She’s Not Having My Baby

Nothing can strike the core of a man’s heart harder than when he learns an ex-flame is having someone else’s baby.

Now I don’t mean this in some insensitive way, like when my older brother learned his ex was pregnant and the terror on his face more said, “Is it mine?” than being happy for her. And I grant you, most men can’t think past their dicks and the prospect of a baby -- after so much unprotected sex -- is something that potentially crimps their style rather than gives them joy. But for those men who genuinely aren’t jerks, the news can be awe-inspiring. Or deeply depressing.

When you fall in love with someone and you know that he/she is The One, everything else melts away. Not in some phony Hollywood-type setup with funny scenes of cooking together, or hiking together and dancing to oldies while gazing deeply into each other eyes. No, I mean that your soul, your very essence knows that you want to wake up with this person and watch them change. To be with them because their very presence just fills you up with a sense of happiness and worth. Corny perhaps, but those who have really been in love know exactly what I’m mapping out.

The way I’ve always figured it, I would rather have a relationship that’s based on being friends with a woman than anything else. For me, love invariably waxes and wanes, but to have a friendship at the core of your relationship means that you can ride the flow and ebb of passion because that person is still the first one you want to call when something happens. The one you know you will be coming home to and settle into a familiarity that brings security. The kind of love where you can say, “She’s my best friend.”

Don’t get me wrong, I have a best friend and I don’t want to sleep with him, but you get my drift. Of course, love doesn’t always work out, and instead of coming home to someone, you see that you’re both drifting apart. That was the case with Caryn, of whom I definitely believed was The One. I had started making some quiet plans about the future, but as our relationship progressed, I felt the love starting to ebb. And no matter how cliché it sounds, I think we both woke up one morning and discovered that perhaps we should be waking up alone.

That was about two years ago. Sure, I drank and smoked and just felt the silence in my apartment to be so oppressive that I just wanted to sleep all the time. But, life goes on and so did I.

Until I ran into Caryn’s sister, Rhonda -- you can smell the setup a mile away, I’m sure, but there it was, a chance encounter with the relative who saw most of our relationship unfold. We exchanged the usual pleasantries and what not, when I noticed she wrinkled her face a bit and she told me that Caryn was married and expecting.

I had done my damndest not to leap into asking about her. I didn’t want to appear desperate but there was no way I couldn’t mention her name. Rhonda just beat me to it. I stammered something about how great that was, and asked who the lucky guy was but I don’t remember the answer. I just faded out after that.

If you’re lucky enough to end a relationship on a somewhat positive note -- where there’s no throwing of anything or declarations of how you’ve fallen in love with someone else -- that doesn’t exempt you from the pain. It intensifies it, in my opinion. Maybe it’s just selfishness on my part, but my first jumbled thought was, “Someone made her happier than I ever could have.” I couldn’t shake it out of my mind that she had fallen in love with someone else; that she had been intimate with someone else. That she was privately familiar with another man’s body who satisfied her. That another man had been inside her. And that she wanted to bring a new life into the world of which I wasn’t a part.

I know how dumb it sounds to be fixated on sex, but I’ve usually equated intimacy with love. I say “usually” because I won’t lie: I’ve fucked someone because I needed the release and didn’t look back. But this was different because intimacy in love is more fulfilling, more powerful, more of what makes you want to be a part that other person’s life forever. I can’t put it into words but those who know require no more explanation. And I was in that place because the news just underscored not only how much I still loved her, but the sense of loss that had started to become only a dull ache. Now it was back and more raw than ever.

I don’t have any sagely advice to the lovelorn on this. Sometimes, you just have to express your pain and let others know that they’re not alone. You want to be a good guy and wish your ex well, but it’s so damn hard not to let the wound become a chasm that you might fall into. You just have to get on with your life. Again.