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February 29, 2008

Single Mom Diaries: And Baby Makes Two

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We all grew up believing the fairy tale: You meet Mr. Right, and soon after, start having kids. But what if he never comes along? What if things don't go as planned and time starts running out? Meet the new breed of single mom.

I GOT PREGNANT BY MY TRAINER
By Kimberly Forrest

You know that old saw about jumping on a plane at a moment's notice? That was me. Positano. Kyoto. Istanbul. Paris. It might sound like an oxymoron, but a sense of freedom has been my life's organizing principle. I've developed a solid reputation as a freelance fashion writer, making a good living and working out of my rent-stabilized apartment in New York City's West Village. I'd often find myself thinking, What more could I want?

In the fall of 2006, I'd just gotten out of a serious relationship and turned 40, and I thought that casual might be just the thing. (Read: I was scared to feel anything poignant and lovely and painful again.) Enter Luis, my kickboxing instructor. He was young and exciting, and after dancing in the ring for months, we started dating. Our fling was lighthearted and fun — he joined me at a spa for New Year's, and in March we went to a wedding in Brazil. The trip was gorgeous, but by that time our relationship was on the wane.

Fast-forward a month-and-a-half, and my period is late. We'd used protection, but clearly not carefully enough. I take back-to-back pregnancy tests at the home of my friend Jean — they're both positive. She yelps with joy while I, stricken, squeeze limes for a watermelon margarita.

Until now, my idea of a time line for having kids had been, "Maybe in 10 years." But I'm 41 and filled with fibroids. I have endometriosis and survived a bout of thyroid cancer in my 20s. What are the chances of ever conceiving again? I take a teeny sip of the margarita and, without thinking twice, know that I am going to have the baby, with or without Luis.

The next day, Luis stops by my apartment, and I tell him I'm pregnant before he closes the door. He sinks into the sofa. "I don't want to get married," he says.

"Neither do I," I reply, knowing that no matter what happens between us, I am keeping this child. I tell Luis that he can do whatever he wants — be a father to our child or not — and that I won't resent his decision. (Naive? Perhaps, but that's how I felt.)

"You know that I never wanted to have kids," he says. "And certainly not right now. But if you want to have the baby, I'll do whatever I can to support your decision." Translation: "You're mostly going to do this on your own, and I'm not a bad guy."

We talk about our ideas of what a serious relationship would be. He wants to fall in passionate love. I tell him I don't believe that's sustainable — to me, love is a partnership, negotiated and planned. "I find that heartbreaking," he says.

We go to the biggest movie theater we can find, stadium seating and all, and watch some innocuous George Clooney vehicle. When we get back to my apartment, we curl up in bed and cuddle. I rise in the morning and cry. He leaves.

I'm miserable by month two. Swollen legs. Gas. Unable to digest anything. I wake after 12 hours of sleep in a pool of saliva on my John Robshaw, sari-print pillowcases. All of this is peppered with bouts of profound despair. Friends drop by to check on me, but all I can muster is a wan smile before going back to staring out the window. The months drag by, and I reach a state of sadness and ennui I've never felt before. I wonder how I'm ever going to manage this.

Then a funny thing happens at the amnio. The doctor announces that I'm carrying a girl, and with my friend Christine holding my hand, I observe this little being who has made her home inside me. I'm awed by the architecture of her spine. The beat of her tiny heart. The way the doctor pokes at her and she responds with a jab of her own. A week later I feel her move for the first time — our own covert communication.

As I write this, I'm nine months pregnant. Luis joins me for birthing classes, but not a hint of our former romance remains. It might not sound like a storybook ending, but it's the right one for me. Although I've been wildly independent since I was a child, and it was fun to hop a jet for a long weekend in Miami, I've always craved the warmth of family — the sounds of the dishwasher running in the kitchen, a Sunday morning spent listening to public radio and making pancakes. Now I know I can have all of those things.

Click forward to Page 2 to read "I WANTED A BABY MORE THAN A HUSBAND"


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