Help! I Just Found Out I Can’t Have Children

Dear GoodTherapy.org,

Please help me cope with the very confusing and conflicting feelings I’m having. I’m 28 and just found out last month I can’t have children. At first, I felt fine with that. I’ve never had kids, never been pregnant, and never been sure about whether I wanted kids in the future. So there was a day or so when I felt neutral or even relieved. But as time goes on, I feel more and more hurt. I’ve cried, I’ve felt depressed, I’ve felt completely apathetic, and I’ve felt very, very angry.

I have never felt strongly children are a necessary part of my future. So why am I feeling tortured by this news? Somehow, having the whole opportunity ripped away from me is devastating. Even though I might not have ever had children anyway, I now feel completely cheated out of an experience other people get to have. It’s not fair, and I don’t know how to move forward. —None in the Oven

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Dear None,

Thank you for sharing this experience. I hear that you are confused and surprised by many of the feelings you are grappling with. It can be difficult to even put such an experience into words, and you have done so beautifully.

Because this choice has been taken away from you, you might need to allow yourself some time to grieve the loss of this choice. Partnering with a therapist to engage in this process could be very helpful.

It sounds to me like you were unsure about whether you wanted children, not that you were certain that you did not want them. There’s a big difference between the two. Maybe you weren’t sure but figured you’d decide and act accordingly at a later time. You expected that there would be a point in your life when you (and perhaps a partner) would make this decision, and this new development means it is no longer a decision for you to make. Generally speaking, people don’t like to have choices taken away from them. We like to feel like we are in control of our lives and can make choices and take actions to have the lives we want.

The choice to have children, in particular, is one that people expect they will be able to make for themselves. People think of it as such a natural part of life—they think if they make a decision to have a child, they will just be able to get pregnant and do so. Because this choice has been taken away from you, you might need to allow yourself some time to grieve the loss of this choice. Partnering with a therapist to engage in this process could be very helpful.

After you make some progress on grieving the ability to become pregnant, you may be comforted by the idea that while becoming pregnant is not an option, becoming a mother is still very possible. You do have the ability to make a choice as to whether you would like to be a mother. If you do choose to become a mother, you can explore alternative methods such as adoption or surrogacy.

The bottom line here is you lost something: the ability to make a choice about your life. You deserve to grieve that loss and decide what you want to do about it. I wish you peace in your journey.

Best wishes,

Sarah

Sarah Noel
Sarah Noel, MS, LMHC is a licensed psychotherapist living and working in Brooklyn, New York. She specializes in working with people who are struggling through depression, anxiety, trauma, and major life transitions. She approaches her work from a person-centered perspective, always acknowledging the people she works with as experts on themselves. She is honored and humbled on a daily basis to be able to partner with people at such critical points in their unique journeys.
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  • Alyce

    Alyce

    October 14th, 2016 at 8:26 AM

    This must feel awfully raw for you right now. They may not have ever necessarily been a certainty to you but it is like the possibility of that is there and this just wipes all of that hope away. I hope that eventually you can find peace with this, know that is a plan for something greater than you might know right now, and that there are always options for other ways to have children even if biologically this does not happen for you.

  • angela

    angela

    October 15th, 2016 at 1:13 PM

    I can’t have children either so I have just had to become the best darn auntie you have ever seen! I love it!

  • Bill

    Bill

    October 17th, 2016 at 10:24 AM

    Don’t give up and always seek a second opinion.

  • Natalie

    Natalie

    October 17th, 2016 at 5:59 PM

    I was a little older when I learned I could not have biological children after years of struggling with endometriosis. My husband and I still decided together that we wanted children so we adopted from overseas. It truly has been a blessing to us.

  • james

    james

    October 20th, 2016 at 10:51 AM

    I am very sorry fro that loss you are feeling because that actually is what you are feeling, that sense of loss of something that even though you never had you now know that you never will. Sometimes it’s the not knowing what could have been that makes it even tougher to deal with.

  • joy

    joy

    October 23rd, 2016 at 7:11 PM

    not becoming mother or parenting is okay too

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