Janene Baadsgaard admits that over the years there have been times when she sat down to write her Deseret News column, "Life After Birth," with a baby draped over one knee, two toddlers banging at the keyboard and two more trying to fight under her desk.
Baadsgaard knows firsthand about the pleasures and perils of motherhood and raising a family; her column provides readers with an unglossed version of what life in the lullaby lane is all about."When I got married I had lots of kids right away - six kids in eight years," she said. "Everything I found to read was about how to be a sparkling jewel. I never found anything realistic that could help me laugh about my situation."
She first began writing a column about her experiences as a mother for the Spanish Fork Press. "We were poor and I was looking for a way to bring in a little money to help pay off the obstetrician and the pediatrician," Baadsgaard said.
In 1983, the Deseret News began running Baadsgaard's column in its Utah County edition.
"She has a nice touch, a common approach that people relate to," said Don Woodward, Deseret News assistant managing editor.
The ability to strike a chord in her readers is pleasing to Baadsgaard.
"If nothing else I hope my column makes mothers realize that other mothers struggle too," she said. "I feel a kinship to them because when you are raising a family you feel somewhat isolated. I have had ladies come up and express some things - depression or suicide - and they tell me a book or column has given them hope. That means a lot. Hopefully, it's (her writing) uplifting."
Life around the Baadsgaard house is chaotic enough that she's never lacking for material to write about. Prime targets for her musings are her children: April, 12; Aubrey, 11; Jordan, 9; Arianne, 7; Joseph, 5; Jacob, 4; and, Amy, 5 weeks. (Baadsgaard said she and her husband, Ross, didn't realize they had got stuck on As and Js in the baby name books until the birth of their seventh child.)
Baadsgaard has written articles for The New Era and The Ensign, two magazines published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and has written three books about motherhood. Her books, like her columns, reflect Baadsgaard's view that while mothering can be a struggle at times, "we need to laugh and talk about all the spectrums of motherhood - to see the humor that is in the situation."