Tell Me About It

We are heartbroken that we cannot have children

My husband and I are finding it extremely difficult to accept that we will never be parents

PROBLEM: I read your article from the lady whose husband does not wish to have a family. My situation is that my husband and I do not have this opportunity. It is truly heartbreaking . There is no blame game as we are in this situation wholeheartedly as a couple but I feel guilty about feeling so hard done by.

My husband’s testosterone levels are at an ultimate low and basically he does not produce any sperm. I am devastated we have been dealt this blow especially when I see friends who can have a family at the blink of an eye. We are forever being told: “Ye’ll be next” or even “it’s time ye were having a few”.

My usual response is “we can’t mind ourselves” or “plenty time for that” as I fight the tears away, knowing this possibility is slim to none. My husband is gutted and yet we don’t discuss this with our friends. I feel so guilty when I go through days of despair knowing I will never be a mum. We are both in our 30s and married five years.

I remind myself we could be worse off, we’re both healthy and love each other dearly, but I always imagined us having mini mes. If it’s not meant to be I guess it’s not. My husband has suggested we go down the donor sperm route but it doesn’t appeal to me (not being disrespectful to anybody who does this) and adoption takes years. I would like to be at peace with myself. I’m constantly grieving, although it’s strange grieving for something I never had and never will have.

ADVICE: Your situation is very sad and you seem to be very aware of all the aspects of your position: a great relationship, lots of love to give and an impasse that seems impossible. You might both be at the early stages of grief in coming to terms with the reality of not being able to have children of your own.

Grief feels very isolating in that it is very difficult to completely share what you are experiencing and this is then coupled with the desire not to further burden your loved one with your sadness and loss.

Communication is difficult and yet the one thing that sooths and comforts us in grief is having someone understand and care for us. You and your husband might be struggling alone so as not to cause further hurt, but you are also depriving yourselves of the one person who can share in the pain.

You say your husband “blames himself” and that you try to not to upset him further by letting him see your suffering – is it possible for both of you to express fully what is happening and trust that your relationship is strong enough to handle the trauma?

There are rituals associated with grief that offer balm and ease the way towards acceptance and recovery. There may be a need for you and your husband to take a weekend away to allow, discuss and accept the reality of childlessness to sink in. You could talk about what friends you would like to trust with your grief and include them in some way in your circle of confidence.

Having our communities around us in times of loss is a very important aspect to recovery and by keeping your secret and pretending that all is okay you are blocking a great source of support. Simple acknowledgements such as flowers, cups of tea and checking-in text messages all go some way towards healing and feeling cared for.

It is unlikely that you will be able to turn your attention to or be in a position to really consider your options until your current upset is acknowledged and met in some way. Your husband needs to assuage his guilt so that he does not carry this through your life together – it is simply a fact that you as a couple have to take into account in your relationship. If you need a couple of sessions with a couples counsellor to assist with this, it might be time and money well spent. It sounds as though you both have a lot of love and care to offer, and how this is given form and substance in your lives will need careful consideration.

However, you cannot jump to this deliberation right now as you are both raw with emotion. Try not to have thoughts or statements such as “we will never consider donor sperm or adoption” as this might be closing off options for you that you might be able to consider at a later stage. Open up your grief to those who love you and let decisions come later.