25! Pregnant! Dumped! - the afterbirth

I returned to London when Gabe was five months old and it was then that Dan opted out of Gabe's life, leaving me a letter that labelled me a disappointment to him, and Gabe too painful a reminder of what a fuckup he was.

Sep 11, 2012 at 10:50am | Leave a comment

And so we come to the end of my pregnancy diary but not the end. It will never be the end between Dan and me because we have Gabe. This is possibly the hardest thing which I've had to come to terms with. My due date came and went and one week later after a very long walk on the beach I finally went into labour.

Despite worrying about ejecting the baby, going into labour is seriously EXCITING. After nine months of serious emotional upheaval, a mountain of disappointment and tears, numerous afternoons watching Channel Five movies and eating custard creams off my bump and the longest dry period in terms of sex I've experienced since I began practising my mating dance, I gave birth to Gabriel John Kirby, 8lbs 6oz.

image

Yay!

Should you want to know about the birth just imagine World War III but in a vagina, complete with a comedy fainting student midwife trying to steal my thunder, 'IF YOU'RE NOT GIVING BIRTH GET UP OFF THE FLOOR, BITCH'.

I didn't really call her a bitch. Well, I don't think so. I was far too high to hate anyone right then. Well, anyone who wasn't the father of my baby.

I didn't tell Dan Gabe had been born. It wasn't really out of spite it was just in that first week I was so wrapped up in the amazingness of my baby and the weirdness of having breasts that went up and down three sizes in the course of four hours and feeding my baby from a syringe every TWO HOURS, that I barely even thought about him.

It was only upon receiving a text - yes, a text. Men folk, pay attention here, sending a text is NOT the way to find out whether your first born has entered this wondrous world of ours. Pffft -  asking if anything had happened, that I thought about him.

So I text back telling him when Gabe had been born. Looking back now I wonder whether this was harsh and would I do it any differently and I can't say I would. He had my number, I have always answered him, and if he had called sooner he would have known sooner. I would have been calling every day.

He came to visit a few days later, the first time he'd even met my parents. He was shaking, he must have been cacking it, and so he should have been. I certainly was. 

image

I was hormonal and exhausted and seeing him again was hard. It made me upset to see him holding Gabe, and it was confusing. Was I upset because I still wanted him or because I hated the thought of sharing Gabe with him? I still can't answer that. I know I cried a lot when he left.

Dan visited a few more times after that, with his mum a couple of times and I think his dad came with him once after Christmas. I remember burning with anger when Dan's stepmother handed Dan Gabe and said, 'Go to daddy'. I'm pretty sure she still has the scar from my death stare. Daddy? I don't think so.

The scant visits carried on into the New Year but they didn't get any easier. There was too much hurt and anger. I just wanted an apology and although he did give me one, I don't think he meant it. It certainly didn't come off his own back. I just had no respect for him and I still don't. I know his life fell apart but he made it happen and he just couldn't take responsibility for it. He couldn't pick up the pieces in any adult way. So he ran away.

I returned to London when Gabe was five months old and it was then that Dan opted out of Gabe's life, leaving me a letter that labelled me a disappointment to him, and Gabe too painful a reminder of what a fuckup he was.

So painful in fact, he chose not to be reminded by pissing off for two and a half years, jetting around the world and having a lot of sex, apparently.

The first two years of Gabe's life were the hardest of mine. I don't know what possessed me to move back to London alone with a five-month-old baby and go back to work part time with no family nearby and no friends with babies to help or talk to. At the time the thought of staying at my parents and not working was far scarier though, and so move I did.

I remember thinking I am the only one in this flat that can protect my little baby. What if someone breaks in? I used to imagine scenarios what this would happen, and try and work out what I'd do; pick up the lamp, should I keep a knife in my bedside table? Mad I know, but suddenly I was responsible for this tiny little creature and I have never known fear like it. But any good parent will tell you that this comes with the territory.

I cried a lot in the middle of the night, during the day, dropping Gabe off at nursery, picking him up. I was a mess.

I was depressed but I didn't see it at first. It was only when I was in Borders one lunch time looking aimlessly at baby books when one titled, 'How To Be A Happy Mother' caught my eye and I just burst into tears. I so wasn't a happy mother. Happy mothers do not sit on the floor of Borders, Oxford Street, sobbing without giving a shit who sees.

I loved Gabe but I felt like I had ruined my life. And I only had myself to blame. I felt that most keenly - there was no-one else to blame so I couldn't complain.

None of my friends could understand seeing as they were far too smart to get knocked up at 25 but they did try and they did babysit, bless them.

Somehow I got myself out of that depression, I have no idea how. Talking to one mother I knew who told me some funny stories about how hard she'd found it helped, as did finally making some friends that had children of the same age through Gabe's nursery.

image

Gabe's second birthday was the turning point, and I took my best friends out to a champagne bar where we celebrated the fact that Gabe and I were still alive after two years. Yes, it probably took me two years to come to terms with being a mother but now I wouldn't change it for the world. But if you had asked me in that first year…well, the answer wouldn't have been the one everyone expects to hear.

In the summer of 2010 I saw that Dan was back working in London and for some reason I made contact with him and asked if he would like to see Gabe. As much as I didn't want him in my life, I also didn't want Gabe growing up thinking his dad didn't love him. My feelings took a backseat and have done ever since.

Dan started off seeing Gabe with me every few weeks or so until we made it more regular and he had weekly contact. Two years later, he finally has Gabe overnight every other weekend and we are civil bordering on friendly. It's superficial - underneath I wish he wasn't around, but that's my feelings. You soon learn that you have to be the bigger person when you have children. I don't get these women that use their children against their exes. The only people you're really hurting are your children.

Being a single mother has made dating interesting. No, not interesting, bloody hard. Hard finding someone who will date a single mother, then hard finding a babysitter for said date, then hard getting naked and showing off these stretch marks on my stomach. Wine helps.

And my partner now wishes Dan wasn't around, he wishes Gabe was his, which is lovely but I can't make happen. So he too, has to learn to shut down his own feelings and put my son's first, as if he were his own. That is a tall order for anyone.

I've often felt punished over and over again for having Gabe. It's like Dan was still hurting me years later when new boyfriends left because they didn't want the responsibility of another man's child. I couldn't help but wonder where that left me when the actual father didn't want anything to do with me either.

Gabe will be five in four weeks and I can't believe we made it. I remember when I had him thinking, 'When I'm 30 I'm going to have a five year old'. And it would blow. My. Mind. But here we are.

image

The thing is, this will never be over. When I was pregnant all I could see was the birth and the immediate afterward, I couldn't see further into the future and the numerous and constant ways deciding to go it alone would throw up challenges, pain and problems but also joy, and fun and sex. Yes, I've had sex since I've had him. That in itself deserves a medal.

But it's not over yet, Dan will always be in our lives and all our relationships are constantly evolving. Him having Gabe overnight has been amazing in one way; Jon and I finally have time alone together as any 'normal' couple and we do things we've never done before which is mainly drinking, lying in bed eating and watching Game of Thrones in between doing the dirty.

It's fabulous. But it's bittersweet; I hate sharing Gabe with someone who's not my partner. I can never quite believe that Dan looks after him as well as I would and I miss his little face. I do love that boy, and that's why we have to make this work. I know in my heart that I always did the best by him, no matter how hard the path.

Tell you what though, if he's a pain in my ass as a teenager, it's definitely his dad's turn.