My Spouse Left Me While I Was Pregnant. Here’s How I Made it Work.
Being a single mom had never been my plan, but my daughter gave me strength.
My ex-husband and I got pregnant the first time we started trying for a baby, and we were thrilled. Looking back, I guess maybe just I was thrilled. But at the time, I genuinely thought that he was happy, too.
When I miscarried at 10 weeks, we were both devastated. My ex-husband even cried about losing the baby to his best friend on a snowboarding trip soon after.
Six weeks later though, I was pregnant again. After I peed on the stick and saw those twin blue lines, I ran into our bedroom and told my husband.
“Oh,” was his response. I started to cry, not understanding why he wasn’t as ecstatic as I was.
It escalated into a huge fight where he said that he didn’t even think we should be together anymore because I didn’t treat him right. It came completely out of left field.
If you had asked any of our friends about our marriage at the time, they would have said that he doted on me, and adored me. He had my name tattooed across his heart! We’d had a brilliant, fun marriage, traveling the world before settling into our careers and starting our grown-up life together. I was floored by what he said, and I told him that he was crazy.
Then, he said I should get an abortion. I was beside myself.
He left for work, but when he came home, the argument continued. I said he should just leave. He went to stay with a friend from work, and over the next few months, he dropped in and out of my life, saying he wasn’t sure what he wanted, that he needed space, and that he wasn’t happy.
Other times, he’d come to midwife appointments and pretend that he was an active participant in the pregnancy, spending hours at the apartment we used to share, just hanging out as if nothing had changed. I would still cook meals for him, and I worried for his emotional health, even packaging up a turkey dinner for him at Christmas. At one point, in front of friends, he even kissed me passionately, getting my hopes up that the relationship could be saved.
His behavior was so inconsistent and out of character, nobody in our extended group of friends could understand why he was doing this. I even wondered if he was taking drugs.
One day, he left his jacket at our apartment, and I searched his pockets. I found a note, complete with drawings of hearts, from a woman telling my husband that she had never felt like this before, that the stars had never shined so bright, and that when she and my husband shared a piece of pie at our favorite restaurant—the one we had always gone to for dessert—she knew their love would be forever.
I dropped to the floor and started sobbing. I called him, and he came home in 15 minutes.
He begged me to forgive him, saying that nothing had happened beyond that one date, that she was obsessed with him. She was crazy, he said. He only loved me.
I agreed to try and repair our marriage and he agreed to go to marriage therapy. He refused to move home though, still staying with this mystery friend.
We attended four marriage therapy sessions, and in each, he pretended that he wanted our marriage to work. At one point, he even said that he would still like us to have a relationship, but he didn’t want to live together and needed to be able to see other people—which wouldn’t wash with me at all.
In private, he would tell me that he found me repulsive. He also told two of our friends that I had cheated on him and he wasn’t even sure the baby was his (I never had, never would have).
I struggled to stay positive, and cried my way through the next seven months, lonely and scared—being a single mom had never been my plan.
My friends would comment on how well I was holding it together, but I cried all the time, and more than once fantasized about killing myself because I couldn’t see how I was going to get through this. My heart was broken. I couldn’t see how I could be a good mother, or be a whole person, without my ex-husband.
In the birthing appointments I had gone to solo, I would pour my heart out to my midwife about what was going on, and she was very concerned with my stress levels. At my five month appointment, I was losing weight instead of gaining. She warned that I’d be headed to the hospital if I didn’t start eating properly.
By the time I went into labor, my husband hadn’t moved back in, but he also still hadn’t said we were truly over. My midwife suggested that we didn’t call him until after the baby was born, because she could see how stressed he made me, and worried he wasn’t a good source of support. I wanted him there though, and he was a great birth partner through a horrible labor and emergency C-section that saw our baby girl in intensive care for 24 hours. But I got my hopes up.
After the birth, he disappeared to get camera batteries, and didn’t come back for four hours. I was in a huge amount of pain, and distraught because I had yet to be able to hold our daughter.
It was clear he’d stopped caring about me at that point. But I was holding on to hope that once he saw our beautiful daughter, he’d want to be a family.
Instead, he was in and out of our lives, and then I started to hear that he had been seen around our town with a woman with long dark hair. When I questioned him, he told me she was just a friend. After he was with our daughter for a few hours when she was two months old, I found a long dark hair in my daughter’s chubby baby fist.
It was in that moment that I realized, finally, that I was only fooling myself. Well, that and my husband’s own father telling me to move on, that I could do better.
I cut off contact with him other than to directly deal with our daughter’s wellbeing. No more cuddles on the bed together that kept making me think he might come back. I accepted it was over.
I found out later that he had started having an affair with the woman with the long black hair just after I’d miscarried, a truth that I pieced together after incessant phone calls and more lies. I was so angry. He could have just left at that point, but he didn’t. Instead, he kept having unprotected sex with me after I would joyfully say, “Hey honey, I’m ovulating, let’s do it!”
It was his cowardice that hurt the most, that he’d never been man enough to just leave. I couldn’t understand why. We had been together for almost seven years—I thought I knew him.
But after realizing he wasn’t who I thought he was and that it was truly over, my heart started to heal. We got divorced six months later, which he paid for so that he could marry the “love of his life.” (Hilariously, I had a stack of love letters saying the same about me.)
Eventually I started dating again. And though it was disastrous and never went anywhere initially, it was fun. I spent time with the many friends who loved and supported me. I realized that I should never have been with my husband, that he had never really allowed me to be myself. My daughter gave me strength, and made me want more out of a partnership than I ever could have had as his wife.
We share custody of our now-12-year-old daughter, but to this day, he is only semi-interested in fatherhood and spends limited time with her, which suits us fine. He married the woman he left me for, and she has always been my daughter’s step-mother (she loves her, and I believe that she loves her back, which I’m very happy for). After five years as a single mom, I married an old friend from college and we went on to have two more children.
My ex-husband and I have never gotten to a point where things can be pleasant. I still wish he would just disappear, though I know that wouldn’t be best for my daughter. I don’t think I can ever forgive him for doing that to me—not the leaving, but the lying and cowardice. I’ve moved on, and the daughter I share with him is wonderful and brilliant.
I know that I’m happier than I ever would have been if I were still married to him, but that doesn’t mean that what he did hurts any less.
And if there’s a single mother in your life that you’re interested in, check out Single Moms Reveal the 20 Things You Need to Know About Dating a Single Mom.
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