I have avoided writing this post since I first began to blog, but I have reached a point where I now find it necessary. I will not approve any comments left on this post.
In 2005, my then-fiance and I learned that we were pregnant. She was terrified to tell me, certain I would break our engagement and leave her. I had, after all, been outspoken that I was apprehensive of having children. I suppose it was a reasonable fear for her to have, though I like to think she should have given me more credit than that. Regardless, once I got past the initial surprise, I found I was very enthusiastic about it. Even when we were told we were going to have twins, I remained upbeat. I was, after all, finishing my bachelor's studies at the University of Louisville and planning to go onto grad school, then into teaching. It wasn't necessarily the most ideal timing but I felt we were headed into a really solid phase of our lives. I was very excited.
We originally had a late Spring wedding scheduled, but opted to move it up to January, between school semesters. It was the practical thing to do, and our plans were hardly lavish by any means. I remember sitting at Waffle House one night, each of us thumbing through books of baby names, brainstorming what we would call our children. Before we even knew that we would have twins, I bought a small baseball-themed outfit. Regardless of sex, it was something I was willing to dress my child in. Then I learned we were having one of each, and I began to think of finding something for my daughter to wear.
I never got the chance.
One night, while having pizza with some friends, she began to miscarry. It was soul-crushing. She had endured it before, in her first marriage. It was all new to me. We holed up in our apartment, not wanting to be bothered by anyone. Her mother flouted our wishes and barged in anyway. I went into another room and closed the door until she left. It was all I could do to ensure I remained even remotely civil. I am not a person who wants people around him when he's at his worst. I do not want visitors in the hospital, I don't want consolation calls after things go wrong and I certainly did not want someone flopping down in my living room with faux cheeriness while I tried to process what had happened.
See, contrary to popular belief, we guys sometimes actually care about things like whether our children are carried to term. I could spin out of this an entire spiel about my misgivings over how marginalized men have become in the discussion of reproductive rights, but that is not the purpose of this post so that'll have to keep for another time. What matters is, I was entitled to hurt and heal on my own terms and I was denied that. It set a tone for the last six years.
Being that my wife had previously gone through a miscarriage, I deferred to her entirely. I never really spoke with her about my feelings. I assumed she had a process she needed to follow and I didn't want to make it any harder on her than it already was. My role was to suffer in silence, because anything else would have only added to her burden. So that's what I did.
Throughout the next several months, I came to better understand just what living with Crohn's disease meant (chronicled in "My Hate/Hate Relationship with Crohn's"). I became paranoid about ever going through another pregnancy. I was just as afraid of another miscarriage as I was afraid of actually trying to raise a child from the bathroom. What if I passed on Crohn's disease? What kind of relationship could we even have, when he or she would look to me as an abject failure? At that time, we had a pet rabbit and I joked that I had a hard enough time taking care of him, I was in such bad shape half the time. It was presented as a joke, but the truth is I really was terrified of the logistics of fatherhood.
I also had my own misgivings because of my relationship with my own dad. The short version is, we've both been highly disappointed in one another since my childhood and we both know it. I despise June because I hate hearing about Father's Day and how everyone in the world has "The Best Dad Ever" and whatnot. Maybe they do. I don't know. I just know I don't. I have no idea what an actual dad is supposed to be like, and if I'm being entirely honest, I do carry some resentment toward everyone who does.
"You would make a great dad!" my wife would insist whenever the subject would arise. Others agreed with her, though I don't think any of them ever really thought it through, or meant it if they did. As things continued to collapse for us throughout 2006, it became apparent that I was in no position to take care of anyone or anything. That hasn't changed.
Despite whatever good qualities some of you may see in me, the truth of the matter is that if you didn't know me and someone described just my situation, you would be appalled at the very idea of someone like me being so selfish and irresponsible as to have a child he couldn't take care of properly. No one ever wants to admit that, but it's the truth. I know it because Nancy Grace and the 6:00 news staffs across the country make a living railing about people like me being unworthy of being responsible for children. "They should be with people who can take care of them," you know. If I had money, it would merely be unfair to the child but since I'm poor, it would be a social injustice. It would be just a matter of time before someone wanted to take away any child I might have had.
We briefly discussed adoption, but it was very quickly made clear that I was an insurmountable liability. When you're poor and in dubious health, you're unfit for adoption.
This month, my twins would have been six years old. I have thought about them every day since my wife told me she was pregnant. I imagine what they might be like, what movies they might have liked, or what books I might have read to them at night. I wonder what activities might have interested them. Would they have been introverted or extroverted? What would their laughs sound like? How long could I go before they realized how disappointed they should be with me?
I wanted to discuss this with my therapist, but last December I had to miss a session because I felt entirely too miserable to even leave bed. I was billed a $25 cancellation fee, despite the fact they were already aware that what brought me there in the first place was that I felt entirely worthless because of Crohn's and what it had done to derail my life. That $25 fee told me that all I was to the therapist's office was a copay, and last month I made my final payment to their office. I seriously need to see someone qualified to help me with these things, but it turns out that in America, mental health problems aren't for the poor. If you're poor and you're disturbed, well...that's your fault for being poor. And anyway, in a capitalist society, being poor is a sign that you've failed. Failures shouldn't be contented with their lives. Failures should be miserable.
So that's what I am. I'm miserable. This isn't a relapse of depression and no one needs to freak out thinking I'm hiding self-destructiveness or anything like that. It's an issue I've struggled to process for six years and because I have no other recourse, I have resorted to trying to address it with this blog post.
There is nothing unique about my/our situation. It happens to numerous couples and individuals around the world, every day. Some of you will read this and be upset there isn't more help for people like me. Some of you will read it and resent my even complaining about any of this. You're welcome to share whatever comments you have but, as I indicated in my introductory remarks, I will not approve any of them for this post.