A new relationship.

A new relationship.

After my dating period, I changed a lot I think.
Learned a lot about myself, my feelings and who I wanted to be for myself.
And I somewhat accidentally found myself meeting someone.

I’d seen him at the park often, he was a good looking guy. And in conversation with my friend J, we were talking about conquests and having an rather light hearted discussion about the struggle of being a young woman, who didn’t want a serious relationship, but was looking for more of a fling situation…. and J brought up this guy. Pointed him and and said to me, that if I wanted a fling, he’d probably be up for it.
I eyed him up and thought well why not. But courage to approach people sober, wasn’t really a strong area for me. So I didn’t give it too much thought right then.

A few weeks later, I was at the park with my tiny daughter in her buggy. I’d been giving a lady a skating lesson, which I regularly did and I saw him again.
At the end of the lesson, we had been talking about how this woman needed to be more confident within herself. She needed to trust her body and trust the process. She was doing so well, but she was so timid.
As she left, I decided to take my own advice, and knowing my daughter was spending the evening with her grandparents who could only see her after work, I took a deep breath and I went up to him and said ‘hey’
He looked over at me and I remember thinking to myself, now or never just DO it!
I asked him if he had plans tonight… and without letting him answer, I asked if he would like to go to the movies that night.
I quite honestly thought I was going to die as it felt like forever before he said he really wasn’t sure of his plans that night, but could he call me later. And like your average 15 year old, I actually wrote my name and number on his arm. With a ballpoint pen. Because that was all I had on me!!!
So well thought out right???

I don’t think I’ve ever left the park that fast. A bit of a laugh now, but I was so convinced that he probably thought I was a complete idiot, that I went home and phoned a friend to go to the movies with me so I didn’t have to go alone.
J was laughing his ass off at me. Somewhat impressed I’d actually spoken to him and hysterical over the arm writing! I was feeling 2 inches tall and so embarrassed.
While we were on the phone, call waiting beeped and I got him to hold on.
I nearly dropped the phone when I realised it was HIM! On the phone! And he was talking to me!
In fact he said, he was pretty free that evening if my offer of a movie still stood.
Shit. J was on the other line. Act casual woman.
So I smiled and told him of course (didn’t want to sound desperate) it was going to be fun. Movies with friends. I gave him my address and the time and told him to pick me up.
Then went back to J and told him what was up. I said a group trip would be less awkward and he rallied the troops.

Date night went well, and we endured the movie and then came back to my place. Where he got to meet the flatmates. And surprisingly got green lighted by the boys.
I was shocked as hell because they hated everyone…. it was the strangest evening.
He kissed me on the cheek goodbye and left… telling me to call him.

I sat on the couch with my flatmates going what just happened? They had less idea than I did….

He phoned me the following day, and we started hanging out. Every day for three weeks I saw him at some point. Usually evenings after work. And the longer we hung out the more confusing things were getting for me.
I was getting attached, but he was aloof…. but he just kept on calling. And coming over.

One night I invited him for dinner when he called me up to see what I was doing. It was my turn to cook, so I offered for him to join us and asked him what he ate.
He only didn’t eat fish, chicken or mushrooms. Seemed easy enough until I realised that my flatmate had gotten out chicken for dinner…. chicken pasta it was. So gourmet right? There wasn’t much I could do really as I didn’t realise C had already tried to help until the meat was defrosted. And we didn’t do food waste so I served it up to him and to his absolute credit he ate a whole plateful. And it wasn’t until the end of the meal and C asked what he thought of it, that he responded quite honestly with that actually he didn’t eat chicken…. cue crickets chirping, my face going beetroot red and my two flatmates promptly falling about laughing. Awkward much?????

So having survived that epic flop – of which I was never able to live down, this man still stuck around.

And I have to admit to you here, that he had been staying the night most nights. But we had yet to have sex. And it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part…. sort of.

I will say that given that he was very hot, very attentive and a load of fun, I wasn’t quite confident enough to go down the completely blunt road of ‘hey I think you’re a bit hot, let’s get jiggy with it’ even though actually that would have been a) effective and b) would have solved a number of issues as I wasn’t sure why I felt so almost…. shy around him.

It wasn’t like he was the first….

But I think the problem was I liked him a little too much. So I was a bit afraid of rejection. He was such a gentleman and he would leave the room when I needed to change or mentioned going to sleep… he would excuse himself to the bathroom conveniently for five minutes. And one night after sneaking out of the room and imploring C to tell me how to get this man to pay me the attention I wanted, he came up with the brilliantly male solution of ‘just get ya tits out’ and he assured me that unless he was gay that would surely work. So I went back into my room and I got brave. I took a deep breath and pulled up my shirt over my head without warning him. And when I looked at him to gauge his response he was looking in the other direction! He was looking away to give me privacy! Aarrghhhh! Could I literally do nothing right?

And yes, my flatmates had an absolute field day with that one!!! They started taking bets on his sexuality…. whether he had a daytime girlfriend too or whether he was just so pretty he was completely stupid.

So around week three, J was starting to get a bit stroppy with me for disappearing on him and not wanting to come hang so I agreed ‘we’ would come along on one of his infamous adventures. And I told him when he turned up that evening as he inevitably did, that we had plans that night.

We went out to the supermarket as J has said pack a picnic. And bought food and drink. And we picked J up and a couple of other friends. He said we were meeting the other ‘up there’ and wouldn’t tell me where we were going but promised it would be fun. Then as we were driving he started chatting away. Inane conversation until he randomly threw in the ‘soooo what’s up with you two. You guys a couple yet?’ To which I wanted to disappear. I looked at him and shut my mouth. Nope not getting into that one here…. he looked at me sideways and I very deliberately looked at the road and not him, and he casually responded with a noncommittal mumbled ‘I dunno’ which shut the conversation down. And we drove about 20 minutes listening to mostly J’s chatter, from town before parking up in a somewhat dark and deserted spot except for a few lonely cars. Which turned out to be our friends. And that became known once we got out and I realised seeing them there waiting for us.

J had torches, and he pointed across to the dark bush and said we were going up there. Such a freaky experience wandering through dense bush, with no idea where you were other than with 10 other friends who clearly seemed to know what the deal was. But this was a new place to me…. we hiked up hills. Climbed a few hundred stairs and then all of a sudden we popped out of the trees and into a huge clearing and a beautiful white stone monument. It was breathtaking. Lit up like Christmas, the whole thing was stone and just glowed with this ethereal light. And looking beyond the monument was a sea of darkness between us and the beautiful twinkling lights of the city beyond us. It was so dark we could see every star in the sky and crystal clear. I was awestruck by this incredible place and J looked at me and told me he knew it was worth the hike wasn’t it? It truly was. And I didn’t even know the significance of the site yet!

So we all sat up there for a few hours. Talking, laughing, eating and drinking. Taking in the sights and the sounds of nature which had replaced the sounds of the city.

But it wasn’t long before J decided to push things again because he had at one point in the evening asked me point blank if we were going out yet or what and I’d told him I had no clue and that he’d stayed for three weeks but we hadn’t even slept together yet. Which he found as hilarious as my flatmates did. It was more than a little irritating that I was such a source of amusement to them all.

So he asked him this time, if we were going out yet? And he grabbed my hand this time and instead of talking to J he looked at me and said ‘I don’t know, are we?’

I felt cornered and I had no idea what he wanted from me, so I went with the non-committal… and I replied with ‘well I don’t know, it’s not like you’ve asked me!’ Thinking that he’d let it go at that if he wasn’t interested.

Instead he looked at me and actually asked me out! I was blindsided. ‘Well, would you like to go out with me?’ Such a simple sentence and one that sent me into a giddy spin…..

I said ‘of course I would!’ (Well duh! I wasn’t going to say no was I?) and that was when he kissed me for the first time.

And while I’d like to say fireworks went off…. I’m not sure J shining a torch at us and whooping like a dementor really qualifies as fireworks. But it made us laugh and wasn’t something I’ll forget, oh, ever!

It’s still the only time a man has ever asked me out. Which you have to admit is a little bit cute…. And he finally admitted in conversations later that night that of course he liked me, he had from the start but he was in fact really shy and because I had so many male friends, he thought he was just one of the boys too so he was too scared to make a move in fear of being rejected. He also admitted that J has given him a bit of a tune up about it that night and told him to man up before I sent him packing which made it my turn to laugh myself silly.

And that was when I realised that we had both been setup in the most epic fashion by one of my best friends….. I don’t know how he knew we would be good together. But I swear the man’s a magician and he somehow knew. And his bait & switch worked. Making me think I was hooking a player. Making him think he was going to get relegated to the loser pile if he didn’t move faster and sending us both in search of each other when neither of us were looking for anything remotely serious.

It’s been almost 20 years since the night he asked me out. We have two children now and while we aren’t the young kids we were, and our journey hasn’t been without it’s struggles and trials, we are here. Still.

My firstborn

My firstborn

This one will be another long one I’m afraid, because it seems once I start, the words just keep on coming!
But this one is mostly, about my daughter.

She was conceived accidentally. While we were on one of those ‘save the relationship’ holidays people do. Get out of town and do fun stuff that takes you away from real life’s problems and really, just puts off the inevitable and makes life harder.
I came back and I walked away from him with no idea where this road of my life was going next.

I’d been working hard. Long hours and keeping myself busy. So busy I thought I was getting really run down. I was constantly tired, my mother pointed out I was looking thin. Thinner than usual for even me, and I averaged about 42kg at 5’1″ so I was never big. But she said I needed a checkup.
So I dutifully went, as I though maybe my iron was down, or I don’t know, maybe I was struggling with the break up.
And my GP checked me over and did bloods. Asked me the usual ‘could you be pregnant’ which I gave a resounding hell no! I’ve been single for 7 weeks. Nope, no chance in hell.
And later that afternoon he came back and said oddly, my iron counts were normal, which was unusual for me even on a good day. And he asked me again to come in and do a pregnancy test. I disagreed, and I was a broke apprentice so I had no more money spare. I told him I couldn’t afford the $10 when it was negative and there was just no way it would be positive. But he was pushy…. so he convinced me to go in and see the midwives 3 doors down from my parents house, as he told me they were free, fully funded. At that point I gave it, I mean sheesh. If it stopped him nagging me I’d prove he was losing his mind.

It took me a couple of days, but my next early finish I wandered down to this midwife office, and I walked into the waiting room somewhat awkwardly. I’d been warned, so I’d had a big drink half an hour before and I was dying to pee.
I rung the bell as expected and this bubbly blonde came out and I explained my GP wanted me to do a pregnancy test, so she pushed a cup into my hands and sent me to the bathroom and said pee in this. I did and handed it to her, and she told me to take a seat and she would see me in a few mins after she saw another lady who had arrived.
So I sat and read trashy magazines and waited, a few minutes later she popped out and did something at the desk then said she would be right with me.
Her lady left and she took me through to her room and we sat down.
She was thorough. Did a full medical history and then she asked me what my next steps were going to be.
I’m completely oblivious at this point. So I’m looking at here, with an obviously puzzled expression on my face, and I said, “well. I’m going to probably get an early night as I’m working tomorrow, you?”
I think at that point she must have twigged that I wasn’t there for the same reasons she thought I was there. Because she kind of sat there for a minute, thinking. And the next question she asked had me thinking she was mad.
She asked me why I was there.
So I told her of my pushy mother and pushier GP and how they were both losing their marbles and I was really just there to prove them wrong.
She then got a strange look on her face, and she said “oh. Well, then I need to ask you, how would you feel if I told you, that you were in fact pregnant”
*cue stunned mullet reaction here*
I remember thinking oh my gosh. Nope, can’t be. And I said out loud, no. No way. I can’t be. We’ve been apart for too long! I’m sure I’ve had my period… at least I think I have.
And she showed me the test.
I was still in shock and I asked if it could be a false positive, because that’s a thing right? Happens all the time yeah?
Yeah nah. She offered for me to get a blood test and come back the next day to see whether that was possible – but I have to say. I don’t think she was convinced.
I was still muttering to myself as I left. And I didn’t sleep. Not a wink as I wondered what if it was true? What was I going to do?

The next day, she confirmed the bloods agreed with the previous days test. And while I was with her she did a proper physical and a check over. And as she felt my stomach she asked me again about my ex. I told her it had been nearly 8 weeks since I’d seen him so I was really baffled by all this, and she said to me she had a hunch from my bloods and exam. But could she just check something. I agreed, and she took out her doppler.
I heard my babies heartbeat that day.
And the midwife confirmed her suspicions that I was 9-10 weeks pregnant.

I went home in an utter daze. I told no one. I pretended everything was okay. And three days later, on the Monday I finally told my mother. Who was elated by the way. Elated enough to jump up and down shrieking “I’m getting another one!”
I was still a little numb and freaking out just quietly. But it seemed, that this babe might have been meant to be here.
On my way to work the next day, I made myself go into Baby Factory. It was odd, I was drawn to the most beautiful, tiny pink jumpsuit and I bought it. I didn’t yet know I was having a girl

I then had to tell Mr Serious.
Which was the absolute disaster you would expect. And stupidly I gave him an ultimatum which in hindsight was ridiculous. I told him, that he could either be there for us, or he could stay the hell away and never have anything to do with either of us again. No responsibility financially or physically, but he had one chance to decide.
And 3 days later he decided he wanted to be part of this babies life.
More stupidly, I agreed to give him yet another chance.

I should have seen what was coming when at 12 weeks, I had a bleed. Big enough to go to hospital, and spend an entire day being monitored. And stuck in overnight on bedrest.
He stayed at work, and got annoyed when I wasn’t going to be out in time for dinner. But never once asked how the baby or I were. And I was so worried, that I didn’t even notice until a few days later. And when I asked him why he hadn’t asked, he told me that we were both fine so what did it matter.
That should have been Strike 1.

We weren’t living together while I was pregnant. He didn’t come to the gender scan as he was working, so I went alone and found out I was having a girl.
I was flatting with 10 South African male strippers and a beautiful girl who was their manager. It was a beautiful house and they were such lovely guys. Even if they did like to parade around naked and practice their stage shows on the lawn….
And my female flatmate would invite me in for a chat while she bathed naked. And that was normal….
They knew I was pregnant and they were so thoughtful. When I started to develop hyperemesis I would wake up every morning to a banana smoothie and vitamin and iron tablets waiting on my bedside table for me.
Because they had learned it was about all that I could keep down. And on my days when I couldn’t get out of bed, there would be constant refills of water, and prompting to drink and try something to eat from them.
I could never get over how lucky I was, and how lovely they all were. It was such a blessing because Mr Serious wouldn’t even visit and didn’t really seem all that bothered if I ate or not.
Eventually though, I got too sick to stay there and around that time my pregnancy went from drama to drama.

I’d thought the bleed was bad, but then I went to an appt with my midwife who had a bit of trouble (I thought) hearing baby on the doppler. Now I could hear the heartbeat, so I thought she was being fussy. But she said to me, why didn’t we go for a drive up to the hospital. She would show me through delivery suite, and we could check out the tracer machines. Meet the Dr’s etc. She had talked about it months before and she offered to drive me in her car, so I thought why not. I was up and about now…. so off we went.
We arrived and she walked me through quite fast, and she didn’t really give me a very good look before popping me into one of the rooms and showing me the monitor.
I had no idea why this was so important, but she was a sweet lady so I went along with it and she put the monitor on. I lay back and dozed a little, because she said she was going to get a Dr to come and meet me and she would be right back.
I don’t know how long I dozed, maybe an hour. And she must have been in and out without me realising as when I woke, I could hear her whispering, and there were four Dr’s and a nurse quietly discussing a trail of paper in their hands.
She came and sat down next to me and she asked me if I had plans that afternoon. I said no, not really. And she told me that if it was okay with me, she needed for me to go to a specialist womens hospital in another city, because there was something very wrong with my babies heart and they needed to know what it was.
I sobbed. And I called Mr Serious. And he told me he would be home when he was home and he hung up on me and refused my calls.
I was taken from there, directly to a much better equipped hospital as what my midwife had heard, was an abnormal beat on the doppler, confirmed by fetal heart monitor.
Once up there, they did an echocardiogram of my babies heart, while she was still in utero. They did scans, and blood tests. And they gave me a diagnosis.
All while I was alone.
My daughter, had an Atrial Septal Defect.
And I had no one with me as I had to hear the diagnosis, listen to the prognosis and treatment options and I had to sit and wait alone until Mr Serious deemed himself ready to collect me to take me home. As I was stranded up there, almost 2 hours from home.
And not once did he even ask how either of us were, yet again.
Of course I told him, he grunted.
That should have been Strike 2.

He dropped me home and I didn’t speak to anyone for days. I grieved for my baby and myself. And I was terrified of whether this was my fault. Was she going to die? Would the surgeries they spoke of save her? What was her life going to be like?
And I had to tell my family and friends, because I was so distressed.
My flatmates bought me chocolate and flowers every day for two weeks.
And I struggled more and more, as baby got more active and more visible. The guys loved feeling her kick and putting their ears on my belly to listen to her moving. They were so sweet, and so good to us.
So when I told them I had to move out, they understood, even if they were really upset I was moving. But they moved my stuff so I didn’t have to do anything, and there were more than a few tears as I said goodbye to them! I had loved living there.

I only moved, because I got offered a house. Just a tiny one bedroom with study, that would be perfect for the baby, was in my budget and had a bath and a fireplace.
I needed to have somewhere to raise my baby. It was close to the hospital and it was not too far from my Dad.
It was adorable! And I spent a lot of time painting it and readying it for baby.

My pregnancy had been awful really, but by the time the little house was ready, I was due any day and I had accepted that what would be, would be. That Mr Serious was useless and I may as well figure this out on my own. I’d given up nagging him.
But close to my due date, he started staying over. And in my head I told myself it was because he wanted to be with me.
Then right on my due date, i woke up in the middle of the night, and I thought I needed to go to the bathroom. My belly was twingy. I had no idea what was going on, but stumbled to the toilet, and as I went to sit down, I felt this sudden massive gush of liquid. Warm liquid. I was mortified as i thought I’d pee’d myself. And my next thought was, but I’ve not even sat down yet!!!! What on earth!
And I grabbed some toilet paper and gave the seat a quick wipe, because I still needed to pee, and suddenly it hit me, I hadn’t pee’d at all, my waters had broken! Whoa!
It was 2am, and I finished in the toilet, grabbed a towel and went to get the phone to call my Mum. Because she was 6 hours drive away and I knew she needed time to get here.
By the time I got to the phone, contractions had started, and so she got out of bed, packed a few things and started driving.
I spent the next 4 hours pacing, sipping water, mopping up wet patches with every contraction and swearing under my breath at sleeping male in the other room.
6am rolled around, and I knew his alarm was going off any second so I went and sat on the bed. When he rolled over to turn it off, through gritted teeth I told him he about 3 minutes to get in the shower, or I was and there would be no hot water left when I was done – and he rolled back over and went to go back to sleep! I remember elbowing him in the back and telling him my waters had broken and to get in the shower now or miss out, and he finally got out of bed.
I stood at the door, and waited till he got out and as I got in I asked him to call the midwife at 7am. I hadn’t wanted to wake her earlier, but 7am was much more appropriate.
She told him he was not to leave me in water alone under any circumstances, which annoyed him greatly as he wanted to go into work to sort his run for the day. So he called his mother to come and sit with me until the midwife arrived at 8am.
She was there 5 minutes after he called and I didn’t even realise he’d left until the midwife arrived and she decided that we might need to head to the hospital now.
I called him. And you guessed it, he hung up on me and turned off his phone.
But a labouring woman is not one to be messed with, and I was fuming. So I phoned his boss on his cellphone and asked what he was up to right now. He was a very old friend of mine, and we were really close. He told me that he was getting ready to head out on his run. And at that point I very nearly lost my cool. Through gritted teeth I asked if he had mentioned that my waters had broken at 2am, and this baby was coming? And i got an “oh shit no!!! Are you serious?” As I was rather, I said I needed him home and fast, we needed to go to the hospital now.
His boss dropped the phone, I heard him yell to D, one of the other staff to go take the keys out of van 3 (Mr Serious’s van) and throw them in the safe, and then I heard him tell Mr Serious that if he wasn’t walking out the door 5 minutes ago to go home, then he’d not have a job to come back to.
His boss was all about family, and all of his workmates were stunned he’d not said a word!!!! He called me a few minutes later apologising, telling me he’d sent him packing and he should be home soon, and he gave him three days off work.
Now, all that rushing might have given you the impression birth was imminent. And at that point, I thought it was. But actually, I was really crap at labouring it seems.
I had developed toxemia. And I had zero idea how to push. So I was at the hospital all day. I had him, his mother, my mother, my sister, my grandmother, a few cousins, a nephew, my father, his sister and his niece and nephew at one point…. it was a circus!
I swear, if I’d have sold tickets I would have been quite well off!
But no matter what my poor midwife did, this posterior, stubborn babe was not budging. And her obs were not going well.
After pushing from 10am through to 6pm, with a short breather of about an hour with gas so I could rest a little, she was finally born. Completely manually assisted right on the dot of 6pm and she wasn’t breathing.
My midwife literally had both hands all up in there and she pulled her out, and as she did, my mother said she called flat baby, and they’ve never seen so many people moving so fast.
There were three nurses with me, to deliver the placenta.
There were 6 Dr’s and my midwife and a handful of nurses that came in one door, swooped on the baby and went out the other door leaving the room in a kind of stunned silence.
One of the nurses turned up the gas, while they stitched up a couple of abrasions from my midwife, and I remember wavering in and out of exhausted consciousness thinking I was floating on a boat in the ocean.
All day, my ex had been sullen, disinterested, and he didn’t even seem worried about either me or the baby.
I had no idea of the room around me in those moments after delivery either.
My mother explained that to me much later. About two months later. And only because when the photos my sister had taken were developed, she tried to hide some of the photos and I wanted to know why. It was because everyone was crying…. I didn’t understand, so she filled me in.
They took the baby cutting the cord as they were leaving the room already with a limp, blue, lifeless, doll like body. She was so tiny.
And when they peeked out the door, they would get glimpses before the door was pushed shut. She was intubated. She was given CPR. She was worked on for hours before she took breaths on her own. Was stable.
And that whole time, my family sat there thinking that we had lost the baby. Because no one would tell them anything.
And the moment the midwife came through the door, holding that little girl in her arms, I don’t think my mother could get across the room fast enough. She was the first to hold my baby, and then my  grandmother and my cousin, and then his mother.
They woke me back up and turned off the gas, so that I could see her.
And in my world it had only been minutes.
I had no idea of the stress and drama that everyone else had been through.
We were transferred to a room that night, and I remember that he left. He was tired he said.
My family stayed. They helped me shower. And dress. And get into bed. They dressed my baby and cuddled her and held her close. The loved on her, and me. And I didn’t notice his lack of.
That should have been strike 3.

It all seems so horrendous looking back. And I wish in hindsight, that I could have made different decisions but I did what I did.
I can’t change that now.

But we had so may issues with my daughter and her health that I don’t know I had the room for noticing.
There were so many things I just did on my own for her.

I had to learn CPR because she would stop breathing.
I learned to work an apnoea monitor to keep her alive at night, or alert me if I needed to breathe for her.
Paediatrician appointments. Doctor Appointments. Cardiologist appointments. Sleep specialists. Feeding specialists. Plunket. Parenting Support. Carers. Home Help.
I did it all.

He wouldn’t even hold her without being made to, until she was about 12 months old and could walk.
In fact, I have photos from every time he did hold her before she was 12 months old. And there are not very many. Four.

He boycotted her christening.
Even though his father (who incidentally hated me anyway for ruining his sons life by getting pregnant) gave my daughter, the handmade gown that he, his father and his grandfather were christened in to wear. And his mother, sister, brother and nieces and nephews attended. His best friend is my daughters godfather.
And yet he refused to have any part in it.

He missed so much of her early life.
Which was why him getting full custody, was even more heartbreaking than it even seems possible to be.
He never wanted her, and was not interested in her, until he thought that she would get me to come back to him.
Sometimes I wish it had worked, and I hadn’t been forced out of her life. Because to this day I love her more than life itself.
But I firmly believe that you cannot make you children happy, if you are not happy.
And I stand by my choice to keep myself physically, emotionally and mentally safe.

I am just grateful he didn’t take my choosing to live without him out on her – although he did deprive her of her mother.
But I cannot say whether that’s something that hurts her. As I just don’t know.
It hurts like hell to admit that too. I should know, I deserve to know. And I don’t.
I am the worst mother in the world.
I kept her alive so long, yet I failed in bringing her up.
Punishment for that happens internally, every day. I wish it didn’t. But if I had any other choice, I would have taken it in a heartbeat to have been able to keep her close to me.

Losing my daughter

Losing my daughter

This post is probably a bit of an open letter to her.
She was only 1 when as her father tells it, I deserted her.
And in a way maybe I did. Because I wasn’t strong enough to fight back, because he sucked all of the fire from my soul. Because I let him take me to the brink of destruction, where I stood on the edge, and if it hadn’t been for the hand of a friend, I could have easily fallen into an abyss from which I wouldn’t have returned.

I did walk away. And I own that.
But not because I wanted to but because I was pushed. And initially I wanted to take her with me – I always wanted her with me. But he wouldn’t let that happen.
And I wasn’t strong enough to fight him physically, or force him to let her come with me.
I had no power when it came to him.

Every. Single. Day.
Even now, more than 20 years later.
I think about her and most days it’s with a mixture of sadness and being proud that I gave birth to her. Because every day I see things she’s doing as an adult. Living her life. I am so grateful that she had the chance to become an amazing woman.
And I’m sad because I missed a lot of it.

There’s a lot I’ll skip here, because 20 years of experiences is a lot of ‘stuff’ but I’m going to share some excerpts of some of the good and bad times we had.

When I first left, there were a couple of months of radio silence. I would have sneak conversations on the phone with her Grandmother. Because her Dad refused to speck to me. I would get rushed whispers and I would get hung up on if he was coming. So he didn’t know I was speaking to her.
But I never got to hear her voice. Or see her face.
Until one day, he called me.
And after the initial stomach plunging moment, I picked up the phone fast. And I said hello as calmly as I could, though my whole body was shaking, with fear of what was coming.
But he was civil. He said my daughter wanted to see me and wouldn’t be consoled, so he was bringing her to my city. I stood there and let the tears run down my face, aching to hold her. And I asked when. He said that he was half way there, he would be there in a few hours and he wanted an address.
I gave him my mothers. Because I didn’t want him to know where I lived. He told me what time he would be there and I said I’d be waiting.
And I hung up on the phone… wondering if I was dreaming or this was real?
It was real.

And surreal at the same time.
As that strange visit, where I was on edge and terrified, but focused on my baby girl. Started a few years where we would do three weeks turn about with her. Where until she was at kindy, we would both take turns collecting her.

And he would send me letters begging me to take him back and demanding to be allowed to stay with me to show me he wanted to change. To be what I wanted. That he didn’t care if I had seen other people. He would not be controlling anymore and he would do anything I asked.
And I wouldn’t. Because I wasn’t the same person I had been and I struggled with the internal demon battle, but I managed to stay strong for myself.
Even after I met someone serious, he would still beg for me to take him back every chance he could. And he made my life awkward and frustrating, but I had to deal with it because I was terrified that if I made too many waves, he would prevent me seeing my daughter. And I would do anything for her.

I have so many beautiful memories of my baby growing up from that time. She was such a beautiful precocious child, who spoke early, and had her mothers very decisive nature, with her fathers way of remembering everything said or promised.
A chatterbox, and a truly sweet soul. She loved everyone and everyone loved her.
We would spend time with her great-grandparents who were smitten with her. And would offer to babysit her while I worked.
And she would stay weekends with her Great-Grandad in a nearby town, and she was the only great-grandchild who he would regularly have come to stay. She was such a beautiful soul and she really enjoyed his company.
Devastatingly to me, she wasn’t allowed to attend any of their funerals.

She wasn’t allowed, because her father remarried.
Which I encouraged actively. I even got them to hook up. He had been telling me he met someone and had been chatting to her online as she lived an hour away – but he had met her at a party at a friends house. And I told him he would be stupid to not ask her out. But he was reluctant, so I messaged her and told her myself, that since he wasn’t going to she should ask him out and I told her he would absolutely say yes!
I thought that by him having someone else, he would leave me alone.
Which did work to a degree, as I did manage to get free of  his unwelcome advances and inappropriate comments and discussions. His creepy touch and the way he would watch me.
She became his new obsession which was in itself a relief and a freeing moment.
I thought her and I were friends, and I would offer her advice when he was acting out. I’d tell her what I wished I’d have the courage to do and didn’t. And I encouraged her not to let him do to her what he did to me.
And they got married.
About the time I was cut off in fact.

It came as a bit of a shock to me, as it was a slow thing. Visits became difficult. Timings awkward, and complaints made about travel. And I always did what I could do to help. We switched to flying to help save time so we could spend more time with her. And I’d often pay for the flights, to ensure I got to see her.
I didn’t pay child support, as he didn’t want it, but I would look after all of her clothing and schooling needs. 4 times a year I would take her shopping. He would let me know by sending an empty suitcase and telling me she had nothing that fitted. And I would fix that. Send her home with an entire new wardrobe of her choosing, and new underwear socks and shoes. Books for school and anything she needed. I often sent up shampoo and conditioner and anything she asked me for.
So as things got trickier, we negotiated new schedules. Changed access weeks to suit him and I got less and less time. Which broke my heart more with every negotiation.

And it all came to head one christmas.
It was my turn that Christmas to see her. As she had been with her Dad the Christmas before, and we had been taking turns. And when I tried to book her travel, he kept putting it off and putting it off until it dawned on me and I confronted him and he admitted he wasn’t sending her for Christmas.
So I went to the courts.
I fought and won that Christmas. It cost me a fortune, but they granted turn about for the custody of her for special holidays. And she did come down that year.
It was our last Christmas together.

The following year, they challenged it in court again.
And this time they won. So I appealed it and we had many, many court hearings over her custody. She was forced into having a lawyer who failed to fight for her like she should have.
Her incompetent lawyer, who originally admitted that my daughters wishes were to see both of us. Didn’t fight when her Dad and his wife filed to have me removed from access for no reason.
There was no one fighting in my corner except me. And the lies that were thrown at me from them were horrific.
And they kept winning. I couldn’t see how and every loss was absolutely devastating.
I was shattering into a thousand pieces and none of those pieces were strong enough to keep fighting. And I didn’t have the money.
As in the end, it came down to a battle of the funds.
One judge would see that it was horrible and would agree to my shared custody terms – which was all I ever asked for. I just wanted time with my baby. I never fought them for full custody as she needed time with her Dad too. And her Grandmother up there.
But I wanted her to be able to share her time with both of us. Fairly.
The next judge would rule that her Dad should have full custody.
The next would rule shared custody.
It was fight after fight and it was extreme elation with the wins, and extreme heartbreak with the losses.
And then it got to the point where I was losing my sanity and my will to live.

My relationship suffered with my obsession for wanting to see my baby.
We split up around the time that he put his foot down, and $100’000 into the court battles he said no more. There was no more money to fight when it just kept going back and forth like a bad tennis match.
And he wasn’t as emotionally invested as I, as he had not had the chance to ever really be a Dad to her, but he was left picking up the pieces every time my heart was broken yet again.
He was there with me standing at the airport, waiting for her to arrive on a flight, that her father didn’t put her on and didn’t tell me until I panicked that she wasn’t there and called him.
He was there with me at every court hearing.
He was there looking after her with me. Feeding her, clothing her, caring for her.
But at the end of the day, her father would remind him that D was NOT her father and he was nothing to her. He had no say and didn’t matter.
But to me, him shutting down my chances to see my baby, were a kick in the teeth and the last straw.
The day I walked out on him, I hadn’t seen my daughter in over 3 years and I didn’t have it in me to argue with him anymore.

But it didn’t change my reality. I was still without my baby girl and I didn’t know how to live. I left town for a while, did some growing and changing and I returned with a new outlook.
It wasn’t that I stopped wanting my baby, but I decided that I couldn’t continue not to live without her. I had to learn to live without her.
So I took the time to grieve and to learn how to be me without her, and how to let go of the anger and hurt. Shut it down and lock it away – like all the other pain in my life.
Make it disappear.

And I didn’t stop trying to see her.
Eventually I was permitted to go to her. She was not allowed to come to me under any circumstances. Even when she asked herself. And I always felt so sick when she would ask me if she could come with me, or come and stay. because I desperately wanted her to, but as I was fully supervised when I visited her, I had to be so careful with my words. As the wrong thing said – when I spoke from my heart to her, they would stop me being allowed to visit for months. I was punished by them keeping her from me.

I was allowed a few visits after her little brother was born, I was permitted to visit once when he was a newborn.
I was punished after turning up to surprise her for her birthday once. I couldn’t speak or see her for 8 months.
I was allowed to visit again when he was 3.
I wasn’t allowed to come between then nor speak to her. She wasn’t allowed to call me and when I bought her a video cellphone so she could video call me and I could see her, and it was shut off within days. I later found out her step-mother took it and used it herself, it was returned to me when I demanded it, full of text messages, photos and emails belonging to her step-mother.
I had another child. who is now almost 5 and who hasn’t met his half sister.
Because I’ve not been allowed to see her.
I’ve been threatened and told that I’m crazy and I’m not to come near her.

One of her boyfriends contacted me once on Facebook. And he told me she was always talking about me and wanting to see me. She was 16.
He wanted to surprise her and make her happy, and he asked if they could come down for a weekend. He was going to pay for her flights.
I have to admit, I got so excited…. but dread took over. And I was afraid. So I stupidly told him as long as he ran it by her step-mother and father first. And I told him to take a person he trusted who could speak for him. So he took his mother. And he did the right thing and asked if he could take her for a weekend holiday to see me, her mother.
As predicted, her Dad hit the roof and said hell would freeze over first.
He later told me his mother was astounded and tried to speak sense to him, as did he. But her father was completely shut down and walked away.
I wasn’t surprised and I apologised to him. I felt so sad for him and embarrassed for his mother. And devastated for myself and my daughter. As it hurt so much knowing she still wanted to come but couldn’t.
They broke up after a year or so.

Once she turned 18 I would speak to her on messenger apps, when she would contact me. She would tell me things which made my heart sing. I was always so happy after talking to her, even if it was a brief chat. because she was reaching out to me.
And I got brave some days, lightly suggesting she come visit. Asking her to come and see me.
I offered flights, accommodation and everything.
But I’ve had my heart broken every time, as she’s not ready to go against her father, which I respect. It has to be her decision.

I just wish she knows how much it hurts. How hard it can be to breathe some days when I look through old pictures – because that’s all I have.
And every day I look at her and regret every time I have been away from her.

Every day of her life, I’ve woken up and thought of her and wondered if today would be the day I would get to hold her again and see her. Talk to her.
Let her know how much I love her.
And that day hasn’t come yet, but I haven’t given up hope. I made her. I birthed her. I breastfed her.
One day, she has to come back to her mama, right?

The escape

The escape

I was free.
And while I was homeless, and couch surfing. I felt so free and it was incredible. So liberating… and I had so much joy.

I was meeting new people every day through my work. My workmates were wonderful and this new city had me so anonymous and empowered.
I found I could go anywhere and do anything and no one was going to say a single word!
Going to work wasn’t a chore, it was a goal. And I do believe that I was happy. Albeit a little lonely at times.

Every night, I tried to call my daughter.
Every night I failed. Either no one would answer (thanks caller ID) or I would be hung up on. But I didn’t stop calling. I would call a dozen times over the evening.
I was missing my daughter so much. I ached inside and my arms ached without her. So I had to keep my mind and body busy so I could function.

It took me less than a week to find the local skatepark and I started going their regularly after work. I would finish at 4 after not taking a lunch break and I’d hit the waterfront.
It took a few weeks of pottering around before I started getting waves and hello’s when I turned up. And eventually i got brave enough to start a conversation with some of the skaters.
One, who worked at the park was really friendly and we got chatting a lot. I’d often bring J an energy drink in the evenings and he introduced me properly to a bunch of the locals which was awesome.
I made friends. And I started getting invited places, and to the indoor park, on street missions…. And J would often come along when he could.
There were a couple of separate groups. The skateboarders and M. And the inliners and P. And J kind of floated between the groups. But it was cool seeing both sides, and meeting so many people who were so far out of my normal world, and my work world that it felt like a whole new lifestyle.

I would crash at J’s apartment in town frequently after late night mish’s where I’d missed the train to the family members where I was staying, and was stuck in town. And his flatmates were all really chill. No one minded an extra, and I’d buy dinner sometimes or shout the movies in return.
And I was still couch surfing to a degree, until I decided maybe it was time to find a proper space to stay. An actual bed of my own.

So J helped me find a place. He knew someone who knew someone (he seriously knew the entire city I swear) and so I went and looked at a house, with a psych professor and a programmer. The most random guys I’ve ever met and both fascinating and hilarious.
So I took the room!
They introduced my sheltered self to a whole other world too. As they were big drug users.  Many an evening was spent getting completely blazed, and discussing the big issues surrounding society and human beings. Incredibly smart men. Very strange but comfortable lifestyle.
My Dad brought a truck down with my furniture. And I was moved in properly a few weeks later. It was in walking distance to work which was awesome and right in the inner city.
We had a heap of fun in that flat, even though I spent a lot of time out socialising.
I will never forget how they would traumatise Amway sellers and door knockers in general.
Or how they would smoke weed like it was cigarettes.

C lived in a wardrobe which was a little bit hilarious too. It took me weeks of trying to figure out the flat, when I finally got up the courage to ask where the heck Craig slept!
Because our other flatmate had the front room. Next to mine.
I knew where the lounge, kitchen and bathroom were. Lounge in the centre and kitchen by the door. Then bathroom behind the kitchen.
But the 3rd room was puzzling me, as I thought there was a wall behind the kitchen and bathroom. I couldn’t see where a third door was.
Well, the boys thought this was hilarious, so Craig (after about dying laughing) showed me his room.
What I had thought was just a wardrobe, was actually a doorway!
It looked like one of those big old Narnia style freestanding wardrobes, but instead of containing clothes, it contained the biggest room of the house! With a large room, ensuite and a conservatory!
I ended up spending a lot of time there, jamming on the guitar with C while he drummed or played keyboard. And hanging out. He gave awesome back massages and I would often trade dinner cooking duty for a backrub! It was bliss.

The only flaw in my new life so far, was the missing chunk of my heart that was my baby.

I would often think about what I’d escaped. Why I’d run so far, and how I could have changed my current outcome.
It’s not that I wanted to, because I knew I couldn’t go back to that toxic relationship that had consumed me entirely. But I wished I could get my daughter back. I would have done almost anything – except sacrifice myself for her.
I focused a lot on my escape. And my happiness.