My husband Stuart never wanted to become a father. He married me happy that I could never get pregnant. So what a surprise when in the new year of 2017 I became pregnant and our whole relationship changed permanently.
The urine test showed two lines and my heart wept for joy and at the same time enormous fear mixed with rage. The rage was a reaction to already having given up hope of ever having a child, our relationship was so well balanced, and we had planned our future. I knew we would drift apart because Stuart had made his stance about having kids of his own very clear.
I was happy about this alone throughout the pregnancy. Our relationship became cold and distant just because Stuart was unable to process it any other way, let alone change his stance throughout the entire pregnancy.
He understood and of course promised that everything would become better once the baby was born, but just watching my belly grow didn’t awaken any fatherly feelings at all. I lived with uncertainty about how things would go for us after the baby was born, and the only thing I could lean on was trusting in his word.
It’s gonna be OK became familiar in our tearful discussions, all the while being realistically aware that nothing can be trusted 100 per cent no matter what the other one says. I believed and hoped that everything would go well, there’s not really anything else to do in that kind of situation. The whole pregnancy was in addition overshadowed by my extremely bad pregnancy nausea, which landed me finally in a hospital bed with a drip in my arm several times. Two days before giving birth.
Fear and despair as well as total loneliness on the farm while puking became a daily struggle. I lived in a nightmare and just counted the days to the agreed due date. The feeling that I didn’t have any control or knowledge about what would happen after the birth took up a lot of energy. However, our love was so strong that I decided to hang on, although a few times it did cross my mind to pack up my things and go home to Mum.
Stuart has a very scientific view of the universe and he thinks the baby is ours only after it is outside of the belly. Our relationship is based on enormous mutual respect, trust, and good communication. All through the pregnancy, we talked openly without judging each other’s thoughts. Still, it was very tough knowing what he really thought deep down about all of this.
I gave him time. I understood his process because it would have been the same if someone had forced me to feel happy about my infertility. Grief and anxiety become enormous when you are not allowed to make your own decisions about these kinds of things related to having children. For me, being infertile, and for Stuart, a surprise baby.
So I understood well the roller coaster of emotions Stuart was on. People judged him as being selfish for no good reason, sent me hate mail like “leave the prick”, and tried to support me by dissing my husband. It’s clearly taboo to say that you’ve decided to be a childless adult. It was surprising to note how people reacted when we openly shared the situation. It felt weird that so much hate was aimed at Stuart by strangers for not wanting children of his own and making choices in his life and choosing his partner in accordance with that decision. He had decided already when he was young to live without children of his own.
Well now that life gave us a surprise Stuart immediately said that we must absolutely keep the baby because it’s a miracle that I became pregnant. I was shocked that he overall unselfishly gave up his own dream and life plans for me and our baby. We didn’t even discuss an abortion. I informed him that under no circumstances do I want to force him into being a father unless he wants to do it. I said that if he wants it so, I’ll pack up my things and move out and take care of the baby by myself. He refused that strongly and said he would take responsibility and be with me for better and for worse.
Many times during my pregnancy, Stuart apologised for not feeling anything towards this baby, let alone feeling happy about the whole pregnancy. We event went to therapy once but the therapist didn’t know how to help us at all, said they’d never heard of such a strange relationship issue.
It was very distressing watching him get more depressed day by day and notice his grief about the whole thing. At the same time I was grieving not being able to be happy with him about the pregnancy let alone the baby, and I also didn’t want to feel pity for him either. I was sad and cried over not being able to rejoice fully in the pregnancy that was supposed to be impossible. And then the continuous nausea on top of everything. You can only imagine how conflicting the whole situation was and for so long. I cried myself to sleep on many nights and prayed for the strength to continue.
The biggest thing for Stuart was probably that he likes to plan life and be in control of everything, and now it felt like our life was drifting out of our control without any clue of what would happen next. He has never hated children, it’s more like he loves the children of others, but just didn’t want his own.
Then came the day of birth Sept. 28, 2017. The C-section was planned because I had been suffering from severe hyperemesis and the placenta was down low in the frontal part of the uterus. Even on the way there Stuart had sarcastic comments and stupid humour about the subject. We sat on the hospital bed and the surgeon, Dr. Tuan Au came to take us along with him.
Stuart put on the hospital scrubs same as me. We didn’t really talk anymore. “This is it, are you ready?” I asked Stuart and he kissed my forehead. We sat in the operation room and the operation began with an epidural on my side. I was terrified. Stuart consoled me all through the operation while I cried inconsolably out of fear. It was creepy to feel them remove and pull the baby from my belly, even though I didn’t feel any pain.
In the end, there was first a little cry and my heart flipped. Tears of joy streamed from my eyes as the mottled baby with all the bloody slime was placed on my chest. Stuart sat next to me and we looked at each other and then at the baby. I don’t even remember if we said anything, it was just an incredible situation.
Finally, we were moved to a hospital room to rest and recuperate. The day was spent wondering at the baby and friends kept coming through the door continuously. Stuart held the baby along with everyone else. I myself was strongly medicated and quite groggy.
LISTEN: Why choosing not to have children is one of the last female taboos (post continues after audio…)
In the evening, Stuart had to leave the hospital because there was no bed for him in the room. Before he left, he all of a sudden said to me, “Thank you Sini for the most beautiful daughter in the world”. I was so astonished that I didn’t really know what to say. He kissed me and the baby.
After he left, I broke out and began crying hysterically. It felt like someone had opened a black bag that I had been in for so long and light came rushing into the room. An enormous weight was taken off my back. I felt infinite relief and gratitude. The nightmare was finally over. I had trusted his word and now there was the reward. We were now a family. The next morning Stuart came to the hospital and spent the day with us. Changed diapers and took care of us with the utmost care.
Over the next days, his feelings toward our baby kept growing stronger. The nurses had kindly organised a bed for him from Friday onwards in our room. On Sunday, he sat on his bed and looked at me breastfeeding our baby. He said, “God you look beautiful”, I was stunned and thought he was joking, asked him “what do you mean?” He answered that he was just incredibly humble and grateful when he looked at me breastfeeding his daughter. I turned to face him and noticed that he was crying, tears of joy and emotion. I began crying as well and said, “Oh darling, look where life has taken us.” We cried together and hugged. We talked all through the night.
We went home on Monday, Stuart’s 31st birthday. In the car, he said “If someone were to come now and say that we have a good home picked out for your daughter where she will have everything she needs, good parents, private schools, and caring for the rest of her life that gives you back your life. You can go back to the time and life you had before this. I would say that I would never change this for something else. I would be completely shattered if something happened to my baby. And I would never again let her go.” I just cried and was speechless again.
Life isn’t always so straightforward and it doesn’t always go to plan. I didn’t want to paint a false portrait of our life. Of course it would have been easy to say that everything is rosy and wonderful, that everything has been just like everybody expects it to be. But it wasn’t, not even close. I don’t need to lie and make our life seem easier than it is. We went through hell both on our own and together. We were publicly judged and horribly criticised in the the media. We also received an enormous amount of support, for which we are very grateful.
Here we still are, except now there are three of us.