Editor’s note: In Part 1, Resa Barillas shared her experience learning about her pregnancy and breaking the news to her parents, with the help of her sister.
It took me a little longer to muster up the courage to tell the father, but since we lived a good hour away from each other, we had a pretty nice buffer via phone. I had braced myself for the worst (complete lack of desire for involvement), and I’d decided that getting married was the worst thing we could do. I didn’t want to force myself to be in a potentially unsatisfying relationship just for my baby. It wouldn’t help anyone, and I knew that my child would be better off with two happy homes than one unhappy one.
We talked on the phone, and I made sure he had braced himself, with the typical “You’re probably going to want to sit down for this.” Then came the grand slam.
“I’m not sure how to say this but to just say it, so I’m pregnant.”
And the first thing he said? Well, it was an expletive that starts with “s” and ends with “it.” And it wasn’t “sit.”
And he repeated it a good few times throughout the conversation, but once he gathered himself, he asked “What are you going to do?”
I’d braced myself for the worst, which would be him declining the role of father, so I told him, “I’m keeping it. I’d love for you to be involved, but that’s on you. I know it’s a lot to consider, but if I have to do this on my own, then I have to do it on my own.”
But being a stand up guy, he immediately responded: “Of course I want to be involved.”
We kept talking for about an hour. I explained that I didn’t want to force a relationship and that we’d just play things by ear, but I really would like for him to be involved in the process, including the doctor’s visits and ultrasounds and the like. Much to my relief, he assured me that he wanted to be involved and by the end of the conversation, the shock had worn off and he was excited. All things considered, I felt like we were off to a good start and we were on the same page, which was the biggest relief of all. Even better was his follow through, attending all of the birthing and baby prep classes with me, helping me put together the nursery, and being my birth partner.
I did face… I’m not sure resistance is the word for it, but there were certainly a lot of thoughts and opinions flying my way, because when it comes to becoming a parent, everyone thinks they have a right to tell you what to do or that they know what’s good for you and your child better than you do. Secondarily, there are the unwelcome or unwarranted questions that make a pregnant woman want to smack people in the face.
Case in point: I had coworkers ask if I was going to have it “taken care of” or put my baby up for adoption.
I can’t begin to tell you how traumatic that was. I felt judged, pitied, stigmatized. It was a lovely way to start a pregnancy, I tell you what.
However, I also saw that these were people expressing their own regrets at becoming a single parent or a parent at a young age. These were the same people who complained about their child calling the nanny “mommy” and came in to work hungover on Wednesday morning. These were the same people who lived in a state of self-loathing over the rockin’ bodies they no longer had.
And that was the thing. I was at a point where I realized that there is more to life than partying and having a perfect body. I had already decided that parenting would be an important part of my life at some point, and I was okay with dropping the party girl act. It never really was a great fit anyway.
GETTING AHEAD OF THE GAME
What was important, though, is that I realized that becoming a parent was a life-changing event. I knew that the life I had been living—working, going out dancing, getting home around Midnight and doing it all again the next day—was over. My priorities would have to change, because my life would no longer be about me—it would be about my baby.
I will say, though, that timing was a big factor in my confidence and acceptance of my impending new role. I had a steady job in customer tech support for an online marketing firm (which I lost via layoff just days after giving birth, but that’s a whole different can of worms), and I had (and still have) an incredible support system, so I knew everything would work out, and even if it didn’t, I felt confident that I would make it work.
I realized, too, that while the timing wasn’t ideal, it never really is. There is never a perfect time to have a baby, because they change everything. The career, the spouse, the friends, the parties and events. Those things all take a back seat to a baby. The stars may align, but they’re going to keep moving.
Still, I was happy at the thought of being a single parent. I didn’t have a relationship to reconcile, and as the primary caregiver, I would get to set the tone. It wasn’t ideal, but it had (and has) its perks.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER, AFTER ALL
So here I am today, a single mom with a fantastically smart little boy. My life has changed completely—my mom and I got a place together so she could help me take care of my son while I attend classes as an English Literature major. I’m currently crossing my fingers that I get into all of the classes I need next semester, which will make me a full-time, 4 day a week student. I was laid off, which jump-started me into pursuing freelance web design as a profession (I’d only done freelancing on the side as a supplemental gig before). It was a complete kick in the pants, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else, and I have absolutely no regrets. I’ve been empowered to build my own business, giving me the flexibility to spend time with my son, attend school and work at my own convenience (usually when my little guy is napping or spending time with his dad).
My son’s dad is a very proud and involved papa, visiting every weekend and checking in with FaceTime (hurray technology!). His weekend visits often save my butt, giving me time to catch up on house work, homework, or actual work I’ve fallen behind on, but more importantly, he and the little have a chance to get to know each other. We’re still very close friends, and our families have graciously accepted us each as part of their own, welcoming us for holidays and family gatherings. All in all, and not to sound too smug, I was right: our son has been much better off with two happy homes than he might have been in one home that was forced together.
Of course there are times that I miss being able to just go salsa dancing on a whim or enjoy a glass of wine without having to bust out the breast pump first or even go to the bathroom without having to worry that a little someone is going to unroll all of the toilet paper and try to eat it. But I get to watch this incredible miniature person discover himself and the world we live in. I get to see it through his eyes and mine. Life doesn’t get any better than that.