Carolyn Hax: Expectant father nudged out of prenatal appointments – Lifotravel



Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Carolyn: My girlfriend is 5 months pregnant. Today she informed me that she wants to include her mom and sister in the upcoming doctor appointments. Because of covid she can bring only one person with her, which means I’m going to be left out of as many as two-thirds of the appointments. She lives with her mom and sister, so she spends a lot of time with them, whereas I get to see her only a few hours a day and she never spends the night with me. Our time together is really limited and now this doctor thing is more than I can handle.

I have told her I want to be very involved in the pregnancy and the baby’s life. I have a feeling that when the baby comes, the situation will remain the same and I will feel left out and relegated to being a part-time parent. I have been supporting her and her family for years and I truly love her, and I’m so excited to be a dad, but this situation is very painful and I don’t know what to do. Am I being selfish? I feel like I’m being given an occasional table scrap.

Dallas: This just gets to the thorniest part of pregnancy, doesn’t it? It’s two people’s baby but one person’s body. It’s all right there.

Rightly and necessarily, the body prevails. Forcing your way into someone else’s appointment, like forcing someone to carry a pregnancy to term, is not a place I will ever advise going. But you also matter, and your feelings matter, and your role as father matters.

So if your girlfriend wants female, family support at her appointments, then the right thing is for you to grant her that — but advocating for yourself first is also the right thing. Tell her how important it is to you to be there, how meaningful these appointments have been, and how involved you want to be in the child’s life. Explain that you understand how important it is for her to choose her own support, too, and will grant her that respect — but would also like to know if there’s something you could be doing better when you’re there. And/or if you can agree to be there for half or two-thirds of the appointments or whatever as the mom and sister alternate for the others.

Basically it’s, “I’m here for you during your pregnancy even if my absence is the only way to do that, but I’d 100 percent prefer presence.”

Longer term, given the lines you’ve written and whatever else I can make out between them (supporting them all for years?!), it does sound possible your access to fatherhood might be limited, which is different, since you don’t share the pregnancy but do share the child. Any issues there are for an attorney, now.

But your chances of a good outcome are better if you establish yourself now as flexible, a good listener, responsive to your girlfriend’s needs, and firm about your place in your child’s life. Congrats and good luck.

Re: Dallas: He needs to consult lawyer now to establish parental rights, especially if there is no marriage in the plans. A friend was happy to be a dad but not interested in being married to the mom; best thing he ever did was start the legal talk before the baby was born.

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