor, they finally decided on a c-section, and did I mention epidurals don’t work on me? My milk wouldn’t come in, and when it did 10 days later, it was never enough to feed her. But I’ll skip over our countless hour long feedings and other such nonsense. The real trouble was that all my friends were gloriously giddy about their new babies and I wasn’t. I didn’t want to get up with mine, or even out of bed. I struggled to understand why they naturally felt a joy in the everyday processes of motherhood, when I couldn’t feel anything but dead inside, unless it was replaced with anger, sadness, or regret. The regret was overwhelming. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mother. Maybe I shouldn’t have had a child. I could see why careers looked a lot better than child rearing. And the sadness. I was crying more than the baby was, and she had colic! When the tears stopped, I felt anger. It was so unfair. Was I doing something so terribly wrong? These steps, by the way, was my body working through the grieving process, which I didn’t understand at the time. I didn’t even realize I had postpartum depression. I was trying to come to terms with an unrealized expectation, which was never going to happen without the help of my Savior. The problem is, when you are severely depressed, you don’t feel the Savior or the Spirit or anything lovely or of good report or praiseworthy. I felt so alone, with no connection to the one Being who could help me through the disquietude of my soul. I continued praying and reading my scriptures and trying to find daily gratitudes. My daughter’s smiles and coos and first words and first step were all moments of joy, but could never override the pervasive gloom that doggedly followed my every move. I figured that was now my reality. I had another baby. And then another. The third was such a tipping point that I began to be suicidal. Thankfully, I have a fabulous sister that recognized the signs and got me to a doctor. He put me on several types of anti-depression medications and within a week I began to feel like the old me again. Not perfectly so. But enough so that I could feel the Spirit again, and recognize moments of happiness and light. Enough to allow the Atonement to fill in the gaps of all the expectations that were never met with a little hope. I thought for sure I was done having children but the Lord had another plan for me. He sent me a child with no accompanying depression. I got to enjoy the first year of his life without a day of the baby blues, purples, or blacks. I was gloriously giddy. It was the best year of my life. One I would never have appreciated otherwise. And one I held onto when another child came and the postpartum came back.