My name is Charlotte, and I'm the blog owner. I used to be LDS but now I'm independent of any organized religion. I live in Kody Brown's old house in Lehi, Utah. I've been Joshua's wife since 2002 and Melissa's sisterwife since 2013.
About ten years ago, my husband and I bought our first house together. While I lived in that house, I planted trees and gardens. I bought furniture. I hosted events. I had a variety of houseguests. I put up pictures and had pets and houseplants. While I lived there I went from 1 child to 3 children and began homeschooling. I had a variety of Church callings and a good selection of friends and friendly neighbors. I was in living that house when my belief system about the LDS Church crumbled (although I stayed an active member for a number of years). I also gave birth in one of the bedrooms upstairs.
In that same bedroom, my husband and I first discussed the possibility of his marrying my best friend Melissa. (Short version: I could no longer ignore the spiritual experiences I was having regarding God’s will in the matter. Joshua and I had never talked about it before, but I opened the conversation with: “So, Joshua, are you going to marry Melissa?” His answer: “Well, I don’t know.” My shocked reply: “What do you mean you don’t know? I know!” Two days later he had his first conversation with Melissa about it; I think it’s fair to say the latter conversation was far more awkward than the former.)
A few weeks later, in that same upstairs bedroom, I announced to my husband my plan to essentially give the house to Melissa and her children and move with my children more than an hour away, in order for her teenagers to have the space they needed to finish growing up.
That very day, about 5 years ago, we packed up a single carload and I moved away from my trees and animals and gardens, most of my possessions, my friends and neighbors, and the only home most of my children had ever known.
Gradually, tediously, over months and many many many trips between the two houses, Melissa patiently helped me finish moving out of the house which was now, bewilderingly, hers. And she made that house her own, changing out the kitchen appliances and paint and window coverings and furniture and animals and gardens to better suit her preferences. She continued the arduous task of parenting children without their father. And she got used to being a plural wife.
Melissa has now lived in that house longer than I ever lived in it.
For 5 years, my children have had just one parent half the time. I tell you, it sure is a special treat for the kids when Baba walks in that front door after they’ve been stuck with only me for a couple of days. Two of our children don’t even remember life before their father was a polygamist. They don’t remember what it was like to eat dinner and have devotional with him every single night. They’ve developed habits such as asking me every couple of hours whether Baba will be here today, and writing things down they don’t want to forget to tell him.
For 5 years, my husband has had more than one carpool to get to his job. (It’s very confusing for his fellow carpoolers.) He’s had multiple houses and yards to maintain. He’s been forced to have duplicates of numerous things (including cars, lawn mowers, and property tax bills) so he can frequently seesaw between his two domiciles. And I can’t even count the number of times he’s needed something but has turned up empty-handed because the tool or other item was in a different county. He’s been like an unlucky stepchild, constantly going back-and-forth between two houses.
Over the last 5 years, all of us have had more difficulties than I care to list right now. We’ve also had a lot of personal growth and character-building, but I’ll save that for another time. I’d rather get to the good news.
For 5 years, Melissa has been finishing the job of turning children into adults. Her youngest is now 18 years old. He recently graduated from high school and is launching out on his own.
We are all ready for a big life change.
Melissa’s time in my old house is coming to a close.
Our husband will no longer need duplicates of so many things. He will get to come home to his entire family every evening. The children will get to see their Baba and their other mother daily. Melissa will have to do a lot less driving. And she and I get to begin a new phase of our relationship.
My heart goes out to the Fosters as tragedy struck their family today. Enoch and Lillian’s house caught on fire and her 2-year-old son Adonijah (the one Lillian gave birth to in the first episode of the show Three Wives, One Husband) was badly burned and he died.
Enoch and Catrina’s 17-year-old daughter Cherish is in the hospital with smoke inhalation. Lillian is understandably in shock and keeps passing out and is going to the hospital.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the funeral expenses. https://www.gofundme.com/baby-fosters-funeral
I wish Lillian could wake up from her nightmare and hold her baby again. Sometimes this life seems so cruel.
When I first heard about Joe Darger and his 3 wives, my immediate reaction was, “He has 3 wives? What a creep!”
That reaction seems comical now. At the time, I didn’t know any polygamists in person. I assumed if a man has several wives that he must be a controlling jerk who likes to get served by lots of women.
At some point I realized how illogical that thinking was.
If several independent, intelligent, free-thinking women all choose to get married and stay married to the same man, that should actually make me think, “Wow! He must be an amazing man for so many women to want to be married to him! He must be a remarkable husband to be able to keep that many women happy!”
I’m not speaking of institutionalized underage marriages that are compelled by the cult leadership. I’m talking about the situation in which a single woman who has freedom makes the decision to marry and stay married to a man with plural wives.
Nowadays my thinking is very different than it used to be. Why would multiple women choose to be married to a creep? No, if a man successfully keeps more than one woman satisfied, he must be an extraordinary man, and he very likely works hard to serve his wives.
Morning sickness during pregnancy is very common, especially in the first trimester. There is an extreme form of morning sickness called hyperemesis gravidarum (HG). Women with HG have a lot of nausea and vomiting and often have difficulty keeping anything down at all. HG can persist all the way through the pregnancy rather than only the first few months. Some of these women lose weight rather than gain weight; some are hospitalized because they can’t keep enough fluids down to stay hydrated.
My cousin gets HG so badly in all of her pregnancies that she can’t even take care of herself, much less her children; she has to live with her parents or her in-laws when she’s pregnant so she can have constant help.
My first 3 pregnancies were easy compared to my 4th pregnancy. But that last one was a doozy. I had HG and vomited all the way up to my due date. I was usually at my sickest in the evening, when I ought to have been singing to my kids and snuggling with them as they were being put to bed. Instead, my then-9-year-old daughter basically ended up putting her siblings to bed on a fairly regular basis, no bedtime songs and cuddles with Mama because she was lying on the floor with her face over a bowl.
I didn’t have HG as badly as some other women I know of. I was able to gain a normal amount of weight in my pregnancy, and I only had IV fluids once. However, I used many, many remedies to keep myself reasonably functional, including all the natural remedies such as peppermint and ginger and frequent snacks. A prescription of Zofran (from a certain CNM named Karla Jo Bennett) wasn’t helpful. What did help me was taking Unisom — the one with 25 mg of the active ingredient doxylamine succinate — twice a day (three times a day helped with the nausea/vomiting even more but it made me way too sleepy), taking loads of vitamin B-6 (micro-doses all day and a slow-release dose at bedtime), completely stopping my consumption of all grains, and most helpful of all, getting a shot of b-vitamins every day or two.
The first midwife I went to for b-vitamin shots was Karla Jo, but eventually my regular midwife taught me how to give myself shots, which was far less expensive and far more convenient than driving to the midwife’s office and paying her to do it every time.
I got tested for H. pylori (a bacteria in the stomach that is one cause of HG) and the test came back negative. Karla Jo was the midwife who was lucky enough to keep my stool sample in her freezer until the the lab came by to pick it up.
Karla Jo is a Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), which is the kind of midwife with the most education and privileges (such as writing prescriptions). Since she has more privileges than my regular midwife, the two of them worked together to meet my needs for medical care. (I saw several other types of medical professionals to try to get some answers about my HG, but in the end, no one could solve the puzzle, and eventually I gave birth and the problem ended on its own.)
Karla Jo is not just my CNM but she’s also my mom’s first cousin. I was close friends with her kids (my second cousins) when I was younger. We went on homeschool field trips together; I played Foosball in their basement; and her daughter and I wrote sticker-covered letters back and forth. I remember having dinner at their house once when they ordered plain cheese pizzas and added their own toppings after the pizzas were delivered (that was so foreign to me). I attended the baby shower of one of her daughters and drove across Los Angeles to visit her other daughter, who was on a layover.
I was surprised when I saw Karla Jo in the sneak peek of Seeking Sister Wife, and I excitedly texted her and said, “You’re my friend Vanessa’s midwife! I saw you on TV!” and we laughed about it and she told me about her experience with the TLC film crew.
Karla Jo was the midwife who performed Vanessa’s ultrasound in episode 5 of Seeking Sister Wife. She had to give Jeff and Vanessa the sad news that Vanessa actually wasn’t carrying a baby, and the further bad news that she probably had a molar pregnancy. It turns out she was correct, even though in 20 years of caring for women and babies, this was the first time Karla Jo had seen a molar pregnancy.
Molar pregnancies occur in roughly 1 out of 1000 pregnancies. This means it’s highly unlikely you will have one, but it’s likely that you know someone who’s had one. Karla Jo’s sister had one. So did my mother-in-law. My regular midwife has seen 3 in her career.
In a normal pregnancy the hormone hCG (which is responsible for morning sickness) appears at implantation, increases to a peak between 8-11 weeks of gestation, and then decreases. The levels of hCG going down after the first few months is the reason why the symptoms of morning sickness typically lessen at that point.
The hCG hormone is measured in milli-international units per milliliter (mIU/mL). Normal levels approach 300,000 mIU/mL at the peak. In a molar pregnancy they go much higher, so even though the woman isn’t carrying a baby, she feels sicker than someone having a normal pregnancy. She also has positive pregnancy tests despite there not being a baby, because hCG is what’s being tested with pee-on-a-stick pregnancy tests.
When you watch the early episodes of Seeking Sister Wife, and Vanessa is so sick, you can bet there’s a good reason she was experiencing the worst morning sickness out of all of her pregnancies. When Vanessa’s hCG level was tested it was 1,200,000 mIU/mL!
When Vanessa’s regular midwife Sherri Price couldn’t hear a baby with her doppler (as shown in episode 4), she asked her good friend and fellow midwife Karla Jo if they could come to her office (which is at her house in Pleasant Grove, Utah — not in Genola, Utah like SSW implies) and have Karla Jo take a look with her ultrasound machine.
After Karla Jo said yes, Sherri mentioned that, oh by the way, a camera crew is coming.
Karla Jo hadn’t planned in advance on being filmed that evening, and she didn’t get home until just before the film crew wanted to start filming. She had had a full day and the film crew and everyone else beat her to the house. Her husband fed them ice cream and entertained them for an hour. (At one of my appointments with Karla Jo, her husband took my kids into their backyard and let them collect the eggs from their chickens.)
Most midwives don’t have their own ultrasound machine (they’re a pretty expensive piece of equipment to just use occasionally), but Karla Jo has one. So she is kind of the go-to when another midwife wants her client to have an ultrasound done.
Karla Jo says it was an interesting experience to have a film crew present while she did her work. Normally she would have dimmed the lights in order to see the ultrasound screen better, but the film crew needed the lights bright.
She didn’t get told anything that happened after everyone left that day. She didn’t know for sure if she would end up in the final cut; she didn’t get a copy of the episode; she didn’t get told when it was airing.
As far as the filming and editing of the show, Karla Jo say the editing was done in a deceiving manner. For instance, the audio is edited enough so that at times she is shown saying the exact opposite of what she actually said (for instance, the word “don’t” got cut out of one of her statements). She also thinks the scenes she’s in that were posed (like when she was standing outside with Sherri) felt very fake.
Technically Karla Jo can’t use an ultrasound to diagnose a molar pregnancy, but you’ll notice that she was able to give a better idea of what was happening than the first midwife was, and she gave good advice to go ahead and get checked out by a radiologist.
I have seen people on social media criticize Vanessa for going to another midwife instead of the emergency room. The show said Vanessa’s problem was “possibly life-threatening,” but that doesn’t necessarily make it an emergency. Cancer is life-threatening as well, but no one calls an ambulance. Vanessa wasn’t bleeding or even cramping; the situation wasn’t so urgent that they needed the emergency room, and going to the ER wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Please, let’s leave the ER for true emergencies, rather than clogging them up with important but less-urgent medical situations.
As I said, at the time of Vanessa’s first prenatal with Sherri, she wasn’t bleeding. However, early in Vanessa’s pregnancy, after taking a positive at-home pregnancy test, she was spotting quite a bit and even bleeding a lot at one point, so she thought maybe she was having a miscarriage. She got an ultrasound, which appeared to show a very early embryonic sac. She also got blood work done twice showing that her hCG hormone levels were rising at an expected rate. So according to all that she was definitely pregnant. She figured that she was either going to miscarry or not, but that it was out of her hands.
The bleeding eventually slowed and she continued to be pregnant (as far as she could tell), so she just figured things were progressing normally. There seemed to be no other reason for concern, and she planned her first prenatal for 12 weeks gestation as usual.
Her first prenatal is shown in episode 4, and the follow-up appointments and surgery are depicted in episode 5. What the TV show doesn’t tell you is what happened after Vanessa’s surgery.
The pathology report fortunately came back negative for cancer from the mass that was growing inside her, and for a short time she thought Oh good, surgery went well and now I’ll just recover.
But Vanessa ended up with a painful complication. Her high levels of hCG hormone triggered something called theca-lutein cysts, which are a type of ovarian cyst most commonly associated with molar pregnancies.
After Vanessa’s surgery, her ovaries looked fine, but within days the cysts grew as a result of those heightened levels of hormone. Her abdomen was filled with these ovarian cysts, as shown in the below ultrasound images. She had so many and they were so large that she looked 8 months pregnant!
She literally could not lie down or hardly even recline because she couldn’t breathe. She also couldn’t eat because her stomach was so crowded. It was several weeks after her surgery before she was recovered enough from those horrendous theca-lutein cysts to start feeling normalish again, and it took almost 2 months before her hormone levels were back to healthy levels.
Now, months after Vanessa’s surgery (a high-risk D&C), her hormones levels are good and her belly is back to its proper size, but she is still constantly on the lookout to detect further problems. Any cells remaining in her uterus could begin to grow, or worse, metastasize into other parts of the body. The way to determine if that’s happening is with pregnancy tests, so she has to avoid getting pregnant but take tests every 2 weeks to be sure the hCG levels aren’t rising. If she gets a positive pregnancy test then she will have to hurry in to the doctor to determine what’s going on.
Although her experience was difficult and traumatic, Vanessa feels like it was divinely timed and directed, and she is at peace about it. She is glad the viewers of the show got to see thru real events how loving and supportive her amazing family is.
But she’s still nervous about the future. Once she’s physically and emotionally ready to get pregnant again, her odds of having another molar pregnancy are significantly greater than before: about 1 in 20.
Vanessa appreciated having supportive midwives to help her through her experience. She loves Sherri and also speaks very highly of Karla Jo. She reports: “Karla Jo was really great! I would consider her as a midwife if I was still in the area. I didn’t spend tons of time with her but she came VERY highly recommended by Sherri and I really liked her presence and personality. I felt very safe with her.”
Karla Jo Bennett serves Utah County, Salt Lake County, and surrounding areas. Her midwifery website is www.gentlebirthandwomenshealth.com. (Sherri Price is retired now, so if you were interested in hiring her, you’re out of luck.)
Notes: Vanessa Alldredge’s story and medical details shared with permission. SSW s1e5, c2 means Seeking Sister Wife Season 1 Episode 5, Commentary 2.
When I went from 11 years of monogamous marriage to a new polygamous lifestyle, I struggled to know what to do with myself on my nights alone. All my habits revolved around having my husband with me every night. I didn’t have a life separate from him, so for a time, I felt as if when he wasn’t with me, my life was put on hold. There was definitely a transition time for me while I figured out what to do with myself when I was alone.
If a monogamous woman was planning on becoming polygamous and asked me for advice, one of the things I would suggest is for her to have things she likes to do without her husband, whatever that looks like for her.
Women who naturally like having their own autonomy might gravitate towards polygamy exactly because of this time alone. I know my sisterwife Melissa calls plural marriage the ultimate lifestyle choice for feminists. She keeps herself busy with friends and hobbies, and she even chooses to have a job (even though Joshua is a wonderful provider and doesn’t need his wives need to work outside the home). Melissa considers herself a good candidate for a plural wife because her life is so full despite not having a husband who comes to her house every day.
Nowadays, I have a life with my husband, and I have a life without him. I’m fine either way. But some of my activities require planning, so I like to know in advance what Joshua’s schedule is going to be. His schedule does end up changing at the last minute at times, but generally I know what to expect. If I didn’t know each day where Joshua was going to land, it would cause unnecessary frustration in this whole plural marriage gig, because it would make it difficult for me to have a life separate from my husband. I need that separate life because otherwise it feels like when he’s not here, all I’m doing is waiting for him.
In episode 4 of Seeking Sister Wife, Dimitri Snowden and Joselyn are on a date at a restaurant. Dimitri brings up the topic of “splitting time.”
Dimitri: So, splitting time.
Dimitri: You know, listen, I’m wondering…
Joselyn: I wanted to ask you.
(They both laugh.)
Dimitri: So I’m one man, um, you know, with one body, you know… How do you feel about that?
Joselyn: As long as we feel that we make the best of our time, that there’s no problem.
Joselyn: So how would you go about that? Like, do you have, like, you think like days, certain days, or just…?
Dimitri: I ideally don’t want to have a defined schedule. I don’t want to have a chart on the refrigerator, where it says like Ashley and then Joselyn and then Ashley… Like, I’m not interested…
Joselyn: Yeah, me either, you know, because… It feels so generic to me, like I think that’s really generic.
Joselyn: I just want it to go naturally, like you said.
I think this is an interesting idea, but frankly, I don’t think it’s very realistic. I laughed when I saw what the Brineys said about it on Twitter because they seem to agree with me:
Not every woman likes to plan things in advance as much as I do, so I suppose Dimitri’s strategy might work for some polygamists. But in most of the plural families I’ve seen, the schedule is pretty predictable. Either they simply alternate nights (like the Alldredge family on SSW) or each wife takes a fixed set of weekdays (like the Briney family), or some combination/variation. One plural husband I’ve seen on YouTube spends 2 nights with one wife before switching and spending 2 nights with his other wife. Brady Williams from the reality TV show My Five Wives simply rotates through his 5 wives, 1 night with each wife, but gives each wife an extra night for her birthday.
Some time ago I read a novel called The Lonely Polygamist. In the book, the man and his 4 wives have a torturous meeting every Sunday where they decide on that week’s schedule (in particular, the sleeping schedule). The husband doesn’t take control at the meeting; it tends to be up to the wives to duke it out. The most aggressive wives end up with an unfair portion of his time, while the newest or most passive wife might go weeks without her husband coming to her house. This seems dysfunctional to me.
In our family, Joshua’s schedule is totally up to him, which makes sense, since he’s the one going back and forth between the houses. He’s the one that best understands his own scheduling needs as well as those of his wives and children. We give him our preferences and we can request changes to his normal schedule, but we wives don’t have to hash it out between ourselves.
And, no, we don’t have a chart on our refrigerator to keep it sorted out.
Note: SSW s1e4, c1 means Seeking Sister Wife Season 1 Episode 4, Commentary 1
Throughout the Seeking Sister Wife episodes so far, Ashley Snowden frequently talks about how she and Dimitri are looking for a sisterwife “together.”
I remember when I thought plural marriage was going to be a team effort. I thought the 3 of us would spend all this time together. I definitely thought we would all live together. I saw the theoretical benefits of having another mom around to help with kids. I imagined that my husband having another wife might mean I would get more time alone with my husband (because my sisterwife could watch the kids, instead of me always taking care of the children and my husband and me never getting time alone as a couple). At one point I even fantasized that I would share Melissa’s (teenaged) children with her the same way she would share my little kids with me, that we’d all just be one big happy blended polygamous family.
Boy, was I wrong about all of that. I remember realizing that, no, I was going to be left out of plenty of things. It wasn’t going to work out for us to live together. I wasn’t going to get the benefits of another woman around to share the workload. I wasn’t going to be included in every event and every date and every decision. I wasn’t going to get more alone time with my husband while my sisterwife babysat my kids. And her teenagers certainly weren’t going to consider me their second mom (wow, was I naïve about stepchildren).
I’m not saying that to highlight the negative. I just see similarities between what happened in my family with Melissa, and what’s happening in Ashley’s family with Joselyn in episode 3.
Ashley is very much in control as the steps are taken to begin dating Joselyn — the setting up of the online profile, the checking of their dating website messages, the responses to Joselyn, etc….
Then, when Joselyn is coming to visit the Snowdens in person, Ashley insists that the first “date” be with both herself and Dimitri.
I’m not criticizing Ashley. I love how gung-ho she is about living in polygamy, and she’s one of my favorite people to watch on the show because she’s confident and well-spoken, and I think she and Dimitri are cute together. I just see so much of myself in her! I too was pushing and involved and confident and gung-ho, and I had this vision of how things were going to go, that we were going to do everything together.
And then my reality set in.
I don’t know. How Ashley’s family turns out will probably be different than how mine turned out. Perhaps her life will actually end up looking the way she currently envisions. I only know mine hasn’t, not at all, and there are a couple of moments in this episode that I watch and think, Oh, I know how she must be feeling!
One of the moments is when Dimitri suggests that he and Joselyn go on a date that evening, just the two of them, and Ashley stay home with the babies.
Of course this was going to happen at some point. But it seemed to catch Ashley off guard. Maybe she thought when it happened that it would be her idea? After hesitating, she responded with a not-so-confident, “[Of] course.”
Obviously my husband was going to spend time one-on-one with my future sisterwife as well. He had a relationship to develop with this new woman. But it was still a time of intense emotion for me, when the theoretical became real, very real, and I wasn’t always thrilled with how things were playing out.
Dimitri knows Ashley well, and in a scene outside the restaurant, he asks her several questions directly: “You’re not just, like, passively okay? You want me to go? You’re, like, cheerleading me to go on a date? Pom-poms, Team Snowden?”
And to each one, Ashley says, “You should know me by now.”
Dimitri concludes, “She makes the I’m-not-feeling-it face.”
I remember Joshua asking me if I was sure I was okay with what was happening. And I was absolutely convinced that I was doing what God told me to do, so I wasn’t about to change my mind, and I always answered, “Yes, yes, yes, I’m sure,” even when I was crying and didn’t know how to handle the strong feelings I was having. (My poor husband.)
Ashley does go on to say, “You go on your date. Have a great time.” This is her being brave. This is her trying to be supportive, staying the course, and holding in the emotions. The emotions are hers to sort out, not Dimitri’s.
Note: SSW s1e3, c1 means Seeking Sister Wife Season 1 Episode 3, Commentary 1