At 37 years old and happily childless, I'd always imagined kids were part of my future, but if they didn't happen, that wasn't going to ruin my life. Much like 65 percent of respondents in a recent survey, I felt societal pressure to get married and have kids, but personally not enough to go to the trouble of freezing my eggs. Sure, I'd had an anxious moment or two when I'd thought about the fact that the risk of infertility increases with age, and by the time I turned 34, I'd required a few cancer-preventing surgeries in the reproductive-organ arena. It was around then that I decided to visit the doctor to ditch my IUD and learned my egg count was on the low side.
I'll admit, I'd reached a time in my life when I was more paranoid about never getting pregnant than doing so by accident — but I didn't feel that parenthood was my only avenue to a sense of fulfilment. I was happy with things exactly as they were. So you could imagine I was a mix of apprehensive, excited, and, frankly, flummoxed when I missed my period in May and took a pregnancy test with someone I'd been dating for less than a year after having broken up before.
Image Source: Lisa Holden
Unable to bear the weight of the revelation alone, I'd taken the test by myself in the bathroom but brought it out, assigning him the task of reviewing and reporting the results. In an entirely emotionless tone, my boyfriend, Sean, looked at me with sincere hazel eyes and plainly said the words I'll never forget hearing: "You're pregnant."
This news offered a mosaic of emotions, but what stood out for me was the feeling that I could finally say out loud how much I'd always wanted this. But was my reaction going to influence his? I wasn't sure. Luckily, our ideas about what to do next were relatively aligned, and now that we've embarked on our second trimester, I went back to that scene when we sat in silence, both grappling with the monumental information in front of us, and asked him how he'd really felt about things that day.
Lisa: Describe the moment you learned I was pregnant.
Sean: It didn't feel like a surprise. We were always pretty careful, but the one time we weren't, I couldn't shake the lingering thought that maybe that would lead to a baby. I was travelling for work when I started to wonder if you were thinking the same, and when you called me to say goodnight, I had a feeling you were about to tell me you were pregnant. I remember staring out at the horizon from my hotel and contemplating closing the current chapter of my life and starting a new one with you, as parents. It was a meaningful reflection that I'd had fun in my 20s, established my career and lifestyle in my 30s, and maybe this was the story for my next decade. We didn't know yet, but sitting there contemplating my past and future made me realise I was ready.
Lisa: We took the test right when you returned from that trip. Did you wish you had time alone to process the news before having to give me a reaction in the moment?
Sean: I had already processed the possibility long before the results were in front of me. When you had me look at the test first, I considered it an important job, which is probably why I said that you were pregnant so straightforwardly. I didn't want to sway your decision, but I already knew you were the woman I loved most in the world, and if you wanted to see this through, it was going to be the best gift I could ever receive. This was something I had always secretly wanted but didn't know if it was in the cards for my life. When you said you wanted this too, I was excited, but more than anything, I was relieved.
Lisa: Were there any difficult thoughts or mixed feelings that ran through your mind?
Sean: That I wasn't prepared to be Superman, or the image I had of the ideal father. My dad is such a hardworking, selfless, and caring person who also seems invincible and all-knowing. The question I've grappled with the most throughout this is whether I have what it takes to be the father he's been for my brother and me.
Lisa: Did you worry my decision for what to do next wouldn't match yours?
Sean: It crossed my mind that you might not feel like it was the right time. I was excited to be your partner whether or not we ended up with kids, but a part of me worried that you didn't necessarily want them the way I did.
I also thought about our relationship and the fact that we'd only been back together since September. I hadn't stopped loving you since the first time we dated back in 2021, but we'd broken up for a year, and since rekindling, I wasn't always sure where you stood. One of the first conversations we had after learning you were pregnant was about what would happen if we broke up again. It wasn't necessarily fun, but it reinforced something really important about our connection. We will always respect each other, regardless of where we are romantically, and I think that will serve us well as parenting partners no matter what happens.
Image Source: Lisa Holden
Lisa: Since you found out, has it changed the way you see me? Has it changed our relationship dynamic?
Sean: Yes. This has helped each of us be more intimate and honest with each other and brought us closer together.
As you become increasingly sensitive and vulnerable, it makes me grateful that someone who generally puts up such a tough front trusts me enough to let me in and let me take over when things stress you out or make you nervous. But it has also made me realise I need to be thoughtful about my communication and patience when you have increased emotions or intense reactions to my actions.
When we had disagreements in the past, there was always the threat in the back of my mind that this would be it, we'd give up on each other. Now, that has been replaced by the question, "What needs to happen for us to work through this situation for our relationship and our future?"
I also think it's just really fun. Lately, it feels like we seem to be sharing these telepathic moments where we laugh at the same random observations and generally just feel more at ease with one another. I love when you wake up in the morning and tell me about the crazy hormone-infused dreams you had the night before, and I love every doctor's appointment, especially the one when we saw the baby move for the first time and we joked that it looked just like my trademark happy dance.
Lisa: Do you have any advice for people on the receiving end of unexpected information like this?
Sean: This is one of the most unique opportunities of your life. Even if the relationship or pregnancy doesn't work out, this is a pivotal point where you can have a conversation with someone that will help you grow. Whether you grow as a person, in your relationship, or just in your knowledge and understanding of a fellow human being, every possibility at this juncture offers room for exploration — so take it, and take it seriously. That said, don't let it overwhelm you. The best advice I have received about this so far is that most of the time, you're not going to know exactly what to do. Whether it's the baby or new parts of the relationship you're forging, or figuring out how to support your partner as the pregnancy carries on, the answer will often be unclear. But it's not your job to know precisely what to do. It's your job to walk confidently into the unknown, because that's all you can do. Whether you're embarking on the creation of your family or deciding to take another direction, take comfort in the fact that all of it is ultimately unknown.