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…)