Getting through the first trimester on my own, without completely losing it, wasn't easy, but once I heard the heartbeat of my baby for the first time, everything made sense.
After the tumultuous week following the double lined EPT test, I fell into a serious pre-partum depression funk that I wouldn't be able to kick for months. It was more like a double depression, actually, as I was not only tormented by my single and pregnant status and the Jason aftermath but also felt like a hideously ugly person on the inside for feeling the way I did about being pregnant. My unborn child deserved both a mother and a father, not just a mother who was secretly praying for a miscarriage.
I just didn't know how I was going to do it. Although I was a survivor and a living example of "that which doesn't kill you only makes you stronger," the notion of surviving nine months of pregnancy, going through the terror of childbirth and caring for a newborn without a man around, scared me more than anything had before.
Sure I had amazing friends who promised to be there with me every step of the way, but the reality was that whether they were stay-at-home moms shuffling their kids around all day or single, juggling their chaotic careers with demanding dating schedules, their Los Angeles lives were full, and they probably weren't going to be answering their phones at 2am when I needed help or staying in with me on a Friday night to help me with a colicky newborn.
Though I wasn't showing yet, I was definitely packing on the pounds as the result of binge eating paired with pregnancy hormones, which inevitably led me to gain 20 pounds in my first trimester. Usually conservative when it came to carbs, I was gorging on huge portions of pasta, meaty sandwiches (avoiding nitrites, of course!) and bagels smeared with fatty cream cheese and might as well as put my gym membership on hold, because I stopped exercising altogether.
Though all of my close friends knew about my pregnancy and predicament, I was dreading the moment the news would leak to the outliers. This was the sort of gossip that would spread like a fire during the Santa Anas, not only tearing up my social circles in Los Angeles, but also back in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, where I went to high school and with all of college friends across the country as well.
My first trimester was also filled with many doctor office visits, where I was always greeted with waiting rooms filled with pregnant women of all ethnicities, shapes and sizes, supported by their loving husbands or teenage boyfriends, while I sat quietly alone, with my naked ring finger glaring like a scarlet letter. Every time I was forced to check off the "single" box on registration forms or was questioned about my "partner" I felt shame, and not even the verbal support of my doctor's, friends and family about how "brave" and "courageous" I was could ease that pain.
Putting long hours in at the office, I was so exhausted every day after work that climbing atop my couch and watching multiple seasons of awful television shows was about the only thing I could do, but mentally it wasn't as if I even wanted to do anything else. The idea of taking a step in into the Hollywood scene and having to avoid making eye contact with people freaked me out, and there was always the chance that I could run into Jason.
I only heard from him once after the 24 hours of insanity aftermath of telling him I was pregnant and it was in the form of another vicious text message demanding that I get an abortion.
I went to go visit my sister and her kids in Hawaii during the final stage of my first trimester, and they couldn't have been happier about my pregnancy. My beautiful teenage niece couldn't stop touching my tummy (which was no longer flat and wasn't looking too hot in a bikini) and asking me questions about baby names. All the attention made me feel even worse, because I couldn't admit to anyone, not even my closest friends and family, that I not only didn't want this baby but also just couldn't bring myself to terminate the pregnancy.
The week I returned, I went in for my first trimester screening at the hospital where I sat in the waiting room next to a couple who looked like they had stepped off the set of Teen Mom, convinced that I was about to find out that there was something majorly wrong with my baby and that I would be forced to bring this all to an end.
But then, during the 45 minute long ultrasound administered by a doctor who barely spoke English, I saw my baby's little heartbeat and the outline of it's limbs fluttering around inside of me. All of a sudden the fear and shame and bad thoughts evaporated and I felt it for the first time: unconditional love for the life growing inside of me and faith that everything was happening for a reason.
Next: Part 4: I'm Single and Pregnant: How Am I Going to Afford This Baby? Part 5: How My Pain Taught Me to Change
--Leah Ornstein is a freelance writer, who recently relocated to Charlottesville, Virginia, from Los Angeles. She is currently working on her first novel.