During the two years after our wedding in which my husband and I discussed whether or not we were going to even try to have a baby, the rules of engagement were laid out. They were, for the most part, his rules, and I had no choice but to agree to them. Even with my agreement, I had no guarantee that he would ever be ready to do something I had taken for granted was part of our future.
The two rules not open for discussion were: no adoption and no heroic efforts. We both have our own personal history with adoption, mine oblique and positive, his personal and devastating. While I did want to have our child, I would not have been against the idea of adoption had he been willing. Since he was not, it was not on the table, and that was all there was to it. No heroic efforts meant no IVF. Period. Partly that was because of the cost and partly it was the line that we drew in the sand for how far we would go, and we were in agreement on this point. At the time I was blissfully ignorant of what was to transpire in the next three years, I had every intention of getting pregnant without medical intervention. After all, I was relatively young (I thought) at 38, and I had received an enthusiastic thumbs up from my doctor.
The fact that we were unsuccessful in having our own child and the fact that his son is now a part of our lives doesn't put adoption back on the table. There are times when I resent the fact that he does have a son, and a grandson; his legacy is guaranteed not only into the next generation, but indeed the one after that as well, so I cannot expect that he will understand how I feel.
I am not equating the idea of having a child with life-long happiness or even having someone to take care of me when I get old. My own mother is a prime example of how this is often not the case. Of her four children, one is dead, one has completely cut her out of his life, one has settled into a superficial and artificial truce and one tries valiantly to stay in contact without losing her sanity. She is in increasingly poor health, bitter and alone, and she will die that way.
My father started a second family after he divorced my mother and now, at 75, is saddled with a depressed and beligerent teenager who refuses to go to school, get his driver's license or do anything except play video games and entertain friends in his room.
I know that I look at having a family in a way that is both existential and hypothetical, and that isn't the day-to-day reality of the hard work, heartbreak and frustration of being a parent. With the bad comes a lot of good though, and I will miss out on a lot, I already have. We always want what we don't have, that's part of the human condition. I know that I will always be working on this, it isn't something you get over, but I hope at some point it won't hurt as much.