~ Shel Silverstein

Pregnancy.

It should be a glorious time. New life is being knitted in the womb, and the love and positive energy should be palpable. It’s quite a different experience when you’re in a relationship with a narcissistic drug addict.

In my experience, I felt like I was clinging to life, and so was my baby. I couldn’t leave because Chris made it impossible. I couldn’t go to my family or friends because I didn’t want them to know how bad it really was. I felt like because of the constant yelling, and fighting, and crying, my unborn son wouldn’t be born healthy. Each day during my pregnancy, I prayed, and pleaded with God to take care of Jace. I prayed that he wouldn’t suffer the consequences of what his dad was doing to us. He felt so little and vulnerable, and with each passing week, I was grateful that he was developing normally. I ate the freshest fruits and vegetables, I avoided environmental and ingestible toxins, and I tried to stay active and healthy. My diet seemed to be the only thing I could really control, so I tried my best to give my unborn baby the nourishment he needed.

I teach kindergarten, and I was up unwillingly fighting with my son’s father until 4 or 5 in the morning, night after night. The constant sleep deprivation started to make me feel like a totally different person. It’s a form of cruelty and abuse I never even thought to consider. I would literally scream and cry that I needed to sleep, I needed to rest because I was making a baby. These pleas fell upon deaf ears. I only got to sleep until 7am, then it was time to get up and get ready for work. For 9 hours of the day, I was in teacher-mode. I had to be creative, sharp, engaged, and wonderful. Teaching young children, you have to be committed and colorful, and what once came so naturally to me, now became something I had to really make an effort to do. It became so hard for me to teach and design curriculum, and outline new programs. There was a dark cloud that hovered over me and it only grew in size and strength. Your relationship and home-life definitely affect how well you are able to do your job. It affects how well you can make the magic that is essential in the teaching of young children. It affects how well you parent, how well you cook, how well you think, how well you perform sexually, it affects absolutely everything.

My feelings when I found out I was pregnant were bittersweet. Just two months prior, I made the decision to terminate a very early pregnancy because I believed that my son’s father was spending time where he shouldn’t have been, up to no good. I didn’t want to have a child with someone who didn’t understand what loyalty was, and who also put heroin and meth before and above all else.

I was traumatized, and haunted by frequent nightmares after the termination, so when I found out I was pregnant again, a mere 2 or 3 months later (during which time I had gotten the depo shot), there was no way that I was going to go against my beliefs again. Despite the fact that the father was a monstrosity, I chose to go through with the pregnancy. I woke up in a bright red pool of blood the first time, alone, and I will never forget it, and I couldn’t go through that again. So what was supposed to be the last weekend we spent together, became a little life I was not willing to compromise with, no matter the outcome of the adult drama, no matter the struggle.

Usually when a man sees a woman carrying his child, he is over the moon. He is attentive, and loving, and supportive, excited, and overall adorable…. I got none of those things. The only time Chris overdid the love and affection, is when we were in public, or when he was trying to show me off, or trying to show off, himself.

One day rolled into the next, and they all became blurred together. I wasn’t able to distinguish a single day, from a group of days, and I couldn’t tell you if something happened a week or a month ago. I knew what was happening, I just couldn’t tell you exactly when it occurred.

I was kept awake.

I was kept on edge.

I was in a constant wound-up state.

I worked 40 hours a week plus another 12 hours Bay Area commute time, all the way up until my 9th month of pregnancy, sleeping in my car some nights just to be away from the noise and evil. I kept telling Chris that once the baby was born, all bets were off. I wouldn’t be physically helpless anymore, and I wasn’t willing to raise my baby in that type of environment. I gave him fair warning that I was about to leave and stay gone. My baby was feeling all the misery I felt, he heard all the fights, he felt me crying, and he did it all with me. I decided once Jace was born, I was gone. My pregnancy didn’t stop the fights. It didn’t stop all the physical, and emotional abuse. I was admitted to the hospital on about 6 different occasions throughout my pregnancy, two of those admissions were due to me being brought in by ambulance.

He pushed me down on about 5 or 6 different occasions while I was carrying the baby. The first time, we had been up fighting all night. At 7 o’clock in the morning, I had had enough. I grabbed my bag, and my keys, and proceeded to leave. He was right behind me. Taunting me, saying sorry, talking lies, being a bully. He walked alongside me, telling me to get back in the house. He grabbed me by the arm, and I had no choice but to follow him.

I turned around, and began walking back to the house, with my pride stuck as a lump in my throat. It was hard to breathe. He was mean to me the entire way, then all of a sudden, he pushed me from the middle of my back, and I fell onto all fours, right in front of his neighbor. I said to the neighbor, “did you see how he just pushed me” and he nodded but didn’t utter a word. I was less than 4 months pregnant at the time. Stunned is an understatement of how I felt when I was getting up off the ground. I could not believe that he had actually pushed me down that way, it was unbelievable to me. By the end of my pregnancy, nothing shocked me any more.

He shoved me down when I was around 5 moths pregnant, during a fight about who I was with behind his back, both of us knowing that no such person existed. I went to work and home, and was constantly monitored on all my electronics and online accounts, although I didn’t find that out until months and months later.

During yet another brawl, when I was about 6 months pregnant, he got on top of me, in the dark, held me down by both wrists, screaming obscenities at me. He leaned his weight down onto me, and bit my face. He bit me just under my eye, on my cheek. I was terrified, sick, and enraged. I’ve never had someone get on top of me to hold me down while we fought like Chris always did. During my pregnancy, I was expected to pull my weight. I had a trunk full of groceries, and to haul the bags up the stairs to the door, while he talked shit to me, and walked into the house before me.

After another fight, he pushed me down into the closet.

On yet another occasion, I was trying again to leave him, and asked his brother and sister-in-law to be there to help me get my things. He ended up pushing me down again so hard into his bedroom door, that I skinned my elbow, and had to be helped up. I started having contractions and was taken by ambulance in early labor. I spent about 6 hours being monitored, then was released to be on bed rest.

But this was not even the last time he pushed me down while I was carrying his child. The very last time he pushed me down, I was 9 months pregnant. I was huge, off-balance, in pain, and very uncomfortable. Again, I was leaving. He followed me, and was roughing me up at the door, holding me by the arms and shaking me. He had a good grip on me, and now that I think about it, he didn’t push me down the stairs, but rather he strongarm shoved me from his grip, down the stairs at the back door as if in a way to say get out. I fell, onto my back, and I was so heavily pregnant that I couldn’t have gotten up by myself if I wanted to. He then kicked my feet out of the way so he could close the door, but as I lay there crying, I screamed at him to “help me the fuck up, I’m carrying your child”!! He grabbed my hand and I remember pushing my weight so that I could get up.

I was called lazy.

I was told “poor kid” by the man who was tormenting me.

He didn’t care.

It was like my growing belly was obsolete to him. He was completely oblivious to the fact that there was a little heart in my belly, feeling all the hurt and sorrow that I was. During a time I should have been well taken care of, and loved, I was treated as if I was living a double life, out and having affair after affair, supposedly with his friends, whom to this day I don’t even know or have only met once or a few times. I was accused of cheating with everything in my path; his married brothers, his neighbors, my male colleague, no one was off limits for the accusation.

I wanted it all to stop.

I was drained to the point I could barely stand up. I couldn’t follow a conversation. I began stuttering, and began regularly experiencing what seemed like little episodes of blacking out and coming to.

This man proclaimed his love, then abused me, then forced me into forgiving him, then fought with me, then proclaimed his love to me, then cried, then begged, then pleaded, then promised, then bargained, then negotiated…. he went in circles, taking me down in the spiral a little further each time. It was like he was two completely different people, and each was unaware of the other.

I hated being pregnant, simply because I was so helpless and dependent on him, and there was nothing I could do at that time to get out of it. People always say, “if that happened to me, I’d be gone”. But that just isn’t the reality. In fact it seems like when you DO walk away, the hell is worse, so you go back, only because it is the lesser of the two evils.

My pregnancy was long, lonely, and so close to the edge that I felt myself quite literally going over on so many different occasions that I lost count.

I watched the days go by on the calendar as I marked them off with my little students during circle time, and I jokingly told my co-teachers that I only knew what day it was, because the kids told me, and although I said it as a joke, it was exactly what was happening. They had no idea that after work, I often just went to sit in a parking lot in my car, because I didn’t want to go home to him. I slept at least 30 different night in my car, in my backseat, pregnant and having to find places to do basic things like use the restroom. On those nights I slept in my car, I would have to get up early in the morning, find my clothes which were in bags in my car, then take my get-ready bag into the nearest restroom at a nearby store, or fast food restaurant. By the time lunch time came, I was so tired that I would usually take a nap on the floor of my new classroom which was being built, or in my backseat, for the much needed privacy that I needed to cry.

I talked to my baby son.

I told him I was sorry.

I wept every single day, without exception.

I talked to God, I yelled at Him. I cried and cried, until my eyes hurt so badly, I had to just keep them closed and lubricated with Vaseline. I started to loathe any physical contact. There is absolutely nothing worse than what was going through my mind when I had to just basically spread my legs and get used however he wanted. I am an extremely passionate and sexual person, and if I didn’t act and behave as I always had with him during the brief time I was actually in love with him, it was a monster fight. I always tried to be in the spooning position so I wouldn’t have to face him. I wouldn’t have to look at him, or see him looking at me.

All of this went on, and on.

Then finally when I reached 38 weeks, I was to go to the hospital for a stress test. I had spent the previous night at home with the sperm donor, fighting of course, so I hadn’t slept well. I was also in pain from the sex I had to give into the night before. Even though I cried and said that the baby’s head felt like it was going to come out, it didn’t matter. He told me I was a whore, and if I weren’t fucking someone else, I would want to have sex. So, rather than stay up another long, chaotic night, I chose to do what I had done so often, and just breathed out loud with irritation, close my eyes and act like I was enjoying it so it would be over with quicker.

For my appointment, I drove myself to the hospital, got hooked up to the monitors, and an hour later, the doctor came in and said she wanted me to stay longer. My baby was big, I was having a hard time breathing, and his heartbeat was becoming irregular. A couple more hours of monitoring, still sitting there alone while I waited for the devil’s incarnate to arrive, the doctor came back in and said she felt more comfortable to just get the baby delivered.

The final part of my pregnancy nightmare, was about to commence….

(To be continued….)