Many stories I read involve a mean, manipulating, or absentee birthfather. I sympathize with these stories, but I also realize that I haven't really told much about Bo's birthfather, my best friend, Ben.
While I don't know what our relationship will look like in the coming years, I can honestly say that I love and respect Ben so much. It wasn't always that way, and he wasn't always perfect during everything. (But hey... neither was I.)
The first part of my pregnancy was rocky. Our relationship had been shaky before learning I was pregnant, and when we found out... well. Everything was downhill for a while. I'm sure every birthmother (or any girl who has gone through a heartbreaking breakup) will understand when I say this -> I don't like to think about those first few months, and to be completely honest, I've forgotten most of it. I remember the important parts, such as when Ben decided he wasn't ready to be a father or a husband. I was angry. I was devastated. I felt like my life was over. Well, as upsetting as all of that was, it was necessary. For me. For both of us. Had we gotten married at the time, it likely would have ended in divorce. Then where would my sweet Bo (David) be? Exactly where we didn't want him to be.
Let's fast forward. When I started looking at family profiles, Ben wanted to be involved and have a say. I was upset about that for a while, but in retrospect I realize it was because he truly did care about what happened to our little boy. I sent him profile after profile, and each was rejected. When I found Dave and Amy, I was so in love with them that I didn't tell Ben for a little while. I didn't want him to say no. So, I waited a few weeks, until I really decided I liked them, and I showed him. He liked them, too. He forwarded the profile to his parents. Everyone liked them. Having that approval took a huge load off my shoulders, but that was by no means the end of it.
Just as I went back and forth on parenting, Ben went back and forth on whether we should stay together and be a family, or not. How do you explain the feelings that you go through in those situations? I'm proud to say we never stopped talking. We fought all the time... we were both hurting and confused. More me. Maybe. I don't know. I can't talk for another person's feelings. But I'll admit, Ben pissed me off to no end.
During that time, before I met Dave and Amy in person, I planned two different times to tell them. Both times I couldn't bring myself to do it, and Ben got upset. He would get all ready emotionally, brace himself... and uh, I would chicken out. Well, we fought some more. I got so angry... there was a lot of anger.
When I met Dave and Amy, Ben was with me. He bribed me with ice cream to get me out of the car. Then bribed me with Aggie ice cream to get me away from the car and into Chili's (where we met Dave and Amy).
Dave and Ben connected immediately. Their lives are very similar... from where they grew up, to what they got/are getting their undergrad degree in, to attending/aiming to attend law school. My heart was put at peace about that, anyway. I knew Ben loved them as much as I did. I could feel it. When we left Chili's, I burst into tears and fell into Ben's arms. His eyes got teary (sorry if you ever read this, Ben! But they did). We both agreed that if we place, Dave and Amy are the ones. We both felt it. We both knew it. I had Ben's support... which meant so much to me.
After agreeing on Dave and Amy, we still fought. Not nearly as much, and not about the stupid little things anymore. (Of course, in retrospect, the things we did fight about were still stupid little things.) As we got closer and closer to my due date, tensions rose. We both got scared. Ben wanted things to be planned, so that he could be there the whole time, and wouldn't have to miss school. I got upset about it, told him over and over that I wanted to go into labor naturally... not on his time.
Well, I was induced. Because of family difficulties, it was a decision I made with my mom. That weekend changed my relationship with Ben forever.
Ben got to the hospital an hour after I checked in. He brought me Lindt chocolates (cruel... because I couldn't eat them!) and chocolate milk (still cruel...) and cards. He only left my side to get me more ice in a cup. He sat next to me the entire 10 hours I was in labor. He held my hand and stroked my hair during heavy contractions. When the moment came to deliver, Ben held my hand and stood at my head the entire time.
When David finally arrived, Ben went straight with him to the warming table. The cord had been around his neck, and we were worried. He didn't leave David's side from the warming table, to my arms, to the nursery. He gave him his first bath. He held his hand for the first time. He got peed on for the first time. I don't think Ben said more than two words for the first hour of David's life.
The first night, Ben and I were alone with David. After watching "The Jungle Book" 12 times, I tried to get some sleep. Ben held David on the couch. (Ben, I know you'll hate this... and I'm sorry but it's so endearing!) ... When he thought I was asleep, Ben sobbed. He sang to David, talked to him, and cried to our little boy. My heart melted. He loved our little boy. He was going to hurt at placement, too. I had been worried that he wouldn't feel anything. Seeing and feeling the love he had for David gave me strength. I would not be alone.
The second day, Ben was protective of David. We had many visitors. Ben didn't leave the room where David was, excepting a few hours that we let him go to the nursery so that we could get a tiny bit of sleep.
The morning of placement, I was a wreck. I was breaking. Ben held me, held David, and held us together. He helped my mom put David in the carseat. He carried the carseat while I was wheeled outside. He sat in the backseat with us as my mom drove us to the agency for placement. He wrapped me in his arms when we stepped out of the car, couldn't get the carseat unbuckled, and wrapped David in a blanket to get him inside away from the cold... because that dang carseat seriously would NOT come out.
Ben held his arm around me and we alternated holding David while we spent an hour and a half alone with him saying goodbye. He held David and cried with me as I signed the papers. He didn't tell me not to. He didn't ask me to change my mind.
A week earlier... I had asked Ben (and everyone else in my support circle) to please not save me. I knew what was right, and I didn't want to have an out. I would be fragile, vulnerable, and I would take any way out of the pain that I could.
A week later, I told Ben that if he had told me to not sign, I wouldn't have. He said he knew. He said he wanted to tell me to not sign so much, but he knew I didn't want to be saved. He knew David was meant to be with Dave and Amy. He knew we couldn't parent David with a "maybe" on our relationship. He respected my desire to be the sole decision-maker that day. And I am so grateful.
Ben's dad gave me a blessing of comfort before the actual placement. Lynn wasn't present as I had planned, and I had asked Ben if it would be alright if I had his dad would give me a blessing. He squeezed my hand and said he thought it was a good idea.
Ben sat next to me when Dave and Amy entered the room. When the moment came to place David into Amy's arms, I looked at Ben. He nodded, and scooped up our little boy. He kissed him, blinked back tears, and told him he loved him. He then handed him to me, I did the same, and he had his arm around my waist as I placed David into Amy's arms.
Ben came home with me after placement. We talked for a few minutes, embraced each other, and he drove back to Logan. He called when he got back to his apartment, and we cried together on the phone. We had done family prayers in the hospital, and we did a family prayer over the phone that night. And every night for the next couple weeks.
Over the next few months, Ben and I helped build each other. I cried to him. He held me when I was sad and aching. He ooh'd and ahh'd over pictures of David with me. We traveled to visit his sister together. We got pulled over twice together.
When Ben left to work in Texas for the summer, I wasn't sure how I would survive. We had both changed so much, and we had helped each other through the most difficult time of our life. How could my best friend be so far away?
The summer was a good summer. We stayed close. Over the summer, we planned to get engaged and married when Ben got home. As the summer drew to a close, I got scared and became uncertain about things. After a lot of prayer, I told Ben we couldn't get married. I wasn't ready. Ben was so kind about it, and promised to be there for me no matter what. He was aching, though.
Now here we are, trying to decide where we go from here. It seems our timing is always off of each other. But whatever happens, I respect Ben. I love Ben. He has been my best friend, my support, my confidant and, of course, baby-daddy. He is close to Dave and Amy, and I'm grateful Bo (David) will always know his birthfather. We had a lot of problems, we fought, and a lot of bad decisions were made. But Ben never left my side in the hospital. He never left my side at placement. And he never left my side after placement. I am grateful for my baby's birthfather. A strong man.
Ben, wherever our roads take us... Thank you for the good times and being there when I needed it. (I still want to kick your butt sometimes for the bad times, though. Just so's we're clear. ;-) )