I start here because this is where everything ended, and everything began. I had no idea, standing in that fading September daylight, that the man I’d been with for nearly seven years was never going to come back to me. I had no idea, either, that inside me a cluster of cells was tremoring and expanding into the tiny human boy that would make me a whole new person: a mother.
I didn’t know any of this, because I wasn’t so preoccupied with my boyfriend in his role as “the man I was going to spend the rest of my life with,” but merely “the man I was going to spend my Friday evening with.” We had plans. Maybe if I’d listened more carefully I’d hear the faint peals of laughter from a higher power reminding me of the folly of plans.
Motherhood wasn’t necessarily a life goal of mine, but as I shifted into that precarious territory known as the mid- to late thirties, and as I watched my friends’ families grow, I acknowledged that faint whisper in my head that suggested I’d prefer to take the path of motherhood than live out the rest of my life wandering in the what ifs.
My boyfriend, already a father to a son from a previous relationship, wavered on the subject of us having children, but having been faced with its possibility in the past, had assured me he saw us having a family together in our future. When we entered earnestly in the future-planning phase, he urged me to see a doctor so that we could discuss my physical fitness for pregnancy.
Still, he had misgivings. He feared passing on his mental illness—diagnosed as Bipolar II, and, from anyone else’s perspective but his, not managed well—and he feared larger issues fueled by the former. You know, the typical stuff about passing on an earth of tragedy and depleted resources to the next generation. (He listened to a lot of AM talk radio during his restless nights.)
And then I was pregnant.
The timing wasn’t great; we’d just survived a fairly grueling depressive episode of his that nearly drove us apart.
It wasn’t until the OBGYN performing the ultrasound confirmed that the embryo hadn’t formed inside the sac that I realized how much I had wanted this baby, and to be a mother. Amidst the complicated but necessary arrangements of clearing out my inhospitable uterus and tip-toeing around my boyfriend’s complex emotions (such is often the role of the partner of a mentally ill person), I grieved my loss—mostly alone.
Medical professionals, experienced parents, and Doctor Google all reassured me that I would get pregnant again. I deleted the iPhone note in which I’d been tapping out name ideas. I sent an email to BabyCenter requesting to be unsubscribed to the emails that suddenly were adding insult to my injury. I picked up and carried on. We went through an uncharacteristic lull in our intimate life together, which made me feel even more distant from a man who was hard to be truly close to. We did what we always did, though—we dreamed up collaborative professional projects, we took off on weekend adventures, we drank craft beers, and I tried to veer us back on the path I thought we were on: A together forever kind of a thing. We would keep defying the odds.
And then I was outside his house, waiting for him to get some stuff in a bag so we could head off for the night. Not much about the day had gone according to plan, and someone else had set him off, and his temper had flared up. I was aiming to be the salve, to pull him away from the scene and get him somewhere he could clear his head. But he walked out the back, and we never had a normal conversation again.
He didn’t answer my calls or my texts for days, and when he did, he tersely deferred communicating with me for some unspecified future time. He unfriended me on Facebook, unfollowed me on Twitter, blocked me on Instagram.
Turns out it’s true: Women are often quite fertile after a miscarriage. At least I was.
My boyfriend of seven years had pretty much just erased me from his life, and refused to speak to me. This wasn’t my girlhood fantasy of telling my partner we were going to be parents, like the comically sweet way Lucy told Ricky she was “enceinte” on TV. I had to tell my baby’s father I was pregnant in a text message, since he wouldn’t pick up the phone to talk.
“You’re better off without me. Now move on” he texted back.
I was just a couple of weeks pregnant. And I had no choice: I moved on.
At first I tried to move on without him, but still give him the option of fatherhood. I sat alone in the waiting room for every doctor’s appointment, crying as I watched men stroke their partner’s belly. . . I pored over name lists and stroller options by myself. I assembled that damn crib myself. I showed up at childbirth class and arranged my own pillows on the floor to lie on. Every dream I had of and for the tiny human inside me I dreamed alone.
My beautiful baby boy is now two, and he hasn’t seen or heard from his father since he was around nine weeks old. His father—perhaps too generous a word—gave him a few hours of his time, but not his last name, not a single diaper or toy, and not a dime.
I never wanted to be a single parent, and it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But if my son is the end result, then I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Because of him, I’m a mom.
Lindsay William–Ross is a single mother to 2-year-old Nolan. She is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz in Vancouver.
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