“I’m going to be a daddy?” Martin had looked at her through his dark eye-lashes, eyelashes she always said were wasted on a man, and smiled.
She gestured towards the small white stick in her hand and steadied her voice as tears threatened to spill down her cheeks. “It looks like it!”
“Well, that’s brilliant,” he said with an enthusiasm she so had not expected. “Wow! A daddy! And you a mammy! This is great news, Ava. I promise you. This is brilliant stuff. We’re going to do this right, you and me. I’m going to take care of you and that wee baby. I promise.”
He had moved across the room in what felt like one giant impressive manly gesture and had pulled her into his arms while she sobbed. Okay, so it wasn’t in her lifeplan. Okay so she was still young and just getting into the swing of things in her teaching job. Sure, she still lived at home and only saw Martin a couple of nights a week but this didn’t have to be a disaster - not by any stretch of the imagination.
When he had put her down he ran out and bought a box of cigars. He stood in the back garden of her mother’s house and smoked one and when he came back in the smell almost made her vomit.
“This is one of the best days of my life,” he said, with a strength of emotion she had never seen him use before. “There’s only one thing which would or could make it better...”
She had watched as he had knelt on one knee. She felt him take her hand in his and she listened to him tell her loved her and ask her to marry him.
When Ava had looked in Martin’s eyes she had seen nothing but love, joy and honesty radiating back so she had said yes and had kissed him deeply - despite the fug of stale cigar smoke and told him yes.
Two days later Martin had spent his week’s wages on a simple but beautiful yellow gold band with one small but perfectly formed diamond. She had slipped it onto her finger and felt like a proper grown up. Okay, so none of this planned, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be just perfect. Happiness comes when you least expect it.
He had teared up at their first scan. Ava had felt strangely emotional too but also more than a little freaked out. This baby – the white and black and grey little blob she could see on the screen with its very own little heartbeat- was inside her. It was growing in her stomach. It was attached to her, relying on her for everything. She felt overwhelmed with responsibility – she had to do this right. She had to make sure her baby was fine. She had to feed it all the right food and avoid all the wrong things. She had to wear flat shoes and wireless bras that made her boobs look saggy and she had to drink lots of milk but still partake in (mild) exercise. She panicked about the bottle of wine she shared with Martin before she knew she was up the stick. She panicked about the cigar scented kiss they had shared just after they knew. She panicked that she would have a miscarriage, or a premature delivery, or that the cord would be wrapped around the baby’s neck, or that she would need a c-section. Worse still she panicked that she wouldn’t need a c-section and she would actually have to push a baby out of her actual lady area. She panicked she would tear. She panicked she would make a show of herself. She panicked that she would be a rubbish mammy. She panicked that something would be wrong with the baby and she would struggle to cope. She panicked that Martin would leave her and she would be left a single parent.
As it turned out, he did. And no amount of panicking about it beforehand helped prepare her for the body blow of him walking out on her and her eight month pregnant belly.
It hadn’t been terribly dramatic. He had dropped his paint roller mid nursery transformation and grabbed his coat and said he couldn’t do this anymore. He didn’t love her. He wasn’t ready to be a daddy. She was an awful sour bag to live with these days. He was going to move away. He had a job in America. She could keep the ring – all £350 of it. £350 which would turn out to be the only money he would ever, ever pay towards his daughter’s upkeep.
Reading At The Edge - I'm delighted to return to Cavan on Tuesday, next week for At The Edge, run by Kate Ennals. Do come and join it, it's a terrific line up and there's an op...
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