I need to get this post finished and...well..POSTED....so here it is--finally!! *WARNING! This post is not a short one...*
A look back at 2009 in the life of Ashley:
January- I was still with Ray. Things were reaching newer lows every day. I kept telling myself, "Ashley, he's been through a lot. Two tours in Iraq as a Marine Corps infantryman leaves little less than horrific PTSD. It's not all his fault...." blah blah blah.... He was still dealing with some legal issues in Florida, so we made a trip there so he could attend court. THAT SUCKED. But I got to see Candace and Lily!! That was the highlight of the trip, by far. I am such a proud Auntie!! Lily is the cutest little girl on the planet. I broke up with Ray for a few days around the end of the month and then let him talk me into getting back together.
February- Things with Ray were awesome for a little less than a week and then the relationship plummeted to an all-time low. I couldn't handle it anymore. We fought constantly--more than I have ever fought with anyone. This is because I prefer to talk things out like an adult and HE "doesn't wanna hear it" and chooses to act like a child. I broke up with him. On Valentine's...night. Whatever. It's never a bad day to break up with someone who treats you like crap.
March- Around the 10th, I started feeling not-so great. The 11th, I'm having a hard time doing my job (a stocker at WalMart--glamorous, I know) without getting winded, overheated and feeling sick to my stomach. I took a pregnancy test and it showed up weird (1 line for 'not pregnant', 2 lines for 'pregnant'....there was only 1 line, but it was in the second 'pregnant' line's spot...?) The 12th--same story (feeling sick). During my lunch break I called my sister and told her how I was feeling. She says "Yep...sounds about right. You should take a pregnancy test." I told her about the one I took the night before and she told me I needed to take a digital test. I just so happened to have one. The rest of the day and evening I was having an internal freak out. I didn't know if I was pregnant. I knew that it was definitely possible....but I didn't want it to be true. I had talked to Ray about it in the days prior (he was still living at my dad's house with me, but in a separate room) and he had nothing to say but "You better not be." Awesome. The 13th, I woke up to take Ray to work, but needed to go to the bathroom first. I remembered the test and decided to take it. By this time, I had convinced myself that I was most definitely NOT pregnant so you can imagine my surprise when I went to wash my hands and saw the word "PREGNANT" on that little screen. Just staring at me. PREGNANT. I almost passed out. Ray started knocking on the door and telling me to hurry up so he could get to work. I opened the door and handed him the pregnancy test. He looked at it and then back at me in disbelief. "Is this a joke?" Wow Ray. No--it's not a joke. We both just stood there in silence. Neither of us knew what to think. We were both in shock. I just kept thinking "No. There's no way. Not me. Not now. Not HIM. What have I done?What am I going to do? My life is never going to be the same. I can't be a mom! I'm not ready!" Then Ray asked me the same question I was about to ask him--"What are we going to do?" So we got in the car and drove to Cypress in silence. Right before we got to Ray's work he turned to me and said, "Ashley, I'm excited. I'm gonna be a father! Wow--I can't believe it. I'm gonna be a daddy! I'm actually kind of excited, Ash." As the days and weeks went on, Ray tried to convince me that we needed to be together so we could be a family. So much of me wanted to give in and get back together--being in some sort of relationship with the father of your child just makes sense....but I stayed strong and stood by the decision I had made a month before. I told him that we didn't need to be together to be parents. Ray went with me to the doctor's office to confirm pregnancy. I didn't know it, but that would be the first and last doctor visit he would attend with me. Oh yeah--my car caught on fire while I was driving down the freeway....I pulled over, retrieved my purse and important items from the glove box, and watched it burn to the ground while waiting (with a police officer) for the fire department to show up. Goodie. What a great month.
April- After a lot more fighting with Ray (mostly about the baby and my refusal to get back together with him), I decided that it was in my best interest to move back home to Utah. Being in Texas was bad for my health for many reasons. Being around Ray was stressing me out due to the constant fighting between us. He started threatening to take me to court and get custody of the baby after it was born. At one point he told me to "get rid of it". That both pissed me off and broke my heart. It is something that I would NEVER do, or even THINK OF doing. I also knew I couldn't stay at my dad's house any longer because he smoked in the house 24/7 and I didn't want to be around that. Around the end of the month, I flew to Utah depressed and scared and unsure... A very awesome friend of mine's family let me stay at their house for a week until my mom and Mike flew into town and then I would go stay with them at my grandpa's house.
May- I was staying at my grandpa's house with my mom. It was an emotional few days. Crazy. Insane! My mom and I had many long conversations about the baby. I was jumping back and forth in my head between keeping it and giving it up for adoption. It was a really rough time for me. On the one hand, I kept thinking there was no way I could give my baby up! On the other hand, I was thinking that I was only one person. I was young. I was alone. By giving it up, I would be giving it MORE. I would be giving it a chance at a "normal" life with a mom AND a dad. I just couldn't stick with one decision for longer than five minutes. Then my mom came to me and told me that she had had a conversation with Mike. He told her to ask me if they could adopt the baby. He said that he just wouldn't be able to bear it if I let someone else adopt it. So she asked me how I felt about it. That option never even crossed my mind before. Suddenly, adoption seemed like a more doable option. 99% of my worries would be gone if my parents adopted the baby. I would still get to see it. I wouldn't have to be wondering for the rest of my life how it was doing or if it was okay. I would know what it looked like and I would get to play with it and spend time with it....we decided that this was the best option. I tried talking to Ray about it, but he just acted indifferent about it. He was kind of a jerk, actually. I didn't tell him that my parents had planned on adopting the baby--just that I was going for an open adoption and that it would be possible for us to get pictures of the baby later on down the road. Again, he didn't really seem to care about any of it. Anyway, I found an apartment and Mike paid the deposit so I could move in. I was feeling depressed and somewhat lost in my life, so I asked my grandpa to give me a blessing. After the blessing, I had a really strong feeling that I needed to talk to McKay. I tried to ignore it. I assumed that he would never want to talk to me anyway. A few days passed and I couldn't get rid of the feeling. Finally, I decided that I had to at least write to him--what did I have to lose? So I wrote McKay a message on facebook apologizing for so many things--mostly for the divorce because I knew how much it hurt him. I told him I would understand if he never wanted to see or speak to me, but I would really appreciate it if he would meet with me so we could talk because I felt like a lot of things were left unsaid between us. To my surprise, he wrote me back and said a lot of very sweet things that I didn't really deserve. He agreed to meet and talk. We met up a day or two later on UVU campus (we both lived really close) and talked for a LONG time. We talked about what we both felt went wrong in our marriage. There were a lot of apologies (from both sides) and a lot of tears (mostly from me) and a lot of reassuring. We went out to lunch and continued to talk. In this hours-long conversation the possibility of us getting back together came up more than once. It was kind of shocking. But neither of us read much into it. McKay and I got together and went for walks and talked a few more times over the next week or so. It soon became very apparent to both of us that we still loved each other. We started hanging out a lot. I still hadn't told him that I was pregnant, though, and I didn't know how to. Finally one day I decided that I needed to tell him. We went for a drive up to Squaw Peak and while we were looking out over the valley, I told him. He was shocked and didn't know what to say. I told him that my parents were going to adopt the baby. I was surprised - he handled it pretty well. He was super sweet and really supportive, actually. He did have a few concerns and was a little sad that my first baby wouldn't be OUR first baby. (Also in May--my little sister, Amanda's, wedding and my first ultrasound)
June- McKay and I continued to hang out and pretty much started dating. Pretty much? Yeah--we were dating. He went with me to my older sister, Aubrey's, wedding. Awkward. It was really weird being at her wedding pregnant....with my boyfriend...who was my ex husband....and NOT the father of the baby... >.< Other events in June - got an AWESOME job at the Utah County Health Department doing photography and design work for the Environmental Health Department. Best. Job. Ever. (so far ;D) Also, June would be the last time I heard from Ray for the rest of my pregnancy...
July- I started second-guessing my decision to give the baby up. Even to my parents. My mom came to me and told me "Ash....after a lot of prayer and soul searching, Mike and I just don't feel right about adopting the baby. I don't want you to think that we don't want it--because we do!! We just don't have a good feeling about it. And, Ash, I think giving up the baby would be a big mistake. I think you would regret it." I completely agreed with her. Heavy day. I decided that I was going to do it. I made up my mind that I was going to face the consequences of my decisions. I watched my mother raise my brother and sister and me mostly by herself and I knew that I could do this! But still....heavy heavy heavy.....Emotionally, my head was swimming--the realization that life was REALLY not ever going to be the same hit harder than ever. I knew things for the next few years were (are) going to be difficult, but I accepted that and began to prepare mentally for what was coming. My mom told me that, even though they weren't going to be adopting the baby, they still wanted to help me. She felt that the best way for them to do that would be for me to move to Hawaii with them (my stepdad had just gotten orders to Pearl Harbor). I had some reservations at first, but then decided that would be best for the baby and me. I was living in an apartment with five other girls. I couldn't have a baby and be living there. And being on my own just wasn't financially doable. So Hawaii. Another pill to swallow--moving again... I had another ultrasound done (the day after I changed my mind about adoption) to determine the sex of the baby--A BOY!! I decided on a name (Gabriel) the same day I found out. I called McKay to tell him that it was a boy and that I was keeping it and that I would be moving to Hawaii. His reaction left a little to be desired. I was upset. McKay knew I was upset, though, because he showed up the next day with a bouquet of roses and my favorite meal from the Macaroni Grill menu (Penne Rustica =D Yum!!). He apologized profusely for how things came off and I realized that I took a lot of what he said the wrong way. He told me that he still wanted to spend as much time as possible with me before I left for Hawaii. So things were patched up as quickly as they were torn. I tried to contact Ray every way possible (phone call, text, email, myspace) to tell him that I was keeping the baby and that it was a boy....but couldn't get ahold of him/didn't hear from him. No acknowledgment whatsoever. It was hurtful and frustrating to me. Then, out of nowhere, Ray's ex wife (Racheal) contacted me. She wanted to let me know a few things: she was not trying to cause any drama, she knew what I was going through and wanted to assure me that I could talk to her if I needed to, and (here's the biggie) she is the mother of two of Ray's children--Seth, 6, and Emma, 3. Wow. I felt like I had been hit by a freight train. Any hope I was clinging to that Ray would step up and be a father to Gabriel, was completely shredded at that point. I felt so betrayed (he never told me, in almost a YEAR long relationship, that he had kids....he actually outright lied to me and told me that he didn't...). I lost it for a few days.
August- I continued trying to get ahold of Ray. No luck. He was actually "missing"....no one knew where he was. His probation officer actually contacted me asking if I knew where he was. I, of course, had no idea. It was incredibly difficult for me to accept the fact that I was pregnant and the father of my child couldn't care less about me OR the baby. I didn't care what he thought about me. I just wanted him to care about the baby. Gabriel didn't do anything to Ray. He deserves nothing but to be loved by both of his parents. But Ray didn't care enough to even send a text message or an email. On the upside, work was going great! And McKay continued to spoil the crap out of me. He was just AWESOME--so sweet to me--all summer long. And he really didn't have to be. He took me out to movies and dinner and to the zoo. We actually made a list of places and restaurants we had never been to, and checked off each place one by one as we went along. SO SPOILED. I don't even want to think about how much time and money he sacrificed for my sake. He even went to prenatal classes and ultrasounds with me! What a man. He made me feel special and wanted and loved and pretty. I would have felt NONE of that (or anything close) if it weren't for him. He proved to me all over again what kind of man he is and why I loved him. Knowing that I was going to have to leave for Hawaii was really sad for the both of us. We had grown so close over the past few months...
September- McKay decided that he was joining the Army. WOW! Big decision--but a good one for him. I moved to Hawaii September 15th. Holy crap. Having to lug four bags/suitcases through three different airports (SLC, Las Vegas, Honolulu) while eight months pregnant=not fun OR easy....Traveling AT ALL when you're that pregnant isn't fun. Ugh.... Adjusting to Hawaii was difficult at first. But I liked it nonetheless. Every time we drove somewhere I would stop and think, "Wow. I can't believe I LIVE here...!" The island is beautiful!!
October- Things started to become more routine. I found a doctor and had visits every week. I was getting hugely pregnant and more excited by the day! With the excitement, though, was a lot of fear/nervousness and a lot of sadness because of Ray's complete lack of responsibility and concern. I was finally able to start buying baby stuff, though, so that was a TON of fun! It really helped me forget about the crappy stuff and focus on the baby. I was absolutely sure that I was going to have Gabriel before the month was up. Aaannnnnnd.....I didn't.
November- By the time November hit, I was incredibly frustrated that I was still pregnant. I had been given three different due dates. Only one was in October, but I convinced myself that THAT was the correct due date....wah wah waaahhhhh.....McKay had started boot camp at this point, too, so I was waiting for a letter AND a baby. Obviously the baby was what I wanted more...LOL So anyway--every day felt like a month. When you're nearing the end of a pregnancy, time seems to slide by impossibly slow. It is the most aggravating wait in the world! I went into false labor on the 11th--talk about adding insult to injury. Wait....wait....wait....YAY LABOR!!.....nevermind.....My hope for a baby by my birthday (which, by the way, was the last estimated due date) was dashed. It was my least favorite birthday EVER for that reason. On the 15th, after about a week of false contractions, around 1am(ish), my water broke!! We went to the hospital and they admitted me. I was so excited! NERVOUS AS HELL.....but excited!! Long labor story short: I planned on having as natural a birth as possible (no pitocin, no epidural, etc.) and ALL OF THAT went out the window. As the hours of unproductive labor/contractions went by, my birth plan was systematically made obsolete. Almost everything that I didn't want became necessary. After 30 hours of labor and horrible contractions, I was still not fully effaced or dilated. The doctor informed me that, for both mine and the baby's safety, they would need to do a c-section. I cried. At that point, though, I was so exhausted that I couldn't have pushed anyway. Even if that was an option--which it wasn't. They were afraid that I would rupture if I tried because I had been contracting for well over an entire day. So the nurses prepped me for surgery and whisked me off to the O.R. suite. They upped the drugs, poked at me to make sure I was numb, and went to town! Five or ten minutes later (it's hard to keep a sense of time when you're that drugged up...lol) I was a mommy!! I teared up instantly when I heard Gabriel's little meow of a cry. I get choked up still just thinking about it! What a beautiful moment in my life! They brought him over to me so I could see him and touch him and then they took him away to the nursery while the doctors sewed me back up. After that, I spent an hour or so in triage and then they took me to my recovery room. And THEN...by far the most amazing moment in my life....I got to hold my son. Words don't exist that can properly describe the feeling of holding your child for the first time. Nothing I could say would do it justice. So I won't even attempt it. I spent the next three days in the hospital. That sucked. Then I went home. That sucked even more for the first day or so. Getting going with breast feeding was....oh man....so difficult. And painful. And frustrating. Two days after I got home from the hospital, Ray contacted me. After six months of ignoring me. He asked me how the baby was doing and wanted to know what he looked like, etc. He then proceeded to tell me he had nothing but anger and hate toward me for "what I did to him". !@$# What I did to HIM?! Wow. He had a pretty rough summer and fall and he blames it all on me because I (and this is a direct quote) "left [him] in Texas to rot". An adult. I abandoned him. Wow. Anyway, we had a lot of long conversations over messenger that I really don't care to get into. Candace and Lily arrived on the island (Candace also got orders to Hawaii--Kaneohe bay though) on Thanksgiving day. What. A Thanksgiving. I just had a baby and was only a week post-op, my uncle was here, Candace and Lily had JUST arrived....sweet!
December- Two weeks into motherhood. I was starting to get the hang of things! Recovering from surgery was no picnic, though, and I still wasn't completely recuperated until a little into January. But every day of December was easier than the one before it! McKay and I were writing back and forth to each other and things were starting to get a little heart-heavy. I had a very strong urge to be with him or at least near him. He got to go home from boot camp for about a week for Christmas. We talked and texted and we both realized that we really couldn't see living the rest of our lives without each other. So, after a summer of regained trust and love and appreciation, a large handful of letters, and many a phone conversation, we made a plan: I would get a job here and work my little butt off and save all my pennies so that I could move back to Utah (hopefully before the end of 2010); he would finish boot camp and then AIT and head back to Utah for ROTC. And then we would get back together and eventually get married again. Wow!! McKay already loves Gabriel, which was my biggest concern--I was worried that he might not feel attached to him, but McKay assured me that he already feels like Gabriel's daddy in a lot of ways. And the fact that he loves Gabriel makes me love HIM even more! So anyway, Christmas was great! My brother, Adam, and his girlfriend, Karen, flew out and celebrated with us--which was awesome! We went to the beach on Christmas day (so weird). New Years Eve was....hell. All of our neighbors were setting of "concussion bombs" ALL NIGHT. And they didn't stop until about 2 am. Needless to say, it was a long night since the babies were terrified of all the explosions (seriously--they made the house shake....I was soooo pissed....and annoyed) and they couldn't/wouldn't sleep. Ugh.
2009 was a year of frustration and joy. One of growth and dead ends. It was filled with crushing heartache and ultimate happiness. It was the best of times and the worst of times. I learned a lot and moved a lot and discovered a new depth of emotion on both ends of the spectrum that I didn't know I was capable of feeling. It was a year in which a rough, but lesson-filled chapter of my life closed. It was also a year that marked the beginning of a grand adventure for me! For many reasons, both good and bad, 2009 will forever be a noted year in my life.