Monday, September 28, 2009

Telling H, and the Last Time I Saw Him

Warning: this is a long one. I haven't been looking forward to telling this part of my story but it's important, so here goes. You may notice that I don't use my baby's name in this one. I couldn't bear to use her name and H's in the same post.

I had told my therapist about my pregnancy, but one important person still didn’t know yet: H. There is no easy way to tell your (sort-of) ex that you’re having his baby. Especially when said ex has mentioned – more than once – that he has no desire to have children, ever.

My mother didn’t think I should tell him right away. I agreed. H and I had been fighting about stupid things again, and the pregnancy was still so new. I didn’t feel a very strong desire to clue him in yet. One night (November 10th, I think) we were chatting on the computer and I must have seemed odd to him – I don’t remember what exactly I said (I could look it up, since I saved all our conversations, but I don’t want to relive it) – but he asked me point-blank if I was pregnant.
I panicked. This was not how I’d planned on telling him. I wasn’t ready to tell him. I couldn’t.

I sat in front of the screen, frozen for a minute. Then I closed the lid of my laptop. This was not, I realize, the smartest thing to do. My refusal to answer can only have worried him. I composed myself and opened the lid 5 minutes later. I told him my computer had frozen and that no, I wasn’t pregnant. I felt sort of lousy about lying but I didn’t feel like being honest either.

Eventually, though, the guilt got to me. Five days later – the 15th, I did something terribly cowardly – I told H the truth in a text message. He was, understandably, stunned, considering my denial of a few days before. He didn’t have a whole lot to say, but a few hours later he sent me a text message saying that he was strangely excited about things. He said he wanted to try a relationship again, which wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I was starting to realize that things were okay without H in my life and I didn’t want my head messed up anymore. And I knew that if I weren’t pregnant, he wouldn’t be making such offers. Pregnancy seemed like a really bad reason to be in a relationship.

But I was pregnant. Was I supposed to just ignore my baby’s father? Pretend he wasn’t there? I saw him in person a few weeks later. I knew it was a mistake as soon as I got there. I didn’t feel about him the way I had before. I wanted to leave as soon as I walked in the door. H knew I was pregnant but he didn’t seem the least bit concerned about it – probably because he was drunk.

I think he was drunk the last time I saw him, too. It was November 30th. I went to his place to watch a movie and have cupcakes. He had made me cupcakes, which I thought was nice. But I knew him better than I wanted to, and so as soon as I walked in the door, I told him in no uncertain terms that absolutely nothing was going to happen physically, period. He pouted. We watched a movie. He seemed to have grown extra arms. I spent the whole movie slapping his hands away from me. I had a cupcake.

The movie ended, and he H got even … grabbier. I jumped off the couch, angry. I told him to stop what he was doing. H seemed to think it was hormones. He sort of slapped my stomach and said something like, “lousy baby.” I told him not to touch me again.

“But I made you cupcakes!” he said.

“You made me cupcakes so I would sleep with you?” I asked.

“Well, I thought they might help,” he said.

I was stunned. He had baked for me to get me into bed? I felt so used, so betrayed.
“Well you were wrong,” I choked out. “Nothing is going to happen tonight.” I dropped down onto the edge of the couch, stunned by the revelation of his true character. I was even more surprised at what happened next: H packed up the remaining cupcakes, handed them to me with my purse, and showed me out the door.

He kicked me out!

I could barely drive myself home. I felt cheap and dirty and used and I wanted to vomit – not because of pregnancy hormones, but because of what kind of man H had shown himself to be, and because I had wasted myself, thrown myself away on him. But a small part of me – the part that allowed myself to be manipulated by H – felt guilty for leaving him without giving him what he wanted. I hated that part of myself. It was evidence of my weakness, I thought, of my defects. I know now that it was evidence of how I’d been manipulated, twisted around by a smooth-talking man with beautiful eyes.

I managed to get in the front door but as soon as my mother saw me, she asked what was wrong, and I lost it. I told her what had happened. I cried harder than I had since my father’s death.

We threw away the cupcakes, it hurt too much to see them. And I made an important decision that night. Nothing like that was ever going to happen to me again, because I wasn’t just me anymore. I was a mother (mother-to-be, anyway), and I needed to look out for the teeny-tiny fetus growing in my belly.

He was not worthy of her, I decided (I always knew she was going to be a she). And although H was, strictly speaking, her biological father, she was not his. He had not earned that right. I have never changed my mind in that, never wavered.

H continued to text-message me on and off until Christmas. Then I went a week without hearing from him. I got a wish for a happy new year. I had him served with paperwork to allow him to prevent an adoption. He ignored it, which turned out to be the most amazing blessing, and the result of a lot of prayer and fasting. H and I chatted a bit on-line in March, but he started criticizing me for not taking better care of myself (although how he would know what care I took is beyond me). I decided at that moment that I was done with him, period.

He sent me e-mail at the end of April. It didn’t sound at all like he wrote it. He mentioned custody arrangements, child support (from me to him) legal this, family court that. I wrote back saying that I planned on placing the baby. I didn’t hear from him again until a few days after the baby was born. He had somehow seen a picture on Facebook, even though I’d blocked him. I think he must have looked at a family member’s page. He demanded to know what was going on. I told him that nothing had changed, and I left it at that.

He didn’t respond until August 22nd, and when he did, I wondered again what sort of man I’d gotten myself involved with. He had, apparently, been cyber-stalking me and keeping tabs on what I was up to. He knew that I had kept the baby, and he was going to fight me for custody.

I felt betrayed, I felt angry, and I felt lost. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. How could this have happened? I had been so careful to keep his damning influence away from my sweet, precious baby. And now I was supposed to hand her over to him? The thought made me realize, for the first time I think, exactly what sort of man I had gotten involved with – a heavy drinker, a smoker, an atheist, a potty-mouth, a man disrespectful of women. H is NOT a bad person, I want to make that clear. But he has made a lot of bad choices in his life, and I couldn’t bear to see my sweet baby suffer because of his mistakes. I didn’t want to worry about what she was exposed to in his care – what she heard and saw and what fumes she breathed in. I worried enough about her when she was in my arms. How could I keep her safe when she was with H, or his chain-smoking mother?

For weeks I had been feeling that my baby wasn’t meant to be mine. This e-mail from H solidified that feeling. I had to keep her safe. I had to make sure that her father was the sort of man who would bless her in church and teach her the gospel and respect her mother.

I didn’t respond to H’s threatening letter, and I have not heard from him since. I can only assume that in his cyber-stalking he found out I placed the baby. I don’t expect that I will ever hear from him again, and that is just fine by me. My baby and I are both better off without his influence in our lives.

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