Cycling Through the Grief of Not Being Healthy Enough to Have Kids


It has been almost two years since I wrote an article for The Mighty about not being able to have kids due to chronic health issues. I wish I could say things have gotten easier. I thought they had for a while, but the truth was that I just hadn’t been exposed to a similar situation since then.

Last week, a very dear friend of mine gave birth to a baby girl. I was so excited and so happy for her and her partner, and I asked if I could come visit them in the hospital, and they said they would be glad to have a visitor.

I went to the store and bought some Pampers, baby wipes and a onesie that said “Girl Power.” I bought a card and a gift bag. I looked through all the baby clothes and was blown away at how expensive they were, even at a discount store. (The price of the diapers blew me away, too.)

I went over to the hospital. I saw my friend and her guy and their sweet newborn baby. I saw the baby enjoy sleeping and eating and falling asleep while eating. (Baby really didn’t do much – newborns rarely do, in my limited experience!) The baby was beautiful and I was so happy for her young, healthy parents.

I spent the next day and a half convincing myself that my husband and I could, and should, have a baby of our own. I’m in pain? I’ll deal with it. Sleep deprivation? I’ll deal with it. (Note: neither of these things are realistic.) Pooping and spitting up and all that stuff? I’ll deal. Pregnancy requiring me to go off nearly all my meds? Uhhh…scary, but I’m willing to try. No money? Lots of couples have kids on limited budgets. (Never mind that we can’t make ends meet right now and it’s just the two of us.) No space in our apartment? Baby can sleep in our bedroom, at least while they’re little.

I was desperate. I was ready to sacrifice everything.

I am almost 40 and can practically hear that biological clock pounding down its countdown in my ears. I have always wanted kids. I love babies in particular – I find them totally fascinating. I have seen my nieces and nephew at all ages and stages, though (the oldest is almost 15 now), and there have been amazing things about them all. I have so much love in my heart, and I just want a child to give it to. I give a lot of love to my husband, but there’s plenty left over and I don’t have a place to put it!

I have lost so many of my dreams to chronic health issues. Grad school and a career are the first to come to mind, but they are far from the only ones. There are so many things I’ve had to give up since fibromyalgia struck me at age 19, and so many things I will probably never do or have. I do not want it to rob me of this one, too.

man holding very small baby with a very loving look on his face
My dad and me when I was a baby.

My husband and I sat down and talked on Sunday. He tried to give me a reality check, but it didn’t work – I was in denial. Then he dropped a bomb on me: he told me that he could not handle having a child. He has several health issues and a tremendously stressful job. He picks up a lot of slack for me since I can’t do certain household chores. He doesn’t give me grief about it, but if he had to make diaper runs too, it would just be too much.

I spent the rest of Sunday and all day Monday crying. The only thing that stopped me from crying away the day on Tuesday was having to take medication for a headache, which dulled the emotional pain as well – so much so that I had a therapy session and talked about this and didn’t cry and even felt oddly detached.

Today, I am putting one foot in front of the other. I’ve put dinner in the slow cooker, watched the ANTM finale, done some knitting, put away some laundry. My heart still aches like crazy, though. I want to end this cycle of grief I seem to go through every time I spend time with a baby. I am thinking about doing some volunteer work with kids (not babies, though – that would hurt too much and defeat the purpose). If we are ever able to move to a bigger place, we might like to become foster parents.

I suppose my point in writing this is to let anyone else in the same boat know they are not alone. Maybe we can work through our grief together. There must be some way to get through this without feeling a deep sense of regret for the rest of our lives. I haven’t found it yet, but I will keep searching and trying new ways of dealing with it.

In the meantime, I am determined to continue visiting my friend and her baby when I can. I may hurt afterward, but I don’t want to regret not spending more time with them, provided they want me to be there.

Image Credits: Alexis Heidenberg

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