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.
ALL HIS STUFF WAS GONE.
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.
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."