Saturday, April 2, 2016

Not the Man I Once Knew...

So me and Nathan have been together for 8 years, going on 9 this summer. We’ve been through alot together. About a year and a half ago we decided that we did indeed want to have children and get married, but Nathan was unsure. Our biggest difficulty at the time was that I still hadn’t met his entire family. His mother and father along with both his siblings live in Australia. Nathan asked me to come to Australia to meet his father and brother, and I agreed -- which was a huge deal because of my absolutely debilitating fear of flying. I decided that if I was flying halfway around the world, I might as well keep going and go see all the places I wanted to see before I settled down. Nathan and I took a three month trip around the world, during which we became pregnant and subsequently lost the pregnancy at eight weeks, about two weeks before we returned to the States.

During our time in Australia, I met Nathan’s brother and I really enjoyed his company. Mostly, I knew how much Nathan wanted to “help” his brother. His brother, Gareth, at 33 years old, is a bit of a recluse. He took his parents divorce very hard. Nathan’s parents got divorced when Nathan was 18 (he is now 36). When Nathan turned 18 he was accepted to UCLA and so his mother flew him over to the States (they were living in Australia). She brought along Gareth and their sister Jennifer, and expected/hoped that their father would soon be following them. While she was helping Nathan get settled into school she received divorce papers from her husband and she rushed back to Australia to try and salvage the situation. The situation was unsalvageable, and a nasty divorce fight ensued. For some reason, Nathan’s mother never moved back to the states -- although she desperately wanted to be close to her family, which initially why she came over in the first place when Nathan was accepted into university. She’s lived there ever since.

Knowing how badly Nathan wanted to help his brother, I decided to invite him along for our world tour. Gareth had recently bought a condo, and it was a very big deal to him that he had moved out of his mother’s house and had a semblance of independence. But he hated his job, and he was planning on quitting, taking some time off, and I guess figuring out what his next move was. I wanted Nathan and Gareth to bond, I wanted us all to quit our jobs and take a year off, during which we would live in one of my family’s properties down in Guatemala and work on making fun game apps. For the most part, everyone was on board. I helped Gareth figure out that he could rent out his condo and continue paying the mortgage instead of selling and losing money on it. We were in Australia for a month, but our time was running out and we had to catch our next flight to England, so we left Gareth behind to take care of some things and agreed that he would meet us in Spain in one-two weeks time.

Our first week together was great. All three of us enjoyed each other’s company. Gareth and I, well -- I felt like we got along like brother and sister, and it made me happy. I overstepped boundaries with him, and during (what I considered was a fun back-and-forth) I made a comment that he took to heart. He said something witty to me, and I said “Wow! Kitty has claws.” It was the beginning of the end of our relationship. He was offended that I would think that he “didn’t” have claws, whereas, I just used a random expression that I thought was fitting for the situation after he got me good. Mostly, I was just amazed at the flip in personality I saw. In retrospect, I imagine that I was the one suffering from a flip in personality. I was nearly a month pregnant by then and I had no idea. I was throwing up, feeling ill, but pregnancy was the furthest thing from my mind -- I assumed having children was just going to be very difficult for us.

Anyway, fast forward another few weeks, and we’re all together in Greece. We’ve taken a ship out to one of the islands, Milos, and I have reached a level of loathing for Gareth that I didn’t think was possible. He’s asked Nathan to stop holding my hand when we’re out and about because it makes him uncomfortable, something that never before had bothered him. The mere fact that Nathan is considering giving in to the request makes me furious. I want to this here and blame the hormones, but I don’t know if I can. I want to pretend that I am more understanding than I actually am, and say that I understand and see Gareth’s point. He’s traveling around with a couple, and he’s the odd-man-out -- I should have done more to make him feel comfortable. But the truth is, I am angry and selfish. This is my once in a lifetime trip, and the idea that I don’t even get to hold my fiance's hand feels like the worst thing in the world.

To make matters worse, I am feeling so sick that I am just certain I’ve come down with something very serious. I even imagine that I have cancer. My little sister convinces me to take a pregnancy test just to rule out the possibility. So I do it. Much to my surprise and immediate joy, I am pregnant. Nathan is the third person to know, after the poor greek man who had to translate the results for me, and Gareth is the fourth. But there’s no joy on his face when we tell him. He doesn’t seem happy -- and really why should he be? This changes everything. Suddenly, I don’t like the idea of Nathan quitting his job, of taking a year off and living in Guatemala. I change everything, and rightly so -- Gareth resents me for it.

Nathan, who has been caught up in the middle of all of this up until now, doesn’t say anything decisive until a week later, when we find out that we’ve lost the baby. The strong little heartbeat I saw during that first ultrasound is gone. Gareth never speaks to me about the loss, he doesn’t really speak to me at all anymore. My little sister has joined us, and we’re all together in Rome along with one of her friends who was traveling with her. I have support through the loss, but Nathan has nothing. Gareth wants to talk about his shattered dreams, but he never once asks Nathan how he’s handling the loss. This, and perhaps other things that I don’t know about, end up being too much for Nathan to bare. He gives up trying to fix things. He buys his brother a flight back to Australia, because that’s what he’s asked for, and the last time I see him is when we’re all in Venice together.

We return to the States and I am a jumble of mixed feelings. I want to get married right away, I don’t want a big wedding anymore. I want to make sure that the baby we lost has a proper family, a mother and father. I am also anxious to try again. Was Milos a fluke? Can we have another baby? Will I lose another baby? Is there something wrong with me? Is my body capable of carrying a baby to term? I need answers, but my body needs time to heal. Three month’s worth of time. Meanwhile, Nathan has grown distant. We talk about marriage, but he feels pressured. I can’t begin to understand him -- what is there to think about? We tried and we succeeded at creating life, we’re parents as far as I am concerned, even if our little one never made it to birth. I beg him to try again, he’s concerned about my health and my mental well-being. He also mentions his uncertainty, he doesn’t know what he’s going to do anymore -- stay in the States or move to Australia to be with his family. We’re hearing bad things about Gareth. He’s living in his mom’s house, he’s become a pretty severe recluse. He’s refusing to see his father or sister, and his mother is suffering because he’s so severely depressed.

In a moment of desperation, I ask him to help me make a baby, even if his intention is to leave me. I say that I cannot fathom the idea of looking for someone else, of waiting to make sure that I love them -- how long will that take? Do I even have enough time to wait? I am turning 30 this year. Nathan says he can’t do that. He says it’s wrong, and I say it’s worse to have wasted 8 years of my life. We argue endlessly about it. He says he tried to leave me but I wouldn’t let him, and I argue that I could never force him to do something he didn’t want -- that if he stayed with me, it’s because he loves me. Reluctantly, he admits that he does love me. Our life consists of vicious arguments during the day and then absolutely sweet and comforting moments at night when we slept in each other’s arms. I tell him that we can’t be wrong, not when our fights end this way, not when neither of us can stand to leave things badly. It’s a good sign, I say -- a sign that we can make a marriage work.

We try to make a baby, and we succeed on our fourth try. I am terrified. I am so sure we’re going to lose this baby, I am so certain it’s going to happen again. Still, I beg Nathan to marry me. He doesn’t want to. On the day that our wedding is scheduled in the courthouse, he tells me he’s still not sure. I break down in tears. I don’t even know what I am crying about anymore. I don’t know if I am more afraid of losing the person I love or being a single parent, or just the idea of going through the loss of another pregnancy alone. I am that sure that I am going to lose this baby.

He marries me.

Things are worse in Australia. We don’t really hear from his mother anymore. His mother always writes to me on Skype, we have a good relationship. She’s been a guest at my parents house and my parents adore her. But now she’s not around, and I am worried because during those last few days with Gareth when we were in Venice, I didn’t trust him. I slept with a knife in our room, I worried over the safety of my little sister. No, he never showed himself to be violent. Not once. But it was just a feeling. So I pester Nathan to try and reach out to his mom. When he hears back, things sound really bad and he decides that he has to go. I am 17 weeks pregnant, I have started to feel little flutters from our baby, and I just saw him during a 12 week scan. He’s perfect. We’re really going to have a baby. I tell Nathan to go, even though I hate the idea of him flying, and I hate the idea of him coming face to face with his brother, and I hate the idea of being alone when I am pregnant. But I am not really alone. We’ve been living in my parents house ever since we got back from our trip last August. We’re saving money to buy a house.

Nathan comes back. His entire attitude about his brother has changed. He’s hardened it seems. Gareth needs to grow up -- he’s being ridiculous, that’s what he says. I don’t like Gareth, but I still think he needs help, and I still would like to be one of the people to offer it. There’s another change, Nathan has made a decision. He’s going to move back to Australia in October, and I can either come with him or I can stay behind. Honestly, he says, he doesn’t think it’s a good idea for me to come along. He says I’ll be unhappy, and that I’ll miss my family and resent him. Honestly, he says, he doesn’t want me to come with him but he can’t stop me if I decide to come. I ask him if he’s willing to leave me, and with a little more disbelief, if he’s willing to leave our baby. He says he doesn’t really feel like the baby is his because it will be half hispanic. He says we’ve made a terrible mistake by mixing races and that our baby will be a mongrel. I point out that we all are to some degree, and he just says that it will be worse for our son. He says that if he leaves to Australia and I don’t come with him, then he doesn’t want to have anything to do with the baby. He says, I can tell him he’s dead. I don’t know if he means these things or if he’s...angry at me. He says that I forced him, that I trapped him. I say, I thought we loved each other. He says he does love me, but it’s still wrong -- we made a mistake. And I feel our little baby kick, kick the hardest he’s ever kicked, and I realize he’s reacting to Nathan’s voice. In the middle of this fight, our little baby is wiggling around like crazy, more than I’ve ever felt in these past weeks. Maybe it’s not to Nathan that he’s reacting but to me, my elevated heart rate, my sadness, my panic.

I am panicked. We had talked about this so much, about our family. He wanted me to be a stay-at-home-mom, we were going to homeschool, we were going to have piano lessons and camping trips. But now I know he doesn’t love our baby. He says, there’s no way our baby will be white, because one drop of my blood makes him hispanic. I am suddenly afraid of what my baby will look like. If he’s not blue-eyed like his father, Nathan won’t love him. I never thought I’d worry about my baby’s looks.

There’s no resolution so far. Nathan is here, we live together, we sleep together, and I take care of him to the best of my abilities. I am trying to be a good wife. He’s here because he figures I need the health insurance, but he’s still planning on leaving. I did ask him to stay until after the birth. He asked me if it was because I wanted him to fall in love with the baby. I half-laugh and half-cry. I am so scared of giving birth, and for some crazy reason I still see him as my best friend. I want him to hold my hand and comfort me as I try to squeeze this baby out of me.

He teases me now about whether or not I am coming with him. He says we can keep our little family if I move with him to Australia. I don’t want to move. I don’t want my child not to have a father, but I find myself wondering what kind of father Nathan will be. I feel like he’s already told me what he wants -- a divorce, to have nothing to do with me or the baby, to pretend like the last 9 years didn’t happen. A part of me wants to insist that it’s not real. That there’s no way in hell this is the man I fell in love with, that this is the man I’ve been with for the past 9 years.

I am not prepared to be a single mother, and although Nathan doesn't consider our marriage valid (since it was just a court issued marriage license), I feel that because of my faith I will be alone the rest of my life. It’s strange to say that, because it makes it sound like all I care about is having someone to sleep with, that’s not what I mean. I want him, the man I decided to marry. I want his companionship and support. Financially, I wouldn’t be a successful mother right now, that’s not to say I won’t try my fucking hardest for this baby. I am fortunate and blessed enough to have the support of my family. My mother does not want me to leave. I’ve told her everything. I personally won’t survive without my family. I need my mother and father, I can’t really even think about leaving them. And then again, I don’t even feel like I am really welcome to come along with Nathan.

I am asking for advice, for a fresh perspective on this. I know how easy it is to say he’s an asshole and I should let him go, but I have spent 8 years with this man. It’s not that easy. For every bad thing there have been wonderful things. This new, racist perspective, I don’t even know how to react to it really.