*Before I begin, I want to say that I will refer to my ex by his name, Rick, from now on. I didn’t realize how hard it was to say his name and after a quick therapy session with a good friend of mine, it came to my attention that I was still somewhat allowing him to have power over me by being afraid to say his name. I’m no longer afraid of him per say. I’m more afraid of the trigger it can cause and the irritation I can experience from time to time when triggers for anxiety or PTSD happen. I worry about having outbursts in front of my kids since it has happened in the past, and I don’t want them to have a childhood they have to heal from because I just simply couldn’t get my shit together. I really had to have someone put things in to perspective for me, that I can deal with it and already have. I’ve already been successful and the only difference right now is that I will have a broader audience. I had to find my safety bubble and put myself in there. So, I’m ready now. Here we go!*
I don’t know if it was because of the situation I went through with Rick, or if it was just merely the fact that this was the first time I had been pregnant, but I was extremely clueless as to how the whole labor process would go. I had left just before lamaze classes started with my previous OB and had gotten to my new OB when classes just ended. The only source of information I had were books, nurse friends, friends who had had babies, and most importantly, my mother. Regardless, I had finally gotten to a point where I was somewhat ok emotionally and mentally. I was ok with not being with Rick. I was ok with what was about to happen because I had a little experience with Rick’s son. I was ok with what I was going to have to do in order to raise a baby. Time was all I had because I was absolutely blessed with parents who supported me and allowed me to stay home until the typical, American 6 week recovery for maternity leave ended. I could never repay them for that experience, for that time to really bond with my baby. It helped me heal. She helped me heal.
Well, I had had a few conversations here and there with Rick. He would occasionally call to tell me about his “adulting.” It was as if he was trying to prove himself despite his ongoing relationship with the teenie-bopper mentioned in the previous blog. How did I know? What sucks about leaving someone are the relationships you leave behind, the friends you have to inevitably let go of. It seemed a lot of Rick’s friends actually liked me and thought I was good for him. But little did they know how badly he hurt me until I wasn’t there any more. And some of them don’t understand boundaries. They would volunteer this information whether I wanted it or not. A few of them would only talk to me to tell me about his shenanigans. I know they were trying to help. They were trying to help me in court, but honestly, I didn’t need to know. I had everything I needed for court. I didn’t need anything else. Eventually, and especially after Elizabeth was born, I had to get firm and let these people go. They just continued regardless of me telling them, “I really don’t need to hear this stuff and don’t really want to talk about him.” I soon found out we had nothing else to talk about so I simply let them go.
I got a little sidetracked with the friends. Sorry. Back to the point about the random conversations with Rick. I really feel he thought he could have his cake and eat it too by calling me and telling me these things. That, or he was trying to prove to me he would be capable of taking care of our daughter, of us, but I knew better by one hundred percent this time. And maybe that was because I had then spent a decent amount of time away from him only to realize I deserve better. Maybe it was because I was back to my roots, watching and observing and listening to my parents with their advice and their own marriage. It was enough for me to find ways to actually get on track with Rick about what we would do when I go in to labor. After all, we’ve reached November which is prime hunting season for Nebraska. God forbid his daughter be born during hunting season, right? I didn’t give a rats ass. I just assured him that I would call him at the first sign of labor so he could prepare to come down (I know, another stupid move yet a really really good one too, you’ll see). I knew I was surrounded by enough people who knew my situation who would be supportive and help keep my baby and myself safe. None of his family wanted to come down so he was outnumbered.
For a good three days after my last OB appointment where I was told I was dilated, I was crampy every morning I woke up in the area where I would have period cramps. I had no idea I was already in labor. Little did I know, when a woman starts to efface and dilate, she is considered in the early stages of labor. No book truly stated that. Most women who have had multiple children (including myself in the present) don’t really find the early stages “labor,” to be labor itself. To me, it’s more like body prep. Labor to me, is when those big contractions hit, your water breaks, its unbearable pain while you’re pushing that is labor to me. It wasn’t until around 5:30 a.m. on November 19th, 2006 did I actually question if it was labor, or truly consider it. It was light, those light cramps days, but it was coming in waves, about every ten minutes. The pain wasn’t what I thought it would be though so I wasn’t convinced. I got up, I took a shower, and it was still happening. I told my mom what was happening and she just told me to walk around to get the baby out. Each few hours the pain intensified a little, but dumb-ass me still wasn’t convinced. Further more being a dumb-ass, I decided to go for a cruise in my car to get my head clear and decide whether or not I was going to actually contact Rick. Did I really want to put my family through this, seeing him? Did I really want to see… OUCH! I had to pull the fuck over. I had a damn good contraction that time. It was then that I realized I was in labor. It was real.
I drove back to my parents house quickly and at this point my mom was getting ready for church, my sister had showed up, and they had orange cream cinnamon rolls baking for me. All my mom asked and/or told me was, “Is it real yet? You better eat because once you get in there you won’t be able to eat until the baby’s out.” That statement only confirmed everything and I had to make up my mind. Either I was going to call Rick, or I wasn’t.
I talked with my sister for a while about it while my mom went to church. I’m sure if she could have had her way, he wouldn’t be there for our daughter’s birth, but everything in me just said I needed to not do that. I didn’t need him there with me. I just had this strong desire to allow my daughter to have her father in her life. Needless to say, I called him, called, and called, and called. No answer. I started texting him to no prevail. It was around 11:00 a.m. that he finally called back to tell me he was hunting, wrecked his truck, and had no vehicle to come down with. That was a pretty big blow. Why? I don’t know. Probably because of all the talk he talked about his damn adulting and how his friends were absolutely right about his ongoing behavior, and ultimately, that my daughter wouldn’t have a dad. He was all talk and no action for once. He wasn’t just giving me excuses either. His little sister called me and asked if I was really in labor (I was packing my bag at that very moment). Once she was convinced, she put him in her car and made him come down, and at 7:11 p.m. that evening, after a stalled labor, broken water, and what felt like a hot curling iron and an open pair of scissors being shoved up my “you know what,” we welcomed Elizabeth Renae to the world, a whole 6 lbs, 7 oz toe head baby! That night I unfortunately had to ask Rick if he was staying and for how long. He stayed two nights. One at the hospital and one at my parents.
When we were able to go home, the paranoia settled in. Where was he going to sleep, was he going to take my baby, was he going to kill us all in the middle of our slumber, what exactly was he going to do? The thoughts were endless and I was thankful for a baby that woke up every few hours for a diaper change and to eat (breastfed baby at first). She kept me company and holding her took all my worries away. And I’m not going to lie, I was surprised he wanted to sleep in the room with Elizabeth and me, and I was even more surprised at myself for sleeping with a knife under my pillow.
The day came for him to leave so he could get to work and I’ll be damned if that man didn’t ball his eyes out. He had his first son, recently found out about another one, now has his baby girl and another little boy on the way. What the hell was he crying about? Did he really care or was this for show? I just really didn’t know what to make of it until he actually left and drove off. At least he was nice enough to install the car seat base in my car before he left. That was the least he could do for getting me into this position, a single mother living with trauma he put me through. I cried after he left. I was sad for my baby. I was sad he couldn’t just grow the hell up. I was sad because I was alone (not really, but I’m sure that maybe you understand).
Life really only went up from there. I probably should have went to counseling on a steady basis. But that pride of mine really kept getting in the way. Rick never came back. He never tried. When our divorce court date came, he still never showed. He could have seen her then, held her, kissed her. But he didn’t. By then, however, it wasn’t as devastating to me. I didn’t cry until I was asked by the judge to explain the pictures that were presented to him as evidence. I cried then because I saw people I knew, people who used to look at me like I was just this perfect girl who graduated with honors, who was to be successful, but instead, I was a battered wife seeking a divorce and child support and a custody agreement. I cried even harder when the judge asked if Rick had had any contact with me in regards to the child to which I obviously had to say no (you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help you God, remember?). I wasn’t ready for the fight to be over. I wanted a fight. I wanted to give it to him straight up the damage he had done. My lawyer was fully prepared for a fight too. So when the judge told me we could terminate his rights given the evidence as he would advise me to, I said no. He then asked me what I was looking for in regards to our daughter and I told him I wanted minimal child support but for the option to be open for him to see his daughter should he decide to change his mind. When the judge recited what the calculated child support would be, I contested and explained that when I was with him we struggled to pay child support to his son so I knew I wouldn’t see very much money, that I was fully prepared to work full time in order to support her on my own, but she needs a dad in her life even if it’s not under ideal circumstances. He told me I made a good point but couldn’t justify leaving child support as $100 a month. He rewarded me $284 a month, and told me that Rick would have to set up a supervised visit with DHHS. They were four hour appointments basically. I took that on the premise that I still had hopes he would step up for his only daughter.
And he still never did try to see her for a very very long time.
Elizabeth grew up happy regardless of the lack of a father. My dad was her father figure. Her grandma and her grandpa could be the example of marriage I wanted her to see. And now, she’s still a happy-go-lucky girl (lady really). She’s fairly grown, still my mini me and I still kiss her every single day to let her know how much I love her (even when she’s been a pain in the ass and I’m upset with her). God I love her so!!!! And she has a father figure and has for 11 years now. She calls him dad and has done so since she was a tiny tot. Daniel has always supported her: financially, emotionally, spiritually. He has never hesitated. When I needed help, he helped. Every time she’s needed him, he’s there. She knows he’s not her real dad, yet she feels he is because he’s always there and has never once held the fact that she isn’t his, biologically, against her. He would love for her to carry his last name, but we have been unsuccessful in those endeavors. This man, 13 years later still wants to control me, control us. One day it will happen. Even if she’s grown and can accept for herself, it will happen.