“I’m pregnant” It’s got to be two of the hardest words for any woman to speak. Honestly, think about it. One second the man is doing his business, going about his day, and then BOOM! your entire life has changed! Now obviously I understand that moms life has changed as well. I can’t speak on behalf of moms beings that I’m not one. I’ve had the pleasure of having 4 beautiful children of my own. Thus, I have 4 pregnancy stories of my own along with 4 birth stories. My experience I’m guessing is much different than yours or what you may see in movies.
My bride and I married young. I was 19 and she was freshly turned 21. A beautiful woman with movie star good looks and the prettiest golden blonde hair you’ve ever seen. She was way out of my league. Needless to say we were kids. 14+ years later we are still together and she’s still as beautiful the day I married her. So while you read these awful things that I’ve done, keep in mind 2 things please. 1- my bride is an angel on earth. 2- I’m a much different person today, than I was then. The date was July 22nd 2000. I just married my best friend. After the wedding dance, we stood on top of the steps and I proclaimed “we are going to go home and practice making babies!!” Of course, I wasn’t sober and although it may seem funny now, it’s definitely something I wouldn’t say today. Little did we know, my bride was already expecting. I can’t remember the exact timeline, but I want to say it was about a month later, I got the news. This is where I’m guessing my story alters from yours a little.
I got home from work on a Friday night. I was getting out of the shower headed to the ball fields for a couple softball games. I had put my beer down as I was stepping out of the shower (yes, at that time I was drinking in the shower) and my bride, I’m sure scared out of her mind, hands me a positive pregnancy test and says those magic words; “I’m pregnant” Now I gotta believe that every little girl grows up and dreams of this moment. Her knight and shining armor lunges into her arms with the hugs of all hugs. Tears of joy are pouring down both their faces as they spend the evening going over names, color schemes, and picking out cribs. Our story? Well, not quite that great. I was a 19, maybe 20 year old alcoholic (at the time I didn’t know it) I took the pregnancy test out of her hands, threw it in the garbage and said “You know what this is? This is garbage and that’s where garbage belongs!” Not quite the moment she dreamt of her entire life. I think there was some sarcastic comment about her buying it at a rummage sale as well. As my new bride is in tears I continued yelling. I even went as far as calling her selfish. I ranted on and on asking her how could she possibly tell me this while I was getting ready for a softball game. It’s hard for me to talk about this, let alone write it. I mean what kind of monster was I? Instead of trying to make an awful situation better, in Sam’s true fashion, I drank and made it worse.
Lets fast forward 9 months to the day she goes into labor and gives birth to our 1st born. My role as the father is supposed to be that of comforting, encouraging, I’m supposed to be positive and show love and support. I’m sure I showed flashes of that but for the most part, I was that monster again. I didn’t allow any family in to celebrate this moment with us. Each of them were forced outside the room and wait. Now some still believe that is the way to go and that’s ok. My reasoning at the time was “You weren’t there when he was conceived, so you won’t be there when he’s born!” I’m sure most of our family didn’t have a problem with not being in the room but the way I conveyed my feelings was undoubtedly rude and most likely arrogant. Baby is born and both mother and son are healthy. Your first born is suppose to be a special experience. One full of sublime thoughts and memories that you’ll never forget. Me? I did do the “right” thing and hang out in the hospital for the short stint we were there. I spent the 1st night at home and from there, well, let’s say I wasn’t nominated for father of the year. Parties, bars, beers, bowling, and more beers. Problem is this was probably the best birth story I have. Yup, that’s right, the best….
Two years and two months later, my second child is born; this time in Butte, MT. This go around, she calls me at work to tell me. I remember thinking “Why the hell would she call me at work to tell me she’s pregnant?!!?!?!?” Years later, sober and clear of mind, why would she want to tell me face to face? Lord knows I wouldn’t! After the reaction I gave her the 1st time, I don’t blame her even a little. What do I do after finding out that I’m going to be a father for the 2nd time? You guessed it! Go to the bar and get hammered!! It’s time to celebrate!! I can’t imagine what I was thinking at that time. I mean, who says “Hey! Guess what? I’m going to be a dad!! Let’s go to the bar and get loaded?!?!?” It just doesn’t make any sense to me. Yet, I did it time and time again. After a night of what seemed to be endless amounts of booze and beer, I finally go home to be with my bride. At this point, I’m home but does it matter? I’ve been passed out all day and the second I wake up, time to drink. If you’re waiting for my acceptance speech for my father of the year award, it’s not coming any time soon. I was sick and everyone knew it but me.
Birthday: From Watertown, SD to Butte, MT. This time it was my bride, my oldest, and of course; yours truly. The night before I kept her up till roughly 4am with my drunken antics. I remember sitting at home in a recliner pounding can after can and playing video games. Looking back at that, maybe holding her hand through contractions would have been better. Maybe I couldn’t traded that cold can for a warm cloth on her head. The monster inside me saw things a little different. As I’m working on my 12oz curls, my bride and 2 year old are laying in bed working through contractions. That’s right, my 2 year old was a better man than I was. How many of you out there can honestly say that your child is more responsible and mature than you? I would hope not a lot. I have the “honor” of holding that distinct privilege. Worst part is, this wouldn’t be the last time my oldest would help my bride through contractions. Time to push and a baby is born. Beings I’m in MT, I don’t know a whole lot of people so I stay in the hospital. As soon as we get home though, drinks. Need help with that 2 year old and new born? Don’t bother me cuz I’m going to play video games and get drunk. Tired after taking care of two kids by yourself all day? Leave me alone because now I have friends and we are going to the bar. Been a long day of changing diapers and cleaning up puke? Sounds like a perfect time to have 20 people at our house that you don’t know while we all get drunk. You think that’s the knight in shining armor my bride dreamt about when she was a little girl?
My 3rd child was born in July of 2005. As bad as this sounds, I don’t even remember how my bride told me she was pregnant. I was in a really dark, painful place at that time. My alcoholism had completely engrossed me at this time. I remember my first daughter being born but the moments after have since been lost. I can’t tell you where I was, who I was with, or what I was doing. I can tell you who I wasn’t with, what I should’ve been doing, and where I should’ve been. I should’ve been with my family, in our home, and should’ve been a dad. The one thing that stands out to me about my 1st daughters birth is my incredible knack for being selfish and ruining things. My daughter was born on July 21st. My father in law also was born on July 21st. When we went to the Dr. that day, he gave my bride the choice of being enduced, or to wait it out. Naturally, my bride said she wanted that beautiful baby girl out. At this time, I disliked my father in law very much. It made me sick that my daughter would share a birthday with this man. I pleaded with my bride to wait just one more day. Our anniversary is the next day and I said what better way to celebrate than the birth of our daughter. Of course I didn’t take into consideration that my bride was 9 months pregnant in the middle of the summer. That she was incredibly uncomfortable. Nope, I was just concerned with what Sam wanted. I’m not even sure my father in law knows that or not. Years later, he and I are thick as thieves and I love that man. Why did I dislike him so much? He was helping raise my kids and stepped up when I checked out. I had no reason to not like him. He was a better father to my children than I was. He took care of my kids when I was getting drunk. Him, his wife, my children, and my wife were the happy family. Me? I was drunk somewhere blaming my problems on everyone but me. After what my in laws have done to help both me and my family, I have no way of repaying that debt. My father in law eventually taught me how to be a man and my mother in law taught me how to love. Two pretty amazing traits if you ask me.
For whatever reason, my bride never divorced me. She left me multiple times, kicked me out, and early in our marriage, filed for divorce and I was served with papers. No one would have blamed her for leaving me, why would they? In fact, all her family, my family, and my close friends all told her to leave me. Audrey stuck with me though. She sat next to me while I threw up, while I went on 3 day binges, while I polished off a case a beer a night, while I started drinking at 7:30am, and while I made her life a living hell. Today I’m just a few short months away from being 5 years sober. I’ve asked her several times in several different ways “Why did you stay?” Her response was/is always the same; “I’ve always loved you” She is proof that angels walk the earth.
I’ve been blessed with 4 children. I have no idea how I was told of the 4th pregnancy. I do remember her birth story though. I remember it vividly although I was absolutely drunk that night. While I was working that night, my bride told me she thought the baby would come that night. She recommended that I get off work and come straight home. Instead, I went to the bar and got drunk. While I’m drinking beers, my 6 year old son is helping my bride through contractions. He’s telling her to breathe through them and holds her hand while she’s in pain. He calls me and tells me I should come home and get mom. About an hour and a half later, I show up. Thank God we lived closed to the hospital because I shouldn’t have been driving. I somehow managed to get us there in one piece. We get her checked in and settled. I drink a few cups of coffee trying to sober up. Realizing the condition I’m in, my bride makes excuses for me. Saying things like, “He’s been super busy and he’s just really tired.” Meanwhile, I’ve passed out on the couch and letting things go that, let’s just say don’t smell the best. I’m snoring, letting gas go, and grinding my teeth while my bride is having our child. I manage to get coherent before our daughter is born. I see her come out, sign the birth certificate, give her name, and back to “sleep”. Awesome husband, huh?
Check out date arrives and it’s time for mom and baby to go home. This is supposed to be that special time that’s thrusted into our memories forever. We do have a memory that’s thrusted into our minds forever, but it’s not so special. The night before they were released from the hospital, I managed to get black out drunk. I remember roughly 5 or 6 people at my place (my 3 other children were with my in-laws) and next thing I know, I wake up on the other side of town at a buddies house. Drunk, confused, and embarrassed, I somehow manage to get home. My bride and newborn daughter got a ride home from the hospital. My family scoured the city looking for my lifeless body in a ditch. When my bride got home, she was greeted with beer cans, cigarette butts, and disappointment. Happily ever after.
4 kids, 0 birth announcements. 4 kids, 0 special memories. 4 kids, 4 acts of a complete monster. There are pictures of us with me drunk or hungover. I’ve been asked if she did to me what I did to her if I would leave her. My answer without hesitation is yes. Why would anyone stay with such a horrific person? I can’t even consider myself a man at that point in my life. Monster is the best word I can think of. As I lay in bed writing this, my bride is to my left, my oldest is in the recliner, my youngest son is at the foot of our bed, and my gorgeous daughters are in their respective rooms sleeping. With the help of some special people, my in laws, my children, and of course my bride, I’ve killed that monster. God willing, April 25th will be 5 years sober for me. I understand that no amount of time being sober will ever make up for those horrific events. My 3 younger kids have forgiven me for my antics. My oldest took a little longer but he to, has indeed forgiven me. My walking angel, of course she’s forgiven me as well. My mother in law tells me on almost a daily basis she loves me. We’ve talked and I’ve apologized and she’s been more than forgiving. My father in law is my best friend outside my bride and children. He has also forgiven me. Family and friends have all forgiven me and told me how proud they are of me. When do I forgive myself? I’m not sure I can.
I see happy people sharing pictures of their babies often. I see it in movies, on TV shows, and with friends. Creative ways of announcing their births with amazing pictures and love. Of course I’m happy for them all but deep down, it saddens me. I wish I could’ve given my bride that. I wish I could’ve been that man she dreamt of when she was a little girl. I wish the birth of our children wasn’t littered with my alcoholism. Although I can’t take back everything I’ve done, I can become the man that my bride dreamt about. I can become the father my boys look up to and the father my girls feel safe around. I also hope to forgive myself one day. For now, I will spend my days enjoying what I have knowing I’m blessed with everything I have; even if it’s a little different than what everyone else has. 14+ years of marriage, 4 children, 4 different birth stories, and 4+ years of sobriety = a happy man and a happy family. Although we haven’t done things the conventional way, the end result is the best. A healthy, loving family of 6 that all love each other despite our faults; no matter how BIG or small they may be.