Photo Credit: Oxygen
All of your relationships are important when you're pregnant, but this week's episode of Oxygen's I'm Having Their Baby deals with the one that can be a definite game changer in a birth mother's decision-making process: the relationship you have with the father of your baby.
First, we meet Sarah, a high school sophomore who is pregnant by her ex-boyfriend, Gage. Though the couple was together when Sarah discovered she was pregnant, they soon began fighting nonstop, and she broke it off. However, she still has to cope with whether she wants him involved, and Gage's strained relationship with Sarah's father only adds to the tension.
In this episode, we also meet Nicol, a single mother of three who has already placed a child for adoption, but is now pregnant again with another child. The father of her baby is Lance, a guy Nicol considers "immature and irresponsible." Along with an unsupportive family, Nicol also has to deal with the pressure of Lance wanting to raise the baby with her, even though she doesn't think that's a good idea.
I believe almost every birth mom goes through a little bit of "baby daddy" drama at one point or another. Since the pregnancies are unplanned, emotions tend to run high (and it's not like pregnancy hormones help). When a friend of Sarah's asked her, "When you give birth, is [Gage] going to be there?" Questions about how to involve the dad race around your mind 24/7. The father's own level of involvement varies, too -- some birth fathers are very involved and supportive and some all but drop off the face of the Earth when they hear the news. And dealing with relationship stress on top of your internal back-and-forth about adoption can make things very stressful.
The father of my son was a little more like Gage was to Sarah -- he was supportive of the adoption, but he was absent for most of the pregnancy. We broke up in the first few months of my pregnancy because I realized that our feelings for each other were no longer the same. The pressure of being a teenager and having a baby on the way really wore him down and he ended up becoming one of the most stressful aspects of my pregnancy. Communication is vital during a pregnancy and we weren't very good at it. He was always afraid that I would change my mind and keep our son, and he wasn't ready for that kind of responsibility, so unless he was making sure I hadn't changed my mind, he kept his distance. After I finalized the adoption, he went to visit our son at the adoptive family's house and he remains involved in his life today. Also like Sarah and Gage, we have remained friends but nothing more.
It is amazing what a game-changer the father can be -- he can make your life easier or harder, he can be one of the best parts or one of the worst, and depending on the adoption laws in your state, his opinions can mean a lot more than you might want them to. For Nicol, she even changed her mind and decided to keep her baby once Lance seemed to step up to the plate, but once that "stepping up" seemed only temporary, she went through with adoption.
I think the desire for a reliable, two-parent relationship is also what makes many birth moms consider adoption in the first place. We want our babies to grow up in the best atmosphere possible, and having two, reliable, loving parents can be a big part of that. The relationship can between a birth mother and father can be loving or difficult or nonexistent, but at the end of the day, you created life with this person...and no matter what they've done or what you think of them, that fact often remains a beautiful one.
Find more on the show on the I'm Having Their Baby Facebook page or follow Oxygen on Twitter for access to exclusive content -- and don't miss the I'm Having a Baby finale on Monday, August 27 at 11pm/10pm c.
Birth mom Renee Hartwick writes letters to her son at Letters to Little Man.