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to ask if anyone has experience of being a 'subsequent child', born after the death of an older sibling?

(81 Posts)
SaveMeTheWaltz Tue 19-Jul-16 11:45:31

Bit of a sensitive topic for AIBU but posting for traffic.

DD2 died at a few days old, after a fatal complication during her delivery. Two years down the line, we have now had another baby, a little boy this time. (We also have DD1, who is now four). This sounds terrible written down, but I am very conscious that DS was only conceived because DD2 had died (not that I would ever admit this out loud). Is this likely to affect him in the future? For those of you who were born in similar situations, do you feel that it has affected how you view your place in the family, how you have turned out as an adult, etc?

WhisperingLoudly Tue 19-Jul-16 11:56:11

I'm sorry for your loss and I don't know the answer but it's a question that gives me pause for thought often as my DC4 was born after the still birth of dc3.

She's too young to understand presently but I am desperately keen to minimise any impact on her

pinkdelight Tue 19-Jul-16 11:57:40

So sorry for your loss. My elder sister died in similar circumstances. While I'm sad for my parents, and it was never any secret, it wasn't dwelled upon and I can't say it's affected me in any real way except perhaps in having a more heightened awareness of the beautiful and moving poignancy of life, that sad things like losing her can lead to happy things like my brother and I (sounds egotistical, but you know what I mean - and also don't under-estimate the ego of a child, that they are usually glad to exist). There was certainly never any sense that we were replacements. Just that they treasured us more if anything, but without ever wrapping us in cotton wool or anything. Honestly I think if you love them for the individuals they are, they will thrive.

cestlavielife Tue 19-Jul-16 12:02:46

dont voice those thoughts...dc will be impacted if it is made clear they weren't meant to be conceived...its a bit hypothetical really. they are her and loved. end of .

dc3 has asked me if you didnt have a miscarriage after dc1 then would I not be here?

i said hmm that is an interesting question but you are here and you were meant to be here and i love you.

dont make a thing and bring it up but if they ask then reflect back and make it clear you are so happy the dc is here.

you could explain it as destiny/meant to be/any religious view if you have one ...dc who died that was sad but clearly you were meant to be born.

pinkdelight Tue 19-Jul-16 12:03:03

And btw, I know for a fact that I was only conceived because DD1 died, but that doesn't make me feel less important. It makes me feel kind of amazing - in a 'wonder at the universe' way - that the chances of my existence were so tiny and the circumstances of it so fragile, and yet here I am. Kind of like surviving an accident or something, makes me appreciate my life more.

cautiousoptimist1 Tue 19-Jul-16 12:03:58

So sorry for your loss. I completely agree with pink. My parents lost a son to SIDS before I was born but I've never felt like a replacement. We've always known about him and he's always been referred to as our guardian angel (sorry if that upsets anyone.)

LondonStill83 Tue 19-Jul-16 12:04:34

I was born after my mom unfortunately had a stillborn baby.

It hasn't affected me at all. My parents always treated me as an individual and I certainly didn't feel like a replacement in any way.

In fact, it's only now being pregnant myself that I have understood more what they went through- though I suppose they are of a generation that just got on with things like that too.

JoffreyBaratheon Tue 19-Jul-16 12:10:52

Much love to you, OP.

Not my own experience, but my son's. I had PCOS so badly I was told it was a million to one chance I'd ever conceive. Tried for baby for 8 years - with no luck. Gave up on the whole idea and went to college.

Then I was suddenly pregnant! Brilliant. At 12 weeks, I had a devastating miscarriage - not my first and I had another one years later but this was truly horrendous.

So I went about my life, sad but resigned to the reality we'd never have kids.

Two months later, I felt something move...

Turned out I'd been expecting non identical twins and although one had died at 12 weeks, the other went to full term.

He has said, occasionally, he always felt something (someone) was missing from his life, and he was quite a solemn little baby and toddler (now 26!) Even just a year ago or so, he said the same thing.

I had a lot of subfertility treatment to get No 2, three years later and I maybe thought once or twice he wouldn't be here now if No 1's twin had lived. I think it's fairly obvious with twins, I'd never have actively sought out treatment to get No 2. But you know what? It's many years since I had that thought or even cared about it. He's here so he was meant to be here. The baby I lost is still a reality to my husband and self and even his twin - but no-one else. As time passes, it becomes just part of your reality and there is no way any one child supplants another, anyway.

No 2 turned out to have atypical autism and I just comforted myself thinking we were meant to have him because we could give him the great life and lots of love, he needed. In my objective mind, though, I understand No 2 did not really come to me because I lost one of my twins. The two things are unrelated.

Brekekekex Tue 19-Jul-16 12:13:21

A friend of mine was conceived as an accidental pregnancy several years after her parents lost their third child as a newborn (to a severe congenital heart defect). They had intended not to have another child in case the problem was genetic and it happened again. My friend was always aware of their sibling, who had a place in their family along with the living children. She doesn't seem to have been adversely affected by it, I think largely because there were never any secrets, and her parents were always clear that they saw her as a blessing, but not a replacement! I don't know if this helps at all, but she is a lovely, well-adjusted adult with children of her own now smile

ProudAS Tue 19-Jul-16 12:13:55

My brother was born less than a year after my sister died at birth. It doesn't seem to have been an issue for him.

Didiusfalco Tue 19-Jul-16 12:16:00

Oh you poor thing. Please don't worry - I'm that subsequent child and it hasn't affected me at all. My parents are wonderful and if anything I think I felt extra cherished. As I've got older Ive felt a strange feeling of sadness for what my parents went through mixed with a knowledge that I wouldn't be here if that hadn't happened. I've spoken to my mum about it and we agree that it's an odd feeling. I did ask my dad once in my early twenties if I would be here if x hadn't died and he said 'absolutely not!' But he's very straight talking and it didn't rattle me. Me and my older sister agree that they were brave to go on and have another child and I think you are too!

Ivorbig1 Tue 19-Jul-16 12:17:13

So very Sorry for your loss.
You are being unkind to yourself.
The was a 50 percent of chance of feeling the trauma was so painful you never wanted to conceive again.
On the other hand, you can't know for sure that you only had your subsequent child due to the death of your previous child. If that makes sense.
Besides in some ways it's it an inevitable part of healing ???? I say that because after my 2 child I wanted to be sterilised if I had a c section and my midwife told me to wait, if anything goes wrong in the pregnancy, some/most (I cannot remember her actual word) women would want to try again.

branofthemist Tue 19-Jul-16 12:21:43

It's not been an issue for my auntie, who was born after her either died.

It has been an issue in another relatives family. One child was born, one does during pregnancy and then third child was born about a 16 months later. But it is an issue because the mother was traumatised by her loss, she has focused all her energy on the younger one. The older one felt very pushed out. The father recognises it and tries to compensate.

I think for most families it's not an issue, if you deal with the loss. My relative never did and I think that's the cause of the problems.

Notso Tue 19-Jul-16 12:22:55

DH is and is completely unaffected by it. He never even considered it might be an issue for him until I spoke about it with him.
He does think it has affected the way his parents are with his sister. His parents had a baby girl who was stillborn, then had DH, his two brothers then his sister. His sister is definitely treated very differently to the three boys, but that could also be put down to her being the youngest and the only girl as well.

wornoutboots Tue 19-Jul-16 12:31:31

I'm the fourth child, I grew up knowing that I would never have been born had my elder 2 siblings lived.

Things to NEVER mention to subsequent children - "we only ever wanted to have 2 children" and "of course, had your sister survived we'd never have had you"

Growing up knowing you're just a replacement sucks.

Johnmeh Tue 19-Jul-16 12:34:29

I am very sorry for your loss.

I am that child. It affected me more than I can tell you. I was not cherished. I was resented for being the child that survived (both by my mother and my elder sister). My brother escaped the resentment because he was a much wanted boy (the baby who died was a girl).

Then, I became that mother. The difference is that I will not let my subsequent child feel anything less than loved and cherished just because they survived. He knows all about the child who didn't live. The only comfort I have for the child I lost is the child I subsequently had because the two could not both exist. Different times and we are all more emotionally intelligent these days and it sounds like you are hyper aware which can only be good.

TooExtraImmatureCheddar Tue 19-Jul-16 12:36:38

My first baby was stillborn so my two living children are 'subsequent' or 'rainbow' babies. They are too young yet to see how it will affect them, tbh. I hope it won't be negatively. DD2 was conceived extremely quickly after the death of DD1 and they are less than a year apart. I would always have wanted a second baby, but not so soon. I'm not sure if your eggs definitely get used in the same order, though - perhaps if DD1 had lived, my second baby wouldn't have been the DD2 I do have. But I am never going to say such things to her - she is my much-loved and wanted baby and that's all there is to it. DS, born third, would have been born anyway - we always said we wanted 3. We haven't really decided whether we will have a fourth baby or not, but if we do, that baby will be because we wanted it too.

My mum experienced something a bit different - my grandmother had a boy, then a girl (mum) and then when mum was 2, Grandma lost a baby boy at 7 months to placenta previa. Mum's first memory is of her mother crying. She always felt second-best in her family - that she wasn't enough to make up for the little brother who died. Grandma and Granddad never tried for another baby because they were too afraid it would happen again (this was in the 60s), and perhaps if they had done it would have been different. Having now experienced stillbirth myself, I had an overwhelming need to try again, but my grandmother felt differently - perhaps because she did have two living children when it happened to her.

mindsablank Tue 19-Jul-16 12:37:18

I would say I have been affected, though that's very much a product of who my parents are, and how they dealt with it, rather than the situation itself.

I was born almost exactly a year after my sibling died from SIDS at three months old. I say that as a fact but I'm not actually sure. I have some half remembered facts from childhood, which I've pieced together, but I can't remember ever really talking about it with anyone.

I don't know how much of my poor relationship with my parents (I'm NC) can be traced back to my sibling dying, but I know for a long time I had many irrational thoughts about people dying in their sleep. If I ever shared a room with anyone, I would check on them frequently. When I had my babies if I ever woke up before them the thought would flash through my mind that they had died. Over the years this happened so frequently I learnt to just let the thought come and go. It doesn't happen so much now they're school age, but it still does sometimes. I know it's irrational so it doesn't affect me really, but the thought is there.

So, yes, I have been affected, but I don't want to say that it's inevitable. It looks like others on this thread can be more reassuring. flowers

scarednoob Tue 19-Jul-16 12:37:59

flowers for everyone here who has suffered that sort of loss.

My friend was that baby; she had a sister who was a surprise baby when her parents were in their 40's who then died and so they went on to have my friend. It affected her and she was very aware of it - her parents used to tell her they looked just the same and so on - but she never minded it and has a great relationship with her parents.

MostlyColouringIn Tue 19-Jul-16 12:38:20

So so sorry for your loss op. I was born after my mum had a still birth. My younger brothers and I would often speak about our big brother while growing up, it was/is a very precious thing for us. I have never felt like a replacement child, and I think the term 'rainbow baby', is perfect for all subsequent children, after the storm of sadness and grief, the sun can still shine and make something beautiful. In fact my DD, who was my first baby after losses, is proof of this. It doesn't stop the sadness, but she does remind me of the beauty that can come after it. Sorry for the hippy analogy!

Rose1605 Tue 19-Jul-16 12:39:34

My parents always wanted 4 children and I am number 5. Their third child died 12 weeks after birth. I never felt like a replacement and had no idea about any of this until my older brother decided to tease me with it when I was about 8. It is just how it is - the baby didn't live so there is no reason to discuss what ifs - and I feel a full member of the family with no issues about this.

honeyroar Tue 19-Jul-16 12:40:20

My mum lost three children before me. It never really affected me. I've thought about it perhaps the odd time in my 47 years. I knew my mum and dad loved me, that was all. When I was little I really wanted a sister, and the last child prior to me that died lived 12 hrs and was named, so I used to think about my lost sister more.

Don't worry about it. It's not a big deal unless you make it one and make the child feel it. Love the child you have.xx

Simpsonsaddict Tue 19-Jul-16 12:45:21

Not quite the same situation but my mum had a miscarriage before me. I've always known about it, and that I'm here because of it, but it didn't feel like a negative thing - in fact it sort of makes me feel sure that I was planned and wanted, rather than an accident wink.

The only thing with my situation is that my parents so clearly wanted a boy, which I'm not, so I did have a little feeling of being a disappointment in that way. That might be something to bear in mind, when talking to your little boy as he gets older. It hasn't affected me or my relationship with my parents one bit - apart from feeling maybe a bit special for being so wanted!

Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories x

mindsablank Tue 19-Jul-16 12:47:11

My sibling who died was number 3, my parents went on to have me and my younger sibling. In my childhood logic, I had the vague thought that if my parents wanted 4 children, it would have been my younger sibling that didn't exist, though never voiced it to anyone. It was only as an adult that I thought about the timescales and realised that it was me that wouldn't have existed.

My 'place' in my family as a child was determined by all sorts of other factors, personalities, temperaments etc. (mine included).

SueTrinder Tue 19-Jul-16 12:48:31

My Mum's parents lost a son before Mum was born, she didn't know about him until she was an adult. She thinks they were advised not to have another after her (GM was quite old) so it's more the case of her having missed out on having a sibling rather than thinking she wouldn't be here.

Was thinking about this when I suddenly remembered MIL lost a baby so DH (who is the youngest in the family) might not have existed if that baby had lived. It doesn't affect DH at all beyond a 'I might not have existed!' comment when we spoke about it when I was pregnant with DC1. It's not a big issue for him at all. TBH the same might be true of his older sister, if his Mum hadn't lost the baby when she did she might not have got pregnant at the exact same time she did with SIL or that combination of genes might not have been created. Life is so tenuous anyway you can't really say anything more than 'I am here'. If your parents had had sex an hour earlier you might be a different person.

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