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Older only child but left 'holding the baby'- anyone else got experience of this? Long, sorry.

(14 Posts)
spanishguitar Wed 18-May-16 07:39:21

We have one DS who is now 9. The decision to have only one child is due to the serious health complications both myself and subsequently my DS, suffered during pregnancy. The birth was also traumatic and it took a long time afterwards for us to be able to relax and enjoy our DS.

I feel incredibly fortunate to have our son but this has also been mingled with sadness at letting go of the plans we had of at least another 1 or 2 children and also the regret that I missed out on any enjoyment of the pregnancy, birth and those early days and weeks.

Over the years I have done a lot of smiling, congratulating, attending baby showers, christenings, cuddling babies etc as my friends have gone on to have numbers 2, 3 and sometimes more. Whilst I am fond of friends DC, I think perhaps I spent too much time 'putting on a brave face' and didn't pay enough attention to my own needs. I think people assumed that due to my son being older and knowing we weren't likely to have any more, that I would be grateful for interaction with babies and young children and would be an ideal extra 'Auntie' for their children.

Over the last year or so, I have tried to look after 'me' a little more. For e.g. I have hidden the news feed on FB of people who fill them with nothing but baby or pregnancy updates, I have turned down a baby-shower invite just because. I have enjoyed doing some activities with my son that are more relevant to his age and have tried to let go of the lingering anxiety I have about his birth.

All good. However- a friend has just announced her third pregnancy after a long gap. And almost as soon as she told me, has been making comments that infer that she thinks I want to be more involved than I feel comfortable with. e.g "Don't worry, you're welcome to borrow the baby as much as you like- you'll get your baby-fix", talking about how much she'll appreciate my help with the baby, about how if it's a girl I'll be able to have 'girly-time' with the child as she grows up- whatever that means, and helping her pick equipment, clothes etc during pregnancy.

I have finally got to a stage where I am getting through the longing for another baby and I need suggestions as to how I can handle this tactfully but without putting myself back in a situation that will make me uncomfortable.

Any suggestions gratefully received.

ChilliMum Wed 18-May-16 07:58:26

I think you need to focus on you, why do your friends see you in this spinster aunt role when actually you have a wonderful dc? I understand the sadness when you feel you have missed the new baby phase. I have 2 dc, complications and illness following 2 dreadful births left me with pnd and almost no memories of those early months just a thick fog and impressions. It took me a while to realise that there is nothing i can do about that but it doesnt have to be who i am.
You need to find something for you, completely non child related. Your dc is at an age now where you can (guilt free) take back some time for you. Take up a sport, hobbies, start a course / qualification, make a bucket list and start working your way through it.
Then smile politely have a quick cuddle tell them how wonderful their baby is and how glad you are that the baby years are behind you and how you have started a new project etc...
Fake it till you make it I think the saying goes grin

spanishguitar Wed 18-May-16 13:00:50

Thank you for the reply. Really appreciate it. I am not totally sure why I'm seen as 'auntie' material to other people's children. I suppose a combination of perhaps being a bit too generous with my time in the past, plus the fact that they know the situation of my son's birth. But I've not mentioned anything about wanting to be heavily involved with other children to compensate.

Finding a hobby that is for 'me' is a wonderful idea. I think I would like to do that anyway, and hopefully it will help in that I will have less time on my hands. I'm not particularly sporty but should do more. I'll have a think...

I wonder if there is anything polite I can say to my friend in the meantime when she mentions my potential involvement? There's a good many months to go before she actually has the baby and I starting to feel apprehensive about seeing her.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 18-May-16 13:06:12

"Why on earth do I need "girlie time"? You make it sound like my DS isn't good enough!"

I did say this to someone and in my case it did work.

Also try "To be honest I'd rather not. I'm actually glad the baby days are behind me and I can focus a little me on me again."

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 18-May-16 13:07:23

That should be "... a little more on me." Sorry.

nonicknameseemsavailable Wed 18-May-16 13:13:26

well firstly I think it is a real complement (or is it compliment? never get that right) that they see you as an auntie type figure, it shows what a wonderful person you are. so try to see it like that.

I think you need to be quite blunt and say "actually I am not broody" or "Oh I am really pleased we have finished with the baby stage and now our lives are moving forwards and we can enjoy each other's company".

it must be hard for you but you are right, you do need to focus on you and your feelings.

spanishguitar Wed 18-May-16 13:35:39

Thank you Milk- what did your friend say when you replied with the comment about your son and her thinking that he is not good enough? I think I may need to go down the blunt route at some stage and also keep reiterating about being glad the baby days are in the past.

Nonickname - Thank you too. I have been giving of my time and help with friends children in the past and it is flattering in many ways. But it's also like a switch has been flicked inside and I have realised that lots of contact with younger children/babies is not helping me at all. So it's me that has changed and I feel bad for that but as you say, I need to look at my feelings for a change.

I'm not suggesting not to see the baby or anything, I just don't want to be seen as an on-tap babysitter dressed up in the guise of 'spending time with the baby' which, knowing my friend, is a distinct possibility unless I am more upfront.

Nannawifeofbaldr Wed 18-May-16 13:39:41

You might not need to say anything just be more soaring with your time.

You can visit your friend without volunteering to babysit/change nappies etc.

If you are asked to babysit just politely decline as you are busy.

Never apologise, never explain.

RainbowsAndUnicorns5 Wed 18-May-16 13:51:13

You need to let everyone around you know that you are perfectly happy with one, saying things like 'Oo I don't miss those baby days' or I love this age ds it at now etc etc might be a subtle way of letting them know.
Or just come right out with it! No thanks I'm busy or whatever

Yellow10 Wed 18-May-16 18:32:08

Continue to look after you. Find a hobby so that you have a legit reason why you dont have the time to be involved. I too find it hard with other peoples baby events and have drawn away, hidden social nedia posts too! I have a dd (6) and dont plan anymore (dh decision to stay at one), and find newbabies make me feel worse when i am finally in the right direction in my head. I took up running, not to avoid people but have found it is makes a great reason to not be involved.

I echo rainbow with saying that you dont miss those days.if anyone tries to remind me i launch into how wonderful my life is without a baby and highlight all the things they are missing out on.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 18-May-16 18:36:57

Spanish - no answer! Just a sort of "ummm... oh... of course not, he's lovely..." kind of response and it was never mentioned again grin

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Wed 18-May-16 18:37:21

(Oh, and we're still good mates)

Dozer Wed 18-May-16 18:40:58

Even if you have LOADS of free time just be much less available and decline almost all small child centred stuff!

9 is a much more civilised age!

I think there are lots of conventional jokey things you can say - handing a baby back with "The best sort of baby, the sort you can give back when their nappies need changing!
grin" "Gosh I'm tired from work this week, thank heavens I can have a lie in on Saturday - it'll be a few years before you have another one of those eh! grin". Or talk about how much you're enjoying your child being more grown up and how rewarding you find it to go on cross-country walks/to the new Marvel film/to the Royal Society with him.

Your friends sound nice and genuine, so there's no need to criticise their actions to date. If you make it clear that you are genuinely happy with your current life and your growing freedom and the excitement of watching your DS grow up then they'll probably pick that up.

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