“I absolutely would not have.”
“And I knew that. It wasn’t fair to you. I know. But I made a decision based on what was best for my sister.”
“What about what was best for our daughter…to have her mother and father in her life?”
“I didn’t feel like I was fit to be a mother.”
“I would’ve taken her and raised her myself. Elle would never have had to find out. I could have figured out something. Fuck…it was my daughter! My daughter. I would have figured it out! God, Evangeline! Where is she?”
My heart was breaking because I didn’t have the answers he deserved.
“It was a closed adoption. I don’t know, Sevin. I don’t know. I know you hate me for this. It’s why I’ve spent every day since she was born punishing myself. I won’t ever forgive myself for what I took away from you, and you shouldn’t forgive me, either.”
I covered my face and burst into tears. I hadn’t even gotten to the hard part of the story.
After a few minutes, his temperament calmed. He leaned his head against the wall, closed his eyes and whispered, “Tell me about the day she was born. Tell me everything.”
“It was a rainy day. I started to feel some contractions while at work and called Mama right away. She’d set up a special cell phone just for my calls.”
Sevin shook his head in disbelief.
“I was really scared. I’d never been in so much pain in my life. Mama got there a few hours later, and by that time, the contractions were less than five minutes apart, so we went to the hospital. She called the adoption agent she was working with to let her know that things were happening.”
“They let you put her up for adoption without my permission?”
“We told them we didn’t know who the father was. That’s the only circumstance where the father doesn’t need to sign off on it.”
His face and ears were turning red as he muttered something to himself.
I continued, “The contractions were really bad, but I wasn’t dilating at all. They figured out it was because the baby had flipped back around in the wrong direction. She was breach. That was why everything wasn’t progressing enough for me to give birth naturally. I was so scared because they told me they were going to have to do an emergency C-section. I don’t remember much right after that.” I stood up and walked around the room a bit before continuing, stopping at the desk and leaning against it for support. “Everything happened so fast. They rushed me into the operating room, pumped me with drugs. Mama was right by my head. I couldn’t feel anything, and there was a blue divider in front of my face, so I couldn’t see what the doctor was doing. I thought about you in that moment, how you would have been there by my side, holding my hand. I wanted you there. It was so scary, but the fear was nothing compared to the massive amount of guilt I remember feeling.”
“You’re damn right I should have been there. Wherever I was, I was thinking it was just another fucking day, maybe at work or at home with Elle. All the while, you were giving birth to my child. I can’t even comprehend that. That is so fucked up.”
When he walked over to me suddenly, I instinctively backed away against the wall.
“Why did you just back away from me like that?”
“I don’t know.”
I guess after years of living with Dean, it was second nature for me to feel as though someone approaching me in anger would mean ending up getting physically punished.
“Did you think I was going to lay a hand on you?”
“I’m not sure why I did it. Maybe that was my instinct.”
“I would never hurt you like he did. Do you understand me?”
In fact, Sevin didn’t touch me at all. I felt like I needed him to hold me but wouldn’t dare ask. He made his way back to the opposite side of the room away from me.
He was silent for a while then asked, “Did you even hold her, or did you just have them take her away?” His tone was bitter.
“I didn’t feel her come out. I heard her cry, and that was how I knew she’d been born. They brought her around to me and put her close to my face. I tried not to look at her. I was afraid if I did, I’d never be able to let her go. Her skin was so soft when it brushed against my cheek. She had the sweetest smell. I went to turn my face to kiss her with my eyes closed, but they took her away too fast.”
“That was it?”
I shook my head no. “There was a 48-hour waiting period required before I was allowed to sign the papers…in case I changed my mind. I’d made it clear that they shouldn’t bring her to me, though. Sometime in the middle of the night that first night, I was trying to take a walk. The C-section left me in a lot of pain, but they told me I needed to try to move around. I ended up accidentally passing by the nursery. My mother was in there holding her. I felt like she was being such a traitor in that moment because she’d been the one pushing me the hardest to give her up. Mama had tears in her eyes. The baby was crying uncontrollably. I guess they were having trouble getting her to take the formula.”
I had to stop to sit down. This was the first time I’d ever spoken aloud about the birth, and the memories were hard to handle. While unable to make eye contact, I could feel Sevin’s pain emanating from him without even looking at his face.
“I was angry at my mother for sneaking time in the nursery when she’d been adamant about my not seeing the baby. I walked over to her and took the baby from her.” Tears started to fall freely down my cheeks just thinking about what happened next. “She stopped crying a few seconds after I took her into my arms. She somehow knew it was me.”