One month after we had broken up, my daughter's mother told me that she was pregnant. (She was about three and a half months into the pregnancy at the time.) I still remember vividly the rush of emotions that poured over me as I heard the news. My ex-girlfriend was scared and didn't know what to do. I was scared too, but naturally the impact on her life was immediate and more dramatic. Neither of us were willing to consider abortion as an option.
We had some discussions about what to do, and we agreed that we would work together to raise our daughter. I assured her that I would provide her with the support that she needed throughout the pregnancy, during the delivery, and with the responsibilities of raising our daughter.
We also agreed to give our relationship another chance, and we tried to put our rocky relationship behind us. I went to doctor's appointments, birthing classes, parenting classes, and read books on pregnancy. Our relationship seemed to be going well as both of us focused on preparing for the big day that would change our lives forever. The pregnancy went very well, and our daughter was born in March of 1993. The wonderful experience of her birth was more awesome than I ever could have imagined. It's a day that will always remain one of the highest points of my life.
Although my daughter's mother and I did not live together, I was very involved in every aspect of my daughter's care, especially in the first few weeks following her birth. It was a struggle juggling work and single parentho/Volumes/cisco/_studiocisco/single fathers/site/articles/glenns_story.htmlod. I was "on the go" most of the time with little time to myself.
As the weeks and months passed, our relationship became more strained and began to deteriorate. The same problems that had plagued our relationship in the past starting emerging again. It was becoming clear over time that things between us would never work out. In addition, it was painfully obvious that my daugther's mom did not intend to make some important lifestyle changed in order to become an effective parent. I found myself taking on more and more of the parenting responsibilities as she began spending more time with her friends and going out all the time. She was also spending more time at work to make money to spend on herself.
We broke up again when my daughter was about 4 or 5 months old. After considering the options, we decided to try a joint custody agreement. The joint custody arrangement went well at first, but I was noticing over time that my daughter's mother was increasingly turning over her parenting responsibilities to her mother and sister so that she could travel more freely and hang out with friends. In various ways, I tried to get her to be a better mother, but that only served to increase the stress and tension.
In the meantime, I was noticing that all the turmoil and constantly shuffling around was having a negative impact on my daughter's development. My daughter was in desperate need of more stability and security. After months of discord and tension, I finally went to see an attorney recommended by someone with whom I worked. I had tried to negotiate with my daughter's mother, but it was pointless. She would not honor our agreements and schedules; and, more importantly, she was not about to change her priorities. I figured that if I was going to be left with a majority of the responsibilities, then I should have a majority of the legal rights.
I hired a female attorney - who was married and had two children. We began developing a case for custody when my daughter was about 18 months old. I was advised by the attorney and several other people that I was fighting an uphill battle which I would likely lose. But, I was young, brash, and stubborn. I felt as if I had to do whatever I could to change the situation for my daughter. I figured that even if I didn't get custody, at least I would be satisfied later in life that I did whatever I could at the time, and I would not be constantly plagued with thoughts of "what if..." I was very fortunate to have a few supportive friends to encourage and motivate me. I also had a good counselor and attorney who kept me going.
We eventually went to trial - an ordeal that I will not soon forget. It was like something out of a movie. I can't go into the details here without writing a book, but it was quite dramatic with witnesses, investigators (including a private investigator that I had to hire), subpoenas, reports, tape recordings, psychological evaluations, and the whole nine yards.
My attorney was six months pregnant at the beginning of the trial. (I had no idea she was pregnant when I hired her four months earlier.) My ex-girlfriend was outraged that I was being represented by a pregnant attorney - as if I had planned it that way. She broke down in anger outside the court room and said, "Oh, so you had to go hire an attorney who is knocked up with her belly hanging over the table as she makes your opening statements!"
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