• Very few people ever knew that I had, and in a way still have, a daughter. Her name was Leaunna Marie (Lee-aw-na Marie). Launna knew about her, I knew about her, and a select few others knew about her, as well. She was the little girl who never had a chance, the little girl I didn't want but came to love, and then lose. I hadn't planned on having her anymore that I had planned on losing her, and I wasn't prepared for the pain that came with it all, but this is about her.

    This is the first time I've said anything about her to anyone except Launna, and why I have to say something now, I don't know. I'm not ready to talk to everyone about her, but I feel like I have to talk now. I don't know why, after all these months, the pain is starting to come back again, but maybe talking will help. I never would have expected this all to hurt so much, especially losing her. Maybe talking about her is what I need to do to finally heal I don't know, but at any rate, I've never forgotten her and probably never will.

    Yeah, I know it sounds funny that me, a lesbian, would have a daughter, especially as young as I was at the time; I'd just barely turned 18 when I got pregnant with her. But I had not planned for her any more than I had planned on running across her father that night, or the things that happened. I always used to be terrified of being raped again, but I've come to realise that a lot of my fear was that same childish fear that's always clung to me since everything that happened to me as a small child. I was violated again in the same house as the first time, but a different room by a different person.

    Leaunna's father was the last guy I had dated before falling for my best friend in 2008 and subsequently admitting that I was gay and would rather be with females and stop playing the role that I had previously been forced into by circumstance. I don't see what good naming him could possibly do anyone, least of all me; I've been trying to forget about that part of it all since the night that it happened. I hate being in this house now because of it, and I have an even harder time than before in falling asleep in it after dark. My false sense of security here has been shattered, and now I'm left to do my best to move on that I possibl cane

    My comfort and security have been shattered, and I doubt that I can ever be truly happy here after that. But, in a way, it was both the best and worst thing that could have happened to me, looking back. Not only did it force me to realise that I'm not nearly as afraid of rape anymore, but also that I have the capacity to be a mom and love a child, or at least I think I do now. I was forced to grow up in ways I had never expected, and I learned how to make some difficult choices. I had to make choices as to what I was going to do about Leaunna, whether I would see her through or not, and how I was going to be a mom to someone when I wasn't sure that I had the capacity to do so.

    At the time it all happened, I was just about to start a new, better paying job, was buying my first actual car, recovering from a nasty break-up, and I was making plans to attend college. I was rebuilding my self-image and the small reserve of self-confidence I had, and hadn't really given any thought to parenting since my first girlfriend and I had broken up on Thanksgiving several months before. I wasn't involved with any men, had no desire to be, and I felt that I had no need to worry about being anybody's mom or taking on any parental authority. I had no examples to set, no life-altering decisions to make. My future seemed obvious; graduate high school, work hard all summer, and then start college in the fall. Maybe I'd find a new girlfriend along the way (which I did, temporarily), but everything seemed planned out.

    Then he showed up, kind of like a nasty phantom out of the past. We'd broken up years before because he had tried to force himself on me after I'd told him no, and apparently he'd never accepted that no I gave him. I don't know why things happened the way they did; to be honest, I don't have a lot of recollection of that night, just a lot of anger and some fear sprinkled in here and there. I'd fought him off before and I've always been self-reliant for my own protection, but for some reason I must have failed myself that night. Even in the days following I didn't worry too much; I'd been told I was "pretty much sterile" due to an infection I got as a result of the first time I was raped years before, and you've got to have pretty good timing for something like that to cause a pregnancy, anyway, or so I'd been told. With me being who I am, and the crappy luck I have, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find out and then have confirmed in April, just shy of graduation at the end of May, that I was pregnant.

    I don't remember her reasoning, maybe it was my age or the complications that she said were likely to happen, but I remember the doctor asking if I wanted to "terminate the pregnancy" at that point and "save" myself "a lot of trouble and heartbreak later on." I remember the shock and anger I felt at her words, and I remember telling her off and saying something to the effect of "my little girl's going to have every chance I can give her to make it, and neither you or me or anyone else is going to stop her." The doctor asked me, among other things, how I could be so sure of the baby's gender, and I simply told it to her like it was; I just knew. (Turned out that I was right, too.)

    I remember that I was really scared and uncertain once the anger wore off on the way home; I stopped at a park and let the tears go as I sat in a swing by myself and thought about things. I wasn't sure if I could be the kind of mom Leaunna would need me to be, or if I could even love her after the way I had become. I was dis-attached to everyone around me, and I literally could not get "close" to anyone. I'd had my trust destroyed and my heart ripped out by someone who said she'd loved me that I was still dealing with and reeling from, and my natural tendencies of distrust and distancing myself from others hadn't let me get close to anyone before her. I realised that it might not work out, and I wasn't sure where I would go from there, but I knew I had to try. I wasn't sure how I was going to be able to support her unless I gave up on college and took a full-time position that had just opened up at my workplace, and the thought discouraged me.

    Looking back, maybe I should have said something to someone other than Launna. It would have been nice to have someone who understood me a little better to talk to about it, but I wasn't sure who all I really wanted to know. I don't remember all of the statistics I was given, but I knew the odds were nowhere near Leaunna's favor so I wasn't sure if saying anything was such a good idea. I didn't want to tell everyone in case she didn't make it, I couldn't really face dealing with the aftermath of it; I never told my mother about it, and I'd still rather not talk to her about it, not yet, anyway.

    The first couple months went okay, and I found myself starting to think, albeit cautiously, about what things would be like if she made it. I started thinking about when I should start talking to other people about it, and I considered talking to my ex-girlfriend. She'd been my best friend before she became my first girlfriend, and she was the only person I really wanted to talk to about it. I wanted somebody I could talk to other than Launna without being afraid of everyone finding out, and maybe I wanted someone to lean on so I could let my fears out and cry about it for the first time, but I couldn't do it. If truth be told, I was afraid of her rejecting me as her friend, and I didn't feel like it was necessarily right to go to her about it. I was afraid she'd take it the wrong way, like I was still trying to act as her girlfriend or something, and I couldn't bring myself to bring it up to her, no matter how badly I want to; I was too scared.

    I almost brought it up to her once, and I came really close to saying something. I remember telling her that I had something I really needed to talk about just out of the blue, and she asked me, "About what?", but then what little courage I had failed me, and I told her "nothing" or "never mind", something like that. I don't think I ever felt more alone than that moment when I realised I couldn't bring it up to her, that I couldn't ask her for her support. I didn't have anyone I felt I could really turn to and although Launna and I talked about her once in a while, it wasn't anything like what I wanted to talk about her. I had hopes and dreams and fears, probably like any expectant parent does, and I wanted someone I felt I could talk freely about them with.

    Probably somewhere around the middle of the second month I found myself trying to come up with a name for her. I'd always really like the names of 'Launna' and 'Leah', and I ended up with a sort of combination of the two, Leaunna. I'd considered a lot of other names; Jessica, Leah, and Loranna among others. I never really considered any for a boy, because I knew from the first day I realised I was pregnant that she was a girl. How I knew I honestly don't know, I just did. From square one, Leaunna was always a little girl.

    It took time for me to go from not wanting her to deciding that maybe parenting would be okay to actually wanting her. I went from panicking to trying to plan everything out, and I actually started to get excited about the possibility that maybe I could carry her to term, despite everything I'd been told. No one really knew if I could or not, as I (obviously) had not tried to carry a fetus to term before. It wasn't long before I was reading just about everything I could and trying to figure out my options. I really wrestled with trying to figure out when to tell people, especially my mother, because I didn't want to tell them everything, yet everyone around me at that point knew I was a lesbian - how do you go about explaining that you're a pregnant (supposed lesbian) without explaining about the rape?

    I guess the main reason I didn't report it or tell anyone about it was more or less a matter of pride, although I never should have let him get away with it. I had seen the way my friend's daughter had been treated and regarded by the community after they found out her mother had gotten pregnant with her through rape, and I didn't want that air of pity and downright maltreatment for my own daughter. In a community the size of the one I had been living in, it's impossible to keep anything like that a secret, so I didn't want to tell anyone for fear that everyone would find out. I wanted better for Leaunna that that, and although I still think my intentions were good, I wish I had done something about him. That's the only real regret I can honestly say I have about it all; yet, I did the best I could at a time when I wasn't sure where to turn or who I could safely go to. I think that's all anyone can expect of someone in the shoes I was dropped into.

    Leaunna became Leaunna Marie a short two weeks or so before I miscarried. Marie was my grandmother's middle name and a name I had always liked, and I thought it went well with Leaunna. I was getting ready to start telling people by starting with my mother, but I wasn't sure how to do it. Things seemed to be going well and I was starting to relax and resign myself more as every day went past. I decided that while things weren't going the way I had originally wanted them to, they would be okay in the end. I've always had a knack for landing on my feet and being okay at the end of each day, and I think my faith in myself was starting to return. I still wasn't really showing at that point, so I figured I had plenty of time to figure out what I was going to say and who to. I knew my mother, at least, wasn't going to be very happy that I had waited so long to talk to her, but I also figured that she would eventually calm down and be okay with it. I tried to bring it up to her several times, but every time I started to, my courage fled me as fast as it could go. Graduation was looming up closer than ever, and I figured I could tell her after all the stress and fuss of that; it never happened.

    I miscarried a little under 2 weeks before graduation, and I don't think I'd ever been so scared in my life up until that point. It's another thing that, strangely, I don't remember a whole lot of. Maybe it was some drug or another they gave to me, or maybe my mind blocked it out, but I really don't remember very much. I know it hurt like hell and I was scared, more scared that I had ever been before or since. I think I asked them at some point or another if Leaunna was okay, but I don't remember whether or not anyone actually gave me an answer or not. I remember the heartbreak I felt when they told me I'd "lost the baby", which may seem odd since I hadn't actually wanted her until a couple weeks beforehand, when she'd become a real person to me, someone I had wanted to hold and comfort, and now that would never be.

    I felt crushed and disappointed, angry and irritable, but I did my best not to let it show when I later went home and struggled through as much normalcy as I could muster through the pain and the hidden tears. I don't think true depression ever set in, but maybe because it was never given a chance to set in. I was struggling to finish high school and then there was graduation to stumble through. After graduation there was my graduation party to see through, and I almost decided to call it off, though I'm glad now that I didn't; it was there that I started to get to know Jess.

    I don't know what drew me to Jess, but she very quickly became my best friend and we were nearly inseparable the entire time she was here. Strangely, I never told her about what had happened or Leaunna, but she helped to ease the pain that I was feeling, both from her death and what I suppose you could call the wounds of my past. Jess taught me how to live again and how to stick up for myself, and with her around I think I did a complete 360. I went from being highly suicidal to stabilised, from angry, resentful, and hurting to happy, contented, and finally at peace with myself. She showed me how to have fun again, gave me a shoulder to cry and lean on, and helped me regain and expand my self-confidence. I had the time of my life while she was here in the States, and then she had to go back to England again.

    I missed her sorely when she left, got accused of trying to "steal her from her wife", and felt pretty miserable when I got cut off from talking to her. Ever since then I've found myself thinking more and more about Leaunna, wondering who she would have been and what she would have been like. I like to think she would have been a blue-eyed blonde for the simple fact that her entire paternal side were blue-eyed blondes and I was one up until the time I turned two or so. I wonder who she would have been as a person, and how she would have impacted my life.

    As I'm writing this, she would've been a couple weeks old by now and maybe that's why I feel like I have to write this, that I have to speak out about her now. It's definitely bugged me more now than it has in the past, but sometimes I wonder if that's because I'm afraid that I'll forget about her, even though a part of me knows I never will. I don't know that I would ever intentionally try to have another child after Leaunna and the heartbreak I experienced in her aftermath, but I'm also not so sure I wouldn't. I think it'll all just depend on my situation and circumstances if / when I ever get the opportunity again.

    I also know that there are people who would say it was for the best and that I should be thankful that things happened the way they did, but I don't know. Yeah, my life would be a lot different than it is now; I'd be changing diapers and feeding bottles in my "spare" time when I wasn't in school (if I had been able to go) or at work. Yet, I think it would have been worth it. In the short period of time that I carried her, which felt like an eternity at the time, I really grew to love her and I developed a fierce attachment to her..

    I think that's another reason I never tried to get her father charged with rape; I didn't want him to know about her. After all, he couldn't hurt her as long as he didn't know about her. I wasn't going to allow anyone to hurt her for something she had no say in, regardless of the consequences it held for me. I wanted better for her than I perhaps should have, but at least I can honestly say that I was trying to do the best I could for her.

    I really think she would have been okay with her aunts, uncles, and I all behind her. I think I could have done it, although it would not have been easy, but for now I really don't have the desire to try to have another kid. I really want to find somebody who'll be there to help give another possible child a stable home full of love before I ever consider actually trying to have another child of my own. I don't think anything is ever going to be able to fill the hole that Leaunna left, but that's okay. I think the pain will fade in time, and one day maybe I'll be able to think of and talk about her without the tears that come now. Until then, it's just one day at a time.