The Baby That Wasn’t Mine

by Scott on October 17, 2011

I walked into the hospital soaking wet from a late-Fall monsoon with my stomach suddenly in my throat. I didn’t want to be there. My eyes were scanning for anyone I might know so I could duck away before being noticed. My legs somehow got me to the reception desk, which seemed to have an invisible force field around it. “Um yeah, I’m here to sign away the rights to the kid that isn’t mine,” I think is what came out of my mouth.

“You need to what?”

“I need to sign an affidavit. My ex-wife just had her baby here. She got pregnant while we were still married”.

By now both the receptionist and I had turned a brilliant shade of crimson.

“OK, you need to speak to her.” She stammered out, pointing to a lady who reminded me of piece of granite with silver hair, and who was in the process of publicly chewing out some young nurses. Great.

How in the hell did I get here? I felt I was suddenly placed in the middle of some crappy Lifetime movie, except there was no director to yell “Cut!” The past few years had been a bitch. I had put up with enough disrespect and hurt to last a lifetime. Now some arcane Puritan law was forcing back into the three-ring circus I had escaped, for hopefully the last time. I felt like adding an addendum to New Hampshire’s state motto; something like “Live Free or Die…. Unless Your Wife Gets Knocked Up By Another Dude Which You Are Then Responsible For The Child.”

To make it clear, our marriage was over already. She had wanted her freedom and independence. Nothing I could do or say could stop that….and I was exhausted from trying. We split in December and finalized the divorce by April (that’s where the whole ‘Live Free or Die’ motto comes in handy…along with having no kids). She was pregnant in a month or so of me moving out, though I wouldn’t find out until June.

By then I had already turned the corner, living a life I didn’t think was possible. I was on fire, crossing off goal after goal, having fun for the first time in ages. When a friend of mine passed on the news that she was pregnant it was like a sledge hammer hit me in the gut. I don’t know why I took it so hard. Maybe it was mourning the loss of what once was, what could have been, or even some sort of weird paternal instinct kicking in that made me want to care for someone again, but I suddenly felt worthless and alone. I was a mess. After the tears were dried, the urge to vomit subsided, and I got tired of listening to Johnny Cash on an endless loop, I took it as a message for me to let go for good (interesting how life works, as I met the girl I would eventually become my wife just days after this little breakthrough).

More humble pie came a few weeks later after a good friend suddenly passed. The ex and I were both at the service, her looking very pregnant, and the two of us forced to face some old friends. “It’s not yours right?” was the most popular question of the day. The Awkward Meter was so off the charts that I’m sure there were lab students at Stanford wondering what the hell was going on in New Hampshire. One of the more surreal events of my life is an understatement.

I wouldn’t hear from her again until that cold and rainy day when she called me from her hospital bed and informed me of my choices; come down to sign the affidavit at the hospital or wait and do it at the court house. I jumped in the car.

I hadn’t thought about this story in awhile. It was easier to not write about and keep it wrapped up, but I throw out some wisdom now and again on this blog and I want people to know I’m not preaching from a pedestal. I’ve been in the trenches just like you, been embarrassed, humiliated, had shit thrown at me been made to feel less than I am. I know what it’s like to suffer loss, to be broke, and to fail …… a lot. I also write this for myself. It’s my story, my history, and a reminder of where I came from. We are bigger than the stories we tell ourselves of why we can’t. As for the ex, I don’t know her anymore. We haven’t talked since that phone call years ago and for all I know she’s out saving the world somehow. I wish her no ill will, life goes on, we move forward.

I had been waiting in the lobby for 10 minutes which seemed like 10 hours. The head nurse, she reminded me a little of Kathy Bates with the same bedside manner in the movie Misery, was chewing up and spitting out everyone and everything in her path. I was up next. As she came up to me she transformed into something I didn’t expect….a real person, who was even kind and gentle. “Ok honey, no need for you to be here any longer than you have to,” she exclaimed as she whisked me away into a nearby office. I started to breathe again.

Going through the forms I noticed she was staring at me intently. “I’m surprised you didn’t kill her,” she blurted out, with a look that also said “I would enjoy taking care of that myself if you want me to.” It made me laugh.

I walked out of the hospital and into the freezing rain without looking back. I felt like Andy Dufresne after he crawled through a mile of shit to escape the Shawshank prison.

Appropriately JT’s ‘Cry Me a River’ was on the radio when I got in the car. Finally a smile came over me. I was cold, I was wet, and I was free.

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