Despite my brother J’s dire predictions, my belief in Dave’s goodness prevailed. When I returned home from Peru I knew I had to confess immediately. The few days prior to the flight Dave and I had emailed and talked by phone, me pretending everything was completely normal, when it was clearly not. It was torture keeping this incredible and terrifying news to myself. Finally I was home. After our hellos and hugs, we settled into each other’s arms. And I told him.
“Remember when I told you that I felt like you were healing me?” I said timidly.
“Well I was right! You did heal me.”
“Awww. That’s really sweet,” he replied as he stroked my hair.
Silence. I waited for him to ask how on earth I would KNOW that he had healed me.
Nothing. Okay here it goes…. “And I know that you healed me because… I’m pregnant.”
Suddenly the silence had weight; the density of those words filled the air.
I can’t recall the rest of the conversation. I only remember that he was very calm. His composure did not surprise me. Intellectually I knew that there was a very real possibility that his reaction could be to walk out the door never to return. And if he did could I really blame him? But I felt confident that he would not. So confident was I, that I hadn’t even considered how I might raise a child on my own, while not even half way through my degree.
Faced with this life altering news, Dave was thoughtful and considerate. He instantly committed himself to me and to our child, despite not wanting children, despite only knowing me for a few months. And curiously, I felt calm too. I was about to share my life and a family with a man I barely knew. He was in the midst of a major career transition. He didn’t even want children. What the heck was I thinking?
For anyone who knows me, however, as crazy as this whole situation seemed to be, from the viewpoint of my life, it was characteristic. My life has never followed a typical path. I meandered, took many detours, had many adventures. When I have tried to force my life to mirror normality, it tended to result in disaster (see marriage #2). Meeting a guy online and getting pregnant within 6 weeks when I was supposed to be infertile just fits with how my life has unfolded. Having met and gotten to know one side of my birth family confirmed that this folly that is my life is likely, at least in part, genetic. So what was the point in fighting it? Submission seemed much more practical (and interesting).
Although Dave initially seemed quite relaxed about the whole thing, panic set in about two weeks later, when the reality of how his life would forever change sunk its scary teeth into him. Even in the face of his panic, however, my calm endured. I did not doubt for a second that he would find his way through his fear and honour his commitment to me. Even when I completely lost my shit one morning, which resulted in me beating up my hangers – causing injury to my knuckles – then throwing myself onto the bed sobbing, all due to the fact that I was famished and we had no edible food in the house (read no food pregnant me wanted to eat), Dave stayed true. He did not run for the hills like the Monty Python soldiers fleeing from the killer bunny (Run away! Run away!). My display of erratic behaviour was accepted as a direct result of pregnancy hormones. He is a good man, even if his way of dealing with any degree of craziness or anger on my part is to slink into the next room and shuffle papers.
Once we started to settle in to our new life, I borrowed the film “Knocked Up” from a friend of mine. The similarities between that movie and our experience would be creepy if it weren’t so hysterical. There are still times when I look at Dave, particularly when he is doing something silly or amusing, and see Seth Rogen. There are times, admittedly, when I think that Dave learned the art of seduction from him … or the Three Stooges. (Love you Dave!)
The pregnancy itself was uneventful, until we decided to take a trip to Toronto. It was supposed to be a weekend trip. We were staying with my ex husband’s ex-wife and her husband. I adored them and we were having a wonderful visit. Dave and I decided to pay a visit to my birth sister and her fiancé. Within about five minutes of arriving I felt sick. Very sick. I left the room so that me and my agony could have a little privacy. It felt like the baby in my 9 month pregnant belly had learned to stand up and was using all of her strength to push up, military press style, on my internal organs. I went to lie down. It became abundantly clear that something was terribly wrong. I was in incredible pain. Dave wanted to call an ambulance. I wouldn’t let him until we had called the health line to ensure that I wasn’t being overly dramatic. The health line nurse called the ambulance. Then I was both worried and mortified. We had just been about to sit down and enjoy a cup of tea and my silly pregnant body had to go and ruin everything. How embarrassing.
When we arrived at the hospital the doctors did some tests and determined it was pancreatitis, which, they informed me, was indeed, incredibly painful, but not life threatening. Then they fought over who would get me for the week while they tried to treat it. Would it be the pregnancy doctors because I was 8 months pregnant? Or the surgical people because it was the pancreas that was acting up? The surgical people won. Despite being able to get a semi-private room, it didn’t prevent me from hearing my roommate tell every single one of her friends and family members about the impending removal of her colostomy bag and the special cream she would have to put on her anus, it not having had to accommodate the passage of feces for a year. (Sorry. I just had to pay that over-share forward).
After starving me by feeding my pregnant body only liquids for four days, I was finally allowed low fat food, moved to the pregnancy ward, and then sent home with instructions to eat a low fat diet for the rest of the pregnancy. Talk about cruelty!!!
As far as preparing for the birth of our child, admittedly, Dave and I are not the most organized people. We didn’t join anything: no pre-natal classes, no how to give birth classes, nothing. We did, however, get a doula. She was amazing and I would highly recommend it. We relied on her to teach us everything we would need to know. After meeting her, reading a few of the books she lent us and watching a DVD, we decided on a natural birth. Although the pain of contractions and labour frightened me, the pain of the gargantuan needle they stuck into your spine to rid you of pain scared me even more.
The only resources we had to learn how to have a natural birth, however, were from the 1970’s. In the DVD we watched, the birth coaches were clearly unfamiliar with the metric system (being American). Instead of centimetres (as in cent) they said “sauntimetres” like you would say “saunter over here, sexy”. We just couldn’t take anything they said seriously after that. The books we were given were filled with awesome nude, fully-bushed women giving birth at home with their nude or shiny short shorts-wearing husbands by their sides. Who doesn’t love the 70’s?
To say that I was prepared for childbirth is a gross overstatement. No one is prepared for it, just as no one is prepared the first time they fall in love, or experience their first orgasm. All I can say is I don’t know what I would have done without Dave.
Stay tuned for the next post to learn about Maya’s birth!