Telling friends and acquaintances that I was single and pregnant wasn't easy, but figuring out the financials of having a baby alone in Los Angeles proved to be impossible.
For several months I avoided telling the world I was pregnant, but after gaining about thirty pounds in the first trimester, people who knew me were starting to do double takes.
But what was the right way to tell people that I was following in January Jones and Scary Spice's footsteps and carrying a "bastard baby" (a term I had heartlessly used several times in recent years) without having to rehash the brutal and gory details of the Jason drama?
"Just be confident and tell people that you are pregnant and the father isn't in the picture and you are going to be a single mom," one of my friends suggested. "No one is going to pry."
That was like saying the tabloids didn't care about Kim Kardashian's pregnancy weight. This was Los Angeles, where everyone made it a point to know everyone else's business and this wasn't exactly one of those tidbits of news that was going to fly under the radar.
One day I decided to squeeze into my Rag & Bone skinny jeans (which I now had to wear unzipped) and emerge from the cave of my apartment where I had been hiding in for months watching back-to-back episodes of Pretty Little Liars and gorging on excessive amounts of carbs and sugars. Strolling down the trendy street I lived on, I ran into one of my neighborhood friends, Anthony, who asked me what was "new."
"Work is okay, just got back from Hawaii, and I'm pregnant," I answered, hoping that somehow if I didn't make a big deal out of it, he wouldn't either.
"Are you serious?" he finally spurt out after about thirty seconds of staring at me through skeptical eyes, waiting for the punch line. "I didn't even know you were dating anyone."
"And here you probably just thought I was getting fat," I joked, because I didn't really know what else to say. Reactions to my impending motherhood ranged depending on the person, but the general consensus from the people in my life was shock and then awkwardness – because asking about the paternity of my child-to-be took a little more than social couth.
"Are you so excited?" was another response that I would get, and also come to dread, because I absolutely wasn't but I couldn't exactly give an honest answer.
"Am I excited to be a single mother of a baby whose father wanted me to abort him and have to financially support a child on my own, full-time, without any help? Not so much," I wanted to say, but I didn't. I lied. I said what everyone wanted to hear and pretended to be the strong and independent woman they thought I was.
At this point, I had avoided morning sickness, but I was getting stressed out about the reality of my situation in terms of work and finance, that I was a walking zombie, averaging about two hours of sleep a night.
I made enough money to live the Los Angeles lifestyle I was accustomed to, but my finances wouldn't exactly support Leah-plus-one in the same manner. The doctor's bills were already starting to pile up, and with my lackluster insurance plan, it was clear that this pregnancy was going to cost me over $10k. There was also the technicality of my freelance work status, which wasn't going to provide me with maternity leave, and I didn't exactly have family close by who could help me out with childcare, nor could I afford to hire a nanny, so I would be stuck dropping my newborn child off at the baby kennel early every morning, sitting in traffic driving to and from work every day, and spending my evenings up all night in my cramped and loud apartment. I was going to be that single mother.
"You need to stop stressing out," friends, who had clearly never been in my predicament before, would tell me. "Your baby can feel everything."
It was suggested that I speak with other single mothers who had walked this path before me, but that turned out to be more depressing than helpful. Though they loved their children, most of them were noticeably bitter about their baby daddies and were more interested in discussing all of the sacrifices they had made for their child and the legal battles with their exes, than inspiring me with their success stories.
I tried to talk to my doctor about my situation, but she didn't seem to have time to deal with my blood work, let alone my emotional trials and tribulations. I was paying top dollar to see this woman, but spending hours in the waiting room filled with couples, only to get about 10 minutes of quality of time with her, where she would briskly tell me everything was fine.
I had never felt so alone in my life and not my faith in God, the support of family and friends nor my best thinking was easing my stress and anxiety about the stark reality of single motherhood.
Next: Part 5: How My Pain Taught Me to Change