baby

'I had a baby with my ex for our daughter's sake. This is our story.'

When Gold Coast mum Nerida’s two-year-old daughter, Clara, was finding it difficult spending time at her father’s house, the separated couple decided to explore an unusual idea to make it easier.

Nerida, 24, and her high school sweetheart Liam, 26, realised they had different expectations about life and parenting soon after Clara was born and decided to separate and co-parent instead.

“He wanted to go out partying and for Clara to go to the grandparents. I wanted to jump into the whole being a parent, do the mum groups and find mum friends.  He wanted to have the child and keep the young lifestyle.

So, we realised we were not compatible living together. It was an easy split. We knew it was time,” she recalled.

Watch: The Mamamia team confess our relationship deal-breakers. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

However, when Clara was two she began to spend weekends with Liam and often got quite upset.

“She started having tantrums at his place, not wanting to go so we started chatting about how we could make weekends easier for her,” Nerida said.

A few ideas were tossed around, including getting a pet. Then Nerida mentioned how having a sister made it easier for her when her parents separated.

“It got to the point where we said, ‘What would it look like if we had another child together?'

I wanted more kids anyway, and I didn’t have anyone in my life and wasn’t looking for anyone. I didn’t want men coming into the house.

It was a very long conversation. It took about 12 months,” she explained.

Once the decision to have a second baby was made, they began talking about how much involvement Liam would have, particularly in the first couple of years.

ADVERTISEMENT

Nerida also set out the ground rules while she was trying to get pregnant and afterwards.

“I didn’t want him to find another woman and her to become pregnant during it. We also agreed he wouldn’t see anyone until Hazel was born. I didn’t want any more from him than we had now, but we couldn’t see other people.”

Nerida said she was also careful not to give Clara the idea that they were getting back together, so they often met when she was at day care.

The one thing Nerida didn’t expect was how long it would take to get pregnant.  

“Clara came so easily, even though I was on contraception. So, I thought we’d start this and have a baby straight away. But this turned out not to be the case. We had multiple miscarriage and had to readdress the conversation and I thought maybe it was a sign,” she said.

“Going through a miscarriage with someone you are not in a relationship with meant I didn’t have the support person while I was going through it.

Then when I became pregnant, I didn’t have a support person. I couldn’t say, ‘I feel like chocolate, can you get it for me?’, or ‘Clara’s doing my head in and I need to sleep’.”

After almost two years of trying and at the point of giving up, Nerida fell pregnant again.

Being a single mum again was something she felt confident with and was prepared for, but going through the pregnancy on her own was hard.

Listen to Mamamia's Me After You podcast, where host Laura Byrne walks you through the big post-motherhood moments with stories from a truly diverse range of parents. Post continues below.

When it came to the birth, Nerida felt her mum would be her best support person, and with COVID-19 restrictions she couldn’t have both her mum and her ex, so Liam arrived about 20 minutes after Hazel was born.

Despite having a second baby together, Nerida was adamant she didn’t want her life to change and didn’t want Liam coming over more often.

“I begrudged the idea of having to tell him where I was and being home for dinner. I didn’t want to have a baby and feel I always had to be around in case he wanted to come over.”

When Hazel was born it was an open-door policy, but now she is seven months old, Liam again has dedicated times for visits. He is also free to call ahead at other times.

Nerida said because she and Liam remain good friends and have a lot of respect for each other they have been able to talk through most things around co-parenting.

ADVERTISEMENT

They both decided upon Hazel’s name, and the girls have hyphenated surnames.

“We had always agreed that we didn’t want partners coming and going from the children’s lives so it would have to be a long time before a new partner was introduced.

Image: Supplied. He is very good at saying, ‘You’re the mum and they live with you full-time, so you get the majority vote’.

“I went into it knowing I was still going to be a single mum, which to a lot of people is scary, but to me was comforting.  I didn’t like the idea of having to negotiate parenting,” Nerida explained.

And when asked if she’d have a third child with Liam, Nerida doesn’t hesitate to say yes.

Nerida’s advice to other women considering this path is to make sure you know the person very well and have strong communication and a clear idea of what it will look like.

“Our unconditional relationship has been the best thing for our family, making us stronger.  Keeping our relationship this way provides a kind, respectful environment for the kids to grow up in, which to me is the perfect family dynamic.”

Feature Image: Supplied.

00:00 / ???