Babies delayed means babies denied

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.

 

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What would you tell these childless readers?


Dear readers,

            Nearly every day, my inbox includes comments from people responding to my January 2013 post titled, “If You Disagree About Children, Is Your Relationship Doomed?” The details vary, but the basic problem is the same: One person in the relationship is unable or unwilling to have children. Often the problem arises after they have been together for a long time. They may be married, engaged or living together, but now the commenters are torn between the mates they have and the children they always wanted to have. They don’t know what to do. My advice is usually about the same: You have to choose, and you have to talk about it. I say I’m praying for them–and I am, for all of you.

But that doesn’t feel like enough. I know people who have chosen the man or woman over the children and lived happy lives. I have also seen situations where the problem festered and the relationship failed.

Today I share some of these comments because I hope you will read them and respond. If you have made the choice, how did it work out? If not, how are you dealing with it? What advice would you give these readers?

 Thank you. I treasure you all.

Anonymous said…

 

Hello, I’m 23 and my partner is 27, we are engaged to be married next year and have been in our relationship for nearly 7 years (he was my first boyfriend). Just two days ago he dropped the bombshell that he doesn’t want children now and isn’t sure if he ever will.. I have recently found out that I have some issues with fertility and may find it difficult to conceive. So he knows my clock is ticking to start trying.
He is the love of my life and I cannot stand the thought of losing him, our relationship is perfect.. Everyone loves him, he is great with our young nephews and would make a great dad.
The problem is he want me to be happy, and he thinks the only way I can be is if I have children. But I’m not confident I can be happy without him. He hasn’t said he doesn’t EVER want them, just he doesn’t know if he will. I have never felt pain like it. I feel as though my whole world has ended.
We have cancelled the wedding until we know we want the same thing which was very hard for me to do.
I feel guilty because I think to myself if he loved me, truly loved me, would he not give me the one thing that would make my happiness complete? I know I can’t force him into it and he is not ready but how can I end something because he MIGHT never be ready? And how do I risk staying if he never will be?
We are looking at relationship counseling but I’m not sure what good it will do. I feel drained. I don’t think I can live without him but I don’t want to live the rest of our lives with resentment.

 

Anonymous said…

 

Reading through this thread has helped me feel like I’m not alone in this struggle. I’m a 46 year old man who’s thinking about becoming a father for the first time. My wife of 20 years has always known she does not want children. Eleven years ago I had similar thoughts and explored the options but chose to stay with her instead. Perhaps this is a mid-life thing where I’m looking back over the first half of my life and wondering if I’m missing out? I’ve always known I would be a good father. I’m patient, kind, and generous. People have always told me I’m like an old wise soul. I rarely give advice, instead choosing to be a good listener and help people make their own decisions.

Lately, I’m worried that I’m going to regret not having raised a child. I have no romantic ideas about it. I’ve seen friends and family struggle, so I know it’s not all fun and games. But I’m still drawn to the possibilities in the richness of the experience, and with passing on my values and way of life to another person. I feel drawn to the idea of choosing to raise a child with someone who shares my values not because it’s “the next thing to do” like I see so many people doing, but because I want the experience. To learn. To love. To know.

Bringing this up again after being together for 20 years has caused a tremendous amount of pain. I absolutely know this will end our life together and it hurts so much. We are seeking some counseling both individually and together and we’ll see where I’m at with this in six months. No need to make rash decisions, you know? But for me at least, I know if I decide to do this, my relationship with a wonderful woman, is certainly doomed.

 

Anonymous said…

 

I’m 32 and my bf is 33. We’ve been dating for a year. When we met, he seemed like he shared my goal to have kids one day. Three months ago, he said he’s not sure. That his feelings for me made him think it’s possible, but he’s never wanted them before. He assured me he thought it was an age/timing thing. Then this week, he said he’s been lying to himself out of desire to keep me. But he never wants them, because of his past (tough childhood).

Of course. I was angry. Things would be different if we met from the get-go. I’ve always thought I’d have kids, and I do like kids. But the past year has been the happiest of my life. I feel he’s the right person and I would not find someone better for me.

I am contemplating giving up on kids and continuing with him. We are on a one week break to think about this. He feels terrible for having put me in the situation, and believes that if we continue, I will change my mind and he will only hurt me more. He wants me to make sure I can be ok with this forever. The problem is I can guarantee that’s ok now but not if I will ever feel different.

So my question to people who gave up on kids for sake of the man they met, did you have a fulfilling marriage? Is it possible to be happy and change your vision of the future? Or did some you regret, resent, or change your mind later?

 

What do you say, my friends? 
 

B is for Baby, the One You May Never Have

 Almost every day I receive a comments from readers whose problems are at the very heart of this blog. They are deep into a relationship where they disagree about having children and don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to tell them except that I’m sorry this is happening to them and that they have to decide which is more important to them, the man or woman they love or the babies they might never have if they stay together. It’s an awful decision, along the lines of would you rather be blind or deaf. Neither choice is good. 
A post from last year titled, “If you Disagree About Children, is Your Relationship Doomed?” has drawn many of these comments. Click the link to read them all. Meanwhile, here are a few.
“My boyfriend and I have been together for 6 years and just recently discussed getting engaged within the year. I am 30 and he is 39 and has been married once before. I have never known that I definitely wanted to have kids but just recently I have been feeling a stronger urge to seriously consider it. My boyfriend just told me that he 100% will not have kids and I need to seriously consider if that is okay with me because he is not “changing his mind”. He is the love of my life and I would never consider not being with him but to hear him so vehemently say no to kids made me a little depressed. I am hoping that maybe one day he will consider it or my recently budding baby fever will subside…”

“Hi, i am 42 , my husband is 41. We’ve been married for just over 5 years. I have 2 grown up children aged 22 & 18 from a previous awful relationship. My husband and I had an incredible marriage. We never argued, always respected each other and loved each other very very deeply. 2 months ago he left me!! He does not want to be 60 and never have become a father. I understand how he feels but he refuses to acknowledge how I feel. I was a teenage mum and have spent my entire adult life looking after kids and he wants me to go right back to the beginning and start again. He can’t see what my problem is. He just says I don’t love him enough. If I did I would make the sacrifice for him. He says that I have “rejected” him. Now I am completely devastated, I can’t eat, sleep and can hardly get up in the morning…”
“I am 3 weeks down the road of separating from my partner (37) of 4 1/2 years. When we first got together, we both wanted to get married and have 4 children. After a year we went overseas traveling and he starting saying he didn’t want children. I thought it was because we were traveling and with loads of people in their early 20’s. But when we got back, he was still saying that he didn’t want children. I thought he just wasn’t ready and we kept getting more fur children. Well after I don’t know how many conversations, he admits that he doesn’t want to be like this dad. It was a look of surprise when it came out of his mouth. He didn’t and still doesn’t have a wonderful relationship with his dad. I just wish he could see himself through my eyes and what a brilliant father he would make. He is wonderful with his niece and nephews. And has so much to offer a child.. I just want my life back! And the one we planned….”

 “Together 7 years, married for 1. He had two kids from his first marriage, I have zero from my first marriage. I have always always always wanted one of my own. I feel ‘broken’ or less whole thinking that he now doesn’t want to have one with me anymore. He said he is just done…”  
I have a hard time knowing how to comfort these readers. I hope you can help me help them with your comments here or at the original post. Feel free to tell us about your own situation. 
***
You might be wondering what the B is for Babies business is about. I am participating this month in the A-to-Z Blog Challenge. Every day except Sunday we will publish new blog posts inspired by the letters of the alphabet. Because I have several blogs, I’m going to make this like a progressive dinner or a scavenger hunt. The alphabet blogs will proceed from A to Z but will dance around among my newsletter (4/1 only) and Unleashed in Oregon, Childless by Marriage, and Writer Aid. Here’s the schedule:

A Newsletter
B Childless by Marriage
C Unleashed in Oregon
D Writer Aid
E Unleashed in Oregon
F Unleashed in Oregon
G Unleashed in Oregon
H Childless by Marriage
I Unleashed in Oregon
J Writer Aid
K Unleashed in Oregon
L Unleashed in Oregon
M Unleashed in Oregon
N Childless by Marriage
O Unleashed in Oregon
P Writer Aid
Q Unleashed in Oregon
R Unleashed in Oregon
S Unleashed in Oregon
T Childless by Marriage
U Unleashed in Oregon
W Writer Aid
X Unleashed in Oregon
Y Unleashed in Oregon
Z Unleashed in Oregon

More than 1300 other bloggers have signed up for the challenge. Check out the list at kmdlifeisgood.blogspot.com/p/under-construction.html. You might find some great new blogs to follow. I know I will. Find out what C stands for tomorrow at Unleashed in Oregon.