After S’s father left, and my friends started to find out what had been going on, one of them christened him Twunty. This is what his name will be from now on.
I’ve written a lot about my breakdown. I’ve written about my birth story and the things that happened after S was born. I’ve not really written about my pregnancy, because it was still really hard for me to deal with. Three years later, I have the Timehop app on my mobile, and each day I am reminded of the things that happened while I was pregnant.
Here is a list:
- When the pregnancy test was positive, Twunty’s first response was “how do I know it’s mine?” I replied that I had been practically living with him since we first got together, and hadn’t left his side long enough to sleep with anyone else. His response to this? “well, you were pretty fat when you got here; you could have already been pregnant and looking to pin it on me.”
- In order to prove the baby was his, Twunty gave me his bank card and told me to buy a new pregnancy test on my way home from work the next day; it should be one of the ones that tell you how many weeks pregnant you are. I bought it, caught the bus to his house, and peed on the stick in front of him, in the bathroom. When it showed that I was “3 or more” weeks pregnant, he agreed that the baby was “probably” his and told me I should call all of my family and tell them the good news. I said I’d thought you were supposed to wait until 12 weeks to do that, and he said no, there was no need; his babies were sturdy and nobody ever miscarried his children.
- The weekend before I found out I was pregnant, Twunty picked a fight with me. To this day, I couldn’t tell you what it was about; I’ve been advised I must have blacked it out, and this is common in abusive situations. All I remember is feeling like he was constantly speaking, picking at me, and wouldn’t shut up. He told me we were splitting up and that I needed to leave the house immediately. It was approximately 11pm on a Saturday night and when I called my mother to drive my things across town, he called me a cunt for crying on the phone to her, making him look bad. Four of his children were wide awake and listening to all of this; their bedrooms did not have doors.
- Once he found out I was pregnant, Twunty decided we should get back together – but would regularly bring up the fight we had, blaming it on me – if I hadn’t said this, done that, behaved this way. It was brought up on a daily basis. I took a week off work to try and chill out and process what was going on; during that time he expected me to be at his house, looking after his children the whole time. As soon as I discovered I was pregnant I had come off my medication and as a result I was permanently exhausted and mentally all over the place. Not great when combined with the hormone fluctuations associated with the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. Luckily (for Twunty) though, he doesn’t believe in hormones or withdrawal symptoms from antidepressants. I am just being a bitch/a cunt/a twat/a dick. All this and more.
- One day, when he expected me to catch 2 buses across town to spend the evening with him, refereeing his children’s endless squabbling (because none has any possessions of his or her own), I said “actually, I’m going to stay at my house tonight, I’m pretty tired.” His response was the (now) predictable tirade of abuse, followed by a return to lambasting me for the argument I apparently started that caused us to split up before. My response, on the spur of the moment, was that if he was going to continue to blame me for it, and keep bringing it up, we would be better off splitting up.
- This time, we split for around a week and a half. During this time he slept with at least two other women – because I had been so heartless as to take his unborn child away from him.
- I changed my phone number and told everyone but him the new number. I texted him from the old number, telling him that if he could be civil, I would keep the phone switched on but the moment he was horrible to me, I would switch the phone off and not switch it back on until the next day. This was met with a torrent of abuse that went on over texts and emails for a number of days. I was emailed links to websites listing types of passive aggressive behaviour and begging me to get help. One day, the tone of his messages changed and he was all sweetness and light, begging me to let him see me. He later admitted that this was when his boss had joined the conversation and offered him some sage advice.
- It was during this time that I had my booking appointment with my midwife; I cried through the entire appointment. She told me he was projecting his own behaviour and failings onto me. She was of course right, and knew him through his wife’s numerous pregnancies. I should have listened more than I did, when she told me I was more than capable of doing this on my own.
- When we got back together that time, I insisted he have STD checks before I would go near him again. I refused to sleep at his house, and he said if I would stay there one night a week, he would sleep on the couch; I agreed.
- We split up and got back together again more times than I could even hope to remember during my pregnancy. During this time I was accused of sleeping around with anyone and everyone. He told numerous mutual friends (and probably his family too) that the baby wasn’t his, that I probably wasn’t even pregnant any way and was just taking him for a ride, that I had deliberately targetted him to get pregnant because I was over the hill (at the age of 30!) and nobody else would give me a baby.
- On more than one occasion, he told me I was not a fit mother, and he would take me to court and take the baby from me. I believed him; after all, he had six children living with him, and social services didn’t seem to be bothered.
- On the occasion of my 20 week scan, we had split up and I was trying to stay away from Twunty. My midwife (and several of my friends and family) had urged me to stay away from him in order to keep my stress levels under control. He begged me to be allowed to come to the scan, and I agreed, but brought my sister along for moral support. We offered him a lift to the hospital, even though there is a bus that goes there directly from his house. He declined. He arrived late, literally as I was going into the scan room. As we left, I discovered that he had got a lift to the hospital from his most recent ex, and she had waited outside for him.
- On Valentine’s Day 2012, Twunty was working and I had a meeting with my midwife before going to work myself. I had made him a cake and intended to bring it to his work on my way past but while I was talking to the midwife my doorbell rang. It was him; he handed me a bunch of flowers, a gift and a card before leaving. I found out later that I’d missed several calls and texts from him, even though he knew where I was and what I was doing. My “ruining” Valentine’s Day like this was brought up numerous times over the coming months, and was reasoning for what happened in the coming weeks.
- The day after Valentine’s Day, I had a day off; I never worked Wednesdays. I couldn’t get hold of him all day and was worried I’d upset him in some way. When I finally got hold of him it was mid-afternoon and I was surprised to find he had the day off work too; why hadn’t he told me? I found out (much) later he’d not told me because he was entertaining someone else that evening and all the following day.
- A week or so after Valentine’s Day, I’d barely heard from Twunty – which was unusual for him. He’d not returned my calls and had gone from texting me several times a day (all of which I must answer immediately on pain of tantrum) to barely contacting me at all. One morning I met him off the bus (he always caught a bus into town, but I should walk, in order to avoid putting on too much weight during pregnancy). I asked if something was going on and he said yes, he had a new girlfriend.
- I was inconsolable and in a mad state of panic. I went into work unable to even tell my boss why I was crying uncontrollably. My boss is a legend, and just sent me home. Here I spent the whole day crying, shaking and panicking. Over the next two weeks, I barely ate or slept. I would force down a rice cake here and there, but that was about it. I lost weight. One Saturday, I began to leak fluid. I told Twunty, but his girlfriend was there so he wasn’t interested. It stopped after a day or so; apparently this justified his lack of response.
- The new girlfriend lasted until she had served her purpose – showing me my rightful place under his thumb. On the day he split up with her, he had me meet him from work. I had said I’d like to still see his children and had been coming over to see them after school. When I met him, he was acting strangely and eventually told me he had split up with his new girlfriend. He took me out for a meal; it was okay, a friend we both knew was looking after the children. When we got back, I said hello to the girl and she reacted strangely – but she was always a little odd, so I thought nothing of it. When she left, Twunty’s youngest daughter told me the babysitter was pregnant. I went to Twunty and said we should give her some of the things we had for the baby; I knew she was a single mother with two children already, and figured money would be tight. Over the course of the afternoon/evening, it transpired that Twunty wanted to rekindle his relationship with me. I wanted to be with him; he was the father of my child and I was terrified of doing this alone; I believed I needed him, and I loved him. A short while after we had agreed to give it another go, his daughter dropped the bomb: the babysitter’s baby was a Twunty baby too. He grinned.
- It was made clear to me that this girl was pregnant because of me; because I’d treated him so badly and ruined Valentine’s Day for him, I’d driven him to her. I found out later that actually, at New Year when I’d wondered why he’d not texted me, he had been at a neighbour’s party trying to persuade a woman to come home with him – when the babysitter was already in his bed, waiting for him. This girl had grown up around the corner from me; my whole family knew her; her brother had been best man at my brother’s wedding. I had to tell my whole family what was going on, in case they heard it from someone else. I remember having a conversation with my sister in law, where I told her over and over again, “this is my own fault” while she told me over and over again I should get away from this situation.
- By stroke of dubious luck, the babysitter had her booking appointment with my midwife. She told Twunty this before the event, and assured him she wouldn’t tell the midwife he was the father; he suspected the midwife hated him (because of all the terrible lies I’d told her, obviously), and didn’t want her trying to turn me against him if she knew about this second baby. I thought everything was fine, until what turned out to be my last appointment with this midwife before I had S. We booked an appointment to sort out my birth plan, and made idle chit chat before she looked at me and said “of course, I did the babysitter’s booking appoitment the other day.” I was mortified; how could I explain to this lady what I was doing with this man? She already knew everything else, and now she knew this. I made some random excuses and left.
- Once I knew about the babysitter’s baby, she too had served her purpose. He changed his phone number so that she couldn’t contact him. When she blocked him on Facebook, I asked wasn’t he concerned about his unborn child? He had two responses to this whenever I asked. The first was no, she needs me more than I need her. The second was altogether more chilling. His basic opinion was that since I had been taking all manner of supplements since before I even got pregnant, didn’t smoke, and was eating reasonably well, I was growing the mother of all super babies. This girl, on the other hand, was “a bit of a mong” who smoked, and he was sure she wasn’t taking the Pregnacare tablets he’d bought her. At one point he actually said “oh my god, what have I done, I’m going to have a fucking mong for a child.” This girl and her baby were worth less than me and mine, apparently – as long as I played ball.
- A couple of months before my baby was due, so around this time of year, a friend of his family was nearing the end of her pregnancy. I knew he had had a brief relationship with her, and that she was now apparently a lesbian; she was good friends with his sister, who lived next door. One of our arguments in my early pregnancy had been about her; he needed to check when we had first got together, because he wasn’t sure whether this girl’s baby was his. When I confirmed the date, he said that was a relief; it meant her baby couldn’t be his. I felt terribly sorry for this girl; she was having some sort of complication was horribly uncomfortable. When she finally went into labour, she was in hospital for several days and lost a lot of blood. I went out and bought her some postnatal vitamins for him to give to her as a present – he was into that sort of thing. I looked after the children while he went to visit this girl when she finally left hospital. When he returned, he sat on the worktop and said “that baby is definitely mine; it looks just like me.” I was puzzled: “but you said it couldn’t be yours because of the dates.” his response was typical: “I told you I was still sleeping with her when I started seeing you. And she probably lied about the dates any way.” I asked what he intended to do about this child that was apparently his. His response was that he didn’t want to “spook” her by raising the issue with her; she might disappear and he would never see the child again. Instead, he would wait and bide his time. I don’t know if this girl ever knew of his spurious claim over her child; I feel guilty for not warning her though. I think she still lives locally.
- I moved into a new flat at a time I thought was two months before S was due. I had saved up my holiday at work,s so I began my maternity leave just before I moved. Twunty suggested I should live at his house, and go to the flat while he was at work in the day to unpack and sort things out. I would get up at 7 every morning, catch the bus to town with him, and unpack boxes at my house until it was time for him to finish work; then I collected him from work and went back to his house, collected the children from school, cooked them tea and did school work with them before going to bed. He did none of the above, though he did occasionally collect the children from school or oversee their cooking dinner.
- When I had been living in his house for a few days, Twunty told me, “you have to stay at your house tonight.” I was shocked and worried; I’d not even put the bed together yet, and there were no curtains. Still, I did as I was told. That day I put a double bed together on my own and put up net curtains in the bedroom. I got changed on the landing so that nobody would be able to see in (there was a balcony opposite my bedroom window) and stayed at my flat for the first time. I found out later (not from him) that the reason I’d been summarily dispatched to my flat was that he’d arranged for another woman to come over for sex that night.
Next: My Birth Story.