Archive | January 2016

A hospital visit, a confession and a bombshell

It was early October.

On the morning that I turned seven weeks pregnant (according to my obstetrician’s dating scan the week before) I woke up with intense pain in my upper right torso.

It just so happened that a friend of mine was visiting Paradise and staying with me for a few days. And it further just so happened that this friend of mine was a nurse.

She was in the kitchen when I woke up, so I hobbled in there and confessed that I was pregnant and also in weird pain right below my ribcage.

She took me back into my bedroom, got me to lay down on the bed and examined me.

Based on my pain response, she said that the pain was isolated in my stomach and gall bladder region.

“Look I don’t mean to alarm you, but given pregnant women are more at risk of gall bladder attacks I think you need to go up to the hospital.” she said.

So I called in sick at work and then phoned my mother. She was driving to Paradise that morning anyway to have lunch with me, so she was luckily close-by.

She diverted to my house and picked me up, then drove me up to the local public hospital.

I was worried I was in for about a six hour wait just to be seen by a doctor in the emergency department, as is commonly the case when you visit a large public hospital.

When I arrived I was triaged by a nurse at the front desk. I explained that I’d had four previous pregnancy losses, was seven weeks pregnant and having bad pains in my upper torso.

To my surprise I was given priority care and within ten minutes I was wearing a hospital gown and had been given a bed in the emergency department.

The doctor who examined me confirmed that the pain was in my stomach and gall bladder, and ordered blood work and an ultrasound of my torso. I was then admitted as a patient of the hospital and made nil by mouth.

While the technician was scanning my stomach and gall bladder, we chatted and I told him all about IVF, my miscarriages, my husband leaving and my surprise miraculous pregnancy that may or may not be continuing. He was absolutely fascinated and even when he’d completed his task, he still kept me there chatting.

“Hey listen,” he said. “The paperwork here says I was only supposed to scan your upper torso, but do you want to have a quick look at your uterus too? I’m dying to see if you have a baby in there.”

Did I want him to do a quick scan of my uterus? Well…is the Pope a Catholic? I mean, yes. Yes I did.

He spread the cold gel onto my belly and I held my breath while he placed the wand across my middle.

The hospital’s ultrasound machine was brand new and significantly better quality than the little dinky machine in my obstetrician’s office. Straight away a fat little blob appeared on the large screen and I could clearly see the flicker of the blob’s heart. 

There it was. Undeniable proof I was still pregnant.

“Well you’re definitely pregnant!” The technician said, as if reading my mind. “I don’t see a second baby in there. But to be honest I’m not trained in pelvic scans so I don’t really know what I’m looking for.”

When I was taken back to the ward, I was again visited by the doctor who told me that my stomach and gall bladder were clear of blockages or issues, and that his best guess was an aggressive bacteria in my stomach had caused the pain.

He wanted to keep me in overnight and give me antibiotics and morphine, but I asked to be discharged. Knowing there was definitely a little baby still growing inside me, I didn’t want to be putting anything unnecessary in my body – particularly hardcore painkillers. I promised to return straight to the hospital if I started feeling very unwell and the doctor reluctantly signed my discharge papers.

As my mother was driving me back home, I started vomiting. Luckily she had a bucket in the back of her car. It was pretty horrific.

Arriving at my house, my mother asked me if I wanted her to stay but I told her to go and I’d be fine. But unfortunately the vomiting continued all evening and all through the night. It was absolutely horrific and I couldn’t even put a swig of water into my mouth without being ill.

Early the next morning, while I was lying on the bathroom floor with my head resting on the cool tiles, James appeared in the doorway. He looked absolutely distraught.

“What’s the matter?” I asked through my exhaustion.

“Sadie I’ve figured it out.” He said solemnly. “I’ve figured out what’s been going on with you lately.”

I swallowed a lump that had suddenly formed in my throat.

“Wh-what do you mean?” I spluttered, sitting up.

“The constant doctors visits…blood tests…scans…you’re vomiting all the time…you’re moody…you were at the hospital yesterday.” He said, so upset he was almost crying. “I’ve figured it out and I know what’s going on here.”

Oh god. It was time to finally face the music.

“You have cancer!” he said, practically sobbing. “You’re dying aren’t you? It’s cancer!”

For about thirty seconds I’m pretty sure I sat on the bathroom floor staring at him like he’d grown a second head. How could a grown man be so…silly?

“What!” I finally gasped. “I don’t have cancer you idiot! I’m pregnant!”

More silence.

Much more silence.

He just stood there, eyes wide, gaping at me. And I sat, staring nervously back at him.

Then James let out a huge sigh of relief.

“Pregnant? Is that all? Oh thank God!” he said.

Well…that sure wasn’t the reaction I’d been expecting.

He asked me a few questions about how far along I was, and why I hadn’t told him before that point. I explained that there was an expectation I was going to miscarry and I didn’t want to worry him needlessly, given he didn’t want more children. He actually thanked me for trying to protect him as long as possible.

He was extremely calm and I was extremely grateful. To be honest it was sort of a relief that James finally knew.

I told him that I had an obstetrician appointment in a couple of days, and that I would have more information to give him then. He accepted that and promised not to ask more questions or tell anyone until after my appointment.

Two solid days of vomiting later (turns out the illness I was suffering from was actually severe morning sickness!) I turned up for my appointment with Doctor Eminem. Given I’d seen the baby a few days earlier at the hospital and I hadn’t had any bleeding, I felt fairly confident my pregnancy was progressing.

Sure enough, when Doctor Eminem scanned me he confirmed that there was one baby in the gestational sac measuring perfectly based on my ultrasound the previous week. The baby had a healthy heartbeat of 163bpm. He printed off a photo and handed it to me.

A photo…of my baby.

The baby I was pregnant with.

Actually pregnant.

After the scan was over, we went back to his office for a chat.

“I don’t understand.” I said. “How is this happening? How is this possible? Eight cycles of IVF and then I was told I’d never have children?”

“You know what really bugs me?” Doctor Eminem asked, pushing his glasses up his nose. “When fertility doctors tell women it’s their fault.”

“What do you mean?” I replied. “I have proven infertility factors – endometriosis, PCOS, blocked tubes…”

“Yes and did the doctors focus on treating those factors? Did they perform surgeries, give you medications, perform IVF?” he asked.

“Yes…” I responded.

“And in all your years of trying, how long did doctors spend focused on your husband? My guess is he had a sperm analysis and not much else.”

He was right. It was only at the very end the experts had suggested genetic testing to look for a sperm problem and that’s when Doug had left me.

“You see Sadie you are suffering from reproductive problems but you are able to have children. Clearly your uterus is good and your eggs are good.” Doctor Eminem said. “The insurmountable factor – the one that meant you’d never have children – that factor was not yours. It was your husbands.”

Suddenly it was like someone had dropped a heavy weight across my chest and I couldn’t breathe.

“You’ve had unprotected sex with a new partner and fallen pregnant almost straight away. Why? Different sperm!” The doctor continued. “Because the reason you previously couldn’t have children was your husband’s sperm. Ultimately, you were not to blame. Your husband was to blame.”

It made sense. It made so much sense.

The reason IVF had failed was not my fault. It was my husband’s fault.

His sperm analysis had showed C and D grade sperm, but the truth was actually much worse. There was something genetically wrong with his sperm which had caused dozens of our embryos not to develop, and had caused me to miscarry several times.

My husband had left me because I couldn’t have children, but the truth was that he couldn’t have children.

HE COULDN’T HAVE CHILDREN.

I was in complete shock. Utter dismay and shock.

And also…secretly a little bit smug.

That douchebag had no idea that he’d blamed me for his own problem and it served him right.

Doctor Eminem asked to see me again in a week’s time to check on my pregnancy’s progress and I left his office on cloud nine.

I was finally really truly pregnant. Maybe this time I was going to be a mum. Maybe this time all my dreams would come true.

The baby looks good. Measuring on track. Heartbeat is 163bpm. I texted through to James.

A few minutes later my phone buzzed and I opened up James’s response.

Ugh no! Are you kidding! How have you not miscarried yet? What a bummer.

Good mood ruined, suddenly I felt so deflated. I couldn’t believe James had texted something so callous that clearly assumed we’d both been rooting for bad news.

Suddenly I had a terrible feeling this “dream” pregnancy was going to be more like a nightmare…

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Two or one or none…

I sat quietly in the obstetrician’s waiting room.

My mother, who had travelled from the city to attend the appointment with me, was sitting on my left.

Every other woman in the room had rounded and protruding bellies, which any infertile knows is pretty much the worst case scenario when it comes to doctor’s waiting rooms.

The instruction to “go home and wait to miscarry” had been followed, but the prediction had not come to fruition. Instead, I had endured eight days of solid excruciating menstrual cramping but nothing close to a period. Just bucket loads of clear, odourless discharge.

Clear discharge is common in early pregnancy because the mucus plug is forming, my brain cruelly whispered to me as I lay awake stressing each night.

Did I say stress? Well let’s not even mention the constant crying. Cooking dinner was cry time. Showering was cry time. Bed time was cry time. Lunch break at work was cry time. My anxiety levels were well and truly through the roof.

Every little thing had been harder. Sleeping, eating, working, especially taking prenatal vitamins even though the simple act of swallowing the tablet made me feel like a dickhead.

It was all so much harder because James, who was still occupying my front bedroom, had no idea what I was going through. My mother, who was my main support, was two hours away and none of my new friends in Paradise had any idea I was even infertile.

In reality, I had to remember I was lucky that this whiz-bang obstetrician was even able to fit me in for an emergency appointment at such short notice. I mean, it wasn’t a real emergency. Nobody’s cat was stuck up a tree, I just hadn’t started my period.

Sitting in that room, surrounded by smug pregnant woman (note: they probably weren’t smug) I realised suddenly that this was the first time I’d ever visited an obstetrician. I’d seen basically every other type of doctor, but the coveted prize of the obstetrician had always been outside my grasp. Or…my uterus’s grasp.

By the time my name was called, my protective shell was well and truly in place. To out-of-context quote Pink Floyd, I was comfortably numb. 

The obstetrician I met that day is someone who I’m going to call Doctor Eminem.

Not because he was a prolific white rapper from the wrong side of the 8 Mile Road, but because he was supremely meek and mild. Almost like a kitten wearing a lab coat.

Actually, after we left that day my mother said that he spent the entire appointment looking like he may burst into tears at any moment because there was just so much beauty in the world. You know, one of those types…

After Doctor Eminem called me into his office and shook my hand, he started flipping through the notes in my file while I sat on the other side of his desk nervously wringing my hands.

“Sadie I must say I’m extremely confused.” The doctor said. “Based on your previous history you shouldn’t be sitting here today.”

“I’m aware…” I replied. “Look, the truth is I was told to go home and wait to miscarry, but I’ve not yet had my period. This isn’t my first time at the miscarriage rodeo and I know the drill here. So if you could just confirm there’s no viable embryo and book me in for a d&C I’ll be on my way.”

“Of course.” Doctor Eminem said meekly. “Please follow me next door to the ultrasound room.”

I opted for an internal scan, as the external scan hadn’t even shown the sac the previous week. As predicted, he was the kind of doctor who apologised profusely right before he inserted the dildo cam. I was so nervous I couldn’t even look at the monitor.

“Okay I’ve seen it.” he said, after all of about three seconds.

Wait, that was it? A couple of seconds was all he needed to diagnose me?

“I see it too.” said my mother, who was standing at my side with her fingers digging into my bicep in some kind of supportive gesture.

“See what?” I finally asked, flicking my eyes up to the screen.

“The baby’s heartbeat.” Doctor Eminem replied.

The what now? The what? I’m sorry, the what?

Looking at the screen I could see that the gestational sac had grown larger, and that there were several blobs in there. The ultrasound machine wasn’t as new or fancy as the ones I was used to in the city and everything was slightly unclear.

“What am I looking at?” I asked, confused.

“Well it looks to me like twins.” Doctor Eminem said. “Here’s twin A and yolk sac, and here’s twin B and yolk sac. But only one has a heartbeat.”

He measured twin A (the one with the hearbeat) and announced that the baby was measuring 6 weeks and 2 days with a heartbeat of 122bpm.

“No that’s not right.” I said. “My hcg levels were 5500 ten days ago. I should be like…seven and a half weeks.”

“Well I’m going to hazard a guess that the reason the gestational sac was empty last week was because you’re only six weeks along now.” He said. “Twins would make your hcg levels higher than average.”

Next, the doctor examined twin B. It was measuring the same age, but as he’d previously stated it was without a heartbeat.

“I’m going to be honest with you Sadie and outline some different scenarios.” Doctor Eminem said.

First of all, there was the possibility that the second baby was just a few days behind developmentally. Normally the heart started beating at around six weeks gestation. That second heart may begin to beat very soon, although this was highly unusual as identical twins tended to develop at the same pace in early pregnancy.

Secondly, the unviable embryo would be reabsorbed back into the uterus. This was called vanishing twin syndrome. The healthy embryo would develop as a normal singleton pregnancy.

Thirdly, as the two embryos looked to be sharing a gestational sac, my body would recognise the need to flush the unviable embryo and I would miscarry both.

Doctor Eminem told me I needed to go home and wait again. If I hadn’t started bleeding, I should come back in ten days and he would scan me again to check on progress.

I couldn’t believe I’d been put into yet another high stress waiting situation.

Doctor Eminem could see I was visibly upset. “What can I do to make this easier on you?” he asked.

“Well the truth is,” I said. “Last time I miscarried only a couple of hours after seeing my baby’s heartbeat for the first time. I’m just sad I didn’t have any proof that baby existed, even though I saw and heard it’s heart.”

“I understand.” Doctor Eminem said empathetically. “Go and get your phone and we’ll do a recording of the heartbeat for you to keep.”

It was a perfect idea and I was so very grateful for his sweet suggestion. So my mother raced next door to his office and came rushing back with my phone.

Then he let the heartbeat play for about 30 seconds, while I kept the phone’s camera focused on the screen.

“Good luck Sadie,” he said as we ended the appointment. “I hope to see you again in ten days.”

And so began another torturous wait…

Go home and wait to miscarry

It was the morning after the night before.

I had driven back to Paradise after my positive pregnancy test, completely in shock and also sort of numb. I honestly didn’t know what to think or how to feel.

Focusing on the road stretched out in front of me, I mentally calculated timeframes.

The month of May was when we transitioned away from condoms. We’d only had unprotected sex once in May, but it was the week before I’d started my period.

We’d had unprotected sex twice at the start of June and several times right before I got my period. Never in the middle of the month.

In July, James had taken on a month long construction labourer contract back in the city so we hadn’t seen much of each other and only had sex sparingly. Maybe a few times right before I got my period.

In August, we started in a good place emotionally and had sex basically every night for the first two weeks. Then the arguing escalated and we’d had sex maybe once more before calling quits on our relationship.

August.

Had I conceived in August?

Had I conceived the very first month I’d had unprotected sex around the time a woman normally ovulated?

I mean…as far as every doctor had told me I didn’t even ovulate. And if I did miraculously ovulate, my tubes were too blocked for the egg to get through. And if the egg did get through a tube my endometriosis and high prolactin levels would kill off the embryo.

No pregnancy. No way. No how.

And yet…the little FRER stick tucked into my handbag said differently.

The first thing I did when I arrived back in Paradise was call to make an appointment with a local doctor. Thankfully, he said he could fit me in right when the clinic opened at 8.30am.

The clinic was next to a supermarket, so while I was waiting for 8.30am to roll around I went and bought a Clearblue Digital with a conception indicator. I figured it would give me a more accurate indication of what was actually going on, particularly as I’d used late evening urine with the original test.

Almost as soon as my urine hit the stick, the digital screen lit up with Pregnant: 3+.

Suddenly I began to question even my own timelines. Could I have conceived back in June or July and just continued to have menstrual bleeding? I’d definitely heard of it happening before.

Then I started making a mental list of all the non-pregnancy friendly things I’d done in the past month….

  • I had ridden my bicycle to work every day.
  • I’d guzzled green tea to try and lose some weight before summer arrived.
  • I’d had some alcoholic beverages the week before. Me! Someone who hadn’t drunk alcohol in years even while unsuccessfully trying to conceive! And ironically I had consumed alcohol whilst pregnant.
  • Ohhh I had taken Isaac to the theme park and ridden the rollercoaster all day. That couldn’t be good…

Finally the clinic opened and the doctor ushered me into his consultation room. I explained that I was unexpectedly pregnant, and gave a brief history of my infertility.

“Wait…” he started incredulously. “You asked a different doctor for the contraceptive pill and he’d told you not to bother? That is…super negligent. Really bad. I can’t believe it!”

It was the first time it had occurred to me how stupid that previous doctor had actually been. No one is ever one hundred percent guaranteed not to fall pregnant naturally unless they’re missing their womb, both tubes or ovaries. Sure my chances of not falling pregnant were 99.99% but that still wasn’t a guarantee.

The doctor ordered beta hcg blood work just to confirm I was actually pregnant. He put a rush on the test and told me he’d phone me in the afternoon.

Whilst having my blood drawn, I explained my situation to the phlebotomist. She was a young girl, maybe 23 or 24, with long blonde hair. She rocked back on her heels in shock.

“Get fucked!” she gasped. “No way! Get fucked! That’s amazing!”

Well…um…yep…that was definitely a concise way to sum up my situation.

I went home in a daze and sat in the kitchen waiting for my phone to ring. I felt like I had been transported back to the old days of waiting for the fertility clinic to call with embryo fertilization reports or hcg results.

“Why do you look so miserable?” asked James, coming into the kitchen to make himself lunch. “And why do you have medical tape on your arm like you’ve had a blood test?”

In that moment I instantly decided now was not the time to tell James what was happening. He had made it very clear right from the beginning that his son was enough for him and he didn’t want any more children. Not to mention the fact we’d broken up and he was currently looking for a new home to rent.

“I have the flu…” I muttered.

Thankfully he didn’t question me further, and chose to go back to watching television.

Finally the phone rang. It was the call I had been waiting for.

“Hi Sadie,” said the doctor. “Your hcg result was very positive. Your level is 5500. I’m going to suggest you’re at least 6 weeks along. But given your previous history, I need you to get an ultrasound as soon as possible so we can rule out an ectopic ok?”

I agreed. Of course I agreed. I was both scared and excited.

But I was also so confused. Was this actually going to happen? Was I actually going to have a baby? With a man I didn’t love? Where was my husband? Why couldn’t this have happened a year ago?

I remembered back to the hundreds – or maybe even thousands – of times that I’d prayed and wished and begged to have a baby. Maybe this was my own fault. Maybe I hadn’t been specific enough.

Do you remember that Brendan Fraser movie Bedazzled where the devil (played by Liz Hurley) grants him three wishes in exchange for his soul? And he wishes to be rich and powerful, with his girl crush Frances O’Connor as his wife? The devil grants his wish and makes Frances O’Connor his wife, except it turns out she hates him and is cheating on him? Because whilst making the wish he didn’t ask for her to love him only to be married to him.

Do you get what I’m trying to say here? Maybe instead of just wishing for a baby I needed to wish for a baby with my husband. This whole thing was happening in such a messed up way because I hadn’t been careful enough in my wishing.

Two agonising days later, it was finally time to get my scan done at the clinic.

Once again, I explained my history to the sonographer and told her that I’d probably had hundreds of pelvic ultrasounds so I would know what I was looking at. She seemed quite stunned by that.

After I got undressed and sat up on the table, she placed the ultrasound wand on my pelvis, pressing down onto my overfull bladder.

My eyes were keenly glued to the screen across the room. Looking…waiting…

She moved the wand left and right, digging further into my bladder.

Blank. The screen was blank.

“There’s no gestational sac.” I said matter-of-factly.

I’d been pregnant several times before and knew this drill too well. Pregnancies didn’t go well for me. This was the expected outcome. I was in comfortable territory. I knew the deal. I could cope with this. Right. Okay. I was going to be 29 years old with 5 pregnancy losses under my belt. Fine.

“We’d better get you to empty your bladder and do an internal scan.” the sonographer said. “With levels at 5500 two days ago and the uterus empty, we need to check your tubes immediately.”

As soon as the internal scan began, a small sac popped up on the screen smack bang in the middle of my uterus.

“You see that?” the sonographer asked.

“Yeah I see it.” I nodded. “I don’t see a yolk sac or a fetal pole though.”

“No.” she agreed. “The sac is very small and it looks like it’s empty.”

She called a doctor into the room, who confirmed her diagnosis.

“I’m really sorry.” he said. “My best guess is that this is a blighted ovum. With your levels as high as they are, we really should see something bigger than this. My advice is to go home and wait to miscarry.”

“Okay.” I said calmly. “And what if I don’t start bleeding?”

“If you haven’t started bleeding within a week, I’ll need to schedule you an emergency appointment to see one of the best obstetricians at the private hospital.” said the doctor. “He deals with complicated cases like yours. You will probably need a d&c.”

That night, I was sitting in the living room watching tv with James when his phone rang.

It was his sister, Sharon. She and I were friends, and it was in fact at her Halloween party where I’d met James in 2014.

“Hey James put me onto speaker phone!” I heard her shout down the phone.

As soon as he complied with her request and placed the phone on the coffee table between us, she started shrieking excitedly.

“Guess what James! Guess what Sadie!” she screamed. “We’re having a baby! We’re pregnant! I’m going to be a mummy!”

My heart dropped into my stomach. It was the jolt of emotion that I badly needed to knock me out of my numb stupor.

Sharon’s child would have been my child’s cousin. They would have been the same age. Grown up together. Been best friends. Sharon and I would have gone through our pregnancies together.

As soon as she hung up, the flood gates opened. I just cried and cried and cried.

James, assuming I was upset because I am infertile, came and sat beside me and quietly hugged me. He kept telling me over and over that it was all right to be sad about the fact Sharon was pregnant and I couldn’t have kids. He kept telling me it wasn’t my fault.

I just couldn’t tell him the truth.

That I was mourning for another lost dream. Another hope dashed. Another failure. Another chance at happiness.

All I had to do now was make it through the next week.

At the end of a week I would have a more clear understanding of my future.

By that time, I’d either have miscarried already or I would be on my way to see the obstetrician who could give me some real answers.

Little did I know, it would be the longest week of my life…

To be continued! Hoorayyyyyy……

 

 

 

 

 

 

The one where Sadie gets her “groove” back (part two!)

Sorry for the delay in updating, the Christmas holidays got the better of me.

If you want to catch up on part one of my story before you read part two, you can read it here.

Otherwise, strap yourself in because part two is super choppy and actually has nothing to do with me getting my groove back…

___________________________

We were lying together in bed one night, James and I.
 
It was very late, the lights were off and I was very nearly asleep. Suddenly he sat up.
 
“I can’t do this anymore.” he said.
 
Groggy and confused, I reached over and switched on the lamp.
 
“Can’t do what?” I asked.
 
“I can’t be with you.” he said. “You’re very pretty and very nice. But it just doesn’t feel right. I’m just not that into you. I can’t pretend I am when I’m not.”
 
For a second I thought he was joking. After all, he’d been so intense during our short relationship. He had brought his son into my life. We’d spent Christmas together. What the hell was he talking about?
 
My next thought was that I’d just started feeling healthy again after my husband walking out on me. I wasn’t going to put up with any nonsense from anybody else ever again. Not him, not anybody.
 
So I started screaming at James. Told him in no uncertain terms I was too good for him anyway and didn’t have time for losers like him. Told him to get the hell out of my house. Grabbed his clothes from my wardrobe, his toothbrush from my bathroom and marched him downstairs in the middle of the night to my front door.
 
Once he was gone I didn’t even cry. In fact I was kind of glad that I could get back to my intense self-imposed gym schedule without feeling guilty that I should be spending my time with him instead.
 
The next morning he texted me very early to say he was sorry. I angrily deleted the text. My friend had been right – I didn’t have room in my life for any more Willy Wonkas.
 
My beloved house was on the market, my financial future was still in the hands of my divorce lawyer and I had better things to worry about than some stupid boy that I’d only been seeing for a couple of months.
 
I told all my friends what James had done and they all agreed wholeheartedly that he was basically the scum of the Earth. He’d even formally met my parents! You don’t meet a girl’s parents then ditch her like that.
 
48 hours later he turned up at my doorstep begging for forgiveness. He said he felt like he’d made a terrible mistake. It was just that after his own divorce and the fact he didn’t get to see his son very often, he felt like he wasn’t ready for anything serious. He’d rushed into things.
 
“Anything serious?” I scoffed. “Do you think I’m ready for anything serious? I’m still going through my separation! At least your divorce was finalised a long time ago!”
 
“So could we try again?” he asked hopefully. “Just…not so serious? Like maybe…friends who date each other and sleep together…but aren’t…committed?”
 
“If you’re suggesting we sleep with other people then no.” I said firmly. “I’m not interested. I don’t want to catch anything nasty.”
 
“Okay I agree.” he said. “We could be exclusive…but not committed?”
 
“Fine.” I said. “Whatever works.”
 
And thus began the most bizarre relationship I’ve ever been a part of.
 
Suddenly I felt like I’d been thrust into a Taylor Swift song. We were together, we weren’t, we were together, we weren’t.

He’d be super committed for a few weeks then panic and back right off. He’d call me up and tell me he still wanted to be with me and we were back on again. Even though my friends were telling me that this whole thing was silly and we should never, ever, ever get back together…
 
Whilst I was dancing the ridiculous relationship tango, other parts of my life started to change dramatically as well. 
 
One day I received a phone call out of the blue from a large organisation based in a seaside town about 2 hours outside the city where I live. It was a lovely regional hub, and had the atmosphere of a friendly town with the infrastructure and services of a small city. Let’s just call it….Paradise.

Doug and I had always planned to move there to raise our family but good jobs in the area were very hard to come by. I’d gone for a job interview there many moons ago and ended up coming in second from a pool of over 300 candidates. 
 
The caller on the other end of the phone was the manager of the same organisational department where I’d applied for the original job. She said that a different job had popped up and as I’d come second last time she really hoped I would apply. She even said she’d send through key information on the job which would give me a competitive edge in my interview.
 
Honestly I thought the whole idea was perfect. Paradise was close enough to the city that I could still regularly travel home to see my family, but far enough away that I would never have to worry about running into Doug in the grocery store or at the cinema.
 
The money was incentive too. Years ago I worked in a high stress high paid job, but I’d given it up prior to starting IVF and taken a $30,000 annual pay cut in order to work in a low stress environment and help our chances of conceiving.  It was never an issue as Doug’s hefty salary made our lives more than comfortable.
 
But going through the divorce on my lower wage, it meant I was left completely broke trying to pay the bills and mortgage. This new job would be a $15,000 increase on my current annual salary. It would mean I’d still have to carefully budget and watch every penny, but I would be much better off financially and have a chance to apply for further promotions at the company in the future.
 
Not to mention the housing market in Paradise was amazingly better. In the city, the money I received from my divorce settlement would be enough to possibly afford the deposit on a small two bedroom apartment. But for the same money in Paradise I could easily put down a deposit on a large house with a decent sized garden for the dog.

It would be a lot of space for just one person, but make the transition out of my dream home much easier and I could always get in a few people to rent the extra rooms.
 
Plus…I mean…who doesn’t want to live on the doorstep of some of Australia’s nicest beaches?
 
After agreeing to apply for the job, the process actually happened very quickly. In a matter of days I was signing a contract and resigning from my old job. I told my family and friends, who were all a little worried that I was isolating myself too far away from them, but at the same time excited for my big change.
 
The hardest part was telling James I was leaving. Or…so I thought.
 
“Great!” he said enthusiastically. “I’ve always loved it in Paradise. Let’s go!”
 
I stared at him blankly. “Wait…what?”
 
“Well I’ll quit my job and move with you!” he said, as if this was somehow an obvious option.
 
“You want to…move in together?” I asked, perplexed.
 
“Well sure!” James said. “But I’ll have my own bedroom wherever we live so that it won’t feel like a serious relationship.”
 
The idea sounded wacky as all hell and there was also the obvious problem of maintaining custody weekends with James’ son, not to mention he had no job prospects once he arrived in Paradise.

But James was determined the move would be a fresh start in life for him and a chance to get out of truck driving. And secretly, I liked the fact I wasn’t going to be totally alone in a new place…
 
Two weeks later I was settling into my new job. The team in my new department were all lovely. It was an all female team (surprisingly with no bitchiness that I could see!) and everyone was a fair bit older than me. But everyone was so nice and I made friends very quickly.
 
I had one minor heart attack when my supervisor dropped my ex mother-in-law’s name during conversation and it turned out they were friends. But other than that, my life was pretty chilled out and living with James was pretty effortless.
 
A month after moving, my divorce settlement came through and a week after that I’d bought myself a new house.

Modern and surrounded by quiet bushland, the house was built only eight years ago with four bedrooms, two bathrooms, a good sized yard, two living rooms, double garage and a huge leafy park directly opposite where all the neighbourhood kids congregated every day after school.

It was ten minutes from the beach but only 1.5 kilometres (0.9 miles) to walk to work each day. There was even a dedicated flat walking path that would take me straight there.
 
It was no palace. The house had been a rental for its entire eight years, so some internal walls needed patching and it needed painting inside and out. The carpets in the bedroom were worn and also needed replacing. But it was mine! It was a house nobody could ever take from me. I was very proud of it.
 
James was amazing. He moved all my furniture and boxes to the new house. Then he helped me pick paint colours, and while I was at work each day he painted every internal wall, the entire outside of the house and even built me new fences so the dog couldn’t escape. The only thing I needed to source was someone to lay new flooring in the bedrooms. Within two months the house was looking brand new again.
 
Plus, our relationship had never been better and James even told me that he loved me. Everything was coming up Millhouse.
 
I held a housewarming/birthday party when I turned 29. James organised the whole thing and I had so much fun. Surrounded by friends in my new home I felt like a whole human being again, even though it was my first birthday in over 10 years without my husband.

When it was time to blow out the candles on my birthday cake, James’ 4 year old son Isaac asked me to pick him up so we blew out the candles together. It was an incredible feeling to finally be able to blow out the candles on a birthday cake with an excited little boy nestled on my hip, even if he wasn’t mine to keep.
 
It was when the crazy busy house renovating stopped, the boxes were unpacked and I’d settled completely into my job that things with James started to go really badly.
 
Four months after moving he still didn’t have a job and wasn’t really looking for one. He would sit on my couch all day in his underwear, watching tv and making a huge mess (which he never cleaned up!). It was absolutely maddening.
 
Then he became lazy and started skipping his custody weekends with Isaac because he couldn’t be bothered driving back to the city to collect him. As you can imagine, I found it very upsetting that I wasn’t able to see my favourite little guy very often.
 
As if things couldn’t get any worse, one night James agreed to do IVF with me (in a sperm donor capacity) so that I could try once more to have a child of my own. My parents even said they would lend me the money for the fertility treatment.

I was ecstatic and booked an appointment to see a fertility specialist in Paradise. Then, the day before the appointment, James changed his mind and said he couldn’t go through with it anymore. I was left devastated.
 
A few weeks later, we patched things up. Things were fine for about a month. Until I found out that at the beginning of our relationship, back when we were still living in the city, he’d slept with another girl behind my back. A girl who had the same name as me. Can you say ewwww!

He argued that it was perfectly fine because it was only one time, he’d used protection with her and we hadn’t yet agreed to be exclusive. But it still made my blood boil that he’d hidden it from me.
 
It especially made me mad because we’d been having unprotected sex for months. After sleeping together for a while, we noticed I seemed to have a mild allergic reaction to condoms so I’d gone to the doctor and asked for a prescription to the contraceptive pill.

The doctor had actually laughed at me and told me I didn’t need the pill because I’d never get pregnant naturally. But nonetheless, we’d ditched the condoms and been unprotected. I angrily made James get an STD test to make sure he hadn’t given me anything. Thankfully it was clear.
 
But James turned into a verbally abusive monster. He told me he hated my beloved dog and hoped he died, thought I was a stupid uptight snob and wasn’t worth the effort.

Finally our constant arguing got the better of me. He told me he didn’t love me at all, I told him I hated him and needed him to move out of my house within the coming weeks.

Honestly I was so upset that I felt sick and even started vomiting, which was unusual for me. But I also knew that my period was due and judging by the intensity of my menstrual cramps it was going to be a huge one. So I didn’t think much of it.
 
Trying to make the most of the little time I had left with Isaac, I took him to the local theme park and we rode the kiddie rollercoaster all day. Then we rode our bikes all around town. Saying goodbye to him, knowing it was probably the last time, was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
 
That weekend I drove into the city to have dinner with my mum and put some distance between myself and James. I told my mother how I’d been so miserable it was making me sick and nauseated.
 
“Nausea, hey? You should take a pregnancy test.” she said nonchalantly, taking a bite of her chicken.
 
“That would be a waste of $12.” I scoffed. “You know I can’t get pregnant. Besides, I’ve had horrible cramps all week.”
 
But after dinner my mother drove to the supermarket and purchased a test herself. I was cranky and most certainly not a willing participant.
 
“Just take it.” she said, handing me the box. “At least then you’ll know.”
 
“This is so stupid Mum.” I snapped. “As if I don’t have enough to be sad about lately, without you reminding me I’m horrendously infertile.”
 
Yet to appease her, I stormed off into the bathroom and locked the door. I could hear her hovering just on the other side of the door, like the meddlesome parent that she was.
 
Sighing, I ripped open the FRER package and followed my old routine. I turned the test face down so I didn’t get pee in the results window, did my business and then quickly flipped the test the right way up so I could leave it to sit for 5 minutes on the floor and wait for the lonely little control line to appear.
 
Strangely when I turned it over, the control line was already there and super thick even though it had only been a few seconds. Except I noticed straight away that it was on the wrong side of the window.
 
“The freakin’ test is faulty.” I called through the door to my mother.
 
“What do you mean?” Mum called back.
 
“There’s only one line in the results window, but it’s the pregnancy line not the control line.” I explained.
 
Suddenly I realised what was actually happening and I burst into tears.
 
“Why are you crying?” my mum asked, banging on the door. “What’s going on in there?”
 
But I didn’t even have the ability to form words to respond. I just kept staring at that test.
 
Sure enough, after a minute or so, a super faint line appeared on the control side.
 
It was a reverse squinter.
 
In other words, my hcg levels were so high that the pregnancy line had sucked all the pink dye across from the control line.
 
After years of trying and failing to conceive, multiple surgeries, 8 cycles of IVF, 3 pregnancy losses, an ectopic pregnancy and my husband walking out on me because I couldn’t have kids…I was pregnant.

Pregnant naturally.
 
No wait, I was pregnant accidentally…to a man I’d just ended a relationship with.
 
To be continued…..(again)