EP 423 – Motherhood Part 2: Pressure and Longing

The importance of motherhood is deeply ingrained in Latter-day Saint culture, but what of those women in the Church who don't want to have children or those who struggle for years with infertility, seemingly unable to fulfill their divine mandate?

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n Part 2 of Motherhood, Josie interviews Sam and Kristen to understand more about the nature of nurturing, when a lack of a desire to be a mother is at odds with official Church teachings, and how aspirant mothers dealing with an inability to conceive can also feel out of place in a Latter-day Saint culture that so heavily glorifies the ideal of motherhood.


[0:00] Hey Tim this is Josie gleave.
Happy Mother’s Day to those parts of the world currently celebrating and do those women who truly feel Joy on this day for others it’s more of a roller coaster or maybe even totally depressing.
I’m back today with more interviews thoughts and questions about motherhood so whatever you’re feeling I hope this helps.
This is motherhood part 2.

Intro Music

[0:44] In Genesis 32 Jacob is said to have wrestled with a man.

[0:57] There are many in.

[1:09] There are two motherhood experiences I wrestle with a lot some women do not feel a natural desire to birth their own children they Wonder.
Some women struggle with infertility and in a cruel Twist of humankind is nature is to want what they cannot have these women yearn for shoulder.
Womanhood is defined by motherhood the woman who does not want and the woman who cannot have.
Feel like they are flawed where is that craving an animal instinct to reproduce a woman’s nature to nurture or what.
By Allah.

[2:10] As if somehow using my healthy body to have a baby would make the other woman feel better even though it.

[2:20] Motherhood experiences are a little taboo to the woman who says she does not want to have children she’s told she will eventually change her mind to the woman who cannot.

[2:33] They don’t know what to say sometimes we forget that we can just listen so let’s do that let me introduce you to Sam She is a.

[3:00] And 7 months ago Sam gave birth to their first.
Sam and I bonded when we were both young marrieds without any children I remember the moment I got married this pressure to have kids settled in but I knew it would take me several years to get to that point for any.
How old at the thought of having children they learn this isn’t a topic to mention at church there’s no written rule for this of course but it is assumed that a woman.

[3:32] Are not in line with God’s will maybe but nevertheless those feelings.

[3:58] They must have made something that I liked about kids for me to want to study Primary School teaching but I stopped doing that for about five years I kind of thought.
Yeah I didn’t I didn’t want to keep teaching I couldn’t see myself being a mother and being a teacher I felt like.
I was giving myself all day everyday to other people’s kids and I thought I’m not sure that I could,
continue to do that and then have my orange children and come hard to give what I wanted to go to give to my our children so that I guess that was.

[4:32] My light pains and in my early twenties when I was studying and I started teaching.
I’ve never really had a strong desire to want to be a mother like I’m the oldest of five children,
no but I was going against having children but I just never really felt like I had that desire that I think.
You know mother tells a lot of women have I guess so in a way as well,
with my younger siblings I was responsible for a lot about helping them out and do some ways I felt like different but I felt like I’d hoped to raise some children already Ashley kind of felt like going through my twenties.
I was just really being content not to have any children.
Church cultures so strong families I guess I kind of feel by the time I turned 30 maybe I’ll be married and maybe thinking about having a kid or something like that but I never still had that really.
Strong desire to have to have my own children and it wasn’t probably until.
I turned 30 and then I wasn’t married and I hadn’t even thought about having children then I suddenly feel okay well what’s my last going to 10:00 and then I started to think about.

[5:49] Looking back
but maybe when I was older like looking back over my life and thinking what things have I done what things should I recite done and I guess around this time when I was in my thirties is while I was already dating my husband
he is probably like the clock is man I’ve ever met in my life.

[6:07] Haha.

[6:09] He says that if he hadn’t got married younger he would have wanted children,
sorry I was married at 32 so round 38 he’s there I was I guess
looking at the relationship that I had with him and thinking like he’s really clucky and if we get married he would want to have these are in children and is that something that I’m prepared to do because I wasn’t
really looking forward to it and I guess in my head I did I went back and forth a bit like I really love you so I don’t want to be married to you
do I want to have children like you either.
Like You by if we get married and have children and he’s going to be disappointed but if we get married and then I feel like I’m forced to have a child to put a thing
feel like he would have forced me to have a child but obviously what he he would have wanted me to do whatever was going to make me happy but,
is that in my head you know the whole feeling of like well I knew he wanted to again when I signed up for this kind of thing
when we got married I think the fact that we had like we seem to have dated for quite a while longer than everybody else.

[7:17] Want us to date they want us to get married in life I second that it seemed like it was a while
even for us like I guess that we’ve been to before we got married and it was like,
okay this is finally happened with like this thing that we still do not respond we got married and then it became a real for me about like a I guess maybe I’m actually going to have to have a child’s now that I’m
I decided that I want to marry this guy is and I am married
I had a little bit of a freak out I think in the first couple of months after we got married where I was just like
what if I signed myself but he was very patient with me because he was just like whatever whatever you want like I want you to be happy like and if it ends up that we didn’t have any children and we will buy
you never talk about what,
best for us and we will make a decision about what’s best for us just feeling that he was going to support me no matter what my decision was going to be really helped me I guess to come to town to get more we could have a baby.

[8:21] So one of the things that you had mentioned was the church culture does focus on
a woman’s call to become a mother how did she feel like sitting in either Relief Society lessons or just different Church talks hearing that but then feeling like you were lacking that desire
was that something that caused you some stress or anxiety.

[8:47] Yeah I guess a little bit like not or evilly
Brad felt like I was feeling guilty or anything like that but I guess in some ways I kind of question myself and like I said it is such an important part of the doctrine and it’s such an important part I guess it’s.
The whole plan of happiness is family so I was like why do I feel like.

[9:10] I want to have a family what is it about me that seems to be different maybe what,
it is in other people like why I guess I felt like surely there must be other people who feel like I feel surely not everybody is 100%
just trying to have kids but it wasn’t really something that people always.
Super excited when they were like pregnant and looking forward to having his baby and I’m super excited about it and they’re looking forward to having your big families or family’s just having met I guess I kind of
when I was thinking about having my own children.
I didn’t feel the excitement that I felt like everybody else is feeling but they know you’re sitting through lessons.
Lichen releases Society or where they’re like hearing talks when they would talk about mothers I guess one of the things I always felt that.

[10:10] Waiting to be an emphasis on will you don’t actually have to have your own children to be in my bed and in some ways I felt like a.
People to contact soaking just trying to make them not feel so bad about it but like doing.
I’m super excited about having children with other ways that I can still be a mother in a sense like experience a lot of some of those saying,
experience has been helping to raise children and not like Aqua yeah I’ve got like a couple of nephews and a niece and I had felt totally content just hoping to look after them before having my own daughter.

[10:53] But then I am very curious if the feeling that you
like the feelings and emotions and the growth that you have now having a baby of your own
how does that compare to what you spell psyche as you said were you helped raise your other siblings and now you have nieces and nephews or maybe other younger cousins like you have a lot of family around you but you could have always kind of help
to mother and to raise but is that really the same thing.

[11:24] I don’t like it was the best pizza in Sunrise.
This late last night so you didn’t have to get a change now cuz you didn’t have your life all the hard stuff.

[11:37] You were literally just looking for the good gif.

[11:40] Yeah pretty much.

[11:41] Okay.

[11:44] Termite like whenever I would let my nieces and nephews don’t live in the same city as me whenever I’ve gone to visit their it was always great because I was super excited to see me and we would do special things together like
yeah I died have dates with my
nephew thought we go to the park or I took him to the movies or let them choose things that they wanted to do it so it goes to have a really nice fun experiences with kids
but then at the end of the day at work at the hand the back and have my 8 hours uninterrupted sleep and yeah it was
it was great like a Matson but I guess I’m looking at it now like.
I know I guess it is really different having you are in town because you cannot Hannah back.
But I would want to hand her back but it is sometimes it just be nice to him and to choose someone so I could.
Go to the bathroom in peace talks more than 2 hours in a row slave or something like that but,
even my mind my nieces and nephews obviously like we’re super excited to see me like and they they lost the time that I spent with me.
Looking at how he looks at me and about how like excited she is and how she finds comfort with me and like I’m the center of her world it’s just entirely like different feeling.

[13:10] I mean some people said to me like I once you have your iron child you will never be able to imagine life without them.
I don’t know if I quite feel like that like I can imagine what my life would be like if I didn’t have her and I think I would have still been pretty content and happy but now that I have her,
I mean maybe in the first couple of month or two I was like I didn’t put her back life.
Japan Hardware I know babies are hard work but now,
like I said nothing like what I do get a lot of Joy from having her and she is Hardware but you know if I didn’t have the hard work that I have with her that I wouldn’t get to experience the joy that as well.

[14:01] What is something you didn’t expect from motherhood.

[14:06] Like I guess the distaff the feeling of.
That Mom like I guess is what I didn’t expect like I totally expected that it was going to be Hardware like I’m I’m a realist in a lot of ways and probably in intensive like.
Thinking about being a mother like that but I think about pregnancy and thinking about motherhood I was maybe more of like a,
maybe looks more than negative sides of what could have been so I guess I’ll prepare to the hard work but I’ll guess who I wasn’t really prepared for just like the feeling of love.
I wasn’t I wasn’t a mother that so my baby instantaneously and thought I’m so in love with this tiny human and it it probably took me a grade.
For 5 maybe longer weeks till I felt like I could actually say that like I really loved before.
Maybe I made a little bit sad when I think about it now but I feel like if I had to get to know her and she had to go to Mimi and although I had.
Be carrying this baby for your 9 months it wasn’t until she was like on the outside but I felt like I really had a way that I could connect with that.
And it took a good few weeks so I can really felt like I could say I love her.

[15:30] It’s nice of the way that you kind of describe that it can be gradual
there’s some women that just seems so natural about motherhood and you know the moments that they’re either pregnant or the moment that they give birth they’re just so,
completely in love with this child and
that’s always felt like such a big expectation would it be to instantly feel like this is the greatest thing that has ever happened to you is there something wrong.

[16:05] That’s a little bit how I felt really late
highest possible because I wasn’t really looking forward to being a mother. I was looking for the but I wasn’t I didn’t have that real desire for it that I kind of felt like once I decide to have a baby I was sleeping,
once I got pregnant that something in me would change that I would suddenly feel different about it that I would feel like.

[16:30] I’m happy like I can’t wait to make this town I’m so excited about it and throughout the pregnancy I didn’t feel like that like
actually feel bad for Dan because knowing how,
excited he was to be you know what I told him that I was pregnant he was like so excited and I knew that he was so excited about the whole the whole pregnancy
and I felt like an away he almost had to hold back his excitement pregnancy because he knew that I wasn’t feeling the same level of excitement as he was,
as I need the end of the pregnancy I was still feeling like.

[17:05] This excitement hasn’t hit me yet like why hasn’t been hit me LOL spray that you buy 10 days and,
once I got to that LightWave a g point
everyone was like how I feel so sorry for you that you’re still pregnant and I was like they’re so sorry for me
I’m unloading this like I’m getting bored as days. I was I was happy about the fact that she hadn’t arrived yet because it gave me more time I guess it prepared for it,
I was quite lucky in that I feel like I had a good pregnancy like I wasn’t really sick I wasn’t uncomfortable I was sleeping really well right up until the end I was lifting weights at the gym up until a couple of weeks before I was
like I had I felt really healthy and I felt fine like I didn’t have any of those aches and pains and maybe if I had experienced that I would have felt differently
but because I was still feeling really good I was happy that I was getting bernis days and I don’t know why I was kind of I was happy about that but I was.

[18:03] Giving me that time to try to mentally prepare for what was the kind of like I knew it was taking down like they was a date by that if she had to come by this day and she was coming out no matter what.

[18:14] What do you understand about the Eternal nature of motherhood.

[18:21] It’s like when I think about my baby and thinking that.
I want to protect her and I know how much I love her now and the things that I want to teach her and help her to become in this life and thinking like I’m so glad that I get attorneys for that as well,
I guess hearing stories of women who have maybe a little bit sad but when they don’t get the chance to raise their babies because whatever if they lose their baby during pregnancy
like when a baby is really young I know the few women who have lost their children when they have been quite young and when I think about is that what’s happened to me
I mean it’s devastating but at the same time I feel that hype of knowing that you know I will I know that she’s at least one forever,
does a reassurance that comes with knowing that when I get to have her now or when I get to have surgery later She’s Mine.
And she’s she’s always going to be mine.

Interstitial Music

[19:34] I really appreciated hearing Sam’s experience trying to connect with Ayla I think many women have felt that anxiety wondering.

[19:49] Sam said it she assumed that once she got pregnant or her feelings would change that she would have finally enjoy the same level of excitement other soon-to-be mothers portray but it still didn’t come for her even right up to the birth she was still.

[20:07] The woman decides not to have children and she has to have a good reason and alternative plan detailed and.
Highlighted Collins and goals of how she will use her time to serve study and work you can’t just say it doesn’t feel right.
Follow up of what will you do instead a woman without children it is perceived as a threat what is she doing what is her purpose in 2011 Elder Neil L Andersen.

[20:40] Confirmed that the biblical commandment given to Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the Earth still stands for us today although in my more.

[20:57] It seems like there’s really only one choice hear a woman is supposed to have children if she doesn’t we assume she will regret it or if she doesn’t show the.

[21:10] I cannot count the hours I wondered about this what happens if you die and are greeted by the spirits who were supposed to be your children did they get wrist.

[21:25] I still jump.

[21:30] Pattern baldness when Sam said ala was hers forever would she still have been hers.

[21:40] Speaking with friends members local leaders many say it is such a personal choice implying.

[21:51] From General church leaders the answer seems like a pretty clear now Above All We Have agency our right to choose our right.

[22:07] How can a woman catch the vision of her calling Is It soul.

[22:14] The second motherhood experience I wanted to explore deals with similar questions of is there something wrong with me and fertility creates a very real sense of Shame.
And a new level of 18 pain you got when the scene you want so badly feels just beyond your grasp Kristen.

[22:40] It was a start to a life as a global Citizen and her love of living in a.
She sends lived in Taiwan where she served her Mission the u.s. London Uganda India Paris Afghanistan Singapore and now Malaysia she’s a yoga teacher and has degrees in sociology and.
Would you let her around the world working for ngos Christian married her husband will when she was 26 they know how.

[23:19] Austin weather.

[23:51] So weird.

[23:58] When you can be pregnant or have kids or like okay well maybe a halfway through Afghanistan then we’ll start trying so already at that point it was.
Feeling like we were at we were going to start trying when you know.
It’s getting closer to 29.
To have a kid by you know by the time I’m 30 or 31 ID let you know can we come from fertile families.
So we are like the first people around us like.
Get pregnant on accident.
Outliers there it wasn’t even like on my radar brutalities stop at all right and I also come from like a very.

[24:58] Natural Limestone so the fact that we went all the way to IVF is like it was a pretty intense Journey for me mentally to to be like
I tried all the holistic things I was just trying to figure out an alternative way but still,
Costco Sand and there’s a lot of
stress and.
Pirates are like six months and we were I was like really antsy my husband’s very like go with the flow and,
everything’s going to work out and I am much more of Life action oriented,
let’s make let’s like get things done so I like was feeling a lot more deadly than he was and you feel it every month,
you get your. And if so big disappointment and you’re like you are really in tune with your cycle usually are when you’re trying I was trying for a while and,
there’s this like this build-up every every month I guess I’m really being emotionally I feel like.

[26:18] So did you ever get an official diagnosis.

[26:23] We are unexplained.

[26:30] Why are you worse.

[26:33] Yeah but it’s also like there’s a lot of things if there was like a hard diagnosis there’s nothing you can do about it either or is unexplained games like a little wiggle room for a miracle which is good and bad
where you like well maybe something will just work out in line Ave so.

[26:53] I don’t know I think it’s hard to accept.

[26:55] It was hard I think either
if it’s male issue that’s like a huge hit for that you go if it’s a women’s issue at the huge ship for the woman’s ego so it’s almost better than feel like while my husband sperm.

[27:19] So you’re sharing this equally.

[27:27] Was there a point though where you sort of just accepted hey we’re probably not going to be able to naturally conceive.

[27:38] Yeah I think this is like the time went on to this day that’s definitely like the hardest trial like emotionally with Myspace and,
with my relationship with God like not experience has been.
My like hardest thing I’ve ever had to go through and I don’t know if it was for my husband I don’t know I don’t think it.
It got to him as deeply as it did for me where he was so is like,
it’s fine like when it doesn’t work
desire it’s part of life eternal progression we want to have a family and I would love to not like,
go through
all this time and money and hormones can you just give us a little miracle and let us get pregnant
I totally reasonable,
certain kind of I like we had some family members and friends like so many people were like
and I was kind of like Jada and I was like,
I don’t know if anything is really.

[29:07] This is taking forever and so I don’t totally like,
it’s one of our things that we had to do but I do think it really helps that I,
I decided that I was going to just own it and because I have
was open about it I have been able to really really deeply bond with a lot of friends that were struggling but wanted to struggling and quiet but they still needed one person that I can talk to you about.
I’ve been
able to like really feel close to other people that are struggling on that and that is really like the only obvious bright spot of like why,
maybe we need a house that also I mean we would have never have twins so maybe they needed to come down together.
There’s so many people that that’s not where their story ends and then they have to do more and more and more and so I’m so grateful
one of the lucky ones you know in that regard so that’s my older two twins.

[30:19] We were moving simulator, and I was like I said I would like to have another and.
It didn’t happen for 6 months and so I just knew I’d like you if we’re going to do this again and luckily,
Everly good quality of care and it’s really affordable they even actually had a better experience here.

[30:47] I’m curious if you feel guilt that you went through this process and you have eventually been successful,
just because you keep saying I’m so lucky or I’m a lucky one.
Is there any of that feeling of being in that world and knowing so many women who it just doesn’t happen.

[31:11] Yeah I mean my empathy goes far for people in the fertility world but.
I only experienced it to that point right and I haven’t experienced then the positive pregnancy test in the miscarriage or like,
like for failed IVF attempts and I think cultivating gratitude is healthy but I do also just like urine,
for these people that are still trudging along in that like.
Darker part of the journey and I just like want them to get out of it I want it to work for them so bad.

[31:53] I think that many people don’t know what to say if they suspect a friend or acquaintance is struggling to get pregnant.
There’s this idea if a woman’s over 30 and she doesn’t have kids yet then there must be something wrong but I don’t want to ask because it’s too personal I worried that this keeps,
the women who are suffering and those who are struggling with this issue that they injured in silence,
how does someone ask.

[32:26] For me it’s like you do need to be close enough to the person because of his personal and some people even.
I know people that didn’t even want to talk about it with her family like they just wanted to keep it between them and then their spouse cuz I wanted to hold it back close to them so.
People can sense.
Sincerity they can sense like true caring and they’ll be times where you do want to open up and you might need to cry or just confide in someone,
and then there’s other times where you just want to put on a brave face because you’re worried you might break down or cry if it’s like really raw still right,
just ask how they are they’ll decide how far they want to go.

[33:14] I don’t know there’s a delicate way to put this,
I wonder about all of the emotions and the sadness the disappointment and the pain that comes from,
I’m trying and trying and trying again essentially I want to know why is it so devastating is it because
this is the righteous desire you are trying to follow God’s plan and that this is your highest calling to be a mother and yet your body isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do is that,
where the pain comes from is it a yearning what is that feeling like.

[33:56] Show me it was definitely like this year there is like this twine of just kind of being.
Run down with sharing the same messaging over and over that’s just not working out for you even though you’re trying to exercise your face and you’re trying to do the best you can and you’re trying so I.
Check all the boxes to get these diffuse blessings that are supposed to happen.
I know that somehow or other I would be a mom like I would a doctor whatever it needed to be but I was hoping that I could also like.
Dad carrying a baby in like do that experience as well I allowed the weight of.
My my intrinsic desires but also the cultural pressures and the doctor and all stuff like it’s it’s really clear about like me do you know how.
Eternal family is like the core part of our religion and so that really.
War yeah it was it was really tiring.

[35:09] How is a woman’s fertility connected to her worth using.

[35:16] I think that’s a,
so don’t fear but they are in a way it’s it’s just like the people that don’t,
Spec’s in the mall if you aren’t like a heterosexual male female,
but then going to quickly have
kids have this like little nuclear families are all raised in the church are all baptized they all gone past missions and people marriages if you like break any of those molds then.
It’s hard and you you question if there’s something
fundamentally wrong with you or why God would give you that trial when it’s so straightforward and of like the formula right to success internal family,
and I think they were those are great goals and if it’s a good standard but there’s so many of us that like don’t don’t make them marks,
my husband just like simplified it enough to be like we’re liking a fallen State like our bodies aren’t perfect,
squaring up on say it it just is what it is that’s going to come with stuff like some people are going to get cancer some people are going to have fertility issues some people are going to have.
Susceptible to all these things and it just is what it is you know and so if you can simplify.

[36:44] That’s great if you elevate it to stay like my intrinsic value as a female,
is to reproduce then it it where is more heavily so I kind of fluctuated between those two mindsets of being like that happens to people
you know it don’t take it personally and then other times I took.

[37:10] It’s one thing to hear that and your brain knows it and you understand it and then your heart feels something totally different how do you reconcile both of those and get them to match up.

[37:22] Yeah I don’t know I think it’s just like a little bit of a ping-pong back and forth as always you know just trying to find that like the space between us.

Intro Music

[37:40] Appreciated listening to Kristen’s experience because it was new to me or emotions are shared by many women but unless you’ve lived through infertility you’re unlikely to hear what.
Along with Christian gratitude that she’s been successful with IVF and as a result been able to.
Three children you can still sense her frustration reliving those years of disappointment I was surprised but it seems like she’s still going.
I assumed once IVF is successful you’d instantly feel like it was all worth it and forget the pain no doubt Kristen does feel like it was worth.
And yet some of the pain confusion and questions remain why does she have to go through that the usual response is so that she could share that experience with others.
I can accept this to an extent but honestly and moments of Despair it hardly seems like compensation.

[38:37] Near the end of our conversation a word came up that I repeatedly hear and read the more I explore motherhood nurturing.
The woman as the primary nurturer has been used as a cop-out for why there are not as many women in leadership positions in the church and outside of the church nursery feels almost like a weakness.
A person is rewarded for hard work being strong pushing boundaries things that have monetary value.
Staying at home and loving your children while admittedly all of those things is unfortunately not included in the definition.
How then it can a mother feel like her efforts are valuable when her key role to nurture is either used as an excuse to keep her at home or simply not counted,
there must be something wrong with this approach as it seems like what was supposed to be a mother is power as been degraded or even use against her.
Value is something I will investigate in Greater detail next week in the final episode of motherhood but to finish off I wanted to understand what am I missing about nurturing what’s so great about it.
Kristen explained to me that the power of nurturing is knowing that there is someone who loves you and they are pouring it out on you.

Intro Music

[39:53] Is this what president Nelson referred to when he said no one can do what a righteous woman can do no one can duplicate the influence of a mother.
I remember hearing that I’m thinking fantastic we have a unique power.
Is the set nurturing it sounds like charity the pure love of Jesus Christ the greatest of all the gifts of God.
I don’t think you need to birth a child or several children to be a woman of Charity I don’t expect churchwide policy or clarification that yes indeed Every Woman must have children as soon as possible.
Maybe they know what God knows that women are close to him and it is our decision to make with the help of our Heavenly bear.
I think that there is a time and a place for each woman that wanting to overcome infertility and wanting to wait can both be righteous desires.
Not everyone has to agree that’s the whole point you can have your own wrestling session to figure it out.

[40:54] I think we can agree that God has a plan for each one of us and yet he operates off of his own time to.
Perhaps one of the hardest things we will face in this life along with the feeling like we don’t always fit the mold is to continue to have faith when God.

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