‘My Relationship With My Husband Is Over, But I Still Want A Baby – Should I Stick It Out Or Start Again?’

When Corinne's* marriage began to break down, she found herself facing a 'catch 33': approaching her mid-thirties, and stuck between two impossible options

Freezing your eggs

by Anonymous |
Updated on

During my dad’s speech at my wedding in 2011, he made a joke about wanting to be a grandfather, which finished with the words ‘...so get on with it!’ But I didn’t get on with it. Which is how, seven years later, I found myself in a gynaecologist’s office being asked if I had ever considered freezing my eggs.

When I got married, I felt like I had all the time in the world. I was just starting my career as a journalist; my husband and I couldn’t afford a baby, and neither did we want one. We were keen to enjoy being in London – and needed to work hard to make it viable to live in such an expensive city. My friends and I all subscribed to a rough timeline of sorts: the idea was to meet someone in your mid to late-twenties, get married at around 30, buy a house at some point, possibly get a dog or cat, and then start to have babies. Until recently, I was ‘on track’. I met and married my husband in my mid-twenties, we bought a house when I turned 30, and we adopted a dog a year after that. Then we hit a bump in the road: some of the micro-tensions and niggles between us became macro.

About three years into our marriage, my career took off and I started to really come into my own as a person, with more autonomy. Now, another five years down the line, I’ve changed significantly: I’m healthier, more driven, and have a huge group of friends. My husband’s focus is still more or less the same as it was when we married. He wants to have fun but hasn’t nurtured his friendships and isn’t proactive about making plans. I’ve blossomed, while he feels his wings have been clipped.

Around a year ago, the arguments and sniping started to tip the scales in favour of separating and, after a lot of discussion, we decided to take a break in our marriage – to think about whether to continue our lives together or separately. In January, I moved out to stay at a friend’s. I suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and, the week after we made that decision, I went to see my gynaecologist for a routine check-up. Once she’d told me that everything seemed fine, she asked about whether I wanted to have children, to which I replied that I wasn’t quite sure and, in any case, it wouldn’t be on the cards soon. Her response was emphatic. ‘So what’s your plan for managing your fertility?’ she asked. ‘Do you need me to recommend any places to freeze your eggs?’

She explained that fertility declines in your thirties, and that while freezing my eggs wouldn’t guarantee that I could have children later, it would offer me a potential security blanket in case my husband and I decided to split up in the future. That day a close friend announced her pregnancy, and the next, another friend told me she was trying. They had stuck faithfully to the accepted route, and here I was, dissenting. I realised that, rather than just worry about the state of my marriage and my heart, I had to seriously consider my fertility. I spoke to one friend who raised the point that, should we separate, my challenge would lie in finding a partner who’s not only compatible, but also wants kids. Another later told me, ‘The thing is, you don’t have time to waste now. Particularly not if you want to have more than one. That’s important too.’

It was during those conversations that the reality of my situation hit home: if my husband and I decided to divorce, I might never have children. That lent everything new gravitas; yes, a break-up is always difficult, but with potential motherhood also hanging in the balance, the prospect took on new meaning. I found myself facing a ‘catch 33’ that was never part of my plan. My husband is a good man. He is kind, fun, and empathetic – all important qualities in a partner and a father. I love and respect him, whether we can ultimately stay together or not. Right now, we are still living apart, but sometimes I come home to see the dog and we eat together – I even stay over, but he sleeps in the spare room. We are effectively friends who are married, wondering if our relationship has run its course.

After much consideration, I’ve decided that, for now, I will not let the question of having – or not having – children affect how we proceed. If we get back together and start a family, we’d both like that to be on solid ground and would need time to repair our relationship. I want to give both of us some time to think things through, because despite knowing that my fertility hourglass is losing sand, I think my husband and marriage deserve it. I also refuse to let my biological clock dictate my choices. Besides, since finding my marriage navigating troubled waters, I’ve realised there’s absolutely no point in having a timeline for your life. Look at me: I ticked everything off the list and still found myself, aged 33, googling information about egg freezing.

*Name has been changed

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