Today I got a message from M, saying he's contacted an attorney here. He says he wants to make the divorce process go as quickly and smoothly as possible. Sure sure, fine. I didn't see that coming, but whatever. He also said that his attorney said that we need to come up with a joint custody agreement so he can have a relationship with E.
At those words, my heart started beating a million miles a minute. I think that's the closest I've come to having an actual panic attack. Joint custody. Those words... they put massive, massive fear into my heart.
Theoretically, I want E to have a relationship with his father. Realistically, it's like I don't even know his father. We were together for 3 years, but with how differently he's acting now I may as well have been knocked up during a one night stand. Up until three days before I found out about the affair, M was telling me that everything was fine and he was happy. We had a sex life (albeit a kind of boring one, thanks to bed rest and child birth - but we had one!). We didn't fight other than occasional tiffs or disagreements that were usually resolved within the hour. I just cannot describe well enough how right and normal everything seemed. Then BAM - I found out about his affair, and suddenly he was this different person. He took up smoking, he was rude, he was horrible. And I promise it wasn't just the way I saw him - it wasn't a matter of perception. He really changed. Ever since I left I've been discovering more and more lies that he's told.. not just lies, but lies about lies. Layers of lies. A tangled web of lies. I simply do not know this man. This is not the man I thought I married. This is not the man I had a child with. And thinking of turning my precious, precious E over to him for any length of time terrifies me.
It's not like I can tell myself that he's E's father, and he loves him just as much as I love him. I want to tell myself that. I've tried telling myself that. All night tonight, I've been telling myself that he wants joint custody because he loves E, not because he's out to get me. However, I'm simply not sure that's true. M wasn't a devoted father from the beginning. While E was in NICU, on M's days off, he never wanted to stay more than 4 hours or so. I was at the NICU for 10-12 hours a day every day that M worked. I didn't think too much of it at the time - I thought maybe post traumatic stress from losing B made it hard for him to be there, to hear the same alarms we heard while watching her vital signs plummet, knowing she was going to die. He didn't ever want to change diapers - and in the NICU, changing diapers is a big deal. Changing dipes and taking temps are pretty much the only things you can do for your preemie at first, so it's a reasonable reaction to jump at the chance. Not M. He had to be badgered into it by myself and the nurses. And I believe it happened roughly twice. Seriously. He hated kangaroo care. He swaddle-held when E was big enough, but not too often. I always offered to let him hold when he would come, because I was there so much more, but he usually let me. At the time I thought he was being nice, because he knew how hard it was for me to be away from E. Once we got home, it was the same. He did two feedings on separate days after we got home - both so I could get some sleep, both on his days off. When he would get off work I'd ask him if he wanted to hold E, to spend some time with him while I got some things done, and he would say he was too tired from work and just wanted to relax.
Then, once I found out about the affair, he sent us away so easily. I asked him if we could just separate for awhile - if I could stay with his parents or another family member, 4 hours away, and he said no. He didn't ask to keep E overnight the night before we left (I was staying with a friend). He hardly showed any emotion saying goodbye to E before we left for the airport. I just didn't understand it. I still don't.
And what's more, he doesn't know E. He doesn't know that E is a little ticklish under his ribs, and sometimes you can get him to giggle that way. He doesn't know that E hates baths if you just give him one, but if you get in with him he loves them. He doesn't know that E doesn't eat much in the mornings, but eats constantly in the evening, and that it's normal for him. He doesn't know that you can't put E in pajamas that cover his hands or he'll be up all night because he can't find his thumb. He doesn't know that when E starts to get too tired, he starts fighting sleep, and you have to lay him on your chest and give him his pacifier, and even though he still fusses when you do that, he'll be fast asleep in five minutes. He just doesn't know him.
I fought so hard for this baby. I agonized through the first trimester, praying I wouldn't miscarry like I did my first pregnancy. I spent the second trimester so nervous that he was just going to fall out, or I was going to go into labor. I got progesterone shots once a week. They hurt, and made me crazy emotional (on top of regular pregnancy hormones!). (Sorry to any readers doing fertility treatments - I know a once a week shot is NOTHING!) I had an ultrasound probe up my hoo-hoo every two weeks. I spent six weeks on hospital bed rest. I didn't cheat. All my nurses always commented on how compliant I was - I was only up to go to the bathroom, and even though I was allowed to shower every day, I only showered every other day. When I showered every day I felt much more pelvic pressure and it made me nervous. I had IV's, and I had to wear these dumb things on my legs to prevent blood clots. I had to have NST's twice a day. I had constant contractions. Some were dang uncomfortable. I ate hospital food for six weeks! I took Procardia, and it gave me the headache from hell and made my face turn bright red. It lowered my blood pressure so when I did get up to go to the bathroom, I had to do so very slowly as not to pass out. I was given terbutaline a couple of times, and that is really nasty stuff. I had more cervical checks than you can imagine. I had to discuss my every bodily function with strangers twice a day, often with my husband in the room. It was humiliating. I was on Labor & Delivery, trying to sleep on a delivery table, for THREE DAYS because I was too far gone for Antepartum but my labor had stalled out. I had painful contractions every 20 minutes during those 3 days, and every 3-5 minutes for hours at a time during those days. I was on mag. I was given terb about 2 hours before I delivered. And after delivery, once they took E to NICU, the first thing I did was ask for a pump. In NICU, I stayed with him 10-12 hours a day. I pumped every 3 hours, often at bedside in the NICU. I talked to him. I kangarooed. When I wasn't allowed to hold him, I just sat and daydreamed. About all the things we would do together when he got big, because if I didn't, my thoughts told me he was going to die like B did. I cried every time I left him - I relived the horror of walking out of the hospital empty handed after B died every single night. And when he finally came home, I did it on my own. M didn't take any time off of work. I did all his care every 3 hours (I was a NICU mom, so he got diaper changes, temps, and feeds every 3 until he would wake for feeds, etc.) and I pumped every 3 hours, and did nursing practice at all daytime feedings before his bottle. That left next to NO time for sleep, and I was so tired I couldn't see straight. And when I found out about the affair, I begged M to work it out. Because I wanted E to have an intact family. I swore to myself that if he ever cheated again, I'd leave, no questions asked. But when it came down to it, my son was more important than my dignity.
And M? He is playing house with another woman and her children. But because he donated his sperm to make this exquisitely perfect child, he still has rights.