DEAR CAROLYN: When my husband and I first started dating (seven years ago) he was upfront that he didn’t want any more kids. He is 47 and has a 20-year-old daughter. I’m 42. From my past experiences, I knew that being in a good relationship was the top priority and bringing a child into a bad relationship could be a disaster.
While we were still dating, he would tell me out of the blue he thought he’d like kids after all. I had started feeling as if I really did want a child, but never mentioned it because it had to be a mutual thing we both wanted.
We have now been married for two years. He mentioned one day this spring that he decided he would like to try for a baby. We agreed that I needed to get a little healthier and would talk to my doctor when I went for my yearly appointment. Over that time I began to eat healthier, started to exercise and have lost 20 pounds.
The day of my appointment in September, he had the deer-in-the-headlights look of panic. I was shocked and disappointed. Later he told me he just got cold feet and he really did want to have a kid with me.
How do I overcome the sadness and disappointment that I feel?
I Want A Baby
DEAR BABY: It certainly doesn’t seem intentional on your husband’s part – but even with the best of intentions, uncertainty like his can make it so difficult for you to know what to feel, why and when. If coping means traveling a path, then each “maybe” is a fallen tree across it.
The way to make peace with this is to tend to each obstacle in succession. First there’s the grief at not having a child. Just because you once saw your future without one doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to envision that again. You have changed and your new vision will have to as well.
I expect you also won’t be able to use the same “being in a good relationship was the top priority” rationale as you did before, at least not right away. Your marriage will need some repairs before it can carry that weight again.
That’s why I suggest facing the second obstacle, your disappointment in your husband, with a skilled marriage counselor.
There’s a final obstacle that I’m not sure you even see, and that may be the key to acceptance on the two other fronts. That obstacle is, and always has been, you.
Take a careful look at the path your letter describes. You accepted his initial no-kids stance; he changes his mind; last spring, years past 40, you chose to wait till your yearly appointment instead of making a special one, stat.
Either you didn’t read up on fertility (itself part of the pattern?), opted for denial, or deep down you’re as ambivalent as he is about a baby.