Ariane Audet

Emilie, Montréal QC (Canada)

Ariane Audet
Emilie, Montréal QC (Canada)

I have four kids. My first daughter is nine. With her, it was the discovery of everything. She came very quickly and when they put her on my stomach, I felt numb. It wasn't exactly love at first sight. I remember it took me three days to feel something: I was on the couch, naked and so tired. My mom was there to help and my daughter started crying. I froze. I didn’t know what she wanted, but I said to my mom, ‘Bring her to me.’ I got her naked, put her skin to skin: she immediately stopped. Our hearts were beating in harmony, and this is when I felt it: the bond. It ended up being fine, but I struggled a bit because I'm super independent. I’m a comedian and a writer and I have tons of projects. Then you have a kid and it's a huge adaptation. They need you all the time and the family dynamic changes. My partner was home with us for the first year because he had lost his job before I gave birth. It was good in a way because there were two of us, but it was financially stressful, and our relationship kind of crashed after a while. We had been roommates, lovers, but not parents. I needed him to be more present, to have time for myself and for my projects. We went to couple counseling a lot and, eventually, we became teammates again. It was the birth of our family. When our daughter turned one and a half, I got pregnant with our son. It was a difficult pregnancy. I had dreams that he was a murderer. Prior to getting pregnant with him, we had been to Haiti, post-earthquake. My husband is from there and we all had the feeling there were ghosts roaming around. It might sound esoteric, but when I found out I was pregnant, I had this strong feeling that this baby wasn’t mine, like the wrong soul had taken my son's place in the womb. One afternoon I took a couple of hours to meditate and to talk to it. I asked it to leave and went to bed happy. The next morning when I woke up, I started bleeding.

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We had to wait two weeks to do an ultrasound. I had stopped bleeding but didn’t have a lot of hope. The day of the appointment, we went in and… there was a heart! The right baby was there, alive and well. Our son was born during a snowstorm. With him, I instantly fell in love. He was the prettiest baby of all. I know you’re not supposed to say that about your kids but he was SO beautiful. I remember having a lot of energy when I got back home and being in total fusion. My partner had to go back to work after three weeks and I had a toddler to take care of. I also knew I would have to work too because I hadn’t made enough money the year before. We made it work for a while, but I quickly became exhausted. Then one day, I had this thought: what if I killed my son? I knew I loved him but I also needed to sleep and to get my own space. He was always in my arms. I talked to my partner about it, but he didn’t know what to do. Luckily, I have a cousin whom I called crying and told her everything that was racing through my head. I asked her if she thought I was crazy. She said: "I just think it’s very healthy to voice those thoughts." It helped a bit, but I was still so confused and in pain. We had to work hard as a family during this time. One evening, I told my partner: "It’s your turn. I don’t care what you do with this baby, I know it’s not easy because he only wants me, but I can’t do it anymore. Good luck." And I locked myself in our bedroom. I remember hearing the baby crying in the living room and my partner walking towards my door. I thought, "If you open this door, my man, you have no idea what's going to hit you…" But he didn’t. He turned around and took care of our son. We talked about that moment a couple of weeks later and he said, "I really wanted you to take care of the situation because it was easier, but it felt like it was my chance to step up, to build this bond with my son. I had no more excuses." It was a turning point.

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I created this one-woman show called Accoucher de rire and started touring when our son was six-months-old. I didn’t have any choice financially so I had to figure it out. I would ask people from the area where I was doing my show if they could babysit while I performed. That’s just how it went! We waited three more years before we had our third child. I needed to sleep again! My partner and I got married in between and we started trying soon after. I got pregnant with our second daughter quickly. I was working full time and things were really picking up: I was writing for television and doing more and more shows. I had her during summer. Everybody tells you it’s great to have a baby during the summer, but I didn’t think it was that fun: three kids at the pool but you can’t swim because you’re bleeding, you’re super warm and sweaty all the time, you can’t hide your empty-baby-bump and people think you’re still pregnant. I also began to feel that 24 hours wasn’t enough to do everything I was supposed to do. Frustrations started to pile up. Our marriage suffered again. At some point, he told me he needed some time to do therapy by himself and to be alone. He left for a month to regroup. He realized a lot of things, and when he came back, it changed everything. For the best. Our daughter eventually went to daycare, and it was true liberation. I’m a mom full of paradoxes: I practice hardcore attachment parenting, but I also need a lot of freedom to feel good. That’s just how I am and I got better at dealing with this. We eventually decided to get pregnant with our fourth and last kid when our second daughter turned two and a half. I made a deal with my husband: "We try for three months. If I get pregnant, great, if not, it’s over." I got pregnant right away… I guess she really wanted to be part of our family!

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I’m currently ten months postpartum and my most difficult moments are right now. I’ve never stopped working, like, a month after she was born, I was back on stage. I ended up doing my 15 minutes at the Just for Laugh Festival with her in my arms. It’s a beautiful memory that I cherish, but I find it tricky. I mean, it’s feasible and it’s a lot of fun but it also puts pressure on other women. At the same time, there’s the financial component: I need to work. It’s not easy. This is just one of the many things about motherhood that are taboo. For example, I still have those "What if I leave my family forever" types of thoughts. It's so challenging to say that at loud! Or I once strapped my daughter to her chair with the dog’s leash and a multicolor clown’s scarf because she had bitten me. I was so mad and helpless. I quickly realized it was ridiculous because it wasn’t tight enough and she was laughing, but all I could think of was: "You’ve got to be consequent!" I was so angry - and surely watching Super Nanny or something back then. Today, I tell this story in my show as a funny story, but that anger... it was real! In Quebec, we love the figure of the ‘mère indigne’ [the unfit mom]. Like, the mom who drinks too much because she needs to escape or the mom who writes funny Facebook posts (like me) to let the steam out. It’s super humorous and cathartic, but there’s always something deeper behind them. I hit my daughter once when she was two and I spent forty-five minutes crying over the phone with info-parents because I thought I was a violent mom. We tend to glorify a man’s anger as something virile, like a powerful demonstration of a repressed emotion that overflows, but the anger of a mother, it’s the same! Yet, you’re not supposed to show it. You have to be patient at all time. I’m working hard to deconstruct that and turn it into something positive for my family, myself, and other moms. Because deep down, I know I can't be the only one.