Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband Regrets Having a Child”

Last night after a particularly rough middle-of-the-night wake-up by my toddler, my husband confessed to me that he deeply regrets having our child. He wishes that he could return to our peaceful life before the baby was born. He knows it’s not possible and he’s very heartbroken by that.

From the outside, he is a loving father. He takes our child places. He shows off pictures. He’s never shied away from changing a diaper. He’s active in our child’s life like many fathers are not. But his confession last night has shown me that despite all the markers of a good dad, he is conflicted, frustrated, and regretful.

How can I help him deal with these feelings? What can I do to support him? — Heartbroken Wife and Mother

Well, first of all, I would take what your husband said during a middle-of-the-night wake-up by your toddler with a great big grain of salt. I know in my years of motherhood (I have a 7-year-old and a 3-year-old and am only now seeing light at the end of a long tunnel of parenting babies/toddlers/preschoolers for years on end), I have said things – either out loud or to myself — in the throes of a particularly challenging parenting moment that don’t reflect my true feelings. This shit is hard sometimes. A lot of times. And in the early years, which you are currently in, it’s very hard to see the big picture: the toddlers grow up. And while life doesn’t return to how it was pre-kids, peace does come again in longer and more frequent stretches. Of course, if you have another kid, the clock re-sets again, but please know – and remind your husband – that this (parenting a toddler) is a season in your life and parenthood won’t always be grueling in this way.

It’s a great sign that your husband is a great dad, especially considering that maybe toddlerhood is not his favorite stage. He’s active, is hands-on, and exhibits pride. If he can do all this while feeling what he says is “deep regret,” imagine the potential if/when he doesn’t feel deep regret. I think it’s possible he already doesn’t feel deep regret – that that was just something he said in the middle of a rough night when his sleep was disrupted yet again and that on an ordinary afternoon he may not frame his feelings that way at all. But let’s say he DOES actually truly feel deep regret right now. I think it’s possible — likely even — that as your toddler continues to grow and get more independent, that that deep regret will transform into something else entirely: deep gratitude, for example. It’s incredibly rewarding and gratifying to watch your babies grow into independent, funny, smart little PEOPLE — like actual people — with ideas and opinions and gifts of their own. The stress lifts a bit, and joy and pride fill the space it used to take.

In the meantime, tell your husband you don’t judge him for what he said, but you want to know how you can support him so that his parenting responsibilities don’t feel so overwhelming. Does he need more “me time” during the week? Does he need a weekend away by himself (or with friends or with you!)? What about your old life together does he miss the most and how might you be able to bring hints of that into your life now? With only one kid it should be especially easy to, say, take turns waking up early on the weekends with your toddler, so that each of you has a day to sleep in and lounge in bed with a book or the paper or get up and go for a jog. Brainstorm together how you can make some tweaks to your life/schedule so that you each are supported in ways that help relieve/manage your stress. Reiterate to your husband what a great dad you think he is, how much you love him, how grateful you are for your life together, and how much you want him to feel those things too.

I know it must have felt jarring to hear your husband say he deeply regrets having a child, but it doesn’t need to spell doom. Look at it as a warning that something needs to change in your/his life. Fortunately, there are lots of small changes that can be made that will have big impact (not the least of which is your toddler growing more quickly than either of you may realize!).

I have been struggling with Adenomyosis for years now. I’m unsure if I’ve had it my whole life or got it a few years ago. I was diagnosed recently, about two years ago, but I didn’t take it seriously because the radiologist just wrote “adenmyosis?” on his business card, handed it to me, and said “I’m not sure if that’s how it’s spelled”, and then walked out. Literally. That’s literally what a radiologist did.

Just a couple weeks ago, I decided to go to a gynecologist and see what is really going on. Well, the radiologist was right; I do have adenomyosis, and as a result I’ve been living with severely debilitating pain every two weeks, as my cycle is only 18 days. I get severe PMS, anemia due to the amount of blood loss during menstruation, and hormonal hell every 18 days. I have one week where I am happy and then the PMS sets in, with the pain, bleeding, and just a lot of bullshit I can’t explain in less than 500 words itself.

I want a hysterectomy so I can finally live a happy life, but my boyfriend of nine years said he won’t marry me because I won’t have children. It makes me feel like I am less of a woman and as though I no longer deserve his love. He tells me what he said is normal and “what do I expect” from him. Does he love me? He says he truly and deeply does love me, but he wants me to keep my uterus because he wants to have children and to just “wait it out”. But if I don’t and I get a hysterectomy to better myself, body, and life, he said he will leave me because it’s not fair.

Am I crazy for thinking he doesn’t truly love me if he is that way? — Tired of Being in Pain

 
Nope, you’re not crazy. Your boyfriend is a jerk. And, frankly, if after nine years of being together and not getting married or having kids, I have to wonder if it was even something both of you were seriously considering anyway? At any rate, your boyfriend’s true colors are showing and he does not support you in the way you need and deserve to have a life partner to support you. Move on, get the hysterectomy, and experience a new life without the physical pain of adenomyosis or the emotional pain of an unsupportive, unloving partner.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.

60 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Brise May 2, 2019, 10:02 am

    LW1: who didn’t think that at some point? What would be interesting is to know if your husband talked again about this “confession”. Did you have the opportunity to elaborate together at a better time about this feeling? Anyway, Wendy’s advice is fine. You personnally can’t help him deal with his feelings, they are his to deal with, but you can discuss how to organise yourselves better in ordre to regain some freedom, carelessness, moments as a couple, and so on. Hire a babysitter every now and then. Give the toddler to their grandparents for a week-end, just allow yourself some liberty. But in retrospect, you will both experience that these moments are among the happiest and most beautiful in your life. Really, been there done that.

    LW2: Before taking this extreme procedure (I mean for you, regardless of what says your BF), do you have to have your periods? I mean, can’t the doctors cut them with pills as long as you don’t want children? I have no medical knowledge but I guess this is probably medically possible chemically to not have periods. Perhaps you take some more advice by more competent doctors, before any big and irreversible decisions.
    About your BF: nobody likes losing options. This is your decision and yours only. I would try first all chemical avenues though.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 10:15 am

      This for LW2. Hormonal birth control can be used to completely prevent periods.

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        ktfran May 2, 2019, 10:52 am

        I mean, I’m on the Mirena and I still have problems. I’ve gone from being anemic, having to change a super tampon every 45 minutes, throwing up from cramping to light periods and medium cramping. I often have to take advil for the cramping despite the period being extremely light. In fact, the way it is right now, the worse the cramping, the lighter the period. If I’m having a good cramp month, the period might be a little heavier.

        My sister who is on the Mirena doesn’t get her periods anymore at all.

        I’m not advocating a hysterectomy, per se. But it’s all so variable. The key is working with your doctor.

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        ktfran May 2, 2019, 10:56 am

        ETA: I mostly mentioned this because I’m on a birth control method that makes most women’s periods disappear. It only lessened my pretty awful periods.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 11:32 am

        I’d personally save the hysterectomy for a last resort because there are consequences to having a hysterectomy. Most of the blood flow to the ovaries goes through the uterus so even if the ovaries are left to make hormones they usually shut down and quit functioning. The hysterectomy will effectively put a woman into menopause. The ovaries of menopausal women who haven’t had hysterectomies still produce low levels of hormones which the body needs. One of the effects of a hysterectomy is a higher risk of osteoporosis which over the long term is a terrible disease. All of the women that I’ve known who had awful osteoporosis had all had hysterectomies. I know that is anecdotal but when I read about the research into the long term consequences of a hysterectomy it clicked. Women also start having trouble with heart disease after menopause.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 2:07 pm

        I don’t think that saying I don’t relate means that I am vilifying them. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It just means I don’t get it. Whether I get it or not doesn’t have anything to do with whether they are valid people. I don’t think any of us need everyone to get us to make us valid. Surely there are people that you see making decisions and having different thoughts or values and you don’t get where they come from. We all know people that we can’t relate to but it doesn’t make them invalid. What I am saying is that on an emotional level I don’t get it. It is far enough from my experience that I don’t understand it. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen or that they aren’t valid in their experiences. Their experience is theirs and if I don’t understand it it is still their experience. They probably don’t understand me either and I’m fine with that. I’m not saying that they are horrible people or cruel people or abnormal people or that their kids should be taken away or that they don’t deserve to have a family. Everybody is different and I accept that but I still don’t always understand them.

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        Kate May 2, 2019, 2:13 pm

        Yeah but to say, these are people who go away and leave their kids, or ok, it must be people with kids who can’t live independently, and I can’t even read this article about it because I just can’t relate, doesn’t help with the stigma. That’s different from saying, yeah, I’m aware a lot of people feel this way and don’t feel comfortable admitting it, but their feelings are normal and valid and I try to understand where they’re coming from,

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      • avatar

        Tui May 2, 2019, 2:27 pm

        Skyblossom, I’m a gynaecologist and the ovaries have their own blood supply, although there can be small collateral vessels between them and the rest of the adnexae. There is a small risk of surgical menopause, or it occurring a year or 2 earlier. Until 20 years ago hysterectomy was the main way of controlling heavy bleeding so many women who have osteoporosis will have had them, so more a correlation than a cause. There any many options for LW2 to try before hysterectomy and her specialist will go through them – I wouldn’t do a hysterectomy straight off in someone below 40 who hasn’t had children or tried anything else to control symptoms. But as adenomyosis is endometrial cells within the muscle wall of the uterus bleeding every time she has a period, it can be extremely painful, heavy and prolonged. Many women will end up having a hysterectomy if Mirena, the combined pill taken continuously, zoladex (temporary)medical menopause etc fail. Most people will take their chance with osteoporosis and early menopause rather than not be able to function day to day. I think her main problem is the unsupportive partner that feels his theoretical children are more important than her wellbeing.

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      Salli May 3, 2019, 8:09 pm

      Exactly what Tui said. I suffered awful periods that were truly debilitating since I was a teen. I missed school, work, many fun things because the pain was so debilitating. I had a hysterectomy at 30 after having one child and trying various kinds of birth control. My life is so much better , and if there was that much higher risk of early menopause and osteoporosis it would still be the best thing I’ve done for myself. I do agree on trying other methods first since it is a major surgical procedure. Boyfriend is a selfish, entitled jerk.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark May 2, 2019, 10:28 am

    LW1) Wait. Don’t parents say this all the time? No, seriously. Or I dunno maybe they just vent to me… I wouldn’t take this too seriously either just yet. Unless you kind really sorta were the one who pushed for kids… but even then, this sounds like a middle of the night heat of the moment grumbling…
    .
    LW2) Does your boyfriend really want kids? Do you? If so why not have a kid and then a hysterectomy? Although, yeah? Nine years? Wendy may have a point there…

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 11:13 am

      If she doesn’t want kids and he does she should break up because that is an irreconcilable difference. Someone could love you and want to be a parent and be forced to choose between the two just like you can love someone and not want to be a parent and have to choose between the two.

      The fact that they’ve been together nine years and don’t seem to have discussed things like children is a huge red flag.

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    • avatar

      anonymousse May 2, 2019, 2:32 pm

      I thank you for your service, BGM. I adore the friends (with kids and without) that let me complain about my beloved family without vilifying me or reminding me to enjoy every moment (eyeroll.)

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark May 3, 2019, 1:11 pm

        Hah. I try. My friends all say some of the LEAST understanding are — surprisingly — other moms…

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        anonymousse May 3, 2019, 1:41 pm

        That is so true.

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    ele4phant May 2, 2019, 11:22 am

    Oh man. LW1 takes me back to one of the biggest debates our office had, wasting an entire afternoon. It started off about being who decide to remain childless regretting that choice later on in life, and we brought up the counterpoint that there must be parents out there that regret having kids too but society makes it a totally taboo thing to so.

    The childless folks were like “Yeah, sure, that’s got to be a normal thing that happens on occasion. I’m sure there are people that love their kids and are good parents, but knowing what they know now, if they could go back and remake that decision, they would make a different choice.”

    The parent was like “No, that’s got to be totally abnormal and you’ve got to a sick f* to feel that way.” Round and round we went about how common and how messed up it would make a kid, if even if they didn’t know it, one of their parents didn’t like being a parent. Offline, we wondered if he regretted being a being a parent so really had to double down for his own sanity that nobody could feel that way…

    Anywhoo – I have no practical advice, seeing as I am still not a parent.

    But – from what I gather, parenting is hard and nothing can quite prepare you for it. I’m still confident that there are good, attentive, loving parents that internally struggle with it, that if they could go back and time and remake that choice they might choice differently. Doesn’t mean the kid is less loved or the parent any less present and attentive.

    I’m sure there are also particular ages or instances where it’s particularly challenging, and there are times when parents feel overwhelmed and wish it weren’t so.

    But kids grow up, they don’t always stay two, they’re not always going to have rough nights. Things will change, feelings will change, just keep talking with your partner, supporting each other and doing the best you can for the child.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 11:44 am

      I assume that occasionally someone regrets having a child. Those are the parents who are willing to leave their child/children behind and go off to live a different life. Most parents aren’t that way, especially not the parents who planned their children. I assume it is much more common when the baby was unplanned, especially if the parents weren’t in a serious relationship. When two people who aren’t even a couple have a baby I assume there could be a lot of regret. Even then, a lot of people love their baby and want it. I think unwanted babies are also more common if abortion isn’t available.

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      • avatar

        Kate May 2, 2019, 11:47 am

        I know there’s a whole Internet forum or forums of parents who regret having kids. They’re doing the best they can, and haven’t gone off and left their kids, but nevertheless they regret being parents. Wendy’s right to not jump right to “he doesn’t want to be a dad,” but it’s possible he does mean it.

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      • avatar

        Kate May 2, 2019, 11:51 am

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        SpaceySteph May 2, 2019, 11:57 am

        I don’t think its just unwanted babies. I think there’s people who genuinely think they want children, but the reality of having them is not at all what they imagined/dreamed or it is what they expected but they hate it a lot more than they expected to.

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      • avatar

        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 12:02 pm

        “I assume that occasionally someone regrets having a child. Those are the parents who are willing to leave their child/children behind and go off to live a different life. Most parents aren’t that way”

        This is what we spent hours arguing about. I *think* that’s more way more common than people will admit, that there are good parents out there, involved, attentive parents that genuinely do love their children BUT, if they were honest with themselves, parenting isn’t what they imagined and if somehow there was a way to remake that decision, they’d make a different decision.

        But it’s just SUCH a taboo, many won’t admit to themselves, much less say it out loud, that yeah, you know what, parenthood wasn’t my jam. Love the kid I got out of it and don’t want them to disappear of the face of the earth, but if I knew now what I did before they came into existence, might not have taken this path.

        And I think that’s even true among people who planned to have kids; again, no one really knows what it’s like until you do it. Everyone takes a bet that it’s going to be the right thing, just as some people make the wrong people in deciding not to have kids, there have got to be people out there that made the wrong bet on deciding to become a parent.

        It’s maybe not like SUPER common, but I think there are more parents out there than we would admit that actually regret at some level, the decision to have kids. Doesn’t mean they don’t love their kids, doesn’t mean they can’t be good parents.

        I also think it’s quite common that there are people that genuinely like being parents, that ultimately still feel like it was the right decision, but have some really tough moments were it temporarily doesn’t seem worth it or they feel overwhelmed. But that’s a little more acceptable to talk about.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 12:10 pm

        I started reading the article and I can’t relate to it.

        I think some people go into parenthood naively. They think they can plan it all out ahead of time or they decide what it will be like and then are unhappy when it isn’t. In life in general, and definitely parenthood, you can’t plan it all ahead of time. You can’t control everything and you must be flexible. I really don’t get the part about losing your identity. Parenting added to my life but it was never my entire identity. I was all the things I ever was plus a parent.

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        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 12:18 pm

        “I started reading the article and I can’t relate to it.”

        I mean, just because it’s not your experience and don’t understand it doesn’t mean it’s not true for others.

        Nor does it they are incapable of being loving parents and stepping up to the plate, even if they made a decision they realize was wrong for them.

        This is exactly why it’s so taboo for people to be honest about it. Their opinions are totally invalidated, or they are told they are bad people for feeling this way.

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      • avatar

        Kate May 2, 2019, 12:27 pm

        I think that FB group alone has like 10,000 members or more. It’s not uncommon, but of course people are extremely reluctant to go on the record with it for fear of being shamed and made to feel unnatural.

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        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 12:33 pm

        Also – what are you supposed to DO if you have kids and realize it was the wrong decision?

        Clearly, abandoning your family makes you a crappy person, but does just having the feelings just make you a crappy person?

        Is your penance for going into parenthood “naively” and realizing it wasn’t what you thought mean you are at your core a crappy person and your penance is to quietly carry around that knowledge and shame, that you are just a shit person?

        This has to be a thing for some people. Good people. People who maybe put thought and care in their decision but still made the wrong decision. People who still do their very best for the kids they brought into this world.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 12:35 pm

        I assume it is true but I really can’t relate to it. I don’t assume that every parent loves being a parent. At the same time I think most parents do like being parents.

        I also don’t relate to the parents who cry because their baby grew up and is leaving home. I’m somewhere in the middle. I love my kids but I’m also looking forward to being an empty nester. I assumed kids would be hard work and they were. I love seeing them grown up and seeing who they are and the choices they make. I love having them around but I also love having my own time.

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        ktfran May 2, 2019, 12:41 pm

        My best friend regrets having children. Her two kids are extremely high needs. Her husband isn’t much of a help. She doesn’t live near her family and his parents don’t help because of the high needs situation. She was dealt a tough hand with little support. The last couple of times we’ve been together, she’s basically said as much about regret because she can trust me and I won’t judge her. I’m there to listen. I don’t live near her otherwise I’d help and offer to keep them overnight occasionally or spend some hours with them on the weekends or after school.

        Don’t get me wrong, she’s a good mother and she provides for and loves her kids. You can tell they feel loved. It’s really hard and she feels isolated and at least one of the children she’ll likely be taking care of forever.

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        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 12:53 pm

        I get your only speaking to your own experience, but when something is already so shameful to admit and taboo, I can see how for a regretful parent, hearing someone else saying “Well that makes no sense to me I don’t feel that way at all. I think people who feel this way were naive” will come across as “Well that’s just not possible. If you feel this way you obliviously didn’t think it through or you are unrealistic about what parenthood should be like and this is your fault and you’re a bad person”.

        People made big decisions all the time that sometimes turn out to be the wrong decision. Even sometimes when plenty of thought beforehand is put in. We take risks when we make big decisions. You can never factor in everything. You can not always anticipate how things will turn out.

        I see no reason why the decision to become a parent would be exempt from these same sorts of risks.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 1:20 pm

        @ktfran I do understand the parent whose child will never be independent. I can see regretting that. Our first friends in this community had a son who turned out to be severely handicapped even though it wasn’t obvious at first. He was born with a heart defect. That was obvious at birth. What wasn’t so obvious was how the heart defect had drastically affected his brain development. He had microcephaly and was autistic and had no impulse control. If he was frustrated he would grab the person next to him by either the hair or around the throat and clamp down until pulled off. In one school year the parents of three of his classmates sued them in civil court. People have no tolerance for their children being attacked daily in their classroom. They finally medicated him to the point that he was very docile. Their son is the same age as mine and when my son has hit milestones I’ve always thought about their son. They’ve moved and we don’t see them much but I have though of them when my son graduated from high school and again from college and when he got a job and when he got his own apartment. Their son will never have those milestones and will always need care and they were in their early forties when he was born. His dad has already died and his mom is left with how to make sure he is supported through the rest of his life. The last I knew he wasn’t potty trained. It’s like a hopeless situation and I can fully understanding wishing that it had never happened.

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        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 1:37 pm

        I’d still say you don’t have to understand someone else’s feelings to validate that they exist and don’t vilify those feelings.

        Clearly – there are people out there that feel this way, they have gone on record and their adult children do not seem to be harmed.

        Parenthood, and particularly motherhood, is a sacred cow in our society. It is not crazy to think that if a small number are willing to say it out loud, there are probably many more unwilling or unable to admit their feelings.

        Most parents? No probably not most. But surely more than just a fraction of a fraction of a fraction.

        This is likely less of an anomaly than it appears to be if you rely only on the count of only those brave enough to admit it publicly.

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        Kate May 2, 2019, 1:37 pm

        It’s not about the child and the child’s issues, these people have perfectly great kids, they just realize that they don’t want to be parents.

        I don’t know, I feel like saying, “well, I can understand if the child is severely disabled” just makes it worse. I get you don’t personally relate to this, but you can still empathize.

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        ktfran May 2, 2019, 1:51 pm

        They’re not severely disabled and both are disabled in different ways. One is likely disabled just enough to never be fully on her own, but she’s definitely functional and can go to school, etc.

        Like I said, my friend loves her kids but she wished, probably daily, that things were different and I know if she could go back in time and choose differently, she wouldn’t have had kids. I also know she feels horrible for having those thoughts, but they’re true.

        I think people should be able to talk about them and other empathize. Maybe they wouldn’t feel so alone.

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        anonymousse May 2, 2019, 1:52 pm

        I definitely feel a little condescension reading some of these comments. Just because you don’t feel that way doesn’t mean others don’t. You know that other people do feel that way. You know that other mothers and fathers feel as if they’ve lost some of themselves. Or that some people really want kids, plan for them and the reality is much different than the fantasy. That’s not because they didn’t think it through, or plan well enough.

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        ktfran May 2, 2019, 1:58 pm

        My sister has a two year old and she’s also having a rough time. He’s perfectly healthy and pretty easy going, but we had the conversation last weekend about how rough it has been on her emotionally and physically and how she totally gets why people choose not to have children now.

        Like I said, I wish it were ok for people to talk about these feelings more. You shouldn’t have to hide it for fear of backlash or for fear that others might not think you’re good enough or you’re unworthy or something.

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        anonymousse May 2, 2019, 2:04 pm

        It is sad there is so ALWAYS so much judgement for parents, especially mothers. I remember complaining on DW soon after having my kids and having a particular commenter tell me it was clear I didn’t love my kids and must regret having had them or something like that. And it was normal complaining of having two kids, close together in age without much of a support system. It made me feel like shit for being human.

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        Kate May 2, 2019, 2:09 pm

        Right, parents get judged for everything. So if they feel like this, they keep their mouths shut, and it just perpetuates this glorified image of parenthood. Maybe people who are on the fence a bit think, oh, I know I won’t regret having kids, because NO ONE does, but I might regret *not* having them, so I’ll go ahead and have them. If they were aware that so many people feel like this, it could be helpful in their decision.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 2:10 pm

        This posted under the wrong conversation so I’ll post it again.

        I don’t think that saying I don’t relate means that I am vilifying them. Just because I don’t get it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. It just means I don’t get it. Whether I get it or not doesn’t have anything to do with whether they are valid people. I don’t think any of us need everyone to get us to make us valid. Surely there are people that you see making decisions and having different thoughts or values and you don’t get where they come from. We all know people that we can’t relate to but it doesn’t make them invalid. What I am saying is that on an emotional level I don’t get it. It is far enough from my experience that I don’t understand it. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen or that they aren’t valid in their experiences. Their experience is theirs and if I don’t understand it it is still their experience. They probably don’t understand me either and I’m fine with that. I’m not saying that they are horrible people or cruel people or abnormal people or that their kids should be taken away or that they don’t deserve to have a family. Everybody is different and I accept that but I still don’t always understand them.
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        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 2:17 pm

        I mean, you did start by saying that people who regret having kids are the kind of people that can leave their families and do something else.

        And that people who make the choice to have children and regret it later where probably naive about what parenthood would be like.

        Which, whether you intended it or not, is kind of insulting to those people who have done their best to have been good, loving parents, even if they found they regretted parenthood in a way they did not anticipate.

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        anonymousse May 2, 2019, 2:29 pm

        But why post those things? Is it helpful for this LW? You can’t understand that someone else has those feelings? I think you can understand that other people have different feelings and experiences than you do. I think not relating to something is different than not understanding that it’s possible.

        Most of the time I find myself saying “I don’t understand it,” it’s about child abuse, child separation, homophobes or the far right.

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        ele4phant May 2, 2019, 2:29 pm

        For what it’s worth, I also can’t relate on emotional level either, because I have no children yet to regret. But it’s easy for me to accept that it’s true for some people without having to insert my own lack of ability to emotionally relate.

        I also can’t relate to what it’s like to love being a parent, because again, don’t have any children. And yet that too is easy for me to accept at face value, that many people love their children unconditionally in a way I haven’t experienced and probably can’t quite imagine.

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        ktfran May 2, 2019, 4:04 pm

        @kate, that was basically the conversation my sister and I had. She said she wished people talked more about the difficulties. She’s so glad she has her son, but if she had to go back, she’s not 100% sure she’d make the same decision. Or if she were on the fence, now knowing what she does, she’d lean no. And my nephew is freaking awesome! Good sleeper. Good eater. Good pooper. Doesn’t fuss much. Has a little bit of a temper.

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        Kate May 2, 2019, 4:12 pm

        I remember I was traveling for work with this woman I didn’t know very well, and she opened up about her situation. She was in her 40s, I was late 20s. She had been ambivalent about having kids, and she and her partner decided to stop using bc and see what happened. She had a child, and seriously regretted it. She told me about it, and cautioned me not to do what she did. I’m glad she felt like she could talk about it and shared that. It made a big impression.

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      Allornone May 3, 2019, 8:13 am

      My own mother is someone that probably regretted having kids (especially with my father). The fact she actively encourages me NOT to have kids seems to support that. She loves us, and was always a good enough mom, but parenting just wasn’t for her. She even gave my dad custody in the divorce (though we talked on the phone every day and saw her on the weekends). Now that we’re all adults, she’s a phenomenal mom and I’m actually very close to her, and maybe she doesn’t regret regret it per se (again, because she does love us), but I don’t think kids would’ve been part of her ideal life.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 11:23 am

    LW2 Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean that all of their wants and needs and life goals should be given up for you. If he can’t envision a way to be happy without children and you can’t envision a way to be happy without a hysterectomy then the two of you have become incompatible. It’s okay to realize the two of you are incompatible. It’s somewhat sat that you were together nine years before realizing this but you’ve reached the point where the two of you don’t want the same things from life.

    This isn’t a love test where if they love you enough they will no longer want what they want. This is just real life where the path that two people want to follow diverges and you sometimes have to realize you can love someone who just wants different things and who has a different path to a happy and fulfilled life. He is telling you that he loves you but he isn’t willing to give up being a parent for you. That’s okay. At least he is being honest.

    I personally wouldn’t have given up having children for any specific partner. You can always find a different person to love who loves you and who wants the same thing you want. That’s what you need to do. Find a man who doesn’t want to have children.

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    SpaceySteph May 2, 2019, 11:51 am

    LW1- have you honestly never in the couple years of sleep deprivation and stress ever longed for your life pre-kids. If so, you are way stronger than me. I would definitely talk to your husband about what he said, remind him (as Wendy says) that this is just a season, and ask what you asked us– how can you support him? If you were expecting to have more kids, make sure you put those plans on hold (and use birth control) unless/until he feels like he can be all in.

    LW2- This seems like 2 unrelated things. If you want children, you can have children through non-biological means (adoption, surrogacy if its important to your partner that the child carry his DNA, even have some of your own eggs frozen if its important that it carry your DNA, too). If you don’t want children, that’s a choice you can make independent of your uterus’ presence in your body. In 9 years together, you never discussed this with your boyfriend? That is really strange.
    Get the hysterectomy, feel better. Decide on the child question independently of the hysterectomy part, and independently of what your boyfriend wants. Once you’ve decided that, your boyfriend can decide what he wants, whether its to be with you or not. But don’t put your health on hold for him.

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    Fyodor May 2, 2019, 12:33 pm

    Having children through adoption or surrogacy are both extremely expensive and uncertain. It tends to get tossed out there a lot, but if you can’t have children biologically, having children is an extremely expensive and uncertain path

    A lot of people don’t have the money to finance surrogacy. As for adoption, it can be very expensive too and the odds of actually adopting a baby are pretty low. There are literally millions of parents on waiting lists. This is from a private adoption agency, so take it with a grain of salt, but it lays out some of the statistics.

    https://www.americanadoptions.com/pregnant/waiting_adoptive_families

    If you are willing to take in an older child from foster care, you may have more success, but even that is often uncertain. And while I greatly admire the parents that are willing to do this, it’s often not what prospective parents have in mind.

    I am not trying to be doom and gloom, but if she has surgery, it’s just a very different ballgame in terms of having kids.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom May 2, 2019, 12:55 pm

      This is the reality for most people. There are few infants available for adoption so it is very hard to get one. Most people can’t afford in vitro or surrogacy and it requires both if a man has a baby without a female partner.

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      Kate May 2, 2019, 1:02 pm

      Did she mention adoption or surrogacy or even wanting a kid?

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      SpaceySteph May 2, 2019, 1:16 pm

      I mean, yes its difficult and expensive and not for everyone. You know what else can be difficult and expensive and not for everyone? Birthing a child. With decent health insurance, an uncomplicated pregnancy, and a healthy child I still paid over $5000 for my last child (our OOP maximum was 3750 per person, 7000 total, I hit my personal max but still had to pay expenses on my daughter). I was billed for over $14000, pre-insurance. Then imagine if you have a medically complicated pregnancy or a child in the NICU or crappy health insurance how much you might have to pay.
      There’s a pervasive opinion in this society that pregnancy is the cheaper, easier way. But it can absolutely destroy some women’s bodies. And there is no guarantee you leave that hospital with a healthy baby, or even with any baby at all.
      So sure maybe OP doesn’t want kids, or maybe she has considered surrogacy or adoption and knows its not for her or she can’t afford it, but what if they haven’t and that’s a solution that would work for them?

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        csp May 3, 2019, 11:06 am

        I don’t mean to discount your bills, but adoptive parents pay that for birth mothers plus the cost of adoption. My husband and I were so blessed to know our son’s birth mother and had an adoption outside of the agency system. We has a previous adoption fall through before that. We paid $15k in adoption costs plus medical. Now on the list through agencies and we are expecting 30k in costs. plus all the extra parenting costs on top of that. A US surrogate costs $100k. It isn’t even in the same ballpark.

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    Fyodor May 2, 2019, 1:10 pm

    She didn’t. I failed to thread my comments correctly, but it was in response to SpaceySteph’s comment.

    “LW2- This seems like 2 unrelated things. If you want children, you can have children through non-biological means (adoption, surrogacy if its important to your partner that the child carry his DNA, even have some of your own eggs frozen if its important that it carry your DNA, too).”

    It may be a moot point-she may not want kids at all.

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      SpaceySteph May 2, 2019, 1:19 pm

      “It may be a moot point-she may not want kids at all.”

      Which I said in the very next line. My point is simply that they are conflating the two but should look at each separately. Having a hysterectomy doesn’t mean its impossible to have kids. Keeping your uterus doesn’t mean you have to want children.

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        Fyodor May 2, 2019, 1:26 pm

        I wasn’t critizicing you for bringing it up. I was just acknowledging that my long response was over something that may end up being irrelevant.

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    anonymousse May 2, 2019, 1:34 pm

    I have definitely said things like, “why did we ever have kids?” to my husband who has graciously always allowed me to vent without hearing those types of comments as a call to action. He knows it is one of the ways I express frustration.

    I think talking to a therapist might be really helpful for your husband to be able to talk to a third party who can let him express his feelings without judgement, guilt or fear.

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      csp May 3, 2019, 11:12 am

      ^^This! I totally agree that sometimes parenthood is hard and you just need to vent.

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    anonymousse May 2, 2019, 1:58 pm

    I think that a lot of people have regrets of paths not taken. I think that’s pretty normal. I don’t personally regret my kids at all, but I have a few regrets. The problem is if these feelings are affecting the way he parents, his happiness and satisfaction, your marriage, etc. I think it’s worth circling back and trying to understand where he was really coming from, calmly and without judgement.

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    MMR May 2, 2019, 2:32 pm

    LW 2: I’m going to weigh with another completely uneducated medical suggestion – but I’m going to guess that a condition like adenmyosis could also cause or be associated with fertility issues. So what if you didn’t get a hysterectomy, but couldn’t have biological children anyway? What if HE actually couldn’t have biological children? Automatic divorce?

    I’m 100% with Wendy on this one. If his dedication to you is dependent on health factors that neither of you can control or predict, then he’s not really all that committed to you. He’s definitely not someone who would ride out the storm of marital challenges that couples inevitably face. You’re just lucky you found out before you got stuck with him.

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    ron May 2, 2019, 2:55 pm

    Some of the responses to LW#2 are of the order “if they want kids, why don’t they have kids or why aren’t they at least married after 9 years”. This is one of those letters where ages would help. They may have been bf/gf since 9th grade, in which case it isn’t all that surprising they don’t have kids/marriage. No indication that they live together.

    We always say that wanting to/not wanting to have kids is a dealbreaker. In this case it may well be such, despite loving each other. Or, perhaps in the end he will decide that being with her without kids is his second choice to being with her with kids.

    The “if you loved me….” argument is vastly overplayed. If you loved me… you would move to my parents farm in rural Iowa, or move to the Bronx, or work two jobs so I can stay home and be supermom, or let my severely mentally ill brother move in with us, or leave our home and jobs and spend a year roaming the world with me, or… Of course any of these ‘if you loved me’ statements can be turned around 180 degrees with the other party demanding that their choice/preference be agreed by their SO.

    Were children discussed during the past 9 years? Were LW’s health issues discussed? Were the two ever linked in discussion?

    Not everybody who wants kids can have them, even if the partners agree. Infertility is a very real problem and almost impossible to predict in advance. LW’s bf could marry another woman who is crazy about having kids and he or she could be infertile.

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    dinoceros May 2, 2019, 4:29 pm

    LW1: Like others are saying, his feelings aren’t that abnormal. It’s hard to tell exactly how much this is affecting him, though. “Heartbroken” can mean a lot of things to different people. But if he’s beating himself up over it or not able to grasp the fact that things will change (it’s one thing to feel bad that you don’t enjoy your baby, but another to assume that means you will always regret your kid), then maybe a counselor might help? People have a hard time having feelings they think they shouldn’t have, especially if society says they really shouldn’t. ANd sometimes it takes a third-party for someone to really absorb the idea that they aren’t a monster for thinking it.

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    Sara May 2, 2019, 8:27 pm

    I hear you, LW1. My husband loves our toddler… but has also said these same words. Sometimes late at night. Sometimes in the morning after a bad night. I think maybe he needs to complain, but I’m the only “safe” person to complain to – the only one who will say, “Yeah, this sucks. But I know you love her.”

    I think one way I’ve been supporting him is letting him say these things and then affirming that he’s not a bad parent for feeling like that. And we try to each have some time during the week or weekend that is “ours.” And… I need to get better on getting babysitters more frequently – it’s good for me to read that part of Wendy’s response.

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    brise May 4, 2019, 3:36 am

    Reading all the posts, I don’t think this father will definitely be in the regrets about having a child. This seems improbable, as his behavior would show it, by distancing himself from his kid or from his parental duties. So many parents do that, for example in burying themselves into work…
    But I do believe that psychological ambivalence is very common, very probable and very human: many parents – if not all? – do feel an ambivalence about their new responsibilities and the sometimes overwhelming attention, time, energy, that little children require, especially when they are sick or have sleeping issues. It hits you in your fundamental needs, all the more if you work 100%. In fact it can be an infinite task, so this is also the parents’ duty to set boundaries and get help when their limits are reached. LW: delegate more. It does sound as a signal that maybe? the child is too much at the center of the family’s attention. Getting help won’t suppress the exhausting moments because they are unavoidable, but it will give you both more energy, more distance: a better balance.
    Then regretting an idealised past is also regretting youth, right? Being carelessness, free, … Everybody regrets the golden years when you have no constraints. Anyway, let him express his feelings without forgetting that they are counter-balanced by the facts. There is an ambivalence here, and it is common. It is even good to speak of it. And if he feels really heartbroken and you too: indeed, as others have suggested, counselling as parents could be a great help. A counsellor can appease guilt, give good advice for a better family balance and give room for such feelings to be elaborated.

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