My cousin’s daughter, now in first grade, has started messaging me on Facebook. She sends me goofy photos, videos, and emojis, and tells me about her day. I send goofy photos, videos, and emojis and tell her about my day. I keep it short and simple because she’s still very young, but if feels so good to have this relationship. Her teacher suggested the students message an older relative. I would love to hug that woman hard for making this little girl a factor in my life.
This little girl and her siblings would not exist without what seems like a miracle. Her grandfather, my uncle, was paralyzed from the neck down in a motorcycle accident. He was only 25, a police officer responding to a call. Horrible thing. A brilliant man, he spent the next 40 years in a wheelchair or in bed. When the accident happened, his daughter was two and his son not quite one year old. With their father in the hospital for many months, they stayed at our house most of the time. Ultimately my aunt and uncle split up. Still in her early 20s, my aunt couldn’t face a lifetime of caregiving. None of us could blame her for moving on.
But love struck again. My uncle met a nurse at Stanford Hospital. They fell in love and eventually got married. Her parents were so angry they didn’t come to the wedding. He was divorced, stuck in a wheelchair, and he would never give her a normal life—or children. But he did. I don’t know the details. It was the 1970s, fertility assistance options were not what they are now, and people did not talk about it, but with the help of medical science, they produced a son and a daughter who are now in their 40s and parents themselves.
Men with spinal cord injuries definitely face challenges fathering children. They may not be able to have intercourse in the usual way, may not be able to ejaculate, may not produce viable sperm, but there’s a chance. Many of the methods used for other couples at fertility clinics can be used for paralyzed fathers. This article offers some of the specifics: “The Best Male Fertility Options after an SCI (Spinal Cord Injury).
I’m not using names and feel uncomfortable sharing even this much of a very private story, but I love all four of my uncle’s kids, and I’m so glad they exist.
Disability is one of the many ways a person can be childless by marriage. Certainly my uncle’s second wife, now my beloved aunt, could not count on having children with him. It might have just been the two of them, with occasional visits from her stepchildren, and then just her alone when he passed away at age 65. She made a choice and ended up with a big wonderful family that includes all four grown children and a whole lot of grandchildren.
Would you/have you partnered with someone who is unlikely to be able to have children? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to have children and/or accept that it’s not going to happen? It’s one thing when a mate is unwilling, but when they physically can’t make babies, what then? I welcome your comments.
Interesting. I’m in a similar position. Second marriage for both. He is 50, I’m 43. He has three kids from a previous marriage (12, 17, 20), I’m childless NOT by choice. First husband didn’t want them. Made damn sure I would never get pregnant. It was awful. Fast forward 15 years and now I’m remarried. He’s a wonderful man. Initially, he did not want kids and told me so while dating. At that time, I was still brainwashed into thinking I would be a terrible mom anyway (and I was 38), so I didn’t think twice when he asked me to marry him.
Turns out I’m a great momma, even better than Bio Mom (say the 12- and 17-year-olds, plus Dad). The 20-year-old hates me, because Mom has made up all kinds of lies to cover her mistakes. Bio Mom cheated on Dad, many times. Dad had enough and filed for divorce. She didn’t want the kids to find out so brainwashed them into crazy stories, INCLUDING telling them I caused their divorce even though I wasn’t in their life until years later. She was so convincing it took the youngest until this year to realize the timelines didn’t add up. Not joking. Two weeks ago, she told us that of all her friends with divorced parents, she has the most awesome stepmom and a dad that is still around and loves them. She said her mom is the problem. She sees, and doesn’t like what she sees. Eldest still believes the mom, and is pretty mean to the younger two if they don’t fall in line with her lies.
Anyway, my desire to have children kicked into overdrive once I realized I didn’t suck and got closer with the children. DH conceded. We went to a lecture for older adults about fertility. Spoke for 15 minutes with a doctor who told us IVF was the only way. Possibly donor eggs/sperm. That scared the husband, and now he doesn’t want kids anymore. He’s worried about my health, as I’m older, and worried he’ll have a nervous breakdown dealing with his ex, current kids and a new baby. Especially a baby that isn’t his and can’t guarantee if they’ll be healthy because the genetics are not ours. At one point, he told me he loved me so much that he thought we should get divorced so that I could go have a baby on my own, or with a younger man. I lost it.
THAT, on top of the grief and insane depression I’ve had over not being a mother, just crushed me. I went from being really sad, to really sad and angry. I know a lot of it is tied to my first husband and the mind games he used to pull on this subject. I’ve been in therapy and started taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety meds. I was a healthy, thriving, happy single person until coming into this life. I fell in love with someone who does love me, and wants to take care of me for the long haul . . . but he comes with all this baggage (much of which I’m not sharing here). A lot of this came out after we got married, and if I say anything to anyone their first comment is “you should have known.” Ummm, I’m not able to predict the future so how would I have known?
I’ve never married a guy with kids before. Waited a year into our relationship before meeting the kids because I wanted to be sure it was for real. They were very pleasant, until we got engaged. Once the ex found out we were serious, she got to work trying to wreck our relationship, and ruin me. At that time, we had moved in together, were building a house and planning to get married. OMG! Never had to deal with a high conflict ex, never moved somewhere because someone else made the decision and we just had to follow. Lots of “nevers,” and it’s been really hard. He promised me it would get better, and we have made progress, but I think all the bad stuff, and the hormones, and the depression/anxiety have just broken me. I’ve lost myself, feel completely mental, and am so far away from friends and family. I’m alone. There is no one to give me a hug if I’m sad (my husband travels a lot). Now, I feel like I’m giving up my chance to have children.
These kids will never have a mother/child relationship with me. They are grateful I’ve taught them so many things their mother hasn’t (well, the younger two), but they’ll always be terrified to show their appreciation because of how Mom will behave if she finds out. Eldest is a tattletale, Mom’s spy. She should be in college, elsewhere, but dropped out. Things were getting so much better, and now are reverting because she moved back home. I’m the evil step-mom again because eldest says so, so my depression is getting worse. My anger is getting worse. I feel like I don’t have any control over my own life. I can’t even control my professional life, because we live in the sticks (not by choice . . . because Mom ran off her with the kids and he followed), so there are no jobs in my field. Thankfully, I was able to obtain a work-from-home position, but it’s entry level and I’m an executive. I have always made things work, my entire life. Adjusted to whatever situation I was in to make it work. This is the first time I feel like I’m constantly fighting to make it work, and it’s not.
In short, I don’t know if LOVE is enough. He is a strong, caring, kind, funny, provider. I love him dearly. He tells me they consider me family, and everyone really does care about me. I do not love dealing with the baggage and how he has chosen not to stand up to his ex’s dumb decisions. My mother-in-law told me he never would AFTER we got married, and said “good luck dealing with that evil B****” . . . and laughed. If I ever complained about not having kids or what I had to deal with, she would just say “You knew, and is nothing ever good enough for you? Can’t you just be happy with my grandkids?” What? Has a childless women EVER received that comment from their MIL before?
I wish I knew how crazy the ex was before we were married. I wish I knew my MIL wasn’t really the funny, kind person she portrayed. I wish I knew I wouldn’t be strong enough to deal with it all, and how it would change me.
Now, I feel broken. My anger towards dealing with all of this pain has turned me into a very unhappy, negative person. I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I don’t even know how to look at my days in a positive light. It’s just all gray and cloudy. I didn’t know trying to be a decent stepparent would mean I would get treated like crap for years. I feel lied to and taken advantage of, and now cash-strapped because I’ve paid for so much in this household it’s not even funny. No, we don’t share financial accounts. We’ve dealt with too many court/money situations and I don’t want his ex knowing what I do, how much I make and how much I have saved. It’s none of her business. She’s constantly having the kids ask me how much I make. Awesome, huh?
Guess I should have done my research. Now I feel really ignorant. The honeymoon has worn off and we’ve only been together five years, married for three. I’ve heard it takes seven to work out most of the kinks. I don’t know if I can make it to seven years at this rate. But then, I’ll feel like a failure. Divorced again because I made a bad decision and didn’t know what this life would be like.
Does anyone have any advice? Is this what it is like? Does it get better? How do you stay sane when you don’t have a support network near you?
Thank you, and terribly sorry for the long note. I happened to stumble across this and felt connected in some way, I guess.
So there it is. Heartbreaking. What advice do you have for NH? Does her story strike familiar chords with you? Please comment.