I'll never know what it’s like to hear the words, “I’m pregnant!” out of my partner’s mouth. I can’t imagine what that must be like, or what thoughts must race through the mind. Each time I’ve found out I was pregnant, my reactions have been rather mixed. I’d initially feel afraid and anxious, then, depending on whether I wanted to keep the pregnancy or not, frustration or excitement. I spoke with a few dads who described the moment their partner announced their pregnancy, and their answers were even more varied than what I’ve experienced, or even expected.
I believe it's vital that everyone — from romantic partners to friends to family members to politicians to society at large — defer to the partner that is actually pregnant as to whether that pregnancy will continue. However, I wouldn’t say dads' opinions and feelings aren’t valid (once the decision to become a parent has been made). As a partner, either romantically or simply as a co-parent, I believe the non-pregnant person's opinions and feelings are definitely important, especially if they plan on being heavily involved in their future child’s life.
In listening to the following dads' initial reactions to the news their partners were pregnant, I found it extremely interesting that many dads' first concerns were financial. For me, personally, the realization that I was going to lose complete control over my body trumped any thoughts of my bank account. Still, there's one reaction I think everyone can relate to, and that's that overwhelming feeling of, "Oh, sh*t." Because, well, I don't think a single person, regardless of gender, doesn't get overwhelmed when they realize they're going to be responsible for another human being.
“I thought I had the hottest girlfriend but then she told me this and she instantly became way hotter. But also, oh sh*t, this is gonna be expensive.”
“"Panic. Followed by more panic. Then different variations of panic."
"The pregnancy was unplanned, though we knew we were going to start trying soon. But when she found out we were both surprised and my exact words were, 'Don't take this the wrong way but, mixed feelings? Yeah, I have them.' They were unmixed shortly thereafter and we were both excited."
"We were 21, unmarried and still in school, and it was after our first time together. So my immediate reaction was, 'Great, all of our friends have been f*cking around for years. We get together once and get pregnant.' Not so romantic, LOL.
However, despite the gut punch of having to tell my future wife's rather conservative parents, I think the immediate reaction was more determination to make it work (of course having no idea at the time what fatherhood meant at all). I think the sense of wonder came later, when my son was actually born."
"I told my wife, 'You’re gonna get SO BIG.'”
“Terrified joy, I think, sums it up. It was very exciting, but I was also positive being responsible for another human being was one of the worst choices I could have made. Or more accurately that I was one of the worst choices to be responsible for her.”
"I have four boys of my own (two stepchildren, too) and all four weren't expected! The first one was maybe the biggest surprise because going from no kids to kids is the biggest step (then from two to three is next). I was concerned because the mother and I lived in different states and I had a feeling my parents wouldn't understand. But before I told them, I came to the realization that I didn't need their support and I'd do it anyway, support or not. My mom took it the hardest, but came to be excited at the idea.
Anyway, if you're looking for just initial reactions, surprised was it for all of them. I always wanted to be a dad and I've always loved and have been good with babies, so I just moved forward and it didn't take long before I was dying to hold, meet, kiss, and love my little ones! I'd be attached to that belly and I loved feeling them move. I'd talk, read, and sing to them, and when they were babies I loved cuddling and holding them. It seems that the more kids I had the more I'd love the baby times (probably because I knew it didn't last long) and I'm one of those guys who didn't mind getting up at night or changing diapers or the crying or any of that. I hear crying and I want to comfort babies.
So yeah, surprised and of course there's the 'can we afford this and how?' thought, but it gives way before long and all the worry is replaced with love and anticipation. Thoughts of names, gender, little clothes, new baby smell, cuddling, bonding, and baby movements in the belly (one of the most amazing feelings ever!) replace the initial shock pretty quickly."