Image: Dominique Ottone with her two children (supplied)
“My friend called and I said, ‘I’m just sitting on the kitchen floor, crying ’cause I’ve spilt a whole carton of milk and I can’t have breakfast’,” she recalls.
“I can laugh about it now, but at the time I was like, ‘This is the last straw’.”
This milk incident was just a peak of the anxious, sad feelings that had been following her throughout her third trimester. Dominique had been married five months when she fell pregnant; she and her husband Denny hadn’t expected they’d be able to have a baby.
At the beginning Dominique was “really excited” about impending motherhood, but at seven months — and two weeks before embarking on leave — she noticed a shift.
"I started feeling really anxious ... little things just got on top of me. I was struggling with the idea of leaving work and feeling like I'm stepping into this unknown," the teacher recalls.
"[I thought] 'What is wrong with me? I want this baby, I'm really excited about it'. It was really funny to feel that way, but I never even thought it was odd."
These feelings became more intense during Dominique's maternity leave, particularly in the last few weeks. She puts much of it down to the stress and uncertainty of having a baby and not knowing when or how it was going to happen.
"Not having control over that made me really anxious. I didn't want to go out in case my waters broke. I became anxious about my husband... I was like, 'What if go into labour and you don't answer the phone?'" she explains.