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  • Alexis A. McCoy Gonzalez

The Promise

If someone walked up to me three years ago and told me that I would be waking up early every Saturday morning to take my daughter to ballet class, I would have laughed in their face. Yet, here I am, the only dad sitting on the sidelines watching my little girl struggle to follow the choreography her ballet instructor created. Being Lizzy’s father is one of the most important jobs I will ever have in my life, But I didn’t always feel that way. The night Lizzy was conceived, it was my best friend Mike’s 30th birthday. Nasima, Lizzy’s mother, and I had been drunk dancing together all night, so it was inevitable for us to end up going home together. When we got into to her apartment, we wasted no time getting undressed. Neither one of us stop to think about protection we just went for it. The next morning when I woke up, I slowly slipped out the bed quietly grabbed my clothes and left. To be honest she was just a woman I smashed that night and I wasn’t planning to see her again.

Boy was I wrong. On, June 4th, 2017, I received a text from a random number saying “Hi Lance, it’s Nasima, from Mike’s birthday. Can you please give me a call today when you get the chance? I have something very important to share with you.” The first question I asked myself was “What’s so important that she needs to speak to me?” Then I screenshot the message and sent it over to Mike to get his take on it. He instantly replies with the curious emoji face. He went on to explain that she is one of his wife Natalie’s college friends that just moved to town. I replied with a thumbs up and went back to work. That night when I arrived home, I grabbed a drink, sat on the couch and called Nasima. The phone didn’t even ring three times before she picked up. She said “hello?” I responded, “Hey Nasima, it’s Lance.” She took a few moments to respond. I repeated myself again. She finally responds and says “Hi, thank you so much for calling me.” I said, “no problem”. She took a deep breath and say’s “I went to the doctor today because I haven’t been feeling like myself for two weeks now. I thought I had food poising, but it turns out I’m two weeks pregnant.” When she said those words, I think I stopped breathing for about two seconds. Frantically I asked her was she certain it's not food poising. She responded, “They took a urine and a blood test, and they both came back positive.” I was so shocked my mind couldn’t even form any words to speak. We sat in silence for a few minutes. She broke the silence by saying “I know this isn’t the conversation you planned to have today, but I wanted to give you the option of being a part of your child’s life. I will give you a couple of days to make a decision.” All I could say was thank you. We both said our goodbyes and we hung up the phone.

I remember drinking the whole bottle of whisky my father gifted me when I received my promotion at the firm earlier that year. After that phone call I went through the 7 stages of grief in one night. First, I was in complete denial that I was truly her baby’s father. It had to be food poisoning. Then I started feeling guilt. Nasima seemed to be a good woman. I began to see how much this would change her life and how lost she must be feeling at the moment. But as was thinking about her life changing, I began to get angry at myself. How could I be so stupid and not use a fucking condom? The sex wasn’t even that great from the little parts that I could remember. By 2am I had become full on depressed. I sat on my living room floor drunk writing a pros and con’s lists on being part of my unborn child’s life. I was just getting my life together. Where was a child going to fit into my lifestyle? The next morning when I woke up, I lifted my head from my extensive pros and con’s list and at the bottom of the page in big letters circled was “I’M GOING TO BE A FATHER”. I took a deep breath grabbed my phone, texted Nasima and said, “I’m going to be a father”.

It seemed like things went into autopilot once I sent that text. I had to share the news with my parents before my big mouth sister Lisa got wind of the news and decided to share it on my behalf. Every weekend our family gathered for Sunday dinner, a tradition that has been in my family for decades. My sisters, their families and I gather at my parent’s home. Being the youngest of the family and the only boy, I wasn’t sure how my mother would take the news. During dinner my father always asks everyone if they have some exciting news to share with the family. My oldest sister Laurie shared that she has decided to open a second location for her salon. Everyone clapped and congratulated her. My little niece Kelly shared that she had been casted for a part in the musical being presented at her school. Everyone clapped and congratulated her. As I sat with a smile on my face watching my older sister Leah cheer on her daughter. I couldn’t help but picture me being a supportive father to my future son or daughter. After the congratulations died down for my niece, my dad asked if anyone else had something to share before he blessed the food. I softly spoke and said, “I do”. I took a deep breath and said I’m having a baby. The room got extremely quiet, then my sister Lisa burst out in laughter. Everyone was confused by her response. My mother asked her out of annoyance why she was laughing? She replied “mom, Lance isn’t having a baby and if he is, it’s probably by some random girl he met at a party”. Everyone quickly looked back at me for an explanation. My nieces and nephews were sitting at the table, so I gave them the very edited version. She was a girl I was hanging out with last month, we decided to part ways and last week she found out she was pregnant. That Sunday dinner was the quietest dinner I had ever experienced in my life. It took my parents a couple weeks to swallow the “Lance is having a kid” pill, but once they did, I began to truly accept that I was going to be a father.

As months went on Nasima and I began to get close. If she wasn’t at my house, I was at hers. Our common goal was to make sure our baby girl was healthy. When you’re preparing for a baby, there are some important decisions you have to make as future parents. Our first important decision was whose house will we be building the nursery in? In my excitement for the arrival of the baby, I quickly agreed to the nursery being in my home. Not taking into consideration that I had just agreed to Nasima moving in with me. Within a matter of two weeks, she had completely taken over my house. I didn’t mind it at first because I knew us coming together under one roof would benefit our daughter. Things took a drastic turn after our baby shower when Nasima decided to move her mother in without discussing it with me.

We initially agreed that her mother would come and stay for a couple of weeks after the baby was born to help. So, you can imagine my surprise when I arrived home from work to Nasima and her mom relocating all the equipment from my game room to the basement. I quickly became defensive asking Nasima what she was doing in my game room. She responded in a quirky tone and said, “setting up my mom’s room”. I asked Nasima if we could speak in private. I walked into my bedroom, and she followed. I closed the door behind her, and she asked me “what’s going on?” I replied, “I could ask you the same question”. With an attitude, she said "what’s that’s supposed to mean?” I took a deep breath and explained that we didn’t agree to her mother moving in. We agreed to her coming to stay with us for a couple of weeks after the baby was born. She quickly cuts me off and says “first, my mother isn’t moving in. I asked her to come up a little earlier to help us prepare for the baby. With you working all the time, we could use all the help we can get.” I replied “Look, I understand that this is our first time having a baby and doing something like this, but I just ask that you please run things by me first before you start inviting people and making changes to my home.” She replied, “will do!” And walked out the bedroom and slammed the door.

Nasima’s due date was three weeks away and I was getting nervous as hell. I was excited to meet my baby girl, but I was nervous that I wasn’t going to be a great dad. Most of the times in my life when I was nervous my pops would mysteriously call me with words of wisdom. But this time it was my older sister Laurie. Since I was a little boy, Laurie and I have always been very close. No matter what choices I’ve made in my life she has always supported me, but since the pregnancy announcement, she has been kind of keeping her distance. So, when I received a call from her, I was shocked. I answered the phone with hesitation and said “hello?”. She quickly responded, “Why do you sound like you’re surprised to hear from me?”. I admitted that I was surprised. She changed the subject by asking me how the baby was doing? If we had everything ready? Did I get a car seat for the car yet? After her series of questions, I asked “How did you prepare for Lilly and Nicholas?” She took a deep breath and said “I didn’t. I just took everything one day at a time. As a parent you can read all the books and come up with all these different plans, that’s all great. But you won’t really know what to do until you hold your little girl in your arms, and she looks into your eyes. Something about that first eye contact with your child that's when you make a promise to them that you will do whatever it takes to make sure they have what they need.” As I sat there listening to her give her advice, my nervousness began to melt away. She went on to say “I believe you’re going to be a wonderful dad. You just have to believe it too.”

Nasima’s water broke at 3 am on March 1st, 2018. When we got to the hospital Nasima called me to the side of her bed and said, “Lance if anything happens to me promise me that you will take care of our little girl.” I replied, “I promise” Shortly after the nurses came back to roll her to the delivery room while I went to go get suited up. When I walked in the delivery room, the doctor was between Nasima’s legs getting prepared for the delivery. I walked around to the front of the blanket where Nasima’s head was and grabbed her hand. I kept repeating “you got this!”. The doctor said, “Nasima when I tell you to push give me the biggest push you can, okay?” Crying through the words she says “OKAY!”. Within a matter of minutes, she started pushing and as I’m looking over the cover, I could see Lizzy’s little head coming out. Nasima pushed again and her arms came out next. a couple more pushes and Lizzy had arrived into the world. They cleared her lungs and she started crying. I looked down at Nasima and smiled. They cleaned her off and handed her to me. As soon as I held her, tears came to my eyes. Then she opens her eyes and looked at me and that promise my sister said I would make, happened. The fear of letting her down as a dad didn’t even cross my mind. All I wanted to do was keep her safe and be the best dad I could be to her.

From the moment Lizzy arrived in the world I have been part of her life.

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