### Seeking Advice from Sahaj: How Can I Convince My Husband to Have More Children?

Dear Sahaj: My husband and I are currently facing a dilemma regarding expanding our family, and the situation is quite complex.

After being married for nearly ten years and establishing successful careers, we are proud parents to two wonderful children—a 2-year-old son and a nearly 1-year-old daughter. Recently, I broached the topic of having more children, only to be taken aback by my husband’s uncertainty about wanting more offspring. This caught me off guard because I have always been transparent about my aspiration to have a total of four children—specifically, two boys and two girls.

The intricacy of our situation lies in the fact that apart from our existing children, we have two cryopreserved embryos (one male and one female) awaiting us in a laboratory. These children, along with the remaining embryos, were conceived through in vitro fertilization (IVF), following a challenging and arduous journey to parenthood. Despite the male factor infertility diagnosis, which primarily affected my husband, I bore the brunt of the numerous injections, medications, and procedures before, during, and after the egg retrieval and subsequent pregnancies. Much of this ordeal was shouldered by me alone.

I am approaching an age where the window for pregnancy through IVF is closing rapidly. Unlike natural conception, we do not have the luxury of postponing this decision for a year or two. While IVF success is never guaranteed, I am inclined to pursue the implantation of these two embryos. These embryos symbolize a profound emotional investment and represent a ray of hope amidst our past struggles and sacrifices. Looking at my children, I cannot fathom the thought of not giving life to these remaining embryos.

What course of action should I take? How can I effectively communicate with my husband regarding this matter? He seems unwilling to engage in any discussion or provide a timeline for addressing this issue. I am apprehensive that I may harbor resentment towards him if we forego the opportunity to expand our family. To me, these cryopreserved embryos are not just potential offspring; they are my babies.

— Mother of Four

Mother of Four: Your apprehension about potentially resenting your husband suggests underlying feelings of resentment that may already exist. Your inquiry hints at the lingering pain from your fertility struggles that remains unaddressed. While navigating this challenging juncture in your marriage, there are several aspects to consider.

According to Erica Djossa, a registered psychotherapist and the founder and CEO of Momwell, a community dedicated to empowering and supporting mothers, your sense of isolation during this process exacerbates the current impasse with your husband. Djossa highlights that your husband’s stance on ending further parenthood overlooks the emotional and physical burden you bore throughout this journey, which may feel dismissive and invalidating. It may be necessary to explore deeper issues of equity within your marriage.

Moreover, there appears to be unresolved grief stemming from various sources, including the journey of discovering and navigating male infertility, the constraints imposed by your biological clock, and the overall unfairness of the situation. Djossa emphasizes that reaching a decision often entails confronting loss and trauma. The presence of cryopreserved embryos prolongs the decision-making process, delaying closure on the chapter of family planning. Engaging in support groups focusing on infertility and motherhood or seeking therapy specialized in addressing these challenges could facilitate the processing of these emotions.

Regardless of seeking professional assistance, it is essential to introspect on your true desires. Did your initial vision encompass having four children before embarking on the IVF journey? Would you still aspire to expand your family by two more children if the two embryos did not exist? It is crucial to differentiate between your genuine aspirations and the sense of obligation stemming from the invested efforts and emotional turmoil endured during the IVF process. Djossa suggests that decisions influenced by intense emotions should be approached cautiously.

At present, you and your husband seem disconnected, with a sense of opposition prevailing between you. It is imperative to align your perspectives and approach the shared dilemma collaboratively—focusing on the question of expanding your family rather than viewing each other as adversaries. Djossa underscores the significance of entering these conversations with a genuine intent to comprehend each other’s viewpoints, including your respective parenting experiences, future aspirations, fears, and diverging perspectives on family dynamics. Your husband’s uncertainty may be rooted in his apprehensions regarding parenting, birth-related trauma, and unmet expectations in the realm of family life.

While you may feel that your willingness to undergo further fertility treatments should warrant your husband’s support, it is crucial to foster open communication and mutual understanding. Acknowledging your desires while respecting your husband’s sentiments is pivotal. Striking this balance necessitates a delicate approach, wherein you advocate for your needs without disregarding your husband’s perspective. Ultimately, determining your non-negotiables and contemplating the implications for your relationship and future course of action is paramount.