Just before we started fertility treatment, my partner left me Relationships

The dilemma I’m in my mid-30s and have been in a relationship for 10 years with someone I love very much and thought I was going to get older. We recently started medically helping IUI with donor sperm (we are lesbians) and then my partner left me two days before our first fertilization. me found out she was having an affair with a mutual friend. She returned for a whileand we had a lot of love and intimacy, yet she then left again.

I went to our clinic for three weeks, and I feel so sad and like I can’t let go of what I thought was going to be our baby. Nor does it seem like there is any language for this, because fertility treatment for lesbians is not really in society “speaking”, so I struggle. even to name what happened to me.

Me too understand that things are symptomatic of wider problems and I want to own my share in the breakdown – our communication was completely broken because my partner now says she really didn’t want our baby.

I now realize that my partner is slowly retiring during the two years of planning (we chose names, schools, places of residence, saved money, talked about how and when we would have our second child) and while, at first, I tried to talk to her, she stoned me so hard that in the end I was just angry and needed some sort of relationship, even if it was negative – like a baby I guess.

How the hell do I process and accept all of this, and how do I intend to move on and be in order? I can’t get over the feeling that I’m a failure and has failed miserably, which is not reasonable, I know but I feel so anxious. I’m also not sure if I should engage in motherhood solo. Would I have enough for my child? It feels very punishing. And so lonely.

Philippa’s answer I’m so glad you wrote. You need to listen. Looks like your partner loved you, but her body told her she didn’t want kids. You loved each other, but wanted different things. You want a child so much that you didn’t want to interpret her withdrawal as a sign that she didn’t. You’re right: things are so often about problems in a person’s main relationship. Her affair sounds like she wanted to escape not necessarily you, but parenthood.

Of course you are destroyed. You lost her and you lost the dream of parenting with her. It seems that you were right for each other in so many ways, except that your dreams for your future were different. She found it hard to tell you, maybe she found it hard to tell herself – well, she told you now. She may have a phobia of conflict, which would make it difficult for her to bring up difficult issues. You have a lot of understanding of what happened and why, but this does not stop the pain you are experiencing now, which sounds as if it is aggravated by shame.

You know cognitively that you have nothing to be ashamed of. This is not a failure, it is something that has happened to you, but it does not stop the feelings. It’s like mourning. You are experiencing a loss. When a person leaves us because of divorce or death, it can feel like we are also losing the part of us that we were when we were together. That gap in us can feel like a raw wound. You think this hurts so much how can I ever recover? The shock will feel less crude over time. You will grow around it, not to speed up that process, but after one or two years in a relationship with your friends, your work, your interests, the wound will heal.

You feel punished, you suffer from terrible feelings of shame, but that doesn’t mean you did anything wrong. You didn’t. It seems that your ex-girlfriend didn’t know until the next fertilization that this was definitely not what she wanted, so you can’t expect to be able to guess what she herself didn’t know yet.

If possible, take some compassionate leave from work, stay with the people who know and love you best, perhaps your parents or siblings. Allow them to take care of you and possibly have people to stay with when you return home so that you are not alone until you are ready.

And the other person who left you is that baby you dreamed of, the baby and the person they would have developed into. How are you?

You are enough for your child alone. You will need the support of friends and family, but you have enough. Research shows us that the happiest families are not necessarily the parents, and children thrive with one, especially with a supportive community. There are socioeconomic factors that make a difference more than how many parents have a child.

If you have a question, please send a short email to askphilippa@observer.co.uk

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