In the Fall of 2002, I went off to college like most recent high school grads. It was a small, private college in the upstate and I continued to do well. Halfway through my freshmen year, I started to date a guy that I knew from high school. He attended the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina which was three hours away from me. He wanted me to transfer to the College of Charleston to be closer to him, so I applied and was accepted.
We broke up before the semester even started my sophomore year and suddenly I was at a loss for why I was even there. I became depressed fast and after being there for a few months, I called my mom and asked her to come and get me. I was dropping out.
I returned home to Irmo in debt and no idea what direction I wanted to go in. I worked three jobs to pay off the credit cards I had run up while I was in school, but enjoyed the break for the time being. In January of 2004, just a few months after I had come back home, some coworkers and I were going to hang out that Friday after work. I still remember we were going to go see the Butterfly Effect with Ashton Kutcher — anyone remember that one?
Anyway, my coworker/friend had asked if one of her high school friend's and her brother could tag along. We all met up at my friend's house where I found out that the “brother” had just graduated from Marine Corps boot camp. He was also really cute, so I'm pretty sure that I was in trouble from the beginning.
We decided to ditch the movies, grab some beer and head back to the hotel where this guy was staying. If you have an idea as to where this is going, you are absolutely right. This Marine and I hit it off and ended up having a one-night-stand (yep, I said it). Not my finest moment for sure, but it was instrumental in the trajectory of my life.
A few weeks later, I missed my period (sorry guys who are reading this — not sorry). I went to the drug store, grabbed a pregnancy test and went home. I remember not even being nervous. I mean, WHAT are the chances that I get pregnant after being with someone ONE time?
Well, turns out the chances are pretty good because I was pregnant. I was also mortified. I had just turned 20 the week before and how in the hell was I going to explain this to my parents? My poor sister in law was the first person that I called. She was dealing with the recent loss of her mother and thought for SURE something awful had happened when I called her hysterical. “Oh, thank God! We can handle a baby” were her first thoughts and of course we laugh about it now.
Now, I know that I said my high school years were pretty uneventful….and they were for the most part. What I didn't talk about was the fact that I got pregnant at 17 (my senior year of high school) and promptly had an abortion. It would be one of the hardest things I've ever had to deal with in my entire life and even now it's hard to think about. At the time, I was scared and had no idea what to do. I was afraid of what my parents would say and what my peers would think. The only thing I was concerned about was “getting rid of it” so that's what I set out to do.
Are you cringing? I know, I know. It's hard to believe that it was ever me, but it was.
I had made a promise to God that I would never do that again. I was deeply sorry and ashamed for what I had done. A few weeks after my abortion, I had a dream that I didn't think had significance then, but it definitely did later. I was looking at the back of a man who was dressed in all white. He was holding a little girl, I'd say about 3 years old, with dark hair and big brown eyes. I didn't think too much about it at the time, but I later realized that was my daughter and she was being held by Jesus. I never had a little girl again even though I deeply wanted one and parts of me still feel like I am being punished for what I did. I killed the daughter that I had.
When I found out I was pregnant the second time, there was no going back. I mean, I promised GOD and I wasn't about to break it. I knew I was going to have my baby, but no idea how I would raise him and adoption was not out of the question. I told my mom and the reaction was as expected. In time though, she came around and was an incredibly good support for me during my pregnancy.
Are you wondering where the dad was? Well, I told my friend who told his sister who told his mom and his mom told him. Did you get all that?
He was pretty supportive during the pregnancy until I was 6 months along and stopped hearing from him. He was an active duty Marine and not easy to get a hold of. I later found out that he had gotten back with his ex-girlfriend and married her when I was 9 months pregnant. Are you gasping? It's okay. I was totally fine with it since I didn't even know the guy and my main concern was that he was there for our son.
During my pregnancy, I decided not to give my son up for adoption after my mom and step-dad gave me their blessing and said they would help me raise him until I could get to a steady place in my life. We got the most adorable nursery ready for him and my hospital bags were packed. I went to my weekly visit and was showing signs of pre-eclampsia. I was sent to the hospital in an effort to get my blood pressure down and it was there that I found out that I would need a c-section the next morning. I emailed my son's father since I had no other way of reaching him and let him know that our son would be born. I did not hear back from him and wouldn't for several months after my son's birth.
I was mad. Not only that, but I was very sick and depressed. My pregnancy had triggered an autoimmune disease called Hashimotos. It's where my immune system is trying to kill my thyroid gland and in response to the attack, the thyroid stops working. I literally could not get out of bed and my mom thought that I was just a “bad mom” and didn't want to take care of my baby. I could not even hear him cry at night. I went to the doctor where I was misdiagnosed with post-partum depression. If you're thinking that this was a shit show, it was.
To add insult to injury, my step-dad had several strokes while I was pregnant. The small support system that I DID have was gone. I decided to go on a mission to find this baby's father. I must have been on the phone all day calling different departments at Camp Lejeune when I finally had a breakthrough. Someone eventually told me what Battalion and Company he was in which allowed me to get in touch with his chain of command. It was a relief. My son's father was forced to start paying child support until we went to court which was hugely helpful. We finally went to child support court when my son was 18 months old — it was also the first time they met each other.
I never told Wesley that's who his dad was. It felt weird and not the right time. The next time we would see his dad would be his third birthday….and it changed our lives.
As the next year and a half went by, Wesley's dad and I had a cordial relationship. One day he called to tell me that him and his wife were getting a divorce and he would like to come and see Wesley for his third birthday that was coming up. Previously, his former wife would not allow him to come and visit our son. I had always maintained that he could come and see our son any time he wanted, so of course we welcomed him with open arms.
By this point, Wesley had started to ask where his daddy was. Everyone else at preschool had a daddy, so he knew he had one too! I made sure that his dad was on his way before I told him and it was the most precious and endearing thing I've ever seen. When the doorbell rang, Wesley ran through the house yelling “my daddy's here!” and when he opened the door, he looked up at his dad with those big blue eyes and said, “you wanna see my cars?”. Are you crying? It's okay, it still gives me chills!
That weekend Wesley was on cloud nine and I was not allowed to do anything for him….daddy had to do it! Something else was also happening. Wesley's dad and I fell head over heals in love that weekend. I also sat down and bawled my eyes out to him about how hard the past three years had been for me. To this day, he says the only thing he regrets in his life is that time where he married his ex and abandoned me and our son.
So, what happened to me and Wesley's dad? He happens to be my amazing husband, Derrick, and we are going on 11 years of marriage! What a story, right?
And don't let this story fool you. He is not the same person anymore and neither am I. He is the most supportive, loving, romantic and one of the best men I have ever known. Today, we are deeply in love and supportive of one another and I have no idea where I'd be without him in my life.