DeSean* sat alone in the waiting room, mindlessly fidgeting with his phone—but that’s not really where his mind was. In fact, his thoughts were consumed with one thing: his girlfriend was pregnant. When they made the appointment at our clinic, they were hoping that the four or five home tests could be proven incorrect. But our pregnancy test only confirmed it. Amira* was carrying another life inside her.
I introduced myself and asked, “How are you feeling?” It seemed like he’d been waiting for someone to ask that question. “I’m scared,” he admitted—which is not an easy thing for any man to say. I could tell he had a lot on his mind, so we talked for a while about life, work, relationships, and parenting.
“What are you going to do about this pregnancy? What are you thinking?” I asked, trying to get to the heart of the matter.
“If I had to answer right now then I’d say I’m leaning towards parenting,” DeSean confided. “But I don’t want to add any stress to Amira. She’s very emotional right now.”
“You know, that would probably be helpful for her to hear. Have you told her this?”
“No, but I should.”
A lot of men who visit our clinic express similar thoughts. They say, “I want to support her in whatever she decides.” They sound sincere enough, but from my experience it often appears like they are following a script handed them by our culture. The message they are given is, “It’s her body, so it’s her choice. You don’t have a voice in the decision.”
This idea permeates society, but is it true that men shouldn’t have a voice in pregnancy decisions? And furthermore, is it really helpful to the mother if they don’t? At Care Net we believe the answer to both questions is a resounding “no”.
A 2015 study of more than 1,000 women who had an abortion were asked, “With whom did you discuss the pregnancy termination/abortion decision?” Among the responses, 61% said they had this discussion with the father of the baby. The most striking answers, however, were given in a subsequent question about who was “most influential in their decision to terminate a pregnancy?” More than one-third (38%) of women said that the father of the baby was the most influential on their abortion decision.
Amira sat in a room with one of our nurses. She was nervous and scared. ”I just don’t know what he wants to do,” she said. The nurse responded, “Well, maybe you two should talk about it.” So the nurse left them alone to talk. When she returned, DeSean spoke up and said, “We’re keeping the baby.” A weight had lifted from their shoulders.
After their appointment was over, I found them before they left. DeSean extended his hand with a smile and said, “I’m gonna be a dad!”
“Congratulations!” I said to both of them. When I turned to congratulate Amira, I could see the stress and anxiety were gone. She was glowing as a smile spread across her face.
Despite the messages from our society, both mom and dad matter in pregnancy decisions. That’s why our programming includes both parents in the decision making process. Thank you for making it possible to bring DeSean and Amira together to talk about what really matters.
Because sometimes, one good talk is all it takes to save a life.
*names changed for privacy.