Hey all, it’s me again, to continue the telling of my story;
Through domestics abuse and out the other side.Part 2
Hey all, it’s me again, to continue the telling of my story;
To pick up where we left off: I have taken you through my traumatic birth story as my oldest daughter entered the world. Now I do give warning, the next part of my story does include some details of domestic and sexual abuse.
Over the first year of my daughters life things went relatively smoothly. There were bumps in the road of course, I thought to myself, “We just had a baby, everyone goes through rough patches.” I really didn’t realize that these things weren’t normal. That these ‘little’ rough patches, maybe weren’t so little.
It started with my husband making whispered phone calls, a password added to his cell phone, working every single day. I have always been a person to appreciate personal privacy. I was not one to check my spouses phone, but he had never put a password on his phone before. Before this, he would ask me from time to time to check “who just texted me” for him if he was busy. Now, his phone never left his pocket. “Oh the guys at work have been ****ing with my phone.” That was the excuse he gave me as to why he added a password. The whispered phone calls, oh those, “I do it cuz I know it gets a rise outta you.” FIRST OFF… before I get any further into this, TRUST YOUR GUT if you feel like something is wrong, then there probably is. SECONDLY… you should never be the butt end of a joke. You deserve so much more than to be a punchline. Years down the road, I will realize, this was when the abuse started. My first child with him was only a few months old.
The hiding, the whispered calls, and the hidden text messages continued, for months. But aside from those, things were getting better. -insert super dramatic eye roll here- I was so naive. I felt like things were getting better, because we started going out together again. We started having fun again. We started going out on double dates with his long time best friend and her boyfriend. We spent a lot of time with this other couple. Any time my husband asked if I wanted to go out, he always included that they would be there too. I was just happy that he wanted to take me out to do fun things again. But one night, my his dreams and his terrible habit of talking in his sleep gave it all away. He started talking in his sleep, thinking I was this other woman. The long time best friend that we were spending so much time with. I put two and two together quite easily at that point. I confronted him about it in the morning. It had been her that he was secretly texting and having whispered conversations with. It was all my fault he said. He was blaming ME! I was always too tired, I was always dealing with the baby… He was cheating on me with this other woman. Yet, he wanted life, and our relationship to continue as normal. We had a child together, and it would be unfair to split up her family. He was “sorry, and nothing really happened anyways.”
I had a lot of thinking to do. At this point, I had stopped sleeping with my husband. I cared for our daughter mostly on my own, he worked all day, he played video games all night, he would come to bed once I was already sleeping. Somewhere around this time, the sexual abuse started. I didn’t want to have sex with my him, I didn’t even want him touching me. I had felt so betrayed. Aside from when he wanted sex, he had otherwise pulled away and withdrawn into his games and his phone. But, regardless of what I wanted, or didn’t want at this time, I would wake up with my PJ’s around my knees and him on top of me. I said no. I pushed him off of me. But night after night, my NO remained unheard. My NO was worthless to him. My words meant nothing, my feelings meant even less. He felt like I owed it to him, who was I to say no to my spouse, who was I to deny him sex. Well, I guess I was nobody. I couldn’t deny him, he was physically bigger and stronger than I was, and what he wanted, he took. I could do nothing to stop him.
**Did you know, laws regarding marital rape are often over looked. They exist. Marital rape is criminalized. But, there are so many loopholes that work in favour of the perpetrator, that more often than not, being raped by a spouse goes unreported to authorities?** This includes me. I didn’t report it. I didn’t tell anyone for a very long time. I lived silently feeling this shame. After all, How was I to prove that although I gave consent so many times before, that this time was different and I had not. How do you prove to a complete stranger, in the face of the law, that sex with my husband was not consensual. It wasn’t a fight I thought I had any chance of winning. So I neglected to even try. I had become a play thing, my needs, wants and desires were now meaningless. All that mattered was that he was happy. But I did confront him. He obviously knew what he had done. But I felt like I needed to name it. I needed to hear my voice say the words to him. “You, raped me! I said no, I pushed you off, and you still… you raped me!”
Now, he didn’t say much, he didn’t do much. He just became very distant. I didn’t know what was going on in his head, and honestly, I’m not sure that I cared. Not anymore. Why did he deserve my compassion? Things were quiet and uneventful for a while, that was until they weren’t. I do not want to try and portray like I played no negative role at all in this relationship. Because there were times that I thought of only myself. I don’t think I ever did anything detrimental that led to this demise. But maybe I did. I’ve kind of adapted through the years to stop questioning my role, because a lot of what I remember, is his version of things. The way he saw it or the way he would let me see it. Because he heavily influenced what things looked like and sounded like at home. But one thing that apparently led to some heavy stuff was, because I was finally feeling like our relationship was getting better. There had been a period of calm… I wanted another baby. Our oldest was just over 1 now, I was on birth control at the time, and I wanted to actually discuss coming off of birth control and trying for a second baby. Little had I known, He had started hurting himself. But I didn’t know it yet. He was coming home from work with deep cuts, he burned himself really really badly more than once. He cut his neck… he always had an excuse. He “accidentally hit his arm on a hot exhaust” “he fell into the car net at work” I should have known. But I didn’t. I didn’t see what was happening. Until the night I had asked about having another baby. It escalated quickly, we had a big fight, we were both yelling. I honestly don’t remember how it got to that point, but I do know I played a big role in it. Things started to calm, the fight was over. He left the room. His parents were well aware of what we were fighting about. His mom started texting me from upstairs asking if I really wanted more babies, and if he didn’t, was this a “deal breaker?” Was this something I would be willing to leave him over. I was very honest at that point, and said Yes. I was prepared to leave him, if I wasn’t going to get out of this relationship what I wanted. She wasn’t aware of everything else that had been going on. I felt like I had put so much into the relationship, I had given up so much, I had entirely lost who I was, to give him everything he wanted. We had previously agreed on having 3 children, before we even had our first. Family and having kids was super important to me. At this point in time, I was pretty much completely withdrawn from my parents and siblings. My husband didn’t want me associating with them much, because they didn’t like him. I NEVER talked about our problems with anybody, but especially not with my family. I never wanted to hear my mom say “I told you so.” So I boasted often about how great he was, and what a great dad he was.
What I didn’t know was that while his mom and I were texting, my husband was in another room, reading my conversation. He had set up my phone to carbon copy all messages to his phone. I had no idea, but he had been spying on my messages for I don’t know how long. At this point he stormed off into the bathroom. I could hear him sobbing through the door. I cared. I didn’t like hearing him cry. But I was hurting too, and I was mad. I had always been there for him. I was treated so poorly, yet I stayed, I just shoved ‘the skeletons in our closet.’ I shoved them so far in there, no one would have ever guessed what was going on behind closed doors. No one knew we were struggling, no one knew, he had cheated, no one knew any of it. Then suddenly, his sobbing stopped, and I had the worst feeling in my gut. Remember how I said to trust your gut, yeah, it’s pretty damn smart if you listen to it. I banged on the bathroom door, he had locked it, I banged and banged… I looked for something to unlock the door from the outside, I couldn’t find anything. Then I heard the click of the lock, he unlocked it. I opened the door to find him sitting on the floor, blood dripping from him, and a huge hunting knife sitting there. What the actual Hell!? I screamed for his mom, who was upstairs with my daughter. And she hurried him to the hospital with a tea towel wrapped around his arm. I was in shock, I was crying, I was holding my daughter, watching as they hurried out the door, and the last thing his mother said to me was, “This is about him. Don’t freak out, this isn’t about you.”
I don’t know what his reasons were for harming himself at that particular time, and I don’t presume to know what others struggle with personally when it comes to mental health. I do not presume to know what “they are looking for” through self harm, the following part of my story is based off of my personal experience in this abusive relationship. I am 100% for supporting mental health, and getting help for mental health. I just hoped that whatever had truly led him to this point, could be helped, by doctors, by family, by me. But he was reluctant to get any kind of help. And he blamed me for this. I swallowed the blame. Maybe it was me. Had me wanting a new baby really been that bad? Had I missed something that I wasn’t seeing? (The answer is yes, I did miss something, and to this day a decade later, I still don’t know what it was.)
Something in that experience though, something clicked for him. He may not have found what he was looking for, but he did find a new method of control. And he will use it again and again, to regain control when I start finding my own feet. The worst part, a couple weeks later, I wasn’t feeling so good. I was with a friend, and she stupidly suggested that maybe I was pregnant. I laughed it off, I probably told her she was an idiot… because I was on birth control, I couldn’t be pregnant. A few more days had gone by, and I still wasn’t feeling so good. Again, this friend pointed out that she thought I was pregnant. Once again, I looked at her like she had suddenly sprouted a horn… I’m on birth control, I can’t be pregnant. I took a test to appease her, and it was negative. -sigh of relief- After all, given the events of only a couple weeks prior, THIS WAS NOT THE TIME TO GET PREGNANT! But after 9 more days, and now a missed period… Regardless of my birth control, I was in fact pregnant, and TERRIFIED to tell my husband. Of all people on this earth, the last person you should fear, is your spouse. I told his mom first, I guess I hoped she could help me find a softer way to tell him. Sadly she was of no help, she cried, I cried… and she told me to not tell him. Um… excuse me? Not tell him? Don’t you think he would notice as I got rounder, and you know, looked pregnant. I went against her wishes, I told him. I really didn’t have another choice. I had to just tell him, get it over with and deal with whatever nasty things he was going to say. At first he was just mad. Calm, but mad. He cried, I cried… I felt like that’s all I did anymore, was cry. He ignored me after that for a couple hours, but he came around a bit I guess. He gave me a hug and reassured me we would get through this. (His parents were in the next room) I note this, because he was a totally different person when other people were around. As days went by, weeks and months. He questioned me, he insulted me, he blamed me. Obviously I had tricked him. Obviously I hadn’t been using my birth control. I was on the birth control ring. I used it and I used it correctly. But somehow I fell into the 2% of users who may get pregnant while using this form of birth control. And it would happen at the worst possible time. For 9 months, I lived through my pregnancy, catching all the blame he was throwing at me. I was miserable. Online he would boast himself as my hero. He posted pictures of me on an online forum, claiming he was husband of the year for buying me a video game for my Nintendo DS so that I could distract myself from my depression. He was my depression. Here I had wanted another baby, and now that I got what I wanted, even though not in the way I had planned, and I was still miserable. This was not the life I deserved, and now I had brought 2 children into it.
In all of the gloomy darkness, came my beautiful baby. On January 11, 2014 I gave birth to a healthy baby girl. I swore I was going to have a boy. I was 110% sure, I was having a boy. I even laughed and asked the delivery team if they were sure, when it was announced, “it’s a GIRL!” I was so sure I was having a boy. But nonetheless, I was ecstatic to have my baby in my arms. The world felt safe again, in that room, in that moment. My birth had gone so smoothly. Nothing like my prior trauma. I mean… my epidural didn’t work, like at all. But everything else was picture perfect. My baby was healthy, she took straight to the breast like a pro, she never left my side, we were happy. We were released from the hospital and home in less than 18 hours. I was home with both of my little girls, and life was good. My spouse and I had our spats, but things were strangely good again for a while. (I will much later learn about the cycle of abuse. And I very much suggest that everyone should know the cycle too. It was only once I actually learned about it, that I started recognizing it in my life.) But for me, at this time, things were calm, and forgiveness was spreading into all the deep dark corners of my being. I was letting go of the hurt, and letting my guard down.
-insert another eye roll- I let my guard down. How foolish of me. Again, with now two babies at home, my husband started pulling away again. He was leaving me and the kids at home, so that he could go out with “the guys”, He was in fact going out on dates with women, whom he insists were just friends. They were friends I had never heard of before, and typically he hung out in a group if he was going out with friends, so who knows what was really going on. I was once again feeling broken. Once again, he was working every day, (he later admitted to telling me he was going to work, but would go out with friends instead.) I had never stopped him from seeing friends before, so I feel like “friends” was a cover. But whatever, he was always “at work” or hiding away playing video games, again avoiding me, and all responsibility. This went on for almost 2 years.
During those 2 years though, it wasn’t all doom and gloom. He was only one part of my life, I still had two beautiful little girls, who were the light of my life. So let’s take a break from the gloom, and focus on the light. As I had mentioned before, Little Lady #2 was a complete natural when it came to breastfeeding. We never had any difficulties with latch or anything. It was heavenly in comparison to the struggles I went through with Little Lady #1. After having #1, and battling the nightmare that was mastitis and abscesses, and drainage… I ended up with excess scar tissue in my right breast due to the abscesses and drainage. This made producing milk in my right breast difficult. We tried for a long time to nurse from both sides, but ultimately my supply in my right breast diminished and I lost it all together. But!!! I was able to keep up my supply on my left side!!! I actually had an overproduction on my left side, which was a godsend, because I had none in my right. So here I was exclusively nursing my baby from one breast only, I was pumping between feedings, because honestly I was terrified to lose my supply, and wanted to have a freezer stash just in case. So that I did. I built up a stash of over 300 ounces of breastmilk, which isn’t a lot, but it’s not a little either. So, it came a time when I was going out, without my babies. Grandma and grandpa were babysitting, I left a bottle of breast milk in the fridge for my wee one and I went out. I think to a movie. When I returned home, my baby was hungry and the bottle sat seemingly untouched. She wouldn’t drink it. Like most moms I thought, oh we need to try a different bottle. We tried so many and she still wouldn’t drink from it. Soon I would be returning to work, and panic was setting in, what am I going to do. She looks at this bottle like I’m trying to feed her something nasty. So I tried it. Oh my gosh, it tasted like soap! Yuck! I knew what breast milk tasted like fresh, and this wasn’t it. So off to google I went, and found out, I had high Lipase in my milk. Lipase is the enzyme that breaks down the fat in the milk. Normally lipase doesn’t cause any issues, however, too much and it breaks it down to fast, and it tastes funny. High lipase milk is still perfectly healthy for babies to drink, and not all babies will have a problem with the taste at all. I learned how to combat high lipase, by scalding my milk before I put it in the fridge or freezer. **i will include instructions at the bottom, on how to determine if you have a high lipase, and how to scald your milk.**
Once I started scalding my milk, my daughter would take it by bottle without a problem. Success! but this left me with approximately 300 oz of high lipase milk in my freezer. I put out an ad on Human Milk for Human Babies, and found a NICU mom in need of breast milk. Her baby needed it, she wasn’t producing, or wasn’t producing enough, and had turned to donation. I happily offered her my milk stash, some of it included colostrum, which was packed full of antibodies her baby could benefit from. She was so grateful to receive this gift of milk. From that point forward, I continued to pump between nursing sessions. As my baby started nursing less and less nearing and then beyond her first birthday, my supply remained high. I would pump when she had her fill, I would pump an hour after nursing sessions, I would pump while on my break at work.(honestly it hurt so bad if I didn’t) I scalded and stored all of this milk. I had donated a little bit here and there as I had enough to. But then I connected/reconnected with a mama I knew. She needed breastmilk for her little boy. So I saved it for her. As my stash accumulated in my freezer, she would pop by from time to time to take what I had extra. I donated over 1000 ounces of breastmilk. I helped feed 5 babies in addition to my own. All from one milk producing breast. I continued to nurse Little Lady #2 until the day she turned 2 years old. I pumped and donated until she was about 18 months old. This is a part of my life that I am very proud of. Finally, I did that. My body did that. I still felt like my body had failed me and Little Lady #1, but we were making up for it in a way with #2. It didn’t matter what else was going on in my life, this was something I did, and I love that I was able to.
Life kinda plateaued here for a while. We had found a new normal. Unfortunately, this should never have been normal. I should never have allowed myself to feel normal about my relationship. For a period of time, I’m really not sure how long, but he remained distant, he remained secretive, and I tried not to care. Instead I had used this time to really connect with an old friend. Her and I had kinda re-stumbled upon each other shortly before I found out I was pregnant with Little Lady #2. She was one of, if not the first person I told, because I was so scared. She had become one of my best friends, and I was able to tell her almost everything. I still didn’t tell anyone about the abuse, or at least the extent of it. Just that I was unhappy. She knew that he had blamed me for getting pregnant again. She knew that I was depressed, and she knew that I had had enough and wanted out. By conversing with her, both being busy moms, it was typically via text or online messages. She was trying to help me figure out how to leave him. Trying to help me muster the courage to do so. I was so not smart sometimes. I was oblivious. I had left my iPad at home on the charger while I was at work one evening, and he took it upon himself to check in on who I had been messaging with. He read my conversations with my friend about leaving him. I was in for it. I got home from work late that night, and he was ready and waiting. How dare I even consider taking his kids away from him! How dare I even begin to believe that I could even take care of them on my own. After all that he did for me. After him taking care of me. If I left with these kids, he would have them taken away from me. His family had the financial ability to pay for the best lawyers and there is no way that I would be able to take custody of these kids. I had already been beat down after years of emotional abuse… I had no fight left in me. At this point I backed away and flinched if he stepped toward me. I was scared that he would hit me. I ended up pushing my way past him at some point, as he was blocking the door and I had to push passed to get out of the room. After that… for days, weeks, truthfully years. He told people I physically assaulted him, all because I pushed my way past him. This won’t be the last time he falsely tells people that I physically harm him. For now, he won. He used my children against me. I stayed. I stayed in fear that if I left, I would lose the only things I had left in this world that gave my life meaning. The only things that gave me a shred of happiness. My children.
I will once again pause here. I promise we will come full circle next time, and come out the other side of domestic abuse.
As promised, below I will share with you how I combated high lipase milk.
Testing if you have high Lipase milk is super easy. Pump a small amount of milk, and freeze it completely, then thaw. Taste it. Normally milk will taste pretty much the same fresh and after it’s been thawed. But a high lipase will cause the milk to taste soapy after it’s been thawed.
If you have high lipase milk:
(How I scalded my milk)
This needs to be done before your breast milk is chilled or frozen.
• Pour your fresh breastmilk into a small pot
• On the stove top, turn your burner on high
• WATCH IT CLOSELY
• As soon as you see the first bubbles start to rise, turn off the stove & remove from heat. YOU DON’T WANT IT TO BOIL
• Allow your pot of milk to rest and cool to room temperature.
• Your milk may look like it’s separated, swirl the pot to mix it back together
• Bottle or bag and put in the fridge or freezer.
Now your milk should not change in taste. You have deactivated the lipase.