And even as things are going so well, I still read through the journal I kept while I was pregnant. I find myself holding my daughter in my left hand, my right hand flipping through the pages of the book that tells the story of how she came to be, complete with all the sadness, anger, and hopelessness that accompanied the pregnancy - and it seems like the greatest paradox in the history of the world. How could I have felt this sad, this lonely, as I was pregnant with Sol? If only I'd known just how easy it would be to love this little person.
At this point, it seems a little counterproductive to continue reading my pregnancy journal, doesn't it? Why relive the loneliness and sadness if everything is going so well? That's an excellent question, and I'm not even sure I have a good answer. But I can tell you this: even if I weren't reading the journal, the sad feelngs would still be there - they would still bubble up every so often. Even if I don't read my own descriptions of how hopeless I felt during my pregnancy, I remember those feelings pretty vividly. I remember them every single time I see a happy family - a baby with both a mother AND a father - or even a pregnant woman and her beaming husband/boyfriend. I feel the ache deep in my chest, and my throat tenses up as I smile at the glowing family in front of me, though inside I'm wishing it was me in her shoes. I know the feeling well.
I felt it when I was shopping in the maternity store in the mall - where young men would be standing outside the fitting rooms, waiting anxiously to see their wives come out and model the clothes that flattered their new curves and showed off the bellies that carried babies-to-be. I always shopped alone. There was never a man waiting outside the fitting room for me.
I felt it whenever I sat alone in the waiting room of the OB-GYN office, watching the other patients sitting there with their husbands and talking excitedly about their babies-to-be. And while my sister Liz came with me to as many appointments as she could, I always wondered what it would be like to have my baby's father there with me, to be excited about what was happening to me. I felt it the first time I heard my baby's heartbeat, and every time after that. Tears welled up in my eyes every time I listened to the little life in my belly. Each time I imagined what it would be like to have my baby's father there, holding my hand and listening with me.
I felt it when I registered for gifts for my baby shower. I had my sister Amanda there with me to register at one store, and I registered at another store by myself. I watched as other couples excitedly scanned their favorite strollers, but it only reminded me that my baby's father wasn't there to offer his input or help me decide which pack 'n' play would work best.
I feel it when I see happy couples proudly announcing the due date of their baby. They aren't worried about shame or disappointment, or how their friends will react. Their news is happy news, and they don't need to write their families a letter to explain the situation.
I feel it when I see a brand-new set of parents out with their baby. I see the father holding his daughter and proudly showing her off to everyone in his vicinity. I hear him talking to her in his cutesy-cute "baby" voice, and I hear him telling everyone at the table all about the wonder of the birth of his baby girl. I see him cradling her in his arms and making no attempt to hide the amazing love that he holds for his daughter. I see him take great pains to strap her safely into the car seat (one he helped pick out, no doubt). I see him carry the car seat and the diaper bag out of respect for his wife, the new mom. As I pack my own daughter into our secondhand car seat, juggle it with my purse and diaper bag, and head home without anyone to help us, I wonder what it would be like to have her father around to share the "new baby" excitement with.
I feel it whenever I see Sol's dad's name pop up on my phone. Every single time, a very small part of me hopes that he's calling because he wants to be in her life. It would make things easier... or would it? Miss Solaya and I certainly find ourselves in an unusual situation. And with every single call, I wonder what it would be like to just have a father in her life, no questions asked.
I feel it as I look through gifts Sol has received from our loved ones. I feel it as I look at all the "I Love Mommy" and "Mommy's Little Sweetheart" outfits. Although no one has mentioned it to me, I know that people had to look closely at the words written on each outfit before making their purchase. In the stores, there are too many sets of adorable onesies with "Daddy Loves Me" written on them - and it makes me feel badly that our family/friends have to stop and think about the words on Sol's outfits before buying them. I feel awful that I'll never be able to just pick up a set of green striped onesies and buy it for my daughter - I have to check whether it mentions anything about the daddy that's not involved.
I feel it as I try to fill out things like Sol's baby book. Everything is about "Mommy and Daddy." Look through the baby book section at your local big-box baby store. They don't sell baby books specifically geared toward single moms. I wonder what it would feel like to have someone to help me fill this book out.
I feel it when people ask me about Sol's father. Whether we're out in public or meeting someone who sort of knows us but doesn't know our story, we get the same sorts of questions. Well-meaning strangers will ask how excited Sol's dad is (I answer with "Oh, he almost can't believe it, he's so excited"). Acquaintances or younger children will ask where my husband/boyfriend is (I answer with "Oh, he's in Kalamazoo"). Maybe it's lying, maybe it's just avoiding the lengthy and uncomfortable conversation that would soon follow. It's not their fault that they ask such perfectly acceptable questions - why would anyone assume that someone with a brand-new baby is single?
And yet, the reality is just that: I'm a young mom, and I'm single. I don't have any idea what I'm doing. And every time I look around, I'm reminded of all that. Whether I read through my journal or take in my surroundings, there will always be something to remind me of the situation I'm in. I will never have a chance to forget the choices I made, nor the choices that Sol's dad made. I'll always be reminded that I wasn't enough to keep him around. No matter where I am in life, I will always have this dream of what it would have been like to go through my first pregnancy the "right" way - with someone there to love me and my changing body, to tell me I was beautiful, to tell me he loved me and couldn't wait to meet our child. I'll always feel cheated out of my first pregnancy. While the end result is so wonderful and perfect, the road to get there was anything but ideal. It's definitely not easy to be a single mom, and it's not easy to have so many reminders that her dad doesn't want to be around. I know that we won't be alone forever, though, and while I'm not rushing to find someone, I can't help but dream of what it will feel like to have a complete family. And I'll find someone good. She deserves it.
|Compliments of Barking Bird Art|