Fifteen years ago today I had my first child, a beautiful girl. What a special gift she has been.
The ‘deal’ was no kids. Since he had children from a prior marriage, he would marry me only if I agreed to no children. I’m the youngest in my family, among the youngest of my cousins, and was never much of a child person. It seemed acceptable. I took the ‘deal’.
Eight years later, the moment I held his oldest son’s first child, I knew my life would be missing something without a child. At 38 it was more than a loud gong of my biological clock; it was a longing that I can’t describe. I told him I wanted a child. Much to my surprise, he agreed. I knew the marriage was on shaky ground. I didn’t fool myself it would improve anything. I also knew if I left I definitely wouldn’t have children. But he agreed we’d try. I stayed. He was a gambling man so he was likely counting on the odds in his favor. I got pregnant, against the odds. I figured I could handle it, him.
I was excited when we found she was a girl, thinking she would get more attention than if she were a boy given he already had two sons. He seemed excited, too and I took it to be a good sign. I was in labor 32 hours. When my water broke he was at work and met me at the hospital. When it was decided I needed Pitocin to bring on full labor, he left to finish up some things at the office. He checked on me early that evening, then left to get dinner. He came back the next day at lunchtime, then again in the evening as my labor finally began progressing. For a long period of time he stood outside the hospital room door to chat with a friend whose wife was also in labor. The nurse went to get him when it was time to push. Our beautiful daughter was born and when he held her, I thought everything will be okay. We can do this, together. He loves her, so he will be good to me. He went home to sleep, I went to a room.
We took her home and she slept in a bassinet next to our bed. A few days later he said she made too much noise and began sleeping in the guest room. My hopes were dashed but I was too busy and too tired to deal with it, him. He never returned to our bed.
Two days before her first birthday he was headed to Atlantic City, stating “she’ll never know what day we celebrate, she’s one. Why are you making such a big deal?” I pleaded that I would always know. He left anyway. My best friend came from out of state to be with us and celebrate. When she left I realized how alone I was in parenthood. It was then I began emotionally checking out. I had a child I loved more than life, who needed a mother, and I couldn’t give them equal attention, a grown man and an infant.
Over the years, when I’d ask for help, his line was always ‘you wanted them, deal with it’. I worked to pay for their clothes, childcare, carried and paid for their medical insurance, paid for their birthday and Christmas gifts. How many times I heard “You wanted them.”
Yes. I did. I wanted my children and I was the parent to my children, and have done, and continue trying my best to wade through the mess, then and now. On this day of my daughter’s birth, I am on my knees thanking God. I was made to feel like I was wrong for wanting and having them, but in the end my marriage would have been the same, things would likely have ended the same. I cannot contemplate what my life would be without them, these two beautiful blessings, my children.