The following is the latest in a series of journal entries chronicling the author’s descent into next-gen gaming degeneracy and assorted geekery– from getting his first television in years to trying to figure out why the @$@$&@@ you need two goddamn directional pads just to walk down an effing hallway.
I think I need to tell you that three weeks ago, I lost my unborn daughter.
In the eight hours I spent in the ER afterward, as The Girlfriend of the Year kept bleeding and bleeding and bleeding, and I threw a bed pad soaked with blood into the garbage behind her bed, or watched her, clammy and unnaturally cold in the ambulance on the way there, I have never been so scared about another human being in my entire life.
Just days before Amelia got pregnant, I broke up with her.
I ran off to Boston, so mixed up and afraid of how I felt about her that I thought she was little more than a stranger at best, a malevolent force at worst.
When I got back from my weekend escape, we sat on the second floor of the Burger King near Penn Station for hours nibbling at french fries and trying not to draw glances before deciding, tentatively, to get back together, though neither of us could entirely say why.
At that moment, I believed in nothing other than I didn’t want to never see her again.
I gave her hardly anything to believe in at all.
A few weeks later, she returned from a trip with a friend and stopped by my office to pick up my keys. She just wanted to spend the night at my place, she said, to wake up next to me in the morning.
I was working the late shift, but when I got home around 3 a.m., the lights were still on. I knew something was wrong.
“I’m pregnant,” she told me.
It was Easter weekend.
I couldn’t imagine how I would continue. I was so scared by Easter morning that when I looked at her asleep in bed next to me, I saw not the beautiful woman I was falling in love with but some kind of demon and I thought, “She’s finally done what she set out to do. She’s finally found a way to ruin my life.”
Realizations can take years. I’m still figuring a whole lot of shit out. But the moment that thought crossed my mind, that she had lured me in, gotten herself pregnant, and was hell-bent on making a family with me – all as part of an evil plan to destroy me – one realization hit quick:
I was the biggest fool who’d ever lived.
I decided that I was going to be the best father I could be, and the best boyfriend, even if it killed me.
As I said, realizations take time. Over the weeks and months that followed, I stopped feeling like I was in a life-and-death struggle. Not only was being the world’s best father and boyfriend not going to kill me, it was going to give me reason and purpose like I’d never had before.
All of a sudden I was changing the batteries in Amelia’s smoke detectors. I was test-driving strollers and picking favorites. I was making doubly sure to leave room on the subway for expectant mothers, and bristling when straphangers didn’t give parents with young children the right of way.
I started forming opinions about how to raise a daughter without falling prey to gender stereotypes, and questioning the misogyny in Kanye West lyrics.
I slowly found my center of gravity as the panic subsided, and though there were days when a step forward later brought me two steps back, I eventually snapped out of feeling like a 15-year-old faced with an impossible task he was wholly unequipped to handle, but instead like a 35-year-old whose dreams were, at long last, coming true.
Amelia moved in with me and we started planning our future, choosing colors for the nursery and holding hands against her stomach at the first sign of a kick.
We picked out a tree decal for the wall across from the crib, with yellow birds and lush green leaves sprouting everywhere – a bedroom where it would always be spring.
With the joy I felt came the understanding that what was happening to us was a blessing, that instead of having to fight to live like this, I’d do almost anything to have it stay the way it was.
It didn’t stay that way, as you now know.
The details are still too raw to recount here. I’ve already said as much as I can, if not more. I’m flushed out on the pages of this website and I don’t want to talk about the warning signs, the fear, the tests, the choices.
I don’t want to discuss the hopes and dreams and the onesies and the tears, or my parents packing up our crib and changing table, still in the shipping boxes, and taking them upstate with them in their SUV.
All I want to think about is my lost daughter’s legacy, and the bright future she left for her as-yet-conceived younger brothers and sisters.
She never saw the world, never went to a Yankees game with her dad, never got to be held in her mother’s loving arms. But I am sure that because of her, there will be others who will have those inconceivably profound experiences.
Because of her, over the short story that was her life, and because of the fear and love and anger and sorrow in the way it ended, and because of how I felt seeing Amelia pregnant and glowing and sexy, and then not pregnant and being wheeled out to 2nd Ave. on a gurney, and the responsibility of creating life, sustaining love and facing death, I believe I am 100 times the man I was before.
Someday, I will be 100 times the man I am now – and even better equipped to battle my own demons and tackle the random acts of terror and wonder the universe has in store for me. Goodness knows I have a long way left to go.
Still, I have never felt so ready to face it all as I do right now.
I don’t have my daughter anymore, but I do have her to thank.
AUTHOR TWITTER KICK: Matt Marrone lives in Astoria, Queens, with The Girlfriend of the Year. You can follow him on Twitter @thebigm. The header image is a detail from the painting “Evening. Melancholy I,” by Edvard Munch.