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Once upon a time there was a girl, me, who had this life that looked really good on the outside.
I was the Features Editor of a popular entertainment website, a job my 14-year-old self would kill for. I was pretty and super skinny and had a closetful of designer clothes, shoes and handbags. I had lots of totally cool friends and we were always doing fancy shit, like going to parties and events with tight guest lists, and I was always dating some really cute guy.
But my life wasn’t exactly the way it appeared on Facebook. The reality was, I spent the majority of my days writing about Kim Kardashian’s huge ass and how the Real Housewives of everywhere had fake tits and bad nose jobs, had virtually no savings because my decent salary was well dispersed between Barneys, an expensive car lease and an overpriced loft in Venice, only a handful of those “friends” were real friends and my boyfriends were usually sort of unemployed and had some sort of a substance abuse problem.
But I just accepted things the way they were, because I thought I was happy and I was too lazy to make any changes.
One of these guys I dated was Loser, who I had seen on and off since my early twenties. He was your typical hot mess struggling writer/musician type, always running to me when things got bad and I was desperate to save him. I swore every time that I was done but I never was.
This time was no different, and it was right after Christmas and I was vulnerable, incredibly lonely and wanted to feel loved, so I caved in the most careless way possible.
We saw each other for about a month, long enough to determine that this time was no different than the last –- other than my period was late.
I wasn’t worried at first, as I had a medical condition that made it very difficult for me to get pregnant without fertility treatments, but after a few weeks I finally took a test. I knew it would be negative and that I would get my period the very next morning, but I peed on the little stick anyway. Two lines later I was in hysterics.
I wasn’t married, didn’t have money saved and I wasn’t even sure I had maternity coverage on my insurance policy. I also didn’t one of those storybook families where I could just move home and they would help me raise my baby. However, abortion wasn’t an option. I am not one of those fanatic pro-lifers, but always knew it was something I couldn’t bring myself to do.
Loser didn’t feel the same way. In fact, when I told him that I was pregnant, having the baby and that he could have as little or as much to do with it as he wanted, he called me a cunt, ordered me to get an abortion and told me that he hoped I would die. He also informed me that he had a date with someone who was way more his type and that I should probably get a restraining order.
I haven’t heard from him since.
The next few months were pretty miserable and I was seriously depressed to say the least. I went to doctor’s appointments alone and sat in waiting rooms surrounded by stupidly happy couples. I tried to read pregnancy books, but I couldn’t get through a paragraph without the word “husband” or “partner,” because every one of those books assumes that women always have partners.
I cringed whenever those cheery Facebook pregnancy announcements complete with sonogram images would pop up on my feed. I watched more television and ate more carbs in nine months than I had in nine years. I didn’t want to leave the house, because when I did, I ran into people I knew and was forced to explain my pitiful situation. Thank god for the few friends who really showed up for me during those dark days when the party was over, and talked me through my fears.
I had always thought that I was totally different from all the other pathetic girls in LA. I had been sober over a decade, was down to earth, self-confident and rational. The product of an incredibly dysfunctional and alcoholic family, my younger years may have been volatile and toxic, but I had dealt with my demons in rehab at the age of 21.
But as soon as I started packing on those pregnancy pounds and stopped getting the sort of validation from men that I was used to, it was obvious that I really wasn’t as healthy as I thought. I had morphed into this person with messed-up priorities, a slight eating disorder, a career I was mortified of and no self-love, and how could a person like that be a good parent?
Though I never considered having an abortion, there were moments I prayed I would miscarry. I never want my son to think that he was unwanted, so I struggle to admit those morbid thoughts on paper, but I do think it is important for me to be totally honest about the internal struggles I was dealing with so that if there is anyone out there who is going through something similar, they know they are not alone.
After letting myself drown in self-pity and fear for months, I couldn’t take it anymore. God wouldn’t have brought me this far if he wanted me to fail. Everyone else in my life knew that I was strong, that I was a survivor. Now I just had to prove it to myself.
Before I got pregnant, my friend Matthew shared some wisdom with me after listening to me bitch about my life. It was this: most of us live in this traditional ideology of those who came before us –- that life is supposed to happen in a certain order and specific people in our life are supposed to serve certain functions. When life doesn’t go as planned, we feel shame, resentment and disappointment. We feel less than and victimized. But what if we abandon those ideals that are so clearly outdated and don’t make sense anymore and just let things happen exactly how they are supposed to? It is then that we will know true happiness.
After a lot of soul searching and struggling to come up with a plan to raise my child in Los Angeles, I had this epiphany that I had to get the hell out of Los Angeles. Six months pregnant, on July 4th, I waddled through the airport got on an airplane headed to Charlottesville, Virginia, where I had sort of randomly decided to give birth to my baby. For the first time since I found out I was going to become a mother I was truly excited about the future, because I had let go of the past.
It has been exactly a year since I left Los Angeles and embarked on this journey. A few weeks after I got to Virginia, where I met the most amazing and beautiful people who took me in with such unbelievable love and compassion, something crazy happened.
My college sweetheart, Nick, who I hadn’t seen in about 15 years, came out to help me get settled in my new home, and the moment our eyes met as he came down that escalator at the airport, we both knew that we wanted spend the rest of our lives together.
It’s been exactly a year since I left Los Angeles. Jackson and I live in the Chicago suburbs in a gorgeous craftsman style home, where we sit out on the front porch on a rocking chair in the evening, getting bit by mosquitoes as we wait for Daddy to get home.
Daddy is the man who flew back out to Virginia for Jackson’s birth, and held him in his arms when he was just a few minutes old. He is the man who taught mommy how to change a diaper. Who drove a packed Uhaul across country to move a 6-week-old baby and his mother into his bachelor pad, and, despite 7 long months of colic and sleepless nights, this man didn’t kick us out. Instead he kept trying to form a bond with a baby who cried every time he held him, until the day he stopped and instead, started laughing contagiously and hasn’t stopped since. Daddy is the man I am madly in love with, who loves me unconditionally and doesn’t give a damn that I haven’t lost the last 10 pounds of my baby weight because he thinks I am beautiful just the way I am.
With Nick came his family, who graciously welcomed us and love Jackson more than any grandparent has ever loved their grandson.
I always dreamed of having a family, but I never imagined it would happen like this.
My baby, he is my life, and I cannot imagine a world without him. Against all odds, he swam harder and faster so he could secure a place as my son in this crazy world we live in. Now 9 months old, Jackson is this beautiful, precocious little creature who literally lights up every room he crawls into.
I love watching him learn how to do everything for the first time. When he falls, he cries for a second and then he gets right back up. Maybe he learned that from me?