The first time I had a pregnancy scare it was the second week of the first year at university.
My new friend (now an old friend and erstwhile bridesmaid) had walked 45 minutes each way with me to find somewhere which would sell me a pregnancy test. She’d then sat with me while I psyched myself up to take the test, and lit me a celebratory cigarette when it only displayed one line.
The potential father’s only involvement in this whole hoopla was a text which read ‘Oh, that’s good’ when I messaged him to let him know that he wasn’t about to become a father.
Now, I should probably have realised then and there that anyone who treats a pregnancy scare as you just trying to ‘get attention’ isn’t long term relationship material.
Obviously because I was 19 and thought I knew everything, I did not pause to think about that.
Years later, I had another pregnancy scare. I have them quite a lot because I’m a hypochondriac but this was a real two weeks late, low level nausea, please don’t let me be knocked up one. Now I don’t like to over praise my husband because it’s not good for him, but the way that he reacted left me in no doubt that he was The One.
He was clearly panicked. We’d only been going out a couple of months, I was 11 years younger than him, 23 years old and totally not in a position to have a fish, let alone a baby. But did he freak out? Hell no.
He offered to pay for the pregnancy test (I declined, I like to buy a specific Sainsburys one because it’s always yielded a very reassuring result), and he sat outside the bathroom while I took it.
Offering to pay for a pregnancy test – or at least go halves – is an important part of being a bloke. Ditto the morning after pill. It shows that you’re responsible, that you’re aware that sex has consequences for both of you and it’s kind of sexy.
Anyway, back to North London in 2014, where I’m sitting on a bathroom floor reading a 3 week old copy of Heat and waiting for the alarm on my phone to go off. It beeps. I look at the stick. I’m not pregnant. I burst out of the bathroom to tell my boyfriend that I am devoid of parasitical human life, and he looked relieved, but not too relieved.
There’s something a bit insulting about a guy who wants to get a pinata and throw a parade because you’re not about to procreate.
‘That’s good news’ he said. ‘At least for now.’
10/10 reply. I suspect he might have read it in GQ, because I pretty much melted.
It was the perfect response. It didn’t imply that having children with me would be a train wreck of a life choice, while being honest about being relieved. So boys, however relieved you are, please don’t act like you’ve just been given a pardon on death row. It’s kind of rude.
It should go without saying that getting angry about a pregnancy scare is unforgivable, but sadly it does happen. I’ve known dozens of women whose husbands or boyfriends or f**k buddies have actually shouted at them.
‘He told me I had been irresponsible’ Louisa*, 28 told me. ‘He literally shouted at me. He said I couldn’t understand how stressful it was for him.’
You’ll be shocked to hear that Louisa and her partner broke up shortly after.
Of course a pregnancy scare is frightening for a man as well as for a woman.
They’ve got less control over the situation because it’s not their body who is going to be playing host. But here’s the thing: the less of a dick you are about an unplanned pregnancy, the more likely you are to be consulted about what happens.
If you scream, shout and accuse the woman of being irresponsible and trying to trap you into fatherhood, she’s a whole lot less inclined to take your opinions in to consideration.
Also, just because you don’t want to have a child with this person right now doesn’t mean that you never will. Acting childish and petty over a pregnancy scare is not going to make a woman think that you’re father material, right now or in the future.
So if you’re dating someone who behaves badly during a pregnancy scare, please take a moment to think about how they’ll act during other important, stressful life experiences. If he can’t keep it together for this, will he be much of a support system to you during a bereavement or job loss?
Probably not. And here’s the thing: we all deserve to be in a relationship with someone who can support us at those most fraught, frightening times.