Wildfires rage throughout the west. Parts of Texas and Louisiana have been devastated by the winds and floods of Hurricane Harvey. Florida is being evacuated in the path of Hurricane Irma. The world is going crazy. We won’t even talk about the insanity in Washington D.C. these days or the fear of Korea nuking the world into oblivion. It’s a time to pray or do whatever you do in times of crisis.
Meanwhile, a reader named Susie has written to me with a broken heart. Her partner kept putting off having children. Now in her 40s, she finds the possibility of never having a family unbearable. I feel so bad for her, even while part of me wants to shout, “What were you doing all those years when you were fully fertile? Why did you let him control such an important decision?” And then I remember, oh yeah, I did that, too.
Here’s what she wrote:
My partner of 8 years never said he didn’t want children. His standard line was, “Yes, but not right now”. This went on for years until aged 40 I broke up with him. At 41, after a year apart, he won me back over with promises of “we will try for a family.” And then his actions continued to be in the way. Obviously, me being “old” made things harder. At the same time, he did not participate in the process 100% (I mean he did not alter his habits of alcohol, smoking, and also reproductive behavior (that is, he was often too tired/stressed/maybe later). He was resistant to see a specialist and dragged his feet to attend tests and medical appointments. He postponed plans for IVF.
So it never happened for us. And four years on from when we got back together, I am torn between the grief and sadness of childlessness and anger and resentment towards him. I am angry because he was not honest with me and I feel he kept me there whilst not really having the same view of what the future should hold for us. I was always honest of what I dreamt to achieve in this world (parenthood being a big part of who I want to be in this life). I feel manipulated into a life I did not want. Sometimes I take full responsibility for this outcome and see it as a result of my choices. And sometimes I feel I was cheated. I don’t know how to reconcile this. I love my husband. He is the best thing that ever happened to me. And then, he is also the worst thing that ever happened to me. And I don’t know how to go on from this.
To be honest, I don’t know what to tell her, except that at this point, she needs to find a way to accept that they will not have biological children and move on. Much easier said than done. I could suggest adopting or becoming a foster parent, but that probably wouldn’t work either. All a person can do is grieve the loss and keep living every day. Find other things that give you joy. Find ways to be around children if it doesn’t hurt too much. And sometimes, if you’re like me, you curse and kick things because you just plain f—-d up.
What do you think? What advice do you have for Susie? Chime in, friends. We’re in this together.
11 thoughts on “Babies delayed means babies denied”
I hope you are able to find forgiveness for yourself and partner.
I could not. After 11 years of a similar situation, at 37 I finally left. Two years later, now at 39, I have a new partner, but he has three kids and does not want more.
I have learned that the choices we make don’t always lead us down the path we thought they would. However, I also have learned that although we thought that a certain path would be the best one for us, sometimes the new path given to us can be even better. Time has passed, and now the life you are living is yours to live. Focus on the good things in your life. You are living and with life, there is a choice to be happy, even if it is a different life than you may have dreamed of.
I love this, Tamara.
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Thank you! It is what keeps me sane. 😊
I sometimes wonder if I was manipulated. He would have had birth children if possible, but made other options difficult. I struggle with letting go of resentment about his actions and his family’s attitude (ohh, you’re so lucky with all the holidays you go on and your trips away 😩). Now I’d advise the writer to build up your own life and circle of your own friends. I see it as my insurance policy if things go wrong between us.
People just don’t get it, do they? You offer some good advice, Jenny. Thanks for sharing this.
I have a dear aunt who had her first child at 18 and was married. Her child had cerebral palsy and passed away at age 12. Her husband was in a terrible motorcycle accident some time after that and had a severe head injury that left him completely disabled. After a year or two of caring for him he passed away while in the hospital. At this point she was in her late thirties/early forties. She decided to go to college and get a dog. Then she met a wonderful man and they got married and had two kids while she was well into her forties. So maybe it isn’t too late for this reader to have a child. Maybe she is able to accept being childless. But I do think she was cheated. He was selfish and uncooperative. It does take some teamwork in a marriage and that is what he should be willing to do while married. I hope she makes the choice that makes her happiest.
Crystal, thank you for this story and your comments. I agree, marriage should be about being a team, going through life together.
Thank you for sharing your story, Susie. It really reasonated with me. I guess it’s a matter of looking at what the relationship offers outside of children. I’m in a similar situation, and I find that what makes me angry is not my husband’s decision not to have children but the fact that he lied about it to keep me in the relationship. He is a very nice man in other ways, but I can’t reconcile that with knowingly denying someone the life they want. Even though I can no longer have kids, I’m still struggling with thoughts of leaving just to get some peace of mind.
He “changed his mind” three years into our marriage. His child from a prior marriage was older and he didn’t want to start over. I tried to convince myself that people have full lives without kids. Except, our life revolved around his career and health problems. There was not even a single memorable vacation, or anything for that matter, in 23 years. Not a picture. Of course, I helped with his child who lived with us and never saw his mother and filled in for his deficits in remembering birthdays of the DIL and grandchildren. I kept thinking…one of these days it will…..
In a couple of weeks, I will be divorced one year. The peace I have felt over the last year was almost immediate in coming. Every time a “childless” time came up during holidays, etc., it simply festered that wound and I had to grieve all over again (alone). Now, I am a divorced childless woman with no siblings or close family. The sadness and regret are there, but it’s not the constant bitterness and anger that I dealt with having him in the same house …every …. single….day.
I’m marginally employed and living with two cats and caring for an elderly mother, not the life I had at all wanted. But I am not smiling through the pain and pretending that being a wife is enough. Susie, he’s not the best thing that ever happened to you. Being less than open and honest with you regarding this subject was the worst thing that he could have done to you. His weaseling out of this through procrastination and false hope statements was simply covering his inability to be honest with you. He strung you along until the choice was no longer available. He only wants a relationship with you on his terms.
In looking back, outwardly it appeared I had everything I could wan. Looking back, there were other things besides the lack of children that were lacking. The package only looked good because it had a pretty bow.
Resentment just sucks the life out of you.
Thank you so much to everyone who posted here. I am feeling this way, and I am so relieved to know that there are others who do, too.