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.
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.
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.”