Infertility and guilt-- Does anyone feel this way?

Hey everyone! I think we're all familiar with guilt about certain things, but recently I've been having a lot of trouble coping with my partner's infertility and a future without children.

When my boyfriend was first diagnosed he started treatment right away, the next day, There wasn't any talk about fertility or future children. Later, we learned he would need a bone marrow transplant to have any hope of a cure. After chemo, there would be a low chance of fertility, but after the transplant... I won't say impossible, but realistically, it won't happen.

I try not to think about it. I can't help but feel a deep sense of loss. We were really, really looking looking forward to having a family. There are no options for us right now, though. I would be open to a sperm donor or adoption, but in our country sperm banking is illegal, and adoption is considered shameful (I don't agree of course, but it would be a hard life for our child; most families who adopt move far away and never tell anyone the kid is adopted, so they can live a normal life).

I know that, if I had to choose between having him in my life, and having children, I would choose him every time. And this is where the guilt comes from.

I feel like I should just be happy he's still alive. Like, he's fighting for his life right now, at this very moment. We don't even know if he'll still be here next year, or next month, or even tomorrow. And it isn't like I'm the only one suffering-- he wanted them badly, too. I feel guilty that, despite all this, I'm still hung up on children. I even get jealous of older people with leukemia (which is super fucked up), because they've already lived their lives and seen their kids grow up.

Does anyone else feel this way? Is it just a 'grieving' process that I'll get through in time? I'd like to hear anyone else's thoughts!


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  • i can't help but cry a little when i read your post, i know exactly how you feel. i am going through a very similar situation and feel that same damn guilt all the time. my boyfriend had to start chemo fast too and the fertility talk didn't really get the attention it should have. now i feel the same way you do, what does our future hold? it makes me sad thinking i won't be able to have his children, he's so amazing in so many ways, he deserves to have kids as much as i do. i guess the only comfort i can find is knowing what ever is meant to be will be. i recently started going to weekly therapy and a coping class as well, i feel like it's helped me. i can't say that i have any great words of wisdom for you, but just know you are NOT alone in feeling the way you do. hang in there girl and thanks for sharing your story, it helps me knowing i'm not alone too.
  • Thanks for the reply. Thanks for sharing your story, too! I think I just needed to get that off my chest, lol... it's such a weird situation, I can't talk about it with people around me because it's so personal and I don't want to burden them with it. But I knew someone here would understand and not think I'm just whining. Which I do sometimes... haha. I hope anyone else on the forum can get some comfort reading our posts.
  • Don't count natural childbirth out. I spoke a lot with a gentleman whose daughter had the same cancer I had (AML) and she had a child after her bone marrow transplant. Had to stop all kinds of medications and whatnot in an attempt to have the baby. Jeopardized her own health, because she got pregnant before the BMT actually took. Well, after childbirth, the BMT took and she's been doing great.

    I started treatment soon after diagnosis, also, and was unable to make any considerations for fertility (hell, I wasn't even conscious). I'm enough years out from treatment that my oncologist thinks it's worth getting tested. I'm not in a position in my life right now to do anything about it, though. Waiting a little bit longer for that. Yeah, there's a high likelihood that I'm no longer fertile. But there's also a reasonable chance that I still am.

    Don't lose hope.

    Japan has some strange social stigmas, I will say that much.
  • thiel126thiel126 Community Member
    When I first found out I have AML at 19 I started chemo right away because I was incredibly sick and there wasn't any talk about future plans for children. At the end of all my treatment it just seemed that it was meant to be that I not bear children. I had to be put into early menopause due to complications during my chemo treatments and then after several consolidation treatments and two years of being in remission I relapsed, which meant a bone marrow transplant. However, since there weren't any matches for me I took part in the study of stem cell transplants in place of bone marrow, which required total body radiation that pretty much destroys any remaining chance of having children. On top of that I had so many complications from my transplant that my body would never have been able to survive a pregnancy. At the time I was slightly upset but I also did not plan on having children. That was until I met the man who is now my husband.

    We have been talking a lot about babies lately and he keeps bringing up that he really wants to have one, which makes me feel guilty since it won't happen. Then seeing all my friends and family starting their families up is so hard too because I would like to take that next step. But when adoption is the way to do it it seems so much harder because I can't decide when I am ready, I have to wait for someone to make that decision for me. I also can't help but wonder if anyone would actually give me a child due to my current and previous health conditions.

    It is hard to be on the other side as well but reading all the posts from everyone has made me feel like I am not alone as well.
  • Thanks for your replies, guys. :) It's really helpful to see other people struggling, too.

    I, also, have trouble seeing other people starting their own families. It seems like everyone is moving on to that "next step", while we are being left behind-- maybe forever. It's getting harder and harder to reply when people ask, "Are you planning on having kids? When are you going to start trying?" because many people don't realize the gravity of the situation. When people are just chatting, the last thing I want to say is the truth: "We probably can't ever have children."

    We're definitely living in a different world from our peers, that's for sure. :)
  • I understand and sympathize with all of your pain, guilt and the separation from your peers. Three years removed from chemotherapy, and the infertility diagnosis, we've had to come to terms with our "new future." We've had to rewrite our "life plan" so to speak. Everyone one of my friends and siblings have children, its oftentimes difficult to be just the "auntie" and "uncle." However our best coping mechanism was to sit down, talk about our "new future" together.

    If I can promise you one thing, and give you hope, is that there could be this whole new world open to you and your partner. Looking back we realized we have more life flexibility, we can help others on a grander scale, and take the risks, our friends with children can't. I never knew this life could exist until we started thinking of the possibilities, and the could be's. If I could give you all a "hug" across the computer or invite you to coffee I would. You're not alone, you are all beautiful, and kind. Life is going to give you something amazing very soon.