By Rachel Jeffs
One week into my marriage, I was a wreck. I couldn't eat. My skin felt prickly, like I was being poked all over by a thousand invisible needles.
This was a new experience for me, being a plural wife, but it was also new for my sister wives to have me there.
They hadn't asked for another woman to join their ranks and I was starting to get the message that they weren't exactly pleased I had been added to the family, or that I was sharing our husband's bed.
They didn't know that I was just sleeping in it, and not very well at that.
On nights when one of the other ladies shared our husband's bed, I slept on the couch in the living room. I didn't have a room of my own.
Four weeks into my marriage, I was still getting acclimatised.
I didn't love my husband, Rich, yet, but I had started to like him. I enjoyed his company, anyway.
One afternoon, I was helping him with some yard work.
"Rachel, would you please go get my pruning shears?" Rich said. "They should be in the closet in my room."
I put down my rake and went into the house. In his bedroom, there was a beautiful bouquet of roses on the desk, with a small balloon attached that read, "I love you". There was also a little note: "Dear Rachel, happy four-week anniversary. I love you, Rich."
I'd cried a lot since the wedding, but the tears that fell now felt different.
I was grateful that Rich wasn't there to see my reaction, because I cared what he thought about me. I couldn't have explained my feelings, because I didn't understand them myself. I found the shears and went back outside.
"Thanks," I said, as I handed the shears to him.
Rich smiled at me. "I wanted to do something for you."
"I like it," I said, and meant it.
It was a full two months after our wedding before I finally summoned up the nerve to ask Rich for a baby.
I had been way too frightened to be intimate with a man I'd met only one day before he became my husband. I was still a little scared, but he had a big grin on his face when I said it.
"Do you know how to make a baby, Rachel?" Rich said, with genuine concern in his voice.
The church separated boys and girls before puberty hit. At home and at school, we were kept apart. Crushes weren't allowed. Dating wasn't even an idea. Marriage was our introduction to intimate relationships.
Nonetheless, I said, "Yes."
Rich's eyes opened wide, and he tilted his head to the side like a dog that's just heard an unfamiliar sound. "Really? How do you know?"
"I just do," I said, turning my face away from him. I couldn't look him in the eyes.
That night I joined him in his room. Rich undressed himself, then undressed me as I lay on the bed.
"Do you want to see?" he said, hovering over me.
"No!" I squeezed my eyes shut.
"My other ladies wanted to see."
"I don't. I really don't."
Over the next nights, I started to relax, and being with my new husband got easier.
I soon learned that I was pregnant. When I was about four months along, Rich said, "How did you know about sex before we were married?"
Rich was my husband, and now the father of my unborn child. I had kept this secret for so many years, I hardly knew how to answer him. And then, just like that, I did.
"Father taught me."
Rachel's father Warren Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence for child molestation.
This is an extract from Breaking Free by Rachel Jeffs, Allen & Unwin.