Followup: If I had it to do over again . . .

Years have passed since I interviewed the childless women who are quoted in my Childless by Marriage book. I have begun contacting them to find out what happened after we talked. Are they still with the same guy? Did they have children after all? How do they feel now about not having children? Most recently I caught up with “Aline,” who went by another name in the book but prefers to keep her identify private.
When we talked in 2004, Aline, a journalist, told me that her ex-boyfriend had insisted she abort the pregnancy she had at age 30. She had always planned to have children but had not found the right partner to do it with. At age 34, she said she would go ahead and have a child on her own if it didn’t happen within the next six months. As you’ll see, that didn’t happen.
If you were with a guy when we talked, are you still with him?
I’ve been single for the past year.
Did you wind up having children after all? Is there any chance you still might?
Unfortunately not. Considering my age, I think it’s unlikely. I suppose I can still get pregnant, but no man I know wants a baby with a 42-year-old, regardless of how attractive she may be.
When people ask you now why you don’t have children, what do you tell them?
I want to tell them it’s none of their business, but I just smile and change the subject.
Do you regret the choices that led to you not having children?
Yes. It’s eating me up. I feel like I’ve missed out in life. I feel inadequate and everyone makes me feel so.
If you could go back and change things, would you?
Absolutely. I would listen to my mom and be less picky about men. I would also have kept the baby I was expecting at age 30 and wouldn’t take into consideration the father’s (who incidentally is now married with two children) demands that I get an abortion.
Are there stepchildren or other children in your life that fill the gap?
I wish! I have a 13-year-old niece though who often asks why she doesn’t have a cousin from me.
11. Are you worried about being alone in old age?
All the time. It upsets me that no one will be there for me in my old age. It’s a source of anxiety.
What are you proudest of doing in your life so far? Could you have done this if you had children?
I had an exciting career as a journalist and film critic, traveling all over the world. And I live much of the year in Paris. It upsets me that I have no one to share these with. My friends juggle kids and career, so it wouldn’t have been impossible to raise kids at the same time. It just takes organization and discipline.
What would you say to others who are dealing with partners or spouses who can’t/don’t want to have children?
If you really want children and your partner doesn’t or can’t, then you need to re-evaluate your relationship. Do you love the person enough to make this compromise? You may wake up in ten years’ time full of regret. It’s a big and important issue and if you can’t change his/her mind, then it’s time to move on. Never compromise your happiness for a partner. I should know—I did and it kills me a bit each year.

Book Review: Baby or Not?

I just finished reading this short e-book which I think you would be interested in.

Baby or Not: Making the Biggest Decision of Your Life by Beth Follini, 2013. This 76-page Kindle e-book by the woman who writes the Baby or Not blog needs a little editing, but the content is helpful for anyone trying to decide whether or not to have a baby. Its chapters include: the effects of having children on career and finances, situations where one’s partner doesn’t want children, co-parenting and foster parenting, the decision to be childfree, and having a child as a single parent. Follini, who lives in the UK, is a life coach who specializes in helping people make the baby-or-not decision. This book offers solid information on the options and a step-by-step process for figuring out what you want to do.

 Follini includes a whole chapter on what to do if you want a child but your partner doesn’t. Often it isn’t that the partner has made a clear decision against children but that he keeps putting it off or won’t talk about it. It may also be that the relationship has other problems. Or perhaps the one who wants children has not been clear about what she wants and needs. Follini asks questions to help people sort this out. Is he firm in his decision not to have children? Will you stay with him anyway or will you leave in the hope of finding someone else who is willing to be a parent? The answers may be difficult to face, but in the end, it might be better to know than not so you can make a decision and move on. 

I have long maintained that couples need to talk about this issue in depth, not in quick asides and assumptions. I didn’t do that. Too insecure to stand up for myself, I let the men in my life make the decision by default. Don’t do what I did. Figure it out before you run out of eggs.