Halifax, Nova Scotia
This sounds like a difficult situation for both you and your wife, one that leaves you feeling trapped between two very bad alternatives. But I think that if you step back from the immediate crisis, you may start to see things differently, because something positive can indeed come out of this stressful time.
To help you get there, I want to start not with the pregnancy and its potential effects on your finances, careers, and sex life, but with your marriage itself and what happened between the two of you leading up to this pregnancy.
You’ve expressed quite clearly why you don’t want to have a second child, but I’m not sure that your wife has shared her feelings with you in the same detail. For instance, after learning that she was pregnant, you “reminded” her of the reasons you both don’t want this baby—but most people don’t need reminders about how they feel. Similarly, intellectually she “agrees” with you about the constraints a second child might put on your finances and freedom (career or otherwise), but a person can think one thing (A baby will be expensive and require sacrifice) and feel another (Yet I still want one).
When you describe this pregnancy as “devastating news for both of us,” you may want to consider the possibility that she’s not devastated after all, or at least not to the degree you are. It’s also possible that her devastation stems from a different source than yours does. In other words, she might be devastated not because she feels exactly the way you do about having a second baby, but because you’ve made it clear to her that having a second baby would launch you into a “lifelong depression” and make you resent her for the rest of your lives. It’s very hard to share your true feelings when you know that your partner will resent you for having them, and that is why some of your assumptions here may not be accurate. In fact, your resentment goes back to the vasectomy. No matter what you two decide, it’s this resentment that will wreak havoc on your lives more than having or not having this baby will.
Let’s consider what happened at that vasectomy appointment. At the time, neither of you discussed why your wife didn’t want you to go through with the vasectomy, and it sounds like you still haven’t had that conversation. I have a feeling you were both afraid to engage in that discussion because of what might come to light—that perhaps your wife wasn’t as ready as you were to close off the possibility of a second child, but was reluctant to say so because of the impossible dilemma she felt she was in: live with her husband’s resentment for the rest of her life, or live without a child she may have wanted for the rest of her life.
Now, though, you have an opportunity to handle the pregnancy decision differently from how you handled the vasectomy decision: You can make room for all of your feelings. If you don’t, your marriage will likely be exactly as you anticipate—full of bitter resentment, in both directions. And that’s how you currently have it set up. By making her decide, you get to take the moral high ground whenever life becomes inconvenient. See, we can’t afford this vacation I really want. See, I can’t take the job I really want. See, we don’t have the space to be intimate anymore. And all because you didn’t let me get a vasectomy. You know what will be the end of your marriage, more than the baby? The double bind you’ve put your wife in. It’s your decision, honey, but either I’ll resent you for the rest of our lives, or you’ll resent me for the rest of our lives.