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53

Pao is two years old.

Owen met Hugo three years ago.

Owen and Hugo got married two years ago.

So to sum it up, Pao is their daughter, but was born before they got married officially. Because currently I'm comparing the date of birth versus the date of the wedding.

There is no information when I google about Owen, he didn't even post about Pao at his social media. That's why I have no idea he's already married and has a kid. He hasn't updated anything about his personal life, they're all about his restaurants or his cookware brand or his modelling photos.

Hugo, however, his entire life is on spotlight that I know even the name of his four ex-wives and all five children. Turns out his marriage to Owen is his sixth; he was married before to a man before him. Give or take, the duration of each marriage is around two to four years. So I guess Owen has two more years?

Stop that thinking, Estelle. Don't pray for people's misery just because you have a list of them.

Anyway, back to Pao. She was born in June while they got married in December on the same year. I wonder when did they start their relationship if I were to backtrack the date of Pao being conceived; September. Which is early of Fall.

They met in Fall. Does that mean they decided to have a baby right after they met each other? Really? But why? Why would they rush it? Because Owen was already 39 years old? Because Owen has wasted five years with me so he didn't want to wait anymore? That's why he opted for surrogacy as soon as he met the man of his dream?

So many questions, I feel like I'm pushing myself too much for this. They have nothing to do with my life, as I to them, so why should I be concerned? Get a life, Elle! Don't you have anything better to do?

But honestly, I'm already doubting how less of a woman I am by this infertility, now that my ex-husband has gone back to being gay, wow. What a slap to my self worth. They even have a gorgeous daughter. Absolutely the perfect way to crush my confidence.

As much as I hated seeing them on the cruise, I'm also glad I had the closure. I needed that to close this chapter for real, to not have any more hope that one day Owen would be back.

“I love you no matter what, Precious. I love you then, I love you now, and I will love you forever."

Guess he's being reckless with his promise.

***

Four years ago, I sent my resignation letter without notice before I left our house at Aberdeen for good.

I stayed with Kimmie at Stockholm and a few months later, after I've recovered from my divorce and severe depression, I started working again.

We became roommate for two years until she gave me a green light to allow me to move out, finally trusting me that I won't do something stupid like swallow a whole bottle of sleeping pills just to stop myself from thinking about Owen, our dead baby girl, or my infertility.

I decided to never go back to Aberdeen because people at work knew about my battle with endometriosis, about my miscarriages, about the whole ordeal since I took a lot of leaves, especially the long ones during the beginning of each IVF cycle; I promised to prioritise my then-husband and our baby making process.

"So when are you having kids?"
"I thought you would have two by now."
Insensitive people were insensitive.

"Just relax and you will get pregnant."
"Pray and have faith."
"Stop stressing and it will happen."
"Just go on a vacation and de-stress, you'll get pregnant in no time!"
"My sister/ cousin/ aunt/ grandma was trying for years then they went on a holiday and got pregnant naturally."
I can buy three brand new Macbook Pro if I get a dollar for every single time I receive this kinda comment.

"You're so young you have plenty of time."
"Three years is not a long time. Other people struggle longer."
"It could be worse."
Try being diagnosed with endometriosis with low egg count then tell me again what could be worse. Because I've tried suicide; I've been on the brink of life and death, and that, is so much better than being stuck in this body thinking how to get a baby in my uterus.

"IVF is a scam, you just need to relax."
"Go live your life, doctors are scaremongering you."
"It's probably because of your husband. He's eleven years older right?"
Insert eye roll.

"Why don't you adopt? There are so many kids that need home."
"You don't want kids anyway they are hard work."
"The world is overpopulated nowadays so..."
"Be grateful you can afford IVF. Others don't even have the opportunity to have one cycle."
...just wow. I know better to shut up than to argue with this kinda people.

And when I had a miscarriage for the first time;
"At least you lost it early and didn't already love it."
"Oh at least you know you can fall pregnant."
"Maybe you're not meant to be parents." Maybe you're not meant to be my friend.

I was so excited to tell our family and friends about my pregnancy once I reached second trimester with my baby girl. After three rounds of IVF, multiple unsuccessful implantations and miscarriages, only to be greeted with comments like, "Are you really pregnant this time?"

First thing first, stress has got nothing to do with my infertility. Endometriosis is incurable, no amount of vacation can make my fibroids vanish.

Even if I quit my job and do everything I can to cheer myself up, practise yoga, eat only organic food, I'd still have endometriosis. My egg counts would still be low so fucking stop telling me that I need to stop working or to stop stressing to get pregnant. Just stop.

Have compassion. You think I'd choose work over a baby? I fucking poked my body so many times with needles, injecting various drugs into my body. If that didn't tell you how much I'm willing to sacrifice anything for a baby, I don't know what else to say.

That's why I never step foot on Aberdeen, Texas, or Chicago after the divorce. Those family and friends, including my parents, were so absorbed with the idea that stress was the culprit, stress was the one that's been making me sick.

No, it's not. And I'm tired of educating people who choose to stay ignorant and insensitive.

Stockholm was definitely a fresh start for me because nobody knows about my infertility at Stockholm, besides Kimmie my best friend.

Now, four years later, I've decided that I'm strong enough to leave the nest, to leave Kimmie and Stockholm.

My short encounter with Owen and his little family last year at the cruise ship has definitely helped me to get back on my feet. I can finally stand on my own, without being hand-held by Kimmie anymore.

So I'm back in New York, hopping to another oil and gas company to start a new life, once again.

"Your face is very similar to my ex-girlfriend's."

My mouth stops munching the moment I heard that familiar voice. Nooooooo-

But my stubborn self turn to the guy who is now sitting next to me, sharing the same bench. He grins boyishly as I'm still stunned by his appearance. I was enjoying myself; eating burger and fries from Mc Donalds during my lunch break, and now-

"No, no. I think I was wrong," the grin disappears as he makes a thinking face, "You look more like my ex-wife."

I can't believe I think that's funny, because a smile slowly creeps on my lips, "What are you doing here, Owen?"

"Saying hi to my ex-wife, interrupting her make out session with the burger."

I giggle at his absurdity of describing what I did. Though he's right. I did gobble the burger as if I haven't eaten anything today. But really, "I didn't have any breakfast this morning."

He of all people should know how much I treasure breakfast. But ever since I work here, I hardly have the time to eat in peace. My subordinates have bombarded me with stuffs as early as 7.30 in the morning, right when I set my feet in my office.

"What happened to Karl? He's not your house-boyfriend anymore?"

I roll my eyes at his mockery, calling out on my ex-boyfriend who claimed he's the best boyfriend ever for cooking me breakfast and dinner every single day since we were together.

He had no idea Owen was my ex-husband which Owen, along with Hugo, didn't seem to want to mention it to him, probably wanting to see how far he'd go with his boasting of how perfect he is.

"I'm with Santiago now."

"Oh? A Latino? Inspired by me?" He chuckles at his own humor as I take a bite of my burger, refusing to answer him.

"Do you always eat lunch here? Alone?" He asks when I keep quiet, eating my burger in silence.

I nod, still munching my food.

"You moved here? For work? When?"

I gulp the last of my burger before replying him, "Two weeks ago. But why are you here? A modelling gig?"

"I moved here a couple months ago. Hugo gotta take over the US branch, his sister who's taking care of the office here had a bit of a personal issue so she switched with him to go back to Barcelona. So here we are." He ends his little story by opening his arms wide, showing New York with what he can.

"Who would've thought we'd meet again at the place we first met. This is pretty exciting, right?"

I force myself to put a smile though my heart and brain scream hell no.

It's time to update my resume and look for another job again. At another continent. Iraq sounds pretty good right now considering it would be impossible for him to be there since there is no way he's gonna bring his precious daughter to a war-prone country.

Iraq it is!
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