How can I be happy about our second pregnancy?
April 13, 2016 9:21 AM   Subscribe

My long-term (15y) partner and I are having a second child nearly 8 years after our first. We had just decided (after years of discussion) that we were happy with only one kid and are in the middle of a move half-way around the planet. And we also just quit our jobs and launched a startup.

We also hadn't had the most healthy sexual relationship and had gone a looooooong time without any sort of sexual activity (and even when we had it was in the midst of a generally unhealthy and bitter situation in that regard) - it had become the giant elephant in the room but had eventually become so big that instead of taking it so seriously and getting upset when we discussed it, or tried to discuss it, we started laughing about it.

So when, a couple of months back, we both started making jokes about just having sex and there was no pressure and it just felt sort of fun and silly... we did. Even though we couldn't find any condoms (they probably would have fallen apart anyway - it had been that long) and had recently gone off birth control. What are the chances, after all?

Cut to now, there's a wee baby in there. I'm feeling pretty pissed off about it. Not at my partner, but at myself, at life, oh the unfairness, blah blah. Which is all super whiny and pathetic, I know, but that's how I'm feeling.

Does anybody have any tips or tricks to just get over this and move on and become the amazing partner and parent and parent-to-be that I usually try so hard to be, and tried so hard to be the first time around. Every time I think about this I just want to bang my head against the wall and I can't stop 'mourning' the life and lifestyle we had envisaged for our family over the next couple of years as we started these other new adventures (new country, new company, new jobs for both of us).

Additional details that might be relevant - yes we have discussed having an abortion and it's not on the cards right now; we are older parents ~40; we are not religious at all; this will be a financial burden but not so much that the financial issues are driving these feelings; yes, there is a whole level of stuff tied up in this because of how taking a step towards resolving our awkward messed up sexual relationship seems to have 'punished' us in this way; I'm the father (not the mother).
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (22 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You could try thinking about this from the future rather than the now. Right now, you have lots of problems. But.

In the future, what will you think looking back on this? How much do you love the child you have now? How do you think you'll feel about the "oops" when "oops" is 8 years old? I know several people who were "oopses" or who had one, and while it can be a huge struggle at the time, in large part because it's unexpected, I don't know a single person who would have it any other way.

You could also look at this from your kids perspective. I am an only child, and I desperately wanted a sibling. I would have been absolutely beyond ecstatic to have a baby brother or sister. It's always felt like a void in my life, and even more so now that my partner is also an only child so I will never be an auntie :(
posted by DoubleLune at 9:29 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Something a friend of mine said to me years ago, and it still resonates with me: When you and your partner are gone, siblings will still be there for each other. However hard it might be right now, you are giving your first child an amazing gift by giving them a sibling that will be there with them on the journey the whole time, long after the two of you have passed on.

(You will also probably be madly, deeply in love with this second child. Accentuate the positive, as the song goes.)
posted by jbickers at 9:37 AM on April 13, 2016 [20 favorites]

Perhaps try to separate the idea of pregnancy from the general life logistics. People are fond of saying there's never a "perfect" time to have a baby, there are always going to be difficulties. BUT ... you're having a baby! A second beautiful child, a sibling for your firstborn to be excited about, all the wonderful stuff that comes with a growing family. Money troubles, work problems, marital issues, you can worry about all that in its own time. Just feel the joy when you think about the baby. Congratulations!
posted by nomis at 9:41 AM on April 13, 2016 [2 favorites]

Just to second what jbickers said, I know not everyone has great relationships with their siblings. I don't always have great relationships with my siblings. But I remember my cousin giving the eulogy for my mother at her funeral and she said that the best gift my mother ever gave her was the gift of cousins and that made me think that the best gifts she ever gave me are my two sisters and brother. They can be weird and crazy and annoying but no one - not my husband, my best friend, anyone - will ever get me the way they do.
posted by kat518 at 9:44 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've mentioned this before elsewhere. Several years ago, I sat in the audience to hear an interview with Guillermo del Toro. This man has experienced outright horror in his life but is sweet and funny and happy. The interviewer commented on this and asked how it was possible.

He answered, "When you accept your life as it is, there are no negatives."

I was deeply moved by his response and have tried to live by that philosophy, especially when times are tough.
posted by trinity8-director at 9:57 AM on April 13, 2016 [49 favorites]

On the bright side... your older kid is 8 now... gee, looks like you have an extra helper and future babysitter RIGHT THERE for this second kid. Less to worry about already.
posted by lizbunny at 9:58 AM on April 13, 2016 [17 favorites]

We didn't want another baby, but also got pregnant accidentally. I adore my son, and would have been completely happy only having him, but seeing him and his baby sister together is just.. wow. Watching her laugh at his silly antics, or seeing him look down at her and get overcome by the urge to tackle-hug her is indescribable. Knowing that they will be there for each other for the rest of their lives is incredibly comforting, and it makes me sad to think we almost didn't have this.
posted by gatorae at 10:02 AM on April 13, 2016 [8 favorites]

Oh, OP, memail me, I am familiar with your feels!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:10 AM on April 13, 2016

Well first things first stop thinking of the baby as a punishment for having sex, even in passing, that won't be healthy for you or for your sex life going forward. You've gone & got yourself an unexpected gift with purchase is all.

You now how much you love your 8yo and how much they love you, now you get to have that again with a whole other person. You get to take this person to be with you on series of adventures into your new life, this child isn't stopping anything unless you want it to. You can go do all the things you thought with a baby. They have babies in other countries you know it's not stopping you travelling (in fact there are some excellent blogs about freelancers travelling with kids & babies out there you should go Google & read them all)

You should be happy, you & your wife finally worked toward resolving the issue of your sex life instead of ignoring it, & out of that silly laughing joking time you made a potential person.

Now if your concerns were more about your relationship with your wife, which sounds like it's being going through a rough patch, that would make sense. I know some men have a tendency to concentrate on the practical problems instead of the emotional ones at moments of stress like this. If that is what is really going on here, then you need to actually talk to your wife, not wait for things to resolve themselves like with your sex life. As the 2 of you seem to have trouble talking I would suggest a counselor could be very helpful.

Everything else you are worried about is just logistics that you have 9 months or so to work out as long as you take a deep breath.

Just the take of an internet stranger reading your question.
posted by wwax at 10:17 AM on April 13, 2016

Hey, it's totally okay to be upset at the world for throwing you this unexpected curveball. Life is hard, and babies are a great big ball of need. Change is difficult!

You are totally allowed to feel however you want to feel about it right now--you have feelings and you need to express them. Do you have a healthy place to do that? Journal, friendly ear, sudden desire to go to the gym and learn to kickbox? If not, I really suggest finding a place to work through all of these crazy feelings. It'll help. You absolutely need to mourn the idea of your future with one kiddo.
posted by PearlRose at 10:43 AM on April 13, 2016 [3 favorites]

I had a not so dissimilar experience. My second child is now 4 and I love her to pieces. There was so much merry-go-rounding for a bit, but what I finally decided to do was to move through the motions and settle the immediate practical problems:

1. I need prenatal vitamins.
2. I need a blood test.
3. I need a midwife.

And I kinda handled those practical problems before getting to how I felt about things. And to that I selected my care provider for my second pregnancy very carefully. I really needed someone who could understand my feelings and that it was taking me some time to be happy and thrilled, and that I had a trauma situation with my previous birth. All of those things added up to me needing a very specific kind of provider who could be straightforward, practical, but also empathetic.

Once all of those things were in place, and once I moved past the shock and the hurt that I was pregnant, which just took time, I slowly came around to being happy about it. It didn't happen over night. And I don't now feel guilty about it not happening sooner. It's just where I was and what I dealt with at that time. Now it's history. I have zero regrets about any of it.

Give it time.
posted by zizzle at 10:48 AM on April 13, 2016

It's a bit separated from what you're looking for, I think, but I was a surprise baby. I came a decade after my mom was told she'd not be able to have kids again. I have two older siblings, one of whom was sort of my idol growing up and with whom I'm still really close. My sister introduced me to music, books, painters, fashion, food, cars, you name it. I can't imagine having grown up with all that.

So keep that in mind, you're giving someone an older sister!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 11:32 AM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our second, very planned child was born 4 1/2 years after our first. Despite being waited and wanted and planned, that pregnancy sent me into a tailspin of anxiety and dread for a bit. We'd just gotten to the point where we were pretty settled and happy and mobile with our older kid. My career was finally feeling back on track and here we were going again. Like Zizzle said, it passed. She's 2 1/2 now, full of beans and I can't imagine our lives without her. This will sort itself out. There are going to be challenges, and you know it. You're also way more experienced now and knowing that this is the last time you'll be experiencing some of these new baby experiences, my guess is that you'll find them just a bit sweeter. I know I am. But it's also totally ok to panic and wonder if this is the right time for all of this. Take it one step at a time. If it would help, think about talking to a therapist about all of this just to sort through the complexities. And congratulations. You're in for another amazing adventure.
posted by goggie at 11:44 AM on April 13, 2016

Will it help ease your mind to pre-empt any further "surprises" by going to get a vasectomy? That way you can feel more secure in knowing this really WILL be the last baby, leaving you to relax about future unknowns and enjoy a little more the pregnancy in process?
posted by jillithd at 12:15 PM on April 13, 2016 [5 favorites]

I don't really have any suggestions for how to make things easier, but if it helps at all, I was my parent's grand surprise when my dad was 45 and my mom was 43. At the time, their youngest was 13, and my sister was 18. Although it was definitely something of a shock for them, my mom and late-father have told me frequently how awesome it was that I actually came along when I did. It was, without a doubt, not what they had in mind for their 40s, but it all seemed to work out pretty well. :-)
posted by I_love_the_rain at 1:14 PM on April 13, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our much wanted baby... showed up 2 years earlier than planned. It delayed some life goals for us but you can fit a baby into the life you're creating for yourself. For us, 1.5 years later we are back on track where we were going to be anyways and yes we love our son to bits and couldn't imagine it having been otherwise (though at the time we lamented the loss of "the plan" and I found sharing our grief openly and accepting that we felt like a set of teenagers re:contraception helped us accept it). The first year will be nutty but maybe you aren't as far off as you think? Money to throw at childcare solves a lot of problems too. Just don't pressure yourself to be happy about it right now. Feel sheepish, feel sad, feel it all and then look at the ultrasound and let life run through you.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 2:33 PM on April 13, 2016

I don't know what I can say to help you, but I want to thank you for something this question has put into perspective for me.

I'm two months off a horrible, terrible, excruciating pregnancy in which my physical and emotional health were severely endangered. My marriage suffered. I lost a friend as a result of the hormonal monster I became. From debilitating nausea to a long-term hospital stay, and a full-body itchy rash that had me scratching myself to bleeding, this pregnancy has made me resolve to never, ever, ever, ever get pregnant again. That's even with my son being the easiest baby ever, who's sleeping through the night right now, and rarely cries or fusses. Not to mention his being the cutest most adorable little thing I've ever felt a fierce, burning love for. Nope, no way, no more bambinos. On top of which I've spent a good chunk of these past few weeks mourning the loss of my previous carefree, spontaneous, fun-filled life in which I didn't have to think twice about buying myself $400 shoes or a ticket to New Zealand on a whim.

Then, a few seconds ago, I finished reading this post and the responses so far. It's brought tears to my eyes to see people describing how precious and valuable a younger sibling for their firstborn has been. It's made me wonder - as I spend my maternity leave thinking how to ensure (to the best of my ability) a stable, secure, supportive future for my son - that perhaps the best thing I can do for him is to give him a sibling. I'm an only child, and while I'm lucky to have had cousins growing up, it sure gets lonely as f*ck sometimes as an adult. My son doesn't have cousins to grow up with - both my and my husband's families live on a different continent. We will be close to sixty when he's off to college. We have some life goals we want to achieve, yes, but... our son will likely outlive us and I want him to have immediate family for as long as destiny would have it. And, hopefully they'd have a wonderful relationship.

So, yeah. Thank you for giving me some provocative food for thought. Perhaps this new baby will serve as conclusive proof that bad spells in a relationship can result in beautiful new beginnings. Either way, I wish you much love and peace and happiness in all your adventures going forward.
posted by Everydayville at 5:41 PM on April 13, 2016

So, will the baby make your partner happy? Happy wife, happy life. (Substitute "partner"obvs, but it's not a cute rhyme that way) Maybe this will make her feel closer to you.

Do you know how many people say babies make them feel closer, and when they reach the stage of "being alone together" with older kids and vacationing etc., they actually grow apart? If anything, this gives you more of a reason to work on your relationship. I think my mom had me (the youngest by 7 years) in part because she missed that feeling of her marriage being "new" and bonding with my dad over a tiny wee babby.

Also...she's pregnant, you can't knock her up again. 9 months of totally guilt-free and easy sex, and no need for birth control. Take advantage of it.
posted by quincunx at 6:15 PM on April 13, 2016

We had three surprise kids, widely spaced in time like yours. They're all grown now, adults with lives of their own. Each at the time was a less-than-wanted surprise, but it's been WONDERFUL. I've had so much fun with my lovely children, spread over so many years. You can have so much happiness from yours.
posted by anadem at 8:57 PM on April 13, 2016

Have you told your eight-year-old that there is a little brother/sister on the way?

If s/he gets excited about it, it might help you feel more excited too.
posted by LauraJ at 10:00 AM on April 14, 2016

One thing a therapist told me was that we're (humans) much less good at predicting how we'll feel in the future than we think we are. So I think try not to borrow trouble. Attend to your feelings about the present. But if part of your angst is coming from anticipating how you'll feel in the future when (you can't take a vacation/you can't go out to eat/you can't retire etc), maybe try to leave that for future you to worry about. It's not easy but it's nice when it works.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:44 PM on April 14, 2016

You said you had ruled out abortion - have you also ruled out adoption? (no judging, no social commentary, just couldn't stop myself from asking)
posted by getawaysticks at 10:14 AM on April 17, 2016

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