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Halfway Home


This is the last week of “Decided” month, and on Monday we move into a (much needed) discussion of “The Good.” This month we’ve talked quite a bit about the fears and decisions around deciding to have kids or not, and these conversations have all take place within the context of marriage and of having made a decision to get pregnant in advance. So before we go, I thought it was important to add another voice to the discussion. Today is about what happens when you get unexpectedly pregnant with someone you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with, and you decide to keep the baby. This story isn’t finished, but the journey to finding peace within the decision is so important for all of us, whatever our circumstances.

Meg

Halfway Home | A Practical Wedding

I am twenty weeks pregnant today.

If you’re anything like me and don’t have a clue as to what all those mysterious numbers that soon-to-be-mamas are always talking about actually mean, it is just a simple way of saying, “I’m exactly halfway to the finish line.”

Looking at it now, the evolution of my pregnancy can also be divided into two distinct chapters by today’s ambiguous marker. Simply put, the first half of my pregnant experience can be only be categorized as an emotional, physical, and spiritual holy-hot-mess. However, the second half, which I clearly have yet to experience, already looks decidedly more awesome.

One of the most painful things that I have had to go through these past four-and-a-half months has been the complete desecration of my ideas about how this was supposed to be. When you set yourself up with a plan, an expectation, a hope, about how you think it all should be and then realize you actually have no control whatsoever—it can lead to serious feelings of failure, shame, and eventually a total rebuilding of your outlook on life.

The easiest way to get into the details of all of this is to start with how I actually became pregnant, and that part is very simple: I became pregnant on birth “control” (insert irony here) after dating a new dude for one month—and from the moment the display on that little game-changer read “pregnant” it has all been a total shit storm up until now, mostly thanks to said dude.

I had always hoped to have a baby some day with a healthy, supportive, loving partner whom I trusted implicitly and who was an innately kind, self-sufficient, respectable human being. This is a laughable hope now in comparison to whom I found out I had become pregnant with. Throughout this process, it has become very clear that our moral and ethical characters, our responses to life’s adversities, the stuff we place value in, and ultimately how we treat ourselves and others make for incredibly juxtaposed personalities. And what all of this made even more crystal clear is that while opposites can attract long enough to create a baby, this attraction becomes unsustainable once responsibility pops into the picture. Who knew!

In making the hardest decision of my entire life to ultimately keep my pregnancy, I have had to contend with numerous pleas and the pathetic tears from him begging me to have an abortion (even into my second trimester). I have allowed my self-worth to dwindle in tolerating his coldness, cruelty, and emotional abusiveness. I have experienced unmatched loneliness and epic discouragement from even asking for help, being told, “I’ll give you love and affection when I want to. Not when you ask for it.” Needless to say, all of this negativity, exhaustion, and stress had me drowning in an emotional tsunami that was made even more impossibly horrible due to the physical morning sickness that occurred twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for Four. Straight. Months. Let me be very clear: it was a straight up battle every single day to remind myself why the choice I made was the right decision for me.

Thankfully, around the seventeenth week, things started to look up again as I began to physically heal and an impending move into a new home was on the horizon. I kept saying to myself, “If we can just make it past this point, out of the winter months, it will all get better. He’ll love me, the baby, and we can make this work out beautifully.” Sadly, this hope was very short-lived as I discovered (on the day before the sonogram that would reveal our baby’s gender) that he had been cheating on me.

As it turns out, the most important thing about having all of this happen was for me to discover that I have non-negotiable limit to how much toxicity I will tolerate for myself, and my unborn child—and this was it. I had finally come to the conclusion that none of the fears, shames or stereotypes that I had been trying so hard to avoid, or all the reasons I convinced myself to stay and try to make it work, were more important than my own health, happiness, and future.

In coming to accept the reality and truth of my situation for the past few weeks, I believe I have experienced the entire spectrum of human emotion. Ironically, accepting these truths has made my spiritual, yoga-induced beliefs of “it really is all as it should be” become exponentially more believable. I have begun again to rebuild my entire life from the inside out as my mantra has gradually shifted from this:

“Holy shit. I’m terrified. How will I ever do this alone? My mind is like a hamster wheel on bath salts and just won’t shut up! My body is achy and I just need a tropical vacation. Will I get the dreaded stretch marks? Single. Mom. I just wanted him to step it up and be a family! I’m lonely, nervous, and totally freaking-the-f*ck-out. I failed. Who will love us? Are my abs gone forever? I did it all WRONG; this wasn’t how it was supposed to be! Am I still lovable? Ouch. Anxiety. Oh. My. God.”

To this:

“I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. I have absolutely everything I need. This is going to kick so. much. ass. I have a great home. I will be the fantastic parent my child deserves. I have grace, abundance, and support on my side. I am blessed with the most incredible family and friends. I am open to an amazing relationship with a partner who will feel honored to be able to love us. I will have a ridiculously killer post-baby bod. I’m grateful for my job as a yoga teacher; look at all the teachings I have to draw from! I am gifted with a baby at the beginning and end of this journey. I forgive. I let go.”

Now, every single day, as I move forward through this next half of my pregnancy, it becomes much easier to consistently go to the second mantra. It also becomes easier to realize that the only thing I (or anyone for that matter) really, actually have control over is how I choose to experience my life—mind, body, and spirit. And while it is still not clear to me why all of it had to happen the way it did, I am comforted by the fact that at the finish line I will have all my questions abundantly answered.

I just have to wait for those answers once I meet her.

Photo by APW Sponsor Vivian Chen Photography

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  • http://www.mylifeasherbst.wordpress.com AutumnE

    Beautiful! There needs to be some network of totally-kickass-feminist-single-moms, as I know quite a few and it sounds like there is about to be one more. You’re bravery is inspiring.

  • M

    How incredibly blessed your child is, to have a mother with such strength and grace. Wishing you two all the best together!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/00388929873803169413 Kristen

    You sound like an amazing woman. Congratulations on the baby, on staying strong and for making it through the darkness and into the light. In case no one else has said it to you, there are plenty of parents, moms, who did it the “right way” and who don’t have the love or concern for their children that you already have for your unborn child. Thank you for being the beautiful human you are. I know your child will thank you too.

  • http://poppiesandicecream.blogspot.nl/ Amanda

    Congratulations on your wisdom. On your honesty. And thanks so much for sharing this. I am sure you will be a great mom and your life will be full of joy and love, because it all starts within you, and this post shows you have all of that in you.

    It is funny that whilst going through infertility, while wishing badly for a baby for 2 years and a few months now, I have come to very much the same conclusions, though I could not have put it better into words:
    ———————————————————————-
    “One of the most painful things that I have had to go through…. has been the complete desecration of my ideas about how this was supposed to be. When you set yourself up with a plan, an expectation, a hope, about how you think it all should be and then realize you actually have no control whatsoever—it can lead to serious feelings of failure, shame, and eventually a total rebuilding of your outlook on life.
    ————————————————————————-
    and this :
    —————————
    “It also becomes easier to realize that the only thing I (or anyone for that matter) really, actually have control over is how I choose to experience my life—mind, body, and spirit.”
    ————————————–

  • Granola

    Wow, what an amazing journey you’re on. Congrats to you for learning what it has to teach you, even when it’s hard, and actively choosing and committing to your own happiness and grace and that of your child’s. I hope that when I eventually become pregnant I’ll be able to channel even a fraction of your perspective.

    On a practical note, I hope that you have friends and family nearby who you feel comfortable reaching out to for help, and that you feel you can take them at their word when they offer. My friends and family have started to have babies, and while I’ve offered to babysit, I can sense a bit that maybe they don’t want to impose? The truth is that I love babies and they’d be doing me a favor. Certainly don’t do anything you’re not comfortable with, but I think the people who love you really do want to help, and opening yourself up to that can be really meaningful for both sides.

  • Paranoid Libra

    That was beautifully written. It can be difficult to decide between keeping an unexpected pregnancy vs all the other options. It can be a difficult thing.

    Good luck soon to be mama, you got this! It won’t always be easy, but still you got this! May the rest of pregnancy be kinder to you and I hope for a healthy happy baby girl and healthy mom.

    • Amanda

      I agree with Paranoid – it might not always be easy (is anything worth doing always easy?), but you’ve got this! You have made the journey to find within you the (positive) attitude and outlook that will support a happy life :)

      On a funny note, as the above terminology reminded me… I was out for dinner with my girlfriends a couple weeks ago. At 30 weeks pregnant, I was (am) still voicing my concerns and worries about becoming a mom. One friend stated (loudly) “You’ve got this! You’re gonna kill it. KILL IT!” (My friends may have been imbibing just a touch…) Another friend and I suddenly realized what was being said, and had to reply with “Uh, the point is to *not* kill it.” I can just guess what the rest of the bar/restaurant was thinking ;-) So yes, you’ve got this!!

      • Paranoid Libra

        If I was the pregant lady I would imagine I would have peed my pants a little at this.

        But now I have in my mind someone random just walking in thinking this very pregnant lady is trying to kill her unborn baby and the utter look of horror on their face.

        And you Amanda also got this and you won’t kill it!

  • http://byjacki.com Jacki

    I’m so glad you’ve been able to move through and past the shit-storm into such a gracious and peaceful resolve. You are going to kick so much ass as a mom.

  • Katelyn

    “…once I meet her” oh my god, this sent me over the edge *tear* so beautiful! Congratulations, your little girl is going to have the BEST role model in you!!

  • Kim

    Dear, you are not alone. I’m just shy of 21 weeks and having very similar experiences/fears (in my case, the daddy is my long-time fiance, who decided *after* I got pregnant that he didn’t want to/wasn’t ready to have a baby; we’ve been fighting nonstop and on the edge of breaking up ever since). I never dreamed I would be with someone who would plead with me to abort our child, but that’s what happened.

    Unlike you, however, I’m still trying to determine whether we’ve reached the level of deal-breaking toxicity that you refer to, or whether we can still be saved. In any case, this wasn’t how it was supposed to be, and I appreciate (probably more than most people) the rallying sentiment in your last two paragraphs.

    I hope that you find the support and the strength you’ll need to get through this. From all that I hear, it will most certainly be worth it.

    • Kara

      Fear can be a powerful driver. Best of luck to (all three of) you. Hang in there!

  • http://nerdycare.blogspot.com SelkieKel

    This right here, ” I had finally come to the conclusion that none of the fears, shames or stereotypes that I had been trying so hard to avoid, or all the reasons I convinced myself to stay and try to make it work, were more important than my own health, happiness, and future,” is some of the most eloquent and powerful prose I’ve ever had the privledge of reading. It’s stunningly effective here, but can be applied to so many circumstances.

    Furthermore, that sensation of feeling trapped by what’s “supposed to be” seems endemic to women in particular and we all benefit from having an example of conscious examination of this sort of relentless mental monologue (and making an informed, mindful decision following such analysis). This is true, raw strength.

    Saying ‘thank you’ for bravely sharing your story seems insufficient, but thank you anyhow.

  • http://unexpected-moments.blogspot.ca/ Sheryl

    I hope the second half of your pregnancy is everything you need. It certainly sounds like the first half has been a growing experience and has forced you to really solidify and back up your beliefs.

  • Kara

    Best wishes with your pregnancy, and best of luck as you navigate this new reality.

  • Sarah

    You are amazing.

  • http://irvingplace.net Kayjayoh

    Best wishes and strength to you.

    My beloved nephew was born from an unexpected pregnancy due to failed birth control with a short-term guy. As a mixed blessing, his father is still in his life, sharing custody with my sister. (Mixed blessing, because the relationship between his parents is toxic and strained 90% of the time.) However, as difficult as things have sometimes been for her since that pregnancy, my sister loves hims and is constantly amazed at this human being that she brought into the world. He is an awesome little guy.

    What I can say it this: you will probably have to re-face those fears and stresses over and over again as your baby grows up, “Why did I do this? How can I do this?” Doubts and fears and even some failures do not make you a bad mom, it just makes you human. It will be easy to judge yourself because society likes to help judge, but every parent in the world (except maybe for the narcissists out there) has these thoughts.

    Be sure to take note of the moments of wonder and success, because they will help see you through the moments of doubt. And, just like all the wedding planning advice around here, never be afraid to ask for and accept the help you need, both from loved ones and from strangers.

    You can do this. Peace be with you.

  • js

    I am on the other side of a situation similar to yours now and I want to say you are brave, you are smart and you are good enough for someone to love. My pregnancy was also very difficult. I had hyperemesis gravidarum. I couldn’t handle the stress of having upset my very Catholic family, having to go to court when I pressed domestic assault charges against him and feeling so disappointed in myself.
    Having the child’s father in your life will always be hard. I think the thing I try to remember is that I show my daughter, every day, how a family is supposed to be, how you should show love and treat others. She is the very best thing that could have happened to me at that time in my life. She forced me to think about someone other than myself. I also know she saved my life because if I hadn’t had to think of her, I would have stayed with him. I believe he would have eventually killed me.
    Slowly, I found contentment with my life and happiness within myself. I have come to accept my choices and understand they brought me to where I am now. Six years ago I met a man who loves me and loves my daughter. He does the homework and doles out the hugs and the discipline. Six moths ago, we were married and are working on adding to the family I always wanted.
    I wish you patience, continuing grace and joy and a happy, healthy baby girl!

  • http://www.marjmerges.com/ Marj

    Beautiful. You are already an amazing mom. Your little girl chose well! Wishing you two all the best from myself and my little girl.

  • KateM

    Congratulations. At 25 weeks, I am in awe of our strength. Congratulations also on showing you daughter the importance of self love, and sacrificing love before she even gets here. By your choices before she is even born, you are becoming an incredible role model, and I am sure she will follow in your footsteps.

    • KateM

      I meant awe of “your” strength.

  • Vanessa

    Thank you for writing this.

    I too was conceived only a few weeks after my parents started dating. I remember the moment in junior high when I put it all together, counting backwards from my birthday, “wait, when did you meet Dad?” followed by “wait, was I born premature?” and my mother’s perfect response, “No, honey. you were right on time.” I can tell from your writing that your baby will be lucky like me, because she will never – not for one minute – be unloved or unwanted.

    So often when my friends in their 20s are talking about unplanned pregnancies they use the phrase “it would ruin my life” and as an unplanned baby I’m pretty sensitive to that. Even now that I’m in my late twenties, have a job and health insurance, and a steady (but unmarried) partner, I can understand that an unplanned pregnancy would change my life in ways that are not all positive. Still, no one wants to think that they ruined their parents’ lives simply by being born. So I appreciate the way you’ve chosen to think about your pregnancy and your baby, to love and fight for her. You’re on a challenging path, but I hope that it helps you to know that your love and gratitude will have a positive impact on your child’s personality and self-worth for her whole life.

    • Crayfish Kate

      “No, honey. you were right on time.”

      Oh. my. god. *tear*

    • One More Sara

      As a parent of an unplanned baby, I really appreciate hearing what it’s like for you (and what areas are sensitive). It’s one of my biggest fears (worries?) that little K will figure out the math of his age and the age of my relationship with his father before he is old enough to really process that knowledge.

      • Mountaindoozy

        My son was conceived while I was in a really bad relationship. I met my now fiance only a year and half later. My son was nearly 9 before he really started asking questions about the timeline. It was a hard conversation to have, but my son (as usual) surprised me and was really mature about it. That’s been a few years ago and we still have a wonderful and strong family relationship.
        Only you know what is right for your child and your family, but you can’t go wrong letting him know how much joy he has brought to your lives and how proud you are to be a part of the family you have created. I wish you all the strength and goodwill I can, it can be hard to navigate these relationships but it is so worth it.

    • Kara

      I like your mom. :)

  • Amy

    Wowza. What an articulate, thoughtful, intelligent post. I loved every minute of it and I send heartfelt internet hugs to you and your baby all the way from Edmonton.

    Thank you for sharing. Good luck on your journy!

  • Margaret Thatcher

    I am in favor of every woman having a choice about whether to continue a pregnancy. That said, I think it was very brave of you to stand up to a huge amount of pressure from him to do what you personally felt was right for yourself. You made the choice you felt was right for you and for your baby, and someday she will appreciate you all the more when she realizes how hard you fought for her and how much love it took for you to get her into this world. You have shown so much courage already, and I know you will be an excellent mother. Best of luck to both of you, and congratulations!

  • http://light0a0candle.blogspot.com Kaitlyn

    One of my cousins found out she was pregnant shortly after breaking up with her then boyfriend, and she made such a courageous decision to both keep the baby (against a lot of peoples urgings) and to stay broken up with the father basically giving him ‘an out’. She ended up getting married to a great guy a few years later and they now have three additional kids of their own! They’re a really happy, healthy family. Anyway, your story reminded me of hers and I admire my cousin so much, I wanted to let you know you’ve begun a great journey. :)

  • Anonymous

    I love APW for providing such a platform for women to be able to express themselves and your expressing your story with so much grace, wisdom, and strength in the face of adversity further solidifies why this site rocks!! So much so that as a long lime lurker, i feel compelled to step out and make a comment (or two!).

    To the writer, you are stronger than you know and give yourself credit for. As a believer in “everything happens for a reason”, your daughter has given life to you in bringing about awareness of how strong and courageous you are. Would you have known otherwise? I’m sure when she grows up, she’ll see how wonderful of a role model she has in you. I would love to hear your follow up story (after she is born). Best wishes!!

  • http://www.verhext.com tamera

    I was in this situation and luckily (luckily! what a terrible thing to say, but it’s true) miscarried. It was bad. Very very very bad. Threats to take the baby from me, screaming fights, and just a nightmare situation.

    I just want to be a slightly dissenting/realistic opinion here that not all dads want to walk away from this situation, and that women should be prepared to deal with that when making this decision. It might not be single mom time, but 50% having a child time, shared with someone you hate.

    • Maddie

      It’s true. Having a child with someone you don’t want to spend the rest of your life with is trying. I was the child in this situation and at times I know it was extremely hard on my mom (particularly in the beginning, when there were custody disputes and rumors of paternity and you name it.) It was also hard on my dad. And there were times when I wanted to scream at both of them and tell them to act like adults.

      But like anything, there are tradeoffs. I think the key is understanding what you’re willing to fight for, and how much.

  • Margot Madison

    Sending all my mama-vibes to you and your world as it changes forever, for the better. xo

  • http://www.foreveryoungadult.com erin

    Oh man, lady. So much of this could have been written by me, even if in some ways our situations were totally reversed.

    What I will say is this, looking down 9 years of this. There will be times that you will wonder if you made the right choice. There will be times when you wish your life had taken a different path, even. But you will also grow into an amazing, strong person and one day you will look at your kid and all the pain and fear and confusion and hurt will be worth it, and not because of some magical “a ha!” moment that the angels sing about, but because you will look at this person you helped create and realize you could never wish her out of being.

    And, I may get smacked for saying this, but if the guy ever does want to play an active role in your daughter’s life, you should let him. You shouldn’t date him (he sounds like a kind of shitty boyfriend, yo), but . . . people change. I myself was not ready for a child AT ALL (I let myself get talked into the situation, to be honest) and for the first year I felt like Sassy Gay Best Friend, all “what what what am I doing?” But I grew and I changed and I did a lot of work on myself to meet my daughter’s needs. If your daughter’s father is willing to do that as well, please try to let him.

    • One More Sara

      snorted a little when I read “what what what am I doing??” props for working that into a conversation about single parenthood.

  • Ari

    My first son was the product of a one night stand and some haywire birth control. Which mostly I’m sharing because reading this (and reading through the comments about similar situations) has made me feel a little less awfully alone in what is sometimes a very lonely situation.

    You’re brave and true, and you’re going to be fine. I’m about four years into the parenting thing now, and I’ll tell you that all that doubt and loneliness will reappear from time to time, and that you will vanquish it again and again with love and hope and community, with gratitude and with raw strength.

    • Kara

      You’re awesome.

  • Caroline

    You are brave and wonderful. I’m thankful you shared this beautiful and moving piece with the APW community.

    I’m about 5 days behind you (almost 20 wks) and I find your words so encouraging.

  • http://shopcraftgasm.com Melissa of craftgasm

    It sounds like you’re putting yourself and future daughter in the best possible situation. As a daughter of a woman who was in a similar situation when she was pregnant with me, but didn’t have the confidence at that point in her life to do what you are doing, I know you’re making a great choice and a great life for yourselves. :)

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  • marbella

    My mother is also a single-parent yoga teacher to my little sister (7) though she did not set out for it to be that way. You sound like you will be a wonderful mother and have much wisdom to impart to your youngling! Congratulations on her impending arrival.

  • Slade

    When I was knocked up by a boyfriend I’d been dating only a couple of months yet was starting to realize I hated — and can we take a second to recognize that apparently this is a trend in this comments thread? — I stayed with him till the baby was about a year old. That’s how long it took me to get from “This is not ideal and I’m crying all the time, but we’re supposed to be together forever” to “If I wake up with him one more day I may end up on a clock tower.” (Kidding, people. Not an actual clock-tower-threat.) That time with him was horrible and toxic and taught me a lot. It taught me that I’m strong, that I’m me, that I will always bounce back. Sounds like I’m not the only one learning this stuff the hard way, either.

    I also want to share an interesting point in my own decision-making arc. I gave my son up for adoption, against his biological father’s preference. He wanted an abortion instead. And did you know that “It’s you body, it’s your choice” can be used as a very convenient way for cowardly, pro-choice men to get out of taking any damn responsibility for a situation they were instrumental in creating? Incredible. I hope no one else’s babydaddy is taking up this argument.

  • http://www.dmarried.com Blair

    You’re going to do better all by yourself than many people could ever do with another person.

    Thank you for inspiring us. Best wishes to both of you!

  • http://www.koruwedding.blogspot.com Koru Kate ⎨Koru Wedding⎬

    Absolutely beautiful. Your baby is already so blessed with a strong, determined, loving Mom like you! Best wishes for a continued healthy pregnancy & baby~

  • Class of 1980

    The overwhelming thought I have after reading this is that everything will somehow be fine.

  • Cassandra

    Almost 10 years on this other side of this experience, I can say with certainty that the letting go and forgiving will be your saving grace.

    Best of luck!

  • http://www.superfantastic.blogs.com Superfantastic

    You are amazing. All the best to you and your little girl. Namaste.

  • jacqui

    Love this so much. So proud of you. Lucky baby!!

  • Laura

    I just wanted to say, my fiancé was raised by a single mom who was in exactly your situation. The father tried to pressure her into getting an abortion, and when she refused, he took off. She was afraid about how things would go but she did a wonderful job and my fiancé is just such an amazing man. Now she likes to tease me that I’M the one who gets to benefit from all her hard work, hahaha.

    I’m sure your daughter will be just such an awesome person. :)

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