Dear Carolyn • I always wanted kids, but fate and life being as they are, I managed to get to my early 40s with no husband or children. Three months ago I started seeing a nice guy. He has potential. This time I was determined to at least try to get something of what I want, so I did what I never thought I’d do. I lied when he asked if I was taking birth control. My bad luck coupled with the pure statistical improbability of it all really led me to believe I had little to no chance of getting pregnant. Well, I’m looking at a positive pregnancy test. How do I do this? How do I tell this man I barely know that I lied to him and hey, sorry but I’m about to torpedo your life? And the worst part is that what I thought would be the happiest day of my life is making me want to cry and throw up. I’ve made a huge mess and I don’t know how to fix it. I think I just didn’t realize until right now how badly I wanted the whole white-picket-fence thing, too.
Dear Just Sick • I’ll let Bernard Malamud get this one. “We have two lives,” he wrote in “The Natural.” “The life we learn with and the life we live with after that.” You thought you wanted a baby above all. You learned, through your terrible lie and surprise fertility, that the “above all” was wrong — you actually didn’t want a baby at the cost of your integrity. So now you live with what you learned: From now on, it’s integrity first. You start by making an appointment with a reputable therapist, since you need to figure out when and why you let emotions push your judgment off a cliff. That’s the surest path toward keeping it from happening again. Next, you tell the nice guy that you are pregnant, and also lied about birth control. You tell him how wrong you were — that you were self-indulgent without any regard for the consequences to him. You tell him you are prepared to absorb as many of the consequences you can, including that of raising this child entirely on your own. Stay this honest course, and you will be a better, more self-aware, more compassionate person than you were before you sunk to deceit. It will make you a better mom.
Carolyn Hax’s column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.