What happens when one of us has a baby?

Dear friends,

Thank you for your wonderful responses to last week’s post when I asked you to share what brought you to the Childless by Marriage blog and to describe your situation. What a great group we have here, and I’m so grateful if this blog helps even a little.

It’s a diverse group. Some are married, some are single. Some have fertility problems while others are healthy, but they aren’t sure they want to have children. Many are married or engaged to men who have already had children and don’t want any more. Those men have often had vasectomies, making it difficult to change their minds. Some talk of adoption, fertility treatments or vasectomy reversals, while others like “Oh Well” are just trying to accept a life without children. You can read all of the comments here.

One commenter, Jennifer, tells a happy-ending story in which she finally convinced her husband to have his vasectomy reversed. Now they have a baby girl. She said she will probably unsubscribe from the blog soon.

So I have a question for you. I know that most of us are struggling with the idea that we will never have children. But if one of us does have a child, do you think that disqualifies her from participating in Childless by Marriage? She knows how it felt to be childless and fear she would never have children. I think we should celebrate with her. What do you think?

I know that many of you are uncomfortable being around happy parents and children because it reminds you of what you don’t have. Also, too many parents become so obsessed with their children they forget their childless friends exist. They make new friends with people who have kids. I hate that, even though I understand how children can take over a person’s life.

But our friends are still our friends. Way back when my best friend Sherri had her one and only child, we were both already in our mid-30s. I knew she went through a lot to become a mother. She never made me feel left out. We have never stopped being friends, and I’m glad to know her daughter.

So this week’s question: What happens to our friendships, online or in real life when our friend becomes a parent and we’re still childless? Please share your opinions and experiences in the comments. If men are out there reading this, please join the conversation and feel free to comment on past posts, too.




19 thoughts on “What happens when one of us has a baby?

  1. Sue,

    In no way should our readers who have a child, albeit later in life, be disqualified from posting here. I believe they have much to contribute. To the people who are on here and have children in the process, for the love of God please keep posting. I’m getting ready for law school (at 66) and my young girlfriend wants kids. I do too. Sue, what I’m learning is that we men have biological clocks too.


  2. I think it’s a question of sensitivity. My sister went through infertility and became pregnant unexpectedly. While I was happy for her, it was hard on me. She knew and acknowledged that, and it made a world of difference. She didn’t forget what it was like when she was struggling.


  3. My challenge is that – in my experience – moms who struggled the most to finally get pregnant end up flooding their friends and family members with pictures of their bellies, babies and kids as they grow up. A co-worker’s wife struggled, got pregnant, inundated her Facebook feed with kid pictures, offered to have lunch with me to review my situation then never responded when I asked her for a good date and time, complained briefly in person about how exhausted she was, didn’t recognize me in the grocery store due to baby fog, and then breastfed in our office bathroom recently. It’s not that I don’t care because I’m happy she has what she wants. It’s the insensitivity. There is a reason the infertility support groups I’m in don’t allow anyone who struggled and then conceived and delivered. The women quietly bow out of these groups without saying a word to anyone but the admin. Sue, to answer your question, I wish I were stronger, but the reality is it hurts too much to my heart when someone who had their dream baby thinks they know what I’m going through. They only know a part of my story and endless tears. If they continue to read, that’s good, but if they choose to post, I hope their words are enveloped in love and compassion, with a tendency to leave out the happy ending bit, understanding that this has been historically a safe place to vent. Even if they do share the happy ending bit, I have the option to no longer read here, and retreat to the safety of the infertility support groups I’ve joined. So in the end, it’s on me. But since you asked, I was raw about it.


  4. Although it is lovely for women in this group to finally get what we all want, I just don’t want to hear/read about it in here. It was my hope with this site that it was free of all the crap we have to deal with in everyday life. The minute they have their baby it makes them different from those of us who have zero hope of having a baby. Yes, they may have struggled just like me in their beginning, but at the end of the day they got the big prize and have no idea what it is like to be truly childless for life. I have always felt “moms” are the most insensitive people, and when one posts on this page and brags about how they now have their child, I feel my opinion has been confirmed. With all that being said, when I start to read a comment like that, I just stop and move on without finishing it. There are always other really good comments to read by women who truly cannot have children.


      • I have also recently tried to bow out as I do understand this exact issue. Even though I feel the same way, I feel like I earned my not-mom card, and I am totally different than the other moms out there. They have no idea what I’ve been through. I worry that I’m doing the same thing to us here. I do not understand what it is like to be childless for life, but I agree with Tony on this one. I feel this blog is about being childless by marriage, and I have taken that loss. Divorce is much much like a death in the family, except everyone tells you to move on and totally forget that person and that part of your life, so there is much loss.

        I would also like to say that there is hope of healing. We have to grieve. There are stages to grieving, and then finally acceptance. I do feel that I got to that stage at the age of 33, where I was just Okay with my life with no kids and I very much hope that for all the not-moms out there.


  5. Dear Sue,
    It is a difficult question. My experience is that infertiles don’t forget what they have been through and are often able to keep their sensitivity towards people who were not as lucky as them, even though they finally became parents.
    But maybe your reader doesn’t feel “legitimate” anymore to be part of our community? I recently also wondered if I would still feel comfortable writing in the name of childless people if I got the chance to become a mother one day (I feel I still have so much to write, but how would my readers react?).
    On the other hand, I am convinced that the topics we are writing about would benefit from being read by a broader circle of people, including parents. We can only raise more awareness about childless people if we don’t always stay between us. My opinion is also that we will not achieve anything if we always try to oppose childless people and parents.


    • Thank you, Lea. I agree with you. I’m not going to make a blanket declaration that anyone with children can’t comment here. Sometimes they have valuable things to say. I approve or disapprove every comment that comes in. If it seems hurtful, I just won’t won’t approve it.


    • Your belief that mothers of kids would benefit from learning how to treat those that are childless is idealistic but not realistic. It’s hard for them to remember being childless as that child becomes their everything. Some may come here to feel grateful to remember how it was to be childless but succeeded and are thankful they are not one of us. Yes, this is a blanket statement and not applicable to everyone.


  6. I agree that not everyone who eventually has a child forgets what it was like to think it might never happen. For the most part, most of my friends who married in their 20s and had a few kids easily are out of my life now. The rare exception is one close friend who now has a 2 year old son. She married later in life and for years had multiple failed relationships. As she watched her siblings marry and start families she got really depressed that it would never happen for her because time was running out. She would even get to the point where she would say a lot of suicidal kind of stuff very often, which worried me at the time. Even though it did work out in the end she is always very sensitive to the fact that things didn’t work out the same for me. She makes a real effort to not ONLY talk about her son but other things too and gives me a chance to tell her what’s going on with me. She doesn’t do the humble brag–it’s so exhausting being a mother, or say her life was meaningless until he was born like some people do. She also never judged me for being in the situation I’m in (staying with someone who had a vasectomy) even when I judge myself pretty harshly for it. Maybe she’s a rare kind of person though.


  7. If one has their own child and mention that in their post I just skip it.I want to read the stories of those in situations like me. It seems there are so few of us, it makes me feel as if I’m not alone.


  8. I don’t mind if a mother posts here. Easier than in real life, I can ignore or respond to criticism or kindness as I wish. Online I can skim or delete. Online I can craft a careful post.

    Real life is the problem. At a crowded party, I congratulated a man on his beautiful 6th child and he cracked, “Yeah well, someone has to take up the slack since you and hubby don’t have any.” All I could do is hide behind sunglasses and dryly say, “Wow. That is just . . . great. Take care.” Ahhh, my blood is boiling a little as I think back and wish I could have said something better. But I didn’t expect that garbage on a beautiful sunny afternoon surrounded by mostly great people.

    In my real life I’ve had to learn the valuable lesson that some mothers only see others as a gateway for their child’s development and they treat childless women as insignificant beings. I can’t offer carpool services for “her” children. I am not taking a child to the water park and have an extra ticket for “her” son. I do not have a daughter on the cheer squad who can invite “her” daughter to the big party at the end of the year. I do not know the best photographer to recommend for “her” family photos. I’m not friends with Jimmy’s mom, who is in charge of registration, and thus able to wrangle a late entry for “her” kid.

    For these women, I offer very little to “her” quality of life. Even though I’m fabulous, wonderful and caring. Talented and widely connected. I don’t have a child. I won’t “get it”. I mean, it’s certainly “okay” if I happen to skirt my way into “her” world. She’s a nice person so she’ll be nice to me. But I won’t be missed if I walk away. I won’t be included, even if I express interest. I don’t really belong in “her” world. Even after her kids have flown the nest, she won’t need me. She’s become best friends with the mothers of her kids’ friends. They have a bond that will last through grandchildren and the nursing homes. Because they are mothers and I am not.

    Now I have tons of friends. I have found plenty of people (singles, childless, childfree and mothers) that I connect with and love. I enjoy my life. But in my circle there are a lot of “Hers” out there. Every once in awhile it’s hard to feel valuable. And that is when I come here.


    • Anon, so well put! And that guy at the party, what an idiot. I never thought about how moms just look for people who can help them in their momming, but you’re right. If they don’t see us as having anything to offer, then most of them don’t include us. Thank you for sharing this.


  9. Good for those that succeed in having children but when I, like others, start to read a comment like that, I just stop reading without finishing it. I connect more with those in the same boat as me. I am on a stepparent site where there is a bio free parent forum and there is always someone with kids piping in about their DD, DS as well as their SD or SS when every one of the other plentiful forums deal with mixed families. I’m being blunt and honest when I say it pisses me off. There is only one forum devoted to us but yet bio parents post. Honestly they cannot relate and should have the courtesy of only posting in groups designed for them. So long comment short, haha, no, I don’t want them posting here, but I can do what I always do and just skip it.


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