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Grieving over not having a second child

(110 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?

PennyN Tue 23-Apr-13 00:52:05

Doh! (It's late ...)

Both of the threads I tried to link above are kinda 'good news':

... and the TTC one I meant to link is:

BTW GreenFinger - great news that you've seen a nutritionist and 'sorted out your hormones'. Maybe that's the reason it hasn't 'worked' YET, but surely puts you in a far better position going forwards?


HugoBear Wed 24-Apr-13 11:22:58

Hello everyone.

we want a second and its just not happening, which i find upsetting because I got pregnant with DD straight away after getting married and we started trying.

The doctor has now referred me for fertility treatment but of course it might not work, and im trying to accept that we might not have another so Im not too disappointed. But its so hard sad and I think i know what you mean about 'grieving'.

mrsmama Sat 01-Jun-13 01:10:04

Hello everyone, been a bit of a lurker on here. Green fingers your post just touched such a nerve with me! You've said exactly how I feel these days. I'm 42 later this year,have a Ds who will be 11this year.Me& DH have had ups and downs,I had a termination about 9yrs ago which in hindsight I regret and feel guilty about and grieve for even now. We started trying again about 3 yrs ago and I got pregnant straight away,as previously,but miscarried on Christmas Eve just short of 12 weeks.That was really hard.Had one cycle of IVF recently, but didn't get pregnant.I feel so very sad about it all.I feel that I should've been more assertive about keeping that baby. I try and remind myself there are so many 1 child families, but nothing seems to assuage the guilt, the pain, the anger with myself. Reading your post though, I feel less alone.Hope we all find our peace sometime soon.

GreenFingeredGoddess Fri 21-Jun-13 22:58:53

I haven't been on MN for a while and have just seen that there are more posts on this thread. Thank you to everyone who has posted.

Two months ago I turned 45 and have been in a very low place with this. A couple of weeks ago, I was sobbing to a friend. I am constantly running through the pros and cons in my head-it's exhausting.

The reality is-it's very very unlikely that I would be able to conceive even if I wanted to-I'm trying to focus on the positives of having only one but at times, my sadness threatens to overwhelm me and that's when I just have to try and distract myself.

To those of you who are struggling with the decision to have another, I know it isn't an easy decision to make and there are lots of factors to take into account (relationships, financial etc) but there is one thing I can tell you after nearly nine years of having an only-the love you have for them becomes very intense. They have the full glare of your love and attention, they are your sole focus and I think that can be a pressure for them and not always a good thing. I often feel my DS never gets a chance to just "be"-we are always there-asking/telling/discipling/nagging without a break it feels sometimes. He can never hide behind siblings-of course, parents of 2+ children may disagree.

I feel like our family is incomplete. Everywhere you look, there are pictures of mum, dad and 2 kids. 3 is an odd number, I even feel lonely being a 3, it's too quiet. On holiday it doesn't feel right. I'm always looking at other families with one more child and it looks right.

I don't want to upset anyone-I'm just writing down thoughts as they come to me-I think I will aways regret not having another and always wonder what we would have called another one, what it would have looked like etc etc.

I may try counselling again, I just need to find a way of dealing with all the thoughts in my head. Those that are struggling with your own decision, I hope you can come to one that you feel happy with and that suits you and your family.

resmom Sat 22-Jun-13 18:22:43

Thank you so much to you green fingered goddess for starting this thread and to everyone to has shared. I hear you. I have felt so alone in this situation over the past year; today I found this thread as I cast about on the internet in the hopes of finding something that would help with the grief. Without going into details, through many twists and turns, including 4.5 years of waiting for international adoption that is now not going ahead, we are in the year of realizing that for us, our one beloved child will be it for us. Intellectually i understand that this is a good or at least a valid decision for our family. (I am trying to no longer frame things in terms of ‘right decision’). But emotionally the grief I feel for myself--and for a child that would have been given a family--is palpable at times, like my heart is being pulled from my chest. I know what you mean when you say 3 just doesn’t feel right (for me in my family, not yet).

Reading this thread has helped so much in knowing i am not alone and in understanding more deeply that the grieving is natural. It even made me reflect that wouldn’t the world be a colder place if we were not feeling enough creatures to mourn and support each other in the passing of dreams, hopes, and stages?

What am i doing to get through? These are just my own thoughts, i don’t know if they will help anyone else as each of us faces such unique paths.
For me, when the grief hits, i am trying to remind myself that grief does come in waves and cycles (even, as pointed out above, hormone-related ones) and that it does eventually, eventually ease so long as we keep moving forward. In this line, i have been trying to rejoice in the family and opportunities i have, although to be honest, when i look at my family i still sometimes actively feel drawn into grief and longing rather than joy so at this point this is still a conscious act/effort, rather than easy and unconscious. But i know this will transition.
Also, I have found that throwing myself into interesting professional opportunities (eg challenging courses, trainings) has helped. These have given me some respite from mourning and I think help me make a habit of focusing on other things—which i think has been important in helping me fight my risk of getting trapped in the grief being my ‘centre’ or my ‘defining lens’. Similarly, I search for and check in with websites that celebrate the choice to have one child and these have helped. And, having read one of the above threads, I am now setting myself the challenge of even just a few minutes of meditation giving thanks for my ongoing healing and for my joys, even if i don’t feel it happening each day. I suppose in a sense, overall, i am trying to write my own story, so that it is a story more of my own choosing than one of the grief that tries to grab me. I don’t know if these make sense to anyone? Just thoughts in case they are useful.

GreenFingeredGoddess Sun 23-Jun-13 10:24:20

Thank you so much resmom. It was very timely for me reading that as I caught myself sinking into a downward spiral this morning looking at a friend's pics on FB of her son and daughter. I understand what you mean about the grief coming in waves-I just try to recognise that I am feeling low but tell myself it will pass and later, I probably be feeling fine.

I didn't know there were websites celebrating one child, I'll have a look at those, so thank you.

Looking for and diving into new challenges is such a good idea and I am guilty of having too much time on my hands to sit and brood, so I'm going to try and do more.

I really hope that you can find some peace.


telsa Tue 25-Jun-13 09:12:01

Some of your grief OP seems to come from the exposure to images of multichildren families and also to a feeling that bigger families are the norm. But things have changed so much. The average family is no longer 2.4 children, but 1. something. These may just be statistics, but they show that so many children are onlies nowadays. It is the new norm, and no less wonderful an experience. Our children will find ways of living with that reality. I know it from my DD's school. Quite a number in her class are onlies. They will reevaluate the nature of friendship and relation for themselves. That at least is not something to worry about,

neriberi Tue 25-Jun-13 17:23:31

I've read and re-read this thread rather a lot, I can relate to rather a lot of it.

I only have one, I have a son who is soon to be 3 and he's amazing. I left it a tad late to have him (36) but in the grand scheme of things its not really that late, anyway I had planned to have more, I always saw myself with at least 3 in tow, I come from a big family and thought I would have a big family. However I didn't bargain on falling ill while I was pregnant and then being told after my son was born that I have a life threatening medical condition and was lucky we were both here still. I was then advised not to have any more children, so my future family vanished and I mourned it.

Not only couldn't I have the family that I wanted, I also had to deal with the fact that I might not live long enough to see my son grow up, get married and have children of his own and that was / is devastating.

It feels as if there is a little hole in my soul that will never by filled but I'm trying my hardest to paper over it because I'm not one for "what if's" and I kinda figured that as my son is here with me now, in the present, that I need to be in the present with him, so if I can't give him a sibling the least I can do is give him a life less ordinary grin, so that's what I'm trying to do.

mrsmama Fri 12-Jul-13 23:03:38

Hello again , greenfingeredgoddessyou have once more written everything that I think ....exactly. It does make me feel better to know that there are other women like me ....I'm not the only one who has this regret, sadness and lonely feeling. My mum did once advise me not to 'spoil' the joy and love for my son , who already exists , pining for another imaginary child who may or may not have completed my family. I also feel that all our attention is focused on our son...nagging, do this, don't do that ....there isn't another sibling to take away the attention sometimes.i just wish that one morning I just wake up and not feel like there is something missing in my life!

WhataSook Wed 17-Jul-13 11:34:28

thank you GreenFingered and all the other posters, this thread has helped me focus on what's important. I have one DD and it was a difficult time when she was born and although DH and I have always said we wanted more, now that it's time to seriously think about it I've swayed between wanting another one and thinking that DD is enough.

She is enough, and always would be enough. However, I think GreenFingered I would feel the same if we didn't try for our second DC.

And I agree with PennyN above and also wish you the best of luck.

pinkpaper13 Mon 02-Dec-13 04:33:38

My story is a long one, but will shorten it for the benefit of any readers!

I married young. All I wanted was to be married with children. My husband procrastinated on the child-front for 10 years before we finally had DS (7). When DS was 2 ½ I had two miscarriages quite close together. When DS was 3, marriage broke up.

I have since remarried (6 mths ago). When my DH and I started dating we talked about children. DH has a DD (13). He said he was open to the idea of having another. I had been through so much over the last few years and being in a new relationship I wasn’t ready to consider another child at that point. Anyway DH and I went back and forth on the issue for while. Just before we got married, I told DH that I was finally ready to have another child. Then he dropped the bomb that he was done. He’d moved on from the idea. He loved our family of four, in which we’ve got one child each and didn’t want to add a third child. Even though I do have a SDD and adore her, she has her own mother and she doesn’t replace my need for another biological child. BUT DH is right in that having another child isn’t just me having a 2nd one, it is US having a third in terms of emotional and financial cost.

Anyway, despite being willing to listen to my needs and open the subject up for discussion, he is holding fast on his decision and won’t sway. I go through times when I’m OK with this and can see the benefits in not having another.

Other times, like at the moment it is ALL I can think about. I see Mum’s with more than one child, I see pregnant Mums, I see babies and it all makes me sad deep in my soul. My BFF has just had her first child and I realised how jealous I was when I started secretly hoping she wouldn’t cope and would decide that this child would be her only instead of having the 3 she is planning. How awful is that!?!? I’m also finding that my love for my DS is so intense that it hurts. I love him so much that my heart breaks every day when I look at him and watch him play. I’m terrified daily of something happening to him, and I feel the most intense bittersweet feeling at each of his birthdays. I’m terrified of smothering him with too much love and him feeling too much pressure to be the ‘good son’!

So in search of some support and wise words, I went searching online and found this thread. You all sound so lovely and supportive of each other, so I decided to post my story too.

I hope to get back to that place where I feel acceptance of my blessed life situation. I have a gorgeous 7 yo boy, a beautiful 13 to stepdaughter. I have A LOT more than a lot of people, including some friends in my own life that lost their chance a having a child. I have been given a second chance at love with a beautiful man who love me like I have never been loved before.

GreenFingeredGoddess Mon 16-Dec-13 20:27:06

I'm still here and occasionally log on to re-read all the posts, it does help. I have been feeling very low recently and can't stop obsessing over how different our family would have been with four. When my DS is playing on his own, it breaks my heart-he loves being with other kids....

Thanks pinkpaper for your post. I'm sorry you've had such a tough time. I could identify with a lot of what you were saying-the bittersweet feeling at each birthday. I feel every day that my DS is slipping away from me a bit more, he's not my baby anymore. Sometimes, he's just like a teenager.

Lately I've been obsessing over older mums-Halle Berry (46), Gwen Stefani (44) and telling my husband "look, it can be done" but he doesn't want to know.

Christmas shopping has been driving me mad. Loads of mums with babies and looking at all the girly things in the shops and having no-one to buy them for (I would have loved a girl).

We will be spending Christmas with extended family and there will be cousins for my DS to play with. I would hate it to just be the three of us-it would make me brood over it all even more.

I'm sorry this post hasn't been more positive (got a feeling it's the dreaded PMT building up!) but I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and has an enjoyable time with your families.

regalsteph Thu 19-Dec-13 05:47:53

Glad you posted recently, GreenFinger. This thread is right on target for me, as it is for you all, and I hope there will continue to be discussion - even if it's just more of the same! I feel deep regret about not having another child. My husband simply did not want to have another, and I could not convince him. I resent him for it, but I feel absolutely awful for that. I feel like a terrible person that I can't just forgive him, get over it all, and move on. I feel that not having another will always be the biggest regret of my life. It's not that I think badly of only children or their parents. I absolutely believe that those who choose to have one are perfectly happy and wonderful. It's just that I didn't choose that path and so it feels all wrong. I can relate to the swings in perspectives, as I also find occasions in which I am peaceful about not having a second. But so often I torment myself, imagining the joy I would have with a child in each arm. I want to move past this, but I am not able to. The same ideas and thoughts just cycle. And that's why I hope you all will continue posting, even if it's just more of the same.

babybear2011 Sun 22-Dec-13 21:51:37

Hi I was in a simler sitution to you. I had two children but always wanted a third but after my daughter I kept miscarring. I had so many emotions, one minute I was angry and thought never again then id be, so emotional and upset and feel empty. I would look at everyone else and feel like there was something wrong with me. Then l turned 40 and thought thats it im too old! I started studying and working part time. We had family holidays, my hubby and I started really enjoying eachothers companey again then when I was 42 I had a beautiful healthy babybgirl! She really is the best thing thats happened to us. My oldest is a boy of 22 and a girl of 16 so also understand about the only child thing as my babybear will grow up on her own but I try to keep things social for her and lots of little play dates with friends. Shes a very outgoing child and loves companey, even adult visitors, but I also see her happy on her own with her own things. I think its more to do with how we as parents feel because the kids are fine, they dont know any differant. Hope this has helped a little

liz98 Thu 20-Feb-14 07:02:25

Hello I just posted a message about my second miscarriage, and started a new thread as this seems like such an old thread to add to. If anyone is still watching this, I'd like to say thanks for all these messages, they are helping me a lot at the moment. I'm trying meditation too, and feeling more positive as the days go on. I think the message from babybear that it's about how parents feel as the kids don't know any different is very true indeed.

McZeba Mon 03-Mar-14 10:41:30

Hi, I am in so much pain right now. I have one beautiful daughter from my previous marriage, I have for many years now wanted a child with my now Husband, he has never wanted this. I can go for long periods of not even thinking about it, accepting that I would rather have a happy marriage and just one child and then BOOM it hits me. In the last week I have found out my Best Friend is pregnant (a long awaited event), this I could cope with and was so happy for her but now my Sister is also pregnant. I am happy for both of them but broken hearted for myself. Selfish I know. My DD is the same age as my sisters daughter - she is also very upset and I have found diary enteries pouring her heart out about her sadness of being an only child.

My DH will not even contemplate it, we have had terribly upsetting conversations about this over the weekend and he has said some hateful things. I am so hurt, so upset and so low but I have to continue to show my happiness and support for the two women I am closest to. I cant talk to anyone about this, not my Mum or my DH. I am hurting and I dont think it will ever go away.

Misfitless Tue 04-Mar-14 06:56:34


I hope it's not insensitive of me to reply (I have more than one, but your post has really struck a chord and takes me back to where I was once was.)

I have felt your pain and anxieties and understand how you feel.

You are not being selfish. I used to find comfort in knowing that there were other one-child families in mine and DC's life. I think it's perfectly natural and to be expected that you're feeling this way, when the two families closest to you are not going to be one-child families for much longer.

After having time to reflect on the weekend, are you still happy in your marriage, or do you feel that he has crossed a line?

Misfitless Tue 04-Mar-14 06:58:26

I meant to say, that he really should be supporting you and trying to be understanding, although I don't think men can come close to understanding how the desperate need for a child can be all encompassing, to be fair to him.

BerylThePeril44 Tue 04-Mar-14 07:11:34

I was unable to have any more children after my first. I loved dc1 with all my heart and we have an incredible bond..much closer than relationship friends seemed to have with several children. However that empty chair at the dinner table kept staring at me! So we took the plunge and adopted six years ago. Now my family is complete. The chair is most definitely full!

McZeba Tue 04-Mar-14 17:52:17

Thank you for both of your kind replies Ladies. I think the nastiness on the weekend was his way of defending himself, he can see I'm hurting and knows that his barrier is the reason, I don't think he could deal with the out pouring of grief. I have always been happy in my marriage and I know in the long term I will be again. He is 99.5% of the time a Loving, hard working Father and Husband and I have chosen this rather than another child. I have to work through this and I often use reflection as a tool to help. I think the next year will be a testing and trying time for myself and my Husband and also Our DD. I will try to celebrate the happiness within my Family and the news of the two new babies but I know I will continue to feel this pain, it just may not be as raw as it is now xx

liz98 Tue 04-Mar-14 19:29:40

McZeba I just wanted to say hello & I know how you feel. A very good friend texted me to say she is pregnant on the very day I was miscarrying. I haven't told her about my miscarriage and I'm not sure I can. She has had a lot of grief over pregnancies herself, so I sent her an as upbeat message as I could but it hurts so much. you say it will be less raw as time goes on. I'm just working on enjoying what I have with my DS, we have a very close relationship, and building up family relationships for him. I know my DH doesn't feel the issue as strongly as I do, and I know where you're coming from when you talk about choosing a loving hard working father. It's important that everyone is happy in the family unit and sometimes that does involve a lot of compromise, it certainly has for us. I hope you work through it ok. Sending you hugs x x

McZeba Wed 05-Mar-14 17:39:49

Thank you Liz, your post is very kind and had given me comfort. I do hope that you can eventually have the baby you wish for and I am so sorry for your loss. Hugs right back at ya!! xx

vikky4 Tue 13-May-14 14:10:43


This conversation is really striking a chord with me. I too am 44 with an 8 year old only child and like you have recently started obsessing about another one, and beating myself up that this didn't occur to me earlier! I never wanted just one child, felt it unfair for DS, but somehow it always felt that it would be like that, so I tried to align myself with that idea. In my case, the reason was due to a rocky relationship. My partner and I are now getting along better (mellowed with age?) which is wonderful, but I was simultaneously struck by the thought - if i'd known we were going to end up together, I would have had another child! If it can work now, why couldn't it have worked before? Perhaps I was the difficult one?

I guess the lesson from that is that we make decisions based on the way we feel at the time and how you think you might feel in the future. What else do you have to go by, so you shouldn't beat yourself up. we are trying for another child, and though the chances are slim, I think I will feel better to know that I tried (so thank u PennyN for the above links!). To help with my obsessive thinking, I will shortly be starting a meditation course - if I were able to master that, to focuss on the present moment, I believe all my problems would dissolve...

vikky4 Tue 13-May-14 15:25:22


Alot of people I know seem to refer to their cousins as brother and sister (I live in London, alot of African people, they don't seem to distinguish between sibling and cousin so much). I try to do the same with my son. He is an only child and he spends alot of time with his cousin. Actually there are two cousins (they are brothers), the younger one is closer to my son's age than he is to his older brother so they play better together. So maybe your daughter, in time, will take comfort from the fact that she is the same age as her cousin

LalaLeona Thu 25-Sep-14 12:48:20

Sorry this is an old thread to re activate, but have just been reading through it, as my hormones are making me really low and really desperate for another one. My dh is adamant though, he just won't have any of it, he barely even discussed it with me. He just says he can't, he's too old, he can't cope. (He's nearly 48, I am 36). We have dd7 and also dsd 20 but she lives with her mum. I just keep wondering if there's a way I can present it to him that will change his mind?! Sometimes I feel fine about things but days like today the feeling is unbearable!

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