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…



Things start getting really hard around this time of year. Mother’s Day is approaching, which is typically the worst day in my year, and the cheerful and sentimental advertisements start to grate me. My birthday follows shortly after, and then The Sunshine Princess has her birthday, then it’s The Angel’s, and two weeks after that is The Rainbow’s. 

Birthday’s are hard. My birthday moves me another year in my life away from who I was before my daughter died. I know I have grown and I am a better person, in many, many ways, but I often miss my innocence. My living daughters’ birthdays are a complete scramble of feelings, pride, joy, gratefulness, and the sadness of what their sister will never be. And the anniversary of my middle daughter’s stillbirth? She’s 4 this year and it’s not any more acceptable to me that she’s gone. It’s not any easier, it’s nothing but an excruciating reminder that there was a day in my life where I held my newly born daughter dead in my arms. 

Mother’s Day and all our birthdays fall within a 2.5 month block. This year that time period will include the finalisation of my divorce. It’s a couple of months that require a lot of emotional energy, and I feel as though I am going into underprepared. 

I’m not well within myself at the moment, and there’s been a lot of external factors making life hard. My self care has been dangerously neglected and it’s taking a toll on my well being and the way I interact with others. I’m currently an absent friend and sometimes a less than delightful girlfriend. 

I never anticipated that there would be a time in my life where there were situations that seemed bigger than my grief. It seemed that I would be invincible to so much more, because of what I had endured. But I’m finding I’m not invincible at all. I’m hurting. And I’m hurting over things that aren’t related to my daughter. 

My perspective is skewed, and I feel out of align with myself. It seems strange after several years of direct and essentially basic grief to be struggling with pain that isn’t related to my child’s death. It was so much easier to be in turmoil over something so straightforward. 

I’m working on making myself well again. It’s a conscious effort to change things in my lifestyle that aren’t serving me well. 

I’m beginning with forgiving myself for not being invincible. 

13 Months

It seems like only yesterday that I sat down to write your 12 month post, but here we are at 13 months already my lovely little Rainbow Princess.

We celebrated your birthday 2 weeks after it, when daddy was home from work. We had a fabulous afternoon party at a local hall, rainbow themed of course! You’re excellent godmother made you a beautiful rainbow layered cake, and for someone who just earlier texted me that she set baking paper on fire in the oven, this was quite an achievement. I pretended to help just so I can tell you I made your first cake, but really all I did was mix the colours into the batter. Your great grandparents made a long trip to attend, and you paternal grandfather came from interstate to meet you for the first time. it was a really special afternoon, only dampened by the fact that you, and quite a few of our expected guests were unwell. You were actually very sick, the sickest you’ve been in your short life, with a lung infection and ear infection, but you coped really well and looked delightful in your rainbow tutu. I have made some really amazing new friends because of you my precious girl, so thank you; thank you for all the love and light you have brought us, that was all particularly obvious that afternoon.

I love documenting you each month, and wish I started it sooner, because it makes me really pay attention to the new things you are doing, and this month there was quite a few. Although you don’t have a lot of words yet, you are really quite communicative and it’s very apparent that you understand a lot of what I am saying to you, and you respond appropriately. You are very interested in interacting with us this month, you’ve started giving high fives, and blowing kisses, nodding yes, shaking your head no. You bring me books you want to read and tap my legs, and clamber happily onto my lap when I oblige and sit down to read with you. When you want a toy or a drink that is out of reach you will find me, take my hand and lead me to it and then point and nod. You often bring me a container from the pantry, indicating what you’d like me to give you to eat (see, you don’t need a snack schedule, you remind me to feed you all the time!) You are so used to your daily routines that you can infer what you need to do from what I say to you, like running to your highchair and trying to climb in when I say its meal time, or heading to the bathroom after dinner for you bath (or running away and hiding when I say it’s time to change your nappy or get dressed). The comment “you’re so clever!” usually elicits a proud clap for yourself, as if to say, “why yes I am!”

You love to put on necklaces, and get really upset if we try to take them off you, but you are always very sharing and will find a spare to put on me. Almost always at home you have a long chain of dress up pearls on. At first I though The Sunshine Princess must have been putting them on you, until she corrected me and I saw you doing it yourself. You love to brush your hair too.

You are starting to sort your shape blocks into the container now, its still in the rudimental phases, but you are on your way. you also love taking lids off and trying to put them back on containers. The climbing has gotten worse, if you can climb it you will. At least now you’ve learnt to get back down by yourself. And you’ve not had too many big falls yet. now I just need you to realize that the slides at the park are for down, not up. Although you did give it a good try.

You love to hold my hand and lead me places, or bring me objects you have found for me to examine. The world must be so fascinating when everything is new. Its my honour that I’m the one you want to walk beside you, and I will enjoy it as long as it lasts, and try to not let my enthusiasm for your treasures fade, even if the thirtieth stick you show me looks exactly like the first.

You’re still a good eater, you went through a phase this month where you thought that anything with Caesar dressing on it was just the absolute best. Other favourites are Chia mountain bread, frozen berries and yoghurt.

Sleepwise most of this month was pretty uneventful. You slept poorly when you were sick, as to be expected, but more nights were better than they have been before, down to 1-2 wakes a night, with just one breastfeed. last month you were still having 2-3 over night, so this is a huge change for you. You are down to one day sleep now, usually a long one in the middle of the day, but some days you are happy with a short sleep. I’ll give it to you kid, you don’t love sleep as much as I wish you did, but you sure cope well without it. It’s another way you are very different to your big sister, at the same age she would have been a mess on the amount of sleep you have some days, but you have far less trouble with it then she did. Maybe it comes from being the little sister, always having to fit in with everything else going on, but you are definitely going to be one who drops the day sleep altogether early . Because I no longer need to spend the first few hours of the night resettling you every half an hour, I have *finally* enrolled in a certificate IV course I became interested in when you were born. It’s exciting but it also reminds me that I no longer have a new baby who needs nearly all of my focus, and that’s a little sad.

You went into toddler size nappies in the day this month (you’ve been wearing them overnight for awhile) and you’re in virtually all size 0 clothing now. There’s still a few 00’s that fit you, but it’s getting to that time again where I need to go through your wardrobe and pack things away.

You said your biggest sister’s nickname (her real name is much harder for you to say, she herself didn’t pronounce it properly until she was over 2) for the first time this month, she was ecstatic. You and her fight sometimes, usually there is snatching and yelling involved, but for the most part you have a really beautiful bond and it melts my heart to watch you together.

You all time favorite things this month are:

  • making indian noises with your hand over your mouth in the car- it makes car rides that much more enjoyable to listen to your noises followed by your proud giggle
  • your yellow ducky book- you’ve learnt to sign duck, which is adorable. Reading the 4 page book 1000 times a day, less adorable.
  • dogs- you and dogs, this has been an ongoing obsession. You love them and make an awful lot of noise when you see them, and chase them with reckless abandon, but are stunned when they actually turn to greet you
  • the bath time frog song. About a week ago I used your squeezy frog to sing you a frog song, and the container to pour “rain” over him. The very next night, and every night since, as soon as I put you in the bath you search out Mr Frog and the container and bang them on the side of the bath until I take them and perform the song for you. I am a brilliant horrible, albeit enthusiastic, singer

You have had rosy, dry cheeks most of this month, because you darling, are the world’s. slowest. teether. Your third tooth came through a few days after your birthday, and the one next to it looked like it wasn’t far behind, but we are still waiting for it to crack the gums. You’ve been pretty good about it, but sometimes you rub your mouth as you’re trying to sleep and I can tell it bothers you. I hope a bunch more make an appearance for you soon.

At 13 months you are cheeky, smiley, communicative, attentive and affectionate. You are becoming a fabulous little toddler, remnants of babyhood are fading away quickly. You are sweet, you are funny and you make me proud. You are thriving sweetheart. I love you.

Don’t judge me

It takes a lot to make me feel insecure about my parenting these days, but usually when it happens its because of a comment made by either someone who doesn’t have any kids, someone who doesn’t know much about my situation, or someone who had their children a long time ago.

Often it’s when a subject I already feel vulnerable about is brought up. For example asking my about The Rainbow’s sleep pattern (or lack therefor as is the current case) or The Sunshine’s not so delightful attitude that has appeared with the Threes.

These people ask questions like “is that normal? Do other people’s babies/kids do that?” And, probably, if it’s someone who doesn’t have kids, it’s a genuine question. But, to me, on very little sleep, and at the end of my rope after being told for the 437th time that day, “I DONT WANT TO!”, it feels accusatory. What I hear is “why are YOUR children doing that? What are YOU doing WRONG?” And I feel like bursting into tears and yelling back “I don’t know!!” I don’t know why my baby doesn’t sleep or why my 3 year old is acting like a 13 year old pubescent nightmare. I give them my all and I’m trying my hardest and they are still doing it. So chances are, yes, it’s normal. Chances are it’s actually nothing I am doing or not doing. But on rough days, I don’t want to talk about whether or not it’s normal. I just want to go pee alone. But that can’t happen because The Rainbow has hit a major separation anxiety phase and becomes hysterical if I leave the room without her.

Another thing I’ve found other people love to do is to compare all the mothers they know. It’s human nature, we’re analytical and like to look for patterns, but it’s when I’m already worn down and frustrated that comments about other people’s kids bother me. Someone might say, “oh she’s STILL not sleeping through? *insert random person’s name here* has a baby much younger than yours, and he sleeps through”. That’s great. I’m glad that other mumma is getting some sleep. Maybe she is a better parent than I am. Good for her. Leave me alone. It makes me feel bitter and inferior. Let me repeat. I am doing my best.

I am also doing what I believe in. The Rainbow is 10 months old and breastfed. She’s never had a bottle. Or a dummy. She needs me to fall asleep. Either by feeding her or cuddling her. I have to wait until she is completely zonked to put her into bed. And this is all what I am told is the cause of her night waking. She looks for me for comfort. Which I know is completely biologically normal. I will not be fooled into sleep training my baby out of something she needs, because of a promise of her sleeping better. My job is to put her needs first. Even when I’m tired. I would rather be tired than do something I don’t believe in, like leaving her to cry until she learns to fall asleep alone. But sometimes, I am so tired, that I just don’t want to talk about it. And I really don’t want to be compared to other mums who are getting more sleep than me. Especially if they used a method I don’t believe in.

I’ve been asked, “Do you think if you cuddled her less when she was a baby she wouldn’t be so clingy?” Two things bother me about this. First of all, cuddle my baby less? Yes, I could have missed out on those precious, and short lived newborn cuddles, by putting her down more often, but I didn’t want to. Secondly, what if I had of cuddled her less, and then she still became clingy? Then I’d be in the exact same place, but wouldn’t have the lovely memories and bonding experience of bed sharing and baby wearing in the early days. So despite how much The Rainbow needs me now, I don’t regret anything.

I don’t understand why mothers are put under so much scrutiny for things that just don’t really matter. I don’t think how much sleep The Rainbow Princess does or doesn’t get is relevant to the kind of adult she will become. I don’t think that The Sunshine Princess will turn into a serial killer because she talks back to me. I think what matters most about this part of their life, is that they are learning that I am there for them, that I will love them unconditionally and always. So please don’t decide whether or not I’m a good mother based on what I tell you about my daughter’s sleep, or on the 20 minutes you spend at my house during which my older daughter happens to have a meltdown. Because they are my kids. I love them. And I will always be proud of them. And for the most part, I’m proud of myself as a mother.