My daughter recently turned 2. I understand a little more each day how parents call their children their pride and joy. I feel my heart expand daily in ways I never knew it could. Some mornings, I find myself excited for this little person to wake up so I can spend time with her–instead of only savoring my small bit of me time.
But the reality is that even as the mother of a 2 year old, I’m still not over the fact that it was an unplanned pregnancy where I lacked the support all pregnant women need.
Pregnancy is supposed to be a time of joy. A time of excitement of the good things to come. For women facing an unplanned pregnancy, it can be hard to capture that joy. For women like myself, who were cast aside by my child’s father early on in the pregnancy–we likely needed that joy even more.
The truth is that I still feel abandoned. I still feel the sting of having gone through most of the pregnancy alone, sometimes with strangers, and lacking the usual joys. Seemingly innocuous things get under my skin about motherhood. It feels like a death or very big loss. The fact that I didn’t have a partner care about my needs or well-being as my body endured the pain is something I still remember. The pain of longing for a baby shower to somehow be able to feel a bit of joy. The inability to relax and take comfort in the support of family and friends. The frequent ER visits and staying in the hospital for ten days due to complications with preeclampsia.
When my severe preeclampsia resulted in the unexpected induction of labor, I was so frightened. I was worried that my baby’s father wouldn’t make it to the delivery and I didn’t feel like I could do it without him. Even though he’d forced me to go through the entire pregnancy without him.
When our daughter was born after 37 hours of truly miserable labor, she spent 10 days in the NICU. I stayed in the Ronald McDonald House with her father, the man who had left me pregnant and kicked me out of our apartment and who had since moved on and into another woman’s home. He didn’t offer empathy that I could hardly walk for more than a week due to the pain of labor. He asked me why I was crying. I was crying in pain just trying to walk, just trying to shower and use the bathroom, and I was crying because I had never in my life felt so alone.
How do you explain to someone you loved more than life that their rejection and inability to be there for you when you needed them most? He couldn’t see it. He doesn’t see it now.
I had no joy during my pregnancy. And I’m not over it. No. Not even after 2+ years. People make comments as if I should be over it, should have expected it, or shouldn’t feel abandoned now. Why should I care that he left us? Why should it matter that he accused me of wanting to not work at all because I wanted to stay home to raise our daughter, yet now he’s living with a woman who has no job and he wants to make her happy by letting her be a homemaker? Why should it hurt me that he has always held a stricter, and more cruel standard against me than his ex-wife or any of his 35+ girlfriends or one night stands? He feels bad for them. Those exes. But he blames everything on me.
Everyone says it shouldn’t hurt me, right? Yet, no, I’m still not over it. I’m not over the fact that he acts like it’s nothing. Or like I owe him a relationship with our daughter when he consistently puts himself first. Like being a single mom isn’t hard, or being a single mom without family isn’t harder, like he has nothing to do with how the pregnancy went and how single motherhood is now.
Every day, I live for my daughter. I choose to get up and keep going even when I want to crawl into a dark room, fall asleep and never come out. I keep walking through setbacks, through migraines, through painful days where our only family experience with others can be described as dysfunctional and paranoid. I keep going.
It will always be easy for him to play the crazy baby mama card. Complain that his baby mama of his daughter won’t leave him alone. That I’m still in love with him. That I’m a stalker. That I use his daughter against him.
In reality, I am a woman who never wanted to be a single mom. I am a woman mourning a painful pregnancy devoid of joy and filled with fear. I am a mom who aches for her daughter because I know what it’s like to not have one. I am a brokenhearted woman who can’t imagine opening up her heart to love again after experiencing betrayal on such a deep and long-lasting level. I’m a mom trying to survive without the family she needs and trying to hope for a new beginning.
I am grateful for my long distance friends who have stood by me and not prodded me to “get over it”. I am grateful to them for not devaluing my feelings or telling me to be glad something worse hasn’t happened. Because I plan to never devalue my daughter’s pain or tell her that her feelings are nothing. She makes me a better person and I’m a better mom everyday single day because she reminds me to keep going, keep trying, and keep believing in love.
But it still doesn’t mean I’m over the fact that her dad isn’t there, that he treats me like a doormat, or that he isn’t a fraction of the father we need him to be. And honestly, it would go a very long way if he could actually feel empathy for what I’ve endured. If he could love our daughter and respect me enough to want to do everything he can to be a good dad.
But I know it’s utterly unlikely that he will ever be respectful to me and ever truly acknowledge his responsibilities. He doesn’t think he owes us a thing while he expects way too much from me.
So what do I do? I move forward. I focus on my daughter and try to be positive. I’m in pain, and I’m not over it. But I’m moving.