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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Birth/Rebirth: From God, Who Is Our Home

“And by the vision splendid is on [her] way attended; at length the [wo]man perceives it die away, and fade into the light of common day.”  William Wordsworth 1770-1850

Five years after the birth of my second child, I was at home preparing for an ultrasound appointment. The local hospital was only a few miles away, so I was in no rush. My children were at school and the day was quite ordinary. Except I remember feeling a kind of sacredness in the simple tasks of showering, doing my hair, applying make up and putting on comfortable clothing – almost like I was getting ready to attend the temple. Perhaps I was in a meditative state of mind. After all, I was nine months pregnant and on this day I would see images of my unborn child for the first time. 

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Birth/Rebirth: Giving Miscarriage a Birth Story, Too

Guest post by Kathy

Image by Neal Fowler

Image by Neal Fowler

Kathy is a writer living in Phoenix, Arizona. The original version of this piece appeared as a guest post at freshly-picked.com.

 

Not every pregnancy gets a story. I’d like to change that.

My second pregnancy ended six months before I had planned it would.

When I reached out to people I needed, some of them surprised me. They told me about their own miscarriages—that had happened during the time we’d been friends.

Why did you not say anything? I asked them. They shrugged. One said, Well, you know. I didn’t know.

I respect experiences that are private, but I suspect that miscarriage stories stay untold because they don’t have the same pay-off that birth stories do. At the end, there’s no baby. What’s the point in telling them?

The point is that we’re humans.

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