Reader WTF writes,
I am four weeks pregnant, and I've been wanting kids for three months, so I am very excited this happened so quickly. We are not disclosing this to family and friends until the first sonogram.
While we were trying to conceive, my husband seemed to be on board. He agreed with me that parenting is something you learn as it comes to you, kept laughing and joking about my new craze of babymaking, planned with me about how we can clean up to make space in the house, talked about savings/finances, career advancement etc.
When I first took the test he hugged me and said congratulations. And that was the last nice thing he said about it.
Since then, he has said three times "I don't want kids," which makes my heart break. I have fought, cried, and made him apologize for saying that to his pregnant wife. He did. But it still hurts to know he is not in this fully. Is this normal? Is he just nervous? Fearful of responsibility? (I am also dealing with an introvert.)
What can I do to fully get him to understand this phrase is probably the most painful thing you can say to someone who is having YOUR child? When I say it as is he says, "Well I was just expressing my feelings." I fear I will lose my early pregnancy just freaking out about what if he never wants to hold our baby, what if he doesn't care when it gets really hard to do things around the house due to pregnancy, what if there are complications, what if our relationship is ruined due to a child that I wanted so badly?
I don't want to sound hormonal. I really want to know if husbands ever come around or do women often go through pregnancy alone? Of course I see perfect examples within the friends/family of how fathers went to the first doctor's appointment, but my husband didn't say anything about joining me even though I told him when it was. Other fathers came up with creative ideas to announce the birth, while my husband just said okay to my idea with no real excitement. And he got mad at me that I told my best friend.
Am I expecting too much? I think when pregnancy happens it's a mutual decision... and we talked about it before, and I thought he wanted it too, so what the heck are the cold feet for? I mean where was your condom if you never wanted to create a human with me? It's like at that time he did but now that God has blessed us he wants to back out.
I feel you. Your husband is acting pretty obnoxious. But let's give him the benefit of the doubt. I am assuming this guy is in his late 20s or early 30s. His friends mostly don't have kids, and the ones that do seem exhausted and downtrodden. No longer do they party like rock stars all night. Now, they are on baby duty. When you wanted to have all that unprotected sex, your husband blocked out his ambivalence and just enjoyed your enthusiasm. But now, you're pregnant, and all of his insecurity and doubts are rushing to the fore.
Unfortunately for your husband, the time for decisionmaking has past. Your decision is made and it's growing at a rapid clip. Soon it will be the size of a kiwi, and then a honeydew, or whatever fruit the BabyCenter updates compare your fetus to. He can't keep saying he doesn't want kids while you're gestating one.
Some people believe that a mother becomes a mother at the moment she knows she's pregnant, but a man becomes a dad when he sees the new baby. I have noticed this is generally more true than not. It's not going to feel as real to him as it does to you. But when he sees the baby, usually, he will love it. The likelihood of a guy who has been generally nice and loving to you turning into a rejecting and cold dad is low. But he obviously needs some time to acclimate to the idea that he's going to have a kid, that he's no longer a carefree childfree dude, and that you're going to get huge and cry all the time and then nurse for a year during which your sex drive is basically nonexistent. Well, don't tell him about the likelihood of that just yet.
Here is a script to use with your husband:
"I feel really confused and alone. From my perspective, we both agreed to conceive a baby, we had great sex, we were happy and warm and joking around, and then as soon as I got pregnant, you started saying stuff like that you don't want kids. This is making me really anxious, and I feel completely blindsided."
"Do you actually do not want me to have this baby? If you really think you will leave me and our child, or will stay but resent our kid over being born, then I need you to tell me honestly right now so that I can decide what to do. Otherwise, I have confidence that you'll be a great dad when you see our baby, but I need you here with me and supporting me right now, during the pregnancy. Can you please switch around your schedule to come to a few doctor's appointments with me, including the one where we hear the heartbeat?" Not all at once, but that's the gist of your side of the conversation.
Also, try to use empathy and, even though you don't want to, realize that having a baby isn't all awesomeness, that it will change his and your lives dramatically and not only for the better, and that you too are anxious and fear the changes that a baby will bring to your lives.
Sometimes in situations like this, couples become polarized, meaning that they each become more extreme in opposite directions than they really feel. So he says stuff like, "I don't even want this baby, our lives will be ruined" and you say stuff like, "I am 100 percent excited about this baby and our lives will only be improved by the addition of an adorable baby and anyone who feels ambivalence about having a baby is a monster." Exaggeration, but you get my point. If you express some of your own anxiety and even ambivalence about pregnancy, he may feel more supported, and will then support you more.
Good luck, and keep me updated. Till we meet again, I remain,
The Blogapist Who Says, My Husband Didn't Even Know If He Wanted a Third Kid But Now He Adores Him.
This post was originally published here on Dr. Psych Mom. Follow Dr. Rodman on Dr. Psych Mom, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Order her book, How to Talk to Your Kids about Your Divorce: Healthy, Effective Communication Techniques for Your Changing Family. This blog is not intended as diagnosis, assessment, or treatment, and should not replace consultation with your medical provider.