Is It It Better to Keep Hoping for a Child or to Move On?

My husband is 23 years older than I am and had a vasectomy 20 years ago, during his first 20+ year marriage. When we initially got together I told him I could not imagine not being a mother someday. I also told him that I was absolutely okay with adoption and that I had never been incredibly attached to the idea of carrying and giving birth to our children.

Cut to several years later. My husband and I went through two rounds of IVF (very begrudgingly on his part). After that, we had an adoption fall through very late in the process. My husband then made his opinion very clear that he was done trying and had absolutely no interest in trying anything further to have a family with me. He unfortunately made it very clear that he was only attempting everything up to this point for my feelings; he never wanted children with me.

My husband is the love of my life and I could not ever imagine spending my life with anyone else. Time has passed and I have acknowledged that children are not in the cards for us. Largely in part from your blog and books, I have realized that there is more to my life than childlessness.

My husband and I were talking yesterday about a coworker who had had a miscarriage (after having one healthy child). I asked, “Is it better to have no hope at all? Or is it better to have hope? Hope that today may be the day?” I often wonder this now that I have in large part accepted the facts in regard to my childlessness. I wonder if it is better to have this hope that your situation will change and that you may finally get what you long for so dearly? Or is it better to have no hope at all about ever having children?


Hope. It can be the thing that keeps you going. Maybe next month. Maybe next year. Maybe he’ll change his mind. But how likely is it? When do you give up hope? Are you putting your life on hold just in case things change?

I was looking up quotes about hope last night. There’s a long list at I was struck by this one by author William Faulkner: “You cannot swim for the horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.”

That could be interpreted as: if you don’t let go of the dream of being a parent, you’ll never discover the other wonderful things you could be. Or in the words of UK childless guru Jody Day, you’ll never find your Plan B.

Author Pearl S. Buck wrote: “Many people lose the small joys in the hope for the big happiness.”

Fashion designer Coco Chanel put it more simply: “Don’t spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”

And Greek philosopher Epicurus wrote: “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”

I could go on, but you get the idea. There are just as many writers who preach holding on to a dream no matter what. Without hope, they ask, what’s the point?

But which will make you happier today, tomorrow or next week? For me, menopause ended my angst over whether I might maybe somehow still be a mother. The baby factory was closed. Before that, while I still had viable eggs, I fantasized about getting pregnant. I had hope. But I was running out of time, and it drove me crazy. Now that the possibility has ended, I feel more at peace. Sometimes I also feel grief or regret, but I often feel that my life turned out the way it was supposed to. I didn’t have babies, but look at all the wonderful things I have had.

Lynne, thank you for sharing your story. It will resonate with many readers.

What about you? Is it better to keep hoping? Does the hope keep you going? Or would it be better to know there’s no hope for that dream, so you could let it go and look for a new dream?

I welcome your comments.


The books Childless by Marriage and Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Both are now available not only through Amazon but at any bookstore via Ingram, the biggest distributor of books in the U.S. Why not support your local bookstore by ordering a copy?

I’ll be joining the Nomo Crones—childless elderwomen—in an online chat again on September 15 as part of World Childless Week. The Crones start gabbing at noon Pacific time. Check the website for information on all the week’s activities happening on Zoom from all over the world. You’re sure to find something that grabs your interest. The sessions will be recorded so you can watch them at your convenience.

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A Tale of Two Childless Writers

Have you ever heard of May Sarton? Sarton, who lived from 1912 to 1995, was a poet, novelist and memoirist in an era when most women stayed home and had babies. She published more than 50 books. I recently read her Journal of a Solitude, published in 1973. It describes a year she lived alone in a small town in New Hampshire. Although she battled loneliness and depression, she was convinced that solitude was essential to her career as a writer. She did not see how she could have succeeded if she were married and had children. The demands of motherhood did not allow the necessary time, energy or focus. Although many friends visited and she often went out for public appearances or to spend time with a mystery lover she called X, she was always anxious to be alone again.

A wonderful list of Sarton quotes at includes this one: “It is harder for women, perhaps to be ‘one-pointed,’ much harder for them to clear space around whatever it is they want to do beyond household chores and family life. Their lives are fragmented… the cry not so much for a ‘a room of one’s own’ as time of one’s own.”

I found myself having a lot in common with Sarton, except that I still believe it is possible to write and raise children. The early years might be difficult, but once the kids start school, you have guaranteed hours when someone else is taking care of them. It worked for me those years when Fred’s youngest son lived with us. He was just turning 12 when he moved in, and he was a self-sufficient kind of boy, so I was able to work all day on my own writing and my job writing for a local newspaper. I could have become more involved in Michael’s life, volunteering at school, baking cookies, or whatever, but my work was always a high priority. I often think God planned for me to be childless, so I could be a writer. Too often I burn dinner while I’m engrossed in my work. How would I care for a baby?

Of course, many moms these days need a job outside the home, and that makes it hard to do anything else. Sarton was wealthy. She had a maid, gardeners and a handyman taking care of things around the house while she spent hours perfecting a line of poetry.

Then there’s Elizabeth Gilbert, famous for Eat, Pray, Love and several other books. Readers of her work know she chose to be childless. In an interview, she said she struggled with her decision. Motherhood seemed to be the natural path, but it didn’t feel right for her.  She finally decided, “Okay, this is my path. I’ll take it with its risks and with its liberation because it’s mine.” Her decision, which left her free to travel, write and explore, feels more right every year, she says.

A lot changed between 1973, when the women’s movement was just beginning to blossom, and 2015. Women have more choices these days in lifestyles, careers, and reproductive decisions. Perhaps if they switched eras, Sarton and Gilbert would have made different choices.

What do you think? Can you devote yourself completely to your career and be a mother, too? Has not having children given you freedom to do things you wouldn’t have been able to do if you were raising a family? Or have you put everything on hold while still hoping to have children? Please comment.