Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

That He Would Do This for Her August 2, 2012

This post was originally published on March 23rd, 2012. Sue Fagalde Lick’s book Childless by Marriage has just been published and is available on Amazon and on Sue’s website. Congratulations, Sue!

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


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

  1. Maria Says:

    I can relate to this topic. When I met my husband, I was 29 and knew immediately he was the one. I was ready to get married and have kids. He was not. He had just recently been divorced after his wife cheated on him. He was also terrified to have children because his mother died during childbirth. I resented waiting but I didn’t want to spend my life with anyone else. I didn’t want to break up with him just to have a baby with someone who wasn’t “the One.” So I waited for him and we got married when I was 35. We started TTC soon after but he was very fearful (because of his mom) and when things didn’t happen, his attitude was always, “if it happens it happens.” It didn’t happen for 5 years and we both didn’t want to use a donor egg. So I explored adoption on my own and when he turned 50 he told me he really didn’t want to adopt. He felt too old and tired and liked our lives the way they were. It did make me sad but I love him and understand him and I really don’t want to make him do something he doesn’t want to do. I don’t tell people that story because they will view him as selfish. But I am glad we are close enough that he can be honest with me, and that he knows we will agree on this together. However, it does get me down like Sue in this article. And recently, a friend of mine got married for the first time at 43 (her husband’s second marriage at close to 60). She has no children and he is a father of 2 teenage boys and totally supported her need to have a baby and they are pregnant right now with a donor egg. I must say I have looked at their relationship the same way – what he would do for her. And I hate to think like that because my husband would do anything for me. I suppose if I gave him an ultimatum about adoption, he would do it for me. But I don’t want him to do it FOR me, I want him to want to be a father to an adopted child. I know he doesn’t and I can’t bring a child into our home under that circumstance. No on really understands this.

    • Geri Says:

      I understand what you are going through. I feel like I’m in a similar situation. There are not a lot of people out there that can relate and it is so reassuring that I am not the only one who feels or thinks these same things. My fiance met when I had just turned 31 and he was 49. He had just finalized a divorce after a long, but unhappy marriage. During the first couple years I couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t give me children like the man in the first story did with his wife. To me it felt that it meant he didn’t love me enough. He did not want to be an older dad and has two kids of his own. I couldn’t understand this for the longest time. He also has cancer, but is in remission. I agonized so much over the having or not having children dilemma and listened too much to other people. After 2.5 years I left the relationship thinking that this might be my only chance to have children and be happy. I met a younger man and we dated 9 mos, only to find out that this man had intimacy issues. There were other issues in the relationship, but I guess the whole experience made me realize that I’d rather be in a wonderful relationship with no kids than be in a relationship that isn’t great and have kids. I feel that my fiance would do the same if I gave him an ultimatum, but I don’t want to bring a child into that environment either. We ended up back together after more than a year of being apart and I have come to terms that I’m going to be childless. It is not easy because everyone around me seems to get pregnant and get pregnant so easily that it is difficult at times. I just try to maintain a positive attitude and not get bitter about my situation. I really do have a lot to be thankful for, but it is comforting to know that I’m not alone in this. My fiance is a wonderful person and I wouldn’t change a thing. However, it is difficult to explain this to people who have children or just don’t understand that sometimes things don’t work out exactly as planned or wanted for everyone. They tend to think that it should just happen and sometimes life has other plans. This has been my experience anyway.

  2. Jen Says:

    The way I look at this is…nice that he would do that for her and it has to be a two-way street where both parties are in agreement. If it isn’t and he is doing it just because she wants it then their realtionship is headed for in the wrong direction (south). Eventually like every human being there is going to be resentment that will build over time. When hubs and I were facing the only way to have a child was donor eggs or adoption. He knew my feelings about going thru more medical intervention and how I didn’t want that. I knew his feelings regarding donor eggs and adoption – not our biological child and he couldn’t get pass that fact. So, with both our feelings out on the table, we decided together to move forward childless. One very important part of this decision was that we as a couple made a commitment to our marriage (first and foremost) and that if either of us wasn’t on board with a situation we wouldn’t move forward. We always wanted our marriage to be a two-way street and have always tried to put our relationship first. After my last miscarriage and all the heartache we went thru along with my depression, we saw our relationship start to fray and that was a true wake up call for us. If we don’t have each other to lean on and support one another…what is left? I think this is why I was able to be more at peace with our decision of childless status and start focusing on the positives in our life. I think people shouldn’t judge others when they have no clue what is like to walk in our shoes. I always say you never know what is going on in people’s lives behind closed doors. I am not ashamed to share my story with others, if they don’t understand, well so be it. In the end all that matters is that we (hubs and I) do and that is what counts.

    • Maria Says:

      Very well said. My husband and I did the same but you articulated much better than me. My husband and I felt the same way when we came to our decision – I wished I had expressed it with the same compassion and sensitivity that you did. And, I agree that if the hubs does it for the wife, the marriage is going in the wrong direction. Many couples I know that did it for that reason, are now divorced. And I see that what the wife really wanted was the children, not the marriage.

  3. Thank you, Lisa for posting this, and thank you, Jen and Maria, for your comments. You’re so right. The only way for a couple to survive this situation is to both be totally honest and make a decision together that both can live with. I know we didn’t do that as well as we could have. If we had talked about it more, the outcome might have been different.

  4. Kathleen Guthrie Woods Says:

    Congratulations on the publication of your book, Sue!

  5. Mali Says:

    I am really loving this discussion, because the reason we didn’t look further into adoption was a resistance on my husband’s part. And I looked at it and knew I couldn’t force him to do something he wasn’t comfortable with, because i would never forgive him if he forced me to do something I wasn’t comfortable with.

    • Maria Says:

      Totally agree. Now that we are 7 years post TTC, my husband is able to talk openly about my infertility. When I was going through it, he was very careful about what he said because I was so frustrated with myself and my failing body. After I wrote my comment to this article, he brought up the subject of donor eggs because my friend is pregnant with one. He said he would never have expected me to do that because he would have been horrified if he was the one with infertility and I wanted to use a sperm donor. He found that emasculating and assumed I would have felt the same way. I was thinking that if I wrote about this, the title would be “What He Wouldn’t Expect From Me.” If he can be so understanding about this issue, how can I not understand how he feels about adoption? I’m glad he never coerced me to do the donor egg and I’m glad I never coerced him into adoption.

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