Splitsville: The Moment I Knew My Relationship Was Over
Welcome to Splitsville. This weekly column will focus on parenting after a divorce, break-up or one-night stand that didn’t end like a Katherine Heigl movie.
My daughter’s father and I never had the most amazing or supportive relationship. We cared about each other deeply and we got pregnant before either of us expected to. When I found out that I was pregnant, we sat down to have a very long talk about our feelings, our options and ultimately, our plans for our little girl. Though our relationship was new, we chose to stay together and attempt to build a family for our child. Even though it didn’t work out, I don’t regret that decision.
From the beginning of the pregnancy, signs of trouble emerged. My ex never attended a doctor’s appointment or read a parenting guide. He rarely asked how I was doing. He spent most of his free time out at bars with his friends, an activity that I wasn’t too keen on joining. In retrospect, he displayed all of the stereotypical signs of a man who isn’t ready to settle down simply because he has a child on the way.
Throughout those long months, there were lots of tears. I felt very lonely and a little scared. But no matter what, I wanted to hold out. Everytime I felt my little girl kick or wiggle, I knew that I was thrilled to be a mother. I kept thinking that once our child was born, my ex would get the same overwhelming rush. If I could just wait until the baby was here, he’s wake up and realize that his life needed to change. I clung to this belief every time he disappeared for a week or forgot another appointment.
The big day arrived. I was two weeks early, but I had been on bed-rest for a week already due to a spiking blood pressure. I started writing down the times of my contractions. I triple-checked the bag I’d had packed for a week and took a nice long shower. I called my ex to come to the house and join me in the countdown-to-birth. While he did show up, he spent the whole day watching ESPN and checking his Facebook. I paced the house, holding my stomach to make sure I didn’t miss a single contraction. He said that I didn’t seem to be in labor because I wasn’t yelling or anything. I tried to teach him all of things I’d learned in Lamaze, which I took with my sister and mother. He asked how long this would take. I started to get very nervous that my hope was delusional.
At 7:00pm that evening, we went to the hospital. I was already getting angry at my ex’s lack of involvement, so I asked my parents to drive me. We arrived at the hospital and I got admitted right away. As we got settled in our room and my IV was hooked up, my ex promptly laid down on the couch and fell asleep. He slept through the decision to start petocin when my labor slowed. He snored while my sister and I played Yahtzee to pass the time. He slept while my mother and sister stroked my hair and fed me ice chips. And as I clung to my sister while the doctor put in my epidural, I knew that I could never be in a relationship with that man. No matter what he did after, I could never forgive him for abandoning me during my pregnancy, during my labor.
It’s true, he could grow to love the life that we created. Once our daughter was born, parenting became more real for him. He matured some. He got marginally more involved in our daughter’s life. But it wasn’t just our daughter who needed his involvement. I needed a devoted partner during that pregnancy and I didn’t get one. Even if my ex could become a better father than he started out as, I gave labor to my daughter knowing that he couldn’t love me the way I needed him to.