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Struggling to decide whether to have another child

(12 Posts)
AdorableMisfit Sat 23-Aug-14 11:41:36

Firstly, sorry if this is really long. I'm struggling to make decisions about important life issues, and I was hoping someone might have some advice. I don't even know if this is the right forum to post this in, but I couldn't find another one that seemed to suit. If admin want to move the post to another area, feel free.

I'm 35, married with one lovely daughter who has just turned 4. We live in a small, rented 2 bedroom house in a very nice part of our city. We have no family around to help with childcare so DD has been in nursery while we work, which has been costing a fortune, obviously. My family lives abroad, and although my husband's family lives locally his father is elderly and unwell, so not able to help, and his brother works full time so can't help out either. When DD was first born, my husband and I said that when she started school, we would save the money we've been spending on nursery fees so that we can build up a deposit to buy our own home, because we haven't been able to save anything to date as the cost of rent, bills, childcare and running a car etc. mean we have very little left each month despite both being on a decent wage.

The problem is that for the last six months or so, I've been feeling increasingly desperate for a second child. I didn't think I cared before, but I think that's because I knew we couldn't afford to have two in nursery at the same time. Now that DD is starting school, having another has suddenly become a financial possibility. I'm from a big family, one of four, plus several step-siblings. My mum is one of five and my father one of three, and I have over 15 cousins. As we live in different countries, I only see them once or twice a year, but we keep in touch via Skype etc. and are all pretty close. Christmases have always been busy, happy occasions with lots of people around. The thought of my daughter being an only child feels really alien to me. I've lost a number of relatives to cancer over the last few years and seeing the way my family members have all come together to support each other makes me worry about my DD being all alone when she's an adult without siblings, when me and my OH die. But obviously, I also want another for my own sake, because I love being a mum and I want to do it all over again. But I find myself wondering if it would be selfish to have another, and unfair on my DD due to all the financial and practical consequences of having another.

If we had another baby, we wouldn't be able to save for a deposit, and would be stuck with renting for the foreseeable future (possibly forever, as by the time the second child started school and we saved up a deposit, I'd be in my 40s and I've heard that mortgage companies are reluctant to lend once you reach that age as they think you won't pay it off by retirement). As I said, the house we're in now has only two bedrooms, so although we would keep the baby in with us to start with, the two children would eventually have to share a room. DD who would by then be 5 or maybe even 6 years old and I wonder if that's too big an age gap to be sharing a room. And what if the second child was a boy? Then they couldn't really share for long... Obviously, we could move to a larger rented property, but we pay comparatively low rent for the area we're in now as we've been in the same house for 6 years without a rent increase - we've got a pretty decent landlord - and to move would mean paying upwards of another £200 a month if we want to stay in the same area. We wouldn't want to move to a different area, as we like it here, and obviously DD is starting school now. And if we moved, there's always the risk that we'd get a horrible landlord, or that the new landlord would want to sell, forcing us to move again. Been there, done that, but before I had a child! And we can't really save up to buy a house first and then have a baby, because it will take us years to save and by the time we've got the deposit together, I'll probably be too old to have another baby. So I basically feel like I'm having to choose - another baby and renting forever (?), or save up to buy a house but having only one child.

I'm also thinking about my job. I currently work in a very stressful role and I really want to get out of my line of work. Stress and worrying about work has been interfering with my ability to sleep and causing problems with heart palpitations and I think that for the sake of my health I really need to find something else. While DD has been in nursery, I've felt trapped in my job because it pays quite well (although not enough for the stress levels involved) and there isn't much else out there, but I was thinking that now she's starting school we don't need to find so much money for nursery fees anymore, and I could try to find something less stressful even if it's poorer pay. But obviously if we have another baby, we'd be paying for nursery all over again. If I found a new job first, I'd have to be in that job probably a year to qualify for contractual maternity pay, and I worry that I'm getting older and if I waited that long I might not be able to get pregnant. So I feel like I have to choose between having another baby and staying in a job that is making me ill, or finding another job but never having a second child.

My husband is no help in making a decision. He says he wants to do whatever will make me happy, and if that's having another baby, then he's happy to do that. But if I decide I don't want another baby, he's happy just having our DD. So he's basically leaving this massive decision completely up to me.

It doesn't help that DD is asking me on a daily basis if she can have a baby brother or sister. She's even telling people we're having a baby, and I'm having to tell them no, we're not, she's making it up, hahaha, very funny.

It also doesn't help that I'm surrounded by pregnant people. Several of my workmates are having their second, and my sister is also pregnant. I'm very happy for her as they've been having IVF for 8 years, and that's ANOTHER reason I'm thinking maybe it would be wrong to have another - if I got pregnant now, would she feel I'm taking the attention away from her?

I ask my friends for advice, and they fall into two camps - they either have (or are having) two or more children themselves, and tell me "go for it, there's never a right time to have baby, the practical stuff will work itself out" - but they all live in their own homes, none of them have the uncertainty of renting to contend with. Most of them also have family who look after their kids for free at least part of the time, so don't have to find a fortune in childcare fees. On the other side, some of my friends have only one child, and tell me "I can't understand why anyone would want to have another, it will be loads of hassle and so expensive!". I don't know anyone who is/has been in a similar situation to me who can give me advice and help me figure out what to do.

I try to tell myself I should be happy with what I've got, and that having another child would be a bad idea. But everytime I get my period, I feel disappointed - even though we're not even trying at the moment. And I find myself wishing I would get pregnant by accident, so that the decision about what to do is taken away from me. Unlikely to happen as I have an IUD!

Thinking about this is keeping me awake at night, and I find myself increasingly distracted during the daytime too. I'm feeling down a lot of the time because I just don't know what to do for the best and feel that whatever I choose, it's going to be the wrong decision. What if we don't have another baby, and then I regret that decision for the rest of my life? But what if we DO have another child, and it means that EVERYONE is miserable for years because of living in crowded conditions or having to move frequently, or whatever?

I don't know if anyone is able to help me make things clearer. Has anyone been in a similar situation, and what did you do? Did anyone choose to have a second child despite the worries, and how did things work out for you? Or did you choose not to have another, and how do you feel about it now?

Sorry again this is so long!

ginzillas Sat 23-Aug-14 23:07:39

Don't have anything in the way of useful advice but I just wanted to say that I'm grappling with the same dilemma. DD is 2.6 and we don't know whether to try for another or stick as a happy family of three. I feel guilty at the thought of not trying to give DD a sibling as she loves babies and is a caring little girl. She'd be in her element, I'm sure! But we don't have a burning desire for another DC and like you, we live in a small two bed house which would be bursting at the seams if our family expanded. Financially, It would be a struggle. Such a difficult decision to make.

Misfitless Sun 24-Aug-14 16:13:43

Hi Adorable another Misfit grin!!

I want to post, but just don't know where to start! smile. If I were you I'd definitely post this on chat.

I think that way you'll get a mix of people who've been in your situation and stuck with one, and people who've been in your situation and had two or more DCs.

Good luck with your decision, it sounds such a difficult choice to make.

If it were me, and I did make the decision to have another, I'd crack on asap. I speak from experience: there is an almost 9 year age gap between my first and second DCs, and then 2 year gaps between the others (my DCs are 17, 8, 6, 4).

There are almost 6 years between my and my only sibling, and as children we didn't get on at all.

Of course, once you're adults, age gaps don't matter a hoot - you'll either get on or not, regardless of the difference in your ages! But family is pretty much everything when you're a child, and I'm sure the age gap between me and my sister exasperated us not getting on, iyswim.

fanjobiscuits Sun 24-Aug-14 19:14:05

If you try you might get a sibling soon or later or never, so fate would kind of decide for you...

fanjobiscuits Sun 24-Aug-14 19:16:17

Or, how long would it take to save a deposit? Can you wait until you have (minus 8 months when you'll likely be working anyway while pregnant), and then start TTC?

SquidgyMummy Sun 24-Aug-14 19:22:05

House owning brings it's own level of stress....
It sounds to me like a 2nd baby is your top priority....
As lots of your family live abroad (is it your home country?) is there not a possibility of moving overseas for a better quality of life / family support / less stress / possibility of buying your own place.

I say this as someone who moved to France aged 37 and had DS aged 40. There is still time to have at least one more child. But I think you need to make some bold decisions as the uk (as I observe from outside) does not make it easy for families / parents etc

Millie3030 Fri 29-Aug-14 14:31:13

Hi, I only have one so not sure how much advice I can give, but from your post it really seems like you want another. My DH is exactly like yours he says, "if you want another I'm happy, if not, I'm happy". And I actually really like that, as I would hate if he said "no we are not having more" or pressured me into another when I wasn't sure. So I actually think it's great as it is up to you and it's your body after all, but it does mean that the big decision is also on you, which is scary.

In terms of the things you said they are all practical things that in terms of family don't really matter, yes you will be worse off financially, you will be bursting at the seems with baby stuff again, but you will have another child you clearly want, so you will find a way round it.

And having another baby won't steal your sisters thunder, she will love having someone to share everything with, more babies is never a bad thing surely? It's a happy occasion.

On the other hand I don't want any more but for completely different reasons to you, I have a bigger house and a job that I love, it's having two children running around screaming getting under my feet, 2 lots of homework to help with, 2 children to get dressed for school, 2 children's uniform to iron, lunches to pack that makes me feel overwhelmed and makes me think I can deal with one but 2 might send me over the edge! smile But you have different reasons, that are not children related, so I think you sound like you would be great with two.

AdorableMisfit Fri 29-Aug-14 22:39:40

Wow, thank you all for your responses. I'm sorry it's taken me so long to reply, I don't get much of a chance to go online during the week.

Things reached a bit of a crisis point yesterday. A few weeks back, when I thought I'd made my mind up, I'd made an appointment with my GP to take out my IUD. The appointment was meant to be yesterday evening. After spending all day agonizing over whether to have it taken out or not, I eventually cancelled the appointment as I felt like I would be rushing the decision. As soon as I'd cancelled it though, I felt extremely disappointed and sad. I went home from work and just cried at my husband for ages. Today I feel totally exhausted. I just don't know what to do.

To try and answer some of your questions:

Fanjobiscuits - I think it would take us years to save up for a deposit, so that's not really an option. By the time we'd saved up, I'd be too old, and the age gap would be too big.

SquidgyMummy - yes, my family lives in my "home" country. I've been in the UK for 16 years though, so it doesn't really feel like home anymore. We have talked in the past about moving there, but it's not easy. My husband doesn't speak the language, and it would be very hard for him to find a job there. It would be hard for ME to find a job there too, because it's even more difficult to get a job there than here. That's why I left in the first place, all those years ago. "There" is Sweden, by the way. Additionally, there's a serious accommodation shortage where the jobs are, in the cities and anywhere within commuting distance. People wait years for a place to rent. Unless you can afford to buy, it's really difficult to get a place to live. People end up sub-letting their flats and then you have to move every six months or so because the real tenant wants the place back, and you can't really live like that with a child (or two). So we've basically discounted moving to Sweden.

I really appreciate the time all of you have taken to write to me with your thoughts. I wish I could just wake up in the morning and KNOW what the right decision is. I feel like what I WANT to do and what I SHOULD do are completely opposite things.

Vagndidit Mon 01-Sep-14 08:55:32

I could have written your post 2 years ago. I had 4 y.o. DS about to start school, living in a tiny rented accommodation, no family nearby (dh and I are both from abroad)

In my case I had the IUD out (at 35) and figured I would let time dictate the need for another/bigger house. Two years on, no baby (secondary fertility issues), still in the same rental but have managed to save enough without having to fund a bigger rental or second child to buy a property locally.

Life has a funny way of working out. I'm no longer devastated at the idea of DS growing up without siblings. I myself am an only and fairly well-adjusted, fiercely independent and able to amuse myself in any situation

In your situation i would suggest to just " go for it". You never know what can or cannot happen. I'm a firm believer in what will be will be.

Sarahb39 Sun 27-Oct-19 22:40:42

Did you go for it?

ilovechocolatebiscuits Tue 26-Nov-19 01:42:25

You only regret children you don't have

caravanette Sat 30-Nov-19 06:49:55

To be honest I've seen only children thrive and children with brothers and sisters thrive.
The most important thing for a child is self respect and self confidence and being flexible and open minded and allowing them to be their own person. Both being an only child and having a sibling or indeed several siblings are all scenarios that have the POTENTIAL to be great but the presence or indeed absence of siblings is NOT the most important thing imo

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