"Mormon Temple at Night" by Maddy McCoy
I always have strange dreams when I’m pregnant. And then I fool myself into thinking/worrying that those strange thoughts thrown out by my subconscious are significant, or worse, prophetic. Of course, they aren’t. When I was pregnant with Elspeth I dreamed about an adorable little boy with blond curly hair. With every pregnancy so far I’ve had dreams that I’m having an affair. I think it’s fairly common for pregnant women to have crazy dreams. When my mom was pregnant with me she dreamed that I was born with a full set of razor-sharp teeth (and yeah, this was a good 25 years before the insanity of Breaking Dawn.)
A few nights ago I had a terrible dream. It was one of those wake-up-sobbing ones, and when it was over I was SO relieved it wasn’t real. I know dreams are really only interesting to the people who are having them, but I do have a point here so stick with me. Here’s how the dream went down: Urs and Ingmar were here in the US visiting to spend some time with us, meet the kids, tour the hospital where there babies will be born, etc. We were meeting up at a park that had a big stage-type thing (it looked like Bountiful City Park, but we don’t have anything that looks like that around here) so that the kids could play and we adults could chat. Little did I know, we were being ambushed by my extended family. My mom’s side of the family had organized an anti-gay rally and purposely scheduled it for the same time and day that the guys and my family would be there. The park was full of hateful Mormons giving speeches about the hideousness of homosexuality. At one point my own grandmother was speaking about how “the gays want young boys to feel sexually attracted to Joseph Smith.” I was horrified and humiliated, and trying desperately to get my family and Urs and Ingmar out of there, not only because I was embarrassed about my bigoted family and church, but because I was afraid the crowd would turn violent if they discovered us.
This all sounds somewhat crazy in the light of day, but a lot of elements are not that far-fetched. My grandma has said some crazy things, and I can picture her saying the horrible things she was saying in the dream. Mormons really DO despise homosexuality (even while they proclaim love for the “sinners”) and the idea of a “The Gays Are Tearing Down the Family” rally in Bounitful, Utah does not seem that weird to me. I know I have friends and especially family who would proudly attend such an event. And I can’t help but thinking the whole purpose of this dream was for my pessimistic subconscious to remind me, among all the joy I’ve felt these last two weeks, that most Mormons will hate what I’m doing. That includes my family and friends.
And you know, this dream did turn out to be a sort of harbinger. Around the same time of the dream, I talked to my Mom about possibly having a temple day with her when we’re visiting next week. My temple recommend expired back in November, and I haven’t tried to renew it because 1) I have so few opportunities to attend the temple (and, to be honest, I don’t make a very strong effort to get there) and 2) I wasn’t sure whether I’d be eligible to have my recommend renewed in light of my pursuing surrogacy. But this trip to my parents’ and their nearby temple was just the kick in the pants I needed to face the issue head-on. I emailed Bishop Ellsbury asking whether it would be possible to get a temple recommend interview on such short notice and in light of my current situation.
Today I heard back from him.
“I have pondered and prayed about how to proceed from here as it relates to your current situation. Even though the handbook wasn’t directly clear in saying “no” it did strongly discourage this procedure. In addition the same gender of the couple that you will be bringing the child into the world for is very much against the doctrines of the church and this is why my council was to ask you to reconsider and not go through with it.
At this time I am sorry to say that renewing your temple recommend wouldn’t be appropriate. I do look forward in meeting with you to see how best to proceed so you can return to the temple in the future. Let me know if you have any questions.”
I know I should have expected this, but it still feels like a bit of a blow. I was still hoping that because I feel good about what I’m doing, Bishop Ellsbury would eventually feel good about it too. In my mind, personal revelation trumps church policy. But in most people’s minds, church policy guides personal revelation. I don’t think he believes that I’ve made a careful, prayerful decision about this. He certainly doesn’t believe, like I do, that God wants me to bring these babies into the world for Urs and Ingmar. But maybe it’s for the best. Even if Bishop Ellsbury had given me the green light, I still would have had to interview with the Stake President (a man I’ve never met) and get his approval. It would have been even worse if I’d had to go through two uncomfortable interviews before finally being denied anyway.
But still. It’s hard to think about. I’m not allowed in the place where I was married. And it’s not like I’ve fallen into sin. I don’t feel I deserve to be barred from the blessings of the temple. I wish it could just be easy. Easy for me to leave, easy for me to stay. But it never has been.
I’ve had lots of dreams, ever since I was a kid, that were fraught with church-related tension. When I was 11, I dreamt there was a new law that families could have no more than 4 kids. My parents gave me to another family, a horrible family that kept me locked in a room all day and didn’t give me much to eat or drink. My mom came to visit me once (or really to drop off a sweater or something- she didn’t seem to care about seeing me at all) and as I begged her, screaming and crying, to let me come home, she said “Honey, just make sure everybody goes to church and you’ll be fine.” Even at that young age (when I was still 100% on board with everything about the LDS church and I was proud to be Mormon) I thought “WHAT? The church has nothing to do with it! Why do you care more about the stupid church than you do about me?”
A couple of years later I had a terrible nightmare in which I came home from church to discover that my former bishop had murdered my entire family. I still have a vivid mental video of him throwing my mother’s severed head into the back of a van. A year or two after that, when I was sixteen or so, I dreamt that I was attacked by a shark while swimming in the ocean. (We lived in Hawaii at the time, and our back yard opened up onto a harbor that was rumored to be a breeding ground for sharks, so this scenario wasn’t as strange as you might think.) In the dream I escaped from the shark and dragged myself onto the beach and into the house; I was bleeding profusely and terribly weak. I found my dad, who was engrossed in watching General Conference
. I crawled to him, saying “Dad! Dad! I’ve been bitten by a shark! I need to go to the hospital!” He didn’t even look at me. Still staring at the screen, he said in a mean voice: “Nia, be quiet. I’m trying to watch Conference.”