She’s Pregnant? Now What?
So, she’s pregnant. If you’re like I was, you’re scared to death. And pretty confused, too. Now what are you going to do?
I know you haven’t asked for my advice, but I’d like to share how I got through the same problem. Maybe you’ll find something that will help you come up with your own answer.
For me, it got real hot, real fast. See, when a girl gets pregnant, only one of two things is going to happen. Either she is going to have the baby, or she is going to get an abortion. And what I found out was that it really wasn’t up to me. But more on that in a minute. Then, it’s going to be decided who is going to raise the baby and how that is going to be done. Looking back, it looked sort of simple, but you already know it’s not!
Anyway, let’s look at the hard part first. Have the baby or have the abortion? My girlfriend was set on an abortion. Now, you would think I’d be happy with that. And, actually, I was. I figured I was too young to be a father. I still had 3 years of college to go, and I was as broke as a … well, broke as a college student. I had my whole life ahead of me. What I didn’t know was that I had a lot of growing up to do before I really became a man.
I looked into getting an abortion for her so we’d know what it cost, if it hurt, how quick they could do it, if the baby felt it … all the things we’d want to know before “going in”.
I read everything I could find in books and online. You wouldn’t believe the stuff I came across. I guess I never listened in biology. I just didn’t need to know at the time. Well, that little guy inside of Jamie (my girlfriend) was more special than I thought. The health worker calculated that the baby was probably about 11 weeks old. That fit pretty well for that night after the big game, so I think she was right. I found a picture of what Brandon’s feet looked like at that time. (OK, I didn’t get to name him, but he’s “Brandon” to me.)
Look at those feet! This guy is going to be a star fullback!
I also found out that his heart was beating at only 24 days! And he started getting muscles at 28 days, a skeleton at 42 days, his brain kicked into gear a day later, and every organ was present at just 8 weeks – and this was 3 weeks before his feet look like the picture. Brandon is amazing!
I found out some really bad things, too. If we aborted the baby, he would feel the pain. The common way an abortion is done is to suck the little baby up into a jar, using something like a vacuum cleaner. He ends up in pieces. He would feel all this while it was happening. I just couldn’t see how that was right. My ideas that I “deserved” my freedom looked kind of selfish next to what I had learned about him.
Hey, I have to show you this, too. Here’s what he looks like at 16 weeks. Ok, he’s not as handsome as his father, but he is good looking. At this point, he can grasp with his hands, swim and turn somersaults. I’d love to see the movie! Actually, now they can do movies of the baby moving around at this age – they look like miniature adults.
Well, back to the story. I showed Jamie all the things I had found. She just started bawling. She said it’s not fair, she shouldn’t be having a kid now. I think she was right. We were both part of this. But she knew, she knew, she knew. That was a little baby – our little baby – that she would be killing. I’m really proud of her – she decided right there that she was going to have that baby, even though it was “inconvenient.” I was really happy with her choice.
I loved Jamie and didn’t want to lose her. I wanted us to raise Brandon, and maybe some other kids. But, she didn’t see it that way. She wanted to adopt him to a good family so that we would have time to know more about each other before we got married. She said if we got married later, we could have all the kids we wanted. And if we didn’t, we’d each have our own lives to live. It really bugged me at the time, but Jamie is a real smart girl. Because of our state laws, I had to sign some papers to let her do the adoption. I could have fought it, I suppose. But then I would have lost Jamie and Brandon both.
So here we are. I still have Jamie, and Brandon is living with his new parents. They are really good people. It’s what they call an “open adoption”. We know who they are, and they even send pictures. Jamie talks to them every so often, and hopes to see Brandon when the time is right. She knows that Brandon is in good hands and will be raised right.
And Jamie and I? Don’t know. We are working on it. We have our ups and downs, but we are making it. I found out that when a woman aborts a child, the relationship almost always fails. The man loses the kid and he loses his girlfriend – almost guaranteed. So, at least that didn’t happen to me, at least not yet. We still have a chance of working this out, but we have our doubts, too.
I remember a bunch of questions I had when this all happened. You probably have ones a lot like them:
#1 Do I have any say in whether my baby is aborted?
It’s hard to believe, but you don’t have any legal rights when it comes to your baby being aborted. It is the mother’s decision alone. But, you can make a difference in her decision by your attitude. Face it, she’s probably scared, upset and maybe even angry. If you are there for her emotionally and are supportive, she will have a chance to explore her options. The best place you can take her is a pregnancy help center. They are in nearly every city. You can find one near you at www.optionline.org, or just call 1-800-395-HELP to be connected directly. She will be able to talk to someone who will help her through the emotional part and help her to choose what is best for the baby. That’s what I did. The lady at the center talked to us both. She put a model of a baby in my girlfriend’s hands that was the size of our baby at the time. We both were amazed. That’s what changed her mind.
#2 Do I have to marry her?
About half the marriages in this country break up. Marriage is hard enough when you are in love and have planned it. Marrying just for the baby is not a good enough reason. If you and your girlfriend were going to get married anyway, well, it may be a good idea to move up the date. But if you can’t imagine spending the rest of your life with her, you better think twice. My girlfriend and I talked about getting married. But, you know, neither of us is sure we are ready to settle down. It might be one more mistake added to the first one.
#3 Who pays for the hospital bills?
That depends on a lot of things. In many states, there are government programs that pay for the care and delivery of the baby if your girlfriend is low income. If she has a job with insurance, her insurance may pay. If she is a minor and her dad has insurance, that may cover it. But, in many states, if she goes on governmental assistance the state may look to you to pay it back.
#4 Can a DNA “Paternity Test” really prove I’m the father?
Yes, blood and DNA tests can prove whether you are the father with nearly 100% accuracy. A sample of blood is withdrawn from you and the baby (and usually the mother) and tested to see if the baby’s DNA matches the DNA from the parents.
#5 Who decides if this “paternity test” is done?
A “paternity action” can be filed in court to have you declared the father of the child. This can be done by either you or the mother. If it is proved that you are the father, the court will normally order you to pay child support and grant you custody or visitation rights.
#6 Can her parents keep me from the baby?
Whether you get to visit depends on so many things. Maybe the real question is “have you proved you are the father?” This can be done in different states in a number of ways. The “paternity action” is one way to nail it down for sure. If you haven’t proved it, how does anyone know you really are the father? Anyone could probably tell you “no”. If you have been given visitation rights by the courts, no one can stop you from seeing your baby (as long as you obey the visitation terms).
#7 I’m 18 and she was only 15, what happens now?
The “age of consent” varies state to state. Most states use 16 years old, a few an earlier age, and some use as high as age 18. The “age of consent” is the minimum age when someone can legally agree to have sex with a another person. This makes your problem much worse if she was under age. Even if she wanted to have sex, you have committed a crime, at least in most states. It gets even more complicated because some states use the difference in your two ages to determine if a crime has been committed. To find out what is going to happen to you in your state, it may be important for you to see a lawyer.
Well, that’s my story. I know you have big decisions ahead of you. I wish you all the best. Just remember, it’s not always the easy answer that is going to make you happy for the rest of your life. Make the right choice the first time!