In the new column ‘Fatherhood Bits & Bytes’, Zach talks to extraordinary men, women and fathers that are dealing with modern fatherhood issues. Everyone’s got a story about a dad, and we plan on hearing them.


* Names have been changed to protect both parties.

In early February, Frank* took a day off work. Naturally, I gave him the 3rd degree for staying home, because I thought it meant he had the sniffles, and he was a giant pansy. I asked him if he cuddled up on the couch and watched a Julia Roberts movie while sipping some reduced sodium chicken noodle soup out of an oversized coffee mug. I asked him if he was home listening to his hipster music and hitting his new fixie with a sack of nickels to give it a dinged-up, weathered look. I asked if he’d been home, thinking about long lost love, writing poetry on a typewriter and immediately crumpling the pages up and having a good cry about all of the things he’d dreamt about.

That’s when Frank told me that he was at a clinic the day before with his girlfriend, having a follow-up appointment, after aborting what would have been his son.

The kicker is that Frank wanted to keep the baby. His girlfriend did not. This is Frank’s story.

Picture this – you’re a man in your late 20’s and you’ve got an on-and-off girlfriend. You don’t have anything that you could consider a “home.” Your girlfriend tells you that she’s pregnant. Most people think that the average guy dreads this situation – but you’d be surprised to know that sometimes, even unmarried guys that aren’t settled down in terms of career or relationship are ready to take the next step into fatherhood.

But what if the girlfriend isn’t ready?

The following are a couple of questions I had for Frank:

Z: You mentioned that you’re in an on-and-off relationship with Vanessa*. Would you have moved in together? Have you lived together in the past?

F: I definitely would have moved in with her. Though the opportunity never presented itself, we would have. I have an amazing living situation, owning a condo with another roommate. She has stayed over multiple nights of the week as well as I have at her place. Very comfortable, but we never got intimate enough to dive in full time. Call it financial stability, or the will to keep holding on to things as an individual, I think our strengths when we were together were in the fact that were were altogether separate in our lives and had things going on apart from each other.

 

Z: In the end, was it a mutual decision to have an abortion, or did you agree to it because there was no way to “win” the argument?

F: It was a one sided conclusion to the argument/decision. Since the apparent inception, I’ve been pro life my entire life. Not that I was wholly religious or anything, I just believed that if things happened or transpired, you take responsibility for said actions. I liked Vanessa, but I was ready to be an amazing dad first and foremost before even considering if her and I would work out. She was an amazing woman, so I had no doubt things would work. I had expressed the necessity to keep the baby since its onset. She is a model and clothing designer…so you could say her body, in its pre-fetus condition, is half of her earnings in a year. I’m in sales, so I have money and time to devote to the little guy. I’m also 29 to her 27, so maybe those few years on her have something to do with the maturity. Either way, I wanted to keep the kid and work it out, yet she didn’t, and ended up getting the abortion on a Tuesday around noon, while I was closing deals at work. F**k.

 

Z: Where did you see yourself in five years, had you kept the baby? Did you consider marrying your girlfriend “just for the baby”?

F: To be completely transparent, I saw myself being a sales manager working from home in a few years, being a single dad, taking my kid to the beach, market, bank, etc as “just me and my son”. I never considered marrying Vanessa. Not that I was being shallow or uncaring, I just centered-in on the child and wanted to be the best father ever. I had made many mistakes in the past, as right out of high school, this situation happened identically before. I dated hot girl, we had sex, I moved away to college, she got pregnant, I said lets wait and weigh our options, she had an abortion before I could think of anything. So, I wanted to make amends for past sins and set the record straight. If Vanessa and I could work things out and stay together in the future, that would be rad, but I wasn’t focused on it. Yeah, I’m a guy and she’s super hot, but all provocation of sex and attraction is out the window when having a kid outside of wedlock, and further, a simple relationship, turns your world upside down.

 

Z: How did you feel about abortion as an “option” before this incident? How do you feel now?

F: I’ve always been one as someone who defines their political position as “pro-life”. I became a Christian in 7th grade as a result of a few influential friends inviting me to youth group. My parents are Republican yet decidedly non-religious. When I became a Christian, they thought I joined a cult, to keep it brief. Their morality is stemmed from being good people: don’t murder, lie, cheat, steal or have sex/drink because its wrong or leads to bad things. My morality was more biblically based, but somewhat skewed to things I’d rather be doing, like having sex with my girlfriend or getting lit with my friends. But I was mostly a good, law abiding honor student until my junior year of college, albeit a few hiccups along the way (refer to the previous question). Going back to the question at hand, I was staunchly Republican, mirroring my parents as someone who is anti-baby killing, pro gun and against anything Socialist. When I became the first-person narrative in the morality tale, I thought I’d flip flop, but I didn’t. I was deeply offended at the fact that Vanessa would go through the abortion without my consent. I felt like less than a man, someone who had no power and now had to go through the apparent emotions without any support or guidance. The worst feeling in the world. Looking back, I’d obviously still stick with my guns on the issue. I think things happen for a reason, and with exception to rape, I think all pregnancies are legit and need to be carried to term. Adoption is okay, but parents should be accountable to all actions before carrying them out.

 

Z: Obviously you waited long enough to know the sex of the baby. Does that make it harder to know that “it” wasn’t just an “it” – it was a boy?

F: Yes, it was a boy, and it was definitely harder. I had confided in a few friends who’ve been there for me over the years, people that I would clarify as being “god” parents to my son. We were coming up with names and scenarios for the next few years (birthdays, first 4th of July, Christmases, etc. that we would all be a part of), the night before I found out Vanessa carried out the abortion. It’s definitely hard, and thinking about it now is very hard still. I could’ve been having a son soon if things went my way. Sometimes I think that I may never have a second chance to father a child, like this was it…very depressing still.

Z: Do you spite her for deciding for the abortion? How is the relationship now?

F: I initially found it very hard to accept her after her decision. We didn’t talk for about 2 months. Recently, we’ve reconnected over a few small dinners and weekend gatherings of friends. We have no mutual friends, so things are a bit easier to push under a rug and forget – out of sight, out of mind kinda thing. But she is an amazing woman and it wasn’t long before we reconnected. I’d say the temperature of our relationship is something akin to being a bit warmer than tepid, and a bit colder than lukewarm. I’m still fiercely attracted to her, and she’s still needing my attention, but something is lost…missing between the two of us. We went though something huge and we have nothing to show of it but an absence of a topic that we may never discuss. If we were to get back together, how would we overcome something like this and try again? I don’t think we ever will.

Closing Thoughts by Frank: There’s just this underlying sadness when we talk, like no matter how much we get along, we just can’t get to a place of absolute contentment or joy. I’ve come to accept it, but she hasn’t. She’s a free spirit, not really caring about the the future, just whats immediately in front of her, living from moment to moment. I feel like I’m light-years from my next relationship, like I’m super cautious about it and dreading bringing up the past. But who knows.

According to some old (1996) numbers, there are 1.37 Million abortions in the United States per year. 93% of them are done for “social” reasons – in other words, the baby was inconvenient or unwanted, (as opposed to medical reasons or from a rape). Sometimes, you’ve got to wonder if there’s a potential father who goes home and cries, thinking about what will now never be their son or daughter. Behind every abortion is both a mother and father. Though abortion is thought of as a “woman’s” issue – it effects everyone. What does a man do when he wants to keep the baby, but the woman does not?