Catholic Vancouver June 4, 2018

A ‘strong man’ stepped in when a father stepped out

By Agnieszka Ruck

Tyson Babcock and his family in a recent photo. Katherine was the single mom of an infant daughter when they reconnected in 2012. (Photos submitted)

She thought she was unlovable.

Katherine Babcock was in college studying toward an arts degree when she found out she was pregnant. The child’s father, her best friend of 10 years, couldn’t cope with the news.

“It was not a good phone call,” Katherine told The B.C. Catholic. “He said: ‘It’s early enough in your pregnancy. You could just terminate.’”

When strong-willed Katherine said she’d keep the baby, the young man she thought was her best friend stepped out of her life.

“You suffer one of the greatest rejections I think you could ever suffer, next to, maybe, a divorce. When you make a baby with somebody, whether it was meant to be made or not, there’s an act of love that happens there,” she said.

“There was a lot of brokenness, pain, tears, and feeling worthless, shamed and guilty, and that I was a bad person for what I did. Even though I made the decision to have life for my daughter, you carry so much of the weight of what other people think.”

She sought solace from her sister, also a single mom, who had a 1-1/2-year-old daughter and another on the way.

“Thank God my sister went ahead and did that first … because she was brave enough to be a single mom before I was, it made my decision that much easier. Abortion never crossed my mind. Adoption? Multiple times, but once she was born I couldn’t part with her.”

After pulling free of an unhealthy living situation with a friend of her ex, Katherine and her infant daughter, Teagen, moved in with her sister. The moms spent four months living in a one-bedroom apartment in Calgary, with Katherine sleeping on the couch and her baby in a playpen next to her.

“Times were tough because you have two women with post-partum depression living together.” Rent was $1,000 a month, which was Katherine’s entire income on the maternity pay of a waitress and income assistance.

After four months in cramped quarters, she moved into a tiny basement suite in the same neighbourhood with no stove and a shared laundry. Rent was $750, leaving her with $250 every month to spend on bills, food, and diapers.

“I couldn’t buy food because diapers ruled out food at some point. So, I used the food bank, which is a horrible bite to your pride.”

It was while living in that tiny basement and depending on income assistance and the food bank that she got a call from her parents offering a free trip to visit them in Kamloops in 2012. There would be a reunion of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, a missions group with whom Katherine had once served in Tanzania.

She gratefully accepted the invitation and brought her young daughter. At the banquet, she recognized Tyson, a family friend who was also part of the missions group and whom she’d dated in high school. “He dumped me over the phone when I was 14 and I was so not over it,” laughed Katherine.

She swallowed her pride and decided to talk to him. They exchanged phone numbers, and after Katherine flew back to Calgary and Tyson, a naval officer, returned to Victoria, they stayed in touch. He would fly to visit them about once a month.

As their long-distance relationship got serious, Katherine gave Tyson an ultimatum.

“I said to him: ‘If we’re going to do this, listen: I have a baby. You’re either in 100 per cent, or you’re out 100 per cent. No ifs, ands, or buts. You’re in or you’re out.’”

Tyson replied: “I’m in 100 per cent.” They married Oct. 11, 2014.

Looking back, Tyson said he initially had some reservations, but as he got to know Katherine and her young daughter, he loved them and decided he wanted to be part of their lives.

“When I first started going and visiting them, it was amazing to spend time with Teagen and watch her sit, play, and giggle. It was everything that I wanted for the rest of my life. Because of my career with the Navy, I hadn’t had the opportunity to find that family life that I wanted so badly. It answered that call,” he said.

His father’s example helped him work out how to be a good father, even though the child was not biologically his own.

“He’s dependable, he’s got a lot of integrity, and he’s very loving and quick to show his love and support me and my sister when we need it,” he said.

“The idea of being a father was always positive for me and the opportunity for me to step into an instant father role was something I embraced. There was some reservation there, obviously, but I didn’t shy away from it.”

Katherine was shocked when she realized Tyson wasn’t intimidated by her ultimatum.

“I was extremely moved, emotionally, because there was someone who was willing to help pick up my pieces,” she said.

“I was honoured. ‘You feel I’m worth loving?’ I didn’t think anyone could love me, because that’s just where I was emotionally at that time. It was also terrifying. ‘You want this? You don’t want to go find somebody without all this baggage? You want to be here?’ He did. It was crazy. It’s still kind of crazy!”

The family has since grown: Katherine and Tyson now have twin two-year-old boys, who get along well with their six-year-old sister.

“It’s really good. It’s not where I ever expected to be,” said Katherine, who now works with the pro-life organization Choose Life Victoria.

“It takes a strong man to step into the role of a man who wasn’t able to fill it.”

Katherine and Tyson shared their story just two weeks before Father’s Day, June 17. In the Archdiocese of Vancouver, Father’s Day is also Pro-Life Sunday, when all parishes will have a special collection for pro-life efforts in the Lower Mainland.