"We Can't Get Pregnant"

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His Turn

Fatherhood Worries

"Nancy never lets up," said Seth. "She's constantly on my case and I can't breathe, think, or do anything without her giving me instructions or complaining about what I'm doing or not doing. Things haven't been going particularly well for me at work -- several projects I've been trying to get off the ground are stalled. I'm having trouble focusing. No one has said anything to me, but I don't feel great about my performance over the past year or so. And the last thing I need is to have a wife who dumps on me at home.

"To be honest, with all the fighting, I'm not sure it makes sense to talk about having a child. All these fertility tests, plus my two surgeries -- which were not pleasant -- have drained me. It's hard to face the fact that because of me, we may never have a child of our own. Doesn't every parent get a charge out of seeing a little bit of themselves in their kid? I'll never have that. Is it so terrible to want a child of my own flesh and blood? Will I be able to bond with a child who isn't biologically mine?

"I'm also uncomfortable with the whole process of artificial insemination. We're both Catholic. Though we don't go to church regularly, I can't help thinking that this flies in the face of the church's teachings. And I'm totally uncomfortable at the clinic. It's so austere and well, clinical. The other day, a nurse asked us to choose the physical characteristics that we wanted in a baby. It was unnatural and demeaning and I felt sick to my stomach: It was like picking from a Chinese menu -- one from column A, one from column B. Will Nancy think that a baby conceived this way is more her baby than our baby?

"If something interests me, I'm single-minded in my pursuit of it -- and ever since I can remember, I've been in love with the movies. I spent two years in film school after high school, but when a small independent group asked me to work for them, I dropped out and have been supporting myself ever since.

"My Hands Are Tied"

"Before Nancy, I had two very intense relationships that ended badly. When I met Nancy, I hadn't been in a serious relationship for a long time. When we started talking about getting married, I asked the company I was working for if they'd consider hiring Nancy, but they had a strict policy against spouses working together. Since her company didn't, I made the switch and we got married. I don't understand why Nancy acts as if I had some secret knowledge that my being hired would throw a monkey wrench into her career. That's completely unfounded, but she won't believe me. The truth is Nancy needs to look for a job at another company if she wants to get the money and prestige she deserves. I'll help her write her resume, make connections -- but here, my hands are tied.

"Nancy is bossy and critical and treats me like a kid who has to check in with her. Why should I call every time I'm about to make a move? She's just going to yell at me, and I refuse to put myself in that position. Nancy has to realize that I have an important position in this company and I'm responsible for a lot of people and projects. That means I often have to work late and on weekends. I can't take three days off just because she wants to.

"And I don't drink nearly as much as Nancy says. Okay, I like to go out with the guys and let it rip once in a while. But I'm not an alcoholic like her dad. She needs to lay off me on this one, too, before we can even start to talk about a kid."

Continued on page 4:  The Counselor's Turn

 

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