My Ex-Husband Cheated Me Out Of Having A Kid

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woman looking numbed

In late summer 2011, I sat at a table in Applebees across from my future (and now ex) husband. It was our first date. I’d already been married once, and I didn’t want to waste time with someone who wasn’t going to match me in the long run. So I went all in:

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“I want to have my own business; I’m never moving out of Chicagoland; and I plan to have kids — so if you don’t, you’re barking up the wrong tree.”

He assured me we were on the same page. So on we went with our happy courtship, a short one of only eight months or so before we got married in 2012.

Five years later, I was in my mid-30s and my biological clock was ticking faster and faster. It started to seem more like a timer than anything else. I brought up having a child with my then-husband. His response? “I’m stressed out and can’t have this conversation right now.”

Honestly, that was fine. I knew he was struggling trying to get his career started (spoiler alert: he never did), and I didn’t feel any self-implied pressure to reproduce at that point. So I cut him some slack that day, chose my battles, and put them aside for a bit. Then, I brought it up again.

“Can we talk about having a kid?”

“I’m too tired.”

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Once again, I pushed my dream aside, planning to bring it up at a later time.

And that time got later and later.

I would bring it up, and he would pretend not to understand me. I would say something about it as he surreptitiously decided that was the perfect time to walk out of the room and magically not hear what I was saying.

It wasn’t until our final year of marriage that I realized the problem: he didn’t want kids.

His best friend had kids, and, according to my ex, was coerced into it and hated his life. (Note: I highly doubt this is true, having spent plenty of time with that family.)

He complained about this regularly that last year of our marriage, under the guise of supporting his friend. My suspicion was solidified when I saw him playing with my nephew and told him he’d be a good dad. He replied, “Don’t say that. You’re scaring me.”

I was taken aback. I had been quite clear with him from Day One about what I wanted to do. I assumed he’d been clear with me on that first date, as well.

Why was I suddenly being thrown off course? He knew my dreams. I thought we shared those dreams.

The problem was that he didn’t care about my dreams. I was a conquest for him — as many women are for pro manipulators, narcissists, gaslighters, and abusers, all of which he turned out to be.

What I wanted out of life didn’t matter; all that mattered was that he won me over, gained my trust, and exploited me. Once he had his fill, he moved on. By the next year, 2018, we were divorced. He’d secretly moved out while I was away and went to Minnesota to live with his mistress.

He would go on to try and make my life hell, eventually leading to me filing a report with the FBI against him for identity theft and contacting the police for a restraining order that was never granted.

During that time, I’d found a new partner and started a new life. He and I discussed having kids extensively, but I wasn’t about to bring a child into a situation where my ex was making our lives miserable.

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Eventually, my ex-husband faded away. But by that time, I was firmly in my late 30s. My new partner (now fiancé) and I continued our discussion of having children, planning a time for me to go off birth control so we could try in earnest.

But I had a nagging feeling: What if it was too late for me? My ex wasted six childbearing years of my life. I can never get those years — or those eggs — back.

Now, it’s been a year since I stopped taking birth control. I’ve had a miscarriage (possibly two), been examined because of “dark masses” in my uterus, and still faithfully get my period every month. I track my cycles, my fertile periods, and my ovulation days. But it’s been a year, and nothing has happened.

I think it’s my body’s fault. I think I’m too old. I think that I decreased my egg supply by donating my eggs twice. I think something is wrong with my uterus, ovaries, or fallopian tubes since reproductive system cancer runs in the women in my family.

But mostly, I blame my ex. I put my life on hold for him.

First, for a mediocre career he never got off the ground, then for a stressful time when he needed to relax, and then for a girl in Minnesota. I put my life and my dreams on hold for lies. Lies I didn’t know were happening. Lies I can’t recover bodily truth from.

To me, it’s his fault. He cheated me out of having children. He knew what I wanted, knew my time for reproducing was passing, and didn’t care. And I’ll continue to feel this way until I get pregnant, or for the rest of my life — whichever comes first.

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Jennifer Billock is an award-winning writer and best-selling author covering mental health issues that relate to families at every stage. She's been published in The New York Times, Smithsonian, Wired, and National Geographic Traveler.