A letter from a childless wife.

We weren’t waiting to have children because of an insatiable desire to pursue our careers or because we don’t like kids–as we’ve been accused of. I’ve heard the conversations behind our backs (and sometimes to our faces) surmising that we must be selfish and too rigid. I’ve heard the philosophy that we should have children in order to become “better people”.

I’ve also been given the insightful information that childbearing is not only what makes me a “real woman”, but more importantly, that it’s my Godly duty. And, my favorite is the “concerned” person who warned me that having children after 35 greatly increases the chances of the child being mentally or physically handicapped. As if this would be a horrible consequence to us waiting.

The simple fact is–we wanted to wait until we couldn’t wait any more. This was how we approached our marriage. And since this would be another life long decision–not just something cute to hold for a moment–we waited. We thought we might be ready by our fourth or fifth year into marriage. But soon, our sixth, seventh and then tenth anniversary passed us by and we were still childless. And we were fine with it.

However, about the eleventh year, I observed that we started noticing kids. It began in small ways. One of us would comment on how tiny baby shoes were-something that never mattered before. Or, my husband would point out the cute fuzzy hair on our nephew. The emotions began to creep in and the desire was planted.

We wanted and we were ready to have our family.

But, along with our desire came our hesitation. We loved our spontaneous weekend get-aways without worrying about a sitter. We loved biking through the city with no real plan or a diaper bag. As a compromise to a specific plan, we went without charting or taking temperatures, and decided to try–without trying. Every month that rolled around was a game of roulette. And we lost every time.

I took solace as I watched frazzled mothers yelling at their children at church, in the mall, and at the gas station. I skipped on by, coffee in hand, with no spit-up on my shirt and no poop smell in my car. The war stories from parents were abundant and gladly told over and over. They wore them on their sleeves like badges of honor. The same parents–chastising me for being childless–were the ones with marriages in a state of arrested development, the ones where the children were controlling everything and with absolute, total chaos in their lives.

Even so, I wanted a baby with my husband. I wanted to see a boy that looked like him, that acted like him, that admired his father. I wanted a little girl that would paint her nails, that would bake cookies with me, that would become my best friend–like I am with my mother.

And when this realization hit that I sincerely wanted a baby, the scarring in my life began. The awkward questions that I used to let roll off my back, no longer rolled. They stuck. And they hurt.

“Well, what’s wrong? Don’t you want to have kids?”. Without knowing what is wrong–if there is anything really wrong–my answer is simply, “God hasn’t blessed us with a baby–yet.”

I watch as they shift their child from one hip to the other, looking me over, trying to figure out if it’s my lack of faith, lack of body fat or something somewhere in between that’s causing me to not become pregnant, and I beg my tears to recede to their proper holding cell. Because, after all–I’m broken and I need to be fixed. By them.

“Maybe you shouldn’t have waited so long,” they say. This stings more than all the others, because it’s the one that percolates in the back of my mind. “You can always adopt,” is their next statement.

I thank them for their helpful comments and walk away, knowing I’m going home to a house that’s empty and void of onesies, toys and stuffed animals. My house is clean and everything is just where I left it. And, if I want to have a cup of coffee on the back porch while it’s raining, I can. But the rain only amplifies what I already know.

I feel broken and the questions continue to pound away at my resolve to be positive and to be at peace. Those questions mutilate me. My tears are at the ready, my emotions are at the breaking point. And this is where I am today.

I am writing this to all women that have felt this pain. And for the ones that seem to get pregnant “if their husband’s just look at them”, please, understand why I can only offer you my half smile. I am so thrilled for you, truthfully. But, it’s so hard to muster up joy for your new season when the joy seems to be gone in my season–and when I’m left in this holding pattern.

I know that God has a plan for me–I am not distraught–I have hope. I am just wounded and hurting. The questions, the helpful suggestions and opinions you have of me bruise me more than you know.

Signed-
A Childless Wife

written by

for the entire world. Deal with it.
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48 Responses to "A letter from a childless wife."

  1. Vere says:

    Thank you!!! this letter could have been written by me, if I were able to put my feelings into words in such a poignant and beautiful way.

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Vere-
      I’m so sorry you’ve experienced this as well. It’s a stage of life that I know I’ll get through, but it’s tough-you know? Thanks for taking the time to comment and for the compliment on my writing.

      Reply
  2. jon jackson says:

    This is such a painful thing to read. My wife and I have experienced similar conversations by well intentioned ‘friends’. And nothing quite huts like a supposed friend using their platform of trust to belittle. I’ve never understood why so many people speak with such little regard for the thought and feelings of others.

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Jon-
      It’s so good to hear from you and from others that they’ve experienced the same thing. I truly thought I was alone on this! I almost couldn’t bring myself to publish this post for fear of what others might think of me. It was so difficult to write, but I needed to get it out of my head. Thanks for understanding and for relating. I really appreciate your comment!

      Reply
  3. Mindy says:

    This was sad but beautiful and you have touched the heart of so many today. My daughter is where you are. Even though people think they mean well, their words hurt. I wish that I could hug you today and show you a glimpse of yourself in a year of two. And, even though words do not help at all I will tell you this, you are going to be an awesome mom. (((hugs)))

    Reply
  4. Michele from IL says:

    Rebekah,
    My heart aches for you today. It’s so frustrating when people “try” to help (when, really, there’s nothing they can do to make you become pregnant). I’m lifting you up in prayer! :)

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Michele-
      Thank you so much. Prayer is a very powerful thing and I would love for you to pray for me. Thank you!!!!

      Reply
  5. CJM says:

    Beautifully written. I receive these comments on a daily basis even though we are not yet six months into our marriage. I don’t know yet how I feel about having a baby and I think it is unfair the pressure comments like this place on women. Similarly I have a friend going through the same thing as you and she waits childless while those around her seem to get pregnant daily. I think every woman struggles with these things- being childless, deciding to not have children, deciding to wait well into their marriage, or having a baby out of wedlock. Regardless, we all struggle in our own ways. Great post. Loved it.

    Reply
  6. Cailyn Gustafson says:

    Rebekah,

    Wow… Thank you for writing this! We have so many friends going through similar situations and we too experienced many of the same questions and akward looks because we were older with no children. Especially down here, if you’re not married at 22 and popping out babies by 23, there must be something wrong with you. I think people on both sides will be blessed by your loving transparency this morning. We love you guys and hope to connect with you soon!

    Blessings,
    Cailyn

    Reply
  7. Ashley Shannon says:

    I’m so glad you shared. There have been many times we’ve looked at you guys and wished we did it the way you are. We were the couple you described earlier- our marriage was in shambles and our house was very chaotic. I know some of it is due to our personalities, but it would have made things soooo much easier for everyone, including our kids, if we would have been more stable in careers and personally. I have dealt with a lot of guilt because of not having it more together/still trying to figure it out. We closed our business so I could be with Jonas more- he so desperately needed the attention that went to the business and kids I was teaching. You guys are going to be awesome parents.

    Reply
  8. Chris Poersch says:

    So sweet and beautifully written, Becky. Thank you for being transparent and sharing your heart.

    Reply
  9. Ashley says:

    I’ve felt it, feel it and live it and I’m only 25. I am sure there are plenty of us out there that feel the exact same thing. But its a relief to know that I’m not alone in this.

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Ashley-
      That’s exactly how I’m feeling today. I had no idea there were other women out there like me. I thought it was a world of women with children and women who didn’t want them quite yet. I didn’t fit into either. Thank you for understanding my heart behind my words. Thank you for being open with your heart, too.

      Reply
  10. jaime says:

    Your transparency offers a welcome hand of understanding and compassion to the rest of us childless mothers who feel the same way, yet cannot put it into words. Thank you oh-so-much!
    I hope you won’t mind if I offer a verse of scripture that I’ve found encouraging this week. It is
    1 Thessalonians 5:18:”No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I have really treasured this scripture this week, especially for it’s words “this is God’s will”. When I’d read it in the past, all that I really paid attention to was “be thankful”. But it’s more than that. Maybe God will speak to you heart about what that is, too.
    Praying for you…

    Reply
  11. Megan says:

    Thank you so much for this post. Its incredible to see my feelings so beautifully written!

    Reply
  12. Lauren says:

    I absolutely love your blog. I have been reading for about a year now, maybe more, I lost track. So many of your posts remind me of myself, we have so much in common! Your creativity, 2 playful kitties, a loving, strong marriage. And now today’s post confirms it all. I have been trying to conceive for 3 years with still no luck. I have had two miscarriages and even went to a fertility/infertility specialist for one year – until she kicked me out saying there was nothing else she could do. Unless of course we wanted to pay $25K for IVF. I fully understand how people think they are trying to be helpful and it just digs the knife in deeper. I even had one “friend” offer to carry my baby for me.. while she was pregnant herself. I truely believe God has a master plan and everything happens for a reason. Our days will come. It WILL happen. Just don’t give up hope. You are definitely not alone in your thoughts. I will be praying for you.

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Lauren-
      I cannot believe how many other women out there feel as I do. I am so glad that I wrote this blog post. It’s hearing from people like you that give me hope and encouragement that I’m not alone. I type this through fresh tears, feeling once again the pain that you are going through, too. I am praying for you as well. Thank you so much for your comment. It means the world to me that I’ve been uplifted today, rather than what I thought might happen when I published this. Thank you!

      Reply
  13. jaime says:

    My, I’ve really embarassed myself!!!!!….I meant childless WIVES, not childless mothers. ARGH. So sorry! The below version is edited. Again, I am SOOOO embarassed. :o/

    Your transparency offers a welcome hand of understanding and compassion to the rest of us childless wives who feel the same way, yet cannot put it into words. Thank you oh-so-much!
    I hope you won’t mind if I offer a verse of scripture that I’ve found encouraging this week. It is
    1 Thessalonians 5:18:”No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” I have really treasured this scripture this week, especially for it’s words “this is God’s will”. When I’d read it in the past, all that I really paid attention to was “be thankful”. But it’s more than that. Maybe God will speak to your heart about what that is, too.
    Praying for you…

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Jaime-
      I love the verse you left for me. I needed to hear this today. Thank you for sharing your heart and for encouraging me. I love knowing that since I am a God-follower that I am in his will-even if it doesn’t match up with my plans. Thank you for the reminder. I needed that, too.

      Reply
  14. Cody says:

    I’m so sorry you’re hurting. I guess it’s not so random that I’ve been thinking about & praying for you for a couple of weeks now. Sure do love you guys…

    Reply
  15. Shelly Threatt says:

    It took us 4 and 1/2 years to conceive. We started trying with high hopes, after 9 months with no luck, went to a clinic to help. We were poked, prodded, and all of the in between… I felt like this. I would go to weddings, and then to go see their first, second, and sometimes third baby… nothing. I had people tell me they would carry my children for me… People can be so insensitive. I have three beautiful babies now. Don’t lose hope! Pray like Hannah did! She was broken, too! And as for the age thing, it’s a scare tactic. I know many women who had babies well into their 40s early 50s that were just fine. And I’m sure there are those that kept on going after that! God bless, I will say a prayer for you.

    Reply
  16. Denise says:

    This letter could have been written by me. Is is my exact circumstance of age, and us wanting to wait until we were ready. We just hit 11 years of marriage and are ready for kids. We have been trying for a little while and no luck. Yet everyone around me is pregnant. Your post was meant for me to read because I have been really struggling lately. I have really struggled with the mean things people say (even though they aren’t meant to be mean). They just don’t understand our circumstance. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Denise-
      It’s so good to know there are other women out there who understand. I’m so glad that my post has been able to encourage you and others. And in return, you and so many have encouraged me.

      Reply
  17. Mom says:

    My Precious Daughter,
    I am soo sorry for the hurt and pain. I wish I was there to take you to Sonic and get Dr. Pepper and french fries and just laugh and talk together. OK I guess now we would have humus and carotts. But the important thing is to talk, cry, and laught together and share the love we have for each other. I wish I could wrap you up in my armsand just hold you. I love you. Mom

    Reply
    • Rebekah says:

      Mom-
      Your comment made me cry. I wish you were here and I might even take you up on the french fry offer. It’s been awhile for both. I love knowing that you are there for me-throughout my silliness and my pain. I love you.

      Reply
  18. Jean says:

    I am so thankful for you voicing the script that runs through so many of our minds each morning as we start our days. While the women who surround me wake up to their children, breakfast, school, activities; we wake up to a quiet house and wonder what it would be like filled with a family. Knowing that I am not alone eases the deep sadness, frustration and feelings of being broken. This was the second post of yours I read after ‘how to make granola.’ You made my day better gal :)

    Reply
  19. Natalie says:

    Hi Rebekah, A couple things about me, that you may find useful: I didn’t want; then wasn’t sure; then sure, married, and trying hard; I never would have adopted (thinking I’d tolerate/bond w/ only my own); I wouldn’t get sperm donor because I wanted both parents, real parents. Then, when I was 40, all the sudden it happened. Now that she’s two and has spent 12 of her 26 months in-out of hospitals, I know a few things about myself: I am certain parenting was an important chapter to have in my life; I know that I can do it on my own (a sperm donor could have saved me much grief); I fully believe that adopting would have worked just as well (my reasoning is complex based on our situation, but I know that the bond is what I make it, not that she was in my belly). However it happens for you, however attached others may be to their ideal ‘way’, trust that the final outcome will change every day you live it, and it, like the rest of your life, will ultimately be your own and you will (can) love it all. Thank you for allowing my comments, very therapeutic for me. Natalie

    Reply
  20. Mr. Matlach (AKA Dad) says:

    My precious daughter, I love you, hurt with you; I am praying for you & “Biceps”.
    Love, Dad

    Reply
  21. Linda says:

    Dear Rebekah,
    I shall keep you I my prayers…

    Reply
  22. Kie says:

    I love what you wrote. My husband and I married what was considered late in life (32&25) and family twiddled their fingers waiting for us have a baby. It took 2 miscarriages and 4 yrs. of waiting before we were blessed with our children. God’s timing is what it is and His love for you is so much bigger than the “well intended” friends and even family. The most self-less thing you can do for your children is have a strong Godly marriage and that comes with time. Being a parent has a lot of challenges that an immature marriage is unable to handle in my opinion. I love reading about your adventures and humorous view you take on life. That will be a valuable asset when you do have children. However God chooses to bless your already blessed life with children will be the perfect time.

    Reply
  23. Cyndi says:

    This was beautifully written. It speaks to me, even though I have not had the same experience. There are always insensitive questions and comments from people who mean well. I’m at the stage where people want to know why we’re not having/planning a second child, and scoff at the reasons I give for waiting. Reading this post has reinforced to me that it is more helpful, and maybe more Christ-like, to take your curiosity to God and just pray for that other person and their circumstances. And if you say anything, let it be loving and encouraging. Thank you for having the courage to write about what’s on your heart, painful as it may be.

    Reply
  24. Yvonne says:

    Crying as I read this. This was me for 10 years, trying to have a baby. I experienced everything u wrote. People really just need to follow common sense before they say something but they don’t . I was even harder for me been a childless, adoption social worker. I even began to think I was paying for something in life. Then I began praying, I had three miscarriages along the way. At age 40, God blessed me w my daughter, she also the survivor of a twin sister who did not make it. I never wanted to be an ‘older mom’ but I truly believe things happen not on our time but God’s time. I share my story to let you know not to give up. Prayer is powerful, my daughter is here because of it. You are in my prayers.

    Reply
  25. Carol says:

    I know that God has plan for you as you also know and I also know that you can get tired of hearing that too! I am so glad that you shared your feelings and heart with us, that had to be hard and also liberating. But being a mother of now 2 grown children that have moved states away, it is very sad, the empty nest and I envy my friends that had no children sometimes, and there marriage as full and alive as it was in the beginning. It has been said that having children is like letting your heart leave your body and walk around without you. I will pray Gods will for your life, because if you have that you will be fine!

    Reply
  26. Elizabeth says:

    I was blessed to have two children. However the best gift we gave our kids was to have them at an older age. My husband and I were able to have our time together and be selfish, taking off on get aways when ever we wanted, just living exactly how we wanted to. I see some friends that are very young mothers and I know I could have never been the mother I am today if I had my kids young. Your struggles getting pregnant might bring to you another way of having a child. When you are ready let yourself be open to what God is trying to tell you. He is always hinting to us and nudging us to see his vision. Again, when you are ready your answer will be there waiting for you and your husband. I wish you the best in your future.

    Reply
  27. A. Weight says:

    ~ Sending Hugs & Prayers of Comfort ~

    Reply
  28. Elizabeth says:

    I applaud your courage and honesty in writing this. The fact of the matter is that the choice to expand (or not expand) your family is no one’s business but your’s and your husband’s. My husband and I don’t have children, and I’m tired of the pressure, innuendos, and hurtful comments that have been slewed our way during our 10+ years of marriage. Whether it’s our decision for our family to stay it’s current size…or have been trying in vain for years…shouldn’t matter. People should keep their opinions to themselves, and support you as the beautiful people you are.

    Reply
  29. Connie says:

    this is a pain unlike any other. and you cannot truly understand the anguish unless you have been there. I can tell you it helps to talk with others that have been there. they understand. I can tell you there is hope. my family is not anything I got to plan, I wasn’t able to calculate when I wanted children or how close I wanted them. it took me a lot longer than most people. but having gone through this and looking back, my family is absolutely perfect and I couldn’t have planned it better. there are very few things in my life I can say are absolutely perfect. my children, their spacing, there genders are perfect! I can only saw that looking back however. never in the midst of it. and yes it lingers. I sometimes wonder if we ended our family prematurely because we are so scared of the pain of “trying” for another. but this is only a small part of me and these experiences make me who I am. I know I don’t know you, but if you ever want to talk…email me. I will pay for comfort and strength for you.

    Reply
  30. NaomiRose says:

    Hi Rebekah
    You may want to look at the Gateway Women website http://www.gateway-women.com It is for women who are childless by circumstance and Jody who runs it has a wonderful way of expressing many of the things those of us who don’t/can’t have children experience and think. Take care.

    Reply
  31. Lora Willard says:

    Rebekah,

    This post brought tears to my eyes. I wish I could give you a big hug right now. Gosh, I hope we can see each other before we leave again. Just want you to know I love you.

    Reply
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  33. Kay says:

    Wow. I could have written this. I am about to turn 36 and am struggling with this very thing. It’s so difficult to be gracious when others say those things. I am sorry you are experiencing this, too. It does make me feel a bit more normal to see that I am not the only woman on the planet struggling with this. Thank you for your honesty. I will be praying for you.

    Reply
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