In this bit of shattering memory I have changed the name of the man who I married to be X. The man I married the one who never married me.

I had been married since 1998, it was now 2001, and I was pregnant with my fourth child, my husband said he wanted to have five children. He said he waited his whole life to have a family. He had through years spent with two other wives; he said they never wanted children.

I was wife number three, looking back now I should have known something was off about all that perfection I was presented with when we met. I did not realize the way he asked me questions and then somehow had stories to fain similarities. Looking back now, I see that when he told me my son and I were his “dream come true,” he meant what he said one hundred percent, just not in the way I heard it. He said he waited his whole life and been through two childless marries before asking me to marry him. We had a new home in Rancho Santa Margarita, CA; we were there no longer than six months when, for some reason, X decided we had to move to Colorado. Colorado is where he lived with his second wife. This shouldn’t have be a problem, right? Colorado was a large state, right? We moved immediately to Colorado, and I got pregnant with my third child in Colorado. I had a beautiful daughter, his parents stayed with us for her birth, and I recall his mother telling me she saw her son mistreating my first son Daniel. She said he was treating him like his dad treated him. I asked her to explain, and she said he was just not being nice. She seemed to regret bringing it up. Maybe she was unwilling to say what she saw; I will never know as we were never friends.

In Colorado, I remember my youngest son’s pregnancy the most. One weekend just two weeks before I was due to give birth, I was outside cleaning horse stalls and feeding horses. For some reason, X came out to likely complain about the children in the house; he could not stand being with them very long. I was out in a paddock, and he showed up behind me.

He had nothing to say or offer to what I was doing. I thought this was a perfect opportunity to make a special request, something I had asked for in the past, but he ignored it. I asked if it would be possible for the next two weeks at least until I gave birth if he could stop meeting with his girlfriend. He said no, of course, then in shock, I slid between two pipe panel-rails to go back to the house and check on my children, since he had left them unattended. I was in such shock I forgot how huge I was, so heavily pregnant and my son had to move to accommodate my sliding through the fence.

This is one of those moments that has been burned on my memory in vivid detail. I actually said, “Since I will be giving birth soon, do ya think you can stop seeing your girlfriend at least until I give birth?” That part comes back sometimes with a hollow squishy uncomfortable feeling. When I recall his response, that is when I feel the stabbing feeling, it feels like a knife that has been perfectly dulled to cause a slow-rolling ache one that lasts longer than a sharp stab. His exact words were, “No she is my friend, so I will have her if I want to.”

Fast forward to the hospital giving birth; for some reason, I had to have a Pitocin drip. My labor was malfunctioning and weak, so the staff at the hospital explained I needed a boost to make sure I gave birth quickly enough, so the baby was not harmed. I don’t know why I had dysfunctional labor, but I do recall X sitting in his chair by the window, checking his pager and smiling, often. I know he was not receiving coded messages from his family because the only family I had he refused to speak to and his family he spoke to on the phone. There was someone else who he seemed to enjoy very much while I was in labor with his child.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with a pager technology, a pager was a far cry from the smartphone of today we take for granted. The first pagers were capable of receiving numbers and producing a signal to alert the owner to a request for them to call whatever number back. This capability morphed into an ability to receive texts.

X had a model that came with a booklet providing special codes so he could receive coded messages. He also had a palm pilot so he could send and receive messages. That labor I spent looking to my right at my husband almost nonstop watching him communicating with someone else. It was not until the doctor came in and drew his attention away from “someone else” that he put his devices away. At that point, everything went blurry, I was in pain, and although I was giving birth, I don’t think that is what hurt the most. I can’t be sure because I was focused on making sure I did my job as a mom and delivered my son, but the pain this time the overall ache was far worse than with my other children, I think something set in, finally.

I was thankful my children’s Godmother was able to watch my three for my birth, and I could not help but think that if she was unable to watch them for the birth of my last child than they would be left at home alone with their father while he hit up a magazine stand with me occupied in the hospital.

This is what I remember now; back then, I did not realize what man I was married to. Back then, I knew he had a girlfriend, actually, it was three separate ones that I knew of as well as his second ex- wife. I found out later than he moved us to live next door to where his second wife lived. In hindsight, I supposed I should have asked why he had to move to such a specific area, but it did not occur to me at the time.

My stay in the hospital with my new baby son was minimal. I was excited to go home and greet my children and show them their new baby brother. I always adored the idea of being a mom; that was my dream come true. Sadly, my husband chose to be our nightmare.

He drove my son, and I home from the hospital the day after he was born, it was around eleven in the morning when we drove up. He left immediately to retrieve my other three children. I remember thinking this was bizarre, but I remember thinking maybe he was going to get me a gift, maybe some

flowers to show that he appreciated the work the pregnancy took. He did tell me how he planned to treat me with kindness and love and how he would massage my feet and help me, I was still waiting for those things but maybe, flowerers, after all, I was in the hospital, and surely he would think of flowers.

He left I went in and lay on our bed with our new son and fed him, relaxed and rested. He returned with my children in what felt like moments.

As they were coming into the house, I collected their new baby brother and took him into the living room so they could see him. I wrapped him in a blanket that was given to me as a gift, but for some reason, I did not know who gave us the gift. After sometime between a half an hour to an hour, I hear a vehicle pull into the driveway.

The car was one I did not recognize, but X was excited and ran out the door. It was a woman he invited her to my home. I recognized her. It was a woman from his work the one he spent his time with, the time he stole from his family. He invited his girlfriend to our home within hours of my giving birth, just after I came home from the hospital. What I remember the most the sensations are burned on my soul, we somehow were outside as she was leaving. I stood alone, holding my son in that blanket, that white blanket. I watched X and his girlfriend talking and enjoying their conversation fully, they talked so close together; you just could not ignore what they were to each other. There to this day and in my face, he made sure I knew he had been intimate and more than once. It looked like she was doing her best to imitate a cat in heat rubbing up against him, cackling and giggling, and he enjoyed it fully. To this day, I still hate that blanket that was wrapped around my son, that was the last day I saw that blanket, it seemed to vanish almost instantly.

I remember thinking the kids Godmother told me he had issues; she told me he lied; she told me I should be careful. I could not believe I actually defended him to her.

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