7th August 2017. It wasn’t any ordinary Monday at the start of August.
It was the day Jeremy was seeing his cardiologist for the OK to get back behind the wheel after not being permitted to drive since February, six long months before, following his cardiac arrest.
We were so excited to see the cardiologist and for him to get the OK so life could get back to normal and I wouldn’t have the added pressure of being taxi driver to my perfectly healthy 32 year old husband. In the appointment she said those magic words, ‘you are OK to drive’. HEAVEN! I handed him the car keys right in that moment, not even waiting to leave her office, I was so excited to have a break from driving all the time.
It was in the car on the way home that a thought struck me, I couldn’t remember when my last period was. I hadn’t been overly stressed, so that couldn’t explain it, we weren’t actively trying to have a baby, quite the opposite actually. Yet I couldn’t even place it with an event that had happened in the last month.
We got home and I scoured my diary, hoping for something to jog my memory of when my last period was and I got this weird hunch that I should go and get a pregnancy test. So off to Coles I went, bought my pregnancy test, thinking there is no way, seriously so few chances that this could be happening now. Jeremy was just as blasé as I was about it, sure that the test would come up negative.
I took the test, leaving it upside down while I tidied up our bathroom and walk in robe. A few minutes later I went back and checked it, sure I would only see one line there, yet there it was a very clear ‘+’. I had to check the back of the box that a + meant pregnant, and I went to show Jeremy in the kitchen still not believing that the test was positive.
Jeremy couldn’t believe me and had to check the test a couple of times as well before he truly believed. We hugged and kissed as the initial shock wore off and we realised that we are going to have our third baby!
In the days that followed, I had to keep checking the tests to make sure that they were actually positive to let the news sink in. Jeremy and I always wanted to have 3 or 4 kids, but we decided that after the shock of having postnatal depression and anxiety with Ethan and then the battle of Jeremy having a cardiac arrest at 31, we would wait until the start of 2018. That way Owen would be in kindergarten, and Ethan would be toilet trained and in a big boy bed, and just that little bit older. We just wanted a little bit of time.
As selfish as it might seem, I felt like I needed that time, to just be me. I had only just started to truly enjoy having two kids, and I wanted to make the most of it for the rest of the year before we thought about adding to our family. And this unexpected surprise, as joyous as babies are, made me feel robbed of that time. I already felt robbed after Jeremy’s cardiac arrest this year. Robbed of that feeling of security and safety. I knew we were healthy, I knew we were doing our best to be our best selves, and then out of the blue, my healthy husband died for 28 minutes on the footy field.
Now we were finally back to normal, Jeremy could drive again, he was back at work and he was playing football again. I finally didn’t have to drive him everywhere, and BANG… the next 6 months of time where I would get back to my best version of myself both mentally and physically felt like it was just pulled from underneath me.
About a week after we took the test the nausea and the exhaustion of the first trimester hit me. Physically I actually couldn’t make it through the day without a nap, so I utilised movie time and tablet time for Owen while Ethan and I napped. Melbourne was going through a massive cold burst at that time and I was more than happy to stay inside in my trackies as I was too nauseous and tired to think of doing anything anyway. However this hibernation had a massive impact on my mental state.
The kids got bored and cranky, and I had a voice whispering in my head: ‘You can’t even control the 2 kids you already have… why are you having another one already!?’ And I would agree with it. My boys are gorgeous, they are my world and my life. But far out they are energetic, full of crazy and yes sometimes out of control (as lots of toddler/preschool kids are).
Then that voice in my head spoke up again: ‘What makes you think that you can have another baby and get through it. Look what happened last time! You struggled, you couldn’t even go to the shops without breaking down or yelling at the kids, or just bursting into tears for no reason. You cried your way through a family holiday! You can’t do this. Not alone.’
I was terrified about having a third baby, and to be honest still am quite anxious. It was a paralysing fear, I didn’t want to commit to anything or make any plans, or get out of the house much. Something made me think I had to conserve my energy! But my mind just saw me, 9 months later, a frazzled mess, third baby in arms, my 2 boys running riot, acting like those kids that judgy Mums/Dads/Grandparents/Teenagers roll their eyes at when out and about. And me, the Hot Mess Mum, not even able to brush her hair or remember to put shoes on my kids.
Jeremy was lovely and would console me and tell me that I can do this, I am a good mother, our kids are good kids, and I am not doing it alone. We still have Jezz (thank the universe!), we have an amazing family who step up at a seconds notice, and amazing friends to lean on for help. But I didn’t believe him. I didn’t believe that I was a good Mum. I didn’t believe that I could do this. I thought having another baby just wasn’t a good idea. I was depressed and sinking lower, too tired and depressed to even crochet.
It wasn’t until I had the chance to go away to the Gold Coast for a 4 day weekend that my mood finally started to lift. I was able to sit outside and let the sun warm me up and enjoy a few moments of peace away from my family and responsibilities. I was staying in a house full of wonderful people who were genuinely excited about my baby news. (Although for me I felt like I was faking excitement because they seemed more excited than I was.) I met some new people, had some alone time to reflect, some venting and deep and meaningful conversations and I could actually feel the dark clouds start to ease up from my shoulders. Sure I still had a way to go to feel excited, but I didn’t feel stuck in a depressed fog of exhaustion and nausea anymore.
I came home actually missing my kids. I still forget how much of a blessing that is. To be able to miss my kids helps me to love and appreciate them more. Sometimes all us Mums need is a break from them!
In the last few weeks I’ve been able to be process that I won’t be getting my 6 months of just being me when I thought I would. And I’m ok with that now. I am finally excited about having another baby. A big step towards that was telling Owen and Ethan finally. Owen wants a baby sister and is already kissing the belly, and Ethan says bubby when we ask where the baby is. Very cute!
I will just do my best to be the best version of myself while growing another human. I might not get as much done as I like, or I might not be in the best shape that I would have been in without the baby… but I’ll do my best. And if I go to the shops with un-brushed hair or kids in bare feet… who cares. So back off judgy voice in my head… I’m doing my best.
Kate Made It
Hi! I’m Kate, a stay at home Mum, crochet addict and designer, craft lover, Perinatal Anxiety and Depression survivor, PANDA Community Champion.
Self-care is not selfish. You deserve it and you need it.