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:
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:
(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.
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.