Pregnant and Hoping to Reunite with Baby’s Father

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Reader’s Question

I have been in a relationship with my boyfriend for four years. We moved in together after approximately four months and have been living together ever since. He said he was ready to start a family, we began trying a few months later, and I became pregnant immediately.

When I was 27 weeks pregnant, after much pestering by me about what was wrong, he admitted that he did not love me anymore. He admitted that he hadn’t loved me since we moved into our new house a year ago and has been struggling with his feelings ever since, trying to make it work. He said he only indicated he wanted to start a family because that’s what I wanted to hear. He was shocked I got pregnant, and the entire pregnancy has been really hard for him. Now that I am pregnant he’s accepted it and is happy to be a dad, but he knows that we can no longer have a relationship, other than a co-parenting one. I am now 35 weeks pregnant and we are still living under the same roof because it was decided that it was less stressful than me moving out on my own during my pregnancy. I am in shock, extremely hurt and still very much in love with this person. I cannot understand how someone’s feelings can change from being so in love to not at all. He thinks it’s totally normal and that he just hasn’t found the right person. We had started a life together and now it’s ending just as it should be beginning. I’m still hoping that once the baby arrives he may change his mind about us working it out. But he has been unwavering in his lack of feelings towards me since he initially told me how he felt. Should I just come to terms with it and move on? Is it possible he could fall back into love with me?

Psychologist’s Reply

I can only imagine how difficult it is for you to face this man every day with the hope that his feelings toward you will return. Going through a pregnancy at the same time may only complicate your feelings more.

It is unclear who decided it would be “less stressful” to continue living together during your pregnancy, but it appears it may actually be creating more stress as you are confronted with the worry about your future every day. Stress and pregnancy are an unhealthy combination for your developing baby and for you. A large body of research supports correlations between maternal stress and increased risk for a variety of cognitive, emotional, and physical difficulties for a developing baby. Having that stress continue as a new mother after the birth of your baby may also contribute to further difficulties. According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH), postpartum depression affects approximately 7% to 13% of women who give birth, and a stressful environment as well as lack of a support network can increase the chances of developing the disorder. It may be helpful for you to begin to establish a support network apart from the baby’s father that includes trusted friends and family as well as your physician. Obstetricians usually have excellent resources and referrals to help support expecting and new mothers. If you are comfortable with your physician or a nurse in your ob/gyn’s office, that might be a good place to start sharing your worries and concerns about your situation and to ask for supportive referrals and resources.

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Sometimes when things happen differently than we expected, we have difficulty shifting and letting go of the way we thought things “should” be. Often, holding onto “shoulds” can make us feel more stuck and hinder our ability to see other choices available to us. It may be helpful for you to talk with a licensed therapist or psychologist who can support you in making decisions that are best for you and your baby. Your ob/gyn can likely offer referrals to a qualified and trusted mental health professional.

Making changes can be very difficult. However, if you choose to live apart from your ex-boyfriend, it may help clarify your feelings for him and perhaps his feelings for you. Whether you two will reunite is uncertain, but taking the steps to create your own life for yourself and your baby may be most important for you right now.

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