real life

From endometriosis to mother of three under two. This is Tina's story.

After 15 years of battling endometriosis I was told in no uncertain terms: “If you want to have kids, you need to do so now.”

Being told I might not be able to have kids was scary for me. So, feeling as though any choice regarding timing had been yanked away from me, I embarked on my journey into motherhood. Weeks later, shocked, I showed my partner the positive pregnancy test.

The next eight months was a happy state of self-delusion. With all my experience as a teacher, I had this motherhood thing in the bag – I was prepared! But at about six weeks out, I hit the first stumbling block. I would need a Caesarean. This was not part of my plan and I was devastated.

My bump would lead to a bumpy road ahead.

Post birth, my baby struggled with feeding. My misshapen scabby nipples bled every time he fed and I felt awful that he had to eat scabs and drink blood. I dreaded feeding time and the toe-curling pain of attachment was indescribable. I bawled the tears of a deflated, tortured woman and tried desperately to accept that this is simply the reality of breastfeeding. The guilt I felt at giving up was a much worse alternative than the pain. I was failing my child.

Then came the chronic eczema. The multiple misdiagnoses. The relentless screaming. The severe allergies. The hospitalisation due to an anaphylactic shock  where I helplessly watched my boy turn blue. I struggled to stay upright as I dissolved into panic at the thought I had lost him. His inability to sleep due to blocked breathing passages. The perpetual exhaustion. It was never-ending and out of my control. I just couldn’t get it right.

I was sinking fast. I hit rock bottom and it was a cold, miserable place. But with my consistent ability to achieve the ultimate failure, I knew I deserved to be there. I was a terrible mother.

My husband worked never-ending hours in a failing business. Money was tight. My son cost us over $100 per week in medical bills and food came second to that. I shut down my world to something more manageable - four walls and a bouncer - and struggled to survive. All that was left was a crying baby and his crying mother.

I didn’t recognise the person in the mirror; hair that I had cut myself (no money, no babysitter), swollen bags that aged me 20 years, a skeletal frame. Hurtful comments bit at any lingering sanity –“You stupid women need to concentrate more on your child than yourself. You care more about being skinny than you do about your own baby.” That was said to me by a women I’d never met.

Grandma was our greatest support.

Desperate, we moved home. Broke, we moved in with my mother.

Here, I had people wanting to help. I could fall asleep and someone else could tend to his needs. I could shower. For the love of god, I could shower! Unhurried and uninterrupted. Life was easier. A genuine glow of happiness crept back into my eyes. I was finding my way back. Life was improving and I was learning to love it again.

Then came the inevitable. “I think we should try again.”

ADVERTISEMENT

Go get .......!

Absolutely no way. I couldn’t. We’d only just reached a place where I could survive. I didn’t have it in me. I’m sorry, but NO!

Then the guilt kicked in. I felt selfish. With every fibre of my being saying no, I didn’t want my boy to be an only child. I wanted him to grow up with a sibling. I had siblings. He should too. So I relented. Frightened and sick to the stomach, I agreed to one more.

Surprise! I was carrying twins.

TAP THE PHOTO too see Chris Hemsworth's twins. Post continues below...

With little time to process this information, I went into labour at 25 weeks and was air-lifted out. Bed-bound and petrified, I lasted five weeks, delivering at 30 weeks. The birth was traumatic and chaotic.

Both babies needed reviving and were whisked away. After 36 hours in the delivery ward, having barely laid eyes on only one of my babies, I was alone. My sense of failure ate away at me as my babies struggled to survive.

Suffering a few setbacks, it was 15 weeks to the day that we loaded our tiny babies into the car and drove home. We were finally together again as a family and I could now attempt to rebuild my fractured bond with my first born, as he was too young to understand why mummy just abandoned him. To this day, and as I write this now, tears well in my eyes at my leaving him. Yes I was where I needed to be for my babies, but I was nowhere near where I needed to be for my toddler.

"I thought having twins would be tough, but I managed due to the support I got."

I knew things would be tough, but it was nothing compared to the first time. The gloom never enveloped me and rock bottom never imprinted itself on my face. I was shocked.

The difference being, I had support. The fact that two very premmie babies were easier than my first truly highlighted the value of support. I knew I could not and would not have survived without it. Here exists a dangerous void in society and I had experienced the depth of it. It worried me greatly that others were experiencing the same desperation that comes with no support and I had to help.

Endeavouring to create a system that helps parents access support around them, I created Little Sits.

At Little Sits, parents can build their own support network so they can have a break. A break without the cost of a babysitter. A break without having to say “I need help” because that’s really hard to do. Parents can have a break to make sure they still have an identity, to make time for their own sanity.

It is my hope is that Little Sits can help others avoid the lonely, scary void that I suffered.

Did your friends and family lend a hand when you had your baby? Or did you feel overwhelmed by it all?