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She's pregnant and getting married, but not to baby's dad

Adapted from a recent online discussion.

She's pregnant and getting married, but not to baby's dad

N.C.: I'll be pregnant at my wedding with a baby that's not my groom's. He knows this, and so do all our close friends and family, but many guests won't know. I felt sort of defiantly okay with this at the planning stages, but as the date draws nearer, I am feeling more ashamed and panicky about having to answer to the stares and questions of a bunch of people I haven't seen in months or years. It's too late to move the date. My mother says I should send out a notice to invitees so no one will be blindsided. Would that be tacky?

Carolyn: A notice would drop jaws.

Maybe I'm missing something, but why does anyone there (who doesn't already know) have to know anything about your baby's paternity?

N.C. again: Because the people who don't know will make assumptions, I'm guessing, and will ask questions to which I'd rather not have to lie. But the bigger problem is this whole thing makes my future husband very uncomfortable and I'd rather not subject him to a whole day of awkwardness. If people know ahead of time, I'd like to hope they will have the class not to mention it.

Carolyn: What grounds would they have to make an assumption? I don't mean to be obtuse, it's just that when you see a man marrying a pregnant woman, "Who's the father?" isn't usually on the list of the Top 100 questions people think to ask. I'd like to believe people will have the class not to gossip about your circumstances — but since that's unrealistic, I'll just say that notified guests will yap just as much as the blindsided ones. More, depending on how that "notice" is phrased.

So you and your groom should just agree on your approach, and conjure a few smiling non-answers beforehand, a la "Isn't it exciting?" Which says "Butt out" in a way that's appropriate for the most elegant weddings.

Anonymous: Re: Assumptions: I think she means they'll assume he's the father, and that's what will be embarrassing/problematic.

But, if that's it, isn't that going to be an issue not only at the wedding, but also thereafter? Isn't this something they will have to come to terms with — and not worry about what anyone else thinks?

Carolyn: That's exactly why I didn't even consider this as the problem — because it's not one day, or just while she's pregnant, it's for the rest of this soon-to-be-husband-and-father's life.

So if that is the couple's concern, then here's their prime opportunity to decide how, when and to whom they'll tell the truth. This happens all the time with people in non-biological-parenting situations, or where parent and child are related but look different. Sometimes you explain, sometimes you just say "Thanks" to a bumbling bystander.

In other words, this is all piffle compared with the much bigger issue of (in this case) choosing to raise this baby.

So, N.C., the pressing issue is to make peace with that, even if it means postponing the wedding. Once you two are in synch, it's okay to dispatch the petty and awkward as cleanly as you can. When smiling non-answers fail you, try "It's complicated." Pretty much covers it all.

She's pregnant and getting married, but not to baby's dad 03/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, March 6, 2009 4:03pm]

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