“I remember it was my 21st birthday. I had the man of my dreams by my side – he had the chiseled jawline, good height, and an amazing sense of humor. The party was at my apartment which I rented with my best friend. It wasn’t a new apartment; the carpet was older than me and smelled of aged dirt. The ceiling in the bathroom leaked every time the tenants upstairs had a bath and the walls peeled. As you can imagine, it wasn’t my dream house. Although it was in the dream location – within seconds from the beach, shops, and clubs. My birthday was one of those picture perfect days, everything went well, my friends had a great time and I created memories which will stay with me forever, but then I woke up. My birthday had come and gone and here I am a 21- year-old with what felt like nothing. This is when the rush began, I was lying in bed thinking about everything everyone tells you to do as an adult. Adults don’t rent, they own a home, have kids, drink one glass of wine – not twenty tequila shots. With age, you creep closer to death. These were the thoughts racing through my head as my innocent and chiseled man laid next to me, dead asleep and most likely still drunk from the night before.
‘There’s no need to rush. What’s meant for you always arrives right on time.’ This is what I was told a lot growing up, yet I could hear the ticks of time growing louder than ever. I instantly made a checklist in my head of all the adult things I needed in my life, it was simple. House, kids, job. To get a house I needed to be smart, I had spent what felt like the last 21 years of my life throwing my money onto food, alcohol and nice bed sheets. I opened a savings account and began to make sacrifices and saved. However, that was growing slower than I had hoped. I needed to work if I wanted kids. I thought this would be the easiest step of all. I didn’t want many kids, just two girls would be perfect. My math was logical, two girls would mean two pregnancies. Eighteen months would be all I needed to get one of the big three goals done before it was ‘too late.’
I never verbally discussed this plan with the chiseled man. I just assumed once you start to have unprotected sex continuously with the same person, you both just mutually agree that you’re both ok with having kids with each other. I was wrong. I remember my first positive pregnancy test, I was extremely shocked and excited. Unfortunately, the chiseled man was just shocked – not excited. The day after the positive test we did what any other adult would – saw a doctor. We weren’t people who had money, and I was desperately saving for a house, so we were at the public medical centre, which makes you wait for hours before you see the doctor. While in the daunting, clinical waiting room, surrounded by sick children coughing all over the place, and the elderly knitting the time away. The chiseled man leaned over to me and whispered, ‘We’re getting rid of it right?’ It was something I had not expected, it was one of those remarks that sink to the bottom of your stomach. How dare he suggest this, also why now? Why didn’t he say this when he found out or on the car ride over to the medical centre? Before I could respond the doctor called out my name and it was time to be an adult again. Lucky for him, the pregnancy didn’t go full term. I had a miscarriage at 10 weeks. After hours of crying in pain from having what felt like a hammer constantly hit my lower stomach, the unborn offspring came out fully still in the sac, you could see its big head and little buds which would have become its limbs. It looked like a red bean covered in blood. I showed this massive looking blood clot to the chiseled man before flushing it down the toilet. I’ve never seen a man throw up so quickly.
So here I was three months after my birthday and nowhere closer to having adult status. I didn’t feel like I had the time to look for a new partner. Establishing a new relationship takes time and we really were best friends. So it doesn’t matter if I continue the baby game – we were eventually going to get married anyway. I justified my actions again by saying to myself, ‘Unprotected sex is like signing a contract saying that you’re ok to have kids with that person.’ Two weeks after the miscarriage I fell pregnant again – this time I was not as excited. I waited a few weeks before telling anyone. I waited for what I thought was ten weeks before going to the doctors. The chiseled man again asked, ‘You’re not keeping it, are you?’ I ignored that question, just like I ignored all the suggestions from my friends and families to not be with this man anymore. He knew I was keeping it. At weeks 20 while pregnant, I realized buying a place in the city we were in was not going to happen. We needed to move to a cheaper location. We moved an hour north to rent at first. Once we loved it the plan was to buy as soon as possible. I couldn’t raise a child in an apartment made for drunks looking to drink and smoke all day. I had to buy a place soon as I could feel myself getting older – almost 22. We rented for longer than I was expecting, almost a year.
It was also unexpectedly the best year of my life so far – the savings was growing, our daughter was perfection, the chiseled man was a dream come true, and then my dad died. The Dad who taught me and the chiseled man how to drive, the Dad who was there whenever I had an unexpected bill, the Dad who would come to my house each week bringing groceries. My dad, a legend who only made it to 56. Instantly life became tough, the chiseled man became distant. I became even more aware of death.
At the age of 23, I felt like there was no time left in the world. I couldn’t afford a house just yet, but luckily unprotected sex is free, so it was time to start making baby number two to complete the goal. Getting pregnant for me and the chiseled man was easy, even with the relationship being a little distant, sex was an event which would happen once before bed and every morning. Just like that – my third pregnancy was there. Stupidly, I hoped the chiseled man might be happy this time around and excited for a new baby. Now that we already have a perfect angel together. I got his standard response ‘Can you get rid of this one?’ He knew the answer. This pregnancy wasn’t like the others, my stomach grew ridiculously quickly, concerning the doctor we had an eight-week ultra-scan, and everything looked fine. This gave me the confidence to show off my big new round ball of a stomach. By ten weeks my stomach was huge and I couldn’t hide the pregnancy even if I wanted to. To be honest, I was loving the early attention. I couldn’t take the train to work without someone telling me I had the pregnancy glow. This was well needed as I wasn’t getting any positive attention. For the 12 week scan, the chiseled man’s mum asked to be present (she wanted to be more involved with this pregnancy). I was more than happy to have her there. It was nice to know I wasn’t the only person in the family who was excited about another addition.
We got to the woman’s imagining centre and just like any normal ultrasound they covered my stomach in warm goo and placed the ultrasound probe onto my stomach, my eyes were glued to the ultrasound monitor the moment I sat down. ‘Oh Dear,’ said the nurse instantly when the monitor lit up. She didn’t want or need to look at the contents of my stomach for longer than a second, ‘I’m going to go get the doctor,’ another stomach sinking remark. Lying on the cold hospital bed, waiting for the doctor, the chiseled man’s mother looked at me with disgust, ‘I knew you weren’t strong enough to carry a boy,’ she whispered into my ear. I tried to keep my composure. It wasn’t the time to cry since we were in a public place and we didn’t exactly know what was going on. We didn’t even know the gender. The doctor walks in with his classic, ‘I’m going to give you bad news face.’ I can’t even remember what he said, once he started talking I started crying. Long story short I was having what they call a partial molar pregnancy, I needed to schedule a D&C, also known as a dilation and curettage, meaning removing everything out of the uterus surgically. After the surgery, there were constant blood tests and I was told I may never have kids again – one of the big goals I was working so hard to achieve.
‘I have to buy a house now before it’s too late,’ was a thought continuously playing in my head before I would go to bed. I was convinced I would never conceive again. My savings account wasn’t there yet and housing prices grew quicker than my savings account. A standalone house was out of reach so we started to look at apartments, the chiseled man hated the thought of an apartment so we settled for a townhouse. It was a sellers’ market everything we made an offer on already had 10 plus offers. After a long journey of constant housing inspections and getting out bid on every place worthwhile, we had an offer accepted. I was ecstatic! Finally, at the age of 23, I was going to have one of the goals ticked. I remember the day I signed the paper for the mortgage. This was the day the chiseled man had the courage to finally tell me he didn’t love me anymore – and it was the day I found out I was pregnant again.
When most women see a positive pregnancy test they get excited and nervous for the future, they see two blue lines and see life. I see the lines and see the opposite, another reminder of death. With all the health complications and previous pregnancies, I had accepted this was going to be a miscarriage. I knew I had to tell the chiseled man, even after hearing the news that he wasn’t in love with me, his reaction was to be expected. As we just bought a house together, we had a car together, a kid together and now this pregnancy, the chiseled man decided to stay to see if we could work it out. He did what he though he had to do. Surprisingly at 20 weeks, I was still pregnant, the chiseled man’s mum was rejoicing, ‘The prince is coming.’ This was something she would tell everyone. The chiseled man was picking out boys names and looking at boy shoes. Even his sister was in envy wanting to have a little boy of her own – and then we found out it was a girl. Instantly the family lost interest, and the chiseled man stopped caring altogether. I tried to keep it all together, still worked full time, still took care of our daughter, and helped his family out who needed a home and moved in with us. There was nothing I could do to change the gender of this baby, and in return, there was nothing I could do to make the chiseled man happy. He resented me, just the look of my face made him angry. He started sleeping on the couch, and we would go weeks without seeing each other. After a few months, every interaction we had was abusive.
He would tell me I needed to lose weight and to squat more. The violence was mostly emotional at first but escalated. I constantly told him to leave yet he refused. Every time I tried to leave he would stop me and become physical. I confided in his mother who was living with us at the time, she was watching the abuse and stopped him when he tried to get physical. I told her I couldn’t do this anymore, I had to leave and run when I had the chance and she looked and me and said, ‘This is what men do.’
I worked full time and all our money went into a joint account. When I tried to spend money he would call me and demand an explanation on where the money went. He hated all my friends and banned them from coming to our house. One night I went downstairs to the couch where he would sleep and begged him to come sleep next to me, I didn’t want sex, I just wanted to not feel alone. He refused. That night I cried in the shower as my daughter slept. ‘Please God, I pleaded. Please tell me there is more to life than this. Please help me.’ I wasn’t religious at the time but had no one else to turn to. The next night the chiseled man was out for the kill, he got home from his friend’s house and was just yelling. I’m not one to argue, I would always just ask him to calm down for the baby. His mum got a job and wasn’t around to help me if he got physical, and I was so sick of him punching holes in the walls or breaking furniture. I remember just watching his face yell not hearing a word, too busy in my head saying, ‘Tomorrow you run.’ That morning the chiseled man woke up and left for work. I woke up, called my work to change where my pay goes and advised them I was taking the day off. I packed everything into one bag grabbed our daughter and ran.
I gave birth to our second daughter a few weeks later, alone. My mum was a stubborn beautiful woman and took me in. I struggled with post-natal depression and turned to alcohol as a way out. Living with my mum wasn’t working out perfectly. I could tell she desperately wanted her space and hearing a baby cry every two hours was draining. At this point, all my life goals were out the window. I cried a lot, I hated myself for what felt like failing at life. Sometimes I would think about going back to the chiseled man. Maybe his abuse was bad, but then I could at least lie to the public that I was happy. Being a single mum everyone just looked at me with pity or shame. I thought those thoughts would go away after a case of beer or a bottle of vodka.
My first memory after my child’s birth was fighting with my little brother over money. He had been spending more of my mum’s money then I thought was fair on her. Within this argument my mum looked at me and to stop the fight kicked me and the kids out. Being a single, full time working mum was hard, now being a single mum whose homeless is ridiculous. The chiseled man had spent the last few months asking for me to come back. I was tempted to go back to that house as I knew my girls needed a roof but decided to do something I should have done a long time ago. I asked for help. I started couch surfing until I found a small apartment to rent. While renting this apartment, my brother had fallen in love and moved out of my mum’s house. My mum would always talk to me and due to being in similar circumstances we finally after many years became close. She became my best friend, and gave me the motivation to not give up on life. My plans felt like they were on hold for a long time. My new goals gave me hope. I was going to stop drinking and was going to move back in with my mum and build a house behind her house so we can live together forever – two beautiful single laddies doing it on our own. I did stop drinking and I moved back in with my mum. This plan was going to be my new dream come true, but my mum got sick, she was terribly sick and the doctors couldn’t figure out why. The kids and I would go to bed to the sounds of her vomiting every night. After a long battle, she finally got diagnosed with stage four cancer. I did whatever I possibly could to take care of her, and our friendship grew stronger as not only was she my best friend but she gave my life a whole new purpose. The day she almost died was a massive stab to my heart. The day she actually died tore me apart.
Now here I am at 25, I’m a single mum to two beautiful girls. I own a home with my ex and both my parents have died. I honestly have no new plan and I’m no longer in a rush. I used to fear death, wanting to get as much done as possible before it was my time. Caring for my mum taught me to truly win at life, you need to be grateful, and you need to have the ability to take in the now and enjoy it. I’ll never waste the gift my parents have given me by rushing to anything ever again. I have the best kids in the world and amazing health. I’m grateful and regardless of everything, I’m happy.”
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