My oldest son is going to turn 14 on Saturday. This is an important time for me to reminisce about life and how I got to where I am today. You see, I was “happily” married. I thought it was a whirlwind romance, that we were destined for each other. He said all of the right things. He truly made me feel like I was the only woman he ever laid eyes on. He would be waiting for me, coming to visit me, writing me notes, or texting me nonstop. I learned years later it was a precursor to his abusive behavior. I am only sharing a portion of the story. It’s the portion that leads up to becoming a single mother.
I got married as a young 20 year old, new to the Army, and new to really anything out of the state of PA. I loved everyone I met and loved the challenges I faced in the Army. I married my boyfriend after just months of dating, mainly so we could be stationed at the same location. We both ended up in Germany and in deploying units. We deployed together, things seemed great, and we spent any time we could together. He would be waiting for me after work and we would just spend so much time together. I was smitten. We had decided before the deployment that we wanted to have a baby, but we were going to wait. Well, about a month before the deployment I ended up pregnant…but I was still deployed due to some mistakes with paperwork (I found out after the fact). I was almost into my second trimester when we discovered I had been pregnant since before I got the pre-deployment shots (hello Anthrax!) and deployed. I had started to show. My vest wouldn’t fit me right! I still remember the tears in his eyes as my husband made sure the one gunner on the Blackhawk that took me off of our FOB knew that I was pregnant and to take good care of me. This is where the caring stopped.
It took no time at all for calls and messages telling me about his affairs to start. I didn’t know what to do, as I loved him, but I had decided that once he got back to Germany we would start over fresh. We would lay everything out on the table and work on us. My son deserved two parents who wanted to sacrifice everything to try and make it work. Well, the time came for him to come back for his R&R. He was scheduled to come to Germany and was allowed to stay with me until I had the baby and then he’d have to go back. His mother was flying in from the states to be with me in hopes of seeing the baby, and my parents were flying in shortly after I was scheduled to have him.
I remember the morning I was supposed to pick him up from the bus stop on my base. I got dressed as cute as I could, for being nine months pregnant, and I waddled over to the stop. I didn’t see his face get off of the bus but I recognized a man on the bus. I asked him if he knew where my husband was. He got all shifty eyed but said “look, I don’t want to be the one to tell you this, but he went to the states.” I knew what that meant…his mother was coming to Germany so there was no way he was coming to see us. The next 1-2 weeks I got calls from him about “being stuck” in Kuwait. The calls were horrible. I knew he wasn’t stuck because I saw the manifest. I knew he was lying to me like I was an idiot. He didn’t realize that if he just spoke the truth we could figure things out.
A week before I had my son he flew back to Germany and just kind of showed up at the apartment. I was doing laundry that day and grabbed his clothes to wash as well, and that’s when I found receipts galore from a state and purchases I didn’t recognize. I confronted him, with his mother there, and it just ended with more lies. This is the part that killed me…he then flew BACK to this other woman, leaving his OWN mother with me in Germany. That’s right…we were alone. She retreated to the room she was staying in and I retreated to mine and we only saw each other to eat…not really sure what to make of the situation. His mother came with me to my final appointment, a day before I had my son, so that she could at least hear his heartbeat. I could tell by her face that she fell in love with this little boy in my belly. I told her that no matter what happened with her son that I wanted her in his life in any way possible, as long as she wanted to be in his life. She assured me she would. I took her to the train station the next morning, my due date, and we said our goodbyes. This was the last time I’d ever see this woman.
I immediately broke down. I had such a crying fit that my stomach started to seize so I decided to go into the maternity ward. Sure enough, my breakdown caused my baby to be in distress and they decided I needed to be induced. I didn’t have family there. I didn’t have his father. I had two amazing women who offered to be there for me to hold my hands. They were there for me while I became a mother for the first time. My mother stayed on speakerphone from work for the entire day. Her co-workers even heard me in labor. I had my beautiful 8 lb 10 oz baby boy on January 12 2005. I was 21 years old. I’ll admit. I was so sad. I didn’t know what to do. I felt he deserved more than I could ever give to him. Here I was, active duty Army, stationed in Germany, and now a single mother. I contemplated giving him up for adoption, even offering his father and his new girlfriend him. I didn’t know how I could love this baby like he deserved.
Then….it happened. He & I were alone one night. You know that meconium poop? That tar-like crap that doesn’t seem to EVER want to wipe off? Yeah…so, there we were. Alone in the room. I was a babysitter for years, I knew diapers. I pulled off his diaper to change him and that stuff came out of him like a faucet. You know that pink bathtub scene from Ghostbusters?! Yeah, it JUST KEPT COMING OUT! It got all over him. It got all over his clothes. It got all over his blanket. It got all over me. It got all over my clothes. It got all over my blankets. I just started giggling and crying at the same time as I pushed the nurse help button & his adorable little face smiled. The nurse came in and just laughed at our predicament. She helped me clean us up and as we were laughing he just kept grinning in his sleep. I told her, “so…this is what it means to love your baby, huh?” She smiled at me with tears in her eyes and said she knew I’d love him. She told me I was going to be the mother I never thought I could be and he was going to be an amazing man.
I wish I could say it got better with his father but it didn’t. We don’t talk. There were more lies shared and it was just not worth the fight. So, here I am with a 14 year old boy who is an amazing young man. He makes friends with every adult he meets. His therapist even said that he’s more emotionally connected than adults he meets with. He’s the most empathetic brother I’ve ever seen to his siblings. He is truly amazing and has been through so much in his lifetime. He is far from perfect, but aren’t we all? I look back to those days, I remember how dark I felt, and I remember the sadness…but I also remember the ray of hope he gave me. The sunshine I felt every time I’d look at his beautiful little face. The hilarious little antics he used to do that used to make me mad and happy at the same time.
Happy Birthday Kid. I love you. I didn’t plan the way you came into the world but I wouldn’t change a thing because you are an amazing young man with goals and passion.