Last January, before the novel coronavirus changed our lives, my close female friend and I were celebrating 2020.
She lives in another city and had been visiting her parents over the holidays. I’ve been her closest male friend since bonding during university days.
Over the years, we’ve travelled together as buddies only, prepped each other through important job interviews, and cried together through lost romances on both sides.
Suddenly, she dropped a serious request. We’re both 37, both healthy. She’s now determined to have a baby, feels the clock ticking, but has no prospective partner.
She asked me to be the father/sperm-donor, however way I preferred, until positive that she’d conceived.
I’d be her baby-maker partner, nothing more. She assured me that I wouldn’t have to take on any paternal responsibilities.
She has a very good job. She can afford a house in a decent area with a garden and other young families nearby, she said... though I already knew this.
She was so certain of her plan, so compelling in her request, that I felt I had to agree.
We decided to meet again for that express purpose a few weeks later (she was giving me time to be sure).
My question: With the baby due any day now, will that make me its father or not? Am I going to be able to accept being “excused” from that role?
What if I want to be involved and then she meets someone who wants to marry her... do I just dis-engage from the child who’s got some of my DNA?
It takes a lot more than DNA to live/embrace the role of a father.
You have to be there, not just for a weekend sometimes (not counting military fathers or other dads whose job(s) have irregular hours/demands).
But it’s obvious how closely you’ve allied yourself with the baby’s imminent delivery.
Still, remember her request and its limits. Refrain from questioning her and let nature proceed. She may want your participation kept secret, so wait to see the newborn alone or with her.
Then, think the situation through again. When she’s settled, share your thoughts and hers.
A new baby is a work in progress and so is any role in this one’s life. The answers will unfold, as you both consider all that would be involved now that it’s a reality.
Dear Readers - Following is a selection of readers’ queries about past columns or my responses:
Reader #1 – “Different Standards?
“It seems you often urge the woman to leave the marriage but suggest that the man stay and accept his wife’s foibles.
“Have you noticed that?”
Ellie - No, and I believe that you’ll often find that I advise the opposite. It has nothing to do with gender bias. I answer according to the situation described to me.
Generally, most women who ask how to handle a difficult, unhappy relationship, have put up with it a long time before facing the possibility of making a change. They’re past enduring the tension or worse. I believe that if they can leave safely, they should do so.
Most men, however, write sooner about a difficult relationship. Generally, few will accept the bad moods, or the fighting for years on end. But they also don’t want upheaval in their lives if they can change things for the better.
So, I suggest they try counselling, whether for themselves or together with their partner, and give the relationship another chance.
Finally, despite those readers who insist on a different diagnoses for it, here’s the final commentary I’ll publish - this from a Canadian MD Professor of Psychiatry - on the September 30th column about the nature of a wife’s “wave cycles” of anger and nasty behaviour to her husband, lasting two weeks of every month:
Reader #2 – “That pattern is not characteristic of a Bipolar Disorder. It’s typical of a Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder.
“Some women are sensitive to normal hormonal changes and develop a mini-depression around that time. For one-to-two weeks before their period, those women experience symptoms of depression, anxiety and/or irritability.
“These resolve within a day or two of the period starting, followed by at least one symptom-free week.
“This woman should chart her symptoms daily over a two-month period to verify the diagnosis.
“This disorder is generally successfully treated with antidepressants given either for half the cycle or on a continuous basis.”
Tip of the day:
A man who helps a female friend conceive a child, must consider his responsibility in that child’s life.