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?!?!
OMG OMG OMG
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!)
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.
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...