*This article is a work of nonfiction based on actual events recounted to me by a friend who witnessed them firsthand; used with permission
Having a baby with your relationship partner will often happen after an engagement and your wedding, but things won't go according to plan every time.
What can you do when you find out you're pregnant and your partner refuses to support you, but you don't want to think about being a parent by yourself? Is there any way to convince them to still care about you, or is a negative reaction to a pregnancy an indication that it won't last?
My former coworker Beth, who lives in Dallas, Texas, has been dating her boyfriend, Tom, for one year. They met after graduating from college and spent a few weeks being friends after taking classes together.
"He was easy to talk to and didn't criticize people at all. I liked how positive he was, and I wanted to know more about him. Once we got talking, he asked for my number, and we began texting the very next day," Beth said.
Beth and Tom texted and called each other almost daily, and they also met a few times to have breakfast before going to work.
"It was great for starting my day, and I wanted to spend more time together. I didn't know if we'd be together eventually, but Tom was very kind and attentive just as a friend, too," Beth said.
After three weeks of talking and seeing each other casually, Tom asked Beth to go on a date. They chose a movie they both liked and also had a walk in the park. They had a good time and decided to go out more often as a couple.
"I felt like we could get along well, and we wanted the same things from a relationship. He was ok with commitment and getting married one day. And he also told me about having a family once we earned enough and had good jobs. I felt confident we could find a way to make it last," Beth said.
They also got to meet each other's parents. Beth's mom and dad were very friendly and open when they visited them in their home in Dallas. Tom's parents weren't that excited about their relationship because he had recently left a girlfriend, and they felt like he should take a longer break before getting involved with someone else again.
"They were polite but not very interested in talking to me. I think they'll open up some more once they realize we'll still be together after a year or two," Beth said.
Six months after they began dating, Tom asked her to move in together, and Beth agreed to end her lease and packed her things.
They started living in Tom's apartment in Dallas five days later, trying to see if they could adjust to sharing their space and chores and learning more about their habits while making memories together.
"I wanted to take our relationship forward, but I did think this would show us if we really had a chance to stay together for a long time. I wanted to get married and then have kids, and he didn't say anything against that, but it all began with chores, trying to cook sometimes, and keeping the place clean," Beth said.
They didn't argue about house chores, and they both did their part in cleaning, doing the dishes, and doing laundry. As for cooking, they took turns in the evenings and got takeouts when they felt too tired.
It all went well for about five months. After that time, Beth suddenly learned she was pregnant. It wasn't planned, but she didn't feel too worried since her boyfriend had told her he wanted a family with her in the future.
"It was just a bit earlier than we expected, but I still thought he'd be happy. Tom said that he did want to be a dad one day, so I was excited to let him know," Beth said.
She called Tom at his office in Dallas and told him she was pregnant. Then Beth asked him if he wanted to go out and have a special dinner to celebrate this new step in their relationship. Unfortunately, Tom got very quiet and just said he was tired and didn't feel like being out for several hours.
"I knew he'd been doing overtime for a few days, but I didn't feel like he was happy. He sounded worried and even a bit upset," Beth said.
When Tom got home, she asked him if he was ok, and that's when Tom said he didn't feel like looking after a baby.
"And it wasn't just that he was surprised; he told me several times this wasn't what he wanted at all and that it was my fault. And when I tried to explain the baby would bring us closer, and our relationship would be even better, he stopped talking to me, and he avoided me for the rest of the week," Beth said.
She assumed Tom would come and talk to her once he got over his initial reaction, but things didn't change at all. Instead, Tom got used to not talking to her, and he would find an excuse if she brought the issue up.
"He ignores me after I told him I'm pregnant; I don't want to be a single mom. I'm worried this will change our relationship, even if I thought my pregnancy would make him happy. I want to find the way to help him understand it's fine to be parents and that we can still have careers and do what we want to," Beth said.
She talked to his friends, and they told her Tom was upset but that he might change his mind. They advised her to wait a week or two and then talk to him again. While Beth made up her mind to give him the time he needed, Tom did something unusual. He packed his things and left Beth a note saying he would be living with his parents in Dallas for the next few months.
"He didn't leave any explanation as to who would pay the rent, if his half was for me to cover, or how the bills would get covered. He just left and didn't care," Beth said.
She called his parents, but they didn't pick up the phone, and none of her texts got any replies. Beth also went to their house, but no one came when she rang the doorbell.
"It almost looked like they were on vacation. Their neighbors said they hadn't seen Tom or them for at least three days. I don't know what to think," Beth said.
She's feeling confused about how she would go on working while feeling stressed about the pregnancy and her partner going away so suddenly.
Her parents told Beth they would support her, but she wants to know if her relationship can also go on.
What do you think about this situation? Was it fair for Tom to just pack his stuff and leave for a different place with his parents without telling Beth how to reach him? Is his behavior an indication he wants their relationship to be over, or can he still change his mind and be there for her and their baby?