We oopsed. Now I don't know how to handle it.
August 19, 2009 10:39 AM   Subscribe

Unexpected pregnancy. Are we crazy?

Background: I'm 30, my wife's 29, we've been married for 2 years. We're in a financially stable situation, and doing... alright, if not great. We have discussed children, and agreed that we never wanted one. Recently, due to a lapse in a mail-order refill, we got a little lazy and careless with the birth control.

Sure enough, she's pregnant. Her initial reaction was the same as mine, and the one I'd expected: call up Planned Parenthood and ask about medical abortion. An appointment was made, but as the day approached she became more and more despondent.

I took the morning off of work when she was supposed to go. That morning, she woke up sobbing, told me she really wanted to keep the baby, but she knew it wasn't what I wanted and she didn't want to do it on her own. I could not look her in the eye that morning and know that I was responsible for the way she was feeling, so I told her if it was truly what she wanted, we could keep it.

Now she's happy, except for when she notices the moments I've been having recently. As for myself... I'm in emotional turmoil. It's not what I'd wanted -- it's still not what I want -- and i feel a bit surprised and hurt at the deviation from our plan. Nevertheless, I feel I have to take responsibility for my part in creating this situation, and have to support the woman I've vowed to love, honor, and protect with what she so desperately wants.

Truth be told, though, I'm scared shitless. I've never had much of a life plan -- at 30, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up -- but what plan I had I now see disappearing. No long vacations with just the two of us, no lots of free time and free money to enjoy being young and upwardly mobile, lots more responsibility stretching out years and years ahead of me. It's just reassessing a lot of things I'd taken for granted.

I can't focus at work, I have sporadic crying fits, I've started smoking again and I've upped my daily dose of Ativan. I feel myself getting more and more used to the idea as days go by, but... I don't know. The two things I *do* know are that I love my wife dearly and want to let her have whatever she wants, and that if/when the child comes, I will do my damnedest to be the best parent possible.

They say no one's ever ready. Are my feelings normal? Am I doing the right thing? Are WE doing the right thing? .... I don't know how to handle this right now.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (103 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
If it helps at all, you're probably in the best imaginable situation to have a surprise pregnancy. You're in a happy marriage, old enough to understand that parenting is a huge responsibility, and you're employed (I'm guessing). Lots of people do this (some successfully) when they're much younger and in much less stable situations. Your kid already has a huge advantage.
posted by oinopaponton at 10:44 AM on August 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Okay, I know that I always say "You should see a counselor" but this is the kind of really important discussion that a counselor could help you guys sort out in a mutually respectful way.

Best of luck to you. I have been on the other side of that table ("Oh, you're pregnant? AWESOME!" "Um, no. Can you give me a lift to the clinic on Thursday?") so I know that it's incredibly tough.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:47 AM on August 19, 2009


Some emergency couples counseling seems like a good option. You are lucky to have time and resources on your side. Make use of both. Yes, your feelings are normal. No one can tell you what the right thing for you and your partner is except you and your partner.
posted by nestor_makhno at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2009


As harsh as it sounds, you're going to have to step up.

Just because you have a baby doesn't mean you can't do many things. Okay, so backpacking around the world is out but it's not the end of the world as you know it.

Plus if you push her to terminate it, either she'll hate you for it (to the point where you guys will probably divorce) or you'll divorce anyway and she'll still have the baby.
posted by mr_silver at 10:49 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't have any advice for you, but I will say that I think you are doing the right thing by standing by your wife. Many guys might be tempted to skip out on this kind of situation, and you deserve credit for manning up and sticking with it. Good for you.

Also, this kind of thing happens all the time and people always manage to deal with it. While you may be losing some long vacations and discretionary income, you'll be gaining a child, and, since you're having it young, you'll have the energy to be the great dad that it looks like you'll be. Hopefully you'll get as much or more out of the experience of raising the kid as you would have from the things you'll be giving up.

Finally, my parents has me at about your age, and now that I'm out of the house, they have plenty of time, money, and energy to take vacations and spend tons of time with each other.

You'll be fine.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:53 AM on August 19, 2009 [10 favorites]


Can I ask a serious question and maybe you have a mod post the answer for you? If you were SO SURE you NEVER wanted babies, why didn't you get a vasectomy?

My wife and I are in the same situation, married, 30s, don't want kids. But I'm not fixed because I think we always thought that the reversals of vascetomies don't always work, sometimes you have damaged sperm that leads to birth defects post vasectomy reversal, and we never wanted to close the door THAT far.

And we are careful as all can be, but if something happened and this was our situation, then I think I'd deal with it. I might hae the exact same reaction you are, but deep down I'd realize that this was an option I was keeping open for my life, and while I didn't MEAN for it to happen, I didn't do all I could to stop it either.

If that is the case with you, then perhaps you need to do some self-reflection. If you left this door open, why? What joys of fatherhood could you get that help balance the delay of the free-traveling lifestyle with all that disposable income? Was that something you kept thinking "Maybe someday, but not now" and that day just came more quickly?

If you truly NEVER wanted to be a father, and are set on it, then you are in a bad situation (I'm not one for mincing words) and no matter what you do it will hurt you and hurt the child (a child can sense when they aren't wanted, and a child does better with a father in the home, so it's lose/lose). But if there is a part of you that wanted to be a father someday, or thought you might, explore that, and maybe your current angst is more related to the suddenness than what the reality of it will be.

Good luck to you.
posted by arniec at 10:53 AM on August 19, 2009


Nice answer: Get counseling. Now. This could certainly hurt (or even ruin) your relationship with your wife.

Not-so-nice answer: Speaking anecdotally, you're going through something that has been most likely experienced by a significant number of men throughout history. As mr_silver mentioned, step up and realize that you're in an ideal situation to be a father.

Your life is not over, you'll just have to re-evaluate your priorities.
posted by purephase at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Assuming this does happen, and you become a parent, just know that the first few months with the baby will be extremely taxing (physically, mentally, emotionally) even if you have a "good" baby. This can take a pretty big toll on even the strongest marriages with the most willing parents, so try to remember not to let it tear you apart. It does get better with time.
posted by brandman at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2009


Your feelings are perfectly normal. You're being faced with an unexpected life-changing event, so being scared and anxious is to be expected.

Since you just found out she's pregnant, you have a little time to take an inexpensive vacation, just the two of you. It might not be a bad idea. You need to talk with your wife, since I'm sure she has a lot of anxiety about the situation, too. You're supposed to be partners in life, so be there for each other.

If you find that talking with your wife isn't helping your anxiety, seeing a counselor/therapist of some sort could be a good idea, if for no other reason than it might help you gather your thoughts and let out some of the negative feelings you've got. Some anxiety about becoming a parent is to be expected, even from people who've been planning it for years, but too much tends to affect your life in negative ways, as is happening to you.

As for whether you and she are doing the right thing, there's no way anybody here can answer that question. You and she may not be able to, either, but at least you can make peace with a decision.
posted by cerebus19 at 10:54 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Trust me, friend- I know your fear. My 2 week old baby is at home and I'm trying to transition back to work right now.

Mrs. Benson and I actually planned our pregnancy, but the moment that pregnancy test came back positive, I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was terrified, I knew my life would change dramatically, and I questioned my capacity to handle the necessary changes.

But here's the thing about pregnancy and birth- it's a development process. I think the reason pregnancy takes 9 months is not only because it takes that long for little person to develop, but it takes time to come to terms with the reality that your life is changing.

The change takes place, though. I'd suggest quitting smoking ASAP, but you'll find next week to be a little better, and the week after that a little better still. Time is your ally in this struggle; you'll get more confident in your ability to handle this as time moves forward.

Please MeFi Mail me if you want to talk more about this. I'm still occasionally in the "sporadic crying fit" stage myself, so I'd be happy to share some tips and thoughts.
posted by elmer benson at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


You know, I kind of hate this question for just one line in there:
so I told her if it was truly what she wanted, we could keep it.

If I were you I'd feel bad because my wife felt like the reason she had to get an abortion was because she thought I wouldn't be on board with it. I mean....I know you said you'd talked about it, but did you talk about it after you found out she was pregnant? Or did you just kind of assume it was given? I mean, is it possible that her previous aversion to having the child was because she thought you didn't want one, and she was willing to do what you wanted to be with you?

I'm sort of boggled that you didn't have an earnest conversation about it between the time you found out and the day of the appointment.

I'm very pro-choice, as if it matters, but I can't imagine that you'd gloss over this as a minor decision and a bump in your road. Her despondence before the day didn't muster some empathy on your part?

I think you're fine. You're scared, everyone is. You're not sure what tomorrow holds---good, anyone who does is lying or stupid. You're in a stable relationship, you're grown up, you've got goals you haven't reached yet and strong sense of self. So does she, hopefully.

Whether you as a couple elect to keep the child or give her up for adoption or reschedule the abortion, you have to comprehend that what you're doing is forever---and that she gets 51% vote or more.

You've been a husband, now it's time to be a man, and a father. You'll do fine. Buck up, son.
posted by TomMelee at 10:55 AM on August 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


[a few comments removed - if you can't be helpful or you can't set aside your own GRAR do not comment here, period]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:59 AM on August 19, 2009


I think the skills of parenting come naturally, but by your self-description, you're probably not in the right place for the additional responsibility. Children are orders of magnitude more challenging than work and life. With luck, you have both grandparents alive, nearby, and willing to help.

After you honestly analyze what you are able to handle, you need to discuss your fears with your spouse and be as blunt and honest as possible with her. If you think you can't do it, you need to let her know that it's going to be mostly her effort. Push the responsibility on to her and gauge her reaction.

Make it very clear what your expectations are. And, be sure that she understands if you need to be the #1 person in her life, that you expect that of her.

Your feelings are very normal, and it's a very scary surprise. Regardless of the outcome, take a deep breath. You'll be okay.
posted by TheOtherSide at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2009


Explain to her that you are scared. She needs to know that. Tell her that despite that you still love her and you support her choice. Then figure out the money.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:00 AM on August 19, 2009


Agree with the above about having to step up, but make it easier on yourself. Search AskMe for stories of how unexpected parenthood enhanced people's life, and didn't condemn it. Get familiar with people in your life who have small children and ask them how they do it. Learn more about the parenting life and you won't be so scared. Kids can be easy to travel with, especially if they do it from a young age. A baby fits into your life, not the other way around.

I know this isn't what you planned and you can never really be prepared for that first child but you are giving this kid what many wish they had. A parent who is going to be there and loves his Mom. That goes a lot further than you know. Best wishes and I hope that you will feel more comfortable soon.
posted by pearlybob at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2009


Having a baby was the most awesome thing that has ever happened to me and my husband.

What made it great is that we love each other and were invested in our marriage and our family. He supported me and loved me and this has grown infinitely over the past 15 months. I never knew love like this before.

It is natural to wonder about how your life will be afterwards. Nobody knows. And that's ok. If you are apt to have anxiety about things, this is certainly something that would bring it on.

For my own pregnancy, once I accepted that plans do not always go smoothly, I became a much calmer person. This doesn't mean I wasn't scared; I was just not going to let it bother me. I also decided it was not helpful to dwell on what I couldn't change; my energy was much better used dealing with what I could change.

As a wife and future mom, it would reassure me greatly to hear what you said: The two things I *do* know are that I love my wife dearly and want to let her have whatever she wants, and that if/when the child comes, I will do my damnedest to be the best parent possible. Awesome! You are on the right track.

But I also think you should talk with a mental health professional about the reactions you have been having and the habits you have started to cope with the changes in your life.
posted by FergieBelle at 11:01 AM on August 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


No one can tell you if you are doing the right thing, that is for you guys to figure out. And the right thing isn't always clear-cut, sometimes it's borne out of compromises and quickly-altered life plans.

The idea of "is this normal" is also relative, but I feel that a certain amount of distress and anxiety is to be expected in this situation. Already your description of how you are standing by your wife says to me that you are, to some extent, balancing your own anxiety with supportiveness for your wife- which is good. Sometimes anxiety can get the better of people and they end up not understanding that they did, in fact, help to get themselves in this situation. Ending a pregnancy is such a huge, emotional decision for a woman (for men too, of course, but it stands to reason that it is different for men and women) that this change of plan on her part is understandable to me as well. You never, ever can say "yes, I will end an unplanned pregnancy no matter what, I'll be fine, trust me, it's ok" because once you are faced with that decision, the weight of it is something you just can't plan for.

That being said, please see a therapist. On your own, or a counselor for both you and your wife. I think having a neutral third party to help you guys hash this out would be very helpful. You are both going through some very strong feelings that can be hard to decipher and adjust to. It is ok - and even necessary - to admit that you are scared, anxious, panicky, what have you; it's what you do with those feelings that counts.
posted by DrGirlfriend at 11:03 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I have done lots of nifty things in my life. Having kids was the best. No contest.
Except I don't really look at them like something I have done. Kids are much too mysterious and awesome for that.
You just pushed the button on the Nature Machine. Go for the ride of your life.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 11:04 AM on August 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


I can't focus at work, I have sporadic crying fits, I've started smoking again and I've upped my daily dose of Ativan.

Wait until you find out how much drinking you're going to do once that kid keeps you from sleeping for four months straight! I'm kidding. Sort of. Except I'm not. Mr. Llama and I would go into the kitchen and knock back a shot of bourbon after particularly bad moments (hours). It was like Deadwood meets Everybody Loves Raymond.

Anyway: Nobody's ever ready. Your feelings are normal. You lose a lot, but you gain a lot. The first year is very hard, and you miss a lot of things. I remember one day, driving to work, seven months pregnant, thinking Our lives were perfect. What have we done??? They come back to you. I'd say it's taken almost two years for me and Mr. Llama to reach the new normal (nine months of pregnancy followed by a year of actual kid), and we're now doing new fun stuff like Saturday lunches in Vermont with her and stuff. We started taking her hiking pretty early on, I'd say two months (Bjorn = a llama's best friend), partly on principle, to acknowledge who we are and how baby llama would be a part of our lives.

I would recommend setting up an overnight with Grandma and Grandpa once a week if you can, or a once a week babysitting deal with Grandma and Grandpa. Someone close and trustworthy, and then go out and have dinner and try to remember the people you used to be. The first time we went out together after baby llama was born, it felt like a scene from Thelma and Louise as we barrelled down the street laughing, Let's never go back!!!!!

Get a sense of humor about it, you'll need it. You're going to realize things about yourself, not all of them pretty, and about your partner, equally not necessarily pretty, that will let you know each other more deeply and you'll come out of it different than you were before and you'll realize how much you grew.

I imagine the not-scared prospective parents as seriously freaking deluded.

Also, if it makes you feel better, Mr. Llama went through a secret anxious smoking phase, as well.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:05 AM on August 19, 2009 [14 favorites]


I think your feelings are completely normal if you've been unsure about raising children before now.

A few things to think on:

- A child is not always a burden. A child can also be a source of great joy and laughter. A child can also be a source of great pain and anguish. It is a human relationship, and with it comes all the emotions that you have in any other human relationship. You're probably going to experience one of the closest and also most bizarre and irrationally-loving relationships you've ever had. Add to that a good number of hormones that you and your wife will be naturally "blessed" with before and after the birth that will make most of the "burden" concept seem...not so burdensome, particularly once the baby becomes a toddler and not so dependent.

- Long vacations of "just the two" of you will still be possible. That's what friends and family are for; drop off the kids and go. So few people do this, for whatever reason, but it's perfectly fine and normal, and it will help you retain your married relationship.

- At 30, you don't have to know what you want to be when you grow up. At 50, you don't have to know. It's the journey, not the destination, right? We all have to remind ourselves of that. So, now you may have the journey with a child in tow. As a kid who moved around a lot when I was small, I'll say kids are pretty damn resilient, so if part of figuring out your life is going and doing things, having a child doesn't really have to change that. Just love your wife and love the kid(s), and everything else will work out, as needed.

- Think rationally. As aoinopaponton said, lots of people "live through this" in much worse conditions. In all likelihood, you're over-thinking this. Many people have similar things happen in less ideal conditions, and they come out pretty happy and oftentimes happier. Though I think child-rearing should always be a personal choice, the way we're built biologically, both male and female, pretty strongly ensures that we will be happy with having children. There are exceptions to the rule, but only a few, and usually they don't last (e.g., postpartum depression). There have been many people that I've known or my family has known that really, really, really didn't want children and said they never would, then surprise! life happened. I don't know anyone who, when the child finally arrived, felt the same way.

- Tell your wife of your fears. Don't do it in a disapproving sort of way, but just honestly tell her that you're scared. She may be able to spread some of that happiness and excitement to you.

- Perhaps a little counseling is in order, as others have said.
posted by metalheart at 11:07 AM on August 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


so I told her if it was truly what she wanted, we could keep it.

Yeah, probably shouldn't have done that. Extreme guilt is not a great basis for fatherhood. You need to talk to your wife now and actually express your feelings. Stop writing off your feelings as mere jitters. They may be "normal" feelings, but that isn't the same as "you'll have a complete unexpected change of heart the second you see your kid".

You do not want this child. You said so. Your feeings matter too. It's her body, so you're screwed if she's doesn't care how you feel, but there is no reason not to be honest.

This "buck up" stuff is nonsense-- nobody would say this to a woman. Children can be wonderful, if that's what you want. Children can also destroy marriages and make life miserable. We have all seen it. Given that your wife wants this baby and you don't, this could potentially cause a rift between you too.

You love your wife, and that's why you're even considering being okay with this. Consider that 18+ years of resentment may not acutally be "giving her what she wants".

Kids aren't a fairy tale, where everyone is always eventually happy they had kids and always had a better life because of it, regardless of who they are and what they want. You might end up you like being a father. It might ruin your life. Think about it.

Plus if you push her to terminate it, either she'll hate you for it (to the point where you guys will probably divorce) or you'll divorce anyway and she'll still have the baby.

Yet her forcing you to keep it doesn't have this potential? If the life you thought you were going to have is something you still want, talk to your wife. Now.
posted by spaltavian at 11:10 AM on August 19, 2009 [25 favorites]


You know, I kind of hate this question for just one line in there:
so I told her if it was truly what she wanted, we could keep it.


I think the poster's actually been very empathetic -- it's a scary thing, and a MUTUAL decision, and not something to be taken lightly or glossed over in the interest of not hurting someone else's feelings. Yes, you seem like you're in a relatively good position -- but no, this is not what you planned for, and it's perfectly natural to be freaked about it. If you're feeling scared, you should talk to her. If you are having sporadic crying fits, and are terrified that you don't want to do this....you should talk to her about it. The suggestion to "man up" and get behind her on something which is a mutual decision -- and which you're clearly kind of torn about -- seems like a really unsympathetic and unhelpful way to approach this.

Couples counseling sounds like a great idea -- you sound like a solid and caring partner, and if you DO want to go through with it, it's really important to be on the same page, and to be able to speak openly about your fears and concerns.

If you can't have these conversations in a direct and upfront way, that suggests that mabe having kids right now isn't such a hot idea.
posted by puckish at 11:16 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This "buck up" stuff is nonsense-- nobody would say this to a woman.

This is definitively untrue. People said exactly that to me.

Also, there is a gigantic industry in the US that revolves around pressuring women to carry unplanned pregnancies to term. Court actions are brought over this.

The thing is that the OP can't force his wife to have an abortion, even if he wanted to. So his options, if she chooses to carry to term and parent, are either a) stay married to her and co-parent, or b) split up.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:25 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This "buck up" stuff is nonsense-- nobody would say this to a woman.

This is definitively untrue. People said exactly that to me.


No one here on Metafilter, I meant. Not without getting a cat-declawer level of scorn, at least.
posted by spaltavian at 11:27 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I would, and have, tell people to buck up all the time. We make decisions and we live with them, and either they are the right decisions, the wrong decisions, or we'll never know. There's no fluffy bunny award for feeling the best about a bad decision or feeling the worst about a good one.

In this case, the OP and his lady have options, lots of them, including counseling, abortion, adoption, and keeping the child.

In this case, my "buck up, Son" was more of a "Keep 'ya head up!" than a "fucking deal with it you loser bastard", sorry if it came across that way.
posted by TomMelee at 11:31 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


The thing is that he can't force his wife to have an abortion, just as (if he wanted a baby and she didn't) he couldn't force her to carry the pregnancy to term.

So he has to come up with a way to deal with the consequences of her decision in a way that works for both of them. This is a really, really tricky conversation to have and it will definitely help to have a trained, neutral third party professional there to work through it.

I think one thing that the rest of us can take away from this difficult dilemma is that it's really important for people having heterosexual intercourse to talk not only about their plans for pregnancy or not, but about what they would do if an unplanned pregnancy occurred.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:32 AM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Realistically speaking, there is not point in worrying about having the baby now. You are going to have a child, barring a change in your significant other's thoughts or some other medical difficultly. Stop worrying, start planning.

Be mature--look for good schools, set aside all the money you can, think about baby-proofing the house, discuss child-rearing with her. The alternative is to leave, now, but the financial obligation legally could still be yours. Personally I wouldn't want to financially support a baby from afar--I'd much rather actually be a part of raising the child.

I try to take a logical view of times like these. You are belaboring the possibility of having a child, but that is no longer a possibility--it is now an eventuality. She's already pregnant and can't stomach an abortion no matter what she might have said before.

You are almost certainly going to have a child. What you need to decide now is how much of a part of it's life you want to be.
posted by Phyltre at 11:40 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Your feelings are very similar to what both my husband and I went through when I found out I was pregnant and the pregnancy was planned. The first 8 months of my pregnancy I was most often feeling shock, fear and anxiety. The first year after my son's birth was incredibly hard on all of us. It wasn't that I didn't love my son or enjoy being a mom, it was that I had a really hard time getting my head around what being a mom meant to my life, marriage and career. My son is now 19 months and I've finally gotten into the grove of being a parent and accepting that my life, marriage and career options are different, but no worse than they were two years ago. In fact, quite a few things are even better than before.

And then there is my son, who is just amazing. There is no greater privilege than watching another human grow, learn and discover this world - not to mention how good it feels when a toddler gives you a bear hug.

Take some deep breaths, try not to worry too much and make sure you quit smoking before the kid is born.
posted by a22lamia at 11:40 AM on August 19, 2009


Maybe one way to think about it is this: your wife didn't want children, until one was real for her -- when she knew she was pregnant. For you, the reality may not sink in until later, but once it does, your change of heart may well follow hers.

It's not that there's no such thing as the distant, resentful parent; they exist. It's just that it's a pretty rare phenomenon, and I'm not actually sure it's all that well correlated with how much they thought they wanted children before they had them. It's all very different from what you'd expect, you see.

It's especially encouraging, I think, that what you seem to worry most about is missing time with your wife because of the time spent parenting. I actually think that may be a particularly fine basis for devotion to your children -- they're an additional reason to love one another, and when you do things as a family, you are together.

You know those rushes of love you feel for your wife now and then? Man, those are strong when your spouse is holding the baby you made together.

Disclaimer: My father, when my mother was pregnant with my older brother, had the same fears -- they were married five years before having their first, and he didn't really want any because he loved her so much he wanted her all to himself. My dad is basically the best father ever, so I have a prejudice in favor of reluctant dads.
posted by palliser at 11:43 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Having a kid doesn't have to mean the end of "you," which is what it sounds like you're most worried about. My husband and I moved to Germany for 6 months when our son was 2, for my husband's job. We took him all over Europe and it was amazing. We just spent two months in London over the summer with our now-12-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter and it was one of the best experiences of my life. We have friends who work for the US Foreign Service and have two kids under five. They're living in Albania right now, after having lived in Moscow, Egypt, Scotland, Canada, and France. They say it can be tough but they're having incredible adventures as a family.

The early years can be very challenging. The reward you get from it, though, makes it all worth it. You're not "chained" to them for years and years and forever. Start getting babysitters as soon as you feel comfortable doing so. Having extra hands around, especially ones that your kid adores, will only benefit you in the long run. Take your kid everywhere that kids are welcome - parks, museums (within reason - don't let a screaming baby ruin it for everyone), outdoor shows, etc. I've seen well-behaved babies and toddlers at concerts, wearing ear protection. My two got to see their dad play a punk rock show at The Underworld in London. Fantastic.

Your kid doesn't have to be a burden. It sounds like you're a pretty decent guy, so I dare say that you and your wife will be taking the baby pretty much everywhere and you'll be carving out time for the two of you as well. Once the baby is here it seems to all fall into place. Plus, having a soon-to-be teenager has taught me that they start pulling away far too soon as far as I'm concerned! I'd love to have a bit more time with him. Their childhoods speed by so incredibly quickly.
posted by cooker girl at 11:44 AM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


The thing is that he can't force his wife to have an abortion, just as (if he wanted a baby and she didn't) he couldn't force her to carry the pregnancy to term.

Yes, but that doesn't mean his only course is to shut up and surrender himself to her decision. There is no reason he can't tell her he doesn't want this child, thinks it will cause problems for their marriage, make him unhappy and that he'd like her to reconsider abortion.

I think one thing that the rest of us can take away from this difficult dilemma is that it's really important for people having heterosexual intercourse to talk not only about their plans for pregnancy or not, but about what they would do if an unplanned pregnancy occurred.

This is very true, and something people should take to heart.
posted by spaltavian at 11:45 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I was in the same situation as you. I was 29, my wife was 28. We didn't want kids, and then all of a sudden she was pregnant. I wasn't very happy about it initially, but I can't imagine not being a dad now (2 1/2 years later). It's a blast. We still take vacations together without the boy, and we haven't really run into any issues outside of not being able to go to the movies as often as we used to (i.e.- it's no big loss).

This isn't to say that I didn't have a vasectomy when he was 6 months old, though. One kid : two parents is just about the right ratio for us. Best of luck.
posted by jasondbarr at 11:46 AM on August 19, 2009


Look, this is scary for you, and not what you planned. On the other hand, right now you are reacting to the thought of Generic Baby. Once it's born, tho...

I'm not a kid person. Don't really much like to hang out with other people's kids, honestly. But I am the mom of three grown ones.(and a grandma, now.) Let me tell you that my own children? I fell in love with them. (And over the moon crazy about the grandkids.)

I was scared, a bit, when I was pregnant with the first one-I mean, I was going to have to deal with POOP! With vomit! With sleeplessness! But he was born-and let me tell you, changing his diapers was a piece of cake (in comparison to changing someone else's-Gag. Worthy.) And so on and so forth. Instead of the burden Generic Baby would have been, I had the privilege of caring for MY baby. Boy howdy, yes there is a difference!

Another thing-assuming y'all decide to stop with one baby? Dude, one baby is PORTABLE. You can do SO much when you have just one child. After the initial adjustment (and of course there is one) you will be pleasantly surprised to see that your freedom is not that curtailed.

Now, once you go for more than one, yep, the lifestyle definitely does change a lot. I flew alone with three toddlers, and...let's just say it was hard and leave it at that.

Anyway back to you.....your life is zigging instead of zagging. This happens to a lot of us-people get bad diagnoses, a well liked job is lost, people they love die, etc. etc....this particular surprise actually can have a lot of joy to bring, not just the loss of a particular lifestyle. None of us has as much control over our lives as we think, but as far as life change goes, I suspect in a year from now you might be telling us that things worked out for the best altho right now it is difficult to see from your present perspective.

It is okay that you feel the way that you do, and the good news is you have a few months to deal with your emotions. It may be an excellent idea for you to find someone trusted (whether professional or not) to talk this all out with. And the fact you clearly do love and cherish your wife is a definite plus in this scenario.

You are gonna be just fine.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:46 AM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Yeah, probably shouldn't have done that. Extreme guilt is not a great basis for fatherhood. You need to talk to your wife now and actually express your feelings. Stop writing off your feelings as mere jitters. They may be "normal" feelings, but that isn't the same as "you'll have a complete unexpected change of heart the second you see your kid".

You do not want this child. You said so. Your feeings matter too. It's her body, so you're screwed if she's doesn't care how you feel, but there is no reason not to be honest.


This needs to be repeated. You do not want this child and you need to be honest with her about that.
posted by kathrineg at 11:47 AM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Also, to add to my story: in the weeks after baby llama was born Mr. Llama's mother told me she had never seen him so happy in her whole life. I can see it still when he's holding her, an expression I don't think he would have in any other circumstance--total unselfconscious love and adoration. And let me tell you, I think prior to my getting pregnant (which, get this - was planned) I would describe his emotions on the topic of fatherhood as "total puking fear." We took self-portraits of ourselves the morning we had her (it was a planned c-section, she was breech, so we knew it was The Day) and I'd describe his facial expression as "grim."

One thing about the pregnancy -- the baby -- that's a person that you don't know yet. It has no name, no gender, no preferences, no personality, no sense of humor--it's an abstraction. It is very hard to love an abstraction. Lots of women do, I guess, but I didn't. And thanks to some very annoying prenatal care, I mainly felt like I was managing a medical problem.

My point is, your feelings will evolve over time, and it's very important to: a) know what your feelings are and b) not put them up on an altar and worship them and c) expect them to change.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:53 AM on August 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Okay, so backpacking around the world is out

I've met people backpacking with kids in places like Myanmar, China and Egypt (who just came by land from Sudan!). They ranged in age from babies and toddlers to teenagers. Obviously, with school-aged kids they were being "home schooled" on the road but enough families have done this that there's plenty of advice out there.

You can be a cool parent who does stuff but takes their kid along. Sure, you shouldn't take a screaming baby to a movie theater but you don't have to buy a minivan and stop doing everything you like. I don't have kids so maybe its easy to say but I've seen it in practice. As for money, try to resist falling into the baby-stuff industry's greedy fingers. You don't need all that expensive stuff people will say you do.
posted by Bunglegirl at 11:55 AM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


To try and be a bit more "bright-side" about this whole thing, there are some really genuinely good parts to being a dad. For as bad as you feel now, I think that once your baby is two months old or so, and s/he smiles at you for the first time, the idea might just creep into your head that, "This isn't so bad after all."

And (to pile on with the rest), your plans to do cool things aren't over, they're just delayed a bit - and maybe not as long as you think. Once your child is somewhat autonomous, you can leave him/her with a babysitter now and then, and you can take the little tyke along with you to some places. And, why not go backpacking with a 12-year-old? It might even be more fun that way.

As to the initial anxiety, though - talk to your professional. Hopefully, you can get a new dosage or different prescription, and maybe knock it off with the smoking once again. But, all that will take help.

Good luck, and I hope your baby is the cutest you've ever seen! :)
posted by Citrus at 11:56 AM on August 19, 2009


I think one thing that the rest of us can take away from this difficult dilemma is that it's really important for people having heterosexual intercourse to talk not only about their plans for pregnancy or not, but about what they would do if an unplanned pregnancy occurred.

At the same time, another thing to take away is that even when couples have that discussion in completely good faith, discussing the issue in the abstract is a far different thing from discussing the real live embryo growing in you, or in your wife. People should expect that even very firm verbal "commitments" to abort, or not to abort, are going to get a very hard second look when and if they are actually called into play.

I say that because the OP writes:

i feel a bit surprised and hurt at the deviation from our plan

But the thing is, it's not just a plan of action, it's a plan about how you're going to feel about events if they occur and what your desires and wishes will be if an unexpected pregnancy occurs. It's a plan about things that you have very limited control over.

I don't think there's any reason anonymous needs to feel hurt or betrayed -- even a good faith guess about what you're going to feel In The Event can be factually mistaken. If anything, you could interpret anonywife's newfound desire to not abort as a vote of confidence in you and the life you've built together.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:57 AM on August 19, 2009 [8 favorites]


We were in kind of the same situation about a year ago. We now have a healthy baby. The first few months of the pregnancy were tough for me, because I was looking forward to my wife going back to work (and earning some much-needed extra cash). Now that's all over for the moment, and we have to postpone our plans to buy a house - something I really wanted to do.

I was bitter at times during the course of the pregnancy, but as the delivery date neared I forgot about all of that. Now that kid #2 is here, I have no regrets whatsoever.

You need to grow up. As they say, "life happens while you were making other plans."

You made a great adult decision by "letting" your wife "keep" the baby. You should be proud of yourself. But this is going to be a marathon. You made a commitment to support this child. Figure out what it is you need to do to be successful, do it, and celebrate those achievements.

Traveling and so on are great (I miss it) but so is being a parent. As the Russians say, "a man is not a man until he is a father."

But grow up. Stop looking at the past, start looking at the future. Take care of your responsibilities. And be a man.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:03 PM on August 19, 2009


My point was that you're more than within your rights to tell her you don't want it and to reconsider. She's also within her rights to tell you to piss off, get a divorce and you know what? She'll still have the baby.

Either way, unless you can do some pretty good convincing, it looks like this baby is coming and you'll need to support it - whether you're along for the ride and together or not.

As such, I think "buck up" is perfectly fine to say to a man. The whole process of having a baby is heavily geared towards the mother and, whether you like it or not, she will ultimately have the controlling say.
posted by mr_silver at 12:05 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it would be a good idea to realize that "you'd be a good father" actually isn't a valid response to "I don't want a child".

I'm pretty big, and can lift heavy things. Regardless of my potential aptitude, I don't want to be a dockworker.
posted by spaltavian at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Sorry to disagree with so many posters, but, I don't really see how it's going to help to keep telling her that he doesn't want the baby. Duh, she knows that. She's decided to keep it despite having this knowledge. All that reiterating repeatedly will serve to do is make her feel like shit during the pregnancy, which is just bad for everyone, including the baby. As Sidhedevil said, your options are to 1) stay with her and be the dad, 2) break up, but still be the father in that you will have certain obligations toward the child.

This is really a discussion that a couple should have before being lax with the birth control. You both knew that this was a potential outcome, right? If you're a fertile person willing to knowingly have unprotected sex with a fertile partner, you're assuming the risk of pregnancy. Always. The best thing to do to start feeling in control of your life is to know that you are not in a pitiable position, and only you can make the right choices about what to do now.

As to your original question, no, it's not crazy to have a kid when you're 29/30, employed, and married. In fact, this is very common. Your situation could be far more stressful, so in many ways, you are lucky this happened now and not, say with some girlfriend when you were 19. If you're willing to see something positive in this, y'all have a head start to make this work smoothly.

Having a kid is also a great impetus to make career choices. If my mom hadn't accidentally gotten pregnant with me when she and my dad were 19/20, my dad probably never would have finished his GED and entered the workforce in a more career-oriented way. You aren't doomed to a dead-end job because of your kid. Lots of people have kids. It is not a unique situation in the least.
posted by ishotjr at 12:06 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, and my grandparents backpacked around the world with my uncle when he was growing up, so that sort of thing is definitely not out.
posted by ishotjr at 12:09 PM on August 19, 2009


I know a lot of people are talking about how hard the baby can be, but it needn't. You don't have to give up your lives. My husband and I have a one year old. We still eat brunch every weekend at nice restaurants (NOT family restaurants) and have done since she was 10 days old. We go out (babysitters, hello! In fact a mefite is babysitting for our little one this evening! A weeknight!), we travel. The kidling has been to two major league ballparks, she's off to New Zealand with us on Saturday where she will be hiking and traveling around.

It's doable. If you as a couple keep the child, it's doable.

(I feel like that is a major fear of yours, and yeah, we felt exactly the same way even though ours was planned. No more weekends away on a whim! No more 10pm heading out to the cocktail bar, No more US time, etc. etc.)
posted by gaspode at 12:18 PM on August 19, 2009


My husband was a reluctant dad, he probably could have written your post with our first. He was very anxious about being a dad and the responsibility but he DID stick around (for all four children) and he is a wonderful (if still anxious) dad.

Although of course you should talk to your wife I think it would be a good idea to talk to your therapist first. Your wife is probably also struggling with her own emotions (both the hormonal ones and those caused by this situation) and having a conversation about how you feel at your most anxious is putting an unfair burden on her to be your therapist when you also view her as the cause of your anxiety. Get those initial feelings out in the safety with your own therapist so you can also share her burden of anxious feelings (what? - you don't think she lies awake at night wondering if you are going to do a runner on her?)
posted by saucysault at 12:19 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


OP, if spaltavian's advice is uselessly anxiety-provoking to you, as it would be to me if I were in your position, focus on the other answers. It sounds like "getting her to have the abortion" is off the table, given the current state of the decision-making process, so what you need here is advice on getting to a better place about being a father. Please weigh against the fact that his comment is likely to be heavily favorited the fact that there are a lot of people who take exception to the notion that people "come around" to the idea of having children and turn into devoted parents, probably because that fact is wielded inappropriately against people who know they don't want to have children.

In the end, you can know you don't want to have children and not have them and be happy and think you wouldn't want it any other way, and you can also know you don't want to have children and have them by some chance and be happy and think you wouldn't want it any other way.
posted by palliser at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


This is really a discussion that a couple should have before being lax with the birth control.

The thing is that abortion is also a method of birth control, and one that the OP's wife presumably was theoretically on board with in their earlier discussions.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:20 PM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


Sorry to disagree with so many posters, but, I don't really see how it's going to help to keep telling her that he doesn't want the baby. Duh, she knows that.

No, she knows "so I told her if it was truly what she wanted, we could keep it". She "knows" what a lot of posters here "know": he'll change. He'll change his mind, of course, because everyone loves children. Everyone will always love their kid. Kids always help a marriage. Because that's how everyone is.

People see what they want to see, and people aren't as good as reading between the lines as we think.

The OP has not been honest. He needs to say flat out how he feels, and then his wife can make an informed decision.
posted by spaltavian at 12:24 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe one way to think about it is this: your wife didn't want children, until one was real for her -- when she knew she was pregnant. For you, the reality may not sink in until later, but once it does, your change of heart may well follow hers.

This. This is very important. You and your wife are on different planes at this point and her very primal attachment hormones are flowing which kinda mitigates how much she may be reeling from this sudden change in course. You, however, don't have this buffer from the shock. Of course you are scared, upset, worried, anxious, etc... But, if you could get into some therapy and start exploring all of the assumptions you have about parenting, what it means, how much you really have to change, etc... that are at the root of this anxiety it might really help you. You are allowed this emotional turmoil and you shouldn't have to stuff it - you need outside support to help you express it and sort out which fears are rational, which aren't, and how to move forward. There is a way to raise children and not lose your dreams and you certainly don't have to live by someone else's prescription for family life if it doesn't line up with your values. Consider that you may be imagining more pressure than there really is... anyway, good luck. Your wife is lucky to have you weathering this with her and it will be okay.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:29 PM on August 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


I agree with spaltavian. If I were in the situation, I would certainly want to know that my husband didn't want the child that we were pregnant with. SO and I have had numerous discussions about what ifs (and we are never lax about birth control), and I know exactly what the situation would be.

It sounds like the wife is in the dark here. Whether or not the OP is holding off on telling her the truth because of her emotional state, it is never good to bring an unwanted child into the world.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:37 PM on August 19, 2009


No, she knows "so I told her if it was truly what she wanted, we could keep it".

Although I take your point, the thing is there's no "could" in this situation.

She is apparently set on bringing this pregnancy to term, and he's either on the bus or off the bus. He's certainly within his rights to get off the bus, but saying "we could keep it" is going to convey "I'm staying on the bus" because there's no other role for him in this decision.

As I said in my first post, I think they should have this conversation with a therapist because it's a very tricky and complicated one. But there is no such thing as him giving her "permission" to bring the pregnancy to term in any meaningful sense, so she would not be way off to interpret his statement as "I'm getting on board with this whole thing as your husband and the father of this future child."
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:39 PM on August 19, 2009


it is never good to bring an unwanted child into the world

It sounds like she wants the child, though. So the real question is, does she want the child even if it means the end of the marriage, or does he not want the child even if it means the end of the marriage?
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:41 PM on August 19, 2009


She is apparently set on bringing this pregnancy to term,

From what I read, she might change her mind.
posted by kathrineg at 12:44 PM on August 19, 2009


It sounds like she wants the child, though. So the real question is, does she want the child even if it means the end of the marriage, or does he not want the child even if it means the end of the marriage?

Well, yeah, but OP needs to decide if the child is a deal breaker or not. Then he needs to tell her.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:47 PM on August 19, 2009


Maybe it's not the response either of you expected when you were imagining this from a safe distance, but it's what the situation is now. If you love your wife, have the baby. Otherwise not having a child with her will be no consolation when she's gone.

Quite the opposite actually. I would give anything to be in your situation.
posted by Naberius at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2009


For those who are advising the poster to tell his wife NOW that he doesn't want the child:

Duh, she knew that to start with. He already told her he was on board despite it all. Because he loves HER. So it would be particularly dickish to NOW start backpedalling.

If he followed your advice, one of three things would happen:

a) She remakes the appointment, aborts the baby and then resents the hell out of him for the rest of the marriage-which might not last very long under the burden.
b) She aborts the marriage and keeps the baby. In which case he will lose the woman he loves and still be on the hook for, at the least, child support.
c) She keeps the marriage, keeps the baby while feeling incredibly unsupported during what is definitely a hormonal, unbalanced time in which her emotions and stress will be experienced in utero by the baby. Marriage may or may not survive this but at the very least it will be wounded.

Instead, the poster is being the very best human he can be, supporting someone he loves, and cares about that someone unselfishly even tho he is struggling himself. Because he knows it took two people to get pregnant, and because he knows it is dickish in the extreme to tell a pregnant woman to abort a baby that she wants.

Sometimes, being a grownup means dealing with things you don't want, and making the best of them. He's being an adult. The rest of us are simply encouraging him that in this case being an adult may be a lot better than he expects.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


If women didn't take deep breaths and muscle through their pregnancies with reluctant and terrified dads it would be a lot easier for me to get through Whole Foods without wanting to tear someone's head off. I don't say this to trivialize the issue, I think the OPs fears are very real, but I also don't know a single father who didn't have them, including my own father, and my own partner.

I'm also not trivializing the fact that some men genuinely do not want children and never want children, I'm just saying, what the OP is going through is more likely just an ordinary run-of-the-mill case of soul-rattling terror, as opposed to an actual philosophical choice about how to exist in the world.

It's not impossible that he's in the 'genuinely doesn't want children, will never want them' and 'will hate being a father once he actually is a father' camp, it's just a lot less likely.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:49 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Well, yeah, but OP needs to decide if the child is a deal breaker or not. Then he needs to tell her.

I'm pretty sure "We can do this if you really want to" was telling her. But it can't hurt to tell her again, in a facilitated setting where he can get his concerns out with the help of a professional.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:54 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah, but OP needs to decide if the child is a deal breaker or not. Then he needs to tell her.

You're kidding, right? Deal breaker? He needs to decide whether or not he still loves his wife if she has a child? He needs to decide whether he wants fatherhood or not? Specifically, what is the deal that's broken and what action would you prescribe?
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 12:58 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I know this may get some flack as it's not very good, but apt to the situation at hand --- perhaps a viewing of the movie Nine Months is in order? Hugh Grant's character is very much in your position, and even though it is a movie (and not a really good one), you may get something out of it --- whether in the end you go the way of Grant's character or in another direction.

But that may also have be a horrible suggestion.

The truth is, Anonymous, you're still reeling from shock at both the two lines, or the "Yes," or the "PREGNANT," or the whatever that showed up on that little stick. Shock 1. Being pregnant, planned or not, is a shock for a woman. Finding out your partner is pregnant, planned or not, is a shock for the partner.

Shock 2. You're wife changed her mind on something that you, at least, believed was steadfast and solid. Maybe it's as a pp suggested that she thought you might come around to wanting kids someday, maybe she changed her mind when she found out she was pregnant and started seeing babies and pregnant bellies everywhere, maybe she changed her mind the morning of the abortion because she just couldn't go through with it. Whatever the cause, whenever it happened, it's Shock Number Two for you and may be leaving you with the sense that your wife isn't completely the person you thought she was (possibly Shock 3.)

These are heavy things. And heavy things are what therapists deal with every day. Your situation is not all that uncommon or unique. I don't know if you'll change your mind and end up being and feeling a father to the baby. I don't know if you won't. But these aren't things that need (re)solving today, either.

Today's issues are 1) supporting your wife, especially if she's closing in on morning sickness beginning or if it's already begun, 2) being honest and straightforward with your wife about your confusion, your shock, your whole world turning upside down, and how for now there needs to be some time for processing and 3) finding a therapist who does couple's counseling and finding a therapist (a different one) you can see on your own to help you and your wife as you go through this process.

I think once the shock wears off and some amount of clarity has been established, you'll find yourself in a better place for handling this however it is it will be handled.
posted by zizzle at 1:02 PM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]


On preview, please pardon grammatical errors.
posted by zizzle at 1:04 PM on August 19, 2009


You're kidding, right? Deal breaker? He needs to decide whether or not he still loves his wife if she has a child? He needs to decide whether he wants fatherhood or not? Specifically, what is the deal that's broken and what action would you prescribe?

Speaking to my own experience only, if I were in the wife's position, I'd probably want the kid, too, even though my SO and I have decided we don't want kids. We are as in love and as committed as can be, but I wouldn't expect him to be a father to a child he doesn't want, and didn't, from what it sounds like, have all that much responsibility in creating (she was the one with the pill mix up, no?)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:12 PM on August 19, 2009


About seven years ago I was in the same position as you are now. To sum up, I love my daughter with every fiber of my being; that was never the issue.

The real issue was reconciling the person I was with the person I have to be now, and that is a fight I fight every waking hour. The short version is that you're going to have to step op if you truly want to be the best parent and partner you can be.

Feel free to MeMail me if you'd like to chat about it.
posted by lekvar at 1:26 PM on August 19, 2009


Relax and breathe.

If you love as strongly as you seem to, that child will become as important part of your life as your wife is. I suspect that a few years from now you will look back and think this is one of, if not the single best accident/mistake/oops/twist of fate that ever happened to you.

Babies have a way of winning your heart. I've had several friends whose lives were changed by an unexpected child and looking back, not one of them would have it any other way.

They still love the same activities, but now they love sharing them with their kids... travel, fishing, reading, golf, climbing, camping and a lot more. Every time I see them they don't talk about what they have done, but gush about their kid's successes. That love & affection for their children wasn't something that was forced upon them. It grew naturally and some of them were every bit as scared and apprehensive as you are.

And don't worry. You will still have time to party. My cousin who has 5 kids (2 accidents & 3 step/adopted) throws some of the best parties I've ever been to. It will be more complicated, especially at first, but totally doable.
posted by thekiltedwonder at 1:27 PM on August 19, 2009


I wouldn't expect him to be a father to a child he doesn't want, and didn't, from what it sounds like, have all that much responsibility in creating (she was the one with the pill mix up, no?)

Good God, no. They chose a method of birth control. My partner and I choose a method of birth control. If someone in the relationship wants a more air-tight, less fussy method of birth control, their option is surgical. But especially in a committed relationship (these two are married, they're not newly dating or something) that's a joint decision. It's not her "fault".
posted by A Terrible Llama at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


I "manned up and took responsibility" by getting a vasectomy. I'm proud of that. I recommend you do it.

What you need to be talking about now is whether you want more children. Tell her you don't want a second child, and if she agrees, get a vasectomy. If she doesn't agree, and says she wants to keep risking more "Oops" whether you want to or not, then this is the time for you to find out. Not later.

If your wife promises to get an abortion in the event of another "Oops", she is currently proving you can not trust her to know that. The consequence of going back on what she said she would do with your sperm, should be that she doesn't get to have any more of it. Fair is fair.

It's too late to take back the control you entrusted to her over your own reproductive destiny, but not too late to take responsibility for preventing another relationship crisis like this. From your love for other, you will each accept each other's irreversible decisions over your future. The fairness of this symmetry might prevent resentment-- but talk about it with a counselor.

Good luck to you.
posted by Matt Arnold at 1:28 PM on August 19, 2009 [3 favorites]



He said "we were careless." But does it even matter? Whether or not he wants to be a father and whether or not she expects it of him, it's happening. It seems to me, given what he has shared, that the most tenable option for him is to get support, do the best he can and not beat himself up for having mixed feelings.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:30 PM on August 19, 2009


I have a feeling we're only hearing some of the story, which may explain his anger about the situation. No woman in her right mind who was committed to not having a child would have unprotected sex without taking a pill. If her "mail order" was late, there's such thing as a pharmacy. Perhaps she stopped taking the pill and didn't tell him.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:38 PM on August 19, 2009


She is apparently set on bringing this pregnancy to term,

She changed her mind once, I don't understand why it would be forever immune from changing again.

But there is no such thing as him giving her "permission" to bring the pregnancy to term

No, but as I said before, there is such a thing as "I don't want this. I think it might ruin my life and our marriage. Would you reconsider an abortion?" This isn't infringing on her right to choose, it isn't suggesting he has to give permission. It's simply honest about what he wants and what he feels. She's free to consider it or not.

She keeps the marriage, keeps the baby while feeling incredibly unsupported during what is definitely a hormonal, unbalanced time in which her emotions and stress will be experienced in utero by the baby. Marriage may or may not survive this but at the very least it will be wounded.

Why does her possible resentment about his lack of support matter, but his possible resentment at having his life taken away from him not? Either could ruin the marriage. Of course, he may end up loving being a father and the issue is moot, just like she may decide getting an abortion was the right idea after and the issue of her resentment is moot.

he knows it is dickish in the extreme to tell a pregnant woman to abort a baby that she wants.

Well, no it's not. But whatever it is, it's no more than forcing a child on to someone who doesn't want one. This is a woman's iron clad right because it is her body and until babies can be grown outside of women it will and must remain that way. That still doesn't mean that ignoring what someone else wants hurts the other person.

Unless someone has an unexpected change of heart, this is a zero-sum game.

Sometimes, being a grownup means dealing with things you don't want, and making the best of them.

And sometimes being a grownup means being honest.

And sometimes being a grownup means not blithely dimissing concerns about parenthood and one's marriage with "be an adult" and "you're going to be fine"

When you say be an adult and accept the consequences for your actions, you're talking the way one talks of punishment.
posted by spaltavian at 1:39 PM on August 19, 2009 [5 favorites]


My boyfriend and I aren't actively trying to have kids, but we decided a long time ago that if it happens, it happens, and we'll make it work and make it awesome. We're 30 and 36.

That said, I would still be freaked the fuck out if it happened and I'd probably climb the walls for a few days before coming back to earth and coming up with a gameplan. Your reaction seems normal to me. And imagine how it must be for your wife - after all, she's the one who is about to go through an amazing physical change. And she does not want to terminate this pregnancy. You do not want this to be "that thing" that hangs over your relationship. Counseling, now.
posted by futureisunwritten at 1:48 PM on August 19, 2009


Snap with lekvar - same thing happened to me although I was 6 years younger than you. You are reacting quite normally to the situation, the description sounds very similar to my own response which was dominated mainly by fear of the unknown/unplanned. Frankly having the child is her decision now, yours is about whether you can/will support the - you probably know what you think, you just need to get to grips with it. Feel free to memail!
posted by zemblamatic at 1:49 PM on August 19, 2009


spaltavian, are you seriously arguing that it is NOT 'dickish in the extreme' to tell a pregnant woman to abort a baby that she wants? Because although I wouldn't use the gendered slur 'dickish' here, I think "TERMINATE THE PREGNANCY YOU WANT" is right up there with for extreme inappropriateness with "CARRY YOUR UNPLANNED PREGNANCY TO TERM."

"I don't want to be a father" is a reasonable thing to say (although getting a vasectomy is the cheap, highly reliable way of making that stick). "I can't be part of a marriage that includes parenting" is a reasonable thing to say. "You need to get an abortion," not so much.
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:51 PM on August 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


spaltavian, are you seriously arguing that it is NOT 'dickish in the extreme' to tell a pregnant woman to abort a baby that she wants? Because although I wouldn't use the gendered slur 'dickish' here, I think "TERMINATE THE PREGNANCY YOU WANT"

I think it would be dickish to do it in all caps.
posted by spaltavian at 1:54 PM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


"Would you reconsider an abortion?"

This won't go well. Most likely his wife has already gone over this enough in her own mind. I think it will only feel to her like an ultimatum- she has to choose between having a child or keeping her husband. This question keeps things mired in a zero-sum game scenario.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 1:55 PM on August 19, 2009


When you say be an adult and accept the consequences for your actions, you're talking the way one talks of punishment.

The message I'm getting from these responses is not "you better take your punishment, mister," but "this is almost certainly going to be something you look back on as the best accident of your life, because I/my father/my partner felt like you, and now I/he love/s being a father." If you really can't see the difference, it's because you are equating children with punishment (and I get the feeling from your responses that you genuinely feel that way), not because other people are.
posted by palliser at 2:02 PM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


Reading through this thread shows me, again, something I have seen all of my professional life. While I am pro-choice and feel certain in that view, I also know that abortion - in the abstract - is easy to consider if there's an "oops." Abortion - when faced with the reality and the facts of the procedure - is much harder to accept, "oops" or not. Anonymous and his wife are in this situation today because the possibility of pregnancy was not taken seriously when there were "mail-order" problems, abortion (in the abstract) seemed an agreed upon backup, and now because of the "oops" - the conflict between abortion, motherhood, instinct, and promises made have created an emotional quagmire, one that will not be reversed until the air is clear and both partners are at peace. That sounds basic, but it's easier said than done. It's time for them both to lay it all out, without fear of what the other thinks, and determine if a life together can be made from this point forward. I wish Anonymous and his wife the best.

Too many lessons learned the hard way.
posted by Gerard Sorme at 2:02 PM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]


I have a feeling we're only hearing some of the story, which may explain his anger about the situation. No woman in her right mind who was committed to not having a child would have unprotected sex without taking a pill. If her "mail order" was late, there's such thing as a pharmacy. Perhaps she stopped taking the pill and didn't tell him.

OP says "we got a little lazy and careless with the birth control," which suggests that he knew about it. I think it's really, really inappropriate to suggest that there's some kind of deception going on here because, you know, humans are fallible and like sex even when their logical man-brains know better.

Anon, I think what you're going through is healthy and normal. I don't necessarily think you should ask your wife to reconsider, but I do think you should have an honest and open conversation with her about what about this makes you feel sad. Her life is about to change drastically, too, and you should both mourn what you're leaving behind and honor your feelings by discussing them openly.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 2:03 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


You've gotten a lot of thoughtful advice thus far, so I'll only add this to the pile. You said:

I've started smoking again... but... if/when the child comes, I will do my damnedest to be the best parent possible.

Quitting smoking now, before you really get going again, will be a wonderful thing you can do for your wife AND baby. Please seriously consider it.

The very best of luck. I believe that reluctant fathers are turned into great dads all the time, don't be surprised if/when this happens to you too.
posted by pkphy39 at 2:04 PM on August 19, 2009


One other thought here. Has she told anyone else she is pregnant? Family members? Good friends?

Most people I know would react rather strongly if they knew a husband (not a boyfriend) was telling a wife (not a girlfriend) that he wanted her not to carry her pregnancy to term because he didn't wish to be a father. Even their prochoice/proabortion friends might react pretty darn negatively to him if this were the case.

I'm prolife, I think babies are good for people, but even I agree that if someone is very very certain they do not want to be a parent that it is incumbent upon them to get a vasectomy/tubes tied. Because a pregnancy by definition certainly does have ramifications on two people, not just one.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 2:13 PM on August 19, 2009


The message I'm getting from these responses is not "you better take your punishment, mister,"

I commented on the similarity in the ways one talks about the two things, not that this what the majority of people were saying. I think reading all my posts in this thread bears that at.

I commented on this is because so many of the posts seem to be based on the idea that he's just nervous and needs a kick in the ass and a pat on the back. As if his feelings aren't real.

but "this is almost certainly going to be something you look back on as the best accident of your life, because I/my father/my partner felt like you, and now I/he love/s being a father."

This is what really bothers me, actually. It is anything but certain. I know Hugh Grant always ends up playing catch and loving it, but it's insane to ignore the millions of broken homes or should-have-been-broken-homes out there.

It's a little condescending to write off his feelings as normal jitters- he married someone who agreed she didn't want children. They made the appointment. It's not just fear, it's something he does not want, never wanted and thought he found a way to make the life he wanted from him. I'd feel betrayed.
posted by spaltavian at 2:16 PM on August 19, 2009 [6 favorites]


Anon, you and I both know that folks with anxiety problems don't cope well with stress, sudden changes, and honesty (both the lack of it, and the having to provide it even when it really hurts). If you're just on the Ativan without a therapist, I'd suggest you call your doc and get a therapist too; if you've got the total package, I'd encourage you to call your therapist ASAP and start going more often until you've got your shit sorted.

Right now, that's what you've got to deal with. Your wife seems unlikely to choose abortion (and we don't know if adoption is on your table or not) at this point-- since you can't choose it for her, you have to get with your expert panel and decide how you're going to cope with the new upheaval and what part you're gonna play in it. You're going to eventually have to bring Mrs. Anon in on that decision-making process, too, which will undoubtedly be easier in your resident expert's office than, say, while you're holding her hair out of the toilet and she's wishing that you'd never been born during day ten of morning sickness.

People are talking about being freaked out, which is normal in that situation-- but you sound like you've had pre-existing problems with being freaked the *fuck* out even in situations where folks without an anxiety disorder would stay calm, and that's a whole different magnitude of potential-parent angst that needs some serious neutral support. Good luck.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:20 PM on August 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Spaltavian I think you are generalizing about the responses. Everyone suggesting therapy is doing so to help OP sort his stuff out- in full recognition of the validity of his feelings. And if he truly does not want to be a father, if that's what it boils down to, he's still going to have a child- and it's going to take a lot of support to sort out what to do next.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 2:23 PM on August 19, 2009


he's still going to have a child

Unless she has an abortion.

She changed her mind once, she could change it again. The question specifically says "if/when" we have a child. It specifically asks "are we doing the right thing?". The "it's happening no matter what, grow up and be a man but don't worry you'll love it" tone of a lot of these posts is not my imagination, and it's that which I think should be reconsidered. I think the OP would benefit from that reconsideration. I think by asking "are we doing the right thing?", he's wondering if he can ask his wife to reconsider.

You posted that asking her to reconsider "won't go ever well". I agree, however, I also don't think having and raising a child he desperately doesn't want will go over very well. I also don't presume to think that she's emotionally fragile, and that even honestly must be sacrificed so she doesn't hear anything she doesn't want to hear at this very troubling time.

I responded jokingly before when I was asked if I seriously didn't think it was dickish to ask her to reconsider. My honest answer is "of course not". Already, he cannot be honest with his wife because of "the baby". Already "the baby" drowns out all other concerns. I'd suggest that if he doesn't want to spend the next several years like this, he consider his course of action carefully.

Unfortunately, sidhedevil characterized what I was saying as "TERMINATE THE PREGNANCY YOU WANT". I certainly would advise OP not to do that, but since OP obviously would never do that and I was obviously suggesting nothing of the kind, it's really not a point of contention. That would be an absurd, awful way to approach this. Read anyone of my posts, and you'll see that I suggested that, after a listing of his concerns, the OP asking his wife to reconsider having an abortion. (Of course, he will not have the luxury of being asked to reconsider having children, but that is simply a fact of biology and is no one's fault.) To ask someone to reconsider is to ask for a conversation, it is to ask for honesty from someone else and one's self. It is for each to state what it is they want, why they want it, and what it means to them. It is not a command, a directive, a threat or an ultimatum.

They are married, and they are in love. I am not married, but I am in love, and there is very little I wouldn't consider if asked. It doesn't mean I would do it. In fact, in my mental accounting of a few randomly selected hypothetical issues, I seriously doubt I would change my mind. But I would sit down, listen, and think. I would honestly question myself, my assumptions. I would struggle to evaulate the possiblity of compromise, another solution, or some change on my part. I think this would be especially true if I was being asked to consider reverting to a position I formally held, and even more so if this was a position I formally held and made longterm plans with another person predicated on this position.

Is it really beyond the pale for spouses to ask one another to reconsider having a child? Does your definition of a "woman's right to choose" mean that there can be no imput from her husband and the father of the fetus? Would she be forever hurt if he asked her to reconsider?

I think these are probably the same questions the OP is asking himself. I would answer that, "She is your wife. You love her. If you can't talk to her, you really can't talk to anyone. And, why assume your wife is weak? Why assume she can't handle this conversation?" I might add: "If her discomfort at a discussion means more than you having what is likely the most important conversation of your life, how are you ever going to talk to her about difficult issues? If you're not happy, will you family be happy?"
posted by spaltavian at 3:01 PM on August 19, 2009 [4 favorites]




I guess we don't know enough to make that call, spaltavian. I can't help but have a strong sense that, since he describes his wife as happy now after making her decision, done is done. I don't think there is any way to revisit abortion as an option without lasting trauma to their relationship- she'll be asked to choose between her spouse and her baby (because that's what it's become to her now). That's how she'll perceive it. I do see a lot of validity in OP sharing his feelings/ misgivings about fatherhood. But it's different from asking her to have an abortion. Just my opinion...fwiw.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 3:27 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sometimes the struggles in our lives come in the form of fatal or near-fatal accidents, severe or chronic illnesses, or infidelity. Sometimes they come in this form.

The mistake you made is made, and now you're going to have to live with the consequences. You have a couple of options, but all of your options have at least one major shortcoming. The thing you and your wife -- together -- are going to have to do is decide what shortcoming is most likely to produce a happy life for each of you, and (if you go through with the pregnancy) your unborn child.

What we know:

1. Your wife really wants to have the baby, and will be very, very unhappy if she does not;
2. You really don't want her to have the baby, and will be very, very unhappy if she does.

No simple answer on what to do, then, except this:

1. Admit to your wife that you really don't want it and it's making you miserable, just like she's admitted to you that she really wants it and not having it will make her miserable. You have just as much right to those feelings as she does, so you should feel comfortable voicing them and talking about them.

2. Now that both of you have put your feelings on the table, talk about repercussions. For instance, that if she has the baby, you'll be unhappy, and it's possible you'll end up resenting her and your child...and that if she doesn't have the baby, she'll be unhappy, ,and it's possible she'll end up resenting you. Resentment in a marriage isn't good for anyone, especially a child, so this is as much a conversation about the well-being of your unborn child as it is about the well-being of the two of you.

There are many possible outcomes, none guaranteed and some obvious, but you should concentrate on discussing them all, no matter how unpalatable. If you can't have this kind of a conversation with any kind of honestly, get to a therapist right away; you don't have time to waste.

3. Since you likely can't sincerely agree on the birth of your child as being a positive or negative thing, you're going to have to come to an agreement on what the best (or least-worst) option is, and follow it, with everyone's eyes wide open as to the repercussions.

It's possible that during these conversations you'll realize you're scared, but that the idea of being a father is something that (underneath the fear) you actually like. It's possible that she'll realize that she hasn't been considering the long-term consequences of having the child, and that she'll reconsider. Certainly, you will each be HOPING that's what happens to the other person, and you'll have to do everything possible to stop hoping that the other person will solve the problem for you. It's up to each of you to be honest with each other and with yourselves.

At the end of the effort, you're either going to raise a child together, apart, or not at all. As a parent who loves his kids very very much, I implore you: open your heart to the possibility that you will love your child and will be better off with him or her in your life, challenging you more than you ever thought you could take but also bringing you to joys that you've never known you could experience -- and at the same time know that bringing a child into a marriage of resentment and hostility is unfair to that child, and he or she may likely soon be the child of divorced parents. That's something they'll have to live with for the rest of their life, even after you and your wife are gone.

Good luck.
posted by davejay at 3:34 PM on August 19, 2009 [7 favorites]


Most people I know would react rather strongly if they knew a husband (not a boyfriend) was telling a wife (not a girlfriend) that he wanted her not to carry her pregnancy to term because he didn't wish to be a father.

This is unnecessary guilt-tripping. For what it's worth, most people I know would expect that from people who have both agreed to remain childfree forever.
posted by kathrineg at 3:35 PM on August 19, 2009


[few comments removed, this is a really touchy subject and arguments with people in the thread should go to email/memail/metatalk please, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:43 PM on August 19, 2009


This is unnecessary guilt-tripping. For what it's worth, most people I know would expect that from people who have both agreed to remain childfree forever.


We don't know what the the agreement between them was. It sounds as though it was not fully fleshed out. It sounds as though they were kind of trying not to have kids but without any contingency plans. And it's naive to think that, if pregnant by accident, a woman won't change her mind about a lot of things. It happens all of the time.

The only fail safe way to avoid these wrenching dilemmas is vasectomy or tubal ligation.
posted by hellboundforcheddar at 3:46 PM on August 19, 2009


One piece of advice and two stories about what can happen if people aren't honest and/or don't get counselling. Advice: go together to talk to someone who can help sort this out and talk to each other until you figure it out honestly and completely. It might be ugly, but it needs done for everyone's future.

Story1: Man marries woman he's crazy about earlier than planned because she's pregnant. He mans up. They spend the next 10 years fighting constantly as he really didn't want the child and resents both child and woman. They divorce. New wife wants child but man is unable to give her one. Despised child is now loved only child, but relationship is distant at best as they don't know each other well due to man's ignoring child most of it's life and they now live in different countries.

Story2: Man and woman marry and commit to having 3 children asap. Man goes off deep end into depression two years later when woman 6 months pregnant with first child after consult with fertility doc. Child is born to much all round delight but man avoids parenting in all it's aspects and sinks lower and lower into depresseion, culminating in separation. Man disappears for 20 years, making no contact with child and successfully avoiding child support. Child finds man when in 20s, finds that man is still able to cope with parenthood only in abstract terms and decides there is/never was a parent or someone worth bothering about there. Man lives alone, no second wife, no children. Child still without the all important father (sounds silly, but children desperately need their fathers, too.)

Wish I'd made up the stories, but haven't. I don't agree that holding a beautiful baby makes everything right. It does, but only for the moment. As you're in such distress, you really need to work this out. I hope you don't come to a grudging agreement, but can manage a loving one.
posted by x46 at 3:50 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think it's important to point out that "agreements" between partners are not legal agreements and shouldn't be construed as such. Mr Llama's agrred a hundred times to stop flushing clots of dog hair down the toilet and yet I see it swirling in there when I go to pee. It should be understood that any "agreements"are a) true to best knowledge at the time and b) subject to change as people change and grow.

You buy into the underlying person. If you think you're buying the agreements, you're probably going to find a whole series of hard-to-take surprises along the way.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 3:55 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think your feelings are totally normal. I got pregnant unexpectedly at 38 when my husband was 46. We hadn't really planned for children and were ambivalent about it but went ahead. He was much more freaked out than I was but once I was pregnant, my perspective did change quite a bit. So to all that are saying the take-away lesson for all is "make a plan for what happens if an unplanned pregnancy occurs" - be aware that feelings often change once there is a real pregnancy to enter into the equation.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 4:19 PM on August 19, 2009


Just wait until your little one looks up at you a few years while being tucked in and says, "I love you daddy." It's going to be so damn worth it, and you'll wonder why you ever thought vacations and extra money would be better.

This isn't to belittle your feelings at all. When my wife was pregnant, I thought about everything in terms of spreadsheets and the cost of diapers and lost free time. You do some of that after the fact, but it pretty much melts into insignificance when you realize how awesome your child is. If you go into it thinking that you want to be the best dad you possibly can (as it sounds like you do), I'm confident you will find a degree of satisfaction in this that far exceeds anything you thought possible. It'll pay you back a hundredfold in ways that money can't replace.

Good luck. But I'm fairly confident that you won't need it, because it will end up feeling like a reward that you never thought you deserved, not a setback.
posted by SpacemanStix at 5:00 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


Spaltavian, you keep talking about how "she might change her mind again."

Here's the thing though, and I can SO tell you're a dude because you're so "I'd feel betrayed if bitch got knocked and kept it" that's not what you said, I'm exaggerating to make the point instead of "most things that happen aren't planned and things always conclude." but I digress...

I'm saying, it's one thing to say "no babies!" and she says "yea, we're not parent types" and you move on. I really, really, really don't get the feeling that chica in this situation really had much input into the conversation other than to agree with Anonymous, but perhaps I'm still chafed by his verbiage.

It's another thing when she realizes there's a tiny person inside her, and all the free-spirit, happy-go-lucky-young-couple thing shoots right the fuck out the window, and through the puking and hormones and the OH MY GOD I AM A WOMAN, and the wondering about her folic acid when she got pregnant and the wondering about the quality of his sperm (she's totally thinking about what his dad looks like) and the infinite impossibilities of what can or can't be---and she changes her mind.

All the sudden she's not carrying a fetus, she's carrying her daughter or her son and it's locked in her mind and no amount of guilt filled, passive aggressive rantings from her scared man will change that.

Again---I fully advocate her right to chose.

There are unlimited choices here, and hopefully Anon makes the right one. He's going to be involved or not, he's going to care or he's not, he's going to be there or he's going to run, he's going to be angry at her forever or he's not. The list goes on.

However, Anonymous asked the question here, probably knowing he was going to get everything from sympathy to verbal smackdown. That alone tells me he's ready to step up to the plate, and what he's really looking for are the stories Llama and KokoRyu are telling him---that he can do it and he should do it.

Nobody promised marraige was gonna be easy. You make it work. Good on you Anonymous for trying to figure this out. I'd love to buy you a beer.
posted by TomMelee at 5:02 PM on August 19, 2009 [9 favorites]


One piece of advice I always give to friends confronted with this situation is to never have a child you're not prepared to raise alone - any one of us can end up a single parent at any time, whether by choice or by circumstance.

Any one of the choices you're faced with could destroy your marriage and even if they don't, your marriage could still end for other reasons (including the death of one of you). It isn't just your wife who could end up as a single parent, you could end up in that position too.

I wish I could say this is a situation which ends happily more often than not, but in my experience it comes out at about 50/50 - some people adapt to and embrace unwanted parenthood and some simply don't. The best I can suggest right now is that you and your wife explore your feelings with a neutral third party.

No-one can predict whether your feelings about parenthood will change over time, but you need to be aware of each other's true feelings about the issue and plan to accommodate those feelings. Your wife needs to understand that your feelings may not change and you need to talk about that possibility and how you'll handle it if it becomes reality.
posted by Lolie at 5:35 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


Now she's happy, except for when she notices the moments I've been having recently. ... Truth be told, though, I'm scared shitless. ... The two things I *do* know are that I love my wife dearly and want to let her have whatever she wants, and that if/when the child comes, I will do my damnedest to be the best parent possible.

You need to tell her this. Especially those two things. You need to sit down and explain those moments she's been noticing and probably worrying about, and reaffirm your commitment to her, and ask for her patience while you're freaking out. She is probably freaking out too!

Don't aim to be perfectly zen about this. Aim to be on the same team. You can do this thing. Together.
posted by heatherann at 5:49 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


[please take this to email, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:39 PM on August 19, 2009


sidhedevil characterized what I was saying as "TERMINATE THE PREGNANCY YOU WANT"

No, I didn't. Someone else said "It would be dickish in the extreme to tell a woman to abort a wanted pregnancy" and you said "No, it's wouldn't."

That phrase was not a characterization of your argument at all, but a restatement of the thing that someone else said would be "dickish in the extreme."
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:56 PM on August 19, 2009


Sidhedevil said: The thing is that abortion is also a method of birth control, and one that the OP's wife presumably was theoretically on board with in their earlier discussions.

In the most technical sense, yes. I'm completely pro-choice (for either sex). I am also a recently married 30 year-old man and I am not interested in being a parent.

Still, I would never consider using abortion as a back-up to other (very easily accessible) forms of birth control. I empathize, but unless you're both on board (and maybe, through counseling, this is possible) resorting to abortion as just another form of birth control just seems unnecessary when all other facets of life as a parent (as per the description) are positive.

You've got difficult decisions to make but, as unfortunate as it might be to us guys, your wife has a much more difficult decision to make.
posted by purephase at 7:34 PM on August 19, 2009


I was you.

I was you, only the woman who was pregnant with my child was not my wife. We had been together for mere months, and she was in fact still married to (though separated from) someone else. A woman cannot get divorced while pregnant in the enlightened state where we live, so I went into fatherhood at 30 with another man's wife. I had had no real intentions of having kids, and had on top of that (what I think are) very understandable anxieties about the long-term chances for our relationship, all else aside.

I held my breath and dove.

I have been, at times, a moderately shitty father, and a mediocre husband (we married when our son was just shy of three). On balance, though, I don't think it immodest to say that I'm far more good than bad; sometimes approaching great. And I care about being a great father (our son is now seven and has a brother ~18 months) and husband. My life has changed in petty and profound ways I could never really have anticipated, but I can unhesitatingly say that I'm proud of my family and the life we're making as we go.

I'm not going to tell you that you'll feel X or Y or do Z or this or that or the other thing. I don't and can't know that. What you're faced with is scary as shit, so give yourself a little latitude for feeling that way. It could be that you're also feeling like an assbag for giving your wife what you've pretty clearly indicated was backhanded assent and support. Maybe you should feel that way, or maybe you should, again, get over yourself a little and fess up to the fact that you don't know what the hell is facing you, and that you're scared. Fear makes people act stupid.

It's obviously of no consequence to me personally what decision you make; I'd just say that the important thing is that you make it and commit to it. My choice may not be yours.

Is going into fatherhood under your present circumstances ideal? Nope.
Is there any set circumstances that I would characterize as ideal? Nope.

Can you hit my MeMail on the off chance that you want to vent privately? Yup.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:37 PM on August 19, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think the only thing I have to add that hasn't already been said is that it might be helpful to reflect- with a therapist or your wife or internally- on WHY you initially didn't want children. A friend of mine (with no pregnancy in sight, so it is not the same situation) said he doesn't want children, but when I asked why, it turned out it wasn't because he didn't like kids or feared the responsibilities, but because he was concerned he would be like his father had been. Looking at your reasons and your deeper concerns might give you a deeper insight into yourself, your marriage and your future. Additionally, I would also encourage you to share those underlying thoughts that went into your reasons with your wife, and ask what thoughts changed for her, and that communication might bring you closer together. Especially let her know what your needs are throughout this process as well, whether it's reassurance, challenging of your worries, or just listening- and then do the same for her. It's hard for someone to give what they don't know you need, and vice versa.
posted by questionsandanchors at 8:48 PM on August 19, 2009


Anon, is your own father still alive and available? Can you talk to him? What about an uncle, or an older friend? This could be a very good time to reach out to other men in your life, especially older men who have experienced fatherhood and likely many of the things you are feeling now. You might get better advice and moral support than Askme. Just a thought.
posted by jokeefe at 8:53 PM on August 19, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just have to comment: I am 32 and still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up until I met my daughter. Turns out I really wanted to be a Dad.
posted by Palerale at 11:04 AM on August 20, 2009 [8 favorites]


Wow. I don't know how I came across this old question, but I feel compelled to comment.

Anonymous, your situation sounds extremely difficult, and I'm sorry about it.

I want to say some stuff that seems super-obvious to me, and that I'm astonished to see barely-represented here thus far (except perhaps, some of it, by spaltavian).

First, you and your wife haven't done anything wrong: I hope you feel more 'unlucky' rather than 'guilty.' You used birth control, and you'd had a serious conversation about, and agreed on, what to do if it failed. Yeah, you got careless, and yeah, people make mistakes. We're people; that's what we do :-/

Second, your wife hasn't done anything wrong either, by changing her mind when faced with the pregnancy. She thought she knew what she would do if she got pregnant, but nobody can ever really know. I think it's to your credit that, even in your shock, you seem to understand that and not blame her.

Third: You are equally entitled to --and in fact equally unable to control-- your own response to the pregnancy.

Fourth: She needs and deserves to know what your response is. I am kind of horrified when you say she seems "happy" now. IMO it would be unfair of you to let her make a decision to continue the pregnancy on the assumption that you will stay with her to raise the child, if you're not sure you can or will. She's entitled to make a fully informed choice.

Unfortunately, part of the problem here is that the facts aren't yet fully known. It's possible that, as predicted by so many posters upthread, at some point you will fully embrace fatherhood. It's also possible you won't. So in this instance, I think the best you can do is tell her the truth as you know it. Tell her you love her, you want her to be happy, and you're not sure if your relationship can survive the birth of a child. Given what you've written, I think it's unlikely that information would change her mind about the pregnancy, but if there's even the slightest possibility it might, she needs to know. And if you do decide to (try to) stay, which it sounds like you would, I think it might be better for you too, to have spoken your mind straightforwardly from the beginning.

I wish you both the best of luck.
posted by Susan PG at 1:25 AM on September 10, 2009 [2 favorites]


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