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Possibly not a stepmom much longer

post #1 of 60
Thread Starter 
Well, some of you probably know my posts. I have 2 wonderful stepkids, ages 4 and 7. I'm extremely close to both of them, and love them dearly and this is reciprocated. I am also deeply in love with my husband, and have been since we first met many years ago.

I'm 35 years old, and this year we tried to conceive. When I got pregnant in May, we were both over the moon with excitement. I was so happy with my life and marriage and so excited to become a mom. I miscarried early, in June. DH cried and held me and comforted me. He was clearly very upset. The same day as the miscarriage he had to pack up his office and move out from a job he's held for 7 years. He was really sad. He doesn't have a new job yet, and is feeling the stress.

Ten days after my miscarriage, he told me he's had a change of heart and doesn't want any more children. I was obviously crushed that he would say this, but felt the stress of being unemployed was a huge factor. He even said maybe he's change his mind once he got a job, but he couldn't promise.

Well, it's been a month since then, we had the kids the entire time of all this hurt, and somehow held everything together and the kids felt very secure and happy. So this week my husband says he's not changing his mind, he doesn't want kids, and since he knows I do want kids, he wants to divorce!

I'm beside myself with grief -- we're newlyweds! I'm hurt and betrayed and absolutely crushed. I can't bear the thought of leaving him, of leaving my stepkids, and of never being a mom. And let's face it, at 35 I don't exactly have time to meet someone new in time to become parents together.

I knew he was bipolar when I married him, but I also knew he was on medicine and in therapy and I thought we'd be ok. I have reminded him that he shouldn't be making such big decisions while he's stressed from unemployment, but he's just so cold and mean and sounds so rational as he explains that he can't stay with me as I want kids because I'll resent him. And he doesn't want them because they would interfere with his career he says and then he just says he wants out. I went to a marital therapist yesterday and he goes next week and then we're supposed to go together, but right now at least he doesn't sound like he's really giving it a chance. And part of me is so shaken by this complete cruelty that I'm not sure what I want anymore, except to be several years younger so I wouldn't feel all this baby pressure.

I'm just so utterly and completely sad.
post #2 of 60
post #3 of 60
I am so so sorry for your loss, and for all the stuff that is going on in your life right now. Unfortunately, losing a job is considered a major stressor. So is losing a baby. Either one of them can cause trauma in a person's psyche. Two of them together can do major damage. This doesn't make it any easier for YOU to deal with his response...but especially with a propensity toward bi-polarism, I can see that this could cause major issues with your husband. I think that you are doing everything right. Going to a counselor is a great first step. Does he have a psychiatrist? It might also be an important step to discuss with him whether he might need his meds adjusted to deal with all the new stressors in his life. It could very well be that this can begin to be adressed in a healthy way with an adjustment in his meds. Perhaps when he has less going on chemically, he will be better able to greive the loss of the baby as well as the loss of his job, and then be able to be a husband again. I hope for you that this is the case.

My thoughts are with you.
post #4 of 60
Oh Mama! I don't have any experience with the step/blended family thing (I just saw this on new posts), but I do have experience with losing a baby and then having a hubby who declared with complete calm rationality that he didn't want any kids. Ever. He didn't tell me at the time that he fet he should leave, but it turns out that he was thinking about it. It's basically earth shattering, hey? I'm so, so sorry. Good for you guys with the therapy. Is your husband also seeing someone specifically for bi-polar care?

Anyway, pain and grief cause different reactions in different people. I've since found out, but it is not uncommon for one or both partners to announce that they do not want children when dealing with loss or infertility. That's the gut reaction to what is essentially a fear or and a wish to avoid further pain. It isn't that they don't want children, it's that they don't want the heartbreak and potential loss and disappointment that comes with trying again. As he heals and comes to terms with things, it is not unreasonable to think that he will come to a place where he can see the difference, and realize that he really does want children. Unfortunately, you guys are in a bit of a sticky situation as you don't necessarily have time on your side. (I mean, you may have a good 10 years of solid fertility left in you, things just slow down for a lot of people)

Hang in there. I hope the therapist is helpful in getting you guys to address the underlying issues and to communicate effectively.

I'm so sorry for your loss.
post #5 of 60
Thread Starter 
Thanks.

He is seeing someone for bipolar, but has somehow convinced him that he's not having any kind of episode. He even went off his antidepressant completely, and with his doc's blessing! He's still on a stabilizer, but I think maybe some of his pessimism is related to coming off the antidepressant. He's on a new one, but it hasn't had time to do anything. I mean, really, I'm not a doctor, but seriously, is this really a good time to switch his meds? I told his doc that he's off, but he didn't seem to believe me. He just said DH is appropriately sad about his job.
post #6 of 60
post #7 of 60
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by selkat View Post
Oh Mama! I don't have any experience with the step/blended family thing (I just saw this on new posts), but I do have experience with losing a baby and then having a hubby who declared with complete calm rationality that he didn't want any kids. Ever. He didn't tell me at the time that he felt he should leave, but it turns out that he was thinking about it. It's basically earth shattering, hey? I'm so, so sorry. Good for you guys with the therapy. Is your husband also seeing someone specifically for bi-polar care?
So, does the fact that you're on this list mean he changed his mind and you had kids? Are you two happy now? How long did it take?

I'm just so crushed, and I feel like DH is about to bolt.
post #8 of 60
I am so sorry, violet. I really don't understand why people sometimes retreat into complete self absorbsion when going through trauma but it seems to happen. I hope he comes to his senses but that doesn't mean you need to just forgive him and move on. What he did is a betrayal
post #9 of 60
I'm so sorry, but I think you are doing all the right stuff and need to give this some time for everyone to work everything through. Dealing with two simultaneous traumas is hard enough - doing it with young kids in the house who you are trying to hold it all together for is even harder. Especially when you don't have those kids all the time and want to make it as calm and normal as possible for them.

I am 36 and my partner and I (he is the stepdad) recently decided to have a child of our own. It was a big decision as I hadn't been sure before. We got pregnant right away and I had a miscarriage. It was really terrible and heartbreaking. That didn't make me not want to have another child. But then I got pregnant again and we had a miscarriage scare and I told my partner, "If we lose this baby, I'm not sure I can do this again." To be honest, knowing I already had a daughter who I love deeply made this a little easier to say. Not sure if I would have stood by it and definitely we would have worked it out one way or another (I would have changed my mind; he would adjust to not having another child), it was very very scary and I could see where your husband would have this reaction. But I think it's got to be about stresses and issues in his life and not about his feelings for you or even his underlying feelings about having children with you.

It sounds like in some ways he is trying to close himself off emotionally to protect from getting hurt more. That would explain the "you want kids so we should get a divorce." Presumably, this would normally be a whole discussion, right? But he's pre-empting it and trying to distance himself - which also explains the "rational" tone. I think you are doing the right stuff and also need to say to him that this is not a time to rush things and we don't need to figure it all out this instant.

Personally, I know the panicy feeling about being 35 and wanting to get pregnant and how hard that can be. But you really do have some time. Even 6 months can make a huge difference. Miscarriages are so, so, so common. I found when I had mine that nearly everyone I knew (of all ages) had miscarried before conceiving the child they have now. It was kind of astounding. But it can make you feel like it's going to be this long struggle to get pregnant and carry to term. And that's true for some people, but not at all the majority. And you are really on the young end of when things start to get a little tougher. So, please hold out hope.

I'm rooting for you. It sounds like you've done a great job building a new family and would be a wonderful mother to a new child. Good luck and please keep us updated. Don't despair.
post #10 of 60
violet, I am so sorry to hear about all the stress you and your husband are going through. I agree with all the previous posters who commended you for seeking counseling and, even if your husband doesn't seem to you to be giving the counseling a chance, at least he is going. I am very, very hopeful for the two of you in working through this very stressful time because, as you mentioned in your post, much of the stress is situational and it is still very raw and new, and the two of you haven't really had a chance to work through it while being strong for the kids. Hopefully some counseling and time will help you to do that and you will come out the other side not just okay, but stronger for having gone through such a tough piece of life together.
post #11 of 60
It sounds like he's a good man and loves you very much. He thinks you will find more happiness with someone else that does want children.

I agree that this is not the time for big decisions as there are so many other stresses going on in your life.

I hope that his counselor can help him understand that.
post #12 of 60
I'm so sorry. That sounds immensely difficult. I agree that he shouldn't make any decisions at this point.

My DP and I each have a son. We don't live together but have been together for nearly three years. He is afraid that living together would be too stressful and he knows that I want more children. (He does too). His first reaction was like your husband's. He was afraid that I would feel bitter and resentful if he kept me from having another child. I think your DH needs to take some time to figure out such important and difficult decisions. It cant be done during stress and grief.

Do you consider staying married to him if he doesn't change his mind about having a child?

I hope that the therapy will be successful and that the medicine will start to kick in. Feel free to pm me if you need to talk. I'll be thinking of you.

Anne
post #13 of 60
What a rough situation. I am so sorry you are going through this. I think your DH is very, very scared and being BP certainly can make those emotions more pronounced. I think you are doing all the right things as far as going to therapy and what not. I really hope this is something that you guys can work out quickly. It is just an awful situation. (((((HUSG)))))
post #14 of 60
*hugs*
post #15 of 60
I am so sorry Violet. Keep on with therapy... I think your husband just isn't thinking totally rationally right now. He likely loves you very much and just wants you to be happy and is feeling like he failed in that regard.

I know it will be hard but I would try to be as supportive of him as possible and maybe even tell him that you know he loves you and that the two of you could work through anything.

I'm praying for you.
post #16 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by violet_ View Post
I knew he was bipolar when I married him, but I also knew he was on medicine and in therapy and I thought we'd be ok.
Violet, this is the key part. Your experience with his doc is par for spouses, btw. It can get considerably worse.

You aren't going to love me for saying this, but he may be saving you and future kids tremendous heartache. BP doesn't usually improve with age, and if you're feeling blindsided by it now, imagine getting news of this magnitude of him when you've got a kid or two to protect.

The only pieces of advice I have are these:

1. Where someone else's mental illness is concerned, all you can do is decide what you want to do with your own life and where your limits are, and stick to them. There's little you can do because there's little anyone can do. Mental illnesses are not, in general, well-understood.

2. Don't have children with someone who has a serious mental illness. You will always meet them on the upswing -- they're employed, they look good, they sound great. What follows, if you have children with them, can shorten your career and your life. The stress is not insubstantial and your job will be resident falling-masonry-catcher.

3. Don't try to persuade a man who doesn't want kids to have kids. Whether he "really means it" or not isn't germane. Having kids together is tremendously tough, and if a guy isn't up for it 100%, you're likely to have bigger problems down the line. If he wants it, he'll say so. And if a miscarriage and unemployment are going to knock him out of the ring, it's much better to know now. There will be much greater stresses down the line.

A relationship with a guy who has a mental illness and having children with a guy who has a mental illness are very different things. If you guys divorce -- not saying you will, but if you do -- those children have a mother and a father. You're free to go on, have a career, pick up with whomever you like. If you guys have a child and divorce -- and really, the recent stresses are serious, but much smaller than the stresses of career plus baby -- you will not have that liberty. You will be the responsible parent. Your career will be tethered by the fact that you're a single parent. You will never be free of concerns about what your unstable ex is doing with your child when he's got visitation, or concerns for your child wrt his or her father's ability to really be there.

Let me try to make this concrete: I have primary custody with a severely depressed/anxious ex who sees our daughter daily . I'm currently working on a major book that will require me to do some travel. I'm eligible for lots of residencies, but can't take them, because I can't go live someplace else for a few months. I need to interview people and go to archives in London and California, but will have to time and arrange those trips very carefully, keep them very short, do few of them, and stay mindful of what they mean for custody. Even so, I take a risk. After all, if I'm willing to leave the country, I must think xh is OK to care for dd. If I keep leaving the country and her father's caring for her, that essentially says he's fit to have shared custody. And I know he's not. I have no family nearby; I could leave her with sitters or other families, but if I get a call hours before the plane leaves telling me it's not going to work for someone else to watch my dd, I'm SOL. As has happened. Single motherhood is not terrific when you're supposed to be across the country presenting papers, but your childcare's fallen through.

I know this is a horrible blow, especially after a miscarriage, and I'm so sorry. But please don't do something dumb just because you really, really want a baby. Please take a step back for a month or two and see what you can see. Think about what it would mean to live with how he is now, periodically, with a child. And as a single mother.

I'm sorry.
post #17 of 60
Quote:
Originally Posted by mama41 View Post


2. Don't have children with someone who has a serious mental illness. You will always meet them on the upswing -- they're employed, they look good, they sound great. What follows, if you have children with them, can shorten your career and your life. The stress is not insubstantial and your job will be resident falling-masonry-catcher.
To add a little to this, you may also want to consider that BP is a highly genetic mental illness. My DSD developed early onset BP at the age of 5. Her mother, grandmother, aunt, uncle, and probably many more family members on her mother's side that are undx'ed have it. The rate of a child developing it when they have one parent with it is 15-30%.

While I love my DSD dearly and would not change a thing about her, it has been a very difficult road with her for many years until she was treated correctly.

I just want you to be aware of that, but I have a feeling it would not really change how you feel.

More (((((((HUGS))))))))
post #18 of 60
couldn't read and not post so very sorry for your loss and your hardships now as well
post #19 of 60
First off, . I'm so sorry for your loss, and I am sorry that things are tough at home.

Second, I for the most part agree with mama41. DF's mom is bipolar. In the last two weeks she has a) gotten in my face (so much that I had to leave our apartment) about wedding cake issues and b) had a complete breakdown over whether or not to watch our dog while we were on vaction (she sends our dog mail and refers to her as a grandchild) which resulted in about 20 telephone conversations between she and DF. He was a little thankful that our vaction destination had no cellular coverage.

This is a woman who is considered well-controlled with medication. She has a graduate degree, a good job that she has had for years, pays her bills on time, takes care of her house/yard, etc. But she is still pretty unstable and suicidal a few times a year.

This is tough to say, but I would consider how badly you want children. If you really want them, I would think about having them with someone else. Bipolar is a tough mental disorder. You have to assume that you may be the sole parent to any joint children. You may want to keep your finances separate. I had a coworker with bipolar that became a close friend, and he told me that he spent $20,000 of he and his wife's savings in a couple of months during a manic episode. He, too, was supposedly well-controlled by medication and was quite successfully professionally.

This is definitely time for you to do some serious thinking. I'm so sorry this is happening.
post #20 of 60
Violet-I am so sorry for your loss. It's such a hard thing, especially if this baby was something you've wanted and waited for. I had 2 back-to-back m/c's within 6 months. It is sad and scary to consider trying again. I'm sorry your DH is unable to offer you support during this time.

I also support much of what mama41 has to say about having children with some one who is truly mentally ill. When I told him I wanted a divorce, my ex had a mental breakdown and was diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. When I met him I knew he had some unspecified issues in the past, but I wrote them off as being drug related and he "wasn't using drugs any more." (Youthful fantasy.) He had a job, was on a full scholarship to a great college, seemed fine. The scariest time of my life was going through my divorce and thinking about shared parenting with him for the next 18 years. Luckily I was awarded sole custody, and he has never kept to any kind of visitation schedule (or paid CS.) My DD doesn't really know her dad at all.

I know it doesn't seem like it right now, but at 35 you have plenty of time to have a baby. I didn't even meet my current DH til I was 36. You know you can get pregnant, which is 1/2 the battle for us "over 35's". It doesn't help with the sadness you feel that a baby might not be in the future with your DH as you had believed. But don't give up your desire for a child or make any rash decisions just because of your age.

This is going to sound harsh, (and I don't mean it that way) : you love this man and right now you are hurting so badly, but don't throw away your own wants and needs focusing on him and trying to help him get well. Yes, he can go to counseling, but if he wants to file for divorce, let him do it. You can figure out a way to walk through it one day at a time. Please try and focus on yourself and what you need to be happy for your life. It isn't selfish to want a child with a man you love. I believe you deserve that.

Again, I am so sorry for this painful situation in your life.
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