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DEAR ABBY: Shortly after my wife and I were married, my wife got pregnant. Due to complications with the pregnancy, the baby had to be delivered early through a C-section. Our baby didn't make it. That was four years ago.

After unsuccessfully trying to conceive for almost a year now, my wife decided she wanted to find out why. We learned that there is a problem that was most likely caused by the C-section. Although we are still trying to see what can be done, there is a good chance that things won't be as easy as we expected regarding a pregnancy.

I'm personally in no hurry, but my wife is suffering a great deal as a result of this. I'm trying to ease things for her, telling her that this is not her fault and that we're in this together, and trying to reassure her that she is more important to me than kids.

However, she keeps saying that I'm just saying it, and with time I will change my mind and start to think about having kids. She says this is a basic instinct and it will eventually show up. My question is: Is life without kids unbearable to an extent that we might reach a point we won't be able to continue together? -- CONFUSED HUSBAND IN JORDAN

DEAR CONFUSED HUSBAND: There are many happily childless couples. But before you and your wife reconcile to being one of them, consult an ob/gyn who specializes in infertility. Thanks to advances in medical science, there is more than one way to become parents. If your wife isn't able to carry a pregnancy to term because of her surgery, you may be able to hire a surrogate to do it. The baby would result from your sperm and your wife's egg and be your biological child.

It's possible that your wife is depressed and could benefit from talking with a mental health professional. I hope you both will start doing some research to find out what options are available to you -- including adoption -- if you wish to become parents.

DEAR ABBY: I am a happily married English lady who came to the United States in 1985. I have a good career working for the same company for more than 20 years. My husband and I have no children. We enjoy travel and twice a year visit my aging parents in England.

My problem is that my guilt for not being there for my parents is growing stronger by the day. I'm an only child and feel that although they are both in relatively good health, they really need me. To move there would be financially impossible for us. Every year for the past 10 years we have spent a total of four weeks with them in England. I call them every three days on the phone, and yet the guilt continues to build.

Is what I'm doing acceptable, or am I a bad daughter for choosing to live my life so far away from them? They know that if anything happened and they needed me, I'd be on the next plane to be with them. -- CONFLICTED IN FLORIDA

DEAR CONFLICTED: You are not a "bad daughter." You are a caring daughter who has made a success of her life, and who, because she loves her parents, is making herself crazy over choices she made years ago that she can't change. You are doing more for your parents than many people do, so stop flogging yourself. Please!

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