“I can’t wait for people to know that things have been far from perfect for me and that the perception from others is so wrong.” This is Natalie. This is her story.
On the same day that she went shopping to buy the very first set of pink clothes for her twin girls, that night she went into premature labour. Natalie was only twenty three weeks pregnant. “I started feeling tightness and cramping. I didn’t know labour had started.” The waves of time crashed onto each minute that passed and by morning, the bloody show solidified her destiny. She heard the softness of a midwife’s voice saying “honey you are going to give birth to these girls.” A constant buzz in her ears started, drowning out the cacophony of panic, prayers, tears and hysteria. Everyone was there. The delivery room was full; her husband, parents, in-laws, siblings, cousins. Those who didn’t fit into the delivery room spilled into the hallway.
Ayla was born at 1pm. Her heart-beat lasted for only ten minutes. Grandmothers held her, kissed her and bid her goodbye, all within the few precious moments of her life. Then hope. Natalie’s cervix closed and everything stopped. The sadness shifted and a sense of excitement weaved in. There was a five per cent chance that Natalie would keep the other twin. Five per cent was enough to hope. Yet, at 3.30pm Natalie felt the tightness and cramping again. She knew. But for half an hour she told no one. The faces of those she loved were waiting in anticipation, daring her not to disappoint them again. But she could only hold on for so long. Elis was born. Her tiny heart-beat lasted only for a few minutes.
“I held her, looked at her, kissed her, but that was enough. I was watching everyone in the room like I wasn’t even there. You reach a point of exhaustion mentally that you just leave your body. I just wanted everything to stop.”
The tragedy of losing her beautiful girls was only the beginning. “I lost everything that day. I lost me. I can’t even put into words how it got so bad.” Natalie would spend hours in the nursery that she had prepared for the twins. Her husband would find her underneath the twin cots, she would wrap herself around them, holding on, screaming and crying. “I was going to have it all, and then it was gone.”
“463 people on Facebook know this has happened to me. 1000 students at school, 80 teachers, everyone is going to know I have failed – that is how I felt.” Anxiety, panic and depression curled its way into her life. The medication started and the sleep stopped. She went six days straight with no sleep. The cocktail of medication became worse. “We started living in hell at home.”
“I needed to be constantly walking. I walked up and down the hallway at 2 o’clock in the morning. I would wake my husband at 3 o’clock to go for a walk around the block with me. My mum would wake up at 4 o’clock to walk with me. I had an energy I couldn’t get rid of. I thought I was going crazy. I literally believed that I was losing my mind. I wanted to die. I knew that I wouldn’t kill myself, but I wanted someone to do something to me. I wanted it to end. I wanted my brain to stop. The voice in my head was constant: ‘you’re never going to be pregnant again, you’re going to have to go through IVF again, you are a failure, and you have disappointed your husband, all this is your fault.’ I started reflecting back on my life and questioning if I have been a good person, maybe I have been a horrible person. Maybe I deserve this?”
The turmoil in her mental state intensified. Natalie went through three hospital admissions and two unsuccessful cycles of IVF. Agony twisted upon agony. Finally Natalie found her heaven on earth. Innisfree is a health and wellness centre focused on bringing balance and peace back into people’s lives. Here Natalie was slowly weaned off the medication. She received daily psychiatric care. She learned to sleep again and to work through her anguish. At Innisfree Natalie found herself again. “I still remember the first time I was actually hungry, I wanted a peanut butter sandwich! I still remember that feeling; I had lost it for months and months and months.”
A third cycle of IVF and Natalie was staring at a positive pregnancy test. She cried for two whole hours, unable to call anyone because it had all started again. She spent nine months counting the days, reading the books and memorising the statistics. For every month and every day she knew her little baby’s survival rate. It was nine months of waiting for something bad to happen. Natalie never felt the kicks of her tiny little girls. But she remembers the first time she felt the kicks of her son, Kaya. “I hated it, because I didn’t want to love him. I thought it would be easier to lose him – if I didn’t love him.” But love him she did. At thirty eight weeks and five days Kaya was born. Natalie cried and cried when she first held her son. “I was crying for the girls. I grieved for them first and then I welcomed him.”
To distract her mind during Kaya’s pregnancy Natalie took up her photography. “I love creating memories for other people.” She loves photographing newborns and sharing that connection with mothers. Most photo shoots Kaya is with his mum and while she edits her photos, he happily sits on her lap. Garden of Eden Photography is about capturing the essence of a moment and being immersed in the beauty of memories. Natalie’s images are breathtaking.
From the outside, Natalie’s life appears to be nothing but perfect. She has a beautiful son, successful marriage and incredible business ventures. Yet, she wants people to know that her life is far from the “picture perfect” that they perceive. “I lived the charade of perfectness and wore those dresses every day, but not anymore.” This is the first time Natalie is telling her story. “I’m not afraid to share my story, if someone wants to talk to me, connect and relate then this is what I want this story to be about. I’m not ashamed. I have nothing to hide. I want people to know. I need to hear other people’s stories and people need to hear mine.”
Judging a book by its cover can only give you the slightest glimpse into a story. It is always better to take a moment, open the pages and read the story within.
Natalie is generously giving away a $100 voucher for Garden of Eden Photography.
To enter the giveaway:
Answer the question: Have you ever judged a book by its cover?
All responses must be entered as a comment below.
This is a game of skill and the winner selected from the answers below.
Please login with your email address.
You must like both pages and answer the question to be eligible for this giveaway.
One entry per person only.
The giveaway is for Australian residents only.
The giveaway closes on Tuesday September 10, 2013.
The winner will be announced on Wednesday September 11, 2013.
The winner has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be drawn.
Please note: Garden of Eden Photography is located in Melbourne, Victoria.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by meeting up with someone for the first time and feeling like you have known each other a lifetime, cuddles from Kaya and Nat’s generosity to allow me into her home to share her story.
Life’s Little Treasures Foundation is a national Australian charity dedicated to providing support, friendship and information specifically tailored for families of children born sick or premature; they have a 24 hour support line 1300 697 736.
If you would like to nominate someone or yourself to be part of Stories of You, please email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to meet you over coffee and hear your story. Read the other incredible stories from the Stories of You collection here.