Pregnant DD in denial; What can I do to help her?

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2008
Pregnant DD in denial; What can I do to help her?
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 6:08pm

Hi there. I've been a part of this website for awhile, but I haven't posted on the boards for quite some time.

I'm worried about my pregnant daughter. She is 24, unmarried, and coming out from a very screwed up relationship. There are things that I feel that have been going on that she won't tell me or anyone else about. Some that I feel contributed to her becoming pregnant. She's about 12 weeks along now, and we found out about 5 weeks ago. My husband (who is actually her step-father) and I have been trying to be as supportive as we can be. He loves her as much as I do. We know that people make mistakes and/or get hurt.

The first thing she said when the doctor called to confirm it, was "I can't do this, I don't want it". She did decide on not going through with an abortion, after thinking about it, and she told me deep down she wouldn't have been ok with that. I personally was happy about that decision, because I don't believe in abortion. I did tell her that I would support using adoption as an option. Even though I would find even that hard for me, because I love the baby already. And I promised her I would guide her along with everything, even sit next to her during delivery and coach her through.

However, she hasn't been "acting" like she's expecting. She's not interested in learning how to take care of herself and the baby. She won't talk about it. She's not eating right, and I know she's not sleeping well. She has even stayed out late with girlfriends. I'm hope and pray she hasn't been drinking. She's cancelled doctor's appointments promising to reschedule. She's always been slim but a little underweight, so not eating healthy while pregnant is even more of a risk. I'm so worried. She's depressed, I know it. But her body's changing and she needs to come to. I'm not sure what to do at this point.

The other thing is that I have a 10 year old daughter from my current husband, that she is close to. I know she feels like she is not a good role model anymore. My 10 year old doesn't know yet, and right now the challenge is when and how to tell her. My oldest says that she can't face her young sister, pregnant and "like this", she told me and her step father. I want to get her to understand that she is not worthless, with anyone in our house. Her biological father is blaming me for her predicament, and that makes her feel even worse.

Has anyone gone through this situation with their children? Anyone have any thoughts as to what I can and should do? Should I consider counceling? Thanks so much.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
Sun, 08-05-2012 - 12:35pm

My daughter was an unmarried, 19 y/o college student when she told us that she was pregnant... sounds like a recipe for disaster, but on the upside she and the baby's daddy had been together for over 4 years and were engaged when she got pregnant. Yes, life has been harder on them than it would have been if they'd both finished school and gotten settled in careers before the baby came along but it's worked out ok for them.  My daughter was also one of those who swore she never wanted kids, but now her son is the light of her life - and ours!

Your daughter is an adult, even though she's still your little girl in your mind, and IMO the best thing you can do is allow her to act like the adult she is.  As sabr said, if she needs to go on public health for awhile, so be it - my daughter did too, and in fact, still is.  She took every benefit available to her, including living with us, while she was going to school with the plan of getting independent as soon as she got her LPN license. She just passed her boards a month ago, has a part time LPN job and her now-husband is looking for work in his field.  As much as that little guy was NOT in their life plan when she got pregnant, they'd never give him back now.

I think you and your daughter would benefit from counseling to sort out your feelings about this development in your lives - and to help you distance yourself from her choices a little bit.  Because, whether you agree with them or not, they are her choices to be made, and you have to figure out how to support her in those choices.  

I was a 23 y/o college educated single woman when I got pregnant with my oldest son.  Things were not fantastic with his father when I found out, so I opted not to rush into marriage just because I was pregnant - not a common or "reputable" decision in 1984.  It wasn't easy at the time, but the one thing that would have made it much easier is if my parents had been more supportive.  Once my son was born they were thrilled once they met him, but it would have been so much better if they'd at least acted a little supportive while I was pregnant. Do your best to give your daughter that gift.

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Sat, 08-04-2012 - 3:14pm

Well, there are a bunch of questions to start off with.  Does she have a job?  Does she have insurance? Her own or on yours?  Has she received any adoption counseling?  Many agencies require a signed commitment to good health practices, or they won't take the baby.  Some will help pay for the mother's expenses.

If your dd does not have insurance, she may think she cannot AFFORD to go to the doctor.

If you live in the US, and she has to go public health, your dd may feel afraid or intimidated about going to the doctor by herself.  You should offer to go with her, and make the appointment at a place and time both of you agree on.

I also don't get how she isn't "acting" like she's expecting.  If she wants to give the baby up for adoption, she wouldn't be excited about her pregnancy, or bonding with the baby.  At 24, I'm sure she doesn't eat breakfast, lunch and dinner with you, so she MAY be eating well enough.  Not sleeping well could be a symptom of the pregnancy itself, as much as of depression.

When you say she is <<<...coming out from a very screwed up relationship. There are things that I feel that have been going on that she won't tell me or anyone else about. Some that I feel contributed to her becoming pregnant....>>> what do you mean?  To me, it means she got pregnant deliberately, trying to "hang on" to the guy, or she was forced.  Either way, I'd say counseling is a VERY good idea at this point, IF you can get her to go.

And when you say <<<My oldest says that she can't face her young sister, pregnant and "like this"...>>> and <<<...I want to get her to understand that she is not worthless...>>> well, that means that she is getting messages that she did something wrong, and that she IS worthless.  Which in this day and age, is ridiculous.  She's 24--not 16.  At 24, one of my dd's was living 900 miles away, working full time, supporting herself in her own place.  The other dd was was working almost full time, and going to college full time, simultaneously.   They were certainly old enough, and mature enough, that if either of them had gotten pregnant at that point, life would have been difficult, but not impossible -- married or not.

As it was, my 28yo, unmarried dd became pregnant last year.  She and her bf were not planning on children, or even a long-term relationship.  They are both divorced, and he is paying child support on 2 kids already.  She had had a miscarriage while she was married, and subsequent gyne problems that left her believing she couldn't get pregnant.  She had also recently changed jobs, and was paying for private insurance, which had a one year waiting period for pregnancy coverage. 

She said, "This may be my only chance for a baby."  She signed up for public health.  Her dad, her sister & I went with her to her appointments and ultrasounds.  She was stressed, and crabby about gaining weight, but the pregnancy did not slow her down.  She worked long hours, she went out with her friends, she went on vacation--to New Orleans in August, where it was Africa-hot.   She was laid off a month before she delivered.  6 months ago, she had a baby girl, and 6 weeks later, she found a BETTER job than the one she had before.  My granddaughter is the light of our lives, and I (or whoever else is available and interested)  watch her while her mother works.  My dd has her own home, supports herself and her child.  Baby daddy works, and contributes when and what he can.    

Tell your dd that you will support whatever decision SHE makes, and ask her to discuss her plans to support herself, pay for the delivery, and what she wants to do with her life, going forward.  Tell her she is doing a great job, whether she keeps the baby or gives it to another loving family.   Unless your dd is mentally disabled, this is NOT a mistake, or an unbearable burden.  Tell everyone else to stop wringing their hands, and treat your dd like the adult she is.

Avatar for deenow17
iVillage Member
Registered: 10-12-2004
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 10:06pm
I went through this when my DD was 27. She never planned to have kids & it was a complete shock to her when she found out she was pregnant. The first 48 hrs after she & her b/f told us weren't good. We didn't react like loving, happy grandparents to be. However, I pulled myself together & decided to act like a happy grandmother. The only person who ignored the entire "unwed" situation was my youngest son. I have never seen my eldest son cry but I was sure it was about to happen when he was told. He was extremely upset because he knew that she was giving up her dream of being a doctor. My youngest son was the last one told & his face lit up, he immediately congratulated them & gave his sister a big hug. He was instrumental in getting her through her pregnancy. She is 7 yrs older & always felt it was her responsibiity to be a role model.

My DD needed us as she was not happy. She was in denial but knew that an abortion was not for her. Because the father was still in the picture, they decided to keep the baby & he was thrilled with the pregnancy. However, it was not an easy pregnancy emotionally. She was modeling at the time which meant she was out of work once she started to show. She & the b/f were drifting apart when she got pregnant & she knows they wouldn't have stayed together without the baby.

My daughter was close to our family doctor & so she agreed to go see her. Our dr counseled her throughout her pregnancy even though my dd saw an ob. My youngest son & I made every effort to play up the pregnancy. The 2 of us took my dd shopping for pregnancy clothes, we took her to look at baby things & we went out of our way to tell her how beautiful she was. She basically ignored her pregnancy except she didn't drink & immediately quit smoking the day she was told she was pregnant. Unfortunately, she delivered our grandson 10 wks early. We don't know what went wrong to put her into labour early. She has felt guilty ever since believing it was her not wanting her child that caused this. I really want to encourage you to get your daughter couseling. She needs help for her depression but also to help her deal with the emotions she is feeling about the baby.

You will have a tough time ahead as you have to remember that this is your daughter's child not yours. It is very easy to take over. I know that I did at times.

We do have a happy ending. Our grandson is 5 now & I can't imagine life without him. His Mommy & Daddy were married last year. My daughter still deals with her guilt but she has also adjusted to being a Mom. It wasn't easy for her at first. My husband & I stepped in & did too much of the parenting his first 3 yrs but that is over now. We decided we needed to back off & as we did his parents stepped into their true roles as parents. It was hard for us to let go as we adore him but he isn't our child to raise. So now we act as grandparents & just enjoy.

Good luck & let us know how things are going, Dee
Avatar for elc11
Community Leader
Registered: 06-16-1998
Fri, 08-03-2012 - 7:19pm

Hi, and welcome to the board. I hope that we can help you or at least point you in the right direction for finding the resources that you need. One of our members has an adult dd who became pregnant while single so she may know some of how you are feeling and have some advice for you.

You asked if you should consider counseling---I say YES! Its important to sort through your feelings and learn in what ways its appropriate for you to help your dd vs when you might need to let her solve her own problems. You mention that you love the baby already while knowing that your dd may likely give it up for adoption, so you may need a professional to guide you through those feelings too.

You say that you know that your dd is depressed. Has your dd ever visited a mental health professional before, has she ever suffered from clinical depression? She may need medication for this depression...the OB would likely know if there are any meds for depression that are safe to take during pregnancy. Will your dd allow you to accompany her to OB visits? Maybe if you can go with her she will actually go to the appt. I agree that for the baby's sake she should start taking care of herself, I'm sorry that I don't know what to suggest for how to get her to accept the reality of her situation.

The part about telling your 10yo, probably sooner rather than later to get it over with. She's likely aware that something is going on so probably best to tell her now before she imagines something awful. On some level she's probably aware that women have babies without being married (if she's ever been in a supermarket checkout line she's seen the tabloid headlines) and may take it completely in stride. There can be some big life lessons here for your younger dd.

Does the sperm donor know that he's going to be a father? You might want to have a session with a family law atty to find out the different parties' rights and responsibilities in this case. Also to get advice on adoption...will your dd want a private adoption brokered by an atty vs going through an adoption agency or charitible organization etc. 

One of the hardest parts may be determining just how much involvement its appropriate for you to have. Ultimately its is your dd's pregnancy, her choices, her life. She will have to live with her decisions for the rest of her life so she needs to make choices based on what is right for HER without feeling pressured by what anyone else wants her to do or thinks would be the right choice. I can see that it must be hard to step back when she doesn't seem to be taking any responsibility for the life she has I think it will be kind of a tightrope walk until she starts being responsible. 

Best of luck with this...please let us know how things go.