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Hi Tim

Advice column by Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC.

I Said Baby ... Not Maybe

Sleeping baby

Tim White, PhD, LPC, NCC offers advice on family planning and parenting, LGBT issues, disability issues, education and work issues, relationships, ethics and "unusual" social issues. Send questions to Tim for future columns through his website.

Hi Tim,
I am 32 yrs. old; I have been married for 5 years and a total of 13 years together. I have been ready to have a baby for the last three years. To which my husband says he is ready because he loves his nieces and kids in general, but won’t commit to having kids. I know he loves me; I know he wants kids with me but says that he doesn’t feel financially ready for that responsibility. We are pretty stable. We bought a house in 2008 in a nice area, we both drive cars that are within 5 years old. We are not rich by all means but stable. My friends and family have been asking for years when we would have kids, of course for the longest WE both weren’t feeling ready; we were traveling and just enjoying ourselves.

Now, I feel like he just has so many excuses not to start a family. Like he doesn’t want to share my attention, not ready to be up caring for a child at night (lame), he is scared that my small body frame will suffer (I have back issues but who doesn’t), he wants me to stay at home and care for the kids and now he is not ready, I mean the reasons go on for days. I just don’t know what else to say or do to convince him that no one is ever ready in the way he thinks he needs to be for a child, people just do it. And give him comfort that we will be just fine. I know people say oh don’t worry 32 you're still young, but that’s their opinion, I would've like to at least have my first child at 30, I don’t think that’s asking for a lot. I don’t know if he will ever be ready, and if/when he does get ready, will my body let us down at that point. I feel like I will blame him for keeping me waiting for so long.

What should I do? How should I let him know I can’t wait anymore?

Thank you,
Wanting a Baby

Hi Wanting,
It sounds like you already have a crying baby to look after. If he thinks staying up all night with a baby is unbearable now, he will definitely not like it in his forties. I am so sorry to hear you both are not on the same page, but the first issue to address is communication. Either he wants a baby, or he does not. Hubby needs to commit to at least having the desire for a child. If communication has been an issue for you two on other issues, brief counseling may help you find some resolution. He must clarify his stance on this issue, because I just hear noise and excuses and stalling at this point and even deciding he simply does not want children will help you decide how to move forward.

Maybe we can help him decide. Assessing how labor-ready your small frame with back pain is can be done by your trained doctor. That doctor is almost certainly also going to advise you that at your age, family planning should start soon. The classic fertility window of age 17-25 for women has certainly been extended well into their 40's, but women and men both face fertility challenges beginning in their 30s. For women, the serious risks to a healthy fetus begin accumulating at an alarming rate beginning at age 35. Check the American Fertility Association and National Institutes of Health for the facts and discuss them at that doctor visit. So, your biological clock seems to be wound correctly, and giving you good information. Your husband, however, needs a reset after getting educated about the significant risks you both face by waiting.

Hubby will always have the money card to play. I still get a good chuckle every time I see that same old article reworked: Can You Afford to Have a Baby? or Cost of Raising a Single Child Up to $500K! This scare tactic does not seem to be working, but the premise is accurate. Unless you are sharing a lofty tax bracket with the other one-percenters you and everyone else cannot afford to have a baby. That baby will break you so you might as well start clipping coupons, bargain shopping, pinching pennies and doing without now because that is where you are headed. If your heart is truly and selflessly committed to parenthood, you will not mind it at all. Make sure you have savings and a retirement fund and that other adult stuff, and maybe start questioning whether you can afford that new car, that house or that vacation the way we seem to easily scrutinize the affordability of parenthood. You may be able to make do with less. Hopefully, you will not be less one husband.

Exed Out

Hi Tim,
What's the ethical way to end a workplace romance? I'm a woman, 20s who had a male work friend for two years. He's so nice, and I usually confided in him about my emotionally difficult boyfriend. After the boyfriend was out of the picture, I dated the work friend for four months but it was soon apparent that we weren't right for each other, at least for me. He was not so much in agreement when I ended things eight months ago. I would have stayed friends and hung out, but he became cold and distant. Since then, I worked things out with the old boyfriend. I'm now engaged and pregnant, but coworker is making another play for me and trying to talk me into giving him another chance before I make the "mistake" of marrying a guy I constantly complained about before. It is not a mistake, the boyfriend cleaned up his act and earned me back so I know what I am doing. However, it just feels like a huge mess at work with my ex-friend angry and having to work with him every day with the tension, sarcasm and hard feelings, as well as the reminders of when my relationship was not working while I'm trying to focus on the present. Any advice? — Exed Out

Hi Exed,
What workplace romance? It was over eight months ago! You tried to end it amicably and coworker was not receptive to it. If he is harassing you, that is a reportable issue but yours sounds like an inner conflict. Perhaps a brief coffee break together would give you the opportunity to tell coworker that you saw a lot of good qualities in him and that is what initially attracted you. But it takes more than attraction to make a relationship work, and you would rather be an honest friend than a phony girlfriend. Remind him that the workplace is no longer a place for talking about anyone's romantic issues, and you can offer to hang out as friends but remember, not everyone can switch from lover to friend; for some folks, over is 100 percent over and that is okay, too. If he must disengage completely as is everyone's right, you two must agree to keep every single interaction work-related going forward. That means not so much as a coffee break or lunch unless it is a larger group event. Time will likely provide a comfortable transfer or promotion or some other kind of move. In the meantime, at least it sounds like you are going to have some respite during maternity leave. Congratulations on that.

Oven Out of Order

Hi Tim,
I am a single girl, 24. My brother's husband works with me, we are all close in age and we spend a lot of time together. A few months ago, they asked me if I'd be willing to carry their baby for them, conceived with brother-in-law's sperm, of course. I am way too young to have anybody's baby, including my own, and I don't think it would matter if we were related, I would just have all these confusing feelings all the time. They have mentioned that they probably could not afford surrogacy unless I agreed to do it for them. My brother accepted my decision, but the husband still brings it up at work and seems to think he can change my mind. He can't. Now, how do I get him to accept my decision? — Oven Out of Order

Hi Oven Out of Order,
You have nothing to explain, so please stop doing it. Men, whether gay or straight, sometimes minimize and even trivialize women's physiology; sometimes due to a sheer lack of knowledge about how women's bodies work and mostly, as it seems in your case, due to obnoxious male entitlement. You own your uterus, it is not a vending machine for babies. You do not "owe" anybody in the world babies simply because your body can produce them. The idea of assisting a relative with reproduction is not for you. Never let a nagging whiner make you start doubting what you know about yourself. It sounds like these fellows may not be so well-informed, either. Cable TV movies and outliers aside, any relative is usually unacceptable as an egg donor or a surrogate. Also, a candidate must have at least one child of her own via a fairly smooth pregnancy before she would even be considered as a surrogate. The best option is to contact a reputable surrogacy agency and make the journey a professional one. Direct them to The Handsome Father, a great resource for aspiring Dads.

As for affording surrogacy, see the first letter above. Almost no one can afford a baby! If your brother and his hubby truly want to be fathers advise them to save, save, save. They are going to need it. There is no "clearance rack," so it will definitely be expensive and difficult regardless of the details. If they complain, ask them what a very wise friend once asked me when I was complaining about the cost of surrogacy: "How much did you pay for your car? How about your house? How about your last vacation?" Perhaps they will be as embarrassed as I was. If those boys truly want a baby, they will make it work or they will not. Either way, it is not your problem. Tell your brother-in-law the subject is closed forever, and any further mention of it may cost him a desperately needed free babysitter later.

Editor’s Note: The opinions offered in this blog are the author's alone. Tim White, and any experts he may consult and/or quote in responses to letters, will never provide medical or psychological advice, diagnoses, treatment, or counseling of any kind. General advice, opinions, and suggestions may be offered with no obligation on the part of readers to accept or act upon the content published within this column. Anyone in immediate crisis and/or mental/physical distress should call 911 or related resources of assistance.

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