Welcome to our new series, The Motherhood Diaries – a safe space for you to share your experiences, advice, hopes and heartbreaks. We’ll be hearing from industry experts giving practical advice alongside Capsule readers (You!) sharing your firsthand experiences. We’re looking at everything from fertility, trying to conceive, pregnancy, the fourth trimester, newborns, toddlers, raising children and teenagers and everything in between!
If you have a topic you’d like to discuss, share your thoughts, experience or advice about, drop a line to [email protected] with ‘Divorce’ in the subject line. All stories that are published will win a Dermalogica BioLumin-C Moisturiser, valued at $119!
This week we talk to woman who is in her final weeks of pregnancy, but is also carrying a massive secret…
For as long as she could remember, Kaitlyn* had longed to be a mother.
“I was, y’know, that little girl who forced her little brother to pretend to be in a baby and get in my pretend pram and drink bottles of milk,” she tells. “I think I’ve had baby fever for my whole life.”
She knew she wanted babies – “preferably four!” she says – and when she met, fell in love and married Josh* at 24, everyone knew to expect a pregnancy announcement in the not too distant future.
Except Mother Nature had other plans.
“We stopped drinking after the honeymoon and started trying three months later,” says Kaitlyn. She tried not to let it consume her, but when six months passed without any ‘maybe’ moments, she went to the chemist and picked up a pack of ovulation tests. She breathed a sigh of relief when one morning, two lines were clearly visible.
“So, I knew that I was, well, at least that I was ovulating,” she says. From then on she religiously took the ovulation tests as the box recommended and made sure that they had intercourse on the days she was most likely ovulating and able to conceive. Three months went by, and still, nothing was happening.
So Kaitlyn booked in to see her doctor who told her that – even at her age, it wasn’t uncommon to take quite some time to conceive. He pointed to her having been through a stressful period leading up to the wedding – a time in which she’d also been exercising hard and living off a restrictive diet. He said he’d unfortunately seen it happen before, where young women dieted and exercised to look a certain way on their wedding day – at the expense of their health, meaning it took some time for their periods to become regular again and be in a place where they could conceive.
He suggested that they were still young and otherwise in good health and that she and Josh should come back to see him in six months’ time if she wasn’t pregnant.
But nothing was happening. They were into their second year of marriage and Kaitlyn felt like it had been the hardest time of their relationship so far, as opposed to what she imagined would be the happiest time of their lives.
“We had that three month honeymoon period and then, y’know, just stress, I suppose,” she says. They began fighting and arguing often – about everything from sex to their finances.
“We hadn’t been like that before, but then everything could become an argument,” she tells.
Eventually, she and Josh – rather reluctantly – went back to her doctor. They had now been trying for 18 months, so her GP referred her to a specialty fertility clinic.
When the test results came back they were stunned.
“Essentially, we both had issues,” says Kaitlyn, who was devastated. “Josh’s swimmers weren’t so mobile and I had an inhospitable uterus.”
While it meant they weren’t a great match together, a baby still wasn’t impossible – they’d just have to get help to conceive. They decided to go down the path of Intrauterine Insemination and after having very high hopes, they had two unsuccessful goes at it.
“Each time Josh wanted us to take a break from trying, but I needed to keep going with it,” tells Kaitlyn. They were now paying for treatments themselves, whittling away their savings, while other friends were buying houses and having babies.
Kaitlyn began feeling very bitter. “It just felt so unfair,” she says, “We were so young, I never thought it would be hard to get pregnant. And, y’know, everyone around us was getting pregnant and I had to go to all these baby showers where I would come home and cry. No one else I knew was having any trouble at all.”
Their relationship was hanging on by a thread. Sadly, after they went on a two-week holiday to try to relax and patch things up, they ended up coming home and going their separate ways.
Kaitlyn was now single, 28 and fearful that she may never have children.
Her parents paid for her to see a therapist – which helped – and she began trying not to obsess over things. She stopped writing down everything she ate, trying to make sure her body was getting the perfect amount of different nutrients to give her the best shot at being able to conceive.
After six months on her own, one of her friends convinced her to go on a date with a friend of her’s, Matt, and they began casually seeing each other.
“He’s a super nice guy – attractive and funny, but, I dunno, I didn’t 100% feel it, but it was nice to be around a guy like that and going on dates.”
But then, two months later, Josh got in touch again – the pair had separated, but hadn’t looked at doing anything formal to begin undoing their legal marriage. Josh wanted her back. If Kaitlyn was honest, she wanted him back too.
Yes, she still wanted children, but what she missed more was having Josh in her life. He felt the same.
“We’d got too caught up in trying to get pregnant – which, I’ll admit was mostly on me – but we’d stopped, y’know, appreciating what we had and doing the things together we loved.”
They agreed to take it slow and start dating each other again. Kaitlyn let Josh know about Matt – who she was thinking about breaking things off with anyway – and Josh admitted he’d dated someone else for a while, but it hadn’t worked out because he missed Kaitlyn.
They’d been doing lots of the things they’d done together early in their relationship and were rediscovering all the things they loved about each other, when Kaitlyn realised her period was late.
She took a pregnancy test, and sure enough – it was positive. Kaitlyn was pregnant.
“It was probably the happiest moment of my entire life,” she says.
But, that happiness soon turned to fear. She sat down with a calendar. She had been using protection with Matt, but they hadn’t always been particularly careful – she tried to cast her mind back to what exactly had happened the month before.
There was a possibility that either of them could have been the father – she had last slept with Matt one week before sleeping with Josh.
“I felt horrendously guilty and didn’t tell Josh about the pregnancy for a whole week, while I studied everything online and checked in with a doctor and a fertility expert,” tells Kaitlyn. They agreed that yes, the later date was more likely, but, it was entirely possible she’d ovulated slightly earlier and that Matt was the father, particularly given the difficulties they’d had conceiving.
“I thought about not telling Josh, but I couldn’t do that. I couldn’t start off our new relationship with lies,” she tells. “Then I considered whether I should have a termination, and try again with Josh – but there was a possibility it was his and I knew I couldn’t go through that. I wanted a baby way too much to have an abortion.”
To her surprise and delight, Josh was shocked, but understanding. “He agreed to do a prenatal paternity test, which we did when I was eight weeks pregnant.”
There was a delay in getting their results back and on the same day Kaitlyn went for the 12 week scan (alone, thanks to Covid restrictions), they also discovered that Josh was not the biological father.
Kaitlyn was devastated and worried that this would be the end of her relationship with Josh, but he has surprised her with his reaction.
“He said he already felt like the father,” she tells. “He said, maybe the results aren’t even true and he’d rather just forget that we ever did them.”
The couple have decided to keep this information to themselves. Their little girl is due very soon and Kaitlyn admits she’s feeling nervous – for more than the usual first-time mother jitters.
“Luckily, Matt and Josh do look very similar, but I can’t help wonder what she’ll look like and if people will say they see the resemblance to Josh, or not at all,” she says. “Matt knows about the pregnancy, but hasn’t said anything about the dates – I wonder if he just hasn’t thought about it, or whether, y’know, it might be something he thinks about and brings up? What if she comes out looking like him and he sees a pic somewhere and the penny drops??”
But for now, Kaitlyn is trying to put those thoughts out of her head as best she can, and instead concentrate on becoming a new mum, with the man she loves.
“In many ways it’s a dream come true,” she says. “But I also feel like I’m carrying a massive secret. No one in my life knows, no one has asked, but I wonder if we will be able to keep this secret forever.”
- * Names and some details have been changed to protect the identities of the couple involved. Kaitlyn and Josh currently live outside of New Zealand.