Like most women, I had the dream of having a loving family of my own. It is something that I envisioned for most of life. “First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes me with the baby carriage”. Sigh.
Unfortunately, my first pregnancy didn't turn out so dreamy. It was far from a fairy tale. Verbal altercations with my child's father and the threat of physical abuse threatened my emotional state, including that of my unborn child. As a beautiful, educated, and successful 40 year old mom-to-be, I was not having that. But it's not just me, who walks this road of pain. Sadly, many women are abandoned during their pregnancy journeys. Some situations work out, and others like mine end up in family court. Yes, the custody battle route.
There I was, a pregnant mom, with no partner in tow. Because of the unwarranted stress, I ended my relationship when I was 4 months pregnant.
The one thing I learned during delicate time was it’s not about him or you. During pregnancy, your focus should be on the life that you have chosen to carry . A happy and healthy baby should be your number 1 & 2 priorities. This starts by taking care of yourself physically, mentally and emotionally.
While this can be a lonely time, please don’t dwell on the negative, but I do understand you are confused and have questions. These questions have legal implications. The decisions you make will impact your Child’s life forever. I spent nights worrying, too. Hopefully my nights can be a help to you:
Should the baby have their father's last name?
Your reasons for doing this or not should be beyond sentimental. There are longstanding legal consequences. For instance, if the father is listed on the birth certificate, and if your child has a different last name than you, this can affect obtaining a passport and your ability to travel with your child without written consent from the father. More seriously, if the father’s name is on the birth certificate, he can assert his parental rights at any time. On the positive side, if his name is on the birth certificate, then it will be easier for you to receive child support. Research the laws in your state and consider the pros and cons. But remember, naming the baby with his last name isn’t going to make him love you more or make him do anything he doesn’t want to do.
Should he be able to re-enter your child's life at a later date?
Regardless of what happened during your pregnancy, fathers have rights. If a father decides to re-enter his child's life, even if he abandons you both, he has rights. If he is willing to be a consistent, reliable, and responsible parent, please let him. Put your issues aside for the benefit of your child. I personally think all children should know both parents. However, there are exceptions (domestic and sexual abuse, etc).
Should you seek child support?
I really struggled with this. I am more financially stable and responsible so why be bothered with the hassle? Please think about what is best for the child. If you are worried about the impact of visitation and custody, please be aware that child support is a separate issue. I’m now glad we have court-ordered support. You never know when your circumstances may change. Child support should be the minimum of what he does.
Overall, coping with abandonment can be financially, emotionally and spiritually unbearable. I recommend seeking therapy from an objective third party that can offer real strategies for coping. Having peace during pregnancy is of the utmost importance, and so is being happy.