The one thing I knew was that I never wanted kids. So naturally, when I found out I was pregnant with my first, I was in shock. Like, literal shock. I didn’t speak for an entire day, and I barely moved.
I had jokingly mentioned to my (now) husband, “I hope I’m not pregnant–that would suck (haha…ha). He didn’t laugh. He said “yeah, I’ve been meaning to mention it. You should take a pregnancy test.”
It isn’t all that surprising. He kept track of my menstrual cycle while I just dealt with it and waited for it to end. “No… I mean it seems like it’s been a while but it hasn’t been that long. Right? There’s no way…. RIGHT!?”
We sat in silence for the rest of the car ride as we picked up dinner for my parents back home, stopping at the store for a quick pregnancy tests.
I quietly excused myself to the restroom, praying no one would notice. Praying no one would ask. Praying for a blue line… or no line… or a negative line… I don’t know, three kids later and I still don’t know how those things work. What I did know is that I definitely did not want a pink, positive line.
And yet, there I sat, with half a dozen tests with my pee on them, all lit up like Christmas lights.And I was mortified. I left the bathroom to hide and I didn’t move, I didn’t speak, I just…sat. And stared.
I made a decision when I was just out of high school that I didn’t want kids. My relationship with my mother had been strained for as long as I could remember. I’d always been the fuck up of the family and my mom and I communicated in screams, tears, and looks of disappointment and disgust.
Then there was the sexual abuse I endured from a cousin (that wasn’t really abuse–but that’s another story for another time) and the toxic relationships with men who tried to get me pregnant so they could further control me.
I definitely did not want a daughter.
My mom and I didn’t get along. My mom and her mom hadn’t spoken for years, and my grandmother had a tumultuous relationship (at best) with her mom, from what I understand. We were a long line of poorly-emotionally-developed women who didn’t know how to have a healthy relationship, even with our own mothers.
So when I found out I was pregnant, at age 21, living with my boyfriend in my mom’s house and only one month sober–I lost it a little bit.
I remember sitting in the back room, staring off into space and wondering how I got here (obviously I knew the consequences of sex, okay? But I suffer from that young-and-stupid syndrome that made me think it would never happen to me). The thought of abortion had flickered in and off in my mind, but never enough to grab onto it and really consider it. I knew I didn’t want kids, but I also knew that this was a living, breathing thing inside of me–not unlike a parasite, but still a human body, separate from my own, relying on me for nourishment. I couldn’t kill it. But I still didn’t know what to do.
T h e D e c i s i o n
When I finally began speaking again, some time after my mom found out by digging through the garbage and after her initial anger had settled into some kind of weird resentful excitement, Justin asked me what I wanted to do.
I’ll never forget that conversation.
He said, “I know you don’t want kids. And I know neither of us is ready. But it’s happened, we’re past that now. If you carry our baby and give birth, I’ll take full responsibility. If you have the baby and want nothing to do with it–that’s fine. I’ll figure it out. I’ll move out, take the baby, and you’ll never hear from us again if you don’t want to. I won’t blame you, I won’t be angry, and whether or not I tell the baby about you at all is up to you. But that baby is just as much mine as it is yours and I know I can’t tell you what to do, but I have to ask–just please, keep it. I’ll figure out everything else.”
Honestly even if the thought of abortion had stuck in my mind long enough to take root and be considered, I never would have been able to go through with it anyway. His request made perfect sense to me, and honestly I think it’s exactly what I wanted to hear. I had a get-out-of-jail free card. I could decide from that point forward whether I wanted to stay or leave. Giving birth terrified me, but not nearly as much as the raising-a-child part. Or the living-in-my-mother’s-house part.
I agreed. And I had some friends come after me about it. They told me it wasn’t his decision. They told me it wasn’t his body. It was a form of abuse. He couldn’t ask me to do that. He has no idea what he’s talking about and he has no right to ask.
But didn’t he?Wasn’t he in that room with me when we created this tiny person? Wasn’t he by my side every step of the way when I took that test, and when I had a panic attack as a result? Didn’t he offer me absolution and take full responsibility? This baby was growing inside of me, but it was just as much his decision as it was mine. We created a life and it was our responsibility from that point forward. And he didn’t run. He stayed, and he vowed to take care of me, of both of us.
T h e P r e g n a n c y
In the following months, things got a bit easier. I began to come to terms with the idea of having a baby, and although the thought still terrified me, I found new purpose. I found new reasons to stay sober.
There was one time when I came very close to relapse, I had it sitting in front of me and I felt like something else had completely taken control of me. I told Justin I’d relapsed, because I thought if I got the worst part over with (the confession) I wouldn’t have to deal with it later.
He was more understanding than I thought he’d be and still–I couldn’t do it. Every time I thought of it, even when I had the pill up to my mouth, something inside just stopped me. I wasn’t my own body anymore. It wasn’t my own body anymore.
T h e n S h e C a m e
I started pushing at 9:00pm, and she was born at 10:00pm. The Walking Dead was playing on the TV the entire time in the background. When the nurses and staff rushed in to begin delivery, I felt like I’d been abducted by aliens was being used as some kind of experiment. I had a nervous breakdown and another panic attack, but Justin talked me through it and an hour later, she was born.
9lb 9oz and named for new beginning. Nova means ‘new’ in Latin. In Astronomy, it’s the name of a star that explodes, making way for new life. It was also the name of a prostitute in the video game Fallout and one of Zeus’ side hos in Greek Mythology–but let’s not go there. Nova was my new life. My second chance.
Nova was proof that God existed.
I had a boyfriend who, through the course of our entire relationship tried to get me pregnant. He was abusive and controlling, and he impregnated women as a means of control. He said he just wanted a family.
And yet, it was this man I’d known for only a few months, the man I was positive I was meant to be with, this man who helped me get clean and stayed by my side through the very worst parts of my life, and the very worst things I’d done to him. This man who took care of me and loved me, who vowed to care for our baby even if I wanted nothing to do with them. For the first time in my life, I knew that there was a God, and that he was looking out for me. It was all a part of his plan.
T o d a y
Things obviously didn’t stay perfect for very long, and it’s been a long road here. But Nova changed my life forever. That baby, that I was so terrified to keep, saved my life.
Before her, I had no real reason to stay clean. I sure as hell couldn’t do it for myself, and doing it for Justin would have only lasted so long. And then he would have left.
Since becoming a motherI’ve suffered from postpartum psychosis, suicidal ideation, relapse, mental illness. I’ve flunked out of college twice and been through several job and small businesses. But being a mom doesn’t make us perfect. It doesn’t make us immune to making mistakes. If anything it makes our mistakes more apparent. Bigger. More meaningful. Our mistakes don’t just affect us, they affect our children’s futures.
But being a mom has kept me going. Trying. Fighting. Growing. It’s taught me to own up to my mistakes, and fix them. It’s taught me to love more than I ever thought possible. Taught me a love that I never knew existed.
And it’s made my relationship with my mom better. Stronger.
Being a mom is terrifying and painful and beautiful and exhausting in all the best, most difficult ways.
Today I have three beautiful, perfect children. I’m sober, and I’m happy. I make better decisions and I keep my promises. I try to be a positive role model, and show them how to fail gracefully and how to learn from mistakes. My children are my world, and I can’t imagine not being a mother. I can’t imagine going back to a life of drugs and crime and chaos.
I never wanted to be a mother, and yet here I am. They didn’t just change my life. They gave me a new life, filled with everything I never knew I needed and so much more.