“I’ve always been a dreamer. When I was young, I imagined my perfect life – I would meet my soulmate at the age of 24, get married before 30, and have three kids by the time I was 40. Well, part of that dream did come true. I did meet someone at age 26 – and got pregnant.
I met Jack* at a friend’s birthday party 10 years ago and we started dating a month later. I thought he was perfect – I could picture us settling down and starting our own family. Everything went smoothly until I got pregnant two years into our relationship.
Jack and I had always practised safe sex, so we were both shocked when it happened. I took three pregnancy tests to make sure, before confirming it with a doctor.
A week after that, when I couldn’t deny it anymore, I panicked – I called Jack at work and asked him to marry me. I told him I didn’t want to be an unwed mother and shame my family. Jack asked me to calm down and said that we’d discuss it later.
Over dinner, Jack said he still couldn’t believe I was pregnant and kept asking if there had been a mistake. When I insisted that it was true, he remained silent.
Then he dropped a bombshell by asking me if the baby was his. I was stunned. I couldn’t believe the man I loved was questioning my fidelity. Looking him straight in the eye and struggling to keep calm, I told him that he was the only man I had ever slept with during our relationship and I was offended that he would think I was carrying someone else’s baby.
I said we had to get married so that we could start a future with our unborn child. We had to do it soon, I added, before my bump started to show.
But Jack just sat there quietly, looking distressed. When I pressed him for an answer, he said he was overwhelmed by the news and needed time to think things through. He paid for dinner and saw me home, saying he would call soon.
Abandoned by my love
Three days later, Jack still hadn’t phoned, despite my numerous calls and text messages to him. I realised he was avoiding me, and I felt angry and hurt.
Out of desperation, I left work early that day to wait for Jack outside his office building. I cornered him and begged him to talk to me. I threatened to create a scene and embarrass him in front of his colleagues, if he didn’t. Left with no choice, Jack agreed.
But before I could get a word in, Jack said he was breaking up with me. He wasn’t ready to settle down, he said. There were still many things he wanted to pursue in his life and career – getting hitched would just slow him down.
He apologised for letting me down and wished me the best. He gave me one final hug and left. I was too shocked to give chase.
I don’t know how I managed to get home in one piece that day. I was shattered by Jack’s irresponsibility and cold-heartedness – how could I have been so wrong about him?
Down in the dumps
I sank into depression. I didn’t feel like going to work or meeting people. I preferred to stay cooped up at home, bawling my eyes out. I lost my appetite and barely slept. My parents and friends were worried about me but I was too ashamed to tell them the truth. I just said that I was under a lot of stress and wanted to be left alone.
In truth, I was treading a fine line between staying sane and losing my mind. I had moments of clarity where I knew I had to take care of my unborn baby. Yet, there were as many moments of doubt – could I raise my child alone as a single mum?
I even contemplated suicide. I thought about it every night before going to bed and every morning when I woke up – I just couldn’t decide how to go about it.
Three weeks after Jack dumped me, my parents burst into my room and dragged me to church. They said they couldn’t stand by watching me self-destruct – they were tired of my non-committal answers each time they asked what was wrong. They suspected I had broken up with Jack, as he wasn’t coming by for dinner anymore, but they couldn’t confirm anything since I refused to open up to them.
They felt that if I didn’t want to talk to them about my problems, then I should talk to God instead. I resisted at first but caved in when my mother started crying – it broke my heart that hers was breaking.
My guardian angel
That was how I met 30-year-old Edward*, who volunteered at the church. He was a highly intuitive man and sensed that I was in trouble – I had been carrying my woes on my face, he told me years later, and that was how he knew I needed help.
When Edward first approached me to welcome me to the church, I wasn’t keen on connecting with him. I thought he was interested in me romantically, and having just come out of a bad relationship – and pregnant at that – I wasn’t ready to meet anyone new. So I gave him the cold shoulder and left in a hurry.
But over the next three weeks, he kept trying to reach out to me whenever he saw me in church. There was something about his kind persistence, soft-spoken manner and gentle demeanour that finally won me over. I didn’t think he meant me any harm and decided to trust him. He worked as a counsellor, I found out, which explained why he was so concerned about me.
After weeks of keeping my secret, I realised that I was in over my head. I needed to tell someone. I was so overwhelmed by emotions that I broke down in front of Edward. I told him about how my boyfriend had left me after I had got pregnant with his child. I shared with him how I’d tried to abort the baby – I had made an appointment with a doctor twice within the first month of pregnancy – but changed my mind at the last minute. I even admitted that I’d thought about killing myself, and told him I had come close to overdosing on sleeping pills.
As I poured my heart out to him, Edward remained attentive and non-judgmental. He kept reassuring me that things would turn out okay, as long as I remained positive. He encouraged me to pick myself up and find the strength to move on, for the sake of my innocent, unborn child. He urged me to banish thoughts of suicide and abortion, and to come clean with my family and close friends so that I could lean on them for support.
I told him I desperately wanted to share my predicament with someone close but I was afraid of being judged, or even worse, abandoned by those I loved. “If your family and friends truly love and care for you, they will help you, no matter what,” he said.
His soothing voice and encouraging words calmed me. For the first time, I began to see things from a new perspective. What Edward said was true – my world didn’t have to end just because I was heartbroken and dumped. I could be strong and make a better life for myself and my baby. I might not be sure about it now, but I would manage. I just had to take each day as it comes, I told myself.
Life goes on
I mulled over Edward’s words for a week before I confessed the pregnancy to my parents – by then, I was already two months along. They were disappointed with the situation, of course, but promised to help me through it. I also told a few close friends and was glad when they pledged their support. I decided to quit my full-time job for part-time work, until I had given birth.
In the meantime, Edward and I continued talking, over the phone and in church. He became my cheerleader and ‘Aunt Agony’, so to speak, throughout the pregnancy. When moments of depression and self-doubt set in, I turned to Edward – I was so grateful to have his shoulder to cry on.
I never doubted that his interest in me was platonic – he was in a steady relationship with someone in the church, so I never questioned his sincerity. I knew that he was helping me because he genuinely didn’t want to see me throw my life away.
I did ask Edward once why he had bothered about a total stranger back then. He explained that initially, he had just wanted to make me feel welcome. But my adverse reaction made him wonder if I was struggling with something and needed help.
That was a decade ago. I’m now happily married to a loving man whom I met six years ago, who accepted my child and me wholeheartedly. We even went on to have kids of our own.
Both my husband and I remain close to Edward and his family – he too is now married with kids. Also, Edward and his wife are godparents to my little ones. In a way, I suppose you could say that I did eventually achieve my childhood dream of having a perfect life – I just needed to get over the hurdles first.”
*Names have been changed
This story was originally published in Simply Her March 2014.