Saturday, March 31, 2012


It was a relief to let the cat out of the bag!

Everyone has been so kind and supportive. I was nervous about making the announcement at work but they were wonderful. One girl even said "I've got goosebumps!" when I told them the shocking news. No one ever expected to hear this from me. I can imagine the story travelling through the grapevine "Guess who's pregnant?" No one would ever have guessed me. More than a few jaws dropped to the floor I'm sure. It was pretty much common knowledge that I was a single girl who didn't plan to have kids. It's amazing how much your priorities can change! Now this baby means the world to me.

It feels good to share the news with the world. Acquaintances, strangers, anyone who will listen! During the first trimester, I was trying to keep the baby a secret. I'd known so many people who had suffered the heartbreak of losing a child within the first few months of pregnancy. I wanted to wait until I was safely into the second trimester to be sure. It was getting increasingly difficult to hold back though. Especially when anyone would discuss babies or pregnancy. I just had to smile and keep quiet.

As I put on weight it was becoming more challenging to camouflage. I was running out of oversized sweaters to hide the belly and it was awkward walking around with my pants undone. I'd gone up a couple of bra sizes (do I get to keep the new boobs after I have the baby?!) and bras were so uncomfortable I just couldn't wear them anymore. I even went out and got a new one (went from a 34B to a 36C. Now I'm not even sure what size I am because I just stopped wearing a bra. I felt strangled in them) but still wasn't comfortable. One day on the way to work I ended up removing my bra through my sleeve in line at the Tim Hortons Drive-Thru (that's no easy feat under a sweater and winter coat let me tell you!) My sister gave me a bag of her old maternity clothes. What a treat those jeans and pants are with the stretchy waistband! Heaven! I picked up a few things here and there myself. I was surprised that department stores didn't have a maternity section. Don't women have babies anymore?! Other than specialty stores like Thyme Maternity, I couldn't find anything. Luckily a lot of the current styles are loose and blousy, flaring out at the waist. Perfect as maternity wear. I got a few cute tops and things at Giant Tiger. I absolutely LOVE that store! Really nice clothes and inexpensive. A single mom on a tight budget, I need all the help I can get!

I've gained 25 lbs so far. Ironically just last year I had FINALLY reached my target weight through a combination of yoga, dancing, long walks and Jillian Michaels' (sadist that she is!) "30 Day Shred." I got down to 125 lbs which I hadn't been since my 20's. My mother says it was meant to be that I was in perfect health and ready to have a baby. That certainly wasn't my plan! Maybe healthwise I was more like a 20-30 year old than a 40 year old. (Maturity-wise for sure! I still feel like a kid!) Everyone says I look much younger than I am. Little did I know that I wouldn't stay at my goal weight very long. Everything was about to change. My dream was to move somewhere tropical and live in a bikini. My biological clock apparently had an agenda of its own...






I don't mind the new curves though. I actually feel more beautiful and more womanly than I've ever felt.  I know I'll be even bigger in the next trimester. Due in July, I'll be at my largest through the summer. I love the beach. I may forego the bikinis this year and do tankinis. Though I've seen quite a few pregnant celebrities that are still rocking the bikini so who knows? Maybe I'll be daring! I don't want to burn the belly though.

The second trimester has been a treat compared to the first. The nauseau stopped -- thank Heaven! I guess in the beginning your body is going through so many changes setting up for the baby that it takes so much out of you physically and makes you sick. By the second trimester the baby is in its own little biosphere so it's not as much of a strain on your body. I've been lucky though because I have talked to women who suffered from terrible nausea throughout the pregnancy.

My absolute favourite thing about being pregnant so far is QUICKENING! First of all I love the word. It sounds magical somehow.


the first motion of a fetus in the uterus felt by the mother, usually somewhat before the middle of the period of gestation.

Quicken also means to make alive, to kindle, to cause to burn more intensely, to make a curve sharper, to come to life, to shine more brightly. All of which seem appropriate too. I do feel more alive than ever with this miraculous little life growing inside me.

The quickening started around 18 weeks for me. At first it was so subtle I hardly realized what it was. I might have dismissed it as gas or something. I had done some reading though (my sister had given me her copy of the obligatory "What to Expect When You're Expecting," a friend gave me "Your Pregnancy Week by Week" and my doctor had given me "Healthy Beginnings.") and knew that fetal movement could start any time after the 14th week or so. Of course the baby moves before then but she's too small for you to feel it. Once I knew what to look for it became more obvious.   

At my 19 week ultrasound the baby was moving so much the technician had a hard time getting pictures. "You've really got a mover in there!" the girl said. During my doctor's appointment at 21 weeks, when she put the stethoscope to my belly the doctor exclaimed "A good strong heartbeat and a kick!" Maybe she'll be a gymnast or a dancer.

The baby is going to be a night owl like her Mama it seems! I rarely feel any movement in the morning. The most movement seems to be in the late afternoon and in the wee hours of the morning. During the day when I'm moving around I don't notice it as much. Sometimes I notice it when I'm eating or drinking. I wonder how quickly the food makes its way to her. Mostly I feel the baby moving when I'm laying still in bed, or especially in the bath. Baby, like Mama, seems to LOVE bubble baths. It's there that she moves the most. I love the feeling. It's a ticklish kind of bubbling up feeling. A fluttering like butterflies. I've also heard people  describe it as popcorn popping or little goldfish swimming around. Especially in the water it feels like she's swimming in there! Sometimes when my ears are submerged in the water I think I can hear both of our heartbeats. The steady rhythm of my own and a hint of her quicker one in the background.

It's such a bonding experience when I feel the baby moving. When I'm home or in the car, everytime she stirs I talk to her "Hey baby! Mama loves you." I try not to do it when I'm out though (I don't want someone to have me committed!) at work or grocery shopping but I can't help but crack a little smile. It's like our little secret and sometimes I'll rub my tummy and whisper to her "Love you baby." It's an amazing feeling of connection -- to be at one with someone. I never imagined I could feel so much love. People tried to tell me how you change once you become a Mom, but until this happened it wasn't something I could understand.

She responds to my voice too which I love. I'll be driving with the radio on and start to sing along and as soon as I start to sing, baby starts to move. I'm looking forward to singing lullabies to the baby and I've already started doing it every night before bed. I've also gotten into a routine of reading "Goodnight Moon" to her every night.

I know that the baby hears everything now and though they can't understand language, they do pick up rhythms in speech and it prepares them for learning to talk. I also read that if you read a story to a baby in utero, the baby remembers the story on some level and when you read it to the child later they will find it comforting because it will remind them of the safe environment of the womb. The baby has started responding -- as soon as I read the story she starts to move. It seems like she recognizes it already.

My mother, while pregnant with me, said she didn't have any food cravings but she had a craving for reading. She never liked reading, but while I was inside her, she read the entire Bible aloud, cover to cover! (My Mom can't read in her head. Not even the newspaper. It's comical to watch her.) She thought that it was nourishing my young mind. I think it was a beautiful gesture for her to do that. I do think there is something to it. I was a straight A student all through school and university and I've always had a love of writing. English was my best subject. I've written thousands of poems (a few published), a few short stories and hundreds of songs.

I want to do all the best things for my baby too. I love her so much already and I haven't even met her yet! Knowing that what I do and say and feel now can affect her, I try not to put myself under stress. Work is becoming more difficult. Twelve hour shifts take a toll on me. I do feel much more tired than I used to and often have trouble sleeping but I try to catch up on sleep on my days off. Being hormonal of course there are times I am emotional. I was a sentimental fool before being pregnant. Now it's a millionfold. I tear up pretty easily. Also with everything that I've been through (February was a heartbreaking month, if you haven't checked out my previous blog posts to learn my story so far, have a look) occasionally I do feel overwhelmed and need to cry it out. It's a release, a relief. Afterward I reassure the baby that everything is OK. I sing "Don't Worry, Be Happy" and "Three Little Birds." I love this video, by the way, a very sweet take on the Bob Marley song:

Overall I feel happier than I ever have. There's a sense of peace and purpose that comes from living for someone else. I never had that before. This kind of love was foreign to me. There was family and friend love. Romantic love. Love of Nature. I always felt like I had so much love to give. But the love I have for this child is something else entirely. It is larger than me. It is deeper than anything. It puts everything else in perspective. Any sacrifices I have to make are worth it. Things I used to think were important really don't matter anymore. Being a Mom supercedes anything. I never thought I had a maternal side. I suppose I'm a very late bloomer. I have been in everything else. Better late than never. My maternal instincts are kicking in -- protectiveness, nurturing and unconditional love.

This was meant to be. I look back on my life's journey and I'm grateful for all the adventures and experiences. Even the ones that broke my heart. They all led me here. And here is a pretty good place to be. It won't always be easy but it is definitely worth it.

Life is such a miracle. There is a little person growing inside me! It still kind of blows my mind. And there is so much I want to teach her and so much I can learn from her. This is the adventure of a lifetime. I'm grateful for this unexpected gift.  

She just moved. She must be wondering what I'm doing up this early on a Saturday morning off. I was sound asleep before 10 pm last night. I used to go out dancing til 2 a.m. on a Friday night. Now it's a treat to crawl into bed early and read Goodnight Moon. I wouldn't trade this feeling for the world.

"Hey baby! Mama loves you!"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places."
Ernest Hemingway

I thought that I had seen the biggest plot twist in my life story. I didn't realize the page was about to turn and another twist awaited me...

It was 2012. I had read it would be a time of great change. Some were predicting the end of the world (December 21st 2012) because it was the end of the Mayan calendar. Have you seen the Mayan calendar?

Yeah. I can't make head nor tail of the sculpted images but apparently it maps out a history of the Earth spanning 5,000 years. It has been accurate about every major earth event (eclipses etc). It happens to end in the year 2012. That doesn't necessarily mean that's the end of time. Maybe they just didn't feel like sculpting past that. Cut them some slack! I think they were very ambitious to give us the heads up for 5,000 years worth of events! We only print out calendars a year at a time. They probably figured they'd sculpt the next 5,000 years eventually after that series was done. But they didn't end up lasting that long. Maybe 2012 wasn't going to be the end, just an evolution. The end of a cycle and the start of a new phase. A great awakening. In any event, I knew 2012 was going to be a very interesting year. The year of the Dragon. For me, it started out breathing fire.

The first week of January I sort of crashed. A combination of exhaustion, stress, surging hormones and a dash of Seasonal Affective Disorder (I think I have it. I hate the cold. I am SO not a winter person. All those long cold grey days get to me. I miss the sunlight. Vitamin D supplements just aren't the same) landed me in bed crying for a couple of days. I had leg cramps. Had no appetite. Felt so tired and drained. Stressed. Having doubts about whether I could do this, whether I'd be a good Mom, how we were going to manage. Physically and emotionally, I was spent. I just generally felt awful. Mike comforted me. He was great. There were times however that even he couldn't comfort me because he was part of the problem. He was draining me emotionally and financially. It started to feel like nothing was mine anymore. It was all being taken over. My home was invaded, overrun with animals. Even my body had been invaded. It felt like the baby was taking all my strength. Everyone needed something from me. There was nothing left for me. I was being depleted. I didn't know how much more I had to give to my family of eight -- Mike, Tiko, Charlie, Misha, Banff and Ali, and baby (Michelle) on the way.

Mike could be very selfish. He couldn't let me have anything of my own. He knew I was having trouble finding things that I could eat that wouldn't make me nauseous and that would be healthy for the baby. I would buy things that were supposed to be for me and he'd eat them/drink them -- including nuts which I tried to have on hand for a quick protein snack and he'd eat a whole $10 container (that would have lasted me a month) in less than half an hour. Or meal replacement shakes, which were very expensive, which I got for when I felt nauseous and was afraid I wouldn't be getting enough nutrients for the baby. He drank them like they were milkshakes. I even tried hiding foods & he'd still find them and eat them. He was like a big mischievous kid. I'd go out to work while he got to sit around at home and watch movies. I'd work a 12 hour day and then come in and still have to make dinner. I had to pay the bills, buy the groceries. And I didn't even get to have anything of my own anymore. Everything was his now. One day I was having an Arrowroot cookie dipped in tea as a treat. Mike had already eaten two whole rows of the cookies. I asked if he could at least leave me a couple of cookies because I'd been craving them. I had a cookie in my hand, dipped it in tea and was just lifting it up to my mouth when he swooped in and ate it. Chomp! Right out of my hand! Like a hungry bird. It was so ridiculous I started to laugh hysterically. I couldn't stop laughing. At first Mike laughed too but then he started to worry that I'd snapped. "Oh dear. Ann Marie has lost her mind..." I did. The laughter turned to crying. I couldn't take it anymore. I couldn't even have a friggin cookie to myself. I had nothing of my own. Everything was his. Everywhere I went there was an animal. His dog was crapping all over my garden (my yard consisted of a beach and a tropical garden, there was no grass. When I had landscaped it the year before I couldn't have imagined I'd have a big dog destroying it) because Mike was too lazy to take Tiko for walks most of the time and would just let him out the patio door to poop in my yard. Charlie had even peed in my purse. The cats were all running amok and I was constantly startled by the sound of catfights, hissing, fighting and running up or down the stairs. I couldn't have a moment's peace, couldn't be alone for a second not even in the bathroom. I'd sit on the toilet & the dog would come in, the cats would be at the sink, Mike would be in the doorway. It was like Grand Central Station in a four foot square space. Mike was the first person I had ever known that insisted on having a conversation EVEN when I was on the toilet! In some ways I thought he was good training for having a baby. He was like a full grown baby who needed constant attention. He did bring out the nurturing side of me. I never used to cook at all. I just grabbed fast food a lot of the time. Now I was making meals for him and I (and he ate enough for a family of four on his own...) He did help out a little -- he did the dishes, vacuumed occasionally, shovelled the driveway when it snowed, put the garbage out but I did almost everything. Including bringing home the bacon. And frying it.

Luckily I got over it. Most of the time I liked all the company. I was grateful that my house was full of animals and activity and excitement. I was never lonely, that was for sure. We did have a lot of fun. Talking, laughing, watching movies, playing cards and Scrabble. Playing with the pets. Mike loved Ali. She seemed to be his favourite. He called her Grimace because she was fat and furry (though not purple) like the big McDonald's character. We were silly. Sometimes it felt like we were just kids at an unending sleepover. Staying up super-late. Mike was more of a nightowl than I was even. And he was a coffee fiend. He must have had about 12 cups a day.

Despite any sacrifices, stresses and annoyances I had to deal with, January 11th made it all worthwhile. It was the first time I got to HEAR my baby's heartbeat. I was at my doctor and she put some of that vaseline-like ultrasound-ish jelly on my belly and placed a stethoscope on it. Ironically, the instant that it touched my belly, a baby screamed in the next room. I just about jumped out of my skin. "Don't worry, that wasn't your baby!" "I know!" I laughed. When I did hear the heartbeat it was the most beautiful, magical sound I'd ever heard. It was so fast! About twice the speed of my own. Like a little baby bird. Tears of joy streamed from my eyes. I was so happy. This was worth it. All the changes in my life, all the stresses, none of it mattered right now. This baby was the best thing that ever happened to me and I had Mike to thank. If I hadn't met him, hadn't dated him, twisted little monster that he was, this baby wouldn't exist. I knew it was meant to be.

Mike and I still had our arguments. We fought about money. He was broke and was borrowing money from me for cigarettes, his haircut etc. He promised to pay me back on Feb 1st when he had some money coming in. He would ask for one thing or another and I'd just add it to the tab. We fought about movies. Mike tried to get me to watch REALLY disturbing horror movies that he was into and it made me angry. What kind of a monster would enjoy watching such a thing? It's not like I was a lightweight when it came to thrillers. I was a goth back in the day. I loved horror movies. I always had a thing for vampires. A Clive Barker fan, my favourite horror film was "Hellraiser." I thought the "Saw" series was brilliant. I loved the "Final Destination" movies. But Mike had some movies that were BEYOND horrific, that were just sick, sadistic, twisted, disturbing gore-fests. I couldn't watch them. Mike's dark side was so much darker than I could fully understand. I was much more innocent. Even my dark side was a Disney movie. Sometimes he scared me. But then he could be so sweet. There were two sides to him. Yin and yang. I just hoped that good would win over evil. But I wouldn't watch his horror movies anymore. Being pregnant, I was much more sensitive. I also worried it could affect the baby. I wanted to watch sweet movies, comedies. I was particularly obsessed with movies about pregnancy and babies. One night we compromised and watched "Rosemary's Baby" -- a horror movie about pregnancy. Mike wasn't that impressed with it. It didn't meet his blood and gore quotient. He did indulge me though and joined me for some romantic comedies and Disney flicks. Some he even admitted that he enjoyed. He had a soft side too. When I complained that he wasn't romantic enough, he said he had something special planned for Valentine's Day.

When the 12 week point passed, I was relieved to be past the first trimester. Now it felt like I was safe. The danger period was over. The baby was OK. Healthwise and emotionally I was feeling stronger and better. There was a sunny day that wasn't as cold as usual so we went for a nice hike with Tiko. At one point we saw a caterpillar on the snow. I had to take a picture. (Yes I had my camera with me. Total photoholic. But it's good because life is so fleeting. You capture the moment before it's gone and then you have it forever. Unless you allow a psychotic jealous boyfriend to move in with you and he snoops through your computer and wipes out your external drive where all your photos were stored because he's jealous of your ex-boyfriends. Luckily I had some photos on CDs and many other photos I'd posted on the internet so at least they were not lost. Thank you Twitter, Myspace etc for giving me a safe place to stash my memories!) Anyway, on to the caterpillar...I found it odd to see one on the snow. It seemed symbolic somehow.
"Poor thing. I know how you feel. I can't wait for Spring either!"

I picked her up and put her on a leaf where the snow had melted. It felt good to be out walking except that we went a bit too far. Being pregnant I didn't quite have the stamina I used to. I overdid it a little and came back home exhausted but it felt good to get some fresh air. Spring was coming. I couldn't wait to be out in the warmth, in the sunshine again. To go on walks with Mike and Tiko. And Summer. To go to the beach again. Even though I'd be pregnant and huge. I'd just trade my bikinis for tankinis. It was going to be an exciting year. So much to look forward to.

I thought about the caterpillar. Lost on the snow. Confused. Cold. Somehow we would get through the winter and we would metamorphose. She into a butterfly and me into a Mom. I was not going to let the winter get me down anymore. I had never been a fan of February but this one would be different, I thought. I had no idea what was coming...

On Feb 1st I was expecting a cheque from Mike. He was supposed to be paying me his contribution to the bills on top of the money he owed me for miscellaneous items. I didn't want to bring it up. I wanted him to think of it and offer it on his own. I had been counting on the money though and was anxious to put it in the bank. I was working nightshift that night. I slept in, then mid-afternoon I made bacon & eggs for breakfast as usual and watched a bit of TV with Mike. Everything seemed fine. He was friendly and affectionate. He kissed and hugged me goodbye. I said I'd see him on my lunch break mid-evening and went off to work.

When I got home on my lunch break the first thing I noticed was that he hadn't put the garbage out. He had been collecting it earlier and put the bags in the garage. Mike was kind enough to do the garbage for me each week and clean the litter boxes because I'd heard it was dangerous for a pregnant woman to be near the cat litter. Something about "toxoplasmosis." Then when I went in the house I noticed his boots were gone. I thought he must be walking Tiko. What was really odd though was that Charlie and Misha didn't greet me at the door like they always did. "Hello?" I called out "I'm home. Where is everybody?" I looked around. There was no sign of the cats. Then I found my two. But where were Mike's?

The TV was left on. The coffee maker was on. There was a fresh cigarette on the ashtray in the garage. (And Mike NEVER wasted a cigarette. Sometimes when he ran out he'd even scrape together old butts to make a new one.) What was going on? When I went upstairs the shock hit me like a brick wall.


His computer, his collection of scorpions, pictures off the wall, books, movies, clothes. Everything. Everything except his furniture. Mike, his pets & all his personal belongings were gone. I couldn't believe it was happening. I thought "This is a nightmare. This isn't real." I kept shaking my head. I couldn't make sense of it. There was no note. No explanation or apology. He was just GONE. How? Why? He didn't even have a car. I didn't think a cab would pick someone up with a pitbull, two cats and all their belongings. Did he rent a truck? Did a friend come to get him? And where would he go? He wasn't close to anyone. He didn't even call anyone to wish them Merry Christmas in December. He hadn't talked to his adoptive family in years. He didn't have any close friends. I couldn't figure it out. He seemed fine earlier that day. There was no sign that he was intending to leave. Did something happen while I was at work? I ran around to check my valuables in case he'd stolen anything from me. If he was capable of this, God knows what else he could do. But he hadn't touched anything of mine. He'd only taken his own things. Except he still had my key. I booby trapped the door before I headed back to work. I was like a zombie at work. In a daze. In the Twilight Zone. I couldn't tell anyone what had happened. I hadn't even announced that I was pregnant yet. How could I tell them that now I was pregnant and ABANDONED?! My life had become a soap opera. A country song. A nightmare.

I changed the locks the next day. I took down all his pictures. And I cried and cried and cried.

It was tearing me apart. The worst part was not having closure. Not knowing why. How on earth could someone be so cruel and so cowardly? Bad enough to leave someone that loved you, but to abandon your own child?! And without a word. He was always so obsessive about communication. He was never one for the silent treatment. Everything had to be discussed, out in the open. How could he do this? I told my Mom and my sister. It was a puzzle we couldn't solve. We came up with a million different scenarios of what might have happened. But the reality was I'd never know unless I heard it from him. My sister was sure he'd be back. Maybe he panicked. Maybe he just needed a break, needed space to think.
"He can't come back." I said. "He has lost any right to see me or the baby."
The kind of monster that could be capable of this is not someone I would allow in my life or my child's life. Not for one instant. My Mom (having watched far too many movies and having an overactive imagination) came up with all sorts of outlandish theories for what might have happened. I'm surprised alien abduction wasn't one of them. Nothing made any sense. As far as I was concerned, no matter what his reason, HE COULD HAVE TOLD ME. Leave a note. A word even -- "Sorry." "Goodbye." He was so insanely jealous maybe he found something from my past that he didn't like and got angry. He did snoop through my things. He had sabotaged my computer. Or maybe he realized that I was safely beyond the first trimester and I was really going to have this baby. Maybe he wasn't ready to be a father and panicked. Maybe he didn't have the money to pay me (it had to be more than a coincidence that he left Feb 1st, the day he'd promised me a cheque) and couldn't face me. We'd had so many arguments about money before. Maybe he didn't want to put me through that again. Maybe he was ashamed. Maybe he thought the baby and I would be better off without him (which we are) because he was more of a burden than a help (which he was.) Maybe he was in some kind of trouble, maybe his past demons had caught up with him. Or maybe having tried out the whole loving happy family life and home deal he realized it wasn't for him and he wanted to slink back into the dark hole he came from because it was where he felt comfortable. I didn't know.

He never knew his own father. Now he was going to doom his child to the same fate? What kind of person could do that? How could he live with himself? How would it not haunt him the rest of his life? He seemed to care about the baby and me. Was it all an act? He seemed to need me so much. How could he live without me? It made no sense.

I thought he'd call. Write. Email. Anything. But days went by. Days stretched into weeks and now more than a month. And NOT ONE WORD. He just disappeared.

Really Mike? This is what you choose? Just another deadbeat dad. Another statistic. Another tabloid headline. Why must people perpetuate the patterns set up by their parents? You would think you could learn from their mistakes. Someone grows up with alcoholic parents and becomes an alcoholic. Someone grows up in an abusive household and becomes violent. You grew up without a father. Now you've done that to your own child. Maybe we're creatures of habit. We stick to what's familiar. Even when what's familiar is darkness, despair. You could have chosen better. You had a chance at a beautiful life. You threw it away. To Hell with you then. Good riddance. I will make my peace with this because hating you only hurts me. I actually feel sorry for you.

"You could track him down somehow. He should pay child support."  Someone suggested to me.
"You can't get blood from a stone. He has nothing to give. Besides I'd rather just not have him in our lives. He has no right to this child." No amount of money would be worth having a toxic man (a boy rather) in my baby's life. He obviously has no integrity, no decency, no sense of responsibility.

There is a fable about a Scorpion and a Frog. The Scorpion asks the Frog for a ride across the river.
"But you're a scorpion. You might sting me."
"I'd be a fool to do that. Then we would both perish."
He had a point so the Frog agreed.
Halfway through the river, the Scorpion stings the Frog.
"Why would you do this? Now we will both die!"
"I can't help it. I'm a Scorpion. It's in my nature to sting. Why did you help me and put yourself in danger, knowing what I was?"
"I can't help it. I'm a Frog. It's in my nature to be kind."
I let Mike move in after only knowing him two weeks. I took him out of the dark place where he was living and gave him a beautiful home. I gave him the key to my heart, my home. Gave him everything, trusting that he wouldn't betray me. But he was a Scorpio(n) and I was a Frog. Ribbit. Lesson learned.

On some level, yes I get it. Mike had never really had a home. Never felt like he belonged. Never stayed in one place very long. A bit of a drifter. A lone wolf (even had a picture of a wolf which he was sure to take with him). These things I knew about him. But he seemed to want to be with me. He seemed so happy with me. Seemed so dependent on me. I just couldn't fathom how he could leave. Especially like that. A wolf will gnaw off its own foot to get out of a trap. Maybe he felt trapped. Maybe his freedom meant more to him than love and family. Though I don't know how he could ever really feel free.

I was heartbroken. I would look at the letter he wrote me, the drawing my niece had done of us. I would think of the life we were supposed to share together and it tore me apart. Other times I was just angry, bitter. How dare he! What kind of a low-life could do something like that?! How can he live with himself?! I went through the seven stages of grief.

As if having a baby wasn't scary enough. Now I was going to be doing it on my own. I was a single mom.

The baby was all that kept me going. Despondent, I had no appetite, but I forced myself to eat for the baby's sake. I had to be strong for her. I had no choice.

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, as Nietsche said. My worst fear (abandonment) had come true and yet I survived. Somehow it would be OK.

But then life dealt me another blow. One of my cats, Banff, died suddenly. I was devestated.

She was elderly. I'm not even sure how old she was exactly because I was her third owner. My guess was somewhere between 15-20 years. She'd had a good long life. But of all the times for her to go. When I was already falling apart. She was very skinny but aside from that seemed reasonably healthy. Then all of a sudden one day in Feb 2012 (cruelest month EVER) she just wasn't herself. It seemed like she could barely move. Her eyes looked different. She wouldn't eat. I was so worried about her. I didn't want to leave her but I had to go to work. I lay her on a velvety blanket on the couch and left for work. When I came home on my lunch break she was still breathing. I kissed her and said a prayer that she'd be healed, that she wouldn't suffer anymore. After work I went to the grocery store to get a syringe and baby food to feed her with since she couldn't seem to eat. I had a week's vacation booked so I would be able to stay with her and take care of her. But when I got home, she had already passed. My already broken heart was shattered.

Banff was more than a pet to me. We had been through so much together. Originally she had belonged to a friend of Paul's (Paul was the alcoholic I had dated on and off for years). The friend ended up marrying a girl who was allergic so he gave Banff to Paul. Paul adored Banff. There were times I thought she was all that kept him going. I dated Paul on and off for years, trying to save him, hoping he'd stop drinking. I finally had to give up, realizing I couldn't save him from himself and he was dragging me down. I hadn't talked to him in a year when I got a phone call that he had passed away of an overdose of alcohol. Yes you can OD on alcohol. People forget that it's a drug too. Paul was a binge drinker. He could go a while without drinking (as he did when I was with him. I kept him out of trouble.) but then when he would drink he wouldn't stop until he passed out for days. In the end, he had done the same thing except this time he didn't wake up. It was because of Banff that I knew his death wasn't a suicide. He adored Banff. He wouldn't have deliberately harmed himself and left her to starve. He would have left her with someone or made arrangements. His sister asked me if I would take Banff. I was happy to. I had always loved Banff and it was like having a connection to Paul again. She was so relieved to see me, poor thing. She was in a shelter. They had her in quarantine. She had been alone in the apartment with Paul's corpse for days without food and water. She was a survivor. His sister also gave me his computer and a few of his things. It was eerie that on his computer there were some games he'd been downloading. Some of them weren't finished until after he had passed away. That was another proof to me that his death wasn't intentional. He was downloading games. He didn't expect his latest binge to kill him. I went through a lot of guilt and regret feeling like I'd abandoned him but the truth was there was nothing I could have done. Both his parents were alcoholics and he inherited it. He lost the battle.

Banff was so precious to me. A constant companion and friend. She slept next to me on my pillow. She liked to sit on the edge of the tub when I had my bath. She would meow as though she was talking to me. And she was my reminder of Paul. I had loved him so much. It was the most intense relationship of my life. He could be so romantic, so funny, so sensitive. He was the only man that I ever saw tear up when he was close to beauty. He snapped almost as many photos as I did. 

(Smoke Lake -- photo by AMP)

We went to Algonquin together and it was magical being somewhere so beautiful with someone who could appreciate the wonder of nature as much as I did. We watched the sun rise over Smoke Lake. An ethereal mist hanging over the water. It was breathtaking. The best part was having someone with me who really "gets it." When something is so beautiful it hurts. When it feels like you're seeing God. My boyfriend of nine years, off and on, had no artistic sensibility. The scene would have been lost on him. We were on different wavelengths. With Paul, it felt like our souls were made of the same stuff. He was my soulmate. Unfortunately it seems impossible for a man to be very sensitive without falling apart. A man can either be strong or sensitive, not both. Paul was ashamed of his vulnerability. He saw it as weakness and tried to numb it with alcohol. But it was what I loved most about him. Paul will always have a place in my heart. Several of my boyfriends since have accused me of still being in love with him. When someone dies especially, I think it's hard not to deify him. He wasn't perfect. He put me through Hell. When it was good though, it was the stuff dreams are made of. The romance of a lifetime. I had never felt so loved, wanted and needed before or since. He was a Pisces. A dreamer. Such an amazing person if it wasn't for the alcohol. We were supposed to live on a houseboat one day and sail around the world. Losing Banff was like losing my final tie to him and that whole period of my life.

I was already broke and wondering how I was going to manage. Now I had to come up with the money to have Banff cremated. On Valentine's Day I dropped her off. (Not quite how I'd imagined spending Valentine's Day.) I was a complete mess and ended up telling them my story about being pregnant, my boyfriend leaving and now Banff dying, being broke and not sure what I was going to do. Pregnant, hormonal and in mourning I must have been a sight. On Ash Wednesday when I went to pick up Banff's ashes, they told me that the bill had been paid. I owed nothing. I couldn't believe it. It was a miracle. God was taking care of me. I bawled. I set up a shrine to Banff with her urn and some framed photos of her. She was back home at least. Ali became much more affectionate once Banff was gone. They were both grey tabbies, one fat and one thin. They never really liked each other. Ali started doing a lot of the things that Banff used to do -- lying on my pillow, sitting by me when I had a bath. Ali must have wondered what was going on, where everyone was disappearing to. First Mike, Tiko, Charlie and Misha disappear inexplicably. Then Banff is gone. Now it was just Ali and I. And baby on the way.

As if I didn't have enough to deal with emotionally and financially, then my washing machine, which was on its last legs (it had been making a really loud noise during the final spin. Sounded like the whole house was going to come down.) broke completely. It wouldn't do the final spin at all. I phoned to see how much it would be to repair. Based on the problems I described they said it would need a new drum and would be $500 to fix! It was a six year old Frigidaire so it would make no sense to repair it. I might as well get a new one. Now I had to come up with the money for that. Luckily I found a Maytag on sale online and managed to order it on the last day of the sale. Now I just had to come up with the money. I was further in the hole than I should have been since my bills were twice as high after Mike staying with me for those few months and I didn't even get the money I was counting on from him.

I started to sell things on Kijiji to recoup a little money. One woman who came to buy something admired my artwork in the hallway and asked if my paintings were for sale. (I have my artwork hanging all over my house. One of the advantages of being an artist -- free paintings to fill the walls!) She ended up buying a few of my paintings which paid for my new washer.

("Scarlet" acrylic on canvas by AMP)

A necklace I'd been trying to sell for months finally sold, to a woman who worked in a church. I started to cry and ended up telling her my story. She was so moved she came back later that night with gifts for the baby and I, including a book of scriptures to help me through this rough time.

"God will take care of you," she said.
"I know He will. He is. Miracles are happening to help me out when I least expect it."

I was so emotional after all I'd been through that any time anyone asked about the pregnancy I'd burst into tears and tell them the father left me and my cat just died, etc. I had no pride left. My ego had been stripped away and all that was left was me. Raw. Real. Vulnerable. People were so kind. It was humbling. The one person on earth that I trusted most and expected to love me had betrayed me so cruelly. Yet strangers who owed me nothing were so generous, so kind. It restored my faith in humanity at least. There really were good, decent people out there. Just not the ones I fell for!

I realized the best thing to do would be to forget him. Think of him as a sperm donor. He'd served his purpose, now he was gone. I do believe this baby was meant to be. I just had to go through Hell to get her. I can't regret falling for Mike because if I hadn't she wouldn't exist. But I still can not fathom how he could do what he did and live with himself.

I had always fallen for the wrong men. The more damaged they were, the more I was drawn to them. I had dated many men who weren't worthy of me. But I would not date someone who wasn't worthy of my child. So this baby will keep me out of trouble. I kept jumping from one boyfriend to the next, from the frying pan into the fire because I was afraid to be alone. One of my friends kept telling me that I need to be single for a while. Give myself a break. Find myself. Just be ME without losing myself in a relationship. But it was a tough habit to break. Now I would have no choice. I can't date while I'm pregnant (that would just be messed up!) I can't date while I'm breastfeeding a newborn. So for at least a year, I really couldn't date if I wanted to. And even if I do date again someday, I will be so much more careful. There is more at stake now. I have a child to think about. She comes first. Besides which my trust in men has been obliterated. It would take someone pretty extraordinary to earn my trust now. He would have to be everything Mike wasn't -- honest, strong, kind, responsible. A man of honour and integrity. A man who says what he means and means what he says. A man who would be good to me and to my child. He'd have to be a cross between Jesus and Superman! If such a man exists. If not, then we're better off alone. No more villains for me. If there are no heroes, then I'm better off without the lot of them. I've seen people in bad relationships. Unhappy, abusive relationships. The baby and I are far better off not having a toxic man in our lives. Mike was a mess. He obviously was even more disturbed than I had realized to be capable of this. So his leaving was probably the best thing he could have done. It still hurts. It still baffles me. He really seemed to care about us and want to be in our lives. I don't know how or why that could have changed enough to make him leave. In the beginning I felt sorry for myself but now I feel sorry for him. He is the one who has truly lost everything. I have this beautiful, miraculous, precious gift. He's gone back to the darkness. Doomed to repeat his own parents' mistakes. A meaningless life without love, without a home. And if he has even a shred of conscience, the guilt will haunt him for the rest of his life.

On February 27th, I went for my 19 week ultrasound. It was the one that Mike was supposed to go to along with me. The big one where we were going to find out the sex of the baby. (In retrospect, I wonder if it would have made a difference if I had invited Mike to come with me to the doctor appointments and the first ultrasound. If he had heard his baby's heartbeat and seen her on the screen could he still have left? It must be different for the father. The mother feels the baby growing inside of her. She has that bond right away. For the man, it's a bit more abstract. You're not the one going through it. You're on the outside. Maybe the idea hadn't really sunk in. He wasn't really attached, wasn't really invested in it. Who knows? He was still a creep for leaving, regardless!) My mother came with me instead. At least this time they told me I didn't have to drink nearly as much water. Thank God!

"Did you have sugar today?" the technician asked me while she was doing the ultrasound.
"They didn't tell me I couldn't!" I replied defensively.
Apparently baby was bouncing off the walls in there, moving around so much that the girl had a tough time getting pictures. It seemed that she was taking a lot of pictures. I didn't want to be a nuisance so I was trying to keep quiet but I was dying to hear -- is the baby OK? Does she seem healthy and normal? Is everything as it should be? And is it a boy or a girl? I have to know for sure.

I did tell her that I wanted to know the sex and that I was really hoping for a girl. Boys just weren't my favourite right now, for some reason. Plus I'd have so much more in common with a girl. I was a girlie girl myself. I hoped she'd love dolls and want to wear pink...

But the baby was NOT cooperating. The technician couldn't get a clear view.
"I'd say there's a 60%-70% chance that it's a girl but it's impossible to be sure."
Her legs were closed the whole time. That's OK I thought. She can keep her legs closed until she's 30 years old as far as I'm concerned! I did want to know though. I wanted to start buying pink clothes. I had already named her Michelle. Of course I would love my baby no matter what. I would love a boy just as much but I would want to be prepared. I would have to rethink so many things.

When she finally turned the screen so that I could see, it was an incredible feeling. There was my little baby. Her face. Her fingers and toes. I was no expert but she looked healthy to me. That was the most important thing. Then the technician let my Mom come in and she snapped a picture. I told the technician I wanted an ultrasound photo so she printed one of the profile. My baby's first snapshot. The first of MANY for sure!

My Mom and sister had always said things like "there is no love like that between mother and child" and "you wouldn't understand unless you had kids of your own." They were right. I never expected this to happen to me but now that it has, it's like an awakening. I finally know what love is.

My whole life I had been looking for love. Romantic love. And going about it the wrong way with the wrong people. Now I realize that this baby is the love of my life and it's a more profound love than anything I've ever experienced. A love that is all-encompassing, more important than anything else. A love that is self-sacrificing. I would do anything for her. A love that is real and pure, unconditional. A constant feeling of peace. This baby is my reason for being. I will be strong because she needs me to be. I will be the best person I can be for her. No matter how much pain I've had to go through (and much more still to go through because I know labour is no picnic!) it's worth it.

I wrote the baby a song called "The Love of my Life." Here it is on Youtube:

At first I was worried how I would get by without Mike here to help. Luckily there was only one day I had to shovel the driveway and I managed to do it in about five minutes. I went out and got face masks and rubber gloves for when I clean out the cat litter. Still, from what I've read about toxoplasmosis, you pretty much have to INGEST infected fecal matter to get it. I promise I will NEVER eat cat poop! I'm a bit of a germaphobe and wash my hands a million times as it is so little danger of that. Cleaning up after one cat is a lot easier than four. With Mike gone, it seemed there was a lot less to do really. Less animals to take care of. Less groceries to buy. I have my peace and privacy now. The house is so quiet. I guess that's why they say careful what you wish for. I went from one extreme to the other. I don't know if Mike thought I wanted him to go. No matter what he should have told me. It is what it is. Life goes on.

So that's my story so far. It is therapeutic for me to tell it. I felt a need to get it out of me so that I'm free of it. Though February was a brutal month, there were some very good things to come out of it. The baby being healthy, me learning I'm stronger than I thought, realizing that most people are basically good, seeing that even when all hope seems lost, things can turn around and no matter what it is going to be OK. It's liberating and empowering when you are forced to confront your greatest fear (in my case abandonment, being alone) and you survive it. I had hid in relationships for so long because I was afraid to just be myself, to discover who I really was. Now there is nowhere to hide. Now I can finally be who I am without a man to distract me. I have been hurt but I am healing and I will come out of this a stronger, better person. I have to be because I have the most important role in the world to fulfill now. I'm going to be a Mom.

"Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are."
Arthur Golden

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Expecting unexpectedly...My story begins:

Apparently "No" was my first word. Not "Mama", not "Dada" but "No." I guess it was what I heard most from Mom. She never said "yes." The most you could hope for was "maybe." I suppose I had a hard time with yes too. Had issues with commitment. Dated someone for 9 years and couldn't marry him. I was a control freak. I would talk myself out of things. Over the years I did learn to take more risks, to say "Yes"...I did have some daring moments. Travelled to Europe and saw all the landmarks I'd dreamed of in art class. Climbed a mountain in a dress in Bavaria. Did stand-up at Yuk-Yuk's. Bought a house in a strange city on my own. Launched a CD of my music. Helped set a new Guinness World Record (and ended up on the front page of the local newspaper). Was on TV, in a film. Sold my old practical car & got the car of my dreams (a cute little roadster). Some would say a few of my choices were a bit reckless (especially when it came to love) but I was learning to follow my heart. To live with passion. To throw caution to the wind. To say "Yes" to life.

Then on November 18th 2011 I was greeted by the biggest YES of my life. A shocking yes that would change everything...

I didn't plan to have children. Don't get me wrong -- I love kids! I just didn't want any of my own. I guess I always felt like a kid myself who never grew up. I didn't feel mature enough. Having a child seemed to me the most enormous responsibility on earth. It was overwhelming. I couldn't imagine me as a Mom. I dated younger men and usually men who wouldn't commit or had some other tragic flaw so I could safely avoid marriage. I was 42 years old, single, driving a two-seater convertible.

I'd just been on my first long road trip (to Florida, with you-guessed-it a younger man with a tragic flaw -- had some amazing memories though!) in the Summer. I planned to drive to Cali one day. I dreamed of living in a bikini on a tropical island. I had just reached my goal weight of 125 lbs which I hadn't been since I was 21 years old. I couldn't have imagined, in my wildest dreams, that I would ever become pregnant. Especially now.

When people would ask accusingly "Don't you want kids?!" as though there was something inherently wrong with me, I explained that my creations -- my paintings (hundreds of canvases), poems (thousands of them, a few of which were published in literary journals) and songs (about 700 original songs to date, hundreds of them on Youtube) were my babies. I believed that all of us on some level do long to be immortal, to leave a legacy. I just wanted mine to be a work of art rather than a child. The things I created would live and breathe and bear my name after I was gone.

I was the only single girl living in my suburban neighbourhood alone with two cats. That was good enough for me.

I loved my nieces and nephews but having a child of my own was the furthest thing from my mind. I didn't think I could do it. I was too selfish. I liked sleeping in. I liked my freedom. Besides which I had never met Mr. Right. Only a series of Mr. Wrongs. I was a serial monogamist who would jump from one relationship to another. Even with my long-term relationships (2 years, 4 years, even 9 years), I could never see marrying any of them. I always had an escape hatch. A baby would be the biggest commitment of all -- being responsible for another human for the rest of your life! Terrifying! No escape hatch there.

Then last Fall, I fell in love and it set off a chain of events that still has me reeling...

It was an impetuous relationship and it happened at warp speed.
I'd already had my heart broken over the Summer (by a Scorpio from Hungary.) As if being stung by one wasn't enough, I managed to fall for another 6'2" blond blue-eyed Scorpion. I had a tendency to fall for damaged men. Men who were beautiful, deep and fascinating on one hand but falling apart on the other. The weirder they are, the harder I fall. I dove for this one, headfirst into concrete. We met online.

I was getting discouraged with dating life. I had no trouble meeting men. The problem was finding one worth meeting. I was on a dating website which unfortunately seemed to consist largely of men looking for one night stands. I was looking for Mr. Right. Though a very sensual person, I'd always been old-fashioned and couldn't have "flings." I wanted to fall in love. I went on dates where there were no sparks, dates where I was attracted to them but they were either mean, not intelligent or only after one thing.

Then I met Mike. He was different. He was witty, edgy, interesting. There was more to him than the other guys I'd been meeting. Someone sexy who could also beat me at Scrabble? Someone who wasn't just looking for sex but a meaningful long-term relationship? I thought I'd struck gold! Of course, there were red flags from the beginning. To his credit, he warned me had issues. That's putting it mildly. He'd had a very difficult life. He never knew his father (his mother didn't even know). Was taken from his mother (who had problems with substance abuse among other things) when he was 1 year old and bounced around foster homes. He never felt like he had a home. Didn't even seem to bond with his eventual adoptive family. His romantic relationships were just as troubled. He fell for women who betrayed him, cheated on him. Consequently he had a negative, distrustful nature. He could be suspicious, controlling, jealous. Once I was 10 minutes late picking him up in a mall and he thought I was cheating. I should have run screaming. Instead I fell for him.

It's worth noting that of all the men I'd fallen in love with over the years, my most intense relationship was on and off for 3 years with an alcoholic. A Pisces. I kept hoping I could save him. Perhaps I had been hard-wired to equate romance with tragedy. I was drawn to "Romeo & Juliet" and "Wuthering Heights". That was the image I had of love. Passionate, painful, cruel & impossible. Kind of makes you all warm & fuzzy, doesn't it? I didn't know how to have a healthy relationship. I'd never seen one. It's also worth noting that as a child I had a crush on Dracula. I used to leave my window open for him to fly in. He never did. Mike said he wished he was a vampire. Honey, trust me you were. Sucked the life out of me!

I broke all my rules with Mike. He had a mesmerizing power over me (it's something Scorpios seem to have.) Electrifying. I was so drawn to him. I felt so alive. Maybe part of it was my biological clock ticking (unbeknownst to me. I'd been hitting the snooze button for decades!) but I just couldn't resist him. I broke all my self-imposed dating rules. Things went too far too fast too soon. I usually try to wait a respectable amount of time before taking that step in a relationship. I couldn't wait with him. I couldn't hold back...

Mike suggested moving in after we'd only been dating two weeks. Of course it was sheer insanity. My logical side (which granted was getting weaker by the minute) pointed out that we barely knew each other and that it would be catastrophic. Even logistically I didn't see how it could work. Mike had a pitbull & two cats. I had two cats. If he and his menagerie moved in we'd be a family of 7. I didn't think my cats would be impressed. My heart won out over my head. I didn't like where he was living (he was renting a seedy basement apartment that was like a scene from a horror movie and was anxious for him to be out of there). I wanted to keep seeing him. Moving in with me he saw as a chance at a new and better life. He'd moved more than 30 times in his 31 years. He was ready to settle down in a real home, a nice place with a good woman. Something he'd never had. The rescuer in me couldn't resist...

He said we'd introduce the animals gradually -- first Charlie, the kitten would move in, then Misha the cat, then Tiko, the dog. Then Mike, the Scorpion. I couldn't believe I was allowing it to happen. I felt like I was losing control. My cats, (two grey tabbies) Ali & Banff, weren't impressed. Cats don't like change. Now all these creatures were invading their territory. It was chaotic to say the least. We got used to hearing a lot of hissing and running. It wasn't love at first sight for them. I was hoping for tolerance at least. Ali really did seem fond of Mike though.

There were wonderful things about Mike. He started making changes as soon as he moved in. Some very positive ones. He helped me tidy & organize my kitchen, basement and garage. Tetris-ed everything into neat piles. Helped me clear out clutter. Helped me to do things I'd procrastinated for years. He was wickedly funny. Always made me laugh. He was clever and provocative. Obsessively communicative. I'd dated other men who had trouble expressing themselves. Mike was the opposite. He insisted on communication. It was a bit smothering at times. I had no privacy anymore. He wouldn't even let me close the bathroom door. He was always there. Very possessive. But I liked it. There was a dark side too. He was jealous of my previous relationships. Wanted me to get rid of my photos. My external drive which had thousands of pictures on it mysteriously was wiped out just after he moved in. He swore he didn't do it. There were scary things about him. His past. His temper. His jealousy. We had some ugly arguments. But he had a sweet, thoughtful, tender side. And the chemistry between us was off the charts. He made me feel like a kid again. Plus he almost always beat me at Scrabble. I loved that. (The previous Scorpio I'd dated wouldn't even play Scrabble with me because English wasn't his first language.)

My family was prepared to dislike him (they obviously disapproved of him moving in so soon, found it odd that he was so controlling and possessive etc) but when they actually met him and saw how sweet, thoughtful and attentive he was with me, they liked him. Even my mother (and she usually doesn't like anyone I date.)

It was mid-November. Ironically, my mother and Mike's birthdays were two days apart. Two Scorpios in my life. Scorpions sting. My mother had in her own way for most of my life. She could be very loving. She could also be very negative, controlling, manipulative. So could Mike. Yet they each had a power over me in their own ways. So we celebrated Mike's 32nd birthday (yes he was 10 years my junior. The age difference didn't seem to bother him. He thought I looked much younger anyway. I had always dated younger men so it didn't bother me) and then celebrated my mother's. I was pleased that everyone in my family liked him. After they had gone home and I was cleaning up, Mike picked up one of the balloons off the floor and stuck it under my shirt as a joke, like a pregnant belly.

"Are you crazy?!" I shouted " Don't put THAT into the Universe!" We laughed about it but it seemed that there was something to it.

I was convinced it was the balloon that did it! (It wasn't the sex we were having! LOL)

Next thing I knew, I was LATE. I was NEVER late. I had had relationships lasting several years and never had so much as a scare. My periods were, like clockwork, ALWAYS 3 weeks & 3 days (yeah, lucky me, didn't even have a month break between those monthly visitors). I hated periods. I always had bad PMS, moodiness, terrible cramps. It wasn't a fun time. Yet in November of 2011, I wanted my period. I had never wanted anything so badly. Then the cramps started. I was relieved. OK. I know this feeling. I'm safe. I went out and bought pads. But there was no blood. A couple of days and NADA. WTF?! I searched online for "phantom periods," cramps without blood etc. I realized that it could be one of two things:
1. I was going through early menopause or
2. The unthinkable -- I was pregnant.
My breasts were tender and swollen on top of everything else but I was trying to ignore that. My money was on menopause. I called my sister for advice.

"Get a pregnancy test. Don't get one that's hard to read -- like the ones that just have little lines or something. Get something UNMISTAKEABLE so you're sure."

So I got one with results that would show up YES + or NO -

Terrified, I peed on a plastic stick and waited one minute for the news that would change life as I knew it, completely...

It was supposed to take 3 minutes but the test couldn't wait to throw the news at me -- After just a minute, there it was:


The bottom dropped out of my world. Freefall.

My first reaction was denial. This can't be! I'm 42! I can't get pregnant that easily! Sure I've heard of celebrities having babies in their 40's but don't they go to fertility clinics and have IVF? Aren't you supposed to be less fertile as you age?! I've gone my whole life in a series of long term relationships & this happens NOW?! With someone I've only been dating A MONTH?!?!


I was shaking. I was crying. But then something very strange happened. A feeling I had never quite experienced before came over me. A latent maternal instinct I didn't know I had. ( I never thought I wanted to be a Mom! Even as a kid when my friends were playing with dolls in a baby carriage, I was running around pretending to be Wonder Woman or the Bionic Woman. I wasn't the domestic type!) Suddenly I felt protective. I wanted the baby to be healthy. I felt blessed. I wanted the baby. I loved the baby. Already.

I believe in God. I believe in Fate. Yes, this was the last thing on Earth I expected but if this was God's plan for me, who was I to question it? This was a miracle. For whatever reason, it had to be.

OK. So I'm going to be a Mom. Now how would I tell Mike?!

He was in his office at the time (what used to be my guest room/Barbie room -- When he moved in, I followed his orders and Barbie was relocated to the basement so he could have a room all his own and fill it with his collection of scorpions, daggers and swords and other assorted goth paraphernalia -- a far cry from the sweet collectibles room it used to be...Mike had a way of getting his way. He had taken over my home, my life. Now it appears he had even taken over my body. I was pregnant with his child!)

"Mike...I'm pregnant."

He was an Atheist. After the life he'd had, it wasn't hard to see why he wouldn't believe in God. His first gut reaction was:  "You could take a morning after pill."

I rolled my eyes. I explained that first of all, it was certainly NOT the morning after. My last period was in October. So it could have been anytime between then and now. Then I explained that secondly, and more importantly -- I was raised a Catholic. I believe that life begins at conception. Who you are going to be, your DNA is already mapped out then. I am pro-Life. I could not, would not take the life of my child, at ANY stage. Even the earliest.

I gave him an out. I told him that I would understand if he walked. He didn't sign up for this, nor did I. I told him I expected nothing from him. He owed me nothing. But I was going to have this baby no matter what. If he didn't want to be a part of our lives, he knew where the door was.

I would have understood if he left at that point. We'd only been together a MONTH. He didn't plan to have kids any more than I did. Especially after the life he'd had, what did he know about being a father? He was still a young guy, this was a huge responsibility he hadn't anticipated.

To my surprise, he said he was staying. He was sticking around. He wanted to be with me. He wanted to give it a shot. Yes it wasn't planned but it was an adventure and we were in it together. He had wanted a new life with me. This was the start of our new life. Everything else had happened at lightning speed, so why not this? He wanted to be a family. I was touched and pleasantly surprised.

That night I wrote a song, "Never counted on yes." Last year in January 2011 I made a crazy New Year's Resolution to post a song a day on Youtube. I had so many original songs that I'd never recorded that I had this idea to post a different song each day. Then at least 365 of them would be out there. It became a real challenge to find the time to write, record & upload them but it was a rewarding experience. A lot of the songs I had already written but I was inspired to write so many new ones. Songs about falling in love, heartbreak when it didn't work, or whatever my thoughts and experiences of the day happened to be. The songs ended up being a kind of video diary of my life. So on November 18th I wrote a song about finding out I was pregnant (at the time I didn't reveal the true meaning of the song on Youtube. I left it ambiguous. I was not going to make it public during the first trimester. But I was bursting to share my news with the world in some way...)

Song of the day -- Never Counted on Yes by Ann Marie Pincivero Copyright Nov 18th 2011

"I confess I never would have guessed
that life could become such a beautiful mess.
And I'm stressed, but I'm blessed.
Never counted on yes. Yes. Yes..."

It was strange. There was some ambivalence at first. I hadn't wanted children but finding out I was pregnant changed everything. My dreams changed. My priorities changed. Still, there was the scary possibility that something might go wrong. People very close to me had suffered heartbreaks early in their pregnancies. In the first trimester, you just didn't know. At my age especially, I figured the risks were higher. I was already getting so attached to the idea of this child what if something happened?

I went to see the doctor to confirm that I was pregnant, go for blood work etc. Apparently they use the date of your last period as a starting point which I found strange but based on that I was due in July! She started me on prenatal vitamins. I was eating healthier than I ever had. I never drank or smoked. My weakness was cola. I was allowed 1 or 2 drinks a day. I tried not to have any at all. I was going to do all the right things for this baby from the start. I told my family the news. My Mom and sister were THRILLED. They had always wanted me to have a child but didn't think I would. My sister, sweetest, most supportive friend on earth told me that I'd be a great Mom. I was so emotional I was crying at the drop of a hat. This was like PMS times a million. Mike was very supportive, sweet and patient with me. Though he did have a distressing habit of sneaking up and scaring me which made him laugh hysterically. I was afraid I'd fall down the stairs sometimes. (The sadist in him. He also loved horror movies, the more gory & twisted the better. He was a strange character. Jekyll and Hyde. A monstrous side and a sweet side. I hoped the baby would inherit his positive qualities.)

I suffered from morning sickness (which incidentally is a misnomer because it LASTS ALL FRIGGIN DAY!) in the first trimester. It was terrible feeling like I was going to throw up. I've always had a phobia of vomiting. Afraid I'll choke or die. Now it was even worse because I had the added worry/guilt that if I couldn't keep food down, the baby wouldn't be getting nourished. I also didn't want people to know at work. I was so stressed. I was trying to hide my growing belly (though I eventually did reach a point where I had to undo my pants and I didn't know how much longer I could hide under big sweaters.) Trying not to throw up at my desk. Trying to function on too little sleep and so distracted and so much going on emotionally. To add to this stress was the stress of Mike and his animals eating me out of house and home. He had financial issues on top of everything else. He was supposed to be helping me with the bills but he actually cost me more money than he gave me. My hydro bill doubled. My grocery bill quadrupled. He was a 6 ft eating machine. He could eat a pack of bacon in one sitting. A box full of chicken breasts for dinner. He started to joke that his belly was growing faster than mine (he was still very thin, but was getting a bit of a paunch). I went from living alone with two cats to having a large boy, a dog and 4 cats to care for. And a baby on the way. I had bouts of anxiety wondering how I could manage...

The baby was my top priority. I wanted to do all the right things. Mike was hoping for a boy. I wanted a girl. My sister did the ring test (where someone holds a ring on a chain over your belly and if it spins it's a girl, if it swings back and forth, it's a boy) and it revealed that my baby was a girl. This is of course foolproof! At least it had been right with my sister's three kids. I wouldn't know officially until the 19 week ultrasound the doctor said.) I felt in my heart that it was a little girl. I wanted to name her Michelle. It was my best friend's name as a kid. It was also a play on Mike's name. A lot of people seemed to be using trendy names these days. I hadn't heard of anyone naming their child Michelle recently and I thought it would be nice. After a while, Mike even started referring to the baby as Michelle. He even kissed my belly. So the Scorpion had a soft side, it seemed.

It was a strange experience at first being pregnant. When I was nauseous I worried about not being able to eat. When I wasn't nauseous and felt OK I worried that I didn't really feel "pregnant". I wanted to be sure everything was OK. It was kind of surreal. Something I didn't think I wanted had now become the most important thing in my life.

My first ultrasound (at 8 weeks) was booked for December 16th.
I want to note that I was not pleased with the sadist on the phone who told me I had to consume more than 2 litres of water and hold it in my bladder for AN HOUR before the ultrasound...

Mike didn't come with me for my first ultrasound. I told him he could come to the later one when the baby would look more like a baby and less like a shrimp. Plus I was worried because Mike was always making me laugh and he'd probably make me wet myself on the way to the test.

I have a small bladder. On any given day, I might head to the bathroom about 10 times. I had NEVER in my life drank that much liquid at one time or held it anywhere near that long. By the time I got to the office, I was IN PAIN. Writhing in the waiting room for what seemed an eternity waiting for my turn. Cursing the man who got up to get a drink of water in a little cup at the water cooler. Hearing the sound of the water running was torture. "Don't think of Niagara Falls!" I thought.

When the girl came and led me to the room, I was hobbling.
"Are you OK?"
"I have to PEE!"
She told me I didn't need to drink nearly that much water. NOW YOU TELL ME THAT?!
She said I could go let a little bit out and come back. I told her if I opened the floodgates there would be no turning back.
"Let's just get this over with." I said.
The screen was turned away from me so I couldn't see anything. She rubbed the vaseline-ish stuff on my belly and started rubbing the plastic thing across me. I thought she was using way too much pressure. I was wincing in pain. Tears started to stream down my face. I almost felt like she was pushing harder just to be cruel.

"Are you sure you don't want to go let a little bit out?" she asked.
"I'm going to have to!" I said and ran to the washroom. I can't describe how much restraint it took not to let it all go.

I went back in with plenty of water still in me. Probably enough to fill a small swimming pool.

It seemed to be taking an eternity but may have only been half an hour. Finally she turned the screen toward me. I saw my baby for the first time. It was in black and white, shadowy. I could see a figure, disappearing and reappearing. The baby looked like the images I'd seen online (I had been keeping track of the developmental stages and recognized that this was what the baby looked like at 8 weeks.) The most magical part of the experience was seeing a little flicker in the center of the screen, in the baby's chest.
"That's the heartbeat," the technician pointed out.
Sweet, tiny little miraculous heartbeat. I started to cry. I was so happy. It had never been more real, more precious to me before. It was the best feeling in the world.

Then the second best feeling in the world came -- "Ok we're done. You can go to the bathroom now."

I ran to the washroom and had the most incredible urination of my entire existence. It was such an enormous relief. I couldn't stop smiling. Physically and emotionally I felt this huge weight was lifted. The baby was healthy, everything was OK and I could finally PEE! This was the best day of my life! LOL

I was on cloud 9. I walked outside glowing. Smiling from ear to ear. I was so happy. I had seen my baby's heart.

I wrote a song that night called "Flicker" inspired by seeing the heartbeat flickering on the screen:

Life with Mike was a bit of a rollercoaster. With my being hormonal and him having a temper, there were conflicts. It was like a tornado meeting a hurricane. But it would always end with us making up, him coming to comfort me. I was stressed out emotionally, financially, wondering how we were going to manage. I felt burdened with all these creatures in my house that I had to feed and care for. Mike worked from home (if you could call it that) but the bit of money he made and what little he gave me didn't put a dent in what he was costing me. Overall though, we were happy. We were like two kids. Always laughing, being silly. I loved the animals. Even the dog. He was sweet, though a nuisance sometimes. I especially loved the kitten Charlie. He always greeted me at the door. He liked to sit in my lap when I played guitar (and upstaged me in several of my videos.) We were one big happy family. When the baby was born there would be 8 of us! One day at my sister's place, my niece did an adorable drawing of my wacky new family.

I loved it. She even had Mike's eyebrow piercing in there. Pierced, tattooed (with scorpions, of course), spiky haired, he looked like trouble and he was. But he could be surprisingly sweet & that's what I held onto. At Christmas he wrote me a beautiful heartfelt letter saying that he didn't regret anything. Didn't regret getting me pregnant. That he was happy. That he knew when we met that we were meant to be. That he couldn't be more excited about the baby. That we'd make a cute little family. "I love you Ann Marie for many reasons. I have for a while and I will forevermore. You're stuck with me babe. Merry Christmas Angel." It made me cry. He called me Angel. Of course he was a demon but opposites attract. He had a hard time saying the "L" word which made the letter that much more special.

It wasn't perfect. Mike had quirks that could be infuriating. He would only wear a white t-shirt & black pants (that were ratty and falling apart and he wouldn't even get another pair because he wouldn't wear ones that didn't have the pocket in just the right spot that he could hang his chain around the loop.) He smoked. He dropped a lot of "F" bombs. Even let a few slip in front of my family. He was pretty rough around the edges. He was broke most of the time. He didn't drive. He didn't have a car or even a license. A bit of a drawback considering when I went into labour I'd have to drive MYSELF to the hospital. Who in their 30's doesn't drive?! He had control issues. Trust issues. His feelings about the women that had done him wrong bordered on misogyny. There were many strange things about Mike and things about his past that I didn't know. Or didn't necessarily WANT to know. The important thing was whatever darkness, evils, despairs or skeletons were in his closet, he was turning over a new leaf now. Starting a new life with me. And he could be so sweet, so tender. I'd come home from work and find him asleep hugging my pyjamas, his face buried in them because he loved my scent. He'd leave me sweet little notes. When my water heater broke he boiled I don't know how many pots and kettles of water to run me a bath. He always came to comfort me when I cried. He was patient with me even when I was ranting and unreasonable, with hormones raging. He rubbed my back and managed to cheer me up when I was blue.

He was always saying "Like me, damnit!" as if I didn't. But I loved him. Nutbar that he was. Even though there were many times I resented him. It felt like he had it so easy and my burden was greater than ever.

Overall though things were positive. The nausea stopped and I was feeling healthier. Mike and I were happy more often than not. We had a lot of fun. It was great to have someone in my life who was attentive and communicative. Even though sometimes it was smothering and intrusive. A new year was starting. A new beginning and a new life together. It wouldn't always be easy but we were in it together. Or so I thought...