Making the commitment to have children is no small decision, and quite frankly, when the process doesn’t go quite as planned there’s an increased chance someone will come out unhappy in the end.
For one 28-year-old mother, she realized the whole process of going through using a sperm donor in order to have a baby was too much for her 37-year-old husband, according to her post in the “Relationship Advice” subReddit.
The woman, who since removed her Reddit profile, came to the sub wondering what she should do after uncovering her husband was unhappy and potentially even struggling with male postpartum depression.
The Original Poster (OP) posted:
“My husband said something really heartbreaking about our son (5-months-old) and I really don’t know how to approach him about it?”
After trying to conceive, the OP and her husband made a discovery.
“We’ve been together 7 years, married for 3. We always knew early on that we wanted kids, but after trying for so long we found out that we couldn’t have kids naturally. We learned he’s very sadly infertile.”
“So after having all the tests and trying IVF, we realised the only way to go would be sperm donation but as I wanted to experience childbirth, we opted for a donor.”
“We were thrilled when I got pregnant, and he was amazing throughout. He was amazingly supportive.”
After finally having a baby, however, the OP noticed a change in her husband.
“I had the baby 5 months ago and I’ve been off on maternity leave.”
“I noticed gradually a change in him. At first, he just seemed a bit distant but after a while I noticed more things like not sleeping well, being a bit moody, spending a bit more time at work, etc. I’ve even noticed he’s not as keen to have sex as he used to be which is unlike him because he’s always had a great libido.”
“I’ve asked him from time to time he said that it’s just work being tough or not sleeping well.”
The OP recently found something out about her husband.
“When he went to work the other day, I asked him if he wanted me to do an update on his PC for when he gets home and he said ok. I turned it on and his browser came up automatically with his email on the page and an open reading pane.”
“Now I’d never ever snoop on him normally, please think that, but it was just there and the email stood out to me because I noticed our sons name in the message.”
“It was an email conversation with his friend. Basically he asked him how my husband’s doing and how he’s enjoying fatherhood.”
“He basically said he regrets it. He said no matter how much he tries, he just can’t not look at our son, doesn’t feel like his dad and can see another man and doesn’t know if he loves him.”
“His friend was shocked and said why, he thought he was really happy and he said it was ever since someone said he doesn’t look like him it’s just been all he sees and sometimes wishes he (husband) just wasn’t here.”
“In the last most recent one His buddy said that he would be there for him and to not do anything rash and that he should seek help somehow.”
Since the OP has struggled with her feelings.
“I remember the comment he mentioned. It was not long after he was born, a colleague of mine with a f’king big mouth came over to see us.”
“She held our son looking at him saying ‘(Husband’s name) he doesn’t look like you at all, sorry to say.’ I remember being stunned and sort of saying it was a bit harsh but he laughed it off and thought he didn’t think anything of it.”
“Reddit I’m absolutely crushed. I feel so bad in so many ways. I feel sad for him that he’s feeling like that but angry that he thinks that way of our little angel.”
“I don’t know if I can say that I read the email and want to talk, or just really sit him down and make him open up.”
“To make matters worse, he absolutely loves his daddy. He lights up when he comes in the room and looks after him when he leaves. That’s what breaks my heart.”
“What do I do?”
Fellow Redditors reached out, offering a wide range of opinions.
Some said the OP was being insensitive.
“What he’s feeling doesn’t seem unreasonable. Mothers can have postpartum and not feel like their child is theirs. Fathers can too. And in this case there isn’t a genetic connection.”
“He needs therapy or a support group. You have to have a heart to heart with him. Pry out what he’s feeling. Don’t mention the email. Then get him help in a way he’s willing to accept.” – slupo
“I read of similar sentiments from fathers of children born through sperm donation. Unfortunately, I think this is fairly common, it’s natural to feel like you want to have your biological children, he probably suffered a lot because of that, thought he got over it but now fell down again.”
“I think he just needs some time to work on his emotions, I know this is hard for you but it is for him as well, I would suggest supporting him at this time, try to understand his feeling and please do not undermine them or make him feel like he’s a bad person because of this, just give him the help he needs to heal as soon as possible.”
“I want to add, if you want to understand how he feels, try to understand how you’d feel if you were the one unable to have kids, you got one thanks to a surrogate mother and you heard a comment like that. How would that make you feel?” – No-Gazelle-2470
“No empathy for the husband who’s clearly going through an existential crisis. Notice how it was mentioned that the husband was supportive during pregnancy? Where is her support for him when he’s clearly struggling? Support is not a 1-way street.”
“It’s an unfortunate truth that men’s mental health still is not regarded as something to be concerned about. He needs someone to listen to him, not judge him!” – dhh723
Others expressed concern for the OP’s husband.
“Ah man, this post really is heartbreaking.”
“I can relate. I’m also infertile (though it sounds for a different reason) and me and my wife are currently in therapy and counseling because I’m having major insecurity issues over sperm donation.”
“His reaction and how he’s feeling, I’m absolutely terrified in case I feel that way.”
“Just reassure him you love him, he’s entitled to his thoughts and that you’ll support him in any way he needs. Please don’t make him feel bad about this.” – throwrafeekawful8390
“Imagine dreaming of fathering a child, finding out you’re infertile, agreeing to your wife being inseminated by another man’s sperm because your wife ‘wanted to experience child birth’, having your privacy invaded by your wife where you express your post partum depression, basically doing everything you can to be the best father you can be given the circumstances…”
“…and having your wife’s main takeaway being angry at you for how you feel.”
“I feel so bad for OP’s husband. Most men would have bailed at the thought of raising another man’s child. But he did it so his wife could achieve one of her life goals even though he couldn’t… and he’s the bad guy.”
“On top of that OP is going to guilt him by emphasizing how much the kid loves him which is obviously part of what is crushing him right now.” – fishbabyclowns
Some also suggested the OP confess and apologize for invading her husband’s space, especially since it involved his mental health.
“You need to come clean to him and tell him that you invaded his privacy. What you read there was him opening up to someone.”
“That you can’t understand how he feels is partly because you are the biological mother whereas he is not the biological dad. Your friend then shot his believes, that he could still see himself as a dad to the kid to the ground.”
“Talk to him and tell him, that you struggle to understand how he feels but that you will try to understand it. Ask him if he would be open to individual counseling, to talk with a specialist about the problem.” – Kranock
“‘Ohhh, I totally didn’t mean to read this private conversation my husband had with a friend, I just accidentally stumbled upon it and then read every single message.'”
“Unbelievable that you are angry at your husband for sharing his feelings in a healthy way with someone. You need to come clean, tell your husband you invaded his privacy, and encourage him to get help as non-judgmentally as possible. It’s not going to be a fun conversation, but it’s what you owe.” – LUL_StreetS**tters
Though this situation was obviously hard for everyone, most of the subReddit seemed to agree the OP needed to connect with her husband to help him reconnect with her and their baby, rather than bluntly confronting him.
Though the Redditor’s account has since been deleted, hopefully she found sound advice from the community.