Three weeks after I turned 19, I woke up after sleeping straight for 13 hours. My boobs ached, my belly was bloated, and I knew there wouldn’t be a period coming. This wasn’t the same as my PMS. It felt completely different, and I didn’t need to pee on a stick and see the word “pregnant” to know. My husband was working so I had some time to think alone, but I knew his response wouldn’t be a good one.
We were married just two months after I turned 18, while he was home on leave before completing his Air Force training. It seemed like the best decision so we could both enjoy the benefits that came with being a military couple. However with being so young and the hardships of being separated for an extended period of time, we also agreed having an open relationship might be better suited for us. I had always wanted to explore my sexuality and I knew he had his own needs to be fulfilled. It felt like a good compromise, until it wasn’t anymore. I hadn’t followed HIS “rules” so when he returned, we cut all ties with any and everyone. We changed our numbers, blocked people on social media, and ghosted many. He was jealous and couldn’t handle sharing me in any way, so I knew this news would be met with anger.
Initially, I thought about not telling him. Maybe I could secretly abort the baby and he would never have to know. In my heart I knew there was no way I could ever do that. This baby was mine and I already loved it more than I could comprehend. My mind raced as I tried to decide what to do and it landed on the only solution that seemed to make sense at the time. I just wouldn’t tell him … yet.
I lived with this secret for another month but then he began noticing changes. I slept whenever I wasn’t working. Suddenly, everything I ate had to be smothered in hot sauce or buffalo sauce. I wouldn’t let myself be nude around him for fear he would see the small changes taking place in my body. He asked if I was seeing someone behind his back, and I caved. I sobbed the whole thing to him. When I was finished, I looked at him and saw horror, complete horror on his face. Then it changed to anger. He called me a slut, a whore, a cheater, every name he could think of. He demanded I get rid of it. He grabbed my phone and made me call my doctor right at that moment. The soonest appointment was a week out. He was furious. I felt powerless.
The week slowly passed as I awaited my appointment. I had no idea what to expect. When the day finally came, I’d never wanted to disappear so badly. I felt nauseous. When my name was called to go back, I could barely stand. Somehow I managed to get to the exam room, go through the motions of peeing in a cup, and answering all their questions. When my doctor finally came in, she confirmed I was in fact, pregnant. We discussed my options, and because I was alone, I was honest about his pressuring me. It all came flooding out and I couldn’t stop myself. She held my hand and reassured me it was my choice, not his, and she would help me in any way she could. She then ordered lab work and an ultrasound so we could proceed accordingly, since I wasn’t positive how far along I was.
Another week passed and ultrasound day arrived. This time he came with me. When it was our turn, I felt my face get hot as I started to get more anxious. I undressed from the waist down, laid on the edge of the table, and stared at the screen. There it was. A tiny, alien like, wiggly baby. My baby. The moment I saw my baby on-screen, I knew I would never let any thing happen to it. I looked at my husband’s face. Nothing. A blank stare. Turning back to the screen and the technician, I chose to ignore his cold presence. That was my baby! The technician finally said, “Well, you’re about 12 weeks 2 days by the measurements, which gives a due date of February 5th. Pretty exciting, isn’t it?” I didn’t answer, just smiled at her. He shifted in his seat. The technician sensed the awkwardness and proceeded to finish getting the images she needed. My eyes never left the screen. I was afraid to look at him. We drove home in silence.
When we got home, it was time for me to get ready for work. I went around gathering my things while my thoughts drifted to the images of my baby on the screen. My baby. MY baby. I was so distracted I hadn’t noticed him begin pulling up information on how late in pregnancy an abortion could be performed in our state. I didn’t notice him also checking the surrounding states. I didn’t notice him writing down numbers for the nearest Planned Parenthood location who could perform the procedure. As I was getting ready to walk out the door, he shoved the crumpled up piece of paper into my hand and told me to call on my next day off. I felt my jaw drop, but I couldn’t make a sound. Instead I took the paper, turned to leave, and drove to work in silence.
It was already busy when I pulled up. Fast food places, especially ones directly off the highway, tend to be busy all summer. Today was no exception. For once I was glad to be so busy, I had no time to think until it was almost closing. The store got quiet, my coworkers went about their cleaning tasks, and I was alone counting the drawers. Suddenly everything I hadn’t had time to acknowledge came flooding in. He wanted me to abort MY baby. MY baby. Why was he so angry? It was HIS baby too! I was suddenly filled with rage. How could he want to harm our baby? How could he be so cruel and heartless? I wasn’t going to do anything to our baby. Our baby was staying put. My mind was made up.
When I finally got home and told him my decision, we spent the rest of the early morning hours fighting. Our neighbors even banged on the wall at one point. I refused to back down. When he finally conceded and began to accept the reality, he started to change. Less anger, but not quite happy. He just seemed to accept it. That was the last time we spoke of the abortion he tried to force me into having.
The rest of my pregnancy he was cold towards me. He didn’t massage my calf muscles when they tightened into hard knots, not even when they woke me from my sleep in agony. He never went out late at night to fulfill my cravings. He never wanted to kiss my belly, rub my aching back, or talk to the baby growing inside my womb. When friends and family were around he was the perfect and loving husband, but as soon as they left he went back to being cold. I spent the entire pregnancy feeling alone. If not for an amazing group of women also due around the same time, I don’t know if I would have made it.
On the last day of January, I woke up at 3:50AM with a stomach ache. I went to the bathroom and just sat on the floor waiting to be sick. Nothing happened. I tried to go back to bed and sleep but couldn’t. By 7am I noticed the pain came in waves every 20 minutes or so. He got up for work and when I told him he was genuinely excited for the first time my entire pregnancy. I sent him to work so I could labor in peace, only calling him when I knew it was time to head to the OB office before being sent to the hospital. At 7:44pm that evening, after a perfect labor and delivery, my beautiful boy was safely in my arms. I didn’t know it then, but my sweet baby would be the catalyst for the end of my marriage.
I will never tell my son the things his father said or the way he treated me. My son will never know how his dad tried to force me to have an abortion. I will carry this quietly in my heart to keep my son innocent from this dark side of his father’s past. It’s a labor of love for my sweet boy, and as painful as it can be at times for me to remember this time in such a dark way, he will never know that he was once unwanted and unloved. Of that, I am certain.