All 7 of us.

April 2017….

We are strolling through the car park next to a mariner, marvelling at the luxurious yachts and the expensive cars driven by the owners. He points to a large, family SUV and says, “That one would be perfect, it would fit all 7 of us”.

I almost miss a step, I have to force myself not to respond. Did he misspeak? Miscount? Or is he being deliberate. I know him well enough to know that it likely wasn’t an accident. I also know him well enough to know that I need to contain my reaction to this inconspicuously huge revelation.

Because, right now, there is only six of us. There’s me and my two girls, and him and his two boys. An almost Brady Bunch.

The seventh, a potential baby of our own, has been a hotly contended subject. It’s been the dealbreaker that wasn’t. It’s taken me a long time to find peace with not getting my way in the situation. To bury the piece of my heart that was desperate for another baby.

And now he says “seven of us”?

Before we had gotten together, properly, I asked if he was done having kids. His youngest is about a year older than my eldest. Honestly, I suspected that he had had a vasectomy. He’s older then me, and his ex-wife even older then him, in her forties. I assumed they had discussed it long ago, but I wasn’t sure if it was decision he had made for himself. He told me that he thought he was, but that with me, he really loved the idea, and that if we wanted to, yes it was possible. A vasectomy had been suggested, but he’d never felt right doing it, he wasn’t sure that he wouldn’t someday want more kids. With someone else. And then, here I was. Wanting a baby with him.

But then, when we became an official, public couple, and his ex wife found out, ran off with his kids, kickstarting a long, expensive and emotionally excruciating family court battle, and his answer turned to a hard, immovable, adamant NO.

It was devastating. We had walked through so many fires to be together, and now we weren’t just on separate pages, we were reading different books. My littlest girl was two and a half, and I was ready to either have another baby, or go back to work full time. I also have difficulties falling pregnant, and didn’t want to keep waiting to start trying, being that it could take many months. For me, it was now or never. For him, it was absolutely not now. We were still new, and although we were both certain of the relationship, there was so much other turmoil in his life, that he just could not entertain the idea of bringing in another child to complicate things further.

Knowing now as I do how things worked out, he was absolutely right. But for me, at the time, I felt betrayed. We had spoken about it. He has said yes. We’d talked baby names and who it would look like. I was ready. And now he’d taken it back. I was so angry at him. I’d put so much of my life aside to be with him, and now it wasn’t going to move forward how I thought we’d agreed. Looking back, I’m a little surprised he stayed with me through all the pressure I put on him in those early days. He hates being made to do things. He hates, as anyone would, being pushed into things. And he hates confrontation, and confront him I did. A lot.

I remember the final fight we had about it. We’d sent some heated texts, before giving each other the silent treatment for a few days, which neither of us coped with well. Finally we met at the beach to talk it through.

“If you want a baby, you need to be with someone else.” He said, hopeless tears in his eyes. He was exhausted from the same fight, over and over, and I knew that he couldn’t do it anymore.

“It’s not that I want any baby, it’s that I want YOUR baby.” I explained.

“And it’s not that I wouldn’t want a baby with you, it’s that I don’t want another child at all right now. Of course it would be with you if I did want one”.

I taking it all as a reflection of how he felt about me. I was jealous he’d had children with his ex-wife, that he’d told me he wasn’t ready when she was, but he’d done it for her, but now wouldn’t for me. It infuriated me because he would constantly tell me what an amazing mother he thought I was, but, he didn’t want a baby. To me, those couldn’t be mutually exclusive things. And I couldn’t see that he had learnt having a child you weren’t ready for, was a terrible idea.

To him, it wasn’t that he didn’t adore me, or value me as a parent, it’s that his plate was so full, and he was already drowning. I was heaping on with expectations he couldn’t manage, and it was hurting him that he just couldn’t agree with me. He wanted to make me happy, but this was one thing he couldn’t budge on. I was asking far too much, and we were both miserable.

So. I agreed to stop asking.

I told him that I wanted him, more than I wanted a baby to someone else. I would rather choose him, and no baby, than no him. But we also agreed that I would stop taking birth control. It was ruining my body, my cycles were awful and more hormones horrendous (and possibly/almost definitely responsible, for some of the big fights we’d been having, which were almost exactly every 4 weeks). We agreed that he didn’t want a baby, he needed to be responsible for preventing it. I told him that I wouldn’t deliberately try to get pregnant, I had absolutely no desire to have a child the father didn’t want.

We closer the door on the argument. We bought condoms. He was quite nonchalant about protection though, which I found confusing, given he was the one not wanting a pregnancy, and we didn’t use them often, and instead relied on a very lazy combination of family planning and the withdrawal method- risky, given both are notoriously unreliable, but given I rarely ovulate, nothing eventuated.

I started working more. I applied to transfer my university degree, was accepted and the following year, I quit work to study full time. I’d have my degree finished in 2.5 years, and then I’d start my career. My little one grew, and as she got older, and our independence as a family grew too, it was easier to imagine life without another baby. I’d agreed “no”, so I pushed my life in a direction away from the homemaker role, and started to see a life laying out for myself with the children we had between us, and a career I’d dreamt of for a long time.

And then, barely 6 months into my degree. Only a little over a year since we decided not to fight about it anymore, just as my heart is healing from the “no more babies” grief that seemingly only mums experience. Then, THEN, he casually drops a:

“All 7 of us”.

I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Now?! Now he’s bloody ready? What. A. Prick.

It made sense. The worst of the court proceedings were over. He had stable time with his kids. His job was going well. Our relationship is so happy, we were travelling and having regular date nights, my study was going well, everything was quite settled. Obviously it was a much, much better time.

But uni? My degree? My career? What if now, I’m the one not ready? I don’t want to postpone all that again. I did that after my first and it took me 6 years to go back. I was looking forward to the new plan I had made. The one without a baby.

Later, I ask him.

“Did you mean to say 7?”.

I think I sound more annoyed than I intended. He looks quite abashed. “Yes.”

He tells me that he started thinking about it a few months ago. That he is quite excited at the idea of having a child together. That he wants to parent with me, not just the children we have, but one we share only with each other.

I ask if he’s happy to wait until I’ve finished studying. He tells me that the timing is up to me. But we stop being careful at all pretty quickly. I stop checking the calendar, and we give up on the withdrawal method almost all together. I start getting little twinges of hope and excitement every time my period is late. Disappointment when it arrives. We pick baby names. He changes jobs. I take extra courses to fast track my study program. It’s subtle. But it’s there. It’s not an “if” anymore, it’s a “when”.

* * *

18 months later, the test is positive. And I laugh, because I have exactly 9 months of my degree to go…


Nearly Five- July 2018

She looks at me with distress that crumples her brow. We are walking her big sister home from school, and she has abruptly stopped, and tugged at my hand.

“Mumma?”, her voice full of worry.

“Yes baby?”

“My legs have all run out of walking!”. She looks down at the useless offenders, and back to me, tears in her eyes, hopeful I’ve got the solution to this conundrum.


She is nearly five. It’s not, “I’m tired”. It’s not, “I don’t want to walk anymore”. It’s not even, “Mumma, can you carry me?”. It’s genuine concern that this aching, this afternoon fatigue, is a sign of her body failing her, because she doesn’t yet realise that her mind has more energy than her body could possibly keep up with.

We make it home after I assure her that her legs have definitely got enough walking to complete the journey, and she curls into my lap to rest a little before the afternoon surge arrives and she’s begging to go and play.

She is right on the cusp of little and big. She will start school at the beginning of next year, and her imagination has never been bigger. This isn’t a child who understands black and white, this whirlwind of energy is a girl who lives in her own universe and sees in fluorescent pink.

Gone is the stubbornly defiant hurricane toddler whose favourite word is “no”. This child is wild and carefree, but gentle, gracious and loyal. She throws a great sulk, but is generally willing to please, and happily follows instructions. Sharing and giving have come naturally to her altruistic heart, she has a warm, infectious laugh, and a sparkling smile. She lights up the room, she waves at strangers in the supermarket and she regales us with hilarious stories as a favourite past time at the dinner table.

She admires her sister but has come to recognise that she has her own negotiation skills and doesn’t as easily accept being bossed around.  She is content playing alone, but prefers company, and doesn’t easily tire of friendships.

Her hair is long and untamed, though the ringlet baby curls are gone. She’s losing her puppy fat, the dimples on her hands are discreetly vanishing, her legs lengthening, and she carries herself differently to accommodate her ever growing height.

She speaks in fast sentences with a vocabulary beyond her years. She is difficult to slow down. She’s determined and daring and not easily cautioned. She thrives off affection, and melts in my arms when she’s sad. I frequently wake in the night to find she has snuck into our bed, and is carefully stroking my face as she sleeps, or has tucked herself up under her stepdad’s arms, and is snoring softly on his chest.


This childhood littleness is so fleeting, and each day it feels as if her bigness is becoming more prominent.


She’s our littlest, and she’s nearly five.

“Like a demolition”

One the many rituals that Patrick and I have is sending each other a love text during the day when we are apart. It can be a picture, a quote, song lyrics, or words we’ve written ourselves, anything that’s separate from the general “how’s your day?”, “can you please get milk on the way home?”, and “omg, this child won’t sleep!! Save me!” messages that command an essential place in married text communication.

Unlike some of our other rituals, this one wasn’t formed as a deliberate practice, it just came to be quite organically, and it’s not necessarily an every day thing. But it’s one of the many little things that I love about our relationship. It’s easy to forget to remind the person you love, that you do. It’s easy in the mundane domesticity of life with kids to forget the needs of the adults. Patrick and I are both people who crave intellectual and emotional connection. So his messages to me are more meaningful than a habitual “I love you” as he walks out the door. It’s a reminder that I’m present in his mind throughout the day. It shows intention to make me feel loved, seen, known. When he takes a moment to find the content for that message, I am a priority in his busy work day. I think it’s important to be reminded of that. To always keep each other to the fore of everything, so that as we grow, and jobs come and go, and the children grow older and move away, we won’t end up staring at each other across the table, wondering who the other person in our home is now. We won’t lose each other during this chaotic season of child rearing and long hours at work. Because little bids of connection amount to a lot.

Today he sent me this, and it took my breath away, because it’s so beautiful. And being told someone feels like way about you, no matter how long you’ve been together, or maybe, even particularly when you’ve been together a while, is a little bit overwhelming.

You are beautiful like demolition. Just the thought of you draws my knuckles white. I don’t need a god. I have you and your beautiful mouth, your hands holding onto me, the nails leaving unfelt wounds, your hot breath on my neck. The taste of your saliva. The darkness is ours. The nights belong to us. Everything we do is secret. Nothing we do will ever be understood; we will be feared and kept well away from. It will be the stuff of legend, endless discussion and limitless inspiration for the brave of heart. It’s you and me in this room, on this floor. Beyond life, beyond morality. We are gleaming animals painted in moonlit sweat glow. Our eyes turn to jewels and everything we do is an example of spontaneous perfection. I have been waiting all my life to be with you. My heart slams against my ribs when I think of the slaughtered nights I spent all over the world waiting to feel your touch. The time I annihilated while I waited like a man doing a life sentence. Now you’re here and everything we touch explodes, bursts into bloom or burns to ash. History atomizes and negates itself with our every shared breath. I need you like life needs life. I want you bad like a natural disaster. You are all I see. You are the only one I want to know”- Henry Rollins.


He held my hand the entire night.

The very first time Patrick slept over, he held my hand the entire night.

We were both so nervous, like jittery teenagers, that after so long of being emotionally intimate, now it was playing out physically. We knew each other extremely well, and yet, not at all. The time we occupied each other’s actual presence had been so limited, that when we finally started spending time with each other in person, we both felt wondrously shy.

That first night, we laid in bed for hours talking, and kissing, and kissing and talking. It’s mostly a blur now. I can’t even remember if we slept together. What I remember is the hand holding. As we drifted off to sleep, I moved away from him, and he positioned himself back closer to him. His hand found mine, he squeezed it, and fell back asleep. A few times in the night, I was woken by him reaching across the bed and patting around until he found my hand, and took it in his. It was as though even in his sleep, he needed to know I was still close by. That this was real. That neither of us were going anywhere. At last, we were together, and we both wanted to hold on tight.

Now, although we rarely go to bed at different times, he falls asleep before me every night. He’s a “head on the pillow = instant sleep” kind of guy, whereas I like to daydream awhile before I drift off. He could sleep on a knife edge in blinding light, quite contentedly; I like a dark quiet room and the perfect pillow. He could, and has, as proven in a bet I lost, fall asleep with me laying directly on top of him, taking my whole body weight; I get frustrated if he cuddles me too tightly. But every night, we snuggle before we fall asleep. If I’m up in the night (a whole lot more now that we have a little person who wakes to nurse) when I move close to him to go back to sleep, he sleepily adjusts his position to open his arms so I can curl up against his chest. He pushes his leg out so his foot can be against mine. He snuggles into the back of my neck if I’m facing away from him. He strokes my arm if I lay it across him, and holds my legs if I cuddle up to his back when he’s facing away from me.

And every night, throughout the night, when he wakes, he searches for my hand. And our sleepy, subconscious togetherness, is perfectly symbolic of how and why we’re here: We simply hate being apart.