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