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Dithering about having a second child ( and I dont have the luxury of time to dither!)

(195 Posts)
Fortunatepiggy Mon 04-Apr-16 22:18:55

Hi ladies

So I am 39 next week, have a gorgeous ds aged 3, who is a delight but has never been a good sleeper which has caused DH and I lots of stress over the last 3 years. Now things are starting to get a bit better and I have started to think about whether we should have another ( most of my friends had their seconds when first was 2) so I am conscious I have left it a bit late and one of the main reasons people have another child is to provide a companion/playmate for their child and I worry that even if I got pregnant tomorrow ( unlikely given age) that DS1 will be 4 before DC2 is born so will they play together anyway?

I am also starting to get my life back a bit. We have no family locally so its been a struggle with lack of sleep and when he is ill ( I work part time in a fairly demanding job) and I can see that if I went back full time when ds1 starts school next year my career could get back on track quite easily.

I am an only child and never felt lonely so don't feel that as an issue although i recognised it was much harder for my parents and they tried hard to ensure I had lots of friends. DH has an older brother who is not close with so doesnt feel strongly about that issue.

I have chatted with DH who isnt too keen on the idea of another as to be honest we have struggled massively so far with our relationship and the constant tiredness and who is more tired/ whose job is more important/ who has had the hardest day crap.

But he says that if I really want another he will agree.

That conversation didnt really help as now I feel that all the pressure is on me to make the decision and I worry:-

that if we are lucky enough to conceive ( and i recognise this decision may already have been made for me and may be academic) that I will not love another child as much as DS
that given my age there might be health issues with the baby
that DS will resent me / new baby and our relationship will change
that we wont have enough money ( we earn ok on paper but never have enough money at the end of the month)
that DH and I wont be able to cope and will end up divorcing ( something we have seriously got close to in the last 3 years)
So everything is leading to a no but i am also worried that I will get to 40 something and regret not having another and it may be too late. Also when I said to DH that it probably should be a no given all of the above and he agreed I felt desperately sad and since then cant stop thinking about it and looking at mums with toddlers and babies and wondering whether that really is the right decision for us.

Anyone else felt like this? I wish I had the luxury of time to see how i felt in a year but Im worried that will be too late


BearFoxBear Mon 04-Apr-16 22:21:51

No answers for you, but I could have written your post word for word. I'm 40 with an almost 2 year old. We're totally undecided.

NataliaOsipova Mon 04-Apr-16 22:25:36

I'm an only child and, like you, worried about changing my relationship with my first child when I had a second. Worried about not loving the second as much, worried that the first would resent the second...exactly as you say. What I hadn't got my head round in all of this was the bond that they have with each other, which is about the loveliest thing in the world (and, from an only child's perspective, quite astonishing. Like you, I never minded being an only - but since I've had two I've come to resent my parents a bit, if that doesn't sound mad!).

hilbil21 Mon 04-Apr-16 22:25:40

I'm 35 and have a one year old. My relationship has been really tested in the past year and I must admit I'm looking forward to when DS is talking etc, don't think I'm much of a "baby" person although I love him loads!!

I'm an only child and never felt lonely as a child at all. However, in the past 4 years both of my parents have passed away and I really would have loved to know I still had an immediate family member. For that reason, after I get married later on this year, I will be trying for number 2. I would feel the same at 39/40. But any later than that I would admit I think I would leave it be xx

Fortunatepiggy Tue 05-Apr-16 20:47:34

Thanks for all the responses. It's nice to know other people are in the same boat. I've never been good at making decisions especially big important life changing ones! I've decided to park the issue for a month and see how I feel then as constantly thinking about it is stressing me out and my husband is 40 this weekend and I want to try and make a fuss of him without this coming up and getting all serious. Have a weekend in a hotel booked which would be perfect for conceiving(!) but think we need to focus on us time first!!! Thanks

eurochick Tue 05-Apr-16 20:58:00

Another one here. Part of me is broody and part of me is glad to be finally getting some sleep and can't face going back to the sleeplessness.

I'm 40 and have a 20 month old who took 3 years and 4 rounds of IVF to conceive, so it is probably academic anyway. An additional complication for me is that the pregnancy did not go well - the baby was growth restricted, had to be delivered at 34 weeks and spent 3 weeks in Nicu. I'm not sure I'd want to put another baby or us through that. And I HATED having a section. I'm scared of hospitals and had been planning a home water birth. Putting myself through it (possibly) a second time seems crazy.

But, I can't quite believe that all the baby stages are the last time I will experience them and have kept every single bit of baby bumpf....

SproutingParsnip Tue 05-Apr-16 21:27:36

I'm in a slightly different position in that I sailed through my pregnancy with DD, now 16 months and an absolute dream baby: sleeps well, eats well, no problems with teething, has settled really well into nursery... I know the toddler years are yet to come!
I'm 39 later this month and my concern is that IF we have another, it won't be the same plain sailing and how will we deal with it all.

OH and I's relationship had definitely been tested following the birth of DD so how will another affect the mix? OH is one of 5 close siblings and I'm one of three so an 'only' family is just not what I imagined for myself but I do keep thinking I'll have twin boys (!) and how would we cope with that??

I know we can't realistically afford another baby (well the childcare) for about 3 years but my current thinking is to TTC late next year (I'll be 40.5) and see...

lighthouse17 Wed 06-Apr-16 15:12:02

I feel exactly the same. I could have written your post! We have a lovely DD who is 2.5 years old. I feel really broody now but my DH is not! He doesn't want another baby because of all the practical reasons you listed and also we have no family near by to help and also our marriage suffered for at least 18 months but we came through it. So I am really scared to go through all this again but I can't stop feeling broody. I am nearly 38 years old so I don't have a lot of time to think. I just don't know what to do, whether to just let go of these feelings and accept that we won't have another child and this would be the best decision but I just can't let go...

LindsayS79 Wed 06-Apr-16 22:28:46

Exactly the same here! Past the baby stage (which I struggled through) and really enjoying the company of my DD now she can talk etc at 2.5. I would love her to have a sibling, but I must admit I'm enjoying being able to do the things that used to be difficult with a baby, like going out for dinner, holidays etc.
We have enough money to spend on her, but if a second came along it would be tight.
It's hard to make that final decision though. And like you, I often make my mind up that I'm sticking to one, but I feel really sad and change my mind again. It's so hard and no one knows what the right answer is! I feel your pain!

NataliaOsipova Thu 07-Apr-16 09:32:47

Not sure if this is a helpful comment or not, but what I hadn't anticipated about a second is that, while it certainly made things harder at first, it became a lot easier to have two when they were older and would play together. (Obviously we are lucky that our two get on well and are happy to play etc etc!) This started from about 18 months/2 years - and has got progressively better as they've got older. Eg - My DH and I now do get to sit down together for a glass of wine/a meal on a regular basis, as the two of them are happy to play all sorts of games or watch something together without much input from us for a period of time, whereas my friend with an only child feels bad if her DD is left to sit and watch TV alone for too long and she needs their attention if she wants to play something more constructive.

BikeRunSki Thu 07-Apr-16 09:40:35

Similar situation to you a few years ago, except I am one of 4 siblings and couldn't imagine DS (then 3) not having any siblings as an adult. I appreciate mine a lot more now than when I was a child!

Despite hyperemisis, we bit the bullet and had a second. I'm 45 and the DC are 7 and 4. DH was made redundant when dc2 was 4 weeks old. We've had some pretty tough times, but I'm not great with tiny children. Now they are older things are a lot easier. I don't regret having dc2 at all, but have never wanted a third!

Jw35 Thu 07-Apr-16 09:44:08

Yeah have one now. 4 year gap is fine and they will play together. I've had an only child for 11 years then had a baby. I'm now pregnant with a 3rd so the two youngest can play together. IME only children are lonely and the benefits of siblings are better. (I'm one of 4 myself)

Cocochoco Thu 07-Apr-16 09:49:19

One of my dearest friends was in exactly your situation. She made the logical decision not to because she felt her relationship wouldn't survive a second, but felt very sad about it. She's really happy now and they have a great life. I had my second at 40 - never any doubt for me - and I have to say it has been really exhausting. My friend's DH says he loves talking to me because I'm honest about the difficulties! I'm so happy to have my two but I never had any doubts about my relationship or how we'd manage.

In your situation I would just manage the sadness. And tell myself that if I felt an overwhelming need for another dd I would go for it! Try not talking about it for a few months - your DH sounds pretty clear but will go for it if you decide to so it doesn't sound like talking is necessary at this point.

NataliaOsipova Thu 07-Apr-16 09:51:13

BikeRunSki I'm firmly in the "never wanted a third" camp too, for all I'm on here extolling the virtues of two!!

DuchessOfWeaseltown Thu 07-Apr-16 11:30:29

Hi OP, another one who's EXACTLY in your position.

We have many many many extremely good reasons for sticking with just the one but I too worry about making a 'choice' to do so as it feels as if I am deliberately depriving DD of an opportunity to have a sibling (as opposed to being forced to only have one through infertility etc, which I know is absoutely devastating but isn't the 'choice' issue the OP, and others on here, are struggling with).

I too don't have the luxury of time. In fact in about a year's time I am definitely past my own personal cut-off point (41) and I don't want to feel I have sort of slept-walked towards having only the 1. It's too big a thing to just accidentally end up NOT doing iyswim.

On the other hand, I obsess about it all the time so I'm not really sleep-walking!!

On good days, I can tell myself that it's not that I am depriving DD of anything but in fact facilitating all kinds of things for her that wouldn't be possible with a sibling. The most important one, by far, being a calm(ish) mother who isn't at the end of her tether. Stressing out about how to afford two children... having to move house and area... I don't think I would be a very good mum to more than one as I find I am able to manage my natural impatience extremely well when it is just one of them, but I know I'd be quite different with two sets of competing demands.

On bad days, all I can think about is DD one day when DH and I are old/ill/dying sad having to cope all alone and feeling like she is the only one left of our small-but-perfect family.

Iit's horrible to think that way and I makes me realise why some parents are so aggressive about those who choose to only have one (I have found this to be the case) because it's SO comforting to think that one day your children will be there for each other. Nobody wants to think that maybe their children might flal out, hate each other's guts or move to the opposite side of the world and never see each other, although these things do happen. Because there is SUCH security, albeit possibly only imagined to an extent, in feeling that your children will always have that SOMEONE. People who have criticised us for only sticking with one (probably) are very vocal about this and I don't think they mean to be hurtful. I can see that it must feel wonderful to have that 'security'.

But there are no guarantees, and as I say, I know many adult siblings who genuinely loathe each other. Yes, it's not the norm for sure but it certainly happens. So I can ease up on a bit of the guilt on myself!!

I do wish btw that people wouldn't come onto Only Child threads where people are specifically anxious about having an only child and use throwaway comments like 'only children are lonely'... I wouldn't go onto a thread on the Large Families board where someone was getting anxious about whether or not to have a 5th child and say 'IME children from large families are overwhelmed by noise and never get enough all-important one-to-one bonding time with a parent...' Because it would be unhelpful and (basically) untrue.

stilllovingmysleep Thu 07-Apr-16 16:23:57

I also felt angry with the throwaway comment 'only children are lonely'. Not the case (could argue about this and explain but can't be bothered, not on this thread).

OP: I am 42, have one DS who is now 7 (product of IVF) and had repeated fertility treatment after that which didn't work so the decision was made for us. So I have an only child. I wanted a second (not for my DS although that perhaps was part of it) but because I had the desire to do it all again. But it wasn't to be.

Also: I have one sister but am very very distant from her. I am much closer to friends who I consider siblings.

If I were you, I'd consider a few things. First, think of your life not in the immediate future but in 10/20 years time. What do you imagine? What is more important to you?

Second, I heard someone once say what made up her mind about getting a dog. She was completely undecided. In the end she thought: what would make for the bigger life? So she got the dog. But for other people the 'bigger life' might mean more travel / more money for hobbies etc (so it's not an obvious answer for each person). What would make your life more meaningful and rich? Think of that.

By the way I could have written your post word to word and I still went ahead and did many rounds of fertility treatment. In my case the answer was that I really would like another life but I also was prepared that it wouldn't work and that I would deal with the loss.

Also wanted to add in case it helps you. Life with one child is great. There are many pros to it that shouldn't be underestimated if that's what you want. It's not a lesser life in anyway. If that's what you want it can and should be embraced and lived to the full. It's not what I wanted (not because I thought it was a lesser life, just because I wanted another child)...but I now have tried to embrace my life with one child and feel grateful for the many many positives it offers.

And no my DS is not at all lonely thank you very much.hmm

stilllovingmysleep Thu 07-Apr-16 16:26:13

Would like another 'child' obviously not another 'life' but I suppose that's a meaningful slip of the tongue! Yes I would have liked more life in the house as I've dearly loved having my DS. I might get a dog eventually grin

NataliaOsipova Thu 07-Apr-16 18:53:39

Oh God - all that "only child is a lonely child" stuff is such shit, isn't it? It's all to so with the relationship that they have with each other (in my opinion at least) - and you can't predict that. My DH has several siblings and doesn't get on with any of them terribly well; he certainly wouldn't seek out their company. I am an only child and never remember feeling lonely - had lots of friends and interests etc. As I've said, my own experience has made me very positive about having two - but, equally, I fully recognise that there was a huge degree of luck involved and that the situation could have been very different. I think convention plays a huge part in a lot of people's thinking; the accepted wisdom is that two is better, so people either fall into that without questioning or can go to huge lengths to have a "complete" family, even if sometimes you think that they and their first child might have been better off sticking at one. (Eg I have a friend who went through multiple rounds of fertility treatment for her second child. Cost her a fortune and put huge stress on everyone. She was lucky and it worked eventually, but with a 9 year age gap. Don't get me wrong - nothing at all wrong with that - but she'd always imagined a "2, 2 school years apart" scenario, so she didn't actually end up with the outcome that she'd wanted just due to the passage of time and her two children are obviously at hugely different stages and have very little in common.)

It's hard - there isn't a "right" answer and - obviously - you can't predict in advance how the dynamic will actually play out in reality in your own family.

stilllovingmysleep Thu 07-Apr-16 19:06:23

The thing I hate the most--and I've been told this quite a few times by quite a few 'well meaning' hmm people is that with one child it is not a family, it's only when you have a second child that it's 'a family'. I was even told this (unbelievably) when I was going through fertility treatment to try for a second. A friend (otherwise great person) said that she really worried for me that it wouldn't work (among other reasons) because one child is not really a family and she only felt she had a family when she had her second. I was quite honest to her that I completely disagreed and that I had felt we were a family even when it just me and DH. She did take my point. But there have been many others who have made the same annoying comment over the years!

NataliaOsipova Thu 07-Apr-16 19:12:25

stilllovingmysleep What a daft thing for her to have said (not to mention tactless....). It illustrates my point well, though - the conventional wisdom is that two children who don't get on and do completely different things (usual with a parent each just to balance childcare, so never really interact as a foursome) = family, whereas one child who has a really close bond with his/her parents and does things with them all the time doesn't quite match up. Total rubbish, isn't it?

stilllovingmysleep Thu 07-Apr-16 19:14:40

It's total rubbish Natalia yes. The main thing is--I don't think there's an ideal family anyway. Some people have one child. Have people have no children! Some have more than 1. All legitimate choices / or circumstances that people find themselves in. The question is how someone lives their life, what's the quality of their life & the quality of their family life, regardless of number of children...

NataliaOsipova Thu 07-Apr-16 19:24:57

I agree - there is no ideal. And even if you have your own view of what is ideal ex ante, you just don't know how that will pan out in reality. I have two who are very bonded; as an only child myself, I look at this and feel a bit resentful that I didn't have that in my life. BUT - probably so does my DH, who actually does have 3 siblings with whom he doesn't really get on. So are 4 children better than an only on that limited scenario? Not obviously. Probably the only meaningful conclusion to draw is that I'm lucky to have kids that get on!

On a different note, did anyone see that hilarious piece of research (widely headlined) a couple of years ago which claimed that the happiest families were ones with two girls? It was so funny - came out with such genius bits of insight such as "families with more than 3 children sometimes have to buy a bigger car and spend more on going on holiday". No shit....!!!

buddy79 Thu 07-Apr-16 19:54:21

Hi, reading with interest as similar feelings here. I am 36 and have a 16 month old, IF we decided to try for a second I would want to start ttc when he is 2. DH and I had always previously said we would stick to one for a variety of reasons all of which are still true - we can't afford it without moving to a different area / different house, potential health problems of baby as a slightly older Mother (this doesn't really worry me but REALLY worries DH), ongoing financial worries, and in particular DH does a lot of creative 'stuff' that's really important to him and feels that this would become impossible to continue with a second child. So at the moment it's looking like sticking with one. But I too worry about depriving DS of a sibling relationship and him not having a 'gang', and get on and off very broody! its hard to know how to reconcile with it. I do keep coming back to the fact that it's probably better for DS to grow up in a home with happy parents, rather than a home with a lot of stress and potential resentment, and I agree there's s lot of social pressure to have two. I think to myself - if the norm in the UK was one child, and having two the family size that was always questioned, would I be someone who wanted a second child so much I would break that convention? The answer is probably not. That helps!

BearFoxBear Thu 07-Apr-16 20:12:08

What would make your life more meaningful and rich? Think of that.

That's a really good way to look at it. I don't know if having another child would make my life more meaningful and rich. We have a great life, we have lots of fun, and I'm very very happy. Maybe that's all we need, it's an awful lot more than many others have.

SushiAndTheBanshees Thu 07-Apr-16 21:49:19

A big factor for me was to remember that children are children for a very short time. I truly believe the hard stuff starts when they're older, and the worrying doesn't stop when they're adults. Two children = twice the worry, forever.

But then, having had a very good friend who was an only child, orphaned aged 24 (after having singlehandedly cared for both parents through terminal cancer, so utterly awful), it was a huge factor for me in going for #2 to know that DC1 wouldn't (fx) have the same sadness of nobody being around once we are gone who knew her as a child, who knew her family background, with whom she had a shared history. Being an only child as a child isn't that big a deal in my opinion - cousins, friends, neighbours all help plug the gap that siblings would ordinarily fill. It's when they're older that it gets tricky, I feel.

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