My sister is turning 39 in a few months. She rang me the other day in a panic saying : I am the woman on the pop art postcard.
Many of you will remember this from the 1980s –
It is a pastiche of Roy Lichtenstein’s iconic pop art cartoons from the 1960s and came about as a result of the whole backlash against the ’80s superwoman. The I can have it all generation.
My sister will soon be 39 and has no children.
But it’s not that she has forgotten to have children. It is slightly outrageous to say that anyone could forget to have children. You don’t forget to have children the way you forget your keys or forget to buy cornflakes. Most of the time you have no choice in the matter.
It would be fair to say that my sister has had bad luck with men. Every man she has been with has been self-centred, arrogant and abusive. Sometimes she has been fortunate (if you can call it that) in that the abuse has only been verbal but as anyone who will tell you who has been on the receiving end of long-term verbal/emotional abuse – it’s no picnic and can end up changing your view of yourself. Definitively.
In addition to children not being on the agenda as a result of dysfunction in the marriage or relationship, recent tests have revealed that my sister looks like she will not be able to conceive naturally. She is very overweight, has pre-diabetes and polycystic ovaries. And she is nearly 40.
There is a decline in the fertility rate over age 35. There is only a 10% chance of falling pregnant. At age 40 or over there is only a 5% chance. One thing I didn’t know is that at age 40 or over up to 90% of a woman’s eggs are genetically abnormal. Even with IVF the success rate is only 10% per try.
[This is information my sister received from her doctor.]
My sister’s biological clock is ticking. She wants to give IVF a try. She will have to lose weight first and get her blood pressure down but if she manages that then there is no reason she couldn’t give it a go.
Except that her husband doesn’t want to.
He is an alcoholic. He is not drinking at the moment and is attending AA meetings but addiction is a slippery slope as we all know and sobriety is never a guarantee.
He has stated that the last thing he needs at the moment is the stress of trying to have a child. I am inclined to agree with him – the depths of his addiction have both horrified and scared me – but I also understand my sister’s need, want, wish to have a baby. I understand how relentless the ticking of that biological clock can be.
He will have his way and maybe that’s for the best but I feel despondent thinking about my sister. She has had so much sadness to deal with. So much.
I really wish things could be different.
Oh that’s a tough one Selma. As someone who has discovered how all consuming (though often wonderful) a child can be, I’m inclined to open my mouth and warn people to be absolutely sure before trying for a baby because, in the really difficult moments, being able to acknowledge and accept that this is what you chose makes it a little easier to get through. But when the clock’s ticking, being sure is a luxury.
Love to your sister. I don’t know what to hope for her, so I’ll just send love.
I agree Elsa. I feel like I lost about ten years of my life, I hardly remember a thing I was so weary. “When did I get teeth?” they ask. “I don’t know but the evidence says you did.” How am I supposed to have remembered all of that.
It’s strange though with women who didn’t have kids but wanted, it does become an all consuming thing. I wonder if she shouldn’t really think about what is mroe important staying with the man or having a child, it looks like they can’t go together.
In any case life is all about that- choices, and each choice excludes something else. I think society has pushed motherhood to the fore but it is just as equal with other important things in a woman’s life.
“He has stated that the last thing he needs at the moment is the stress of trying to have a child. I am inclined to agree with him”
Me too, Selma.
I’ve been reading your blog for a LONG time now, and I know what he’s like when he IS drinking and when he IS abusive to your sister. Quite frankly, if that’s what she wants to do with her life, that’s fine, she’s an adult. Sad as it may be. But, a child should NEVER be brought into THAT kind of situation.
A terrible situation for your Sister, but it seems to me that a choice has to be made. Either Hubby or a baby, it seems she cannot have both, life would be hell for a baby or child in the situation your Sister finds herself in, it also must be hell for your Sister as well.
It is surprising how many Women have children through IVF that are divorced or single, mainly because they haven’t found Mr.Right and time is marching on.
These type of choices are so hard to make, I feel very sorry for your Sister, and hope she makes the choice that is right for her.
She’s had a hard time of it, that’s for sure. But having a baby could make a hard time even harder, and also tip him back into drinking. She could leave him and try on her own, but that would be incredibly hard as well, expensive and no guarantees of getting a baby at the end of it. All decisions only she can make in the end.
My ex was an alcoholic. At 37 I wanted a baby and had one but it split us up. He couldn’t handle trying to stay sober as well as the demands of a baby. I am glad I have my daughter but now she will not have a proper relationship with her father because we are divorced and he is drinking all the time. I urge your sister to think very hard about this. It’s not easy either way. I am sorry she is going through this.
I know. I was exhausted for about the first 5 years of Nick’s life. He didn’t sleep through the night until he was 4 and I was so sleep deprived I thought I was going to die. In addition, my hubby worked ALL the time and my parents were AWOL so I had no help at all. My sister knows all this and I can see it is not a desirable thing for her but I guess you can’t fight that blasted biological clock. In a way her husband not wanting to try IVF is a bit of a blessing because I really don’t think either of them could handle raising a child right now. I guess I’m just sorry that she constantly has to make these difficult choices.
Thanks for the love. You are one of the sweetest people I know ♥
You are so right. Many of the choices we make in life exclude something else. It’s just the way of things and there is often nothing we can do about it. I feel bringing a child into the mix of my sister’s marriage would be far too stressful and is not something she needs to be dealing with. It’s unfortunate, but it is reality.
You are completely spot on. When she told me she wanted to have a child with him my heart literally sank. I actually felt like it was going to fall right out of my chest. I mean, this is a man who has held a knife to her throat. If he would do that to her what would he do to a child? As a mother I feel bad for any woman who cannot experience the joy of having their own child but sometimes these things happen for a reason. I don’t think they are in the right place to be parents right now. I feel bad for her but to be honest, also relieved. I would worry so much about that baby I wouldn’t be able to sleep.
You are so right – I just don’t think it is possible for her to have both. I feel bad about it but in some ways it is a blessing. I think if she really thinks about it she will realise that bringing a child into a family where alcohol is a problem is not a good idea. For anyone. Boy oh boy, life throws us some tough ones sometimes, doesn’t it?
There are definitely no easy answers with this one. With or without him – neither state is really all that desirable. She may just have to accept that being without a child is the path she must take.
I am really sorry to hear that was your experience but am glad you have your daughter. I know how hard it is to be with an alcoholic – the stress of it could just about kill you. Thank you for visiting, your comment is really valuable. I wish you and your daughter all the best!
Wow, I had no idea about the genetically abnormal eggs over the age of 40! You know, I never had kids because I never felt I was in a relationship that would be healthy for them to grow up exposed to. Of course, I exposed myself to them, but that’s another story… I know you feel for her, understandably. I guess I would say to just be there for her, as you have been. Who knows what the future holds.
Acid test is … would an adoption agency accept them? If not, maybe natural parenthood wouldn’t be right, either. Sounds heartless, I know, but it’s the best answer I have.
I think I read somewhere, too, that, the older a woman gets, the greater chances of having a child with Downs’ Syndrome … do you think she could deal with that?
These are factors that should, I think, be taken into consideration … but, in the end, the decision is theirs alone,
Terrible choices, one or the other, given that he’s been abusive and an alcoholic and speaking as a child of an alcoholic parent, shes better off not having children with this man. The abuse will trickle down to the children and even if it doesn’t the child will be irrepairably damaged by seeing their father abuse their mother. I feel for her cos I can imagine how torn she is but really not a good idea with this man.
I had no idea about that either. It’s quite a sobering statistic. I will be there for her – it’s really all I can do. The decision, in the end, is hers!
I don’t think an adoption agency would accept them. It’s not heartless at all. The drinking really is an issue. I don’t think she could cope with anything like a genetic abnormality – I think she has a bit of a fantasy view of parenthood, to be honest. I guess we’ll see what happens.
That’s what I’m worried about the most – that the abuse will trickle down. I couldn’t bear that. She is torn but it’s really not a good idea. I don’t think he can be trusted with a little baby. The thought terrifies me.