Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.
Advice on coming to terms with childlessness(54 Posts)
Hello, first time poster here. It feels a bit odd posting this on Mumsnet, but I can’t think of anywhere else that I could ask for advice in this way. Perhaps someone else is reading this who’s been in the same place as me.
I am 36, DP 39. We’ve been together for ten years. I love him to bits and know he feels the same way about me. Neither of us have been interested in marriage or children, and we’ve just floated along happily with just a mortgage and a joint bank account.
But this year I’ve had an overwhelming urge to have a child. My DP’s child. I have never been more certain about something. I’ve obviously talked to DP about this (a lot), but even though I know he would be a wonderful father, he is adamant that he doesn’t want any children. And of course this is his absolute right. He hasn’t changed; I have.
I am devastated. My heart feels as if it’s sat in a pit at the bottom of my stomach. As indulgent as it sounds, I can’t really comprehend the future now. I want to grow old with my DP; there’s absolutely no question I would split up with him over this (and the very fact I’m pushing 37 means the chance of me starting a family with anyone else is slim to none). So I need to come to terms with remaining childless. But right now I am really struggling. I am trying so hard to keep a lid on my emotions because I don’t want DP to feel that I blame him (or worse, am trying to emotionally blackmail him into changing his mind), but it’s bubbling under. I cry when he’s not around to see me do so. I’m really anxious that if I don’t get a handle on this, my unhappiness will turn into resentment and I will destroy a relationship with a man I adore and who (usually) makes me so happy.
Any advice (or a stern talking to) welcome. I feel completely adrift at the moment.
The truth is you have 4 or 5 years left to have a baby and that's quite a long time to be helplessly watching the clock tick away. I didn't even get those feelings you're talking about till I was 38. We'd been together and happily childless for 10 years. It hit me like a train, out of a clear blue sky. Thank God my DH said he couldn't live with depriving me of kids and that was a far scarier prospect than having kids. We now have two kids.
So don't kid yourself you're too old to have them with some else, you're not.
I don't have any advice but I'm so sorry you're unhappy. The urge to have a baby can be overwhelming it's not your fault you're feeling it and not DPs fault he hasn't.
37 isn't too old to have a baby. Not at all. I know you want advice on how to cope with childlessness but if you decide it's more important to explore that than stay in a relationship where you know it definitely won't happen, it's not too late to think about it.
I doubt anyone will give you a stern taking to. I hope not. I hope people can give you empathy and advice
Thank you both.
ElspethFlashman I’ve been hoping my DP might reach the same decision as your DH, but unfortunately not. I think he’s completely baffled by what he sees as a 180 degree turn (and perhaps he suspects, though he hasn’t said this) that I might change my mind again.
I don’t know how he would respond if presented with a choice between us splitting up or having (or at least trying for) a child. I think it would be deeply unfair of me to give him that ultimatum, and I don’t know if my desire for a child is greater than to spend my life with him. I do really appreciate the reassurance that my reproductive life isn’t (quite) teetering on the edge of a cliff though. The clock sounds deafening to me and it’s helpful to have some perspective.
I'm 41 and 32 weeks pregnant. You'll see lots of women on the pregnancy board over 40, some several years older than me. I would always have stayed with my husband if we couldn't have children after trying but I don't know how I would have felt if he had just not wanted to try.
I don't think there's a right answer to whether you want the relationship with him more than children some other way, but I don't think you should make it on the basis that it is too late to meet and have children with someone who wants them.
There is an organisation called more to life but I think it for people who haven't been able to have children despite undergoing fertility treatment.
I think it’s a real shame that men seem incapable of making their partners happy by welcoming the idea of a child. I know several self centred men who have taken this line and just will not see anyone else’s point of view despite professing love for them. I think they love themselves and their life style more than their partners.
I think that's unfair.
The choice to not have a child is as valid as the choice to do so.
I’m sad to think of you trying not to cry in front of your DP. I get that you don’t want to emotionally blackmail him, but at the same time it’s not good for you to have to suppress your emotions like this. I hope you have real life friends or a parent / sibling to talk to about this? It’s such a huge thing for you to be going through. It colours every aspect of your life.
BubblesBuddy I know you’re trying to be supportive of me, but that’s not a fair representation of my partner (nor many other men I’m sure). As Youcanttake says, his choice is as valid as mine - and it’s me who has changed my position, not him. He is not perfect (nor am I), but he is certainly not self-centred or selfish.
I really appreciate all your responses. I had wondered about going to see a counsellor to talk this all through, though it feels a bit disloyal to DP (I’d want to go alone, though I would tell him I was going). He has said that he feels in an impossible position and the bad guy ☹️
I would first once and for all find out reasons why your DP doesn't want children if you don't already know, I'd then spend the next 6 months weighing up exactly what you want, its a difficult situation but at the end of the day you must decide what means more to you
When did the urge hit you? Has it been long?
I had a similar issue much earlier in my relationship with DH. We’d been together around 3 years and had got married and overnight I turned from someone who never, ever wanted a child to a woman who was desperate for a baby. DH wasn’t keen at all and after many tears and frustrations we agreed that we would wait for six months and then he would commit to starting to ttc. Just before that time limit was up the urge completely vanished - it was like a switch had been flicked off. Nine years later we’re still happily child free and neither of us have felt broody since.
I understand it’s so overwhelming when it hits and the urge is to have a baby right away but I am honestly so glad DH asked me to wait a while. Is that an option open to you?
Tilapia I’ve not talked to anyone. I get on well with my parents, but I worry they (well, my mother) would hold it against him. I’m an only child and I know my parents would love to have grandchildren (though this hasn’t influenced my change of heart). And I don’t really want to talk to friends because the ones I’m closest to are also close to my partner and I don’t think it’s fair on him. So I’ve been bottling it up, which I know isn’t healthy. Hence wondering if I should see a counsellor.
Oh OP I'm at the same place as you and I'm 41. DH really isn't sure or interested. I wish you well and also welcome further comments x
lostpurplehoodie I would dearly love the same thing to happen to me as you - I have sailed through up til now watching close friends start families and loving spending time with them, but never having the slightest urge to have my own. Until about 6 months ago, anyway, when it was like another person had taken hold of me.
I was never maternal at all, but got that urge at 38 (a year after meeting my husband). But it pretty much disappeared entirely by 42. If you have never wanted a child previously, that suggests your current urge is entirely hormonal. Your body's last drive to try make you reproduce before it's too late. It will likely pass. You don't have to blindly action it.
Just another perspective...
I feel for you OP. Don't be hard on yourself for changing your mind though, and don't feel forced to compromise. Can you really go on knowing that you now want children and he doesn't? Would you not just end up resenting him? It's scary but you have to follow your instincts or risk living a life of regret.
Op I'm the other way round, my dh really wanted kids and I didn't. But in the end, we tried for a baby, got pregnant and now DS is 8 months old. I was never really sure about it all, even throughout pregnancy.
DS is honestly the best thing that has ever happened to me. I can't imagine loving anyone so much. TBH if my DH left me now, I wouldn't even look twice, that's how much love I feel for my DS.
I'm just giving another perspective, that the love you feel for your DH may be trumped by the love you feel for your dc.
Op, your story is incredibly similar to mine, although it has been 2yrs since it was definitely not going to happen for me and DH. Initially I was angry and cried a lot, but it was important that we both processed everything together and honestly, I felt that things would become bitter and secretive if we didn’t and I couldn’t bear the thought of losing my DH especially if I gave up being a mother by staying with him. We did go to counselling but we went together as I felt we needed to air our thoughts and feelings with someone to help support that. It was hard for my DH and I wanted to protect him from my feelings but it was important that he heard and understood how I felt and he had to ‘suck it up’, we both hurt for a while but actually the maternal urge did go, although I still get upset at times (like hearing both my neighbours are expecting a month apart) but I am happy I’ve made the right choice and we are focusing on building a great life without children. Hugs and good luck for you OP x
It's not too late for you at all but you don't have that long left. I know a few women who never wanted children until late 30s then had them and are so happy the did.
I've always wanted children and given the choice of a husband or a child I'd choose a child every time.
Oh OP, how awful. In your position I would be worried that while you of course don't want to force him to have a child that resentment will kill your realtionship. You need to be able to air your feelings to him so that the rot doesn't set it. As another poster said you need to feel this together, get through it together and hopefully end up happy together children or not.
I'm childless through a combination of my circumstances and infertility. I'm too old now, but If I had my time again I would change my circumstances and have at least two children.
You asked for advice of how to come to terms with childlessness. I have this book which has helped and the author also blogs on psychologytoday.com
The kindle version is £5.
In Complete Without Kids, Licensed Clinical Psychologist Ellen L. Walker examines the often-ignored question of what it means to be childfree, by choice or by circumstance, in a family-focused society. Recognizing that there is no one childfree adult, the author guides the reader through the positive and negative aspects of childfree living, taking into consideration the different issues faced by men or women, couples or singles, whether gay or straight.
As a woman who is childfree by choice, Walker draws upon her personal experience while also offering the reader numerous interviews with other childfree adults, revealing behind-the-scenes factors that influenced their personal journeys. She approaches the tough-decision making process of whether or not to have children from a biological, historical, and societal perspective.
Offering support, guidance, and thought-provoking questions, Complete Without Kids is a productive guide for any reader considering the childfree path.
I was in your position a few years ago.
I was desperate for children. My heart felt empty.
Eventually I persuaded DH to start trying.
We found that I had blocked tubes and had 3 unsuccessful rounds of IVF.
Since then I have come to terms with it.
I can’t give you any wise words or tips on how to deal with it. But it did pass.
Time is a great healer.
Join the discussion
Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.Register now
Already registered with Mumsnet? Log in to leave your comment or alternatively, sign in with Facebook or Google.
Please login first.