Monday 17 December 2018

Dear Mary: I'm all on my own after the dad of my unborn baby walked out on me

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Photo posed

Mary O’Conor

I am devastated because my relationship with the father of my child has broken up. We have known each other for over two years and started dating in October.

My ex lost his father recently and while his father was terminally ill I found out I was pregnant. I found it very difficult to cope and had an abortion and my ex appeared supportive.

We seemed to be back on track and our relationship was happy, we told each other every day we loved each other and always went to bed happy.

His mother seemed upset she didn't see him as often as before and she would say to him "you are going to hers again".

He insisted on meeting my parents and we discussed marriage in the future. I really love this man. I then discovered I was pregnant again and we agreed to keep the baby.

But after a minor argument my boyfriend walked out, and when I went to his house to try to sort it out I was confronted by his mother and another family member.

His mother first asked if I was pregnant and when I stated that I was she proceeded to give out to me about the way I treated her son and blamed me for getting rid of her grandchild and not seeing my ex any more.

I ran out of the house and the shock of it made me have pains that I thought I were contractions. I went to the hospital and thankfully this was not the case as I am now 20 weeks pregnant.

My ex usually comes to scans and wants to come to the birth. I don't want him to come as he seems to find a way to take over the scans.

In front of the sonographer he is holding my hands but as soon as she leaves the room he becomes cold and distant.

I have not told any of my family and I have no support. I worry about the future as he is saying he wants 50:50 custody. I also do not want a family christening and I'm scared of the future.

I find life so hard at the moment.

A. You are by now over half way into your pregnancy and the most important thing is the health and well-being of both yourself and your unborn baby.

The baby has a father and a mother and this means that you both will be connected, through the child, for the rest of your lives. So it is very important that you find some way of interacting if you are not going to have a relationship in the years to come.

You need to talk with your ex in a calm environment and try to reach some agreement as to how you are going to live your lives when the baby arrives. In Ireland unmarried fathers, who are not cohabiting with the partner, do not have any automatic legal rights in respect of their children, and even having his name on the birth certificate does not in itself give the father any legal rights in respect of his child.

At the same time, all fathers have a legal responsibility to financially maintain their child, whether or not they are a legal guardian or whether or not his name is on his child's birth certificate. This seems to penalise unmarried fathers to a huge degree, and I can understand why so many single fathers are so unhappy.

There is an excellent website for unmarried parents at treoir.ie which you should look at as it gives advice on so many related issues and there is also a LoCall number 01-6700120.

You must have your own reasons for not telling your family, but in the coming months it will become increasingly obvious that you are pregnant.

You need the family support both now and in the future and bear in mind that your parents are going to become grandparents and have the right to look forward to that time.

You are getting very stressed by worrying about things like christenings whereas you should be feeling peaceful and looking forward to welcoming your baby.

I feel very strongly that you should enlist the help of your family, or failing that a close friend, talk to your ex about the practicalities of co-parenting and take care of both your mental and physical health.

You can contact Mary O’Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie or write c/o 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence. Mary O’Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately.

Sunday Independent

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