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Fear, The Fatherhood Killer

No Wedding. No Womb.Portions of this No Wedding No Womb Post have been excerpted from the forthcoming book, Bottom Line Fatherhood, by Eric Payne.

A Baby Was Going To Ruin Everything

I was hardly happy when I was told I was going to have a child. In fact, I nearly had a panic attack. My stomach tightened. My mouth dried out. My heart pounded out against my rib cage and I didn’t think there was enough air in the world to fill my lungs. For a second I began to hallucinate that I was asleep dreaming that I was awake.

But this was no dream and I was wide awake. I asked again, just to be sure. My then-girlfriend answered, “Yes,” with stone cold certainty, the way a woman does about these things.

“So what are we gonna do?” I asked, not making even a slight effort to mask the despair in my voice.

She talked about doctors and telling people and some other stuff. By then I was gone, spiraling out of control, down into my own personal hell.

Why me, Lord? I asked in my head. Why now?

There was a very simple, scientific answer to both my questions. But in a moment of panic what man wants to hear the truth? Eventually, I tuned back into my conversation with the now-mother of my child, and I did what any irrational man would do: I began throwing stones of doubt.

Why are you telling me this now…over the phone? Isn’t this something you save for face-to-face?”

Her answer: “I wanted to tell you on Father’s Day (a mere four days later), but I just couldn’t hold it in anymore.”

“Great!” I answered, sarcastically. “How do you know for sure you’re pregnant?”

Her answer: “Eric, I am. Besides I took three home pregnancy tests, just to be sure.”

Even better, I thought, as my heart did somersaults in my stomach. “Well, what made you think you were pregnant in the first place?”

Her answer infuriated me: “It’s funny, you know? You kept asking if I was pregnant (I did because she suddenly began exhibiting strange behavior --- crying for no reason, repeatedly telling me she loved me, etc., etc.) so I began to wonder myself.”

It wasn’t funny at all. In fact it was all my fault. Had I not asked, then maybe she wouldn’t have been pregnant until she really started showing.

“But we only…we’ve only done it once since…” my voice trailed off.

“You’re joking right?” she asked, sharply. “Could you at least try to sound happy?”

“Well, I’ve just gotten comfortable…you know…him accepting me and…I mean…isn’t one enough?” I asked regarding her ten-year old son who would eventually become my son too. “What are we gonna do with a baby?”

“Love this child just like we love the one we already have.”

Her answers were coming too quickly. They were too sure, too certain. Abortion wasn’t an option for either of us. If there were only some kind of way to give it away, I thought. I was losing my mind by the second. In my desperate and sinking campaign for reason, I went somewhere I had no business going: “I don’t want to bring a child into this world with Iraq and everything…” Had I known then what I know now I wouldn’t have even thought what I said.

“What?!! Eric, what the [expletive] are you talking about?! What does any of this have to do with the fact that I just told you that I am pregnant…with your child?”

This was the first of many times I was cursed out for exercising my male rationale during the time my lady was pregnant. My mind was too wrapped up in itself to grasp the overarching depth of her question. I didn’t get that she wanted me to be the father of her second child. I didn’t hear the urgent need in her voice for reassurance nor did I catch its vulnerable tone. I didn’t get that not only was I going to have a child, but from then and forever more I was a father. But at the time I was too busy listening to the racket caused by my fears.

I got off the phone a broken, scared and deranged man. Broken because I thought I knew better and was sure I had been raised better. Scared because even though I was thirty-three, how was I going to tell my traditional God-fearing mother I was going to have a baby out of wedlock? Deranged because I actually got down on my knees and prayed to God and begged Him to take this burden off me and just make it go away like magic.

It wasn’t that I didn’t want to be a father eventually. But I was a man with plans --- plans that didn’t exactly include a real baby that carried my DNA. I was making good money and saving most of it. I was planning to buy a luxury vehicle at the end of the summer. I was planning to buy a second home and turn the little condo I owned at the time into a rental property. I was planning a summer of romantic getaways with the woman who would be my wife all over the U.S. and Europe. And maybe at the end of the year if all went well between us I planned to pop the question. I wanted to do everything on my terms, as I saw fit, and based on what made sense to me. I was on my way to living the life I had always planned to live, short of being able to fly and owning bulletproof tights. A baby was definitely going to ruin everything.

I continued to pray, beg, babble and even roll around on the floor for the rest of the night until the sun came up. Operating on about fifteen minutes of sleep, I knew things would be better when I spoke to my lady again. I just knew she was going to scream, “April Fools!” even though it was June. We’d laugh. I’d tell her to never scare me like that again and we’d move on.

But she was still pregnant when we spoke. I was surprised she got so upset that I asked. There was no harm in the question. Surely, she had to have known how scared I was. My life was over. I was about to be a father ---- for real.

A New Beginning Filled With Opportunities

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