The first ultrasound came back inconclusive. I knew something wasn't right when the technician quickly left the room and came back with the doctor.
"We can't hear a heartbeat," he said matter-of-factly. "It's either too early or you have miscarried. We'll do another test in 10 days."
He said it exactly like that, with apparent disregard for how tortuous the next 10 days would be.
The next day, my husband and I left for Connecticut. We were going to visit his dad, his dad's wife, and her family in a little town on the sound. I had been excited for this vacation, but after my appointment, I was overwhelmed with fear and anticipation.
Looking back, there was no doubt that I was pregnant on that trip. I couldn't ingest anything besides saltines and ginger ale, and I slept for three hours in the middle of each afternoon. Despite all the worry about the upcoming ultrasound, I had a wonderful time being there -- lazing on the porch, chatting with my new family, playing cards, dining al fresco. There was a local lobster shack that I loved, which my husband and I had visited a few years earlier on a road trip. It was an out-of-the-way place set back in a residential area that I had found online; I was thrilled to have the chance to go there again.
We returned to Connecticut a year later, but this time with our 6-month-old son in tow. I remember vividly the pictures we took with the three of us frolicking on the beach and some of my husband and me alone, smooching with the sunset in the background. At the time, I never would have guessed that he had already started having an affair.
We separated about a year later when I discovered his infidelity. It was about a month before we were supposed to go on the annual trip to Connecticut. Needless to say, we didn't go.
The next year, my ex-husband took our son and his girlfriend (previously his mistress) back to Connecticut. I felt so left out and so bitter. It wasn't fair that she got to take vacations with my son. It wasn't fair that she got to eat grinders on the porch and wander out into the sandbar. Suddenly, someone was living my life and taking my family vacation without me.
It has now been two years since our separation. Last week, my ex, his girlfriend and our son returned to Connecticut. At the same time, I was in California having a beautiful visit with some of my best friends and close family. And though my trip was fabulous, I still found myself wondering what was happening on the East Coast -- and feeling left out.
When I Skyped with my son, his dad said, "Tell mommy where we had dinner." My ex then informed me they went to the lobster shack I loved so much. It stung to hear that, and I let my ex know. "Are you purposely trying to make me feel left out?" I asked. I knew that wasn't his intention and that he was probably trying to make a connection with me by mentioning a place I knew, but it was just more salt in an already painful wound.
Later that night, I was perusing my Facebook page when I saw a picture that had been posted by my ex-husband's stepmother. It was a picture of my ex and his girlfriend, tan and smiling in front of a dusky Connecticut sky. I gasped. I still hadn't met her and had only seen a few pictures of her alone; until that point, I had seen none of them together. It was shocking to see her in that photo instead of me.
Although we've been separated for two years, I still have a hard time facing the fact that I was cast out and replaced by another woman. It's like watching a movie in which someone else lives my life. She's lazing on the porch, playing cards, eating at the lobster shack -- and I'm watching it all go down from a distance.
I try to live in the present to, as one of my dearest friends always says, "be where my feet are." I appreciate so much that I now have the opportunity to take vacations on my own and know that my son is in good hands with his father. And yet, there are times when I can't help but fall down that hole of despair and self pity. I guess it's part of the whole "two steps forward, two steps back" aspect of the healing process.
Last week would have been our five-year wedding anniversary. In keeping with the tradition of giving wooden gifts at the half-decade anniversary, I wonder what I would have given him if we were still married. Perhaps a new desk chair to replace the wobbly, uncomfortable one he has? Or maybe a nice wood valet for him to stash his keys, wallet and phone? No, I probably would have invited him to steal away with me for a romantic rendezvous in a wood cabin... in Connecticut.
Follow Annette Powers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/annettepowers