Dear Carolyn: I just found out I'm pregnant, and I'm not happy about it. Quick backstory: I'm about to turn 40 and recently married my boyfriend of six years. We almost didn't get married because he did not want to have kids and I was not prepared to say never.
After many (many) conversations and one near-breakup — a sad but kind one — he decided he'd rather be with me and would be open to having a child if it happened.
Well, it's happened and all I feel is dread. It's been a week and I can't seem to dig up one happy feeling. My husband says it's totally up to me what I want to do, though he's understandably concerned that I'm not more excited, and worried about proceeding if that doesn't change.
I feel absolutely disgusting for putting him through this. I'm scared about logistics and finances but mostly that I'll miss my current life and be miserable with a baby. I'm so stressed out that I can't believe there's any cortisol left in my body and I feel like I'm going down a shame spiral at a moment when I need a clear head. How can I get myself back on track to make this decision? Please help.
Ashamed: Ashamed. Of. What.
Seriously — what? And “absolutely disgusting”? How?! Obviously I don’t know you, but given just your brief letter, if you told me you ever spoke or even thought that way about someone you loved, then I wouldn’t believe you. Between these few lines I see a sensitive, conscientious person who’d take 10 burdens on herself before laying one on somebody else. (Yes?)
So have the same mercy on yourself, please, this once.
And let’s just get this out there: Your pregnancy was not immaculately conceived, was it? Your husband could have used contraception or gotten a vasectomy or not penetrated you. You are not “putting him through” this or anything else. Just stop.
Here’s what I urge you to do instead: First, breathe. Some news needs air and rest.
Next, call your OB/GYN’s office for names of pregnancy counselors. Since this topic has become repugnantly political, make sure you choose someone whose views align with your own; the last thing you need is cultural shame superimposed on your own.
Next, include your husband as a willing actor and full participant — in the conception, in the feelings, in the decisions. The only thing you’re “putting him through” right now is disenfranchisement from his own family. That’s no small thing, obviously — and, too, he jumped right in to disenfranchise himself by saying “it’s totally up to [you],” which is so achingly wrong — but there are also few things of such magnitude so easily fixed as this one.
Just say to yourself: “It’s not ‘my current life’ that’s changing, it’s ours.”
To him: “No, this isn’t up to me — it’s up to us. We both chose our way to this. We both got caught off-guard. We need to take some time to adjust to this pregnancy, settle our thoughts, figure this out.”
And you will. You found your way to each other through difficult thoughts, feelings and conversations — so you sound well-prepared to trust yourselves and each other to find your way through this.