Grieving over not having a second child

(51 Posts)
GreenFingeredGoddess Fri 01-Mar-13 10:50:37

I'm 44. For years I only wanted one. We went round and round in circles trying to decide whether to have another and decided we were happy as we were. I just couldn't face having another baby as I found it so hard the first time around.

I don't know why, but in my heart I always thought another one might come along or I would suddenly feel at peace with my decision. I never have.

It plays on my mind all the time. I talk to friends about it, I obsess about having only one and how many children other people have, it goes around in my head all the time.

DS is now 8 and a half. I'm very old to be thinking about another. DH does not want another. It would be hard but I can't STOP thinking about it.

I know it could be that I'm probably too old now and it's suddenly hit me, I just don't know. I just want all the thoughts to stop-they are driving me mad! I have had counselling but it didn't really help. I was just told to deal with it or try for another basically.

Can anyone relate and how did you cope?

Tw1nkle Fri 01-Mar-13 12:05:59

I do feel for you.
We're trying for #2, but it isn't happening - I've always 'known' I'd want more than 1, so not quite in your position.
Would adoption or fostering be an option?

mistlethrush Fri 01-Mar-13 12:09:39

We've given up trying for no2 too. I had complications before DS, then 2 mc overshadowed with the complications post - and DS was 6 years down the line - so to avoid the heartache we've stopped trying. Its no good making ourselves ill or ruining our relationship through stress - its just not meant to be.

I have dabbled with the though of adoption - but I think it would be very difficult to get things balanced 'right' with DS as he's so full-on....

We're just making the best of what we have and putting the 'would have liked two' behind us.

HindsightisaMarvellousThing Fri 01-Mar-13 12:16:53

I can relate to this, although I always wanted more than one.

What helps is taking advantage of only having one child, doing lots of things that aren't possible with 2 children - like lots of afterschool activities and trips.

Realise that siblings wouldn't have necessarily got on anyway - DH would have been much better as an only child.

Structure your life so there is lots of contact with friends and cousins. We have 3 or 4 local friends with only children the same age, so make an effort to see them.

Don't read articles about how siblings are the best gift a child can have - think about real life instead - IMO the ability to make friends and relate to people is a better gift.

Really, I look upon what I have as something precious, and try to enjoy what i have rather than grieve for what I don't have.

GreenFingeredGoddess Fri 01-Mar-13 13:52:03

Thanks for your replies. I have considered adoption but DH won't even talk about it. I don't think fostering is for me as I couldn't bear to hand a child back again!

Hindsight, we do all of that, he has cousins too. I tell myself that we couldn't so half of what we do if we had another but nothing stops the thoughts. I'm always running through a pros and cons list in my head. I just feel really jealous of my friends with more than one. Basically, I wish I could turn back the clock. My heart breaks when I think I've thrown away my chance.

redmusic Fri 01-Mar-13 14:26:33

Hi Green fingered goddess. I am 36 and have one gorgeous, healthy, happy 4 year old.
I can relate to your feelings, I think they are completely natural, because we are programmed to reproduce. I have two sisters (older) and they both have 2 children. Recently, I burst into tears when we were saying goodbye to my latest nephew of 18 months (they live 200 miles away so we see them when we can) because I have such strong maternal feelings, and cuddling him made me feel a strong sense of loss at not having my own new baby. However, at the very same time, I felt that I didn't want another child, because they are extremely hard work, I have put an extremely hard fought career on hold to have my son, and my partner, who I adore, will never put childrearing before his career. (Although he looks after our son more than many other dads)
Maybe I am an in the same position you were a few years back, because I keep changing my mind (my partner patiently lets me make these decisions and unmake them as he is happy either way). I think about it every day, and as the first pregnancy was difficult, I worry about complications getting worse as I get older. (I have had one miscarriage since my son)
However difficult it may be, we have to come to terms with what we have, and see the positives of whatever hand life deals us. (How I wish I could take my own advice !)
The more kids you have, the less time you have for each one, and for other things you love in life. So my conclusion, is that we have to focus on all the things we have and love already, whether it be a child, career, hobbies, friends, other relations etc. Thats it what will make us happy ! (I hope)
Oh and finally, we can choose to nurture children in other ways, For example, I teach lots of children (private music lessons) and I feel that I am helping to develop them as little people, so my nurturing instinct is being put to good use. If I had a little baby to look after, I would have much less time for my students, if any.
I hope that helps.

Catmint Fri 01-Mar-13 14:39:03

Hi OP, I can relate to your feelings as I have them too. I chose to have one child for various reasons but it was never an easy choice for me. I have huge guilt feelings that dd will be alone in the world when we die. I also obsess over her dying. (I hide this of course). It has made me incredibly over sensitive to any reference to one child families, although I cannot honestly say my family feels incomplete. My brother and SIL are in fertility treatment and I am very emotional about that because obviously I want them to have the child they long for but also I long for another child in our extended family, as it cannot be mine. Not sure if that last bit makes sense, but I am crying now...

GreenFingeredGoddess Fri 01-Mar-13 14:54:09

Thank you Catmint and Redmusic, very kind of you to share your thoughts. It does actually help. Catmint, can totally relate to what you are saying about brother and SIL and I would say that's normal.

I changed my mind, Redmusic, all the time when I was younger and there was time when my DH would have had another but he says now the gap is too big, we are too old and he is worried there might be health issues (me and a baby).

I wish I could keep posting but got to do the school run and won't post over the weekend as DH here but I hope others will post and I'll check on Monday.

ilovelilos Sun 03-Mar-13 20:29:38

Hi OP

I totally understand how you feel and have very similar feelings to you. Slightly different circumstances in that my husband became infertile following an accident when DD was 3 yo. When his infertility problems became resolved, I was 41 and a second pregnancy just hasn't happened for us.

DD is happy and sociable with lots of friends but I still feel very sad she is an only child. We live a long way from any family so she doesn't see her cousins either.

I know I need to look at what I have got and not what I haven't but it seems easier said than done. I did have some fertility/ relationship counselling which temporarily helped but still have a lot of sadness.

Hope you too manage to find some peace.

GreenFingeredGoddess Mon 04-Mar-13 13:18:02

Thanks ilovelilos. So sorry to hear about your husband. That must have been hard.

I go backwards and forwards all the time. Over the space of one day yesterday, I felt happy we just had one and then I started brooding and felt desperately sad about only having one. When we are sitting at the table together, I feel as if there is an empty place. We went out for a meal on Saturday and I kept looking at all the other families with 2 kids.

I feel:Incompete/a failure/selfish/. I know none of it makes sense and isn't true, I just can't help my feelings. I keep looking at babies and think, I'll never experience it again-it just makes me want to break down.

Catmint Mon 04-Mar-13 17:58:53

Goddess, I think switching between lots of different feelings is normal. At least it is for me.

Thank you so much for starting this thread, I thought I was only person who felt this way and could not discuss with all my 2 kids friends

GreenFingeredGoddess Mon 04-Mar-13 18:58:44

Catmint, I was just reading over your previous post. The obsession with something happening to your child is a feeling I can relate to. I often have these thoughts where I think "if this happened or that happened, we would have no children and I would be too old to have anymore".

I also worry that I'm going to totally mess him up and I wouldn't have another chance to "get it right" with another child...all silly thoughts but they are there nonetheless.

I'm also very sensitive to comments about "only children" and often friends have forgotten and said things.

GreenFingeredGoddess Mon 04-Mar-13 19:02:51

Thanks as well, for saying it's normal to "switch between feelings"-I sometimes feel like I'm going a bit mad with all the thoughts I have. It never goes away-it's virtually constant at the moment.

I keep trying to remind myself to enjoy DS-instead of obsessing over something that probably isn't going to happpen.

ilovelilos Mon 04-Mar-13 21:52:22

Thanks Goddess,
What makes you think you will mess up your DS? You sound lovely and I bet you are a great mom.

Unfortunately I resent my husband as after his accident he didn't do what he should have done health wise to rectify his infertility problem. And over 6 years he rarely supported me through my tears and sadness that I wasn't falling pregnant. This resentment is now coming between us and I need to resolve it otherwise that will really mess up our DD!

Catmint Mon 04-Mar-13 22:24:56

Oh, Lilos, I do hope you and dp are able to resolve that.

Goddess, I go through phases as well where I am fine and really appreciate what we have. That is when I begin to feel scared in case we lose it all if something happened to dd. we are slightly older than other local parents, I hate to think of us as stereotypical over anxious middle aged parents of an only. But we areblush

I am now too old for another. We can't afford it and dp only wanted one. I was so happy to have her after 3years ttc it didn't occur to me that I would struggle with the decision. I think she is so marvellous that it is too good to be true. And then I feel awful because having a back up child in order to allay my anxieties is a monstrous idea. Not that it is a real life option.

Anyway I am getting rambly and incoherent -tired. Sorry, but thanks again for sharing your experiences. It does help.

Catmint Mon 04-Mar-13 22:33:26

Also, you aren't incomplete, selfish, or a failure. You are just dealing with the consequences of a very very difficult choice.

I think one of the reasons I feel so strongly about my bro and SIL fertility issues is because I feel guilty about struggling with my one child feelings, which in theory one would think would pale next to the grief of not being able to have a child at all. Obviously I can't imagine what they have been through.

My aim is to not feel so guilty about the feelings in the hope that I will be able to neutralise them a bit. Anyone else going to try and accept that these feelings are okay and natural?

We may not be able to think it of ourselves but we can remind each other.

redmusic Wed 06-Mar-13 20:44:30

Hi Green fingered goddess,
I thought I would add some thoughts that I have been having about this topic.
I am fine some times, and at others I obsess about having another child.
I think that this month, at least, and maybe other times, I have noticed that the feelings were really strong around the time of ovulation, and I grabbed my partner and said, our DS needs a sibling ! and then, at other times I am really enjoying my work and I think the last thing I need is a baby , as I actually found the baby stuff kind of .. dare I say it ...boring ! (Endless washing, sitting on a sofa breastfeeding, endless nappy changing)
I wonder if our hormones have a part to play in our changing feelings ?

Also, the issue around wondering what you would do if you lost your child. I have thought this through, and I think the loss of a child would be incredibly difficult to bear however many children you have, because they are all so unique and ireplaceable Also, if you had two and lost one, you would have to help the sibling deal with the loss, which would be an extra difficulty to deal with.
Its probably better to assume that they will outlive you , i.e be realistic as most children will outlive their parents, and if the unthinkable happened, you would deal with it the best way you could, but don't think about the unthinkable ! and I promise I won't either.

I think in your situation, at 44, as you know its unlikely that you will become pregnant, but not totally impossible. The fact that your husband doesn't want a child won't help you to get pregnant.This sounds really harsh, but its just the facts as you have presented them on this forum.
If thoughts are driving you crazy, you could try some meditation. I learnt to do this when my son was in hospital, as he was born prematurely and stopped breathing many times over the weeks he was there.
I was beside myself and a counsellor advised that I try some deep breathing relaxation techniques. You can start with just a few minutes a day. It really helps to relax your mind and body, and clear your head so you can make a positive start to the day and deal with the here and now.
I found it so helpful, I actually believe it prevented me from spiralling into PND.
I use the technique all the time, to help with any kind of stress (We are in the process of moving so thats my current thing)
I hope you get a chance to try it !

RomanMum Fri 08-Mar-13 23:35:40

Thank you all: I thought I was the only one thinking like this! I don't grieve but I have terrible guilt sometimes about not having no 2, particularly when there is the pressure from friends & work colleagues, sometimes joking but it hits a raw nerve.

I made lists and the only reasons I personally could think of was as a friend for no.1, and not to leave her to deal with both of us in old age/when we die. Yes these are pretty big reasons but I think they can be dealt with in different ways.

There seemed to be many reasons for not having any more, but I guess it all boils down to the question of whether I'd be happy, and the answer would be no. I found no.1 tough to cope with as a baby and though we also had some family health issues who knows what it would be like next time: don't want to risk PND (again???). I have a life outside motherhood which I love and find really fulfilling and don't want to give that up. I don't want to be selfish, but on the other hand I don't want to resent no. 2.

This is presuming I could conceive again - no. 1 was all too easy but I'm pushing 40 and the risks are that much higher.

Sorry, rambling - too late to think coherently!

GreenFingeredGoddess Mon 11-Mar-13 10:20:23

Thanks ilovelilos. Your situation sounds very difficult. I really hope that you can resolve it.

I'm really struggling today with PMT and everywhere I look, there are families with more than one child. Have just been on FB and family members are sharing pictures of their DCs all hugging each othe and messaging each other saying things like "I love you so much my big sis!"-I've been in tears this morning. When I have PMT though, I cry at everything, so hopefully I'll feel better tomorrow!

redmusic, thanks for the suggestion re meditation. I may try that.

I was reading an article over the weekend about PND and several of the symptoms, I recognised. So, I think I was a bit depressed when DS was younger but I don't think full blown PND. Recently, I sorted my hormones out (which had been all over the place for years) with a nutritionist and that's when the really strong feelings about this started to overwhelm me. I basically think that my hormones were to blame for me not wanting another and I can't help thinking...if they had been ok, I probably would have gone on to have another. I feel so angry with myself, I'm worried my inner voice will never shut up and I'll always feel sad and resentful for the rest of my lifesad.

mozzarellamummy Mon 11-Mar-13 11:06:08

GreenFinger, I'm sorry you're struggling so much with this situation.. please don't be too hard with yourself, no matter it was hormones or what you choose to do what you felt right not only for you, but for your DS and your family too..
I'm also struggling, I have a DD and I'm recovering after a TFMR which left tons of guilt and doubts..We're now trying to have another child but I'm soon 41 and not very hopeful.. but many answers in this thread are helping me to see the positives aspects I could find in a situation that I didn't really choose ..
A warm hug and keep focusing on your DS!!

GreenFingeredGoddess Tue 12-Mar-13 15:02:51

Thanks mozzarella. I'm feeling (thankfully!) so much better today.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. I'm not sure what a TFMR is but don't give up hope, I would say you still have time on your side-and you're right, it is a helpful thread. The subject matter is not something that gets talked about that much (not in my experience anyway).

plecofjustice Fri 15-Mar-13 23:39:17

FWIW, I don't 100% think my parents chose to only have 1. But circumstances meant that, by the time they were ready to think about another, it was too late, and here I am. It's not a bad thing, I have a relationship with my family that siblings won't ever had, and I wouldn't change it for the world. Yeah, there are some really hard things about being an only, and as I get older, I have to face them and it scares me. But I wouldn't change my upbringing for the world.

I don't know if this is any help. I've not been trying for children yet. I know (think) I only want one, but I know I don't know what's possible til we try - if God wills it, I will have a child. I suppose I think I owe it to my parents, who have been the most amazing family I could ever wish for, to say that being an only is not awful - it can be amazing. I know my obligations, I recognise that in so many ways I cannot fully meet all expectations, but I wouldn't change my history for anything....

LILMSCOATESNME Tue 19-Mar-13 09:30:42

Hi, I have a 2 1/2 DD who was not planned. Her dad and I were only together 6 months when I fell pregnant. He's 42 and I'm 32 so huge gap. We love our DD to bits and we've said we would have liked a 2nd but we really want to get engaged, married and there is financial just generally we are thinking long term with uni fees etc. and of course my BF age. I had a terrible time at her birth where it was going perfectly for 5 hrs and got to 9cm and then she was in trouble and they used ventouse/ forceps but they came off several times and left our DD terribly injured and being treated for cuts on her head and face and having to go to physio etc for muscle damage and me terribly torn etc. sorry tmi. I landed up having PTSD and have only now just started feeling better about things. I think we are so scared from the first time and have thought of every possible excuse not to have another and I have researched only children coming up with all the positives of only having one but our house is still full of DD baby stuff and I get quite jealous when my friends announce no. 2. I don't know if its just broodiness or is it me really wanting another. I don't know if we should just enjoy our beautiful gift and give her everything. We could afford private school, any extra mural activities she wanted to do etc etc but if we had two private school is out the window and we'd have to make them choose carefully what they want to do. It's so difficult because I don't want to regret not having another but not sure how to know we're making the right choice and be at peace with it. Any advice?

mum2bubble Thu 11-Apr-13 01:01:52

Sorry - have come to this thread a little late. I have one DD. I have not entirely managed to come to terms with the fact that she is an only child. I am very aware that physically my body seems to be playing havoc with my emotions. I swear I can feel myself ovulating each month and the week before my period is due the anger and bitterness in the knowledge that there will be no more children is incredibly powerful. I have no answers, I can only empathise with your situation. On a lighter note however, when the longing is particular persistent I try to really concentrate on the possibility that if I tried for another, I could end up with twins. Twins at 48 would turn our lives upside down. Could I realistically cope with 2 new babies? I doubt it. 4, 5, 6 years ago perhaps, but not now. It's not a great help, but the thought does distract me.

PennyN Tue 23-Apr-13 00:27:39

Hi GreenFingeredGoddess

I'm in a similar situation (its a long story) so I found your post more than a little heart-breaking.

When you say "I know it COULD be that I'm PROBABLY too old now ..." I just get the sense that you don't want to write yourself out of the game completely just yet - and good for you.

So I did wonder whether its possible that you're scared to REALLY try for DC#2, just to protect yourself in case it doesn't work out, perhaps because you're afraid that 'failure' - having REALLY tried - might hurt you more than it does already?

But honestly, what have you got to lose? Couldn't you try to postpone your grieving and give yourself a window, say, of another year TTC - because you never know. And if at the end of that time you still hadn't conceived, do you think you might find it easier to accept in the longer term, knowing that you'd given it your best?

If you haven't seen these threads already, why not have a read of some good news like:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/pregnancy/a1726796-Anyone-else-got-pregnant-at-ahem-45

... and there are a good few ladies your age TTC here:

www.mumsnet.com/Talk/pregnancy/a1659559-Fantastic-fabulous-40-Mums-to-be-Part-3

If I were you, I'd buy some OPKs (e.g. Clearblue Digital Ovulation Testing Kit £31 on Amazon), start taking a good prenatal vit, perhaps think about some other supplements (e.g. DHEA) get some acupuncture ... stop over-thinking (easier said than done, I know) and start shagging on those crucial days!

Really, really best of luck x

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