Archive | February 2016

The last of the update posts

Can you believe I’m back already? Hopefully this post will bring us up to the present time. As per usual – this will be a long one. Hopefully our last long post!
 
At the start of February, the sale of the house my parents had owned in the city for 30 years was finalised and they had to vacate. Unfortunately, their new house was not ready for settlement for another two weeks.

So of course they hauled all their boxes and furniture to Paradise, stored them in my garage and moved in with me temporarily. It was the least I could do, considering I was soon to be moving in with them for more than a year!
 
James had been promising to move out for weeks, but unsurprisingly by the time my parents arrived he was still living in my front bedroom.  You see, he’d started yet another new job and then quit after less than a fortnight. So he had no money to move out and rent his own place.
 
This was something that was giving me high anxiety, because my father, who struggles to hold back his sour feelings at the best of times, was about at the point where he was ready to hit James with a baseball bat.

Like, I get it. It must be hard to watch some deadbeat guy walk all over your only daughter and treat her very badly. I’d wanna hurt the guy too!
 
But along with my mother, we sat him down and explained to him that even though James had been treating me terribly for a sustained period of time, we had to tread very lightly. If he were to lash out at James at any point, no matter what he’d done to cause my father to react that way, then it would actually be bad for me in the long run.

Because I wanted to request full custody of my daughter for at least the first two years after her birth, and if at any point my dad screamed at James or physically manhandled him out of my house then James could argue that he didn’t want his child living with someone who was violent and it could end up affecting me in the Family Court. I didn’t need to give James any ammunition against me.
 
On the day they arrived, my mother announced that she was moving into my bedroom. My parents have a large dog that sleeps outside each night, and she said that as the dog had never lived in a house other than the one they’d just sold, she was concerned their dog would cry all night alone in the backyard.

She explained that as my bedroom is at the very back of the house, if she was sleeping in my bedroom the dog could still see her and may remain calm and not disturb the neighbours. But if you ask me this was just an excuse to be with me all night and stop James coming into my room in the evenings, saying abusive things and upsetting me.

My mother also took over a lot of the cleaning and cooking duties. It was a huge relief as James refused to do any kind of housework at all so having to continually clean up after both of us was getting exhausting.

Unfortunately, James readily started taking advantage of my mother. He was eating all the food she cooked, without ever offering to recompense her for the money she was spending on groceries. She was also doing his washing and cleaning for him. My mother was silently seething about it, but put it up with it to keep the peace.
 
One night, I was lying in bed, when James started texting me from the front bedroom. You know I can’t even remember what he was texting me now but I know it was bad. Probably stuff along the usual lines – I’d ruined his life, he wished I’d had a miscarriage, he hated me for keeping the baby, I should buy him a boat as compensation for the hell I was putting him through etc etc.
 
I started crying and showed my mother my phone. She got so angry and told me instead of sitting in my room blubbering I should go down to his room and confront him in person.
 
At this point I will admit I stepped a bit outside my own personality. I snapped and stormed down there, barged into the front bedroom and told James he was a “fucking loser” with no education, no job and no hope in life and that I didn’t want my daughter exposed to his nonsense.

He screamed back that I was a “full retard” (naturally I asked him how many full retards have masters degrees and have started their doctorates but he didn’t have an answer for that) and he didn’t want our daughter exposed to me.

Then he burst out into the hallway. My parents were both sitting in the living area listening to him as he screamed at me and told me how much he hated me and that he was leaving the house immediately to get away from me because I was a bully and a retard.

I was bawling my eyes out and so stressed I had pain shooting down the sides of my uterus. He stormed out of the house and slammed the front door.
 
My father then started screaming that James was never allowed near me ever again and they would no longer allow him to subject me to such verbal abuse. I was so hysterical I actually vomiting.
 
Literally 25 minutes later, James texted me:

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He begged to be allowed to come home because he was sitting by the side of the road crying. I told him that he could come back inside as long as he went straight to his bedroom without saying a word to anyone and stayed away from me. He also had to agree to see a doctor and seek help for his mental health issues. He readily agreed.
 
Then my mother had to go out to the living room and calm my father down enough for him not to physically intervene when James arrived back at the house. Thankfully he agreed to be civil about everything.
 
The next morning, in typical James style, I received a retraction of his apology and an assertion that everything the night before had been my fault because I’d called him a loser:

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(The black squiggle is where I’ve had to block out James’ actual name)
 
Of course it triggered another fight between us and I ended up sobbing in the bathroom at work.
 
The following day, a heat wave hit the east coast of Australia. It was 38 degrees (100 F) outside, a dry oppressive heat, and much hotter inside.

James, who was usually out of bed before 5am each morning, still hadn’t made an appearance by 8am. When I went into his room the windows were shut and it was like a sauna in there. He was lying on his bed under a blanket. I asked him what was wrong and he could barely open his mouth to speak to me. He just whispered that his life wasn’t worth living and rolled over away from me.
 
By midday I was bringing him bottles of water and food, because I was so concerned he was going to require hospitalisation from severe dehydration. It was well over 40 degrees in his room and he wouldn’t allow me to open a window.

He refused to eat or drink. If anyone has ever seen the television show Shameless, it was like watching Monica or Ian Gallagher when they have their bipolar depressive episodes. I was seriously concerned for his mental health.
 
By 3pm I told him if he didn’t get up out of bed in 15 minutes I was going to call his father and make him drive all the way from the city to physically drag him out of bed. That seemed to do the trick and he finally made an appearance in the living room.
 
I think by this point James could see the stress I was under and the fear in my eyes. He knew he’d gone too far and that I didn’t know how to help the situation anymore.

So he called his old boss in the city, from way back when he’d been a truck driver (when I first met him) and asked if there was any work going. His old boss said not only could James have his old job back – he could start on Monday.
 
So just like that James was gone.
 
I mean, he wasn’t totally gone. He would still message me every day. Sometimes to ask how I was doing, but mostly just to bitch about how much he hated it in the city and his old job and how he wouldn’t be back there if I hadn’t ruined his life.
 
But the physical separation was such a huge relief. It was like a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I felt free from the burden of him, even temporarily.
 
At the same time my parents’ new house settled and we moved both their stuff plus a lot of mine across to the new place. There was still a lot of packing left to do at my house, but I had a few weeks before I needed to have it empty for renters to move in.
 
The adjustment to living with my parents was actually harder than I thought it would be. On the one hand, it was lovely that my mother was doing my washing for me. But on the other hand, I hated that she was going into my room uninvited to empty my dirty clothes hamper. I felt like I’d gained my sanity back and was protected inside a little cocoon in my parents’ “in-laws suite” (thanks Bruised Banana!) but at the same time I’d lost my privacy and independence.
 
When I was 25 weeks pregnant, I got a new car. I know what you’re thinking – how could I possibly get a new car when I’m totally broke and can’t even afford my bills. Well let me tell you the answer surprises me as much as it surprises anyone.
 
My parents had approached me weeks prior and told me that they felt it was very unsafe that I was driving around in a beat-up old car. It was actually my first ever car – a small white two door car that I’d bought when I was still a university student.

When I was married to Doug, he’d driven a fancy corporate car (because he had a fancy corporate job) so I drove around in his brand new car. My little white car was relegated to the garage where it was neglected for many years. But after the separation, it was serviced and repaired and became my number one (and only) car again.
 
I explained to my parents that I would like very much to upgrade my car, particularly as it only had two doors so I was going to have a lot of trouble getting the baby in and out of the back seat. But I had no money so it would have to wait.

And then they bought me a brand new car.
 
Like honestly they called me up one day and said “come on down to the car dealership to test drive this car and pick which colour you want” and that was pretty much it.

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I want to stress that my parents aren’t rich. Far from it – I can remember growing up they often struggled to put food on the table or pay bills. But they had some surplus money left over from the sale of their house in the city and they saw this as a way to genuinely help me.

It wasn’t a gift it was a loan. I was given the car on the condition that over time I slowly pay them back for it, and if that wasn’t ever possible then my brother would get a little more in their estate after they died. It was as simple as that.
 
I can’t tell you what it feels like to drive around in that car. I can’t tell you what it feels like to know that my parents care so much about my wellbeing, and the wellbeing of my child, that they would permanently loan me that much money so that I could be safe in a car with seven airbags, ABS brakes and every other safety feature under the sun.

And the fact that I never once asked them for it makes it even more special. I have people who look after me and care for me without me even having to tell them I need help.
 
I sold my little old car for $1700 (haha!) and immediately gave that money to my parents as a way to begin paying them back for the car. They said that was quite enough and not to worry about paying them back anything else for the next few years while the baby is little.

Even my brother was super supportive and glad that I had a new safe car. My whole family was amazingly supportive. It made me cry to know I was going to be okay and my family was genuinely going to take care of me.
 
James vocally told anyone who would listen that I didn’t actually own my new car – that my parents did. That it wasn’t really my car at all. But my parents told me to ignore him and not let it bring me down.
 
When I was 26 weeks pregnant, I was sitting in a meeting at work one morning when I suddenly felt overcome with morning sickness. I’d suffered really badly until about 17 weeks, vomiting multiple times all day and night. At 22 weeks it had recurred for about a week. So feeling nauseated at 26 weeks wasn’t entirely a surprise.
 
I stood up to quietly excuse myself from the meeting, when I unexpectedly became dizzy, saw yellow spots in my eyes and heard a high pitched ringing in my ears.

Next thing I know, I was lying on a sofa across the other side of the meeting room with my shoes off and my feet elevated. Luckily my boss, who was sitting next to me in the meeting, had seen me go very pale in the face and acted with lightning speed to catch me as I fainted so I never hit the floor.
 
Though I said I was feeling much better, the workplace health and safety protocol in my office dictated I still go up to the hospital to be checked over. So my boss phoned my mother (once again…so lucky that my parents moved to Paradise) and she came to pick me up.

To be honest I wasn’t stressed about the situation. I felt really calm that my baby was okay and I was okay, and everything was going to be okay.
 
By the time I got to the hospital my blood pressure was completely normal but my usually extremely over-active baby (every time I’ve had a scan they’ve had trouble taking measurements because she doesn’t stay still long enough!) was very quiet. So they hooked me up to the EKG machine for a few hours to monitor her heart rate and my contractions.

The midwives were originally concerned because they could see on the machine I was having contractions, but the doctor was satisfied that they were Braxton Hicks and nothing to be too concerned about so I was sent home.
 
On the way home, I texted James to let him know what had happened. His exact response was “Wow I’m glad you’re okay. But aren’t you going to ask me how my day is going?” It was so…typical.
 
When I was 27 weeks pregnant I headed back to the city to do a breastfeeding workshop with the Australian Breastfeeding Association.
 
For me, breastfeeding is something that I take very seriously and it’s my number one goal to exclusively breastfeed my baby until she’s six months old. I really wanted to learn everything I could about breastfeeding so that I knew how to get the baby to latch correctly and where to go to for help, so that I could achieve my goal.
 
I was shocked and embarrassed when I realised that there were ten other mummies in the workshop, and literally every single one of them had brought their husbands with them to the class. I felt like such an idiot sitting there without a supportive, loving partner.

They even had a whole section of the workshop dedicated to how partners could support the breastfeeding mother. When we went around the room to introduce ourselves, I actually lied and said my partner was at work. I didn’t want them all to pity me or look at me differently if they knew I was doing this all on my own.
 
In the half time break, I texted James and told him I was the only woman there on her own. His response was “Well as far as they know I’m out working my butt off to bring in money for the baby before she is born.” My reply was a simple: “But James…you’re not.”
 
That evening, seen as I was staying in the city, James invited me to see Deadpool with him at the cinema. He’d promised to take me to see the movie before he left Paradise to make up for the fact he’d been very mean to me on Valentine’s Day (…a story not even worth mentioning). I agreed to go with him, thinking it would be best to stay as amicable with him as possible.
 
But when we got to the cinema he made me pay for both our tickets as he claimed he had “no money” despite the fact he was now working full-time, earning more on a weekly basis than I was and also living rent-free with a friend in the city! The tickets were $45 and it was simply money I didn’t have as my house was still vacant. I couldn’t even find the money to pay for my next credit card bill let alone indulge in trips to the cinema.
 
Being super pregnant and emotional I just started bawling my eyes out in the foyer of the cinema. It was so embarrassing! I told him it wasn’t fair that he expected me to pay $45 for our tickets when he was the one to invite me and he was yet to pay a cent to help me with any of the baby’s costs.
 
He sat next to me silently for about 15 minutes while I cried, playing a game on his phone. Then he leaned over and told me I should calm down and he had no sympathy for me because even though he admitted I’d been having a very hard time and he knew I was struggling with money, as soon as the baby was born the government would force him to pay child support for “a kid he probably won’t get to see very often.”

And then I’d be “laughing all the way to the bank” for the next 18 years while his life was “ruined”.

So he said I should actually be the one feeling sorry for him, and not the other way around. Then he tossed two $20 notes into my lap and told me to stop crying.

The next day, in usual James fashion, he back-flipped on his original stance and told me he was very sorry. He said he wished he’d been able to come to terms with the pregnancy earlier so he could have properly supported me.

Somehow it meant less to me and also hurt less. He lives two hours away now. I don’t feel his words like I used to – they don’t seem to burn into my soul. I let them slide off me like water off a ducks back.

Is he really sorry? No. He’s not. Because he tells me he’s sorry all the time and then goes and says hurtful things again.

Do I trust him? No. Do I want him around my daughter more than necessary? No. But…am I as stressed and anxious about the future? No.

Right now I am 28 weeks pregnant, fast heading towards 29 weeks. I am feeling like I’m in a safe space in terms of the viability of this baby. She is extremely active and I feel her moving constantly day and night. I know if she’s born now she will be born alive and have an 85+ percent chance at survival.

Being with my parents, as I said, is both a blessing and a curse. But everything is more relaxed now when it comes to James. He has already mentioned that he feels like they’re acting as a barrier and he can no longer see me whenever he wants to see me. He doesn’t understand that this is deliberate and they are intentionally blocking his access to me.

And my parents have already said if at any stage I feel ready to pull the trigger, they will contribute some money and help me with legal fees to fight for custody of my baby.

I’m honestly hoping it doesn’t come to that and James will be able to allow me to raise her in the best possible environment without too much fighting or disruption. I still have a long way to go, but I am hopeful for the future now.

I’m glad she is with me. I’m glad she is my baby.

I still have a long way to go before she is in my arms, but I will continue to do what I think is best in order to provide for her, support her and give her the best possible life.

And now we are basically up to date! Congratulations to you all on reaching the end of my epic story. Well, not the end, but you know what I mean. No more “to be continued” at the end of posts.

I look forward to keeping you updated on everything going on in my life and waiting for this little girl to arrive.

Love to you all.

Sadie xx

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Life, and other stuff that happened

Hello all! I’m still alive and kicking. Thank you all for your messages of support. They have truly boosted my morale.

Let’s just jump straight into this, shall we? Just a warning – this is going to be another long one!
 
You know I’m not even really sure where I left off with the last blog post. I think around the time I was 16 weeks pregnant and James finally realised he’d been treating me really badly?
 
So I guess that brings us to the month of December. The lead up to Christmas – which is usually my favourite time of year. But I can’t really remember much about December 2015, to be honest.
 
I do know for the most part James was better behaved. He was a little more understanding of my situation and stopped telling me constantly that I was fat and disgusting. I also remember him helping me more around the house and being more understanding when I was upset.
 
But then maybe my memory is playing tricks on me. Because I do recall at one point having a huge blow-up fight with him and kicking him out of my house. Like, he was literally sitting outside on the street because whatever he had done was so bad that I wouldn’t let him back inside the house.
 
In the end, the only reason I let him come back inside and continue to live with me was for his son’s sake. Isaac was coming to Paradise for 10 days the following week – the first time James had asked for custody of his son since early September.
 
I didn’t want to confuse a 5 year old if James was in the middle of packing his things and moving to a new house while he was visiting. Plus don’t forget the fact that Isaac spent most of his custody time with me, and I knew he would be traumatised if he was suddenly told he wasn’t allowed to see me anymore.
 
And then of course, the following week James phoned his ex-wife and told her that Isaac wasn’t going to come and stay with us after all. So letting him back in the house was basically for no reason at all.
 
Why? I hear you ask.  Why would a father who hadn’t seen his child for three months waive his right to custody?
 
Well you see, once James found out I was pregnant he was so devastated and angry and depressed and his life was so “ruined” and blah blah blah that he quit his job. Yes, he was so angry I was pregnant that he could no longer work. I really am a life ruiner.
 
After a while, living off a government unemployment pension started cramping his style so he started to search for work again. And he told his ex-wife that he wasn’t able to have custody of Isaac in December because he was going to devote his time to trying to find a good job. A 5 year old would get in the way of that.
 
By this stage I was no longer so stupid that I believed that rubbish, but I went along with it for the sake of peace in the house.

The week before Christmas we did drive back to the city to see Isaac though and tell him I was pregnant. His mum dropped him off at a cafe and when he saw me he broke out into this dramatic open-armed run, like you see in romantic movies. It made me go all gooey in my tummy to see him so excited.

When we told him about the baby he rolled his eyes and said “you guys, I already knew about that!” which is just a total lie hahaha.

But he was very excited and decided his sister’s name will be Batman Girl. Not Batgirl, Batman Girl. When his mum came to pick him up, he got upset and asked if he could come and stay at “Sadie’s house” for a few weeks.

I did feel a bit bad for James that his son was clearly more attached to me than to him. But when you’re an absent dad that’s bound to happen…

This was also the week that we publicly announced the pregnancy. We even put it on Facebook. We went to visit the local Santa and posed for a photo with Santa pointing at my belly to announce the surprise (yes James agreed to this kooky plan!) then posted it online.

I was careful to do it tastefully as I didn’t want to upset anyone who may be quietly infertile on my friends list. I explained in the post the silent struggle I’d been through with IVF and miscarriages over many years, and that this baby was my miracle.

One girl on my friends list even messaged me to say she was going through infertility and I’d brightened her day knowing miracles could happen so I felt good about that.

I was unsurprised yet bitterly disappointed that a lot of my close friends became very upset at my pregnancy. Despite everything I’d been through, they couldn’t understand why I’d kept my pregnancy from them for 20 weeks. A few of them even refused to congratulate me!

Others were just angry that I’d been so stupid to fall pregnant to a man they hated. It was just the kind of stress I didn’t need, as none of them had any clue of the private hell I’d been living in for months. I didn’t feel supported by them at all.
 
On Christmas Day, I travelled to the city again to spend the holiday with my family. James promised he would come to Christmas lunch, so my family set a place for him and catered for him (even though they very much dislike him). But lunch time rolled around and James…did not.
 
At about 3pm we had a huge fight over the phone, because he hadn’t bothered to turn up for lunch. He started crying and said he was going to kill himself because he was so depressed. So I had to leave my parents’ house unexpectedly and spend the night with him instead.
 
It was around this time that my parents became so concerned about me and my baby that they decided to put their house on the market. They had considered the idea a few months previously but now realised that their house, about 2 hours away from Paradise, was too far away for them to properly support me.

I really had no option to move back to the city because under the Australian system I needed to remain in my current job to access maternity leave benefits. Without paid parental leave, I wasn’t going to keep my head above water because of the unplanned nature of my pregnancy.
 
Amazingly, once my parents’ house was on the market it received multiple offers and sold in less than 72 hours. My younger brother was absolutely devastated as my parents had owned the same house for 30 years and we’d literally grown up there. He saw it was the destruction of a legacy. I tried not to feel guilty about that.
 
The great news was due to the fact they’d purchased their home back in 1986, they were able to sell it for 35 times what they paid for it. Yes I said 35 times. So making the move to Paradise, where the housing is much more affordable, they were actually able to buy a huge and amazing house on a lake with the most fantastic views.
 
The best part? It was only ten minutes from my workplace and had a granny flat on the back. I know granny flat is a super Aussie/British thing. I don’t really know how to describe it or what a more common word for it would be. An annexe attached to the back of the house with self contained accommodation?
 
Basically at the back of my parent’s house there is a hallway with a lockable door. On the other side are two bedrooms, a bathroom, a small second kitchen and a small living area. It has it’s own private entrance at the back of the property. So it’s self contained away from the main house, or easily utilized as part of the whole dwelling if the hallway door is left open.
 
So of course the logical step for my parents to protect and help me, was for me to move back in with them. It would mean I could rent my house out for a little while, stretch my finances and extend my maternity leave from 5 months to 12 months.

Being able to afford to stay at home with my baby girl for an entire year as a single parent was absolutely worth the sacrifice of being a 29 year old moving in with my parents. Wait… temporarily moving in with my parents.
 
It also meant my parents were prepared to act as a physical and emotional barrier between myself and James. They were removing me from that situation and there was nothing James or anyone else could do to stop them.
 
James did try to fight it for a while. When I explained to him that by living with my parents I could stretch my maternity leave to 12 whole months, he started saying I could still rent my house out and instead live in a house he rented for us. We could still live together as a family.
 
Then he actually saw the house my parents had purchased. And he quickly realised there was absolutely no way he could afford to rent anything remotely as comfortable. In fact, the only thing he’d be able to afford to rent on his unemployment pension would be a beach shack. He realised both myself and the baby were much better off living in a new, modern house where I’d have central heating for the baby and lots of space in a safe neighbourhood.
 
Unfortunately, the move-in date for my parents new house wasn’t until early February so I still had a little while to wait until I could rent my house out. In the meantime I persisted with my life in a weird limbo – half in and half out of a relationship with my baby’s father.
 
Over New Years, James took me camping with six of his mates. As you can imagine, I was super apprehensive about the fact that I was five months pregnant and would be camping in the bush in the middle of the Australian summer.
 
But it was only for three nights, and there would be other girls in the group. Plus James promised not to drink alcohol so that if something went wrong with the pregnancy he would quickly drive me to the closest hospital (which was about two hours away!).
 
Nevertheless, on New Years Eve itself – surprise surprise – James got super drunk.
 
When I asked him why he was drinking so much, and suggested he slow down so that he wasn’t completely out of his mind intoxicated, he told me in front of everyone that he wanted to be drunk enough so that he could forget I was pregnant and have a good night for once.
 
So that was that. He went off with the others down onto the beach and got drunk. I went and sat in the tent on my own in the dark.
 
There was no phone reception where we were, so I couldn’t even call my mother or a friend. At midnight I walked down to the beach on my own and sat on the cold sand. I bawled my eyes out, and tried to remind myself that I wasn’t really alone because my daughter was with me.
 
Then I looked up at the night sky and thought a lot about my ex-husband. He was somewhere else under that same sky, celebrating the new year with his new girlfriend.

I wondered if he had any idea exactly how pathetic my life had become and how much I wished my baby was his. It was like the further I went in my pregnancy, the more I regressed and missed my ex. Very frustrating.
 
The next day James apologised for getting drunk, but kept insisting over and over that he hadn’t even realised it was a big deal. He said he didn’t come and find me at midnight to wish me a happy new year because he assumed I was asleep.
 
After that, he was on his best behaviour again for a while.
 
The day we returned from camping I had my morphology/anomaly scan. He insisted on coming with me – even though I had extreme reservations because he’d acted like such a dick at my nuchal scan a few months earlier.
 
This time he sat next to me in the chair, with this obviously false grin plastered on his face, and pretended to be super interested. He didn’t say anything or have any real kind of emotional response when he saw our daughter on the ultrasound screen, but at least he didn’t embarrass me.
 
For me the scan was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. At this point in the pregnancy my baby actually looked like a real baby. She was super active – kicking and punching and rolling around. Her little brain was perfect, the valves in her heart were all perfect, her kidneys and bladder and stomach and all of her tiny little toes and fingers were perfect. I was just in love. She was my tiny perfect little miracle.
 
I was so proud of her and also so very proud of my body. This body that I continue to have no faith in. It was doing exactly what it was supposed to do. It was sustaining my daughter’s life and allowing her to grow into a beautiful, healthy little girl.

The following week James started a new job as a roofer. He decided after two days that he hated it and then three days later he quit. I can’t even describe my level of disappointment. What kind of an adult has that attitude to work when they have a child plus a new baby on the way? I’d never met a man with such an attitude.

I broke down crying and said he hadn’t given me a cent towards any of the baby’s expenses or my medical bills. He told me if I didn’t want to pay medical bills I should have had an abortion.

Not long after, he came to me crying and said he didn’t have enough money to pay the $500 registration fee for his car. I know I know that I should have told him to go and jump off a bridge, but I panicked that my parents were still two hours away and if something went wrong with the baby he wouldn’t be able to drive up to the hospital. So I paid his registration for him.

Then he confessed that he hadn’t been paying his phone bills for months as his unemployed status had left him broke, and the phone company was going to turn his service off. So of course I had no choice but to pay his phone bills for him too so I could stay in contact with him.

By the time I was 23 weeks pregnant he owed me over $1000. It was money I really didn’t have because of my own medical bills, and the fact I’d put heaps of my daughter’s stuff on layby at the local babies’r’us store.

When I told James’ brother-in-law that he owed me so much money, he cracked it and told me to cut James off financially because he needed to grow up and put his “big boy pants” on. At this point I half expected his family to intervene, but no. His parents remained silent and offered me no assistance. They did lend James some money, however, so he would stop asking me for it.

The day I ticked over to 24 weeks pregnant was like a massive milestone for me. I honestly never thought I’d be in a position where a baby I was carrying was given the stamp of viability.

The entire pregnancy still felt like a practical joke – like I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. But now, according to medical science, I was carrying a baby that could survive outside the womb. Suddenly I began to hope that this little girl would actually be my take-home baby.

I took the following week off work because Isaac actually came to Paradise to stay with us for 10 days.

As much as I tried to involve James, he showed very little interest in his son. I’d ask if he wanted to put Isaac in the bath but the answer was no. Did he want to help with dinner? No. Did he want to read a bedtime story? No.

Isaac and I went to the park, went swimming at the beach, played with my dog, built his lego that I’d given him for Christmas. We had so much fun together.

Every night when I put him to bed he would ask to see the baby (I’d have to lift my shirt up a little) and then tell me how much he loved me. I felt so lucky to be part of his life.

James continued to tell me how horrible his life was and it was obvious he was in the middle of some kind of mental breakdown. One afternoon he ended up taking some of the oxycodone that was left over from my last d&c when I miscarried in June 2014. Then he lay on the living room floor for hours like a zombie. I took Isaac to play at the local park so he wouldn’t have to see his dad like that.

The next day all three of us were sitting on the couch watching tv. Isaac was curled up in my lap, half asleep and stroking my hair.

“Hey Isaac, would you like to come and live with just me? Not Mummy or Sadie?” James suddenly asked his son.

Isaac sat up, shouted “No! Stay away from me!” then leaned over and punched his dad on the arm before cozying up on my lap again.

That night when Isaac went to bed James lost it at me. Blamed me for “poisoning” his son’s mind and making him love me more than he loved him. Said again that he was so depressed he wanted to die.

I tried to explain that Isaac gravitates towards me because I set clear boundaries for him and provide him with love and affection just like his mother does. I pointed out how often I tried to involve James on a daily basis, but he wasn’t interested in looking after his son. He told me 5 year olds don’t need looking after and I was treating Isaac like a baby.

I packed my bags and told him I was going to stay with my parents for a few days in the city so he could fully enjoy the parenting experience without me around to “steal” his son’s affection.

After just one night James started texting me and begging me to come home. He tried to guilt me by saying Isaac was asking for me. I was firm and said no.

When I did arrive home a few days later, Isaac ran out onto the driveway, opened my car door and climbed on top of me in the driver’s seat of the car.

“Why did you go away?” He asked. “I missed you. Please can I have a bath?”

When I asked him why he wanted a bath (because honestly 5 year old boys don’t often ask to be bathed) he told me that his daddy wouldn’t let him have one while I was gone. Honestly I was so mad at James.

Then I found out that rather than put Isaac to bed every night at 7.30pm, he’d let him stay up watching tv until after midnight when he fell asleep.

When Isaac finally went home to his mum’s house I lay awake for days stressing. Was that the life my daughter would have if James was granted joint custody? Midnight bedtimes, junk food and sporadic hygiene? I honestly felt so stuck and confused. And I was so sick of crying all the time.

But at the same time, I knew a change was coming.

And by “change” I mean my parents.

My parents were coming to Paradise and everything was about to become different.

As always – to be continued…

(p.s I’m hoping the next update will be the last and finally bring me up to speed with the present time! Here’s hoping…)

The infertile and the unwanted pregnancy

I honestly don’t really know how to write this post.

I don’t want to overdramatise it. I don’t want to make it sound worse than it was. But at the same time, I don’t want to downplay it either. Because I’ve been downplaying the events of my life to anyone and everyone who will listen for the past few months and to be quite frank I’m tired of it.

Not to mention, a lot of the details I’ve completely suppressed in my brain because I went through so much emotional trauma in such a short space of time I had no other choice but to let myself forget.

So I think I’ll just write this blog post stream of consciousness style. I’m not going to go into too many specifics here. If you can figure it out…great. If you can’t…well…ask me questions? I’ve deliberately not been responding to comments because I needed to get all of this stuff out first. But I feel ready now. So let’s do this.

Be warned: this is going to be very very long.

What was supposed to be the most joyous experience of my life – pregnancy after a long battle with infertility – was actually the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It led me to the darkest place in my life.

Who would have thought that finding out I was pregnant with a healthy baby would be emotionally harder than IVF, miscarriages and my husband leaving me all combined. Ha!

It wasn’t something that happened overnight, but a slow descent into madness and despair.

Once James figured out that I wasn’t rooting for a miscarriage the same as he was, he began attacking me. Never physically, just verbally.

It wasn’t always. It was just sometimes. Enough that it started to eat at my psyche, but not enough that I could outright blame him for my  emotional problems.

One of the first things he did, back when I was eight weeks pregnant, was inform me that I’d never see a cent of his money and he wouldn’t be paying me a dime of child support or any other type of maintenance.

At the time I just said okay. Because I was silly and naïve, and honestly thought that meant he was basically giving me the baby. He would terminate his parental rights and pay no child support, and I would have full custody of the baby. The baby I’d always wanted. So that was fine. I could manage on my own. No problems.

But then…he didn’t go away. He just stayed living at my house.

Instead, the campaign of psychological torment began.

He accused me of tricking him. He said I’d made up my medical diagnosis of infertility. That I knew all this time that I could get pregnant. That I’d worn him down over days, weeks and months (not true!) until he finally agreed to stop using condoms. And now I’d trapped him with this baby.

I showed him medical records that refuted his suggestions, showed him evidence of my miscarriages. I even showed him a letter from one of my treating doctors to another, stating that I would never be able to conceive naturally. Yet nothing could convince him I hadn’t trapped him.

He told me point blank that I had ruined his life. I had destroyed all his happiness. I was the cause of his complete demise. I had taken everything from him. He would never be a happy man for the rest of my life because of this baby. Because of me. The worst thing that ever happened to him was meeting me.

He said that he knew I’d never agree to an abortion because I was an “insane baby-crazy bitch” but that it was his preferred method of dealing with this situation.

Then he started creating body anxieties for me. We’d walk past a skinny girl at the grocery store and he’d lean down and whisper in my ear “once you have this baby you’ll never look like her ever again” or we’d walk past a clothing store and he’s say “your body is about to be destroyed and you’ll never be able to wear nice clothes ever again”.

He started calling me Migaloo (for those of you who don’t know, Migaloo is a very famous albino humpback whale that travels the coast of Australia every year). He started calling me Chub-Farm. He started calling me Fatty when I was eating my dinner every night.

One day I had horrible back pain so I asked him to help me stand up from the sofa and he said “Sorry I can’t help you because I don’t have a crane to lift you.”

He mocked me constantly because I’d gone “overboard” trying to keep the baby safe. I stopped drinking caffeine, refused to dye my hair and looked up every food for safety before I ate it. He said I was insane and no other pregnant ladies behaved as ridiculously as me.

At the same time as I was dealing with all of this, I was also dealing with the stress that comes from being pregnant after infertility.

For those of you who haven’t yet gone through it, the anxiety is intense. Every cramp meant I was miscarrying. Every day I didn’t cramp I was miscarrying. Every day I had morning sickness I was miscarrying. Every day I had no morning sickness I was miscarrying. Every day my boobs hurt I was miscarrying. Every day my boobs didn’t hurt I was miscarrying. I was just a wreck.

I would ring my mother absolutely hysterical at 2am, telling her I wasn’t coping. I just loved the baby and wanted it to be okay.

My obstetrician, Dr Eminem, diagnosed me with severe antenatal anxiety and sent me to see a therapist.

He also recommended I get the harmony test at 10 weeks gestation, so that I could put my mind at ease about some of the potential chromosomal abnormalities.

When I explained to James that I was having the harmony test, and that it would tell me the gender of the baby, he changed again.

He told me that all his life all he’d ever wanted was a daughter. He said when he found out his ex-wife was having a boy he’d been bitterly disappointed. That he’d never wanted to have a son.

So if the baby was a boy he would be completely devastated and not want much to do with it, but if it was a girl he would be requesting 50/50 custody.

Suddenly I felt like my life was over. I was trapped beyond anyone’s ability to rescue me. Custody? HALF custody?

This was a man who had refused to pay a cent of my medical costs to date. Even though progesterone and blood thinners and other medications were costing me around $500 out of pocket per week and I was struggling to pay my bills and mortgage. In fact I’d maxed out my credit card and was borrowing money to stay afloat. To keep this baby alive.

This was a man who didn’t care if his four year old watched television until midnight, served him junk food whenever he requested it, didn’t believe in educational activities like reading books to children and didn’t care if his kid bathed or cleaned his teeth when in his care.

This was a man who, when his son wet the bed, wrapped him up in a towel and made sleep on the wet patch all night. Because he couldn’t be bothered showering him or cleaning up the mess.

On more than one occasion he’d lost his temper when his son was misbehaving and shouted “I really hate you! Stop being a dickhead!”

Of course all of those negligent behaviours ended when I became involved in Isaac’s care. James improved as a father and his son actually began to enjoy coming to stay with him.

But this was the quintessential “weekend dad” who had no real concept of looking after a child full-time.

And suddenly this man was going to ask for 50/50 custody of my little baby IF IT WAS A GIRL? Just because he felt like he might fancy having a daughter? My little baby that I’d battled IVF for? The baby I’d hoped and prayed for? No. No no no.

It’s not that I wanted to keep the baby from him. Because I didn’t. I just didn’t want him having so much control over the baby’s life and routine. Every second weekend was okay, every second week was not. For the good of the child.

The harmony test cost me $500. James refused to contribute because as he told me, “if you hadn’t wanted to pay the medical costs you could have just had an abortion”.

In the nights leading up to getting the test results back, I could hardly sleep or eat. I was so focused on whether or not my baby was healthy. That was honestly all I cared about.

At my 11 week obstetrician’s appointment, Dr Eminem handed me a piece of paper with the results:

Risk of Trisomy 13: less than 1 in 10,000.

Risk of Trisomy 18: less than 1 in 10,000.

Risk of Trisomy 21: less than 1 in 10,000.

I was so relieved I started sobbing. Tears of relief and joy.

“Did you get everything written down there on the piece of paper?” he asked me with a twinkle in his eye.

“Yes.” I blubbered. “Everything is healthy.”

Dr Eminem laughed and pointed to the bottom of the piece of paper. A detail I’d clearly forgotten to check for.

Sex of the fetus: female.

It hit me like a ton of bricks.

The baby was a girl.

The baby was a girl.

Oh fuck my life the baby was a girl.

And do you know what? That is not the reaction I should have had, upon finding out my HEALTHY BABY was a girl. I should have been overjoyed in that moment. But instead I was terrified.

I got myself all worked up and then stormed home and hysterically informed James that I’d be hiring the best lawyer money could buy and keeping this child away from him. He screamed back that I’d be doing no such thing, grabbed his car keys and drove to my best friend’s house.

Oh yes…that’s an element of this story I forgot to mention before now. The “best friend” scenario.

You see, since moving to Paradise I’d become very close friends with the lady who sat next to me at work. She was older than me (41 years old) and divorced with two children aged seven and nine. She was my biggest support in Paradise and I spent a lot of time with her and her family. Let’s call her…Lucy.

As James had taken up work as a handyman some months before, and Lucy needed some renovations to her house, I’d put them in touch with each other. I thought I was doing the right thing by them both. They’d hit it off, and so when I socialised with Lucy, he started coming along too. It was nice to have a little group of friends in Paradise.

But that night he stormed off to her house and didn’t come back for hours.

Then it started to happen regularly. He would say abusive things to me like call me fat or tell me how much I’d ruined his life and he wished he’d never met me. I’d eventually snap and burst into tears then scream something back at him. Usually something along the lines of “you’re an uneducated fuckwit” or “you’re a loser and your own son hates you”.

Petty of me I know. But I was seriously at my wits end.

He’d get in the car and drive to Lucy’s house.

I demanded to know what was going on, but Lucy insisted she wasn’t going to get in the middle of an argument and that she was looking out for my best interests.

The only reason I knew the pair weren’t sleeping together is James and his pride. Lucy is um…a very large woman. And he’s one of those cocky good-looking guys who “wouldn’t touch a fat chick”.

Other than that, I had no idea what he was telling her. I heard him trash talking me to other people. He’d tell them I was ruining his life, that I’d trapped him, that I was abusive and demanding money from him. It’s amazing how you can really spin any story so as to appear as the victim.

What really struck me as odd was the reason Lucy was allowing this to continue. She knew better than anyone the things he was saying and doing to me, yet she continued to associate with him.

When I was 12 weeks pregnant I went to get my nuchal scan done.

I’d wanted to take my mother with me but for some bizarre unknown reason James insisted that as the baby’s father he had a right to come. Of course I agreed and welcomed him to come along to a scan. He’d never shown any interest in the baby before and I was hoping he was turning a new leaf.

But instead he sat up the back of the room playing games on his phone.

“Aren’t you interested in seeing your baby?” the sonographer asked, scowling at him.

“Pfft. Seen one ultrasound, seen them all.” he replied, not even looking up from his phone.

“Well your phone interferes with our equipment so you’ll have to turn it off.” she said angrily.

I could feel her judging him. Judging me, too. Because I was having a baby with him. He was my guest at the scan.

I was mortified. Very embarrassed.

Suddenly I felt like everyone was judging me. Like I had a giant neon sign above my head that said THIS GIRL IS AN IDIOT.

One day, when I was 14 weeks and 3 days pregnant, I was talking to one of the girls in the office about the kindergarten where she sends her little one each day while she is at work.

I’d only told everyone at work I was pregnant a few days earlier (out of necessity because I was starting to show and my morning sickness was still quite bad) so I asked her how much it cost per day. When she told me the centre was very exclusive, and the cost to send her son there, I simply laughed and said “oh well I can’t afford that kindergarten full-time on my single wage!”

“You won’t have to.” piped up Lucy out of nowhere. “You’ll only have your daughter 50% of the time. So the other half of the fortnight James can decide what to do with her care.”

I turned to her, frowning. “James isn’t getting half custody of my child.”

Then she stood up from her desk and moved to stand over me (I remained seated). I was in complete shock as she started screaming at me until she was red in the face.

I honestly can’t remember now exactly what was said, but it was definitely along the lines of “James is getting half custody of your child and there’s nothing you can do about it.” and “Only horrible mothers try to keep children from their fathers. Stop being selfish and do what’s best for your child.” and “I’ve told James all about the court system and I’ll make sure he knows how to win in court.” and “It’s disgraceful the way you are behaving.”

I was…..stunned. I was honestly trying to do what was best for my child. Why would she think handing my child over to someone who didn’t believe in proper diet, routine, bed times or education was going to be better for my child than my own disciplined, affectionate and consistent care?

I do remember mumbling “How do you expect the baby to eat when she isn’t with me? Shall I send James my breast milk every day via the express postal system?” but I don’t remember having much else to say.

Two other women in the office witnessed the incident. Both tried to step in. Both told Lucy she was out of line and to stop yelling at me.

That night when I got home from work I was beside myself. Months of torment had built up inside me.

I told James what had happened. I told him that his weird and fucked up relationship with Lucy had cost me my best friend. That the obvious lies he’d told her about our situation meant she hated me. That he’d taken away my only support in Paradise for his own selfish gain. Now I had NOBODY to support me. He’d stolen that from me.

He told me I was wrong and he’d never asked Lucy to say those things. He said she was a big girl and he wasn’t responsible for her actions. So none of it was his fault at all. And the fact he spent all his spare time with her had nothing to do with the incident at all.

Hysterical, I locked myself in my bedroom and started googling options for abortion.

I just couldn’t do it anymore.

Seven weeks of constant, consistent emotional abuse. I couldn’t deal with it for the rest of my life. And now work wasn’t a safe space either.

I loved my baby. I wanted my baby.

But I couldn’t bring her into the world. Not into the middle of this mess.

I had to end it for her now before she was forced to suffer the way that I was forced to suffer.

But it turns out that basically no medical clinics in Australia perform elective abortions after fourteen weeks. After that time, abortions were generally only if the mother’s life was in danger or the baby was in some way abnormal. I was three days too late.

So that was it…no abortion.

No other options.

I was shit out of luck.

My life was a mess.

I sat on my bathroom floor sobbing and crying for my husband.

This should have been his baby. This should have been our shared joy.

Why was this happening to me? I was a good person. Why was my baby forced to go through this with me?

Then, I stopped crying. Because I realised what I had to do.

I turned on the shower. I shaved my legs. I washed my hair. I put on makeup and made myself presentable.

Because you see, whilst I couldn’t have an abortion, nothing would stop me from killing myself and taking my baby with me. And I wanted to look decent for that.

So I drove out to these really high cliffs along the coast, where the rough surf slams mercilessly against the jagged rocks below. I decided very calmly that I was going to jump off.

I stood there for a while, trying to decide whether I should send some kind of goodbye message to my mother or my ex-husband.

Whilst I was debating that, some fishermen turned up and were fishing just down from the cliff face. I could see them watching me suspiciously.

Shit. I thought. Now I can’t kill myself. I can’t force these poor guys to watch me die. That’s just wrong.

So I slowly and calmly stepped away from the cliff face, got in my car and drove home.

I called in sick at work the next day and drove to the city to see my brother. He was very worried about me. In fact my family were so worried about my mental health that my parents actually put their house on the market and decided to move to Paradise to be closer to me. This was the support I needed. The support I craved. But for the time being it was still too far away.

The next morning I went to see my therapist and told her what had happened. I spent the entire hour long session sobbing hysterically. I’ve never cried in front of a therapist before. She insisted I needed to report the incident between Lucy and myself to my boss at work in case it escalated further.

So when I got to work I went into the boss’s office and blubbered again while I told her what had happened. I asked her not to take the matter any further. I begged her. But she insisted that Lucy needed to be spoken to.

Well Lucy was furious. She told everyone at work I had dobbed to the boss and that I wasn’t a trusted member of the team. She told everyone she was going to freeze me out of her life to protect her from my meanness. And do you know what? They all sided with her.

“You don’t tell the boss that kind of stuff” they’d say. “We’re a team and we stick together. You don’t go behind the team’s back.”

So that was that.

My home life was a wreck.

My work life was a wreck.

And do you know through this whole process that little baby just kept on growing? Just kept on hitting every milestone. Getting bigger and stronger.

It was such a weird feeling because I honestly loved her so much. I was in awe of her.

But at the same time I did see my pregnancy as ruining my life, the same way that James saw that I’d ruined his life. This pregnancy was somehow the worst thing that had ever happened to me.But I needed to keep her safe more than anything else. I needed to protect her because I was her mummy. It was very hard to reconcile those feelings.

When I was 15 weeks pregnant, I ran into an old friend. Actually he was someone that I used to work with, back when I was in my early 20s. He’d also worked with my ex-husband Doug. I’m fairly certain he was the only person on my Facebook friends list who was also still Facebook friends with Doug. And he remained on my Facebook purely because he was “inconsequential” as I never socialised with him.

But he was holidaying at the beach in Paradise and I ran into him at the store. He immediately began gushing over how happy he was to see I was finally pregnant. Of course I just smiled and thanked him. I wasn’t going to unload my mammoth miseries onto this poor guy.

“It’s so nice to see you and Doug are both doing so well after your divorce.” he said. “Here you are having the baby you always wanted, and Doug seems to be very happy and settled with his new partner.”

After that, I cried for days.

I really don’t know what else to say.

Finding out that Doug was happy felt like losing him all over again. I was literally, genuinely, honestly, going through the darkest period of my life and he was happy with some other girl.

There was nothing I could do about it. I felt like I didn’t deserve to be happy. Like the universe was punishing me. Like I was destined to be miserable forever. 

When I was 16 weeks pregnant, James woke up one day and realised he’d done the wrong thing.

He opened his eyes and saw what was really happening. Saw how horribly depressed I was. Realised that I’d had a breakdown. That I wasn’t coping.

He cried and said he was sorry. Said he should never have treated me so poorly. Promised to stay away from Lucy. Told me that he loved me and wanted to be with me as a family.

And you know, by that point, the idea of being near James pretty much physically repulsed me.

But I said I would give it a shot.

And this is where I lose you right? You stop caring about my plight. Because nobody could be that stupid?

But you have to understand how messed up I was. All I could think about was protecting my child. Custody of my child.

It was my job to protect my daughter no matter what. A mother puts her child before herself every time.

And if I stayed with James, he could never take her away from me.

She would be in my care 100% of the time. And I could make sure she was happy and thriving and smart and emotionally stable.

If I told him to get out, I’d never have that magic 100%. Maybe I could fight in court and get 90% or 80%. Maybe worst case scenario I’d have only 50%.

I knew I wasn’t happy with James. But I knew my baby would be happier with me. I knew my baby needed me 100%.

So I said okay. I said I would try.

I know more than anything I’m going to be judged by all of you for this. I know you’ll all think I’m stupid and ask me why I didn’t leave. Why I didn’t make him leave.

I’m absolutely not suggesting I was a victim of domestic violence (I want to be clear that James never touched a hair on my head nor will he ever) but I liken the emotional response as similar.

I felt trapped. Weak. Powerless. I felt like I literally couldn’t do anything about it. My rational brain was screaming that I could, but my fear and doubt were telling me to stay rooted to the spot. I know nobody can understand that unless they’ve been through it themselves.

Plus, I’d just lost my husband in 2014. I felt like this was my only chance now. Nobody would want me once I was a single mother with a deadbeat baby daddy.

If my loving, amazing, supportive husband had turned his back on me and then James was telling me I was worthless…well maybe they were both right. Maybe nobody else was ever going to love me. Maybe this was just it. I didn’t get any more chances. I was either with James and sometimes unhappy, or alone and always miserable.

And I do want to say that James wasn’t bad all of the time. It wasn’t a 24/7 thing.

Some days he was better, some days he was worse.

Some days he would make me a cup of tea and rub my feet for me. Other days he would scream at me that I was a crazy worthless bitch that had ruined his life. I never knew which side of James I was going to see on any given day.

At this point in my story we are up to November 2015.

There’s obviously still a lot more to go.

But just writing all of this stuff has been emotionally draining.

I feel very nervous even writing all this because I fear being ridiculed, abused and judged by strangers on the internet. I’m not even going to tag this post because I don’t want many people reading it.

Maybe I’ll delete it soon because I’m ashamed at how much shit I put up with. Reading it back to myself now I sound like such a fool.

I know I just said it but I’ll say it again: you don’t know how you will react until you are in the same situation.

I considered myself a strong person. I still consider myself a strong person to keep myself alive and functional through these dark times.

I only had one sick day the entire first trimester, even though I was having a mental breakdown. Doesn’t that count for anything?

Through all of this I just kept on keeping on.

I am a stupid person for getting myself into this situation.

I honestly thought I couldn’t conceive. I honestly didn’t want this.

But I have it now.

It’s my reality whether I like it or not.

There’s no going back from this.

Only forward, into the abyss.

And nothing is more important to me than my baby. I love my baby very fiercely and everything I do in my life now is about making her life better.

I’ll update again when I find the mental strength.

Sorry for this long and rambling post.

And sorry if you think less of me.

Sadie xx.