PAST: Perfect! PRESENT: Tense!: Insights From One Woman's Journey As The Wife Of A Widower

Writer Author  Julie Donner Andersen
Christian Book Excerpt : Loss  - Fiction  No

Christian Author Writer CHAPTER NINE - THE BABY STEP

As I have mentioned before, my husband’s late wife did not bear him children. But as long as he can remember, my husband has always dreamed of being a father. He had a wonderful childhood, and a close relationship with his own father. His parents’ marriage was a good one, and he and his siblings got along famously. All of this factored into his decision to pursue fatherhood, even after his late wife learned of her terminal illness, by attempting, but ultimately failing, to adopt.

Does The Dream Have To Die, Too?

One of the most difficult things about losing a spouse is that not only does one lose love and companionship when the spouse dies, but also the dreams that were shared with that beloved spouse. Often, parenthood is one of those dreams that never became a reality for the widower, and it is a fate that becomes a bitter pill if the widower has been obsessed with attaining his dream of parenthood. Quite often, a man looks upon fathering a child as his chance to leave a legacy of himself behind. When a spouse dies without having been able to grant this wish, the widower’s grief is twofold: he grieves for the woman who he has lost, and for the dreams that were buried with her. The hopelessness of his situation takes on a new shape, and it sometimes feeds an obsession to acquire that which he has spent a lifetime pursuing but not achieving.

When a WOW enters his life, a widower may still desire children, and looks upon his new wife with new hope. In being a step parent, my husband’s wish of becoming a father had been somewhat fulfilled, and he
has tried very hard to be the best dad he can be to children that are not his by genetics. Still, the legacy belongs to the children’s birth father, so my husband’s dream of parenthood, though somewhat quenched, had not been fully sated.

Decisions, Decisions!

As his wife, I naturally wanted to help make all my husband’s dreams come true. But at age 40, I wasn’t sure if having a baby with him was something I wanted to go through again. We would be middle aged parents! There were statistics of age-related genetic abnormalities to consider, as well as thinking of how our ages would factor into our future plans. Our scariest (and silliest!) thought was of dying before our child graduated from high school! And how would society feel about us old-timers spinning the genetic
wheel once more? Would our child be faced with people absent-mindedly assuming that we were his or her grandparents instead of “Mom” and “Dad”?

There were also financial considerations, too. My husband and I were at a point in our pre-marriage lives where we could finally see through the cloud of debt and put some money aside for college expenses, retirement, the future in general, and our dreams of buying a boat and a cottage in the northern
country of Canada. Would having a baby be like trading one dream for another? A new baby would most definitely be a source of financial stress for many years to come.

Also to be considered was the possibility that perhaps we would not be able to conceive, leading to tremendous self-imposed guilt feelings on my part for failing to make my husband a daddy. How far, financially and mentally, were we willing to go to try and conceive? We knew that, technologically speaking, attempting to conceive in artificial ways would be straining and draining, and still may lead to failure and disappointment month after grueling month. If conception was not possible, my husband’s fatherhood dreams would this time not only be postponed but trashed, perhaps leading to a depression that would cause himself and our marriage great pain and problems.

On The Positive Side

As a WOW, you and your husband must decide for yourselves, based on your own unique situation, if having a baby together is right for you. For us, this was a decision that was not to be made in haste or taken lightly. But neither was it one that only bore negative factors. On the plus side, having a
child with my husband was something that I knew would serve as a bond between us, strengthening our marital union. And while the thought of being middle aged parents had its drawbacks, there would be blessings. We were wiser, more mature, and more “life experienced” than we had been in our youths. We would be sharing the job of parenting a part of each other’s souls - forever nurturing, together, a child born out of love and deep desire for his/her being. This baby would be the most wanted child on earth.

Having been a mother prior to marrying my husband, I knew all too well what to expect - the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was experienced, which could only benefit my husband as a father, too. And, I wasn’t too bitter about my divorce from my children’s father to remember what a beautiful experience having a baby with someone you love can be. I wanted to share that with my husband. And I romantically felt that we had enough love between us and in our family to overcome any obstacles that might stand in our way.

WOW Considerations

As a WOW, I also selfishly considered that by having my husband’s child, I would be giving him a gift that his late wife could/did not, making me feel very erroneously superior to her in that respect. It was a thought that made me grin with delight, knowing that being the mother of his only child would be something unique only to he and I - something that would put ME up on the pedestal he usually only reserved in her name. Parenting our own child together would most definitely put “her” on the back burner of his heart, and move me into my rightful position!

But I digressed. The temporary insanity of my selfishness eventually gave way to compassion and intelligence, and I remembered that our decision would have to be made with the utmost respect for each other, our future, and our marriage, without selfish thoughts and insecurities superseding either.
We would have to consider all the medical information, the “what if?”s of being middle aged parents, and the money pit created by new babies - and we would have to think about each factor emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually, before making the commitment. But we would have to decide quickly since we weren’t getting any younger!

Andersen, Party Of…FIVE?!

We would have to consider the feelings of my other children as well, since having a new baby in the house would profoundly effect their lives. And they had already been through so much - being the children of divorce, moving to a foreign country, and acquiring a new s tepfather and a new kind of family situation. Having had Mom all to themselves for years only to be forced to relinquish that time to a new baby, would the older children come to resent me, their stepfather, or our seemingly selfish decision? Would they
be concerned about their place in this new family, feeling like outsiders under their own roof? Would the age difference of 7 and 10 years make it hard for them to bond with a sibling they may not have much time for in their busy lives, and not many years to bond with before going off to college?

While preparing my children for the possibility of another sibling and yet another change in their lives, I was reminded that my children had always been unnaturally unselfish as far as kids go. We had always had great communication between us, and had always tried out our best to consider each other’s feelings when a change was about to take place in our lives. The kids were very positive about the idea, and spent days upon end excitedly sharing with each other and with us all the great “big brother/big sister” stuff they would do with and for a new baby.

God’s Perfect Plan

It’s always amused me that no matter how carefully people plan something, God reveals his will and makes the decision for them! This was true in our case, as the rabbit died before we made an intelligent “yes” or
“no” decision about becoming parents! I remember driving home from the doctor’s office, afraid that my husband would be angry, or disappointed, or so worried about me and our future that he would have a mental breakdown! But the smile on my husband’s face and the tears of utter joy in his eyes when I told him the blessed news calmed all my fears. As usual, God had made the right decision. Now, we just had to trust that He would see us through.

And, He did! Barring the usual pregnancy-related aches and pains, and the fact that my age did make it a bit harder to carry this baby even though I was as healthy as a horse, our daughter blessed the world and our hearts at the end of 1999 with her arrival, surrounded by her whole family - me, her daddy, her brother, and her sister.

The doctor who delivered our baby was the same doctor who had cared for my husband’s late wife during her struggle with cancer. Our joy was almost matched by the doctor’s as she watched the big, strong hands of my emotionally overcome husband cradling his dream come true, knowing personally what he had endured to acquire it. I was instantly enveloped with a feeling of reassurance that we had done a good thing…the right thing…in giving birth to her. Whatever it would take, my husband and I were ready to
devote everything to this gift of a second chance at a dream.

And when she took her first breath, I knew that my baby was also surrounded by those who came before her - those whose sacrifices and love aided in her creation: my husband’s deceased father and his late wife. As I held this awesome wonder in my arms minutes after she screamed her mighty lungs into life, bathing in the intimacy only understood by brand new parents, I lovingly whispered to my husband that his new daughter had been kissed by his lost loved ones on her way out of Heaven and into our lives….that today
on this, his daughter’s birth day, his deceased loved ones danced and sang with the angels in celebration of new life: our baby’s…and our own. It was, truly, a “family” moment.

Copyright 2002 Julie Andersen. All rights reserved.
Julie Donner Andersen
1111 Davis Dr., Suite #1, PO Box 317
Newmarket, ON Canada L3Y7V1

Past: Perfect!  Present: Tense!  - Julie Donner Andersen


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