Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

That He Would Do This for Her March 23, 2012

By Sue Fagalde Lick

When my friend John started going out with Lizzy, a teacher at least 20 years younger than he was, I kept my qualms to myself. Who was I to judge? Had I not married a much older man myself?

A couple years later, I ran into John and Lizzy at the Toledo, Oregon summer festival. Weary from strolling up and down Main Street, I saw them in the crowd sitting on orange folding chairs by the stage outside Bank of the West and decided to join them in the shade of a big alder tree.

I didn’t notice Lizzy’s belly until they stood to move their chairs into the sun. Was it really rounded under her denim overalls or was I imagining it? No, she was definitely pregnant.

Battling hot flashes and glad to be out of the sun, I remained alone in the shade, gazing up at the yellow and green leaves. With each gentle breeze, waves of sadness washed over me. John had finished raising his family. He had retired. He enjoyed his life of writing, music and bicycle trips. I was certain he did not want to start raising children again, but I could see the whole picture: Lizzy was young, she wanted a family, he loved her, and he could not deny her that part of life.

Of course it could have been an accident, a birth-control failure, but they were both too smart for that. This was pregnancy on purpose. That he would do this for her . . . It echoed in my head like a mantra: that he would do this for her. A corresponding chant answered: that my husband would not.

But I got it wrong. When I asked John about it later, he said he was the one who wanted another child. Lizzy didn’t mind doing without, but he wanted a chance to do a better job than he had before.

Why wasn’t my husband like that?

I had been through this so many times. It was not Fred’s fault. I had married him despite his declaration that he did not want to have children with me, that the three he had with his first wife were all he ever wanted. I had decided it was better to have him without children than to marry someone else I loved less or, more likely, to remain alone. Besides, had I not always placed my career above everything, thinking that someday I would get around to kids, but not today, tomorrow, next week . . .?

Suddenly the toe-tapping music grew tiresome. I needed to do the laundry, start dinner, make some phone calls. I kept glancing at John and Lizzy, unable to stop staring at Lizzy’s belly.

I had thought I was past this, beyond this agonizing over not having children. As I gathered my things, waved goodbye to my friends, and started the long walk to my car, I asked myself “Will it never end?”

Sue Fagalde Lick has been married twice to men who did not give her babies. She blogs on the subject at www.childlessbymarriage.blogspot.com.

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9 Responses to “That He Would Do This for Her”

  1. Amel Says:

    We all have our moments, don’t we? I just wanna send you VIRTUAL HUGS…I hope that you’ll have more and more peace as time goes by…

  2. Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

    Thank you for sharing your perspective on another form of “choosing” to be childfree. You are so eloquent, so open, and I completely get this. I look forward to checking out your blog.

  3. Reese Says:

    Every word of this story resonates with me. Thank you for sharing. I also look forward to checking out your blog. Most days are good, but every once in awhile one of these sneaks up on you! It helps to know we’re not alone.

  4. IrisD Says:

    Dear Sue,

    I can so relate to you in so many ways. My husband is also older than I am by 14 years. Though I am now 43 and probably have little chance of having biological children, we have suffered from male factor infertility. My husband, probably like most men, is not very communicative about our issue with childlessness. Not open to ART. We have talked about adoption, but at this point because of our ages, I find that this is probably quite difficult. We know people who work with orphans in Afghanistan and in Iraq and have been on the fence about seeking adoption of children in these orphanages. There is no clear cut adoption procedure in either country, and so I’m not even sure of how possible this is. I also second guess myself constantly as to how smart this is for us to do. I’ve been out of full time work for a long time because I went back to graduate school and I feel a strong need to get my financial act together quickly. I have advanced degrees, but this was never a factor in putting off childbearing. I have only ever been in love with only one person, and we could not have children. I feel those pangs when I see pregant women. I have a friend who recently gave birth and I like her and her husband so much that talking to her during her pregnancy and after her delivery was not difficult. I guess my love for her overcame whatever sentiments of jealousy I would have had, but I do feel that envy when I see random pregnant women or hear random stories of third or fourth time mothers in their 40s getting pregnant by accident while using birth control, etc. I feel left out. I have also checked in on your blog occasionally. Wish so many people in this community lived closer.

  5. Amel, Kathleen, Reese and Iris,
    Thank you for your kind responses. However we end up childless, there are times when it hurts. I wish you peace in your life without babies.
    Sue

  6. mamajoss Says:

    Oh man, do I echo those sentiments. It is such a comfort to hear somebody else struggle with the sense of deprivation that having a husband who doesn’t want children brings. The demons in by brain pick at me with questions of “How can he really love you if he won’t give you this?” But the truth is that my husband loves me more than I ever thought I would be loved, and that’s why he doesn’t want children. He’s experienced (and I’ve witnessed in some other couples) a change that comes over some women after having children – for some, it seems, the whimsical connection between newlyweds changes once children enter the picture, and the lovebirds become functional partners at best, adversaries at worst. That terrifies my hubby. He and I are so connected that he doesn’t want anything to change that – he wants it to be just the two of us forever and ever, just as it has always been. Never having had kids myself, I’m not sure what to make of that – is there some sort of hormonal change that causes some women to shift their affections, or is it social, or is it personal? I believe in my heart that if I were to have children it would only bring me and my husband closer, but I’ve never been there, so I really don’t know.

  7. Tacomaroamer Says:

    No , it doesn’t end.
    You may be sailing along smugly thinking you’ve overcome and accepted and grown beyond and have spiritually matured, yada yada yada.
    And then BLAM, you get blindsided and tossed back into the pit for awhile.
    Thats the reality, imho, just keep that in the back of your head and we should prepare to be way way gentle with ourselves whenever that ” stuff ” happens.
    Just sayin’
    -from someone who managed to be Childless Not By Choice without ever having married (way seriously flawed reproductive parts)

  8. Mamajoss, you raise such good points. I feel like my husband and I had such a special relationship. Would it have changed if we had children? His youngest son lived with us through his teens, but he wasn’t always there. His mom took him for holidays and summer vacations, so it’s not the same. He had three kids with his first wife, and I know they were part of the problem between them. It’s really scary to think about, isn’t it?

    Tacomaroamer, you’re so right.

  9. […] post was originally published on March 23rd, 2012. Sue Fagalde Lick’s book Childless by Marriage has just been published and is available on […]


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