Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Share fears about surprise early pregnancy with husband
Help: I just found out today that I'm pregnant. It was an accident. I am fortunate to be married to a wonderful guy, and we planned to have children at some point . . . just not for a few years, at least. My husband in particular wanted to wait until his career was in a better place, we'd have more time as newlyweds, etc.
He's on a business trip now, so I will tell him when he gets back, and I would desperately like your advice. My own father was distant from us kids, and I overheard my mother mention once that he always felt that it happened too early, that he didn't have enough time to enjoy being independent and not completely subject to a little person's unremitting needs.
So I'm terrified that my husband — who I'm sure will be a wonderful father, otherwise — may always secretly (?) regret that lost time, and that even if it doesn't affect his relationship with his family, it will make him privately unhappy in some way.
Do you think this is generally the case? Or do many people adapt well once the "surprise" baby arrives?
Carolyn: Would you please, please, please share your fears with your husband? In a way that's sympathetic to both of you, of course, so he doesn't mistake it for a guilt-trip chaser to your news?
Some people adapt well, some people don't, and your odds of the former go way up if you're both open about your doubts, and if you're both invested in helping each other face them.
The approach that's guaranteed to fail, on the other hand, is to hold on to the old vision of life vs. building a new one around your — yes — happy news.
Anonymous: Re: Surprise Dad: I was also a surprise dad. Things have turned out great, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
A few cautions:
• Remember that pregnancy is real for you and surreal for us. Taking time to warm up to the idea is not the same as being against it.
• Talk about misgivings and listen; don't penalize for being honest.
• Give space when it's overwhelming.
• Ask for "concrete" assistance. Some guys don't want to be asked to feel a certain way but will gladly paint or move furniture.
• Be vigilant against neglect but understanding of ambivalence.
My wife was a gem and I'd like to think helped polish this diamond-in-the-rough of a dad.
Carolyn: Great, thank you. I'll underscore "don't penalize for being honest."
Colorado Springs: Re: Surprise Dad: I'm one dad who never thought about or really wanted to have kids, particularly, and we had a "surprise" kid 11 months after getting married. Definitely long before I would have considered myself ready.
And it was the best thing that ever happened to me, and the most fun I've ever had. He's still one of the high points of my life 24 years later.
Carolyn: Yay, Dad. Thanks. Distant or bitter parents are a real phenomenon, but these two examples argue against a simple cause-and-effect relationship between surprises and resentment.