There it was in black and white, " subject A has been 99.89% conclusively identified as the biological father of subject B". It was all so clinical yet the undeniable validation I had been seeking for over 3 years. The man I was married to and had shared the promise of a future with, was proven to be the scientific father to my son Alexander. As I held that single sheet of paper I was consumed with vindication, anger but mostly a profound sense of sadness for a dream deferred.
When I first received the email from my husband informing me " he was staying in the UK", my son Alex ,had just turned 9 months old and his father had seen him a total of 4 weeks since his birth. Essentially he was a virtual stranger to him so any void on Alex's part would have been non existent. On the other hand this news floored me and completely turned my world upside down. It was not so much an emotional blow, I have always been very handy at compartmentalizing the practical aspects from the more cerebral ones. It was more so coming to grips with the fact that all my expectations of our life as a family together coupled with the many sacrifices I made professionally and personally during the past decade, were shattered by two short sentences emanating from a 12" computer screen.
My husband and I met while I was living in London, employed as the marketing director for his fathers company. For the first few years we had nothing more than a cordial professional relationship. In fact we probably had two non work related interactions during that initial period. Gradually we developed a friendship followed by a romance and marriage. We were able to keep it hidden from our colleagues. Neither one of us were overtly affectionate and well let's face it- he was British so the ability to show anything other than ambivalence was physiologically impossible. Our family members were of course aware of our relationship but we were able to keep our colleagues out of the loop, that is until that damn stick turned blue.
We had already been married for almost two years before I became pregnant. It was unplanned and unexpected to say the least. I think my exact words upon getting confirmation from the doctor were the oh so classy "oh cr*p". Of course I have taken literary license and recounted this encounter a tad more eloquently in my son's baby book. But nonetheless after the shock wore off and I faced the fear that my mother would now finally have to find out that her baby daughter had actually had sex, I became extremely excited at the prospect of impending motherhood and the new journey my husband and I would travel together.
The choice to relocate and raise our child in the states was mutual. The better quality of life, access to my family and the fact that my husbands company wanted to expand to the US market all played a key factor in our decision. Therefore when I moved back to philadelphia in order to prepare for Alexander's birth there was no hint that life would be less than idyllic. I was 7 months pregnant at that point and my husband would spend the next year dividing his time between the countries until we were settled.
After our son was born, my husband was present for about a week and then felt compelled to "get back to work". To be honest it was fine with me. He was reacting to what I assumed were typical first time father fears,or so that's what I wrote his indifference off to. He showed no real interest in feedings, diapering or even holding our son. I spent the next few months living with my mother. I looked at houses to buy, researched commercial properties and offices for the business and relished in being a mommy, sleepless nights and all. Somewhere early after I gave birth I became ill. No one could conclusively come up with a diagnosis so I was in and out of doctors appointments on a regular basis.
My husband eventually travelled over to the US for an extended period to sort out his residency visa. Rather than the logical decision to come live with Alexander and I at my moms he opted to rent a place in the city. He argued it was easier for him as he had access to the train to NY for business. Again it all seemed rational and with everything else going on I did not have time to be more introspective about his snub. My daily existence remained the same, filled with hospital visits and taking care of my infant son. Understandably my focus therefore was not entirely on my husband and he made it perfectly clear he was not happy. He would take the occasional visit out to my moms house but never stay the night. He argued he did not want to impose. On his wife and son? Ok the cracks were starting to show but I still had no clue as to his real intentions.
A few months shy of our sons first birthday , my husband had to return to London for personal reasons. He was advised against it for fear of compromising his visa status. He went anyway.
It was precisely a week later that I opened up that email from him. It said simply
" Tara I have decided to stay in the UK, this just isn't what I expected it to be". I remember turning my computer on and off about 5 times expecting it to have been just a viral blip. The lack of sleep was causing my mind to play tricks on me. Yet each time the result was the same. My husband had cowardly informed me he wanted out. We had been abandoned. All couples go through hiccups in a relationship, particularly during moments of great change but mature individuals push through it together. Giving up in 3 months though? Geesh I have gone longer than that between dye jobs.
When you are not a parent you tend to think more viscerally. You can be vulnerable and disappointed by others. However it is a manageable discomfort. When you add your child, your own flesh and blood into the equation, and realize the injustice placed upon them by their other flesh and blood, that pain becomes so profoundly overwhelming.
I once was told that having a child means allowing your heart to exist outside your body. Before I had Alexander it was merely a cliche. But now every breath he takes is my own, every tear he sheds
every laugh and every thought are an extension of who I am. Therefore he is my ultimate priority one for which I would fight lions.
So after a year of fruitlessly trying to get to get my husband to communicate I realized I had to go through the courts. He offered no support nor showed any interest in either Alexander nor myself. He feigned sudden poverty despite living in a 5$ million Kensington home. Then when that tactic failed he pulled out "I doubt I am the father" card and demanded a DNA test.
At first I refused. I was not going to subject Alex to waiting for hours in a nameless clinic all to satisfy his fathers new found neurosis. It was ironic that during the entire marriage, the 9 month pregnancy and the first year of Alex's life there was never a question of my fidelity. Conveniently it was only when asked for child support did I suddenly become take your turn Tara in his eyes. Seriously, we worked together and lived together when was this supposed clandestine moment to take place? During those five minutes we were apart at the grocery store, while he was in the organic health food aisle and I was choosing between Oreos and chips ahoy?! Finally against legal advice I relented, apparently by law the father in a married relationship is automatically recognized as being responsible.
When the results came back all I could think of was that 80s soap advertisement. In this scenario the subject was far from pure. The test had proven what was there all along My husband was 99 and 89/100ths % dishonorable.
You can continue asking yourself what ifs? You can replay the same moments over and over in your head. But the outcomes will always be the same. What's done is done. But it's up to us to not allow others to determine what we become. As opposed to my husband I want my life's choices to have purpose and not merely be defined by a simple genetic equation.
Therefore, regardless of the fact that I have essentially had to start over again, and that despite a court order we still receive no support, I am more than ok. I now run a consulting business, When Baby Made 2. It provides marketing and strategic advice to those small businesses or start ups, who due to unexpected events have had to reinvent themselves. While life may be one continual series of changes I am confident that Alexander and I will be 100% better off without Mr. 99.89% in our lives.