Your pregnancy — even if unexpected — is expected to be a joyous thing ... but what if your boyfriend is unhappy with the surprise news?
As a woman, deciding to keep and raise a baby is one of the hardest decisions to make. But even if you come resolved in your decision, it's not always the same decision the father would choose. And that's when conflict arises in your relationship.
But even if your situation is not as extreme, what can you do in this situation? What if you want to keep the child and he does not?
You're Happy — So Why Isn't He?
There's undeniable science behind the natural bonding that occurs between mother and child. A scientific study from 2002 titled, "Maternal and Fetal Microchimerism" revealed that there is a physical process whereby fetal cells pass into the maternal circulation system during the normal process of pregnancy. This happens at about 4-5 weeks of gestation.
Literally, the cells from the fetus travel into the mother's body. Therefore, a mother feel more connected to the pregnancy than the father. This isn't to say that all women are always content with a pregnancy. But the physical attachment complicates our emotions.
YourTango Expert and educator who helps women process grief caused by voluntary pregnancy termination Trudy Johnson says that men and women react differently to pregnancy.
"Initially, men may not be emotionally engaged in the pregnancy at all," she says. Your boyfriend may be more concerned about the circumstances of life than the emotions. "For instance, they will go to the financial facts regarding the pregnancy rather than the warm fuzzies of it."
This seemingly detached reaction of "clamming up" is actually normal in men. "If your man is an avoider, his initial response may be to push you away or even do the more drastic thing of going to his cave for awhile," she says. "If you push back at him at this point it will make things worse."
What Should You Do?
Instead, remain calm, positive and resolved in your decision to keep the baby. "Giving him time without chasing or demanding will bring him out of his cave ready to meet you half way," Johnson says.
Is it ever possible that he will change his mind? Or is it unfair to hold out hope that he will ever come around? Not necessarily. Sometimes, he just needs time to process the news. His anxiety is often more about his own inadequacies as a dad-to-be than you and the baby.
Open up a dialogue with him. Compose a list of your feelings about the pregnancy using "I" statements. "I've always dreamed of being a mother", "It's not in my morals to terminate this pregnancy", " Be heartfelt, but also be prepared to express your thoughts concretely to him.
At the same time, try to understand the situation from his perspective. How was his relationship with his own father? Seeing parenthood through his eyes can help you understand the reasons behind his feelings about your pregnancy.
Listen to his insecurities, his childhood anecdotes, his worries. Being truly interested in his side of this pregnancy shows that he isn't alone.
Make Your Decision (And Stick Strong To It)
And what if he doesn't eventually come around? What if you're left pregnant without the support of the father? It's natural to give in to panic at moments and even waver, but Johnson advises women to "stay strong" in your decision.
If he's not supportive and completely discounts your opinion, it may be time to reassess the relationship anyway. This may not be the first time he has failed to hear you.
It's normal to have mixed feelings about a pregnancy. Frankly, it's weird to not to waver between anxiety, excitement and elation. Your world is about to flip upside down chock-full with sleepless nights, dirty diapers and maybe the occasional tantrum.
But it's also about to change for the better, chock-full with giggle fits, "first" moments and cuddling naps. For the rest of your life, you will be someone's mom. And should you make the choice, no one should take that away from you.
"Sometimes when family members least deserve love, they need it most. Love is not appropriately expressed in threats, accusations, expressions of disappointment, or retaliation. Real love takes time, patience, help, and continuing performances." —Marvin J. Ashton