I am not sure if that moment was a bit of a wake up call for both of us, but things did get better. After Kennith received my email he came home early and he tried to chat to me.
Kennith – bless his cotton socks – has always been the one who will extend the olive branch first – I am the one who will hold a sulk for days if need be. I know it appears that I slate him, but he really does try very hard to be a good partner and a great dad. Sometimes with our relationship in such turmoil, I forget what a good guys he is.
I don’t think I was really open to a discussion. I felt exhausted by the process that we had been through, but also relieved that a decision had been made – even though it was painful and awful. I can’t quite recall how things began to change at home, but they did.
I think the issue was that I could not really afford to move out anywhere initially, and would need to still remain in the house until I had made a plan. I just was not sure what the plan was. It was not like he came home and I had my cases at the door, with my cactus balanced on top.
The sun went down and then it came up the next day and we were still two people who had a house, two kids and some problems to work through. I think to Kennith’s credit, he could have just thrown in the towel and agreed with me that it was “over cadovers” but he felt there was still a reason we should try to make this work.
It was gradual process and every step might not have been recorded, but it did get better. We both worked on being a couple and getting rid of some of the animosity we had been carrying around.
We tried to learn to communicate with each other – rather than just wait for the other person to take a breath so you could get your say in. Kennith put a huge amount of effort in being present, and I put an effort in making him feel less isolated from the family unit.
I tried very hard to stop being angry and so resentful all the time. I had so much anger within me, and struggled to express it in a constructive manner. I think he also tried to listen to what I was saying, which was a huge help when you feel you are not being heard.
I think it took at least a year for things to gradually get better until they were on what we could call stable ground. We just started doing things differently and behaving differently.
When things had stabilized a bit, Kennith and I decided to leave the kids at home and went overseas for a just over a week to see friends and family – my brother’s first son was being born and we were trying to time being there for that.
It was great to spend some time together doing our stuff. I missed the kids terribly and pined for Georgia especially, but it was great to be able to enjoy each other’s company again. It really was a great experience to be together even if it was just walking through the streets and stores, but it was nice to reconnect and be big people again.
A month or two after getting back I started a new job which offered me a great deal of challenges and also made me feel more secure and fulfilled. Though it required a huge amount of juggling it definitely made me feel much better about myself. I realized a big part of me required affirmation in what I do for a living – I really get my kicks from doing a job and doing it well.
I think the thing about expecting a baby, and preparing for the impact of a baby is that you spend so much time thinking about the baby, and the sleep deprivation, and whether you are going to buy the right pram and cot, that you forget about the impact this person is going to have on your relationship. Not for a second had I factored this in as an issue.
Kennith and I had been together for more than 7 years when we decided – it was not an accident – to have Connor. We were stable and prepared. We had never had a “get out” fight in all the time that we had been together.
I could never have accounted for the amount of trauma and strain a baby would introduce to our lives and relationship.
I am not saying that the birth of Connor was to blame for all of our issues, but the introduction of a third person into a stable relationship was definitely a catalyst that we just had not factored in, and were ill equipped to recognise and deal with.
Some of the issues that came to the fore was how much baggage I was dragging with me about my own upbringing and childhood. I thought I had that securely locked away but the introduction of my own child just seemed to bring that all up. I suddenly had real “mother” issues that also impacted on my relationship with my own mother and my son.
When friends tell me that they are pregnant, I really wish I could tell them how stressful that first year is. How it will literally shake you to your roots, and make your gums bleed.
You will doubt yourself as you stand in the bathroom at night crying in desperation and loneliness.
You will begin to despise your partner because your life has changed so dramatically and theirs seems to have remained the same.
You will question every decision you have made, and feel you know nothing and are the most worthless creature on the planet.
But at the centre of it all is this round little baby whose cuddles will warm your soul, and whose smell will ease the pain. He or she is the calm in the storm – and it is a bit of a storm – the kind where people take canned food down to a cellar and stay there until the dust settles and then they come out to see what form of life survived.
Most moms I have spoken to remember the acute loneliness of the 2am feeds, and feeling so isolated and desperate while everyone skipped to work. It really is one of the most difficult challenges I have ever had to face in my life, and you know I can’t even put it on my CV as an achievement. It’s such a sense of despair that your soul literally cries!
And what’s even sadder, is that we all know it, but no one talks about it and prepares new mums. I wonder why that is.