The words caught in my throat, “I, uhm… Well, my period was late.. So I took a test and I’m preg… I’m pregnant.” The words stuck to my tongue like ice straight from the freezer. I had barely said it out loud. Let alone out loud to another person. It felt foreign and the sound of the words leaving my mouth induced nausea. Not because the pregnancy, but because I had already played out 20 possible reactions from him in my head and had no idea which to expect. Especially after he made it clear he thought I was just another “feminist slut” that he’d be “passing off to the homies”. It wasn’t that I needed his support, or his buy in, on whatever decision I made. Because, obviously, it was ultimately MY decision. But I wanted it. I had always told myself that if I got pregnant at a point in time where I was financially independent. I’d just have to bite the bullet, be an adult and step up. It seemed like such an easy decision to have come to too. Like, “Yeah! I know what I’ll feel in that situation. I’ll just do what I need to and have that shit.” The reality of the choice proved to be less obvious, though.
The thought of raising a child with someone who felt so comfortable shaming me. So comfortable putting me down. Someone who summarized my overall worth to be nothing. What kind of life would that be? For me.. For the child. The nightmare of having a girl flashed in my head. Would he shame her too? Or even worse, what if I have a boy and he taught him to do this same hateful shit to other women? What if my baby is like him? Or what if I’m working and the child has a doctors appointment, but he has no car to take them.. What if there is an emergency, while the baby is with him and he has no car to get to the hospital?! What then?
The panic of “what if” was more terrifying that the panic of “what is” and the thought of bringing a child into that was sickening. Too many red flags. Too many signs that I’d be another single mom, with a bum baby dad that thinks I’m a sack of shit. So yeah, I wanted to tell him. Not because I cared what his actual stance was, but because I hoped that if nothing else, he could help take the burden off my shoulders. That maybe, just maybe, he could help carry the weight of the decision I was about to make. I could tell he was only partially surprised, which in retrospect, is probably a sign that this isn’t his first time at the rodeo. But I digress..
After a moment he responded, “Okay. What do you want to do? I’ll support whatever decision you make.” I could tell that he already knew what my decision was but I couldn’t tell how he felt about it. “I think we should take care of it… I just.. I know we both just started getting our shit together and I don’t know. I don’t want to be a single mom..” I stammered while avoiding eye contact. He nodded in agreement, then followed up with, “So what do you need from me?” “Well, if you could pay half, that’d be really helpful.” He nodded again, “Okay, just give me a week or two to get the money together. Do you want me to come with you?”
He said it so supportive and seemingly sincere, I couldn’t help but tear up and nod “Yes”. Clearly, I had over thought the conversation and his reaction. Despite what transpired between us, maybe he had room for redemption after all. The next day, January 2nd, I called to make my appointment. After an ultrasound that determining I was 5 weeks along, I was given the go ahead to schedule the procedure. I chose January 18th and left with an envelope that contained a picture of the tiny fetus inside me. A picture I didn’t look at until after everything was said and done. A picture I still have, in an envelope, in my journal. I’d like to say it didn’t feel like a smack in the face when the nurse estimated the conceived date as November 28th. A mere week before I cut him off to begin with. But as you can expect, it stung. It also felt like a smack in the face when the morning of the ultrasound, ex bae coincidentally had a stomach ache. Meaning, he couldn’t come for moral support. Go figure.
Outside of missing the appointment, he seemed pretty on the ball. By that I mean, he was being overall supportive and empathetic to me and the situation. It didn’t take more than a couple days to fall back into our old routine. Back to the daily visits, smoke sessions and cuddling so contorted that it probably resembled something from The Exorcist. “He’s not perfect, but at least he’s here,” I thought, as if that’s was a healthy perspective. With my writer’s block at an all time high and a shitty attitude to match, it seemed like the only reasonable expectation I could have of him. Finally, it was the 17th. He had yet to give me his half of the money (which was $200) but promised he’d have it that night. As he had cancelled his recording sessions to stay the night and come with me anyways. It was weird, the night before this big, semi life changing event, he was at a show performing with his “homies”. (You know, the same ones he had promised to pass me off to?) And I was at home, totally unsure if I felt relieved or depressed. Turns out, it was both. I guess looking back, this was another one of those red flags I should’ve noticed. Thankfully, I can at least write this one off to baby brain.
When I picked him up from The Camel (a local venue/bar in Richmond) that night, I could tell the vibe was off. It wasn’t anything I could pinpoint, more so an internal intuition that something was going to go wrong. Especially after everything had been going so smoothly. It almost seemed eerie, how well things were going. Considering his track record... The next morning his phone rang at 8:30am and immediately, I knew this was where it’d go downhill. It was a client looking to record. Actually, it was a client confirming a pre scheduled recording session. One that happened to fall a mere 30 minutes after my scheduled appointment time. I laid in bed, eyeballing him. Waiting for him to vocalize what I had clearly already discovered. Not just that he didn’t clear his schedule, but that he clearly had never intended to come with me in the first place. Before he could say it I responded, “Whatever man” and got up to throw some clothes on. “Can I have your half of the money, please?” my tone was now harsh and wavering on the brink of tears. “Yeah,” He said, throwing a stack of folded bills on my desk. I could tell it wasn’t $200 and quickly picked it up to count. Not only was it not the full $200, it wasn’t even a full fucking bill. The stack consisted of $94.
“I don’t have the money for this! You said you’d pay half, this isn’t even a quarter!” Tears now streaming down my cheeks. “Well, I’ll give it to you later, Sydney,” his voice now lacking emotion. Had I had the sense, I’d have left him stranded on the street near my place. Forced to walk home in the harsh Virginia winter. But I didn’t. The procedure was fast. Much faster than I anticipated, and before I knew it, I was sitting in the recovery room. Still crying. The picture of the now removed fetus sat un-looked at in the bag next to me. And this time, when I went for the ultrasound, there was no little bean to look at. My mom drove me home and eventually, he shot me a text that read, “How you feeling?” Followed up with, “I just got asked to be an engineer at *a studio in town*!” This was the last time he texted me for 2 weeks. Great. Glad this worked out so well for you.
To be continued...