The featured photo is me at age 12, on my beloved pony, Rusty… At that time in my life, I figured I might be a mom someday. It wasn’t in the cards for me… Maybe that’s okay. Warning in advance that this is a very personal post.
I continue to learn more about Bill’s younger daughter as every week passes. Lately, we’ve been exchanging emails. This morning, I received one that gave me pause. In it, she apologized to me for being “insensitive” about my “infertility”. I had recently written in an email that I had always wanted to have children, but was never able to have them. I didn’t elaborate as to why. I figured she already knew.
But this morning, I found an email from her, and she expressed kindness over my “infertility”. I guess she assumed I never had children because I literally couldn’t get pregnant. The truth is, I don’t actually know if I was infertile. I am almost surely infertile by now. In any case, I have never been pregnant.
There I was, sitting in bed this morning, trying to decide if it was appropriate for me to tell my husband’s daughter the reason I don’t have kids of my own. I asked Bill, and we decided that I should tell her that Bill had a vasectomy when he was still married to Ex. He later had it reversed, but it was eleven years after younger daughter’s birth. Though the reversal surgery was technically successful, I never managed to conceive.
Then Bill went to Iraq, and we had a bunch of Army moves that made trying to conceive with medical help logistically difficult and financially impossible. By the time we had recovered financially from Bill’s first marriage and paid off most of my student loans, I was getting pretty old. We ultimately decided that not having children was okay.
I carefully wrote this explanation for younger daughter. Bill is going to follow up with more of the story. I don’t want her to think he had the vasectomy because of her.
My father also had a vasectomy after I was born. My parents always made it seem like he did that because I was such a “difficult” child. Of course, now I realize that decision had nothing to do with me, personally. My mom hadn’t expected to get pregnant again after my sister was born. Eight years later, there I was… and I was a big, colicky baby, with big lungs. Mom didn’t want another child. Quite frankly, she hadn’t really wanted to have me. So, to keep the peace, my dad got snipped. I don’t think he had wanted to have a vasectomy, but my mom insisted.
In Bill’s case, he decided to have a vasectomy mainly because of financial reasons. Ex had her son from her first marriage, plus the two daughters they’d had together. Bill was supporting the whole family on his income, which, at the time, wasn’t much. He was an Army captain at the time. Ex got pregnant with ease, but she wasn’t a very attentive mother.
One time, when older daughter was a toddler, Bill came home from work to find that she hadn’t been fed. Ex was in bed, depressed, and older daughter had pulled a block of cheese out of the refrigerator. It had a knife plunged into it. I’m not sure where ex stepson was at the time, but it was clear that Ex wasn’t taking good care of the children.
Then, because his Army career also wasn’t going that well, Bill temporarily got off active duty. The family moved from Washington State to Arkansas, and Ex’s sister and young daughter moved in with them. Bill was supporting his family, plus Ex’s sister and daughter, on the piddly amount of money he made working at factories in Arkansas and from National Guard duty. It would have been disastrous and irresponsible for them to have another baby.
Bill was also concerned about the bizarre way Ex behaved when she was giving birth to younger daughter. He said she had kind of disassociated from the pain, crying that she would “be still”, as if she was hallucinating about being abused. At one point, she even refused to push. Bill had to tell the nurse that Ex was a victim of abuse and was apparently having some kind of traumatic flashback. The nurse realized what was happening and managed to get Ex to snap out of her spell and give birth to younger daughter. The scene was disturbing enough that Bill didn’t want to see it happen again.
Bill did propose to Ex that she get her tubes tied, since she clearly had issues with being pregnant and giving birth. Ex, of course, shot down that idea and shamed Bill for even suggesting it. So he had the procedure done, which in the long run, was probably a blessing. Ex clearly wasn’t done having kids, and she would have gotten pregnant again with Bill if he hadn’t gotten snipped. She had two more babies with #3. I don’t know what their births were like, but according to younger daughter, Ex is still neglectful and abusive.
Of course, a few years after Bill made that life altering decision, he met virginal me. I appreciated that he was willing to have the reversal surgery. The Army also offered reproductive and fertility treatments, but we needed to be living in an area where they offered the therapies. We lived in the Washington, DC area when Bill had the vasectomy reversal, so that worked out for us. After that, we frequently moved (five times in seven years), and sometimes to places where fertility treatments provided by the Army weren’t always readily available. We weren’t willing to go more into debt to try treatments with a civilian provider.
I had always wanted and expected to have children, but Bill was my first and only sexual partner. So I don’t have children… and the whole mess surrounding the vasectomy is another major reason why I’ve been so angry with Ex all these years.
It wasn’t enough that Bill left their marriage infertile. She also severely alienated the children they did have together. It’s only because younger daughter is a kind, loving, and thoughtful person, like Bill is, that he’s able to know his grandchildren. Ex wanted to deny him that, too. She told them many lies about Bill and me. Making matters worse is the pervasive attitude among people that fathers are expendable and second wives and stepmothers are always homewrecking whores.
I wrote to younger daughter that I’m “okay” with not having children. I suppose that’s true, at this point. I certainly wouldn’t want to have a baby now, at this time in my life. But I do feel like that decision to be mother was taken from me. Yes, I know there are people who will try to point out to me that I could have married (or just had sex with) someone else… or adopted… or gone through fertility treatments. Those kinds of comments are very belittling and discounting. I specifically wanted to have a baby with Bill. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with the fact that I can’t. Now I realize that it’s probably better that way. Fortunately, Bill is enough. I love him very much and wouldn’t choose another partner, regardless of everything that has happened.
I hope that my email to younger daughter isn’t too much of a bombshell. I honestly thought she knew about Bill’s vasectomy. He will write back to her and explain it more, since he was the one who made the choice. I just want her to remember that infertility isn’t always due to the woman. For all I know, I was infertile, too. We never had the chance to find out for sure.
Yesterday, younger daughter and Bill exchanged Marco Polo videos. Bill is finding that he has to dispel some impressions that she has, as well as offer her some basic history lessons. I can’t help but think that if they had been able to have a relationship for all of these years, they would both be so much better informed. But hopefully, they can make up for lost time.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… Bill really should have fought harder for his daughters. But dealing with a malignant narcissist is very difficult for the unaware and ill equipped. Unfortunately, when he and Ex split, Bill wasn’t in a good position to fight harder for access to his kids. So now, all he can do, is damage repair and restoration. Still, I am relieved that just like the song, younger daughter is truly lovely. She really is Bill’s daughter, in spite of everything. I’m finally starting to love her. Thank God for that.