‘How could she NOT know he was gay?’ He signed over his parental rights. Then, I met a man.’: Mom details journey of divorce, parent loss, remarriage

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“All growing up I just wanted to be a wife and mom. I have always been super close to my parents and siblings, and I wanted that bond with my own little family. I first met my former spouse in high school. I had completely forgotten about him when I graduated from high school and moved away.  He one day messaged me on Facebook. We reconnected and started talking a lot. I don’t think either of us were expecting it to go anywhere. But we just clicked, and things were good. We were married a year later, and soon afterwards I was pregnant. The pregnancy went smoothly, and we welcomed a healthy baby boy. My dream was starting to come true with having my own little family.

About a year later, I found out I was expecting our second child. A baby girl this time. I was sicker with this pregnancy, and only gained about 12 lbs the entire time. At my 20-week check-up, the ultra-technician was looking at something for what felt like forever. The doctor told us that my baby had only developed a 2-vessel cord – meaning that my baby wasn’t getting enough nutrients and oxygen. They also worried about her heart because that was developed at the same time. They couldn’t get a good look though and needed me to come back in to have those checked out again. Basically, they weren’t sure what the outcome of my baby would be. I was so sad by this news. Was my baby girl going to survive this? They had me come in weekly from there on out to monitor my baby.

During my pregnancy my (then) husband started acting off – he just didn’t seem happy. I tried talking to him, but he assured me everything was fine. All I could do is try to trust him and blamed all these feelings on my pregnancy hormones.  A few months later I started suspecting that he might be gay. I would find stuff on our computer that made me question everything. I flat out asked him if he was gay. He again assured me that nothing was wrong and that he was a little on the feminine side but was definitely not gay! As the months went on, I was scheduled to be induced at 39 weeks; although it was a very rough delivery, we welcomed a little girl into this world. She had the cord wrapped tightly around her neck twice, and it was a struggle getting her here safely, but my doctor and all the nurses were fabulous. We were able to take her home a day or so later.

mother with her two lovely children
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

Things seemed to be looking up in our marriage, I thought. One night while my (then) husband was at work and I was up with our 8-week-old baby, I got a text from him where he wrote that he had something he needed to tell me. In that moment I knew he was going to tell me he was gay, and sure enough, he did. I was completely heartbroken, hurt, embarrassed about what people would say or think. I was up all night long playing each moment over in my head. It was so late, that I didn’t even feel like I should call anyone. I didn’t want them up all night worrying about me; so, I didn’t tell anyone all night. I remember sitting up, just staring out the window. I couldn’t help but cry and just pray. Why? Why me? Why now? I had an 8-week-old baby and a little 2-year-old. I finally dozed off around 5am, but my baby woke me up around 6am. While getting myself and my kids ready for the day, my (then) husband decided he was going to take off for a little while. I told him I was not going to be here when he got back. I needed time to think.

I finally called my parents a little before 7 a.m. I told them what happened. They were in shock and so sad for me. I told them I was going to pack a few clothes, and that I needed to come stay with them for a little while. When I got there, my dad was the one to first greet me at the door. He gave me a hug, even though he wasn’t a big hugger, and he told me I was going to get through this. My mom was also so supportive and just hugged me. While thinking over my situation, I remember feeling like even though I wasn’t sure what was going to happen, I knew with all my heart, that it was going to be okay. I went on with the day, just having so many questions in my mind. I talked with my parents, and even let my siblings know what was going on. I could personally feel their love for me and heartache when I told them the news.

mother sad hugging her child
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

I wanted to keep it hush-hush from my friends though. I was just so embarrassed. What were people going to think? I had gained a lot of weight over the years, so my thoughts even turned to people probably thinking that the ‘gay guy married the fat girl.’ Win-win for both of them (Not). Just so many things ran through my mind. Unfortunately, it did not take long for the word to start getting out. So many wonderful people reached out to me showing their love and support. But of course, I did hear a lot of gossip going on with people saying to others: ‘Oh he was totally gay.’ ‘How could she possibly not even know he wasn’t gay?’ Just things I suspected would be said, but it was hurtful to hear people say this. Maybe they were right though. I was married to him for 5 years. How could I possibly not know? What to do next? Do we work it out? Do we get divorced? Divorce wasn’t in my nature. I had a hard time wrapping my head around that word. But we of course decided it was best to get a divorce.

Before all this craziness, my dad was starting to get sick. He hardly ever got sick, and when he did, he was back on his feet in no time. I didn’t think much of it at the time. I was going through so much. But he started getting pretty sick and had to take some time off of work. It was nice having him (and my mom) home during this trial in my life. My dad started having a hard time breathing and went to see his doctor. My dad was diagnosed with pneumonia. He couldn’t keep his oxygen up and was in and out of the E.R. a few times. He was eventually admitted to the hospital. The doctors needed to get a biopsy of his lungs. My dad was nervous for this, as he was pretty sick at this point. I couldn’t be at the hospital at this time, as I was attending a divorce class that was required. It was hard being there, and not at the hospital. The next morning while waiting for the results from my dad’s biopsy, the doctor came out and told us that my dad almost died a few times during the procedure, and he was in very bad shape. WHAT?! We were just talking to him the night before.

The grandfather his grandchild
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

He was put on a ventilator and up in the ICU. I remember going in for the first time. I was overcome with so much emotion seeing my dad so helpless on a ventilator, and all the different machines hooked up to him. I had to leave almost immediately because I couldn’t stand seeing him like that. I ran out just sobbing. Here I was going through a divorce, and my dad was in the ICU unsure of his outcome. Why was all of this happening to me at once? My lawyer needed me to sign the divorce papers, but I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the hospital, so my lawyer came to me. I was signing my divorce papers in the ICU waiting room, while my dad was in the next room fighting for his life. A few days later, my dad was going downhill quick. I remember I was at home getting ready when I got a call from my mom. She told me I needed to get to the hospital immediately. Once I got to the hospital, I just sat in the waiting room.

I couldn’t go in the room because I knew what was about to happen. Eventually, I was able to pull enough of myself together and go into the room where my dad was. My mom, and most all my siblings were there. It was just all so unreal for me. My dad was starting to slip away while we were talking with the doctors about what to expect next. My little brother wasn’t quite there yet, and I remember we called him and asked where he was. He told us he was in the hospital, making his way up to my dad’s room. My sister told him to RUN! Once my brother got there, we were all gathered around my dad. I was holding his hand, and just sobbing. My dad passed away with all of his family surrounding him. I was devastated. I left the hospital with a piece of my heart missing.

Those next few days were miserable, yet incredible all at once. We were mourning, yet the community we lived in was just wonderful. We had so many people stop by to visit or bring food. We had so much food, I wasn’t even sure if we’d be able to eat it all! People came to do yard work for my mom. Just so many small tender mercies. It was incredible to witness. About a week later, we had two viewings, and a funeral for my dad. He was such a well-liked person, that both viewings were packed, and the funeral was crowded. After it was all over, and everyone went home, this is when things started to get extremely hard for me. The feelings you have after leaving the funeral is just too much to bear. What now? How do we move forward with all of this? I did the best to be there for my mom, and thankfully she was there for me and my 2 little ones. I feel like that was a small tender mercy being able to be there for one another.

grandpa holding his grand child
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson
mom holding her dads' hand in the hospital
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson
mom at her fathers' funeral
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

During this moment in my life, I started experiencing some issues where I found myself gasping for air a lot and couldn’t seem to get it under control. My thoughts turned to maybe I had the lung disease my dad died from. I was worried, and afraid. I would also experience the issue multiple times a night. I had no idea what was going on. It seemed to get better though, and about 6-7 months later I felt it was time for my kids and I to get out on our own. I found a place about an hour away from my home, and it was perfect. Beautiful trees, fenced in backyard, perfect for the kids. We settled into our new place, which was just down the street from where my ex lived. It was very convenient to live so close together, for the kids’ sake. I loved being able to spend every minute I could with my two kids, but being a single parent was hard work. It reminds me of a quote that reads: ‘Being a single parent is twice the work, twice the stress and twice the tears but also twice the hugs, twice the love and twice the pride.’ I never fully understood the highs and lows of being a single parent, til I went through it myself. I just wanted to give a shout out to all you single parents! You are amazing, and you got this!

mom with her two children as single mom
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

After a few months went by, I started having issues again where I felt like I couldn’t breathe. I tried to just deal with it and went about my life. About a year after my dad died, I started putting myself back out there to date again. I also started trying to lose weight and get back to a healthy lifestyle. I lost over 60 lbs and was feeling better about myself. I dated a couple of guys, but nothing felt right. Luckily, I waited and met a wonderful man. He too had been through a divorce and hurt from his former spouse. We talked every day about every little thing we could think of. He seemed so sweet. During our dating phase, I got so bad with these health issues, and ended up in the E.R. The doctors ran every test they could think of, and everything came back normal. But how? I knew there was something wrong with me. The only thing they could come up with is that because of all the trauma I had recently gone through, I started having a lot of anxiety, which turned into panic attacks. I was later diagnosed with PTSD. The doctor suggested I maybe get on some medication and seek professional help. But there was just no way I could. I was embarrassed. Later, I finally felt that maybe I should look into all of it. I did some research, and felt it was best. No one should ever be ashamed or embarrassed about getting professional help.

Mom at the ER and diagnosed with PTSD
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson
mom meets a new lover
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

On July 23rd, 2017, my boyfriend proposed while we were at my grandparents’ house with all my family. It was such a special moment. I worried about getting re-married though. It was different this time with kids involved. Was he going to love my kids, and treat them right? After much thought and prayer, we did get married. Shortly after we were married, we found out we were expecting our first child together. Around this time, I discussed with my ex about having my current husband adopt our two kids. My husband was elated to adopt my two children. He already treated them as his own. A few months later I gave birth to a healthy baby boy, with lots of dark hair. A year after my current marriage, my ex-husband signed over his rights, and my husband adopted our two children.

new lover proposes to mom
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson
Mom has a new born baby
Courtesy of Leesa Peterson

new lover adopts mom children to become father

Things were starting to look up. We were happy. I was starting to feel joy and happiness again. I didn’t feel so sad inside anymore. Less than a year later, we found out we were expecting again! We were shocked, as this wasn’t planned to happen so soon, but we were SO happy. This pregnancy was a breeze, and we welcomed a beautiful baby girl! We were so in love. Here we are now, going on 4 years of marriage. Life is so good. We definitely have our challenges like every couple, but I feel our marriage and love for each other is so stronger because we both have experienced the tragic part of divorce. I feel like we try a little harder and are more mindful of situations. I’ve looked back over the years and wonder how I even made it through all of this – especially all at once. Which brings a quote to mind by Elizabeth Kubler Ross; she says, ‘The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.’

I sometimes just feel absolutely devastated about my divorce and the reason behind it, and the death of my dad. I look at my four little kids and can’t help but hurt. I often feel down that they are not going to get to know my dad personally. That they won’t get to spend time with him. I often find myself wanting to text him about something funny that one of my kids did or said. I strive to keep his memory alive, by sharing my experiences with my kids in hopes that they will know of their grandpa. Through my trials, I have found a strength that I didn’t even know I had; a strength to endure, to carry on. I have learned to be more mindful of others, to be more kind, to trust in God. I’m so grateful for my experiences, as crazy and sad as that sounds. It has made me into the person I am today. I hope to be able to help other’s someday because of these trials I have endured.”

mom gets remarried
Jaycee Rubio Photography
Mom and new husband have happy and lovely famly
Emily Ackroyd Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Leesa Peterson of Salt Lake City, Utah.  Submit your own story here, and be sure to subscribeto our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.

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