129 days until due date
It is 129 days until my due date.
18 days until I hit the third trimester.
And bubba is about 734 kicks into his day already, and it is only 9.54am.
Over the long weekend, Pete and I packed his car up, loaded the trailer and drove to his family’s property in Coolah. In the month or so leading up to the long weekend, I had suggested to Pete that perhaps I stay home so that he can enjoy a weekend up there with his best mate, brother and family. The guys had work to do on the land, they were going to suss out the hunting potential of surrounding properties and to me, it just sounded like the perfect opportunity for Pete to be able to kick back and just be.
When we found out what we were having, Pete was researching gender reveals and fell in love with one of them. The reveal was perfect for the long weekend at the property and so we decided that I would go to the property as well. Though I love the bush and manning the barbeque and sitting by the fire and spending hours looking up at the crystal clear Milky Way just waiting to see a shooting star, I still had a niggling feeling that I should have been trusting my gut and staying home.
But how could I? When the man you are madly in love with wants to celebrate your child with a big ol’ reveal that sets his eyes alight, you celebrate alongside him and then some.
The property lies in deep bushland just out of the Coolah town centre. Thick with bushland with a dirt road cutting through, there is no electricity, no water and no amenities. It is bush, bush. Just before we arrived at the foot of the driveway, and kangaroo jumped directly into our driving path and, though we were going slowly, we hit it. I was already exhausted and had been in the car for five hours so when the collision happened, the shock made me tense up and it felt like I pulled muscles in my stomach. My heart rate sky rocketed and stress flooded my body. When we eventually parked and got out, I was still shaking, completely fearful that the amount of stress that overwhelmed me at the speed that it did, harmed our baby.
I took myself to bed straight away and lay down. Now – Bubba and I have worked out a little daily calendar of movements. Bub moves as soon as I wake up, when I read before work, just after breakfast, after lunch, in the car on the way home, after dinner and as I am falling asleep. Basically, bub moves all the time. All. The. Time. That night as I lay in the caravan, there was no movement. Nothing. I felt a void within my belly and dread made its way throughout my entire body. I cried. I wept. I wailed. I willed bub to move so that I knew everything was okay. I was able to rationalise with myself for very short moments, “Bub is fine, you are being silly, you are tired, bub is fine.” Those moments were short-lived. I could hear the boys outside by the fire but I was hearing everything as though I was underwater. My grief was deafening. I lay there for an hour or so, hand on my belly just pleading – begging – to feel a kick. When Pete came to bed he did his best to soothe and console me, but I couldn’t sleep until I knew our baby was okay.
It took another hour or so for me to calm down, and even longer for bub to move – but eventually, I felt the smallest of kicks; they weren’t strong enough to rid me of my fear, but it was enough to allow me to fall into a very punctuated sleep.
The following day, the three guys had work to do down towards the front of the property and the rest of Pete’s family were due to arrive in the morning. I was still extremely off in my mood and I felt like I was an outsider, I felt as though I was intruding on a boy’s weekend away. There I was, Pete’s fat, useless, pregnant girlfriend (thank you hormones), on a property with no skills and no company with three guys who all had a purpose. Pete told me to come down to where they were working and read. I very begrudgingly obliged, but I knew how I was feeling and I knew that it was only going to make me retreat further and pull away from Pete emotionally. “I shouldn’t be here,” the voice inside my head kept repeating over and over again, making me yearn for home. I managed to read twenty or so pages before the work pulled the guys to the paddock next door (there were pulleys and utes and pipes and all kinds of things that I didn’t understand) and white, blinding rage blurred my vision.
“I knew I should have stayed home,” I cursed to myself as I stomped back up towards the caravans. “I shouldn’t be here. The guys are off doing their thing and I am just here, alone.” I had lost it. I was talking to myself, working myself up and reigniting the fear and stress of the night before. Bubba was still not moving like normal – which of course, was due to the stress I was putting my body under – and I was still fearful that something was wrong. I took myself into the caravan and sat on the bed.
We are so far from home.
I have no way of getting home.
Pete doesn’t realise what is going on.
I shouldn’t be here.
I told Pete I shouldn’t have come.
I am useless.
I am alone.
I want to run away.
I want to run away.
I want to run away.
That last thought caught like a broken record. The guys were far enough away that they couldn’t hear me, so I screamed. I cried harder and louder than I ever have before. Noises came from me that I have never known I could produce. I felt broken and defeated. I felt like an imposter in my own body. And then the guilt; the guilt that I felt as a mother completely consumed me. And so I cried some more. I wore myself out to the point where I wanted to completely give up. I felt irrationally angry at everything and everyone and what made it worse is that, when Pete lovingly jumped on the four-wheeler and came up to check on me, all I wanted to do was completely pull away from him. I was scared that by him seeing me in the completely wretched state that I was in would make him question his feelings for me. I was convinced that once and for all I had done it – I had successfully sabotaged the best thing that has ever happened to me.
It felt like I had PTSD. The stress and memories and experiences from this past year all came flooding back to me with ferocity. I questioned the person I am and was reminded of the desperation and confusion, heartache and sadness I felt at the beginning of the year. I was stuck in a loop of tumultuous, relentless negativity.
Concerned, but trusting my request for him to leave me alone, Pete headed back to the front of the property. I remained on the bed of the caravan for what felt like days, unable to stop the heavy, hot tears that were streaming down my face. I went into a really dark place; I went to that place where it feels like you will never be happy again and I stayed there.
Still alone, I found solace in my sadness. I was numb. I got up, put my sunglasses on and got some lunch ready for the guys. I went through the motions, all the while feeling nothing except deep, excruciating loneliness. I couldn’t shake it, it was like I was watching myself from above. “Snap out of it, Leah!” I could hear, but the silence trumped any sort of pep I tried to rejuvenate myself with. The look in Pete’s eyes killed me. So much care and love and concern and there I was being completely unresponsive to any of it.
Pete’s family turned up at about 2pm that afternoon, and as soon as his mum asked me how I was, I broke. My shoulders shook in her arms as I completely let go. I told her about the kangaroo and me feeling like an imposed on what I had originally wanted to be a fun and enjoyable weekend for Pete away, I told her all of the ridiculous and scary feelings and she held me while Pete watched on, drill in hand, care in his gaze. She said something so simple that helped put things in perspective (even if it was only for an hour or so), “You hit the kangaroo and the hormones took over from there.” Something so simple, something that Pete had said to me when it happened, and yet coming from her – a mother of five – I felt like someone understood the pain I had felt and my state of mind. It placated me for a while, but I still felt completely not myself. I felt protective over bub and I still felt the desire to run. I had no idea where to and there was no depth to the feeling, but that was my instinct – to run away from the pain (because that always works).
We did the reveal that afternoon and I felt happy. Our family found out what gender bubba is, in a very exciting Pete-esque way and I felt reconnected to Pete. We hugged and I didn’t want to let him go. I wanted to anchor myself to him because he makes me feel more real and more grounded than I have ever felt. I feel strong standing with him.
That night, I was cooking dinner for everyone when Pete’s brother came and wrapped his arm around me and said, “Well, that really is exciting about bub,” and he squeezed my shoulders and kissed me on the head. I nestled into his chest and started bawling my eyes out again, tongs still in hand, steaks still cooking away on the barbeque. Jay held me tighter and then their mum came over and told me how much everyone loves and supports me and said that she understood how I was feeling and I was once again inconsolable. Pete came over and he held my face in his hands and assured me everything was okay. I nodded and attempted to believe him, his face earnest and desperate. I cannot even imagine how he would have been feeling at that point. I didn’t know what was going on with me and had absolutely no words to try to help him understand. But that only made me feel more useless and less worthy of his love and affection and his patience.
I took myself to bed early again and fell asleep heavily to the sounds of the guys laughing around the fire.
The next morning, Sunday, in those first moments that I woke up before I realised where I was and my surroundings came into focus, I felt at peace – exhausted, but at peace. And then the anxiety took over once more. This time though, Pete snapped me out of it. I was crying and speaking desperate words and he simply said, “You need to sort your thoughts out.” And it snapped something inside of me. I remained in the caravan for a little while after he had let himself out and I cried the last of the tears I had left. How had I let this go on for three whole days? How had my mind run away so quickly? Why am I like this? What is wrong with me? The questions kept coming, but I had Pete’s words in my arsenal. I managed to take a few long, conscious breaths and stepped out of the caravan and into the day.
The anxiety was still there and made me shiver beneath the warm sun. The day passed around me, it felt. I felt stationary even though I was moving and cooking and walking and doing. I realised slowly how close I was to completely losing myself once more to the depths of my mind. Once again, this pregnancy was bringing to light things that I thought I had made peace with long ago. As the afternoon turned to dusk, I started to feel uneasy once more. I wanted to be quiet and to keep to myself, but I knew that that would help nothing and no one. I simply took Pete’s hand and squeezed it, and he kept saying that everything is okay. We lay beneath the Milky Way for hours with the family and slowly, as the night turned darker and the fire died down, people started going to bed. Then, it was just Pete and I sitting by the fire. It was the quietest, calmest I felt all weekend. But then I couldn’t help but ask myself why I need his undivided attention to feel close to him? Am I feeling that insecure at the moment that simply being around him and his family, carrying this child on a weekend away isn’t enough? And if that is the case, is that me or the hormones? And then the questions continue.
All I have read is that the second trimester is the easiest out of the three. I am here to disagree with that. This is no easier than the first trimester, but in a completely different way. 80% of the time I am blissfully happy and completely immune to the murmurings of my mind. But that other 20% is lethal, absolutely lethal. The weekend just passed was a big one. It was really scary if I am completely honest. I felt exposed and alone, guilty and afraid. I felt selfish and jealous and irrational and tired. I also felt a lot of anger. I felt all of the anger that I perhaps should have felt months and months ago when everything fell apart, when I made decisions that were not in my best interests. I felt all of it in a very small, intense window.
I am nervous posting this as it leaves me very open to judgment; this is me voicing the deepest, scariest and darkest thoughts that I have had. Being pregnant, people have their opinions already – add in the potential of instability when it comes to mental health and there are opportunities for ridicule. So why post it? As always, I want every single person – man, woman or child – to know that they are not alone; they are not alone when it comes to moments of despair and grief so overwhelming it feels like nothing is worth it. I have had moments where all I needed was someone to understand what I was going through, not to comment on it or to try and fix it but to simply be there to listen. And that is what I want to be for those of you who need it, those of you who want it and those of you that are too scared to ask for it.
Pregnancy is hard.
Pregnancy is not what I thought it was going to be.
Pregnancy is beautiful and miraculous and completely, utterly, insanely wonderful.
Pregnancy is a blessing.
Pregnancy is exciting.
Pregnancy is going to challenge you, and overwhelm you and it is going to look very different from one woman to the next.
Pregnancy is full on in ways that are going to surprise, scare and mystify you.
Pregnancy is manageable when you have a strong support system around you.
And I have that. Luckily, and through tear-filled eyes as I finish this post, I have that. And in turn, I am that for you, whoever it is reading this.
As Pete always says, “I’ve got you.”