A few months ago I had the heart breaking news that I was no longer going to be a Dad. In the horrible weeks following this, my relationship fell apart, and I have spent a lot of lonely nights since contemplating what this means to me.
To be honest this is a pretty raw topic for me to be writing about, but I think it is important to share the message and get it off my chest. Call it therapy? I guess it frames my head space and provides a bit of an understanding of my personal motivation to create this site and document my journey to fatherhood.
Hope for fatherhood
Ever since I can remember I have wanted to be a dad. Not just a Father, but a Great dad. My Father wasn’t around much growing up, because my parents divorced when I was very young.
Unfortunately, like hundreds of thousands of Australian women, my dear Mum suffered in silence with domestic violence and abuse at home. One day she decided to break the chain, and gathered up me and my sisters and hit the road. We left the farm with the clothes on our back, in a 20 year old hatchback.
Feeling rejected and angry at his loss of control of my Mum, my Father lashed out and froze the bank accounts, quit his job and refused to pay child support. He actually later moved overseas to continue working without having to declare an income or pay child support. Mum struggled but was able to make it work.
I didn’t know or understand this as a kid, so I was pretty heartbroken and just thought he didn’t want me or to be a part of my life. I am sure he did, but he just didn’t know how to go about it properly. No one had taught him how to be a Dad. He came from a very large family, and had himself been beaten by his father. I suppose to him, violence was normal. That was just how a men acted.
I never understood just how hard my Mum worked to keep a roof over our heads, food on the table and the electricity on. Its honestly enough to make me cry just thinking about it. Parenthood should be a team activity, it seems difficult enough as it is with just two parents. It takes a village to raise a child; grandparents, uncles and aunts, and close family friends are meant to all help lighten the load and work together as one big extended loving family to help raise the precious babes.
Reflecting on my own childhood, and the amazing experience of being the worlds coolest Uncle (I mean seriously, who else’s Uncle takes them flying and does Barrel Rolls? C’mon!) has really strengthened my resolve to be a Great Dad.
Call it a biological drive, a longing to settle down and establish roots (I am constantly on the move as a pilot), or a chronic homesickness, but I just cannot wait for the day where I get to bring home and start raising my very own family.
Everything was going well… until it wasn’t
At the start of 2020, I unfortunately separated from a long relationship. I prioritised work, study, business you name it, over spending time with her and eventually that caught up with me. I was away from home a lot for work and the distance (both physical and emotional) eventually drove a wedge between us.
She had an affair and that was it for me; that betrayal was something I couldn’t forgive. It still hurts thinking of it, and just the other day we bumped into each other in traffic (well, I rode by bike past her and we exchanged grimaces) and the emotions all came flooding back up to the surface.
Feeling lonely, hurt and frustrated I did what any 20 something year old male in my situation would do. I downloaded Tinder and set about systematically messaging the same crappy opening line to the hundreds of girls I mindlessly swiped and matched with. Match with 1000, message 100, get a reply from 10, go on a date with one or two – that’s how my ‘mathematical’ mind engineered the solution to my loneliness, right?
So I mindlessly set about the task. It worked, and I ended up going on a new date every night for about a month. It became exhausting, and I was slowly getting caffeine poisoning from the amount of ‘hey lets grab a quick coffee’ that I was drinking. I gave up on Tinder.
Eventually I met a really awesome Kiwi girl who lived in the same neighbourhood as me, and straight away knew there was something there. I set about my task of trying to scare her into liking me. That’s what the motorbike was good for – Put her on the back and a rip roar around the hills – Scream if you wanna go faster, right?
I know that this was probably not the smartest or most ‘sane’ approach, but I think it kinda worked and we started hanging out a lot more. Catch ups became more frequent, dinners and movies over time led to more and more and well, you know the rest. Everything was going great. I had a girlfriend and she was awesome.
A False Start
Fast forward a bit… I remember knowing something was up, she was not feeling well a lot of the time and there was a lot of doctors visits. I didn’t understand what was going on and she didn’t really tell me what was up. She just said she had some health issues going on and said it was lady stuff so I respected her boundaries and didn’t pry.
If I am honest, Aviation is an industry that is renowned for Fathers having girls, if any children at all. This is supposedly because of exposure to radiation, both cosmic and that generated from your aircraft radar or other radar systems irradiating your aircraft. Its a bit of a running joke in the industry that we are all sterile, and that our ‘wives must really like the milk man’ and that’s how any of us have kids.
So I never in a million years would have guessed that my girlfriend could have fallen pregnant. After all, I had been in various romantic relationships for over 15 years and it had never happened before.
I remember the call, I remember how my stomach dropped when she said “I have something to tell you” even though I didn’t actually know anything about the pregnancy, it was all just something I had imagined and worked up in my mind. Only, it was real. She had been, and we had just lost the baby.
To be honest at the time I felt pretty numb about it all. It took me a long time to process how I felt. I tried to be there for her as much as possible, we spoke on the phone a lot and spent time together, but it was obvious things had changed. I really wanted to keep trying to make it work, but it was too much for her. I think even just being with me probably reminded her of the trauma and we just hadn’t built a strong enough relationship beforehand to be able to get through this together.
I know this probably comes across as a pretty scattered post, but I guess I just needed to get it out. Hopefully it goes some ways to explaining a bit more about me and where I am at, and why I wanted to start this blog and discuss my journey to fatherhood.
Hopefully, those reading this who might have gone through or are going through a similar circumstance can take comfort in my words and know they are not alone. I had felt extremely alone throughout this whole process, because of the feelings of shame, losing a baby and then the relationship falling apart, I felt like I had no one to talk to.
My performance at work started to suffer, and the few people I talked to did not make it better. A copilot told me this was probably a blessing in disguise and how lucky I was I didn’t ruin my life by having kids, and how I could still be single and chase pretty girls whilst we were overseas – that was pretty horrible to hear. I guess it probably was meant with well intention but didn’t come out right.
I was to embarrassed to discuss my feelings or ask for help. I eventually reached out to a Mental Health Support Counsellor and we talked about it, and it helped.
A journey rarely follows a straight line, and I feel like mine has been a rollercoaster so far.