But I did.
Recently, I wrote "To the Anti-Dad: An Open Letter to My Son's 'Father.'"
This story is the story behind that letter.
On that icy January night, just a few minutes after two pink lines appeared on the 99-cent pregnancy test, I sent Amir a picture message of the white rectangle, the words “I'm pregnant” typed beneath it.
“Are you sure it's mine?” he answered. “I can't have a baby right now.”
“Don't worry. I'm going to get an abortion,” I threatened, and my phone rang within seconds.
“You betta not kill our baby! Wallah, I swear, Allah would never forgive you,” he yelled.
“I was just kidding,” I said. “I believe God has a plan for him or her.”
I'd only known for a few moments that I carried a life within me, but I already felt attached to my child. Besides, I was ready for a life change: if I couldn't try to overcome depression and stop smoking for myself, then I'd have to do it for my child.
As anxious as I was about becoming a mother at the age of 23, I believed I had no other choice.
“Xiomara, don't do it. I'll never talk to you again,” he said.
“I won't. I'd spend the rest of my life crying if I did.”
Now, I sometimes wish I'd made a different choice about my pregnancy--
I wish I'd kept my pregnancy a secret from Equis' biological father because he is NOT a father to my son.
I knew he and I would never build an official relationship: firstly, Amir would want me to convert to Islam, but I'm not really a fan of organized religion; and secondly, I don't think you should marry someone just because you're pregnant.
So if having a forced relationship with him wasn't my reasoning behind telling him about my pregnancy, what was?
I'd hoped that he'd want to build a relationship with his child. I thought that, at the very least, he command not to abort our child meant he cared about being there for his baby.
But he directly told me he wouldn't be there for our child, and I chose to ignore his words.
The first time I saw him, we carefully shuffled over long Bronx blocks, past the bare trees overlooking the Major Deegan Expressway, to Dallas BBQ.
“How do you feel about becoming a father?” I'd asked him while pulling a sticky Hennessy Wing apart with my fingers and removing the skin.
“I don't know,” he laughed uncomfortably.
“But you said you wanted to have a baby with me.”
“Yeaaah,” he admitted. The setting sun shone through the large windows of the restaurant, highlighting Amir's hazel eyes above the large curve in his nose. Traffic crawled through the gray city below us. “But I didn't think it would really happen... not so soon,” he said, running his thick fingers through his dry brown curls.
“Are you going to take care of him or her?”
“Don't worry,” he said. “By the time he's four, I promise I'll always be there for him.”
I was stunned. He thinks it's okay to not be in his child's life for four years?
“But who's going to teach our baby Arabic?” I asked playfully, desperately.
“Don't worry,” he repeated, piling cash onto the check. “We'll be around each other like glue.”
Thinking about my son's future with a deadbeat dad was more frightening than telling my very-Christian, Puerto Rican family the baby's father was a Muslim Yemeni.
I went to almost every prenatal appointment alone. While waiting hours upon hours to be called for the first sonogram, I glared at couples holding hands and laughing.
With trepidation, I learned my five-month-old fetus was a boy. A boy! A boy needs a father! I called Amir to let him know his wish for a boy came true, but his phone had been cut off.
Amir missed Equis' birth, and he finally met our son when he was already four months old. He saw him only twice after that, and it's been fifteen months since he has seen him in person. These visits amount to no more than ten small hours of my son's life.
Amir hasn't changed one diaper. He has never slid with Equis down a slide. He missed Equis' first steps and both his birthdays. He doesn't know what it's like to sit through our son's weekly speech therapy sessions. He doesn't know how joyous it felt to hear my son say the word "more" for the first time last week.
Today, I can't help but rebuke myself for not recognizing the red flags that this man wouldn't be the kind of loving, consistent and present father I'd hoped he'd be.
Now, I struggle with worry about my son's future.
Equis just celebrated his second birthday, and he only gets older with every passing day.
I doubt that when Equis turns four, his biological father will suddenly fulfill his promise to be stuck with him “like glue.”
I fear the day Equis gets old enough to realize he doesn't look like the person he calls Daddy or his older brother. Will he feel deceived? How will his self-identity be affected?
I fear the day Equis asks why his biological father doesn't want to be around him. Will he irrationally believe it's because he's an unloveable child?
I fear the day he asks me to tell him more about his Yemeni heritage and more than three words in Arabic, and I'll have trouble answering him. Will he feel a sense of loss?
Yet, I cannot feel too much regret for informing Amir of the pregnancy and continuing to try to contact him out of a sense that I owe it to my son to be honest, open and kind.
These values of honesty, openness and kindness are ones I want my son to uphold himself.
Most of all, I want Equis to know that I tried, that it isn't my fault his “father” isn't in his life.
In accord with My Blogger's Creed, everything I've written here is true, and dialogue has been recreated to the best of my memory. I use the pseudonym Equis and Amir to protect the identities of my son and his biological father.