Wednesday, March 24, 2010

How Did You Find Out?

When Fred and I got together, I was 31 and still hoping to be a mom. He was 46 and had had a vasectomy after his third child was born. For a while after our engagement, we talked about having a child together. If his vasectomy couldn't be reversed, we would try artificial insemination or adoption. We talked about it with my gynecologist. We collected information about adoptions. It never occurred to me that I would go to my grave without children.

Then one evening on a camping trip, Fred dropped the bomb. "I really don't want to have any more children," he said. "I'm sorry."

"Oh," I replied, stunned. That's pretty much all I ever said about it until many years later. Somehow, I had this big case of denial. He would change his mind, or a persistent sperm would find its way to one of my eggs, and I would have a baby.

Looking back, I should have demanded that we talk about this a lot more. I should have made it clear that I wanted children. But I didn't. Why? I was more afraid of losing Fred than of not having children. My first marriage blew up, the three-year relationship I had in-between turned out badly, and I had almost reconciled myself to being alone forever. Then Fred came along. I had never felt love like that, and I didn't dare do anything to mess it up.

Now I suspect that, if I had insisted, he loved me enough that we would have had children. But it's too late now.

So, ladies and gents in childless relationships, how did you discover your mate wouldn't or couldn't become a parent, and how did you react? Is there time to change the situation?

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

You would make a great mom to a foster child!

Anonymous said...

My husband's ex-wife was having an extra-marital affair while she was pregnant with his child. She finally left him when his baby was 4 months old to move in with the boyfriend. My husband has been alienated from the child ever since. Visitation is not fun. He was forever changed about having more children. We were both on the fence when we got married and subsequently fell on opposite sides - me for, him against. I have been struggling badly ever since.

Suelick said...

Foster child? Maybe.

Meanwhile, Anon. #2, I'm so sorry. It sounds like a painful situation all around. My sympathies.

Anonymous said...

My husband's daughter was 15 when I wanted to try to have a baby. At this time, his daughter was starting down her path of distruction. He felt he couldn't have another child.

Anonymous said...

Anon #2 here...how do you get through this? I have no pets (can't right now), which I think would help. I've been to counseling (3 times). I've been on anti-anxiety meds (2 times) and they are not the answer (I got off). I have a great job, I have friends, and I'm a runner, but...HOW DO YOU GET THROUGH THIS?

Suelick said...

Pets do help, but you have to find the answer that is right for you. If there's still time to change the situation, think hard about what you need to be happy in life. If not, cry, pray, talk about it. Does your husband understand how much this hurts you? For some childless people, finding other ways to be with kids helps. For others, it adds to the pain. If it's a situation that won't change, we have to find some way to work toward acceptance.
I'm so sorry you have to go through this.

EscapeVelocity said...

It was really more my career plans than the men in my life that messed up my reproductive hopes, although I probably shouldn't have continued either of my early long-term relationships as long as I did (they were willing to have children at some point in the future when we were married and financially independent and all that, but I finally decided I wasn't willing to have children with them). By the time I was out of those relationships and gradually coming to terms with the fact that the career wasn't going to pan out, I was 33 and my biological clock was ticking loudly enough to scare off most men--at least I never ran into any who were eager to get married and have kids RIGHT NOW. I've been dating my current BF for over four months, and I think that's the longest relationship I've had in the last fourteen years.

Anonymous said...

I relate to your story. About 6 mos after our wedding (I was 41, he 45)we had a conversation that felt like I was learning for the first time that "well, I think I'm too old for children at this time" meant no children including not adopting! Had I really not heard this at the beginning?

Anonymous said...

I learned 2 years after we were married. We've been married for 13 years, and I'm still trying to deal with it. It doesn't really get better - but I hope I'm getting better at dealing with it.

Anonymous said...

My husband is 12 years older than I am and had a son. He's a worrier and I think for him, having another child was 'risky'? His first marriage fell apart (stress of new baby?) and he had the perfect son, so why tempt fate. The problem was for so long, he said 'maybe'.....by the time I realized that he really meant no, I had 10 years invested and too scared to go it alone. I love him very much. Still.....knowing then when I know now, I would have left. At 42, it's too late for me start again. But for anyone else still in your childbearing years, think very carefully about your decision (or lack thereof in my case). It will haunt me forever.....what if?