Sini Ariell’s husband, Stuart, was always upfront about the fact he didn’t want children. Since she was infertile, that wasn’t a problem … until it was.
As Sini wrote on her blog, she had learned at a Helsinki fertility clinic she would never be able to have children. So when she married a man who didn’t want to be a dad, they were able to plan their future together without worrying about how starting a family might change things.
But in February, Sini learned she was pregnant. And though it was a miracle, her happiness was tinged with a sense of dread. She wrote:
[M]y 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.
To Sini’s surprise, her husband did not suggest they terminate the pregnancy. Nor did he accept her offer to leave and raise the child without him:
Stuart immediately said that we must absolutely keep the baby because it’s a miracle that I became pregnant. […] 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. […]. He refused that strongly and said he would take responsibility and be with me for better and for worse.
But just because her husband accepted life’s curveball didn’t mean he shared her joy over the pregnancy. Instead, Sini embarked upon a lonely pregnancy, made worse by extreme morning sickness.
Sini was alone in her happiness for her entire pregnancy. And while her husband promised that things would be OK once their baby arrived, there was no evidence this would really happen. Instead, she had to trust in his word and hope for the best. She wrote:
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.
Though she occasionally thought about packing up and going to her mother, Sini decided to hang on and trust in her husband. She says they spent a lot of time reassuring each other that things would be OK when the baby arrived.
Still, Sini felt like she was living in a “nightmare,” and she was counting the days until her due date. Because Stuart took a clinical view of their child, not considering it theirs until it was born, they were never on the same page. But Sini tried to keep their conversations open and respectful to both of their feelings:
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.
To make matters worse, Sini was in the strange position of having to defend her husband against friends and strangers who urged her to leave him and derided him for not wanting children. They tried to go to therapy, but the therapist was as perplexed by their situation as everyone else.
Stuart even apologized to his wife for not wanting the baby and not being happy about the pregnancy. She wrote:
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.
On Sept. 28, Sini went to the hospital to deliver. Stuart was there to comfort her through the cesarean section. She cried when she saw her new daughter and watched as people visited them.
But it was when her husband left the hospital that night that she got the first hint that things had changed. She wrote:
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.
The next day, Stuart was back to spend the day with his wife and new daughter. She sent him home to celebrate his birthday with friends, then got a message that made her forgive every lonely night of her pregnancy. He wrote:
I love you and Penny very much, and I’m sorry I’ve been so flat towards you. I’m glad you stayed around. This was such a massive thing for me and I needed time to process it all, but seeing that beautiful little girl in your arms makes me realise that this is where I need to be and what I need to do. Look after you two the best I can and watch our daughter grow.
If Sini had any doubts about her husband’s commitment to fatherhood, they were settled by what he told her on the way home from the hospital:
“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.”
Sini explained she wanted to share her story to thank the people who supported them through the pregnancy and to give an unvarnished view of what they both went through. She concluded: “Life isn’t always so straightforward and it doesn’t always go to plan. […] Here we still are, except now there are three of us.”