Monday, February 27, 2006

Oliver's Life: A story in pictures

Two more months to go. Final belly shot before I go to the hospital. I really meant to take them weekly, but you know how it goes.
Nine months? Are you sure your dates are correct? Your belly seems too small. Yes, yes, forty weeks plus 5 days. Overdue. 9 months. I'm ready. Epidural then baby out please.
Welcome to our world little Oliver Harry. We were all shocked that you weighed so much. We had to have them convert the grams to pounds so your weight could mean something to us. You were a giant. How did you fit in my belly? That's what all the midwives wanted to know. Um, me too.

Mother meets baby. This was precisely why I never wanted a c-section (aside from the whole "too posh to push" stereotype) - you can't just hold your baby and nuzzle him and get that great skin-to-skin bonding thing going. Someone just holds the little bundle close to your head and you just kind of caress his cheek to the best of your ability and hope that they finish stapling you back together in a hurry so you can hold your little guy for real.

Our first family portrait. Steve gave me permission to put his picture on the blog. He knows about it now and read and cried about the previous post. He is just happy that we have a medium through which to share our son and his brief existence on a much wider scale, because at the end of the day, Oliver's world was just his mom and dad. Gotta love the blue head nets.
First time nursing little Oliver. I had such a hard time with Audrey. Neither of us could really get the hang of it for the first couple of days. But Oliver was very much a boobman, no troubles here.
This is the second of our two family pictures. Oliver is just a couple of hours old, and Steve and I swear there is just a touch of a smile on his face. I wish the hair and makeup people had made an appearance, because I look as you would fresh from a c-section, I couldn't even move my legs yet, bloody epidural. We're in the recovery ward. I had a lovely view of Harrow on the hill. It was a lovely sunny day, and everything just seemed rosy and perfect.

Home from the hospital, I can't resist taking a few pics of my little man, one in his moses basket and the other on my bed. He was a little jaundiced after a couple days, but it went away just as quickly.

Getting our little guy dressed and ready for his first big day out in London. The outfit is curtesy of his Uncle Jamie. The hat we adore. He wore it home from the hospital, out and around London, as well as to his last trip to the hospital. It had the tendency to cover his eyes, but he didn't mind, for he was sleeping anyway. He always looked like such a little ball in his carseat. My little guy.

We took our little guy to Hyde Park, which we'd been dreaming of doing since we found out we were pregnant. A passing American gentleman offered to take a picture of the three of us. Foolishly I turned him down because I wanted a special picture of father and son - now, how I wish I'd taken him up on it, because then we would have three family pictures.
It's my favorite picture of my little guy. The little expression on his face always cracked us up. This was after our big day out around London. My back was killing me, so I hopped straight into bed. Steve propped little Oliver next to me while I caught some shut eye and snapped this photo - our last one of our little guy while he was well.

It's a sight I wish fewer new parents had to see. These shots were taken on the second morning. With his kidneys failing and no urine being produced, his little body became bloated so that the only things that looked like our Oliver were his tiny ears and button nose. Still, I just wanted to rip it all away and take him home with me.

One of the hardest moments of our lives, well the hardest moment of our lives - holding our dying son after disconnecting him from life support. If it hadn't been for the doctor coming back in to tell us that they would have to begin the postmortem tests, Steve and I never would have been able to leave the room.

He was our light, our joy, however briefly he joined us. The ache is sometimes too much to bear, and I keep thinking of him lying in that cold mortuary and long to go and get him and bring him home, as if everything can go back to normal if I can just get him. I hate this all. I hate it. I want it all to go away and rewind time and do something, everything differently. I want it to be my fault, I want it to be noone's fault. I just want it undone.
* * *

In coming posts, I will write more about his birth and then the events that led us to bring him to the hospital as well as an update on the Sam stuff. This post I needed to do because the more people that I show my son and, in a way, share my pain with, the more strength I garner. This all helps me in a strange way. So thank you all for indulging me as I share these pictures of my son and my experience saying goodbye.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


I've been contemplating the best way to do this, but really there is no 'best way.' A week ago my story would have been completely different. I would have written about the how my feverish self was admitted to the hospital, observed for the night, induced in the morning and given an emergency c-section in the afternoon to deliver a beautiful 9lb 2oz. baby boy who we named Oliver Harry. I would have written about how they tried four different times to get the iv needle placed properly and how hard they had to push and pull to get the big lug of a baby out of my neatly compacted belly, weren't we all surprised at his size?, I would have written about how astonished we were at his beauty. But things change in a week.

My son, Oliver Harry was born Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm. He weighed 9lb 2 oz. He was the most beautiful baby we'd ever seen...auburn hair, expressive eyes, little button nose, perfect ears, except the right one, which bore the same indentation in the same place as his father's ear. He was his daddy's child through and through. His daddy was the only one who could change his diaper without getting a peep of complaint.

My son, Oliver Harry was born Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm. He weighed 9lb 2 oz. We took him home Sunday afternoon. We were so glad to be home. We got on the webcam and shared him with our family and Audrey, who said that her "baby brother is the most beautiful baby in the whole world." She was completely enamoured of him. As we all were. He was the perfect baby. Never a cry, never a complaint. He just gave a loud shrill scream to let us know he was hungry in the event we missed that he was trying to stick his entire fist down his throat as a substitue for milky sustinence.

My son, Oliver Harry was born Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm. He weighed 9lb 2 oz. Sunday night, a week after we brought him home, we went the emergency room. I was having severe back pain and could take it no more. Right before we left, our little Oliver spit up and choked and went a little limp, scaring me out of my wits, so we decided to have him checked out since we were going to be there any way. The first emergency room was too busy, so we went back to the hospital in which Oliver had been born. We were seen after five minutes. A lovely nurse named Jennifer asked all about my symptoms and I complained to my heart's content and then she moved on to Oliver, who had been sitting contentedly cooing in his car seat while his daddy caressed his cheek. She lifted him out of the seat and smiled at him, then compressed a bit of skin on his chest with her finger to check coloring. She left the room with him, saying she was going to go get a probe or something. She returned several minutes later.

My son, Oliver Harry was born Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm. He weighed 9lb 2 oz. On Sunday February 19, 2006 my son crashed. They spent 45 minutes pumping his little heart for him. In the morning CATS came and we moved him to the PICU at Great Ormand Street Hospital.

My son, Oliver Harry was born Thursday, February 9, 2006 at 2:14 pm. He weighed 9lb 2 oz.
Today, he died. We don't know why. Hopefully some day we will. It is coroner's case now.

I can't describe the pain. Or what it feels like to be home without my son. He was everything to us. And now I have a healing c-section scar and milk-filled breasts that achingly remind me every moment of his absence. We had a lovely week with him. I will always cherish my little son. My little guy, I called him. It wasn't enough time. I want him back so much, but I thank God for every minute and second I did have.

Bless you, Oliver.

Wednesday, February 8, 2006

Come Baby, Baby Come

The Sarcastic Journalist had her baby boy. Mrs. Mogul had her baby boy. We all had the same due date. Why do I have to be the last mom standing?

I haven't felt well today, though, and am worried that I am feverish, but I don't have a thermometer. Terrible, I know. So, as soon as Steve gets home from work, hopefully very soon, I am going to the hospital to get checked out. Hopefully all is well.

Monday, February 6, 2006

How could you leave your daughter like that?

It was when Sam told me that the courts wouldn’t look at my intentions only the fact that I had gone to England that all of the hope seeped out of me. I’d been trying to reason with him. I asked him again and again how he could just file without ever telling me that he realized he had a problem letting Audrey come to be with me. It only made things worse when he said that he didn’t have an answer for that. When I demanded again and again that he tell me why he let me go in the first place, why he didn’t just tell me, why everything, I had so many questions, but his answer for them all was that he had no answer. I was so confused and hurt and more betrayed than ever before in my life, and it had come from someone who had been so intent to posture himself as my friend.

It was in August that Steve and I began to discuss moving to England together. With his mother bed-bound due to a stroke, he wanted to give her a chance to be close to her grandchild for a while. He wanted to be back in his home town for a while. I told him that I would talk to Sam and see if we could work out a way for it to be possible. When I told Sam that we were considering a move to London, Sam revealed that he was considering a move to Hawaii. And from there we discussed actualities and inevitabilities and visitation arrangements. Foolishly enough I took our discussions as reality, his words as truth. In the end our agreement stood that Sam would have the first go with Audrey, because he was moving the following spring. So he would have her for four months, then she would come out with my mother in time for Bubble’s birth. While she was with me Sam would move and get settled in Hawaii. Audrey would then go to him for the summer and return to me for the school year. From that point on she would summer in Hawaii with her father and school with me in London. I bought my plane tickets, explained everything to Audrey and Steve and I flew off to London.

How na├»ve I was, how trusting. As I read the papers over and over, I wondered how I could be so stupid. But it was confusion more than anything else. Try as I might I couldn’t understand how it had come to Sam filing for full custody without saying anything to me first and more cruelly, allowing Audrey and me to discuss plans of her coming here every time we spoke on the phone. She couldn’t wait to see Big Ben, because it is in Mary Poppins. And she was ecstatic about a trip to the Natural History Museum to see the dinosaurs, which she was determined to “feed.” She couldn’t wait to see Bubble. My heart ached for her and for myself as well.

The “why”s repeated constantly in my head pushing me lower and lower. I wasn’t sleeping or eating. I stared at the wall from my bed for hours on end barely noticing the tears that streamed from my eyes.

By Friday, the fifth day of since the horror had begun, I couldn’t handle it any longer. I sobbed to Steve that I couldn’t be in London any more. I couldn’t bear to be so far away and so helpless. I could see no other way that to fly back to Seattle. I would just hide the pregnancy from the airlines. They wouldn’t need to know that I am 38 weeks along. Perhaps the small belly would be even more of a blessing than just a savior from stretch marks. Steve got on the phone with the airline to find some flight information from me, but then it hit me. If I left, I would have to have the baby without Steve. The idea sent me crashing. I couldn’t bear that either. Swirling in a sea of mixed emotions, the horror of it all just seemed too much to bear. I was caught in the tide between my unborn child and his father and my daughter and her father. In the end, I ran myself a bath and cried until I couldn’t cry another tear. I cried because I knew that I couldn’t fly away. I couldn’t put myself or the baby in that position. I cried for Audrey because the pain of missing her all those long months had intensified so much as everything that we’d planned together was erased with the knock of the door. I cried for the amicable relationship that I thought Sam and I had and wondered where it had gone, wondered how he had gotten to be so hard that he could let me go on about bringing Audrey out here when all along he knew what he and his lawyer were putting together. By the end of the bath, I realized that I was doing nobody favors by crying at the wall, certainly not Audrey and definitely not the baby or myself. As the water drained out of the bath, so too did my despair and hopelessness, and I realized that I had to crawl out of the pit and forgive myself for leaving Audrey, for trusting Sam and for ever giving his mother a hug.

The next week I spent researching online with my newly restored broadband; I tried to focus on keeping myself up and more emotionally stable for the sake of the baby. I had to believe that everything was going to be okay. The hate for Sam is something that I am coming to terms with. I believe it is wrong never to forgive somebody, but I will be hard-pressed ever to find forgiveness in my heart for what he is putting us through. Somewhere deep down he believes he is doing the right thing, he must, but there is no right in the way he went about this. I asked him what changed. He said he didn’t realize the repercussions of his decision, so Audrey and I have to pay. I asked him why he didn’t tell me, look, things have changed, either move back to Seattle or I will file for full custody. He said that he thought that I would just threaten to do the same and then trailed off without completely his explanation. I asked him why he didn’t tell me that he filed instead of letting me find out when I was served. He said he thought it was in Audrey’s best interest. Imagine that. I asked him if we could settle this without a custody battle that will go until at least the trial in December. He said that he wanted it to be settled in court.

I don’t think I will ever understand this, but I have to fight it and have strength to do so.
This weekend was one of the most stressful weekends of my life. For, as I waited for the baby to come, hoping each moment that the waters would break or the contractions would start, each moment that did pass brought be closer to the hearing, which was scheduled for Monday, my due date of all days. It was the hearing that would put into place Sam’s proposed parenting plan, which allows me the luxury of 4 supervised hours with me daughter every two weeks, among other things. My nerves were shattered. The waiting, the expecting, the fright all split between baby and trial. Sunday night the tears were back. What if the judge ruled against me? What then? How bad was I going to look? I knew everyone would be thinking, “How could you leave your daughter?” for more than anything I know wondered it myself. But my question was longer. How could I have left her in the hands of someone like Sam?

This morning I awoke with the hearing just hours away. I felt like David going up against Goliath without any of the smooth stones to fuel my sling, Goliath being Sam’s lawyer. I needed help and God was my only ally. My mother and I prayed before putting the call through to the commissioner of the court. With my armpits pouring out nervous sweat, I answered that I could indeed hear the proceeding. My telephonic court appearance was underway.

“I understand that you have been granted a telephonic appearance purely on the grounds of asking for a continuance in this matter,” spoke the clear, strong voice of the female commissioner.

“Yes,” I said nervously, wondering if Sam was there beside his lawyer hearing my voice.

“Please explain your reasons,” she continued.

“Your honor,” I said, while asking myself if ‘your honor’ is the right this to call a commissioner and did I really know what to say or how long I could talk without making them all start shifting in their seats and looking at their watches. I opted for concise. “I was completely shocked by the filing of this paperwork. I am forty weeks pregnant, and unable to travel. I have found it extremely difficult to find legal help from where I am in London, nor do I have the funds to hire an attorney. I am returning to Washington state on March 15, which is the earliest I feel I should travel such a great distance with a newborn baby. I would like to have time to seek some sort of legal council or advice, because at this point, I really don’t know what I am doing or how to respond to all of this.”

“How long do you think you need upon returning?” the commissioner asked.

“As long as you can give me,” I said, “But preferably a couple of weeks.”

Then Sam’s lawyer spoke, “I have no objection to the continuance, but this is a matter that involves a child who has been abandoned. This is a case, as far as I understand, of the mother running off pregnant with her boyfriend and leaving her child behind. This temporary order puts in place the father’s parenting plan and also if this is left until the end of March that would make 5 months that the father has had the daughter without financial support of any kind from the mother.”

I could take it no longer. To hear myself talked about in that manner. I couldn’t even see myself, but some white trash hillbilly and her wife beater wearing, MGD guzzling, unemployed boyfriend. I blurted out, “May I respond to that, your honor?”

“Briefly,” she said firmly.

“First of all I did not abandon my child. Sam and I had an agreement,” I proceeded quickly to spell that out for her, “Secondly, Sam and I had always agreed that neither of us would seek child support from the other, even though I have always been the primary parent, I haven’t asked a dime of him. I am not working, nor do I intend to be. I am about to have a baby, and planned to take care of both of my children as a full time mother.” I stopped abruptly. The anger I’d been trying to suppress had taken over, but I was glad it was anger and not tears that wore in my voice. I would rather Sam hear how angry I was, that how incredibly upset this has all made me. I tried to remove the emotion from my voice as I continued, “Your honor, the whole reason I am fighting this temporary order is because I feel the parenting plan is far too excessive. I need legal help before you determine anything.”

So it was ordered. I got the continuance. The new hearing date is March 31. Neither of us may remove Audrey from Washington State. But she did say that Audrey would remain in Sam’s custody until the hearing. I was so filled with relief at being granted the continuance that I didn’t let the last part get me down too much. I just had now to figure out where in the world I would get legal assistance and freaking relax because I’d just read that stress was a problem when it comes to getting labor going…something about adrenaline being a labor inhibitor.

I got off the phone with the court and began to cry. I was so glad that I had my own little victory the first battle in my newly waged war against Audrey’s father. I prayed that there will be many more to come and that I will be able to bear further instances of hearing myself painted in such a terrible light. For now, I am going to put this behind me and focus on giving birth and being whole for this baby. When March comes, I will strap on my armor again and grab my sling.

I speak to Audrey every day. She doesn’t understand why daddy won’t let her come to England, and it takes every part of me not to tell her exactly how horrible he is, but I can’t do that to her. I love her too much to hurt her like that. I just count down the days until I can see her beautiful face again. Gone are our plans of exploring Hyde Park, now we are going to go to the nursery and pick out flower seeds and plant a garden together. It’s something we both can look forward to, and it takes our, or at least my, minds off of all that was supposed to be. Bubble didn’t come on Sunday like she requested, but she is still eagerly awaiting his arrival. Soon, she says, he will be her big brother, and he can come and play with her and her (imaginary) sisters, Gina and Sara.

Thursday, February 2, 2006


Or - I just wanted to write about something else.

I’m still pregnant, which is good because I really didn’t want a January baby. February just seems so much more pleasant.

This has been an even easier pregnancy this time around. I think I’m just one of those extremely lucky gals. My back pain is here and there, where as last time it was unbearable, and I rarely get heartburn, where as last time I was a veritable fountain of stomach acid. Not pleasant at all and required sleeping upright, which I hated.

Amusingly enough doctors here were concerned again about the smallness of my belly, and despite my reassurances that it was all baby, and it happened last time, I was sent in for another growth scan. Fine by me. So I went in to the hospital on Friday last. Steve came with me; neither of us had seen a 38 week ultrasound image before. Bubble was beautiful. The technician focused in on the little face and we watched the mouth open and close and then a hand shielded the eyes as if Bubble was hiding from us till we went away. And then Steve began to work his magic. First he finds a common ground. Our technician was Australian. His dad has lived in Australia for the past 30 years – Adelaide, we’re hoping to go for a visit one summer soon. He shares this with her. They chat about Australia while she measures the baby’s skull. Then he goes in for the kill. He mentions hospital policy, which prevents revelation of the baby’s sex. She nods. Then he butters her up until she caves. It was her last day at that hospital anyway she said as she moved the wand to the location of Bubble’s sex organs, which the previous technician Nazi had seemed determined to avoid. There was no denying it. Our Bubble is very much a boy! We were overjoyed. One of each. Of course saying that weakened my smile momentarily, but I regained my focus on the baby at hand and not the trouble brewing abroad.

I would honestly have been fine with either, having a boy makes me slightly nervous, and last time around I’d hoped so much for a boy that upon discovering that Audrey was a girl, I felt I’d jinxed myself. So this time I worked very hard not to focus on either, but I had the distinct feeling that it was going to be a girl, though EVERYone else was convinced Bubble was a boy. Shows what I know. The whole rest of the afternoon, I couldn’t keep the smile from my face and every so often I would say out loud, “We’re having a boy.” It was okay, because Steve was doing it too. We were like a child at Christmas who’d just unwrapped the gift he’d wanted most. Of course we’d opened our gift a little early, but it was the uplifting news we, or at least I, needed.

And as for the size of my belly being of concern, well, Bubble is over 7 pounds already. So I explain to them again, oh great holders of medical licenses, tall+thin=small belly. I’ve gained a whopping 35 pounds – there’s definitely a baby in there, people. So doctors reassured, I merely wait for the baby to come now. And if that doesn’t happen, well then I get to make an induction appointment.

But I think I might help nature along because I really want the baby to come this weekend, especially since Audrey made a special request that Bubble come on Sunday. Not Friday, not Saturday but Sunday, which just happens to be 40 weeks exactly. I aim to please. So I’ve been researching natural labor induction methods on the internet. Let me tell you one thing, I surely won’t be going the castor oil route.

I must say, however, that I am pretty nervous about the experience of having a baby in the UK. Everything was so easy with my last L&D, but it’s like a different world here. I was reading in the newspaper about the high rates of new moms dying in the hospital because of hemorrhaging – bad observation on the part of medical staff. And then Mrs. Mogul wrote how just a week or so ago (we have the same due date and she lives here in London) her doctor prescribed her a medication. She filled the prescription, but decided to research the pill online before taking it. Good thing, because it was something that you should specifically not take after 38 weeks. So forgive me if I am a little skeptical of the quality of care one can find in the UK. I’m almost tempted not to get an epidural for fear that a half-wit anesthesiologist might prick me wrong and paralyze me for life. And to top it all off, the maternity ward has visiting hours. Even partners have to leave the hospital at 8. No such rules at the hospital in which I had Audrey. I think you probably don’t get your own room here, which means I will be checking out at the earliest possible moment.

But hey, they have Stonehenge and Big Ben, Parliament and Buckingham Palace. What need have the Brits of quality, reliable medical care?

Okay that’s just the nerves talking.

I'll write more about the other stuff soon, but for now, here's to hoping baby will decide to come real soon.

Wednesday, February 1, 2006

The Papers

There was a knock at the door, which interrupted our blissful morning. Steve got out of bed saying, “I wonder who that could be.”

“I bet it’s the parcel people,” I said, “Sam was supposed to be sending me a disc.”

Steve left went downstairs to answer the door, and I lay back on the bed. I was excited, for since my hard drive crashed taking all of my foolishly unbacked-up photos of Audrey with it, I’d only had the couple of printed photos to rely on when I wanted to look on her beautiful face. The disc, which Sam had promised me, was to contain all of the pictures from the computer I’d left with him before my move and pictures of their three week trip to Hawaii over the holidays. He’d just returned the week before and the day he got back, when I called to talk to Audrey, he asked for my address. I’d given it to him before, of course, but I was so excited about the pictures I didn’t think to lecture him about organization.

A few seconds after he left, Steve returned empty handed. “He said you needed to sign for it,” he said, shrugging, “Some sort of document. I wonder if it has to do with Lori.”

“Oh God,” I said, rolling my eyes, “I hope not.” But with her, anything was possible. Thinking she’d probably found some way to sue me for taking her husband, I got out of bed, threw on my sweats and moved my belly and me down the stairs to the front door. Steve had left him standing on the step with the door closed. I pulled it opened and faced a small, grey-haired, bespectacled man wearing a shirt and tie.

“Rebecca --------?” he said, eyebrows raised.


He pushed a stack of papers toward me, waited for me to take it, then said, “You’ve been served.”

Immediately feeling as though I’d been transported to a film set, I leaned against the door jam and flipped through the papers without really looking at them. The man didn’t seem in any hurry to go though his task was obviously completed. I got to the bottom of the stack and noticed the envelope, across which was written ‘Becca’ in familiar, adolescent handwriting that sent chills all over my body and froze me in shock as I stared down at it, right as the man spoke again.

“There was a letter with it. I’m sorry, but I opened it,” he leaned toward me and fingered the ripped envelope, “I thought it was a picture. I didn’t read it, though.” He chuckled nervously

I looked up at him. Of course he’d read it. Why wasn’t he going away? “Well anyway,” he continued, “You obviously want to be here. It’s your decision. If you need anything let me know.” With that, he flashed another smile, got out a business card and after placing it in my hand turned on his heel and returned to his car.
I obviously want to be here? Now I was thoroughly confused. I closed the door, and walked to the kitchen and had a seat at the table. Ignoring the rest of the papers, I pulled the letter, which the man claimed not to have read, from the envelope, unfolded the college-ruled school paper and began to read the letter written in more of that familiar, adolescent handwriting.

I got no further than the first line before I broke down. Sobs shook my entire body and shock encapsulated my mind. Steve ran into the kitchen, clearly alarmed, but I couldn’t answer his pleas to tell him what was wrong, instead I pushed the mostly unread letter toward him.

He picked it up and read for a couple of moments as I continued to sob uncontrollably. “Son of a bitch!” he exclaimed, tossing the letter down, himself unable to read all of the way through. Steve put his arm around me and helped me back to the bedroom, by which time anger had begun to match shock’s place in my mind.

I sat down on the bed and took the letter back from Steve, this time determined to read it all of the way through, and I did, from the “Dear Rebecca, I have had an attorney file papers with the court in King County seeking full custody of Audrey” to “I am truly sorry it has come to this, Sam” I read it. It didn’t matter what he said to try to explain his actions, they still didn’t make any sense to me.

I picked up the phone and dialed his number. There was of course no answer. It was only 1 AM there, but I dialed anyway. When I’d left I had a discussion with him about turning off his cell phone at night and how it wasn’t a good idea since he was all of the time dropping her at my mom’s or his mom’s for several nights in a row and if there was an emergency, they wouldn’t be able to get in touch with him. After several weeks of reminding him of the lack of responsibility of being out of reach when his daughter wasn’t with him, he finally was leaving on his phone. I suppose getting him to answer it was an entirely different matter. Getting no answer a second time, I left a message imploring him to call me right away.

I finally picked up the stack of papers to see what exactly had been filed with the court. Reading through it brought tears of anger and rage and hurt and betrayal. I was so confused.

He wrote in his declaration that he felt that I had abandoned Audrey. In the parenting plan they checked the sections under parental conduct to say that I had abandoned and neglected my daughter and therefore deserved severely limited contact with her. The visitation to be every other Saturday for 4 hours and even then to be supervised by an approved adult.

I cried and cried. How could this be? How could he do this? It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. “I just talked to him yesterday,” I moaned as I rocked myself on the bed. Steve stood nearby, pain written across his face. “I just spoke to him yesterday. He agreed about her ticket. Why would he do that? Why didn’t he ever say anything to me? We had an agreement?” I repeated myself again and again; tears soon soaked the duvet cover and my hair as well.

I sat up after a while and dialed my mother. She picked up after two rings, her voice groggy with sleep. “Mom, Sam’s suing me for full custody of Audrey.”

“Oh my god,” she gasped. “Why?”

“I can’t figure it out, Mom,” I whispered, trying to keep from crying again. “He never once said he had a problem with our arrangement. I just spoke to him last night about Audrey coming here. Everything was fine. Why would he do this? This is a last straw, not a first step.”

“I bet his mother’s behind it,” she said.

“Oh, god,” I said. I’d been flipping through the papers and where it asks about attorney’s fees, it mentioned an ungodly sum, source – 'borrowed from mother.'