By: Sheila Gaudet
Baby lust is my term for that feeling you get when someone you know, or even a random stranger, has a new baby. For a moment, all you can think about is how you want one too! The new baby smell, the almost daily milestones, and those cute little outfits all conspire to make you forget the lack of sleep, the reflux, and the mountains of laundry caused by little baby blowouts. I have one friend who, for years, would schedule an appointment to talk about reversing her tubal ligation every time one of her friends had a baby. She never went through with it, but she loved babies! I, luckily, have remained largely immune to this effect. Maybe it is because I had a difficult first pregnancy and became a single parent when my oldest was just a few months old. Maybe there are just too many “battle scars” for me. When my second son was born after two years of trying due to secondary infertility (unexplained…of course!) and all the procedures, testing and drugs that went into that process, I had a tubal ligation done at my c-section with no regrets. I knew that I was done. He is now 10 and I have never regretted that decision. Several years ago, I also had a hysterectomy, which certainly “sealed the deal”. Again, no regrets.
When I married my husband, one of my concerns was that he was several years younger than I was and had no children of his own. He was steadfast in his belief that he had no desire to have kids of his own and never had wanted to have them. He maintained that he was happy to love my boys as if they were his (they were 5 and 11 when we met). He has always been great with kids but held the position that there were enough people in the world already and he didn’t need to produce any more. He knew about my hysterectomy and my position that I was done having children through any method. In addition to my boys, I have had the privilege to be involved in raising my nieces, who are young adults in college now. I am enjoying my children’s growth toward independence and the freedom that it offers me as my oldest learns to drive and my youngest can be left home alone for brief periods. They can even make some food when they are hungry!
Fast forward five years. Around Thanksgiving, my husband sat down in our living room and told me that he wants to have children- of his own. He explains that he thinks that he missed out on a lot by coming into our lives later and that he thinks he would feel differently about children biologically related to him than he does the boys. I was shocked. To me, this came out of the blue. Obviously, I cannot have children myself. I suppose surrogacy is an option, but at 45, I think my eggs are headed into retirement. In addition, I simply do not want to have another baby at this point in my life. Perhaps that is selfish but it is honest. I have been looking forward to being able to restart my career and moving to the next phase of my life. The issue is more complex, of course, as most marriages are. At first, I tried to discuss the improbabilities with him. He travels overnight for his job 5-6 days per week. He is also part of the military and deploys for several months at a time, at least every other year. I tried to explain how difficult having a baby is for anyone, but particularly for someone with his schedule and that he would miss out on a lot through that as well. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really matter. He feels that this is something he wants to pursue.
I am trying, really trying, to not be angry. I am hurt. I was blindsided. All the plans and sacrifices my boys and I have made in moving for my husband’s career, carrying the load at home while he was gone so much, seems to mean nothing, or at least not enough. After living separately in the same house for a few months, the tension became too much and no progress on his ambivalence was being made, so he moved out recently. I am sad because I love my husband. I am angry at myself for believing what he told me, even when I had doubts. The situation rekindles all kinds of childhood issues of my own with my father (who adopted me when I was two, but I always felt some distance versus his biological children).
For now, my focus is on keeping stability for my sons during this time. We are staying in the family home and maintaining as much normalcy as possible. Because my husband has always been gone so much, that is probably the easiest part to deal with. I start a new job next week and I am excited about that. It is hard to explain to the boys what is going on because I don’t want them to feel unwanted or not “good enough.” While the blending of the family has not been easy, my children truly like my husband and my youngest’s comment was, “How can he leave when he has so much in our house to love?” There is no good answer for that yet, in my mind. I have great faith that my children and I will be ok. I just wish that it wasn’t going to be under these circumstances.