Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Ask Polly: Should I Have This Baby?

oh godDear Polly,

I feel like at this point I really need the perspective of someone not at all attached to my situation, who has a 'no bullshit' attitude that I'm desperately in need of right now. I'm having a really hard time making an incredibly serious decision. I will try to make this as short as possible.

I broke off a long term (6+ year) relationship about 18 months ago. Shortly thereafter I began dating a guy I knew through mutual friends and a intramural sporting group. We started out just as friends; texting, happy hour, group hangouts, etc. But the texts eventually took a flirty turn and I asked him out on a date. We started spending a fair amount of time together after that, seeing each other for dinner, a movie, and sex at least once a week, but it didn't really seem to be going anywhere. I was okay with going slow because of my previous relationship, and we were super compatible physically, but after 6 months of "dating" I still hadn't met anyone close to him other than his roommates. When I asked why, he got defensive and eventually it turned into "I'm not ready for this. I don't want a girlfriend. I don't want what you want. It's not you it's me." I took it very badly. I guess in hindsight I fell in love with him even though there were so, so many red flags. When he started to show interest in a new girl, I damn near had a nervous breakdown. I found a good therapist and began talking things out. I left the country for 6 weeks to spend time with extended family to try to get over him. It worked. I cut all ties and came back rejuvenated.

Thinking I was "better," I rejoined my team sport when I returned (the one of which he is also a part) with the assumption that he no longer had a hold on me and we could be friends. He was now dating the new girl, but within two weeks of my being back he began to send me slightly inappropriate texts. I was flattered and felt like I finally had the upper hand. I told him I didn't want to talk to him if he had a girlfriend and of course he said he didn't. The new girl was not a long-term thing for him. A month later he broke it off with her (much like me, she fell fast and hard so he cut and ran).

At the point of his breakup with her, it had been about one year since we first started hanging out. We start talking and texting again. I flirted with him, try to keep it cool and relaxed, but really I was dying to just have sex with him. I pushed hard for a friends with benefits situation and he was on board. Why wouldn't he be? Things were pretty good. I'm much less attached (or so I thought) and having great sex with someone I like and am attracted to. But after a couple months I could tell he's not much interested anymore. Begrudgingly, because I do still really like him, I made up my mind to tell him that we shouldn't be intimate anymore and should just go back to being teammates. I knew it wasn't going to turn into what I want no matter how much I wanted it. The day I intended to tell him this, I found out I'm pregnant.

He took it very hard. Says he absolutely does not want children and if he ever had them he doesn't want them like this. Over the course of the next week, our many discussions have turned into him dropping hints about why I shouldn't keep it, without actually asking me to get rid of it. It sucks, but I'm finally getting some honesty from him. So what do I find out really? That he is deeply in love with someone else. His recent lack of interest in me was due to him reconnecting with his ex from many years back. "The one that got away" (his words). The things he said to me about how he feels about her were like a knife to the throat. It turns out he does want everything that I want, just not with me. He wants it with her. To the point that if she came to him with the same news I did, he fully admits he would have reacted quite differently.

So now I'm nothing but a nuisance, a complication, a potential reason that she might not get back together with him. I didn't expect that we would naturally turn into a happy family, but I thought maybe he would be supportive of whatever I choose. That's not the case. He wants it gone, and if I decide to keep it we agreed he'll sign away his parental rights. It wasn't even an option in his head to try to make any other scenario work. I'm not good enough to raise a child with because I'm not her. Before I told him I was 99% sure I was going to keep it no matter what, expecting to be a single mom. Now I'm a fucking mess and have no idea what to do.

His laundry list of reasons not to have it makes sense (neither of us have any money and are heavily in debt, I'm getting laid off from a well paying job and taking one that pays about half of what I'm making now, we're not in a relationship, many more), but I'm so fucking mad that I have to deal with all the fallout either way and he just gets to wash his hands of me and go run back to the girl he loves. I don't want to bring a life into this world out of spite, but I don't want to terminate a life just because the situation isn't ideal. I'm 35 and still single with no prospects (because obviously I have shit taste in men)—what if this is my only chance to have a child and I give it up? I know I can artificially inseminate one day if I want, and I have much respect for women who do, but I wouldn't, I just know I wouldn't, so please don't tell me I'll have the chance for kids later by that avenue.

I've never felt like such shit. Like as a grown woman I still continue to make the worst possible decisions. I fear I will hate myself either way. I already do for allowing myself to get caught up in him again. I feel like I've made no progress in therapy. Like I'll never be good enough to have anyone's children. I cry every day, big heaving sobs with big tears that don't seem to want to stop. I'll have the support of my family either way, but I don't know how to know if I'm ready for a child, for this child. I have an appointment with my obgyn next week and an appointment at the clinic the week after. One of them will get cancelled, I just don't know which one.

Knocked Up and Knocked Down


You're in a really bad spot right now, so don't blame yourself for feeling terrible and confused. On top of some seriously tough circumstances, being pregnant can make you feel incredibly emotional and vulnerable, particularly during the first trimester. That's why every single sexually active woman out there should try to figure out what you'd do if you got pregnant BEFORE you actually get pregnant. If you're sexually active and you feel sure that it would be a mistake to have a kid, write it down (for yourself; you might want to see it when you're addled) and make it known to your partner from the start. If you know you WOULDN'T want terminate a pregnancy—which, like it or not, sometimes becomes more the case as you enter your late 30s—it's smart to recognize that and let your partner know that's where you stand.

Because even if you think you're absolutely clear on what you want when you're not pregnant, trust me, once you're pregnant, it's very difficult to think straight and make a logical decision.

Now, I'm not implying that every single decision in life SHOULD be logical. Some illogical nutzo choices will also end up being the best things that ever happened to you. You just need to know that when you're pregnant, you might suddenly become baby obsessed. I didn't glance at a baby until I was pregnant. Babies looked germy and slithery and not very cute to me before then. You might really want to go dredge up that piece of paper in your journal that says, "Dear Me, Don't have a baby right now, even though you think you might want one. It's not time yet."

Likewise, knowing that you WOULD want to keep a baby really changes the picture in terms of casual sex. Pushing for friends with benefits status starts to look much more emotionally risky under those circumstances.

And let's be honest. When you push an exboyfriend to have no-strings-attached sex, you're already playing with fire, particularly if you were the one who got dumped. It's hard to find a woman who hasn't done this at one point or another, but it's a soul-sucking nightmare maneuver that'll bring all of the depression and sadness of the break-up back in full force. It's easy to think your feelings won't come flooding back, that you'll be in control of everything this time. But no. If you're even toying with the idea of this, chances are you've got a bad habit of compartmentalizing your feelings, believing that you can control how you feel, believing that just because you feel sort of carefree and indifferent TODAY, you'll feel the same way when you see your no-strings sex friend out on a date (remember those?) with another woman.

So, lots of cautionary tales here for all the single ladies. But KUAKD? That advice isn't me beating up on you. No way. The only reason I'm saying HEY LADIES WATCH OUT is because we've all been there, or we're there right now, or we're about to do the same fucking thing without thinking carefully about it first. In fact, let's all just roll back the tape and think about that dude we slept with, at the absolute wrong time in our lives, and imagine getting pregnant with that dude's kid. The nightmare scenarios are endless (uh, for some of us anyway).

You shouldn’t feel any SPECIAL kind of guilt simply because you wound up getting pregnant, KUAKD. The fact that you're reading into this situation as if it makes it clear that you'll "never be good enough to have anyone's children" really drives home the fact that you're massively confused about your responsibilities, his responsibilities, and what transpired between you. This guy's attitude toward you is not an indicator of your worth or a predictor of your future success with men. You pushed for a no-strings-attached situation, and that status was never going to change, not even (or especially not) with an unexpected pregnancy. You knew he was sleeping with you because you made it easy for him to do so, not because he was in love with you. Again, I'm not shaming you. We've all done this. I'm clarifying, though, that getting wound up about his lack of feeling for you at this point feels a little bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic well after it sinks to the bottom of the Atlantic. I know it hurts and you feel like total shit. Many, many people who are reading this are feeling sad for you right now, and we're all sending you our love and support. You can get through this.

BUT: You can't make a clear decision about this baby when you're swimming around in freezing cold waters, lamenting what might have been but wasn't, lamenting what you don't have and maybe will never deserve. YOU DESERVE A LOT. This situation, while it looks pathetic to you right now, is just something that happened, something unfortunate that could've happened to anyone who is sexually active and isn't in a committed relationship.

Normally, you'd have time to get over the harshness of what he told you, that he absolutely positively doesn't want YOU. But in this scenario, you don't have time to think about HIM at all, honestly. And let me be frank: It worries me that most of your letter is about him, when it is now clear that he is completely irrelevant to the gigantic decision you need to make. This situation is just too heavy for us to slice and dice his culpability, his intentions, his love or lack of love for you, the mistakes he made along the way. He told you, "Count me out." So emotionally, you have to think about yourself, how YOU are going to get through this, what YOU want your life to look like moving forward.

And I have to tell you something else: You're very lucky that he's telling you he wants no part of this. The situation is crystal clear. You want this baby or you don't. It's your choice. It has nothing to do with him. Is it lamentable that he won't help you decide? Well, I get the sadness there. But it's not lamentable. Lamentable would be him PRETENDING that he sort of kind of can almost deal with a baby, and then freaking out and disappearing after the baby is born. Common, actually, and fucked. But he's telling you the truth.

And honestly, you don't seem entirely interested in the truth right now. It seems like you want to find some way to change the facts on the ground. So the first thing I want you to do is admit that HE IS OUT. As a grown fucking adult, you need to get tough for a second and say it. THIS GUY IS NOT A PART OF THIS DECISION. Stop talking about him, OK? Stop imagining a better scenario, with him in it. HE IS IRRELEVANT NOW. KISS HIM GOODBYE, AND GOD BLESS. This will be difficult. But this is where you are, like it or not. You must face the music and accept that there's no time to consider him, for your own good.

If you can't get past that part, where you forget about him and quit wishing things were different? I don't think you're mature enough to have a kid, frankly.

So: Let's just assume you get it, and you're going to fucking man up and get him out of your fucking head once and for all so you can think clearly. Now, with a clear head, you need to make the call about this baby.

I would like to TRY to walk you through what a baby will mean to your life right now, to help you decide what you should do. But look, I can't do that. It's complicated, it's emotional, and there's no way in hell that I can give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down on a human being. Kids are amazing and they make life great. And being a single mom is INSANELY difficult. Maybe you'll end this pregnancy and get your life in gear and start kicking ass. Maybe you'll have this baby and get your life in gear and start kicking ass. That's what I want for you, one of those two things. But I think whatever it is that you do, you have to change the way you tell your own story. You say you'll feel regretful either way. I think you need to paint two really beautiful pictures, one with the baby, and one without the baby, and THEN decide. Fuck regret.

I would resolve right now that you're not going to ALLOW yourself to regret whatever you decide. You're in this situation that's very common, actually, and you need to trust yourself to make the right call. You need to give YOURSELF the gift of refusing to haunt yourself with what might've been if you made the opposite choice. It's too much, signing yourself up for that kind of life, looking backwards.

You can choose a path here without making your life tragic. You aren't a victim of your circumstances. Your story is not doomed. This is your big call to action, your moment to get yourself together and treat yourself with love and respect from this point forward. You will not settle for lukewarm men anymore. You will not settle for sex without love. You will not pause for anything less than total interest and engagement. You will protect yourself from bad situations. You will chip away at your debt, and allow yourself to be ambitious, maybe for the first time. You will straighten things out and take responsibility for yourself and you'll start to feel real pride in yourself. You will still find love. Someone is going to love you like no one has loved you before. You will know before it even happens that you deserve it. You deserve to be loved completely, for exactly who you are.

So: If you know you will find love one day, do you still want the baby? Do you NOT want the baby anymore? Imagine that you will have everything you ever wanted from life, guaranteed. Does that make you want to have this baby, or does it make you want to wait and see what comes next?

Either way, you have to accept who you are right now, and allow it to be. Don’t punish yourself by having or not having a kid. You're a great person who happens to be pregnant. You're a grown woman, and whatever you do, this is your moment to stop feeling lost and confused. This is your wake up call. I can't choose what you should do, I can only tell you that you MUST not be clouded by guilt and anger and fear as you decide. Recognize that you're hormonally inclined to want the baby. Recognize that you have no proof that this is your last chance to have a kid. But don't ignore your heart or your soul or your ideas about yourself. Imagine two amazing paths stretched out before you, and choose the one you want.

BUT: If you're thinking of this baby as HIS, as a connection to him, as a way of reaching him and having him, then you're in trouble. He really does have to leave the picture for you to think clearly about this. You have to think of yourself and this baby. Is this the right time? You now have proof that you CAN get pregnant. Does that mean you should have THIS baby? I don't know. I really, really love having kids. But raising a baby alone would've been really hard for me. I'm tough and independent (and uh, also weak and needy and a little lazy sometimes?). I'm not sure that I'm temperamentally suited for that kind of a challenge. I also know women who seem to be loving single motherhood. You know yourself and you know what's best for you.

Unless you DON'T know yourself, at all. Then, I'm going to say that you should give yourself time to grow. Forgive yourself, and give yourself more time.

You are not alone. Open your heart and see that, ok? Look around you. Write down all the people that you're grateful for. Whatever you do, allow this event to redirect you, away from people who don't care that much, toward people who really, deeply care. Only let the people who DEEPLY care into your life from now on. You are loved already. You are good inside. This world will bring you everything you need. Open your heart and let it bring you its gifts. Get up in the morning and welcome the unknown into your life. You will be embraced and supported and loved, no matter what you do next. You will be loved.


Do you want to give birth to an (adorable) puppy instead of a (slithery) human child? Write to Polly!

Heather Havrilesky (aka Polly Esther) is The Awl's existential advice columnist. She's also a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and is the author of the memoir Disaster Preparedness (Riverhead 2011). She blogs here about scratchy pants, personality disorders, and aged cheeses. Photo by David Goehring.

29 Comments / Post A Comment

Nabonwe (#12,500)

Wow, I just want to add myself to the list of people who are reading this right now and sending you their love and support, whatever you might choose.

IBentMyWookie (#133)

With a big disclaimer that I don't know the governing law in the letter-writer's state (or indeed which state she's in), it's important to note that often men think that signing away parental rights means no child support is payable. That's not the case (where I live, anyway). So LW should keep in mind that maybe after a few months/years of paying support, the dad will seek access to the child, which means that he is back in your life, with all of the implications of same. In sum, do not count on his word re signing away his parental rights and just fucking off into the sunset. If you have this kid, there's a strong chance you'll be dealing with this guy for life (or 18-23 years at the least)

KarenUhOh (#19)

@IBentMyWookie I'll chime in here, too: LW, if you have this child, you also need to think hard about how and how much "walking away" Dad gets to do. Because he's got a stake in this whether he wants it or not. . .and he damn well may owe a support obligation of some sort, one that need not be determined today or the day the child is born.

Be careful and smart about your rights, and good luck.

OneoftheJanes (#265,791)

@IBentMyWookie — more specifically, it is almost impossible for him to simply sign away his rights. She can skip getting his name on the birth certificate or an Acknowledgment of Paternity, but in just about every state (Texas used to be the exception and even it's changing), the only way for him to be legally off the hook is for the child to be adopted. And even if the child's mother isn't interested in child support, if she ends up using state aid, the state will want to get contributions from the father before they turn to the state budget.

jaimeleigh (#1,840)

@IBentMyWookie This is definitely an important point to make. I give one piece of advice to people, and one only: be careful who you have kids with. It will tie you to one another for life whether you like it or not. And yes, a dad who disappears and wants nothing to do with the kid for the first eight years can absolutely pop back into the picture, maybe with a sad letter full of apologies and regrets, maybe sent to the kid a week before you're about to get married to your kid's step father. Okay, maybe that won't happen to you, but it could and I am telling you, it sucks because it has to be dealt with. If you want to have the baby and you think you can keep ties severed forever, or if you want to have the baby and you're hoping it will preserve those ties…either way just try to really think long term. Be careful who you have kids with. Wishing you the strength and clarity to make the best choice for you.

A Snood Mood (#1,737)

@jaimeleigh It seems to me that the LW is ALL ABOUT being tied to this guy, whether he wants to be or not. I agree with Polly that it's a giant waving red flag that most of this letter is about the guy, and not about how she can move on.

To me the most important part of Polly's answer was this:

"And honestly, you don't seem entirely interested in the truth right now. It seems like you want to find some way to change the facts on the ground. So the first thing I want you to do is admit that HE IS OUT. As a grown fucking adult, you need to get tough for a second and say it. THIS GUY IS NOT A PART OF THIS DECISION. Stop talking about him, OK? Stop imagining a better scenario, with him in it. HE IS IRRELEVANT NOW. KISS HIM GOODBYE, AND GOD BLESS. This will be difficult. But this is where you are, like it or not. You must face the music and accept that there's no time to consider him, for your own good.

If you can't get past that part, where you forget about him and quit wishing things were different? I don't think you're mature enough to have a kid, frankly."

Taffeta Darling (#260,337)

You have a lot of people rooting for you, LW. Focus on how great and lovable you are, and be strong.

nonvolleyball (#9,329)

@Taffeta Darling hear, hear. I'm sure her life will turn out awesome in the long run, whatever happens, but I don't envy the spot she's in right now.

Just wanna say, I've had a similar relationship to the guy you speak of in the letter, and THANK GOD I was lucky enough to not get pregnant. Because I think I would feel exactly the way you do and so I sympathize with you 1000%. However, if this scenario did happen to me, I would think primarily of how it would affect the kid. Would the kid be OK not having a father (or second parent) in their life? Would I be able to provide enough for the kid? In all honestly for my situation (I'm 24) I would have to say no, and I would most likely terminate the pregnancy. I assume though that at your age you are much more mature, organized, and prepared than I would be. I hope this comment doen't muddle your decision, but I wanted to throw in my two cents.

garlicmustardweed (#264,986)

Pregnant lady here, with four years of therapy under my belt. I noticed that you wrote "I am not good enough to raise a child with because I'm not her." Were those HIS WORDS or YOUR THOUGHTS? I suspect that a lot of your confusion about whether to have this child comes from a fear that you are "not good enough." This is something you should most definitely raise with your therapist. I wonder every day (often to my therapist) whether I am good enough to raise the fetus inside me, but this self-doubt is caused my parents/bad boyfriend conditioning, rather than an actual capacity I have to love and care for a baby. (I have very similar patterns of relationship with men, so I'm assuming we have similar self-esteem issues). Point being, loving a baby requires loving yourself, as that baby will indeed think of itself as an extension of you for the first couple years of life. I guess thats the question I put before you: beyond the practical pros and cons, can you be motivated enough to work on YOU and love YOU during the remainder of your pregnancy and once you have your baby? Whether or not you decide to have the baby, I am rooting for you to love yourself!!

sophiah (#13,210)

I have a baby, a ton of debt, and a working husband, and we are facing financial disaster because I'm not working to take care of him (my old work isn't compatible with daycare hours). My friend who's a single mom in a very similar situation to the LW (minus the emotional hangup on the dad) has been on welfare, living with random family members, etc. Being a mom is HARD, finding and paying for daycare and making it work with your work schedule is hard, the whole thing is just insanely complicated and if you're already struggling the baby may be the final thing that tips you over. I mean, my baby is great and I wouldn't send him back if I could, but new parenthood plus single parenthood plus money problems could lead to so many more problems than you'd anticipate.

That said, for goodness sake do not let him sign away his rights. The child support is for the child, not the mom; if nothing else sock it away for college. Whether he wants to be or not, he's going to be a bio dad, which is the risk every adult male takes when he has sex, so there is no reason he shouldn't be living up to the very, very basic responsibility of financial support for the baby.

twinkiecowboy (#235,093)

@sophiah Great advice right here, especially on the child support.

oskomena (#232,608)

I wish some time was spent discussing what it would mean for the baby to be raised in these circumstances. I don't think there's anything wrong with the LW as a person, but given how much this is about him, I hope she has the right priorities. I hope the LW finds it in herself to make the best decision for everyone (potentially) involved.

pointreyes (#265,851)

Hi all, LW here. I just wanted to thank you all for the time you took to not only read about my plight but comment with great suggestions and support. In the time since I wrote to Polly I've done a lot of reflection and agree completely that things are too emotionally charged. That this should not be about him, but about me. There were a lot of scenarios (and potential legal ramifications) you have all brought up that I haven't even considered and it makes things clearer for me as I think about them now.

There is much about my self-esteem that I need to address. I feel it is a very real possibility that I will never be loved or have a family. I do not expect to ever be truly happy. I'm not sure what the "right" next move is but I know that these things absolutely need to be addressed before I become I mother, if I ever do. Thank you all again.

Beks (#265,857)

@pointreyes I created an account just to reply to you. I was where you are just a year ago. Not pregnant (thank god, although I've had scares), but confronting the fact that yet again I was not "good enough" for someone. A guy I had slept with casually and confusingly for several months told me he wasn't looking for a serious relationship and promptly proceeded to meet the love of his life and move halfway across the country (to a place he said he'd never want to live) for her. I was 34, facing a string of failed relationships or attempts at relationships with "the wrong guy" and starting to wonder if the truth was that I was just the wrong girl. I really felt like I was just at my core unloveable or un-partnerable, despite the fact that I had many friends and loved ones willing to testify otherwise. I had so much fear, anxiety, and self-loathing about the prospect that I was just not meant to be in a relationship, and I started to do a lot of meditation to deal with it.

I started to make peace with idea that I might not ever meet someone. Not completely, but I inched slightly toward it. I started opening up a little more to people, being more honest about my insecurities, and making decisions based on what I really wanted for myself, and less on what I thought would pull someone toward me. I met someone that summer and we started dating. It only lasted 6 weeks, and I could have sworn I wasn't that into him, but let's just say a lot of patterns started to repeat themselves. The self-loathing, the "why does this always happen to me?", the fear that I would never find anyone or anything. The difference was, this time I was able to recognize that what was really happening wasn't that I had fallen for the wrong guy- he was wrong in a lot of ways, and while I had seen some potential for something long term, I hadn't dated him long enough to really fall for him. And it wasn't that there was something wrong with me- though he did his best to make me feel that there was, and I did succumb to those emotions at times, I had periods where I could see very very clearly that he was full of shit and that we would never have worked in the long term. And yet I wanted him to want me. I wanted the affirmation and self-esteem that having someone fall totally and completely for me would provide. And I could see through my own bullshit. The bs that allowed me to maintain delusions that guys who clearly only ever wanted casual sex were secretly pining for me, or that angry assholes or sweet but immature manchildren would somehow change because of the magical fairy dust I sprinkled over them. It didn't make it hurt any less, but I was learning to stop running from the pain and instead listen to what it was trying to tell me.

And I met someone else. I saw him just as a friend at first- he was wonderful, caring , perceptive, and we had so many interests, values, and passions in common, but I didn't think he was my type. He was resolutely uncool and a terrible dresser. And yet there was something about him. He lived with such authenticity and openness, showed kindness and deep caring for everyone around him, and had a large group of long term friends who clearly respected and adored him. He told me he was interested at one point, and I said I wasn't- but the more time we spent together, the more time I wanted to spend with him. Not because I wanted the affirmation of having someone show desire or affection toward me, and not because I wanted to be seen with someone I thought would impress other people, but because I seriously believed he was the best human being I had ever met and being around him felt so healthy and good on a deep, deep level. I started to realize that I was attracted to him, and I eventually told him I was interested in dating.

The last 4 months have been some of the best I've ever had. I don't want to bore you with all the details, but let me just say that while this feels like we're headed for a life-long partnership, I'm not naive. I know that life takes many twists and turns and there are no guarantees. I don't know if we will be able to have a family. But I have 100% faith that whatever happens between us, being with him will be one of the best decisions I've ever made, and being loved by him will be one of the most healing experiences of my life. I know that if things end between us, there may be a lot of sadness and pain, but I will be able to look back on our relationship with so much love and gratitude.

I'm telling you this because I feel like I wish I could tell myself from a year ago what I'm telling you now. Polly is right, you will be loved. It won't look like you think it will- we spend so much time looking for people who speak to our wounds and insecurities, we often miss the people who nourish and draw out the best, most beautiful, truest parts of ourselves. Again, Polly is right, you need to lean into the people who really love you, the people who have seen your needy, crazy, insecurity and know what a bright, beautiful, lovable soul lies beneath it. The more time you spend with them, the easier it is to recognize real love when it comes along. I can't promise you'll get everything you think you want right now, but I can promise that as you learn to be authentic and vulnerable, you will absolutely get what you need. Good luck with your decision. It must be so scary. Know that I am sending prayers/good wishes/love beams (whichever you prefer).

RobotsNeedLove (#236,743)

@pointreyes I may be echoing what others have said, but if you do decide to stay pregnant, I very much recommend seeking some legal advice, specifically around custody, access, and child support. Pay for that advice if at all possible. There are likely free legal resources in your area, and seeking them out may be a good option. But you know what they say – you get what you pay for.

In my jurisdiction, child support and custody are only inter-linked insofar as child support is payable on the basis of residential custody. You would be entitled to child support, and you should get it.

I want to send you all the emotional support and love I can. But I also really want you to protect yourself if necessary.

BeenThereDoneThat (#258,177)

@Beks " – we spend so much time looking for people who speak to our wounds and insecurities, we often miss the people who nourish and draw out the best, most beautiful, truest parts of ourselves. " very true and we gice others so much power to define our worrh.

@LW single parenting is ROUGH even with tons if support and a grear income but not impossible and it has been the most rewarding experience of my life. Rootung for you, whatever you decide to do.

Poubelle (#214,283)

@pointreyes Best of luck to you, whatever you decide. It's always tough to be in a place where there isn't one "right" or "wrong" choice, even when it's not something as huge and daunting as pregnancy.

I don't have much that hasn't already been said (I completely agree with what's been said about the legal side of things). IME, understanding you have stuff you need to address about your self-esteem is half the battle.

Ren_li (#238,909)

@Beks – that was a beautiful comment, and so on the money – thank you.

@pointreyes – You have my enormous amounts of sympathy on this one, especially when it comes to the aspect of thinking you're good enough, which you, by the way, should not doubt. (That you're good enough – sorry, that's grammatically not so clear!) And if you're able to afford to go back to therapy to work on that a bit more, maybe you could…

I'm interested why Heather, in her answer, didn't mention anything about what it might be like for the kid growing up without a biological dad on the scene at all. Full disclosure: my own issues about this are so strong (difficult relationships with both dad and stepdad) that I feel like it needs to, at least, be mentioned. I personally don't think there's any specific issues raising a kid without a biological father around – it's always far more to do with context in general – BUT my stepdad was raised without his biological father around and it impacted on his psychological health badly enough to impact on mine (and I already had issues going on with my biological father not being around). Ugh. I was certainly a bit messed-up because of it until I crawled out of my twenties. I'm hoping that whatever situation I end up in when I do have kids (I'm 32 now, so maybe in the next few years), I can stop that cycle somehow.

That said, it's a subjective thing and that's my perspective. I was just surprised Heather didn't mention it – but I think that's possibly all for the best and shows that maybe it's just a personal thing. Please don't let my comment worry you; I'm just flagging something to think about, but it's in no way intended to be a worry if you do choose to have the baby. I certainly would have it, though I'd think about this aspect of things – and discuss it with a few people I trust. Despite my biological father issues, I turned out alright – and I'm hardly alone; a zillion other human beings are in the same boat, doing just fine. So I think it's both something to acknowledge, hypothesize about if you're so inclined – and then, if you're going to keep the baby, something to accept, come what may. Unless there are arrangements you can feasibly work out with him?

But more importantly, please take Heather's brilliant advice, and other peoples' comments, to heart – you're wished only the best, whichever option you choose, and you absolutely deserve it!

lemonadefish (#259,518)

@Ren_li I think this might might have a lot to do with the mother's attitude about the father not being around. Maybe? Like if mom's attitude is, we've got this, we're a complete family, there is no dad, then it's not a big deal, but if mom is trying to get dad to step up, or wishing dad was around more, then the kid will feel the loss in a different way…

But I could be full of shit. Who knows.

@pointreyes, I hope you are able to be at peace with whatever decision you make.

Jenn777 (#266,289)

@Ren_li Maybe she didn't mention it because single mothers get enough crap about that subject. Because they obviously sent their men to the sand wastes to piss other people off. It's not because they abandoned them, or were abusive, or in jail, or dead.

But as someone who had a single parent herself I really dislike the idea that my family was somehow broken because of it.

chibi9 (#265,889)

I made an account just to say that you lost me at "women, once pregnant, are incapable of making rational decisions about that pregnancy."
Nope. I am sorry. I am sure everyone has a different experience, and I agree that it's best to think out the ramifications of being pregnant before getting pregnant, but in my experience my brain did not disappear when I got pregnant, and the decision I made about it was plenty rational.

misspiggy (#250,319)

erm – she didn't. She said being pregnant (in her experience) makes it more difficult to make a rational decision. Not the same.

chibi9 (#265,889)

@misspiggy I agree that that's not what she said word for word, so those quotation marks were misplaced.
But a statement about one woman's personal experience, applied to women in general, about how hard it is for us women to make rational decisions about a pregnancy because baby socks, is hard for me to swallow. Because: what could that mean for women who choose to have a baby? Does that mean their brains were just clouded by hormones? What does that imply about women who choose NOT to have a baby?
Does this mean this gal should leave the decision to the dude in question, because being non-pregnant is obviously working out for him and his rational decisions?

ladyeve (#265,915)

Another person here wishing you clarity and strength. I was in your position two years ago. The situation was slightly different: I had a brief affair with a man I thought I knew but by the time I'd discovered how immature he really was, he was off chasing some new shiny distraction and I was pregnant and contemplating life as a single parent. I'm a little older than you and had the same "is this my last chance?" worries. I ultimately chose not to keep the pregnancy but it was a very tough call and even though I had good friends to support me, I'd never felt so ALONE. I feel for you and want you to know that a lot of women have been where you are now and come out the other side, stronger and wiser.

Polly's spot on about resolving not to feel regret either way. I really struggled with that one and wish I'd been gentler on myself. I am happily married now to a lovely man who deeply cares about me but we've been unable to conceive together. But what I've realized is you have to make the decision within the moment that feels right to you.

Polly's right about using this experience to resolve to keep the good ones close and let the others go their way. She's also right about the dude. This is about YOU. While I was swayed by the idea that I really didn't want to have a baby that way (alone) and the father in question would be hugely unreliable (he didn't completely sign himself out but — confusingly — wanted to be somehow involved but not really responsible), I ultimately realized it came down to how I felt about it. Only you can decide that.

If you can, try to take a day or two just to yourself (or in the presence of a good friend who can just listen) to sit with your feelings. Envision each scenario and pay attention to how it makes your body feel. Your body is awash in hormones that are telling you to keep the pregnancy (and probably making you highly emotional, at least that was my experience). You also belong to a culture that often shames women if they're not 100% pro-baby-having-regardless-of-the-situation. You probably have a bank account that tells you not to keep it. It's hard quieting all those voices and just feel what's right FOR YOU. For me, as strongly as I felt a growing attachment to the pregnancy, whenever I envisioned going through with it, I felt heavy sadness and dread. When I envisioned ending it, I felt light and relief. If you can, dig deep and listen to your intuition and trust it.

Parenthood is a huge responsibility but people do it all the time. The globe is covered with single moms making shit work cause that's what women do. Maybe you're one of those women. But you have to be really honest with yourself if it's what you really want. Like Polly, when I contemplated single parenthood, I sensed I wasn't temperamentally suited to it. Sure, I could've made it work if I'd had to — but I felt deep down it wasn't the life for me. Everyone's different though and I wish you the clarity and inner strength to hear what's right for you and to go down that path without regrets. Whatever you choose to do, take very good care of yourself and remember you're surrounded by love.

Robert Cat@facebook (#265,920)

I'm sorry for your circumstance! We all make mistakes in life.

Get an abortion. That is the only way to free yourself from this nightmare. (Unless you can give the child up for adoption.)

Here's what you face if you don't get rid of it:
1) Single mom and all that entails, like poverty
2) Bio dad fighting you for custody, visitation, child support. It will be non-stop drama. He'll do that just to be a dick to you.
3) Bio dad loathing you for having his child, especially if it interferes in his relationship with his beloved. 4) You will have to watch dad with his "chosen one" loving HER kids, while treating yours like shit. 5) The kid will grow up w/o a father and be angry and messed up in the head over it. Kids get complexes when they feel unwanted.

Don't let your religious beliefs or whatever make you feel that abortion is a bad choice. Women miscarry all the time naturally and no one thinks twice about it. No where is it written in the universe that if you're pregnant you MUST carry it to time.

You need to wash this guy out of your life permanently and move forward to find someone else who CARES ABOUT YOU and wants a child with you.

sophiah (#13,210)

@Robert Cat@facebook I had two miscarriages, and thought a lot of them. The last thing this woman needs is a strange man telling her to get an abortion.

Poubelle (#214,283)

@Robert Cat@facebook You are clearly an idiot who is talking out of his ass. Also, learn2read, it's not about religion.

twinkiecowboy (#235,093)

Wishing you the best, @pointreyes. I don't think anyone can tell you whether to keep or not keep this child. I would just say that it's best not to make decisions based from fear, such as that you will never have an opportunity to have a kid again. At 35 you still have time and plenty of options. And while you shouldn't consider the father in terms of hoping that this baby forces him to step up to a role he'll never be able to fulfill, I think you should consider the role he might actually play. I.e., child support– Your kid deserves it, but will that be an ongoing battle with him? What narrative are you going to tell your child about his or her father? What if he has a change of heart years from now and wants to be involved in your kid's life, but he's still completely unreliable? What about his family– what if his parents want to be involved in their grandchild's life? Because like it or not, he doesn't necessarily get to make a clean break here.

Take care of yourself, surround yourself with people who love and support you no matter what, talk to your therapist, meditate, and break off contact with the dude for a while. Think about what is best for a child and what is best for you. The answer will come to you. Best wishes.

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