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Home / Parenting

'My boyfriend abandoned me on holiday after I told him I was pregnant'

 Gabriella was devasted when her boyfriend walked out on her during a romantic break (Photo courtesy)

It was the middle of the night and I was pregnant and crying on the pavement outside an Italian Airbnb.

My boyfriend David* had just left me because I’d wanted to talk about why I might want to go through with my unexpected pregnancy.

I felt like I was looking down on myself from above, watching us hug and cry, hearing him tell me he loved me but couldn’t cope with the situation.

I could see him getting into the taxi and speeding off. And me, left behind, feeling broken and alone, in shock, thinking, “Did that really just happen?”

Just days earlier, in May 2018, I’d begun to suspect I was pregnant.

We’d agreed I’d come off the hormonal contraceptive 10 months earlier because of the effect it was having on my body, and we were using the withdrawal method.

I hadn’t even missed a period but I had strange pulling sensations in my stomach and kept needing the loo.

I took a test and it was positive. My first instinct was to head to the abortion clinic. I knew David, 26, wasn’t ready to be a dad.

We’d been seeing each other on and off for around four years, having been friends from the age of 16, but both lived with our parents.

Dazed, I told him the news briefly in a phone call. There was an assumption that I’d have a termination and our relationship would continue.

But fate intervened. At the clinic, they told me it was too early to take the abortion pill – they had to ensure it was a viable pregnancy first, not an ectopic pregnancy.

I was about to teach a yoga course in Italy, so I booked an appointment for my return.

David was due to meet me later for a weekend in Rome, so I thought we’d talk then. However, that distance gave me some breathing space.

I realised I wanted to talk about the option of keeping the baby – and that I couldn’t bear the thought of having a termination and staying with him if he couldn’t discuss it with me.

When he arrived at the Airbnb, it was late and we went to sleep. But the next day, I said, “What’s the worst case scenario about me having the baby?”

And he said, “That is the worst case scenario.”

I asked, “What’s the best case scenario?”

He replied, “There isn’t one.”

 Gabriella wrote a book on how to navigate motherhood when single (Photo courtesy)

Left feeling rejected

Having resolved to get through the weekend together, I went for a walk to clear my head.

When I got back, he’d booked a flight home. It was the only time I felt rage towards him.

I shouted, “Are you really going to be the guy who leaves his pregnant girlfriend in a foreign country?”

I felt abandoned and rejected. It took hindsight to realise it was because he couldn’t cope, not because he thought I couldn’t.

Back home, I returned to the clinic and I decided to put my trust in fate.

If the scan showed that the pregnancy wasn’t viable, then it wasn’t meant to be. If it was, I’d keep the baby.

When the doctor told me everything was going perfectly, it confirmed keeping the baby was the right thing to do.

I had one final conversation with David, telling him my decision, and I haven’t seen him since.

At the time, I wasn’t angry with him, only worried. I knew he’d had anxiety in the past and wasn’t ready for the responsibility of being a dad.

I was concerned about him so I spoke to his mum, who tried to get me to change my mind.

“It’s just a tablet and then you can forget about it,” she said.

It was a turning point. I knew it would just be me, the baby and my family.

I could have been bitter, angry or upset. This wasn’t how I imagined I’d become a mum.

But I didn’t want to mope around missing my ex. I chose to embrace my pregnancy.

I didn’t go to pre-natal classes as I knew it would mainly be couples. Instead, I hired a doula and focused on teaching pregnancy yoga.

I shared my joy with my mum Lydia, 59, dad Richard, 55, and sister Amelia, 25.

There were hard times. I had a growth scan in the final trimester, which doctors were worried about and I had no one to share my fears with.

I’d wanted a home birth but when my son Walter arrived in February 2019, it was via emergency C-section.

Then Walter had a heart murmur they wanted to keep an eye on. And dealing with all the nappies and feeds alone felt overwhelming.

My family have been amazingly supportive.

I lived with them until September last year but it’s wonderful to finally have my own place where Walter can make a mess.

Lockdown days with a baby were often lonely.

People ask whether I think David will return to our lives. The honest answer is no – and I’m fine with that.

I’m independent and I’m happy with the dynamic of me, my son and my family. I’m not currently looking for a man but I’d love more children one day

At the moment, Walter thinks daddy is the general term for a man, which can be amusing in the supermarket!

Eventually, I’ll explain it all to him in an age-appropriate way. I’d never tell him, “You don’t have a daddy.”

As well as my family, I’ve built up my own Single Mamas community online to share my thoughts and engage with other women.

There’s still a stigma around single mums-to-be. Women who are single and pregnant often don’t talk about it and try to go under the radar until the baby appears.

 Gabriella and her son Walter (Photo courtesy)

Ending guilt and shame

I decided to turn my thoughts into a book, The Single Mama’s Guide To Pregnancy, which I self-published during lockdown. It became a best-seller on Amazon.

My advice to other single pregnant women is to seek support. That’s where I come in.

There are issues that don’t get spoken about when it comes to singledom in pregnancy – such as feeling like abortion might be the only option or how to cope if you’re leaving an abusive relationship.

These issues aren’t in your classic guide, which presumes a man is around.

I wanted to help women come to terms with things not working out the way they had expected – and then be able to bond with their babies free of guilt, resentment or shame.

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