I Badly Want to Be a Mom, but Fear I’ll Have to Go It Alone

I am 42 and I want desperately to have a child. I feel like I’m missing a piece of life. I always wanted to get married and have children, even if that meant adopting a child. Well, I got married at 33 and thought that it would all come true, but it hasn’t. I told him before we married I want kids, and he said he would do whatever it took to make that happen, but he already has one biological child who is now an adult and two adopted children from a previous marriage, so I just don’t think he feels the same way I do. Almost 10 years ago, we went through two IVF cycles. He was fixed at the time. I got really sick from the treatments and had to have surgery for endometriosis. He got unfixed, and I was told I shouldn’t have any problems getting pregnant as long as his sperm looked good. Tests came back abnormal, and this was a blow to his pride. At the same time, he lost his job, then his dad. We separated due to his excessively drinking his sorrows away. When we got back together two years ago, I told him I still wanted a child, and we agreed we’d do whatever it takes, even adoption. But now he’s not even interested in talking about it. I want to feel the kind of connection he has with his kids, but it seems he has lost any interest in doing that with me. I don’t know if this will make me want to separate again, because I am not getting any younger. Becoming a mother is my one and only dream in life. I want to be a soccer mom, go to tee-ball games, and everything else. Am I just crazy and too old? —Dreaming of Motherhood
Dear Dreaming of Motherhood,

You are neither crazy nor too old. You are also not alone in having your dream of motherhood deferred. There are many women in their thirties and forties who are struggling with some of these same questions. I think the main question for you to answer for yourself is whether you want to pursue your dream of motherhood even if it means losing your partner and doing it on your own.

If your answer to that is “yes,” then you owe it to yourself and your partner to have a very clear and direct conversation about where you stand. You can invite him to go on this journey with you, and you can let him know that if it is not a journey he wants to take, you may take it without him. You can spell out a timeline for figuring it out, and the two of you could also explore couples counseling to work through whatever issues or concerns may come from your conversation.

There are some potential pitfalls to this approach. Your husband, in his desire to stay in a relationship with you, might feel you have given him an ultimatum—have a child or lose you. It is very important to have an open an honest series of conversations about this. You do not want to resent him for keeping you from experiencing motherhood. You also don’t want him to resent you, or your child, for asking him to parent when he doesn’t really want to. It is absolutely essential that you both are free to share your feelings without judgment, blame, or anger. I imagine that your past experience together trying to get pregnant still carries a lot of emotional weight. It was a traumatic time in many ways. Your husband may have some natural ambivalence or even fear about going through that again and potentially damaging your relationship. Again, working through this with a couples therapist could help tremendously.

I also want to encourage you to talk with friends or people you know who are parenting young children. Parenthood is a wonderful thing, but it is not for the faint of heart. It is exhausting, frustrating, and very messy. It may not live up to your expectations of soccer moms and tee-ball games, and it may exceed expectations you didn’t know you had. There are benefits to becoming a parent at a more mature age and there are challenges as well. You won’t have the kind of energy you did at 30, but you also may have more wisdom and patience. Parenting solo is also challenging—but perhaps even more challenging is parenting with an unwilling, reluctant, or uninvolved partner. Make sure you talk with each other honestly and openly before taking a major, life-changing leap.

Best of luck!
Erika

Erika Myers
Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
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  • jane

    jane

    January 9th, 2015 at 10:47 AM

    I am so sorry that you are going through this because to me in essence your husband lied to you about what he would be willing to do for you if the two of you married. I don’t think that this is a deal that you should s easily be able to go back on. I would hate too think that I was making him do something that he did not want to do but he did that very same thing to you right?

  • Hilda

    Hilda

    January 10th, 2015 at 11:11 AM

    Are you not close with your step children? I thought that maybe if you are then that could help fill some of that empty space that you feel like you have in your life.

    If you are not close with them then maybe that is why he has decided that he does not want to have another child with you?

  • ellen b

    ellen b

    January 12th, 2015 at 4:00 AM

    I know that men and women alike are privy to changing their minds about things but it looks like he would have at least talked with you first about your thoughts and feelings on the subject before just deciding that there would be no more kids in your future. I know that you would like to work this out because I know that your marriage is very important to you, but there nay not be an easy solution to this one and you may have to enlist the help of a family counselor to help the two of you get through this serious issue that has come up between the two of you.

  • Bill

    Bill

    January 12th, 2015 at 3:36 PM

    You want to penalize someone for changing his mind about this and while it is a pretty big thing to change your mind about, in the end it is what it is and his feelings have to be respected too

  • rose

    rose

    January 14th, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    Would having to do it on your own be that bad? I think that it is time to start weighing the things that are important versus the things that are not and making some decisions.

  • marin g.

    marin g.

    January 21st, 2015 at 4:13 PM

    There was a time when this would have scared me, the notion of raising children on my own.

    But I have grown and I have changed and now I know that this is something that I actually could do alone if it is the life that I choose for myself.

    I do not think that you need to remain tied to someone who could deceive you in this way. He knew that this was something that you wanted and quite frankly I find it so hurtful and dishonest that he would simply change his mind this way.

    Makes me think that this was something that he may have intended all along.

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