When he was 15, Uhusti Gause became a dad. He told “Think Out Loud” host Dave Miller he was in denial after he first found out his girlfriend was pregnant.
“It wasn’t real to me,” he said. “The whole time she was carrying the baby, we both went on with our lives.”
The young couple waited almost six months to tell their parents about the pregnancy. Early on, they discussed adoption and abortion before deciding that they definitely wanted to keep the baby.
“We were like, ‘We made this mistake. We did this. We can’t take it out on him,’” Gause said.
He said adoption was not an option in his mind because he couldn’t imagine not being a part of his son’s life.
“I never had my dad in my life,” he explained. “I couldn’t do that to my son. I was like, ‘If I’m having a kid, I’m going to be there.’ That’s all I told myself growing up without a dad — for my kids, I’m going to be there. Period.”
Once Uhusti Jr. was born, things got complicated. Gause said he quickly realized that he and his girlfriend did not see eye-to-eye on a number of issues, such as whether or not their son would be circumcised. (He said he was for it and she was against it.) Ultimately, the tension between them was too much and, three days after the birth of their baby, they broke up.
“I know it was really devastating for both of us to go through that because we were so young and we thought, ‘Oh we love each other, we’re going to get married,’ you know all the stuff that you think when you first find your first person you fall in love with,” he said.
Gause said, due to the breakup, and his rocky relationship with his ex-girlfriend’s family, he didn’t see his son for a few weeks after he went home from the hospital.
“It hurt a lot because I felt like [my son] wouldn’t know who I was,” he remembered. “I just felt that every day that went by I was just missing out on so much because they do grow stupid fast, like really fast.”
Pretty soon, Gause said he started spending time with his son in the only way he could — holding him while he sat on the curb outside his ex-girlfriend’s house, since he wasn’t welcome inside and the family didn’t want him to take the baby anywhere.
When Uhusti Jr. was about 3 months old, Gause said he took his ex-girlfriend to court to advocate for shared custody of their son. Eventually, the two were able to work out their differences and they got back together.
Now Gause is 19 and his son will be 4 in August. He and his girlfriend still live separately, with their parents. He works six days a week at two jobs — construction and UPS package handling. He lives at an apartment with his mom who helps with childcare.
Becoming a dad changed him, he said. He believes he wouldn’t have been motivated to pull his grades up and graduate from high school if he hadn’t been pushed into parenthood. It’s also helped him reconnect with his own father.
“It makes me proud to call myself a father,” he said. “I know a lot of people my age wouldn’t do the stuff I did to be there for their son.”