When my 7 year old daughter drew this picture of her father in June, I couldn’t stop myself from cracking up the moment I saw it, “Oh ho ho! Poor Papi!!” I said. Poor Papi indeed. Papi just looked at it. He didn’t laugh. Then he said, “Oh. Yeah. That’s me.”
It’s a very realistic drawing. I mean, she even got the bags under the eyes right. The fucked up knee. The shoulder pain. If you look closely, it’s all there. He’s sitting on the carpeted stairs in our house looking rather introspective.
Husbands don’t come cheap.
My husband José is Papi, and he hasn’t had an easy life. I think it’s fair to ask, “Who has?” Life is difficult in some way for all of us. Millennials and non-millennials. José’s pain, however, runs deep, and it is chronic. Far be it from me to explain it – I don’t even understand it. And that has been the bane of our marriage for the past 7 and a half years.
I have never understood, and I have never been able to help. I have always felt like an outsider looking in at a caged beast in an alien world that I was somehow also a part of. During my years as an Army wife and especially during the year immediately following them, I felt as though I was nothing but a punching bag for my husband. There was nothing I could ever do or say that would “make things better.” In fact I was probably the last person in the world who ever could.
I feel like women are most often considered or heard to be under valued and under appreciated. We don’t always think about men. But men have feelings too, and they are no less potent than ours, and no less deserving of attention. Unfortunately they somehow seem to get swept under the rug and forgotten about. Until it’s time to vacuum and we sneeze our heads off.
I think it’s pretty obvious what social mores have brought us here. The question is now, what can we do about it? Of course, we can teach our sons to emote better.
But what about the men in our lives right now? I think we should ask ourselves what we can do for them. Before we start sneezing.
Without an overtly cathartic experience, feelings can either end up tangling themselves up into a big ball of knots, or they can fester and invade the sanity of our lives. My husband made this clear to me when he could only explain his feelings as “confusing.” If our men cannot even explain their own feelings to themselves, how can we possibly ever hope to understand them?
And we thought women were confusing! Honestly, I don’t think traditional ways of thinking about men vs. women’s emotions apply to millennials anymore. I think we’re more fucked up than previous generations thanks to the advent of social media during our teen and college years, and thanks to expectations in the workplace. I’m not sure that healthy “emotional regulation” is something anybody “knows how to do”anymore.
Over time pain dulls, or we just get used to it. So over time things “got better” as life distracted us with plenty of adulting to do. Finally, life started to feel somewhat “normal.”
The truth is, feelings are complicated, and it takes a whole lot of understanding of the nitty gritty of a story in order to extract them. That’s why I’m going to tell you a story. It’s not a short story, but if you don’t understand the details, you don’t understand the feelings. So just bear with me.
The best laid plans…
“Did you plan it.”
“Oh, we planned it. But then we unplanned it. But by then it was too late.”
It’s funny now, sure. But at the time, it was so not funny.
When my husband José and I found out that I was pregnant with our third child, we completely freaked out. It was nothing short of terrifying, and for a time afterwards, the shock lingered. It was probably a good 3 weeks before we came to terms with it.
Planned or unplanned, married or not, settled and stable or not, finding out you’re pregnant is not always a joyful experience. Most of the time, it’s also very scary.
It was 5 days before Father’s Day, and if I had been in my right mind, I would have hid the p-stick and wrapped it in a gift box to give to José on Father’s Day, but naturally, I was freaking out. So I just left it on the bathroom sink counter for him to find.
The first thing José did when he saw it was sit down and write a pros and cons list. On one side was column A, and on the other side was column B. I would show you a picture, but I was so disgusted by it that I threw it away shortly thereafter.
He wrote it in orange sharpie on the back of a priority mail envelope.
He said that I had two choices. I could A, not have the baby and join the Air Force as I’d planned, or B, have the baby and say goodbye to my career forever. I couldn’t speak. The lump in my throat was too sharp. All I could do was sit there and cry.
All I could think was that he had made the appointment for me to get my IUD taken out in April. He had driven me to the appointment. He had sat next to me while the woman was taking it out. Now I was feeling like he didn’t support me at all. He didn’t support the pregnancy and the new baby he had intentionally conceived.
We didn’t talk to each other for 2 weeks
For the next few weeks, I was very angry, depressed, lonely, and downright heartbroken. On top of all that every day I felt sicker and sicker. I spent nearly every minute I was not at work crying, even on the drive there and the drive home. When I couldn’t cry anymore I slept.
The thought of having an abortion made me cry uncontrollably. I felt like my life was over, that I would have to divorce my husband and take care of this baby alone and that I’d never, ever let him see his child. I dreamed of running away, and actually packed bags… But then the only alternative, the thought of ending my pregnancy, was equally as horrible.
Finally, I decided to take some action. I made an appointment at the Colorado Springs Pregnancy Center for a free ultrasound, so that we could find out if the conception date was close enough to my ovulation date to have made a boy.
In order to understand why José (and I) were so upset, you need to understand that we’d planned to do everything in our power to conceive a boy. We’d researched everything we could do. I ate an alkaline diet and José was supposed to be eating alkaline as well but to be honest I have no idea if he was or not because I was working a lot and not cooking a whole lot. I just wasn’t paying attention.
But then in June, our life suddenly plunged into chaos. Because when does that not happen about every 6 months or so? I was finally realizing that my career choice in real estate wasn’t a good choice for me, and it wasn’t working out at all. I had spent at that point thousands of dollars and hadn’t made any money at all. What was worse, I didn’t have any client prospects or deals on the horizon that would make me any money in the foreseeable future, and I never had money for marketing in the first place.
Not only was I out of money and out of hope, I was depressed and hating life. I had decided to join the Air Force, and begun working with a recruiter.
So we stopped trying. But everyone knows that condoms don’t work.
When I was one day late getting my period and worried about a day 3 days before when we hadn’t used protection, I sent José to buy a Plan B. He came back with one, but also an electronic pregnancy test. He asked me to take the test first.
Seeing the word “pregnant” come up on the screen shocked me. In that half-second, everything about my future I had envisioned changed instantly and radically.
Since we weren’t trying, I wasn’t sure exactly when I had conceived. The situation was even more out of control than just “being pregnant” because we were supposed to have sex at a very specific time in order to conceive a boy, and we hadn’t been paying attention to the dates because we hadn’t been trying.
An ultrasound would help me narrow down the date and determine if we even had a chance of having conceived a boy. For those who don’t know, it’s very simple: male sperm die within 24 hours and female sperm live up to 72. So if you want a boy you need to know when you are ovulating and you need to have sex the day before, or on that day.
Ovulation is what happens when an egg is released and a woman is most fertile. The tricky part is knowing when you’re ovulating. There are 3 different ways to track it: Body Basal Temperature (BBT), Ovulation Prediction Kits (OPKs), and my favorite method just because it is freaking cool: ferning. Looking for ferning patterns in saliva however requires a microscope (a toy one works), and we just didn’t have time to get that into it.
José proved how committed he was by buying a BBT thermometer and surprising me with it one day after work. I used it for two months before we found out I was pregnant.
I’ve read some articles about how it’s not accurate, but for me it was accurate in that my temperature spiked about half a degree when I was ovulating, and it actually spiked almost a whole degree after I got pregnant. For the longest, I was confused about why I was running so hot (I’m normally about 97.6 but pregnant I’m almost 98.6).
… I know it’s hard! But I promise PART 2 is on it’s way to the blog tomorrow ❤ Hang tight peeps and look out for the rest of the story… (Read PART 2 now!)