The Best Thing In The World

Becoming a mom has been the best thing in the world. It sheds new light and perspective on everything. Having our daughter, Shay, in January of 2020 actually helped my golf game because of the new dimension it added to our lives.

My husband, Kevin, and I were so grateful for our daughter. But it was a long road. Kevin is seven years my senior, so he was ready to become a parent before I was. When we finally made the decision, it took us about three years. We considered in vitro fertilization. We talked about adoption, which we believe is one of the greatest blessings in life. We also went through all kinds of testing. Then, after deciding to undergo IVF and setting up the appointment, we got pregnant on our own, proving once again that God works in amazing ways. We had prayed and prayed, and nothing had happened. And then, once we set up the IVF appointment, we kind of relaxed and our prayers were answered.

Now we have a wonderful, healthy daughter who is the light of our lives. But don’t kid yourself. Motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. You’re never off. It’s a constant challenge.

I also struggled with post-partum depression. And it was awful. If you’ve only seen me on the golf course, you might not realize it because I work hard to remain calm and even keel inside the ropes, but I am an emotional, vulnerable and sensitive person. Shay was born in the dead of winter. It was gray and cold in Texas where we live. I had a ton of weight to lose. Then, out of the blue, I had these horrible thoughts and feelings. I would burst into tears out of nowhere. My mind raced back to the way things were before. I hated that I was thinking this way. I felt like I was being pelted by this unrelenting gloom. Walking was a chore. Raising my head and speaking took work. What was going on? I didn’t know what this was, but I knew that it wasn’t me. It scared me.

What could I do? Was this normal? I’d never been a mother before, but I’d seen countless other new moms. Did they go through this? I’d had a C-section, which was unplanned. Could that be the root of these feelings? How could becoming a mother, finally realizing a dream I had for years, take me to such a dark place?

It was Shay’s pediatrician who finally spoke up. While in for a routine checkup, I filled out some forms, which asked about my wellbeing in addition to hers. After a brief conversation, the doctor looked at me and said, “You are not well. You need some help.”

That’s when I opened up to family and friends. I talked to my best friend on Tour, Brittany Lincicome. She and I are the same age and have been playing golf together for as long as either of us can remember. Brittany and her husband Dewald had their daughter, Emery, in the summer of 2019. Britt never experienced the emotions that I was feeling. But she is such a good friend that she put me in touch with one of her other friends who had gone through post-partum depression. And, it turned out, my own mother had gone through similar episodes. So, I had her as a resource.

Once I opened up, I realized that I wasn’t alone. Many women battle the same feelings. Unfortunately, a lot of them suffer alone, scared to ask for help. They feel like they aren’t good mothers, that they will be judged for being so blue in what is supposed to be the happiest time of their lives. The pain of depression is real. But so is the fear of being judged.

That is why I am an open book on my experiences. Once I said something, once I realized that I wasn’t alone, that there are many people out there who relate, it was like a cloud lifted.

Thankfully, the vice of depression loosened for me after a couple of weeks. By Shay’s one-month checkup the feelings were, for the most part, gone.

Now that I have been through it, I understand the reality of post-partum depression and what it can do to a new mother and family. In the first few days after Shay’s birth, Kevin had no idea what I was feeling because I didn’t share. But once I opened up, the love and support of everyone – family, friends, friends of friends, and even some people I’d never met – wrapped around me. I got through the darkness with the help of others. And I hope other new moms who may have similar feelings speak up.

Shay is almost 16 months old now. She is doing all the amazing things you would expect of a healthy, growing child. It has been fun putting her in the mix of travel and golf and everything that goes with Tour life. In addition to Britt, my friends Gerina Piller and Stacy Lewis have been wonderful. We’re all the same age and have played on Solheim Cup teams together. They are just a little bit ahead of me on the motherhood front. Gerina has given me some great advice on getting Shay to sleep and Stacy has provided a lot of tips on nighttime routines. All the mothers on tour are there for each other. Plus, we have a tremendous community through the Smucker’s Child Development Center, the rolling daycare and preschool that is a godsend for moms on the LPGA Tour.

At first, I was like, ‘How am I going to be a mom?’ And then I was saying, ‘How am I going to play professional golf and be a mom and travel?’ But it happens. It works out. Millions of working women have done it before me.

I am so happy to be out on the LPGA Tour. I want Shay to see successful women. It’s great for her to see that you can have a family and pursue your career. We’re so blessed to have her. And I am blessed to have found the help I needed during the first few weeks of her life. That experience puts a new perspective on golf. It puts everything in life into its proper place.

The LPGA is proud to present this Drive On story in honor of mothers everywhere on World Maternal Mental Health Day and in the week when Americans celebrate Mother’s Day.