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My dying mother wants me to have a baby

(125 Posts)
SadOz Thu 15-Feb-18 01:37:50

Hello all - apologies for the long post, but I really need your help - I feel like I'm in the middle of an impossible knot.

My mother was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer, with a prognosis of around 2 to 4 years - maybe less, maybe more. I am 34, and - although we are close and I love her and I consider her a really great mother - ever since I turned 26 (the age my mother had me) she has been pressuring me to have a baby, saying things like: 'If you don't have children, what will my life have been for?' And since being diagnosed, she has upped the pressure. I have two younger siblings, but neither of them are in long term relationships and my mother doesn't pressure them in the same way.

The main problem is that my partner of 12 years doesn't want and has never wanted children. Although I always imagined myself with children, when we met in our early 20s it didn't seem important and I hoped, although didn't expect, for him to change his mind. I assumed I would at some point get broody, as my other friends had done, and that would force the issue i.e. I would have to make a choice - but the broodiness never kicked in.

Even before my mother's diagnosis, it was something that I worried about constantly - due to my age, I knew I had to make a choice between my partner and my life (which I am worried will be consumed by a child), and having a baby. I had come to a decision that I was going to use the next year to travel and perhaps live in countries I have always wanted to live in, and I would have a baby (with or without my partner).

However, now my mother is ill, the timeline I had laid down has been torn to shreds - and it isn't just for her that I want to have a child while she's alive, it's also for me - I would really value my mother's help.

But I don't want to break up with my partner - although we have our problems like any couple, I can't imagine being with anyone else. In addition, my mother loves him too and would be devastated if we broke up. I also don't know if I would even have time to break up, heal, meet someone I could fall in love with, get pregnant and have a baby in the time my mother has left. He's also not the only obstacle - I'm earn a good salary, but I'm freelance, so no maternity pay, and honestly I don't really feel ready. I also live overseas and I'm not sure whether I should move home now - but my partner can't/won't move due to his work, and my work is also tied to a certain location-specific industry. But I know I'll look back and regret not moving back home and spending more time with my mother.

I'm in an impossible situation - I really just want to go to bed, pull the covers over my head and not think about any of it. I feel that I have totally messed up my life and I can't understand how I have let myself end up in this position. All my friends somehow managed to have careers and relationships and children and I feel like a total failure. I have no idea how to work out what I want or what I should do.

Any advice would be very very much appreciated - I feel like it's driving me mad sad

Thanks so much for reading (have name changed for obvious reasons)

RaindropsAndSparkles Thu 15-Feb-18 01:41:17

What does yoir heart want?

SadOz Thu 15-Feb-18 01:43:58

I honestly don't know - and I don't know how to find out. How do I find out what I want?

Thanks for replying smile

Aquamarine1029 Thu 15-Feb-18 01:51:50

I am so very sorry about your mother. It's a horrible burden for your heart to have a loved one with a terminal illness. That being said, the decision to have a child should never be determined or influenced by someone else's misplaced desires. Even if your mother lived forever, YOU are the one who would be having a child and you would be the one who has to raise it. Not her. Your mother is facing her own mortality and she is probably feeling scared and vulnerable. Even so, it is grossly unfair of her to make such unreasonable requests using a very damaging guilt trip. It is not your responsibility to solve your mother's question of what her life has been for.

CiderwithBuda Thu 15-Feb-18 02:00:54

You need to separate out the child thing and your mother. I know she is putting pressure on but this is YOUR life.

Figure out how much you want a child. Reconcile that with your current partner and his wishes. Figure all of that out first.

WTFIsThisVirus Thu 15-Feb-18 02:06:40

If you wanted a child now, you would know now.

I agree with Aqua

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 15-Feb-18 02:09:34

I am confused about your plan. If you were prepared to have a baby without him, what changed?

Having a partner who definitely didnt/doesnt want kids has made it easier for you in many ways. You havent had to think about whether your thoughts of seeing yourself with kids was a a real desire or just based on what everyone else seems to do and furthered by your mother. Now you have to really question it and from what you have posted you dont sound committed to it.

Have you said anything to your DP about your previous plan? Have you said that you are considering having a child either with or without him?

Whatever you do, dont have a baby for your mum. I can understand you wanting to fulfil this wish of hers but becoming a parent isnt something you should do until you are 100% it is what YOU want and YOU can do.

Loveache Thu 15-Feb-18 02:13:03

I'm very sorry about your mother. But I agree with pp. Having a child is forever and not to be done unless you, the potential mother, really wants to.

SD1978 Thu 15-Feb-18 02:17:02

Regardless of your relationship, this isn’t a reason to have a child now. Realistically with time to conceive- your mother may not even see the baby. And you will be left with trying to visit and juggle a newborn whilst she is in the end stage- how can then pick between your Mum and a baby? Baby will have to come first, so you will miss out on time with your Mum. What you do in your relationship is a seperate issue, but if you go it alone- and if that’s your choice fair enough, you won’t have any support from her because she will not be physically capable of giving it.

Flappyears Thu 15-Feb-18 02:23:39

I agree that you can’t have a baby because your mother wants you to. But equally is it right for you not to have a child because your partner doesn’t want one? Fast forward ten years, how will you feel having given up a chance of having a child? If you can imagine yourself content, then you have your answer, if not you have a decision to make.

What concerns me about your post (and I’m reading between the lines so apologies if I’m wide of the mark) is that there doesn’t seem to be any real discussions between you and your partner about these life changing decisions: where to live, whether to have children, how to spend time with your mother during her illness. He doesn’t sound open to trying to accommodate you at all. Doesn’t want children, doesn’t want to move, won’t change jobs. He’s made his decision based on what suits him, and that’s the end of it. But surely in relationships there has to be discussions and attempts at least to accommodate each other?

So sorry to hear about your mother’s diagnosis.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Thu 15-Feb-18 02:24:59

I think you need to sort out what your top priority is.
And if I were you, that would be spending time with my mother, regardless of baby/no baby.
So - let's assume you decide to move back to be with your mother - your partner won't come because of his work.
Do you then carry on a long distance relationship with him, or do you split?
Your mother may only live for 2 years - once she's gone, do you then move back with your partner abroad, assuming you managed the LDR with him, or do you stay put?
Can you work where your mother is, at all? As a freelancer, one would assume you are more flexible, although it sounds like where you are now, you have more opportunities.
If you moved back to be with your mum AND had no work, could you afford to do that?
IF you moved back to be with your mum AND somehow managed to have a baby, could you afford to do that?

You need to approach the situation logically with questions like the above - leave your heart out of it for now, get the hard answers down - and then once you've got the logical answer, ask yourself if it feels right. If the logical answer is to break up with partner and move home but everything in you is screaming "NOOO!" then obviously don't do that.

But your mother isn't going to be around for ever - so whatever decisions you make now, you need to work out whether they are short-term plans, or long term plans, and then work towards that.

Horrible set of decisions to make, so sorry about your Mum. xx thanks

Coyoacan Thu 15-Feb-18 02:26:35

I don't think your life is in any way a failure. You have found someone you love and who loves you and you have both made that relationship last for quite a few years already.

You also have a good job.

It is very hard on you that your mother has a terminal illness but, in her heart of hearts, she would not want you to mess up your life to please her.

PyongyangKipperbang Thu 15-Feb-18 03:12:59

What concerns me about your post (and I’m reading between the lines so apologies if I’m wide of the mark) is that there doesn’t seem to be any real discussions between you and your partner about these life changing decisions: where to live, whether to have children, how to spend time with your mother during her illness. He doesn’t sound open to trying to accommodate you at all. Doesn’t want children, doesn’t want to move, won’t change jobs. He’s made his decision based on what suits him, and that’s the end of it. But surely in relationships there has to be discussions and attempts at least to accommodate each other?

I agree.

Do you ever think about (and do) what you want? It does seem that your major life decisions are all about other people...what he wants, what your mum wants. What would your partner do if you said "I want to go home and I want you to come with me" do you think?

ayeportly Thu 15-Feb-18 03:20:26

How much physical distance is there between you and your DM? My inclination would be to go to her as soon as your work permits and just spend some time with her. Maybe she's just really missing you. Maybe being with her will provide clarity and an opportunity to talk this over with her face to face.
I've been in the same position of being far apart when my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer - but I was only a few hundred miles away. It's rough... but you already know that. I hope she's got people and organisations around her that can give her good support.

TheButterflyOfTheStorms Thu 15-Feb-18 03:26:49

We lost MIL when DD was very small. It was extremely traumatic. DH was trying to mourn and love a tiny baby at the same time. We also went through the last stages of her cancer during my pregnancy and DD's early life. I really do not recommend it.

As much as you would like to give your DM a grandchild, you have to want a baby for the baby. Not you, your partner or your DM.

I do think you should think about how to spend time with her though, that's important.

Gr33ngloves Thu 15-Feb-18 03:27:48

Sorry to hear that your DM is unwell. You feel under pressure, because of the stressful situation that you are in. I presume you need to work, allocate time to your DM, DP and yourself. Life sometimes has a strange way of throwing difficult times at us. There is no rush to make any big decisions, it is your life. Secondly, people wish for alot of things, but you don't always get what you wish for ! Stay strong to help your DM, but that does not include doing things that you are not 100% comfortable with

cowatthegate Thu 15-Feb-18 03:28:29

Don't do it!

My mum said "don't wait for me just have another one if you want to, don't hold off on my account or anything" therefore we had dc2 , conceiving in Feb 2017 when she had 5 years left on the clock.
Come July 2017 she had 6 months.
She did make it to his birthday (mid Nov 2017) but it meant I had to have a different delivery to a natural spontaneous and I was thrust straight into caring for her as she was already getting a lot worse , and still is now as she is in the final weeks.

It's a faff and a half with a newborn in tow , even the hospital visits , the Care home visits , all of it. I FF so I can leave my dc with my partner most of the time just so I can be with my mum. She's roughly the same age as yours so I know what it can be like.
I didn't want a big age gap between my 2 which was my main reason , I mean it was nice that she met her grandchildren and all that but god it's not a reason to have them just because she is dying!!

HidingFromTheWorld Thu 15-Feb-18 03:28:38

She needs to stop the emotional pressure she’s applying and leave you to make this decision based on your desires and those of your partner.

Whilst it’s very sad that she’s received a terminal diagnosis, it does not excuse her behaviour, nor does it give her the freedom to dictate what you do with your life.

I wish you the best OP flowers

HashtagTired Thu 15-Feb-18 03:38:55

Sorry to hear about your mum. I can't really comment or add anything to what others have said, other than the broodiness.

I was never broody, although always saw a future with children. It was my husband who suggested we started trying and I was genuinely quite unsure about the whole thing. I wanted to have children, as in, when I looked forward in my life I always pictured me and dh as old people with grown up children!

Fast forward 5 years and I'm now sat up doing night feeds for a 5 month old ds, and dd is asleep in the room next door.
I'm still not broody. If I was handed a baby to hold I would refuse on account of it being snotty or sicky. Other people's children just don't do it for me, but my own are just my world. Wouldn't change a thing.

I didn't really decide to have children, i just didn't say no to it. I was lucky to have a partner who did and so made the decision for us. I was apprehensive but not against the idea.

So my point to my sleep deprived rabble is don't expect the broodiness to kick in. Don't expect for it to ever be the right time. Do what works for you.

Good luck with it all!

Mummyoflittledragon Thu 15-Feb-18 03:40:40

Your partner perhaps sounds rather selfish from what you’ve said. Or maybe you haven’t questioned your life and have been happy to go with the flow. Either way, you’ve let your life be dictated by another person’s wishes without thinking about your own.

As for you having a child, it is ludicrous for your mother to tell you her childless daughter has brought no meaning to her life unles she produces offspring. It would be incredibly selfish of you to have a child if you don’t want one. But I know you’re undecided on that.

I can only give you my personal perspective. Dh and I started ttc when I was early 30’s. At that point, I, like you, saw my life as growing old and having a child but didn’t yet have a massive biological urge. The longer not conceiving went on, the more difficult it was to accept I wasn’t getting pregnant. Eventually we concluded the only way forward was ivf. We made all the decisions on treatment and not living in the U.K. meant we had to pay for it all. Once I had a baby, my life felt so much more complete. Dd is amazing and I’m incredibly blessed.

So how would I have felt had I not had a child? Knowing what I know now, I think life would have been terribly unfulfilling as I grew older. But then, I, like you right now, wouldn’t have known what it was to have a child. Would I have been happy? Perhaps if I hadn’t had a shed load of therapy to reconcile my childhood. So much was brought to the surface once my dd was born.

I’m wondering how much autonomy you were given as a child to make your own decisions and choices. As I child, I was given little to none. As a result I didn’t know I had the right to make decisions and be the adult I’d somehow become. Even if I had been aware of my rights, I hadn’t actually formed the necessary opinions to make the decisions. I think that is why it never occurred to me that I should be deciding to try children. I completely denied me, who I was and constantly ran the tape of my mother’s voice in my head.

Even now, or perhaps especially now as she gets older my mother constantly dictates her feelings and beliefs and mine are an irrelevance. For example, she sent me a victory is us text after the Brexit vote. My response wasn’t what she expected. It never entered her head that I would vote remain despite the fact that my dh is European and I’d lived in Europe for 10 years. Seeing her is much like visiting Henry VIII holding court. She is there to be adulated and admired and any difference of opinion is not to be tolerated. In her head she is an oracle and adored matriarch.

Is there any way you could take some time off, perhaps go back to the U.K., have some time alone and have some time with your mother? I’ve been an expat, if you were to move back, you will be terribly disoriented and I wouldn’t think by any stretch of the imagination that leaving oz will an answer to your dilemma.

And I really really think you need to be going to therapy. Your childhood may not have been like mine. But I don’t think you actually know who you are.

AdultHumanFemale Thu 15-Feb-18 03:44:46

I am so sorry your mother is ill.
This doesn't really touch on your dilemma about having a baby, but in my late 20s, my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a similar prognosis. I too was living abroad, with a long term partner and had just started a new job which I had worked hard to get. I still don't quite know how I had the courage to make the decision with so much at stake, but I downed tools indefinitely and went home to be with him until he died (which, in the end, happened much earlier than we had hoped for). I think I was so afraid of regretting not going for the rest of my life, that I just went. It was the right decision for me and I am still grateful that I had the time with him, and, strangely, that I got to have the experience of leaving everything and starting from scratch.
Is your mother concerned with her blood line continuing (as in she would be happy even if you had a baby while living abroad, whom she rarely got to see), or is it that she really wants to experience being a grand parent? I think it is easy to over estimate, at the beginning of an illness, what you will feel like, and be capable of, down the line as the illness progresses. My dad made a moderate 'bucket list' shortly after his diagnosis, believing he would carry on pretty much as he had been, but quickly found that his illness was taking its toll, treatment was tiring and uncomfortable, and he ended up shelving the list. I just wonder whether you having a baby is somehow on your mum's 'list', albeit probably not consciously, and she hasn't yet factored in how her illness will impact on how it will manifest in her life?
I really get the 'head under the duvet' feeling, and wish you lots of courage to make the decisions you need to make, even if that decision is to stay and do nothing. flowers

SadOz Thu 15-Feb-18 04:40:49

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful replies - you’ve given me a lot to think about.

I’ll try to answer as many questions as I can - I know my first post was a bit muddled (just like my head!)

PyongyangKipperbang I’m confused about my plan too smile Honestly, I think it was just another way to put off having to make a decision. But I wasn’t thinking about having the baby on my own, I was thinking about breaking up with DP and trying to find someone else if he still didn’t want children in a year’s time. I haven’t talked to him about it. We have talked about it a lot over the years and I know he still doesn’t want kids. I think I’m just afraid to bring it up now because I know he will say that if I want children, we should break up. I'm 95% sure he wouldn't move back to Europe with me.

Flappyears You’re right - my DP is very career focused, it’s his whole identity. It has always come first and he won’t move or consider splitting our time between here and Europe until we are both more successful career-wise.

ThumbWitchesAbroad Thanks for the practical advice - I think this is a really good place to start!

ayeportly - we live a very long plane ride away on the far side of another continent. When my mother was first diagnosed I went home for 6 weeks to be with her but had to come back for work. So sorry you lost your mother flowers

HashtagTired - that’s good to know, thank you. I’m terrified of having kids and later regretting it.

TheButterflyofTheStorms - so sorry you lost your MIL flowers

Cowatthegate - so sorry you’re going through that flowers

Mummyoflittledragon - what you say is really interesting (and I’m sorry you went through that). I thought about whether that was my problem or not, but I concluded probably not. We grew up with few rules (no curfews, etc.) and as a result I think I felt free to make decisions and ask my parents for what I wanted. I did go back to the UK for 6 weeks when mum was first diagnosed, but it didn’t make anything any clearer. I do have a therapist, but I don’t feel I’ve had a breakthrough yet regarding all of this. It never occured to me before, but I think you may have about about not knowing fully who I am.

AdultHumanFemale - I’m so sorry you lost your dad flowers It sounds like you were in a very similar position - but much braver! Did you return to the country you left or stay in the UK? I think my mum wants both - for the bloodline to continue and to experience being a grandmother. I also think she doesn’t want me to miss out on motherhood, which she has really enjoyed.

Rubies12345 Thu 15-Feb-18 05:21:18

And since being diagnosed, she has upped the pressure

I'll get shot down for saying this but here goes. Your mother's not lying about having terminal cancer is she? 2 to 4 years maybe more? Enough time to conceive and carry some babies

fluffyrobin Thu 15-Feb-18 05:23:48

Please do not have a child to please your dm. My best friend's dying father told her to marry her then bf to make him happy...she did to please him.

They were not right for each other and a lot of misery and heartache resulted.

I think it's normal and understandable for a dying person to vocalise what they believe is right for others according to their (dying) wishes, no matter what the long term implications on the other person may be.

The easiest way to deal with it is to tell your mother what she wants to hear, even if you have no intention of going along with it. If she is in her late stages then you could discuss a hypothetical baby and discuss names etc with her just to keep her happy. If you want to be honest with her you can say you will have to find a new partner for that baby to happen, but there is no harm in musing about a baby with her. Who knows, all that talk might make you want to split up with your partner and find one to start a family with!

Do not have a baby unless you and your partner are 100% behind the decision. Your oh has made his position perfectly clear and definitely sounds too selfish to be a good dad or partner to you.

Since your lives sound peaceful and happy as you are it would be a huge risk to change the status quo, but do it if you have the biological urge.

I think wanting a child is an innate need that comes at a point in life to some but not all women. I was totally disinterested in having a child until my 30s and then the 'need' became overpowering, overwhelming and was the first thing I thought about when I woke and last thing I thought about when I went to sleep. Absolutely no man was going to come between that decision (luckily I was married and dh was on board!)

Believe me, if you don't really know what you want I don't believe having a child is right for you yet ( or ever).

MrsCrabbyTree Thu 15-Feb-18 05:38:32

This is a decision which should be made by the parties who will be parenting the child. It will be hard for your mum to come to terms with her diagnosis and perhaps not becoming a grandmother, but she should not be trying to influence your life decisions.

Sorry that you are dealing with such a tough decision.

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