I’m 40 and I’ve been with my boyfriend for two years but never madly in love with him, or madly in lust with him. Last year I became pregnant and lost the baby at 16 weeks. We were both deeply upset by this. I’ve now discovered I am pregnant again but just after asking my boyfriend to leave the house we share (which I own). He agreed and has moved out for us to think about what we want to do. He is a lovely, decent, honest, kind man. The rows have been instigated by me and my brattish behaviour.
My boyfriend has now told me he ‘did not sign up for this’ – that he would basically like me to abort the child as he has tried many times and we always get to the same hurtful place; that he doesn’t want a child in a broken relationship and, though he hasn’t said it directly, I suspect he wants to be free of me. I have started counseling, as I’m negative, bullying and rarely show love verbally. I have a long road to go to become open to good, loving emotions, but in the meantime I’m being asked to get rid of a child, which, at nearly 41 – I fear I will never have the chance to have again.
And it’s a valid fear. You may not be saintly in your emotional responses but you are brutally honest about them which is greatly to your credit. As you intimate, there is no easy answer. You’ve discovered what the Ancient Greeks knew to be true; fate mocks mere mortals. At present, you’re running on emotional adrenalin and the surging hormones of early pregnancy, neither particularly conducive to rational thought. So let’s try to unpick and isolate the threads of your story that really matter. Firstly, the baby business. You are right, in your forties getting pregnant, let alone carrying to term is a challenge. In this country, rather disgracefully if you ask me, NHS IVF is only available on a one shot and you’re out basis after 39; I wonder how long they go on checking and medicating for faulty sperm? You’ve already had a miscarriage so you know how precious this chance is particularly as you are newly single. Being brutally frank we both know that having an abortion could squander your last chance of motherhood and equally depressingly it’s still possible you may have another miscarriage. I know men out there will groan in horror but right now you have to think of yourself. Contraception is available to all adults and neglecting to use it is a choice, if a slightly fuzzy one. You’ve been pregnant once, which your boyfriend was well aware of, so the fact it’s happened again shouldn’t be too much of a surprise. In the normal course of events the best time to choose not to have a baby is before it’s conceived. While the situation is far from ideal for him he has the opportunity to become a father for many years ahead. You don’t have that luxury so you have to make up your mind based on what you, yourself, really want. If you decide to go ahead it may well have to be without his blessing or support, although as you describe him he seems a man unlikely to shirk his responsibilities. You don’t have to be together to jointly participate in your child’s life but being a single parent is extremely hard work. These days, dazzled as we are with myriad choices, we struggle to make firm decisions and when to have a baby is one of the many things we find it hard to commit to. It may sound peculiar in your present quandary but in some ways you are actually lucky. You’ve managed to conceive, you have a man with whom, if you alter your behavior, you may be able to make a future with and you have a very firm grip on where you are going wrong. Having a baby won’t save your relationship, or solve enduring woes but it certainly focuses the mind for a couple of decades. Being “madly in love”, or lust, viewed from the perspective of the Universe seem entirely silly ingredients for choosing a mate. Viewed entirely pragmatically your feelings for your ex offer far more valid ingredients in considering a life partner. Is it possible to stop torturing him for not inspiring the slightly goofy feelings you hunger for and appreciate him for all the good resonant stuff he adds to your life? Equally possibly if you never have a child you may live perfectly happily as many who make that choice go on do. I can highlight the paths but only you know what you are capable of navigating. Making an informed decision and living with it is part and parcel of being a responsible adult; there are occasions these days when I wonder if we’re losing that essential skill. Bizarrely you may be grateful for this impasse, as it may well be the making of you, whatever route you choose.