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How do parents come to terms with only having one child

(37 Posts)
magpiecounter Sun 11-Aug-19 14:15:16

Just some background. My husband and I have one son four years old. He is my absolute dream. I adore him and he's my best little friend. He's incredibly beautiful, clever, funny and kind. Just perfect. He was easily conceived and was a perfect pregnancy/birth/development. We had absolutely no concerns about having another.

We have been ttc another for four years (my cycle returned six weeks postpartum so we started ttc again quickly). Nothing at all has happened. No MC/CP/not a hint. We saw a dr who said I was the problem and he sent me for surgery, tests, made me overhaul my diet and life style (I'm not unhealthy or overweight but I did drink tea and coffee and liked the odd afternoon tea and cake). So three years passed and still nothing. Fertility medication, acupuncture, destress techniques; nothing worked. Sought a second opinion who did basic tests and revealed my husband is infertile. Our only choice was IVF with ICSI which needed to be done privately as we have a child already. That was fair enough so we spent our savings and borrowed money for our ICSI.

We did the ivf and ICSI last month and it has failed we think. My tests keep coming back with a hint of a line and nothing darker (today it was gone). The clinic suspect a chemical pregnancy and have suggested we try again soon for the best chance of success. So we are looking at options.

Part of me thinks we should appreciate what we have in our beautiful boy. I do appreciate him and love him. He wants a baby too and says he knows we will have one just like his friends mummy. However he's 4 and life is easy at four. I grew up the eldest of five and loved it so have no experience of being an only child as my brother was born when I was still little.

How do people ok themselves with just one child? Does their child not get lonely? I guess I just need to see the advantages and positives and be told to grow up and stop crying over something I never had when I have my darling child already.

Thank you xx

EddieVeddersfoxymop Sun 11-Aug-19 14:21:57

Sorry to hear of the hard time you're having. We thought we'd have more than one, but a horrendous pregnancy which resulted in the both DD and I seriously ill meant we only had one.
Perhaps is easier as we made the choice rather than having it forced on us, but in hindsight it was the best for us without a doubt. DD is a quiet, quirky girl with a few close friends but happy in her own company too. She has learning difficulties- not severe- but we can support her and give her the best chances available to succeed. She's sensitive, sharing and has a heart of gold but struggles to understand meanness and having to stand up for her self as she's never had siblings to practice on.
We have no regrets.......maybe once in a blue moon we might think of the what ifs but in the main we are grateful for who we have and what she is and we leave it at that.

Wellthatsit Sun 11-Aug-19 15:06:04

Magpie,
I too suffered secondary infertility and it took me quite a long time to come to terms with it and overcome my desire for another baby. I didn't do IVF as I felt that counting my blessings, so to speak, was a positive way to approach it, and I would focus on that. For me, it felt more empowering.
It was a difficult journey, but also there have been many advantages. Giving your child your attention fully can be very good for them. They are secure and don't have to fight their corner. Ignore people who make lazy assumptions about only children being spoilt etc. That's nonsense and definitely avoidable if they are brought up well. And plenty of kids with siblings end up spoilt, or worse, resentful.
People worry their kid will be lonely - my DS used to ask for a brother or sister but is now happy, content and independent. He makes friends easily and although I did have to play with him a lot more than I wanted to when he was little, life was easier in that we weren't being pulled in different directions, and I could go back to work more easily when he got older.
Dealing with other people is hard - people are nosey and ask when you will have another, or complain about their own lives and how hard they are and how easy your life looks, not realising they might be being tactless. People can be idiots - I probably would have done the same and now I am much less likely to make assumptions about people!
So, my advice would be, remember people can be thoughtless and don't mean to say the wrong thing. Don't take it personally. Focus on your lovely DS and remember how lucky you are to have him (some people never get the child they want). Give DS perspective - don't always let him get his own way even though there's no other demands on you. Let him learn to sometimes put others first. Enjoy the extra time, money and freedom you will have by only having one child instead of several. And give yourself time. It gets easier.
(When I was trying to decide whether to try IVF I asked my mum what she thought, and she talked to her friends, all of whose kids were grown up with own families). They all said, enjoy the one you have. My reaction was 'its easy for you to say, you all had two, three, four kids etc'. But now that my DS is a lot older (older teen), I think I get it. Life is always changing and you move past the baby stages, and priorities change. It becomes so much less of an issue as you get older.

magpiecounter Sun 11-Aug-19 17:53:20

Thank you for your replies @EddieVeddersfoxymop and @Wellthatsit they have helped today.

I'm just so emotional and broken right now I can think straight and need a plan. Even if that plan is a life with just the three of us I can live with that but I need to have made that decision. Whatever I decide I think I need to put on my big girl pants and stop clinging onto my son like he's going to leave me too.

EddieVeddersfoxymop Sun 11-Aug-19 18:14:44

Sometimes 3 is the magic number! It works for us....my DD is not spoiled but we can give her all our attention and plenty after school clubs and activities!
We could not take the risk of another pregnancy, in fact my doctors advised against it but we felt that we should stop looking inwards and focus on what we have. Many people don't get to be parents at all so we were grateful for our DD.

HappyParent2000 Sun 11-Aug-19 21:14:30

One child families are brilliant! That’s how.

magpiecounter Sun 11-Aug-19 21:48:51

@HappyParent2000 but how do you explain to people why you only have one without crying and getting upset? How do you look at all the baby clothes and nappies and not feel your heart hurt with the loss? I saw those twins being put back into me and it's crushing me how they haven't survived. Now my son wants to know why he won't have brothers and sisters like his friends and I cry at night not being able to give him an answer.

BooseysMom Sun 11-Aug-19 22:02:49

Giving your child your attention fully can be very good for them. They are secure and don't have to fight their corner. Ignore people who make lazy assumptions about only children being spoilt etc. That's nonsense and definitely avoidable if they are brought up well. And plenty of kids with siblings end up spoilt, or worse, resentful.

This. @Wellthatsit.. Thank you for saying this!
OP, i have been feeling the same for years. Although we didn't have secondary infertility, my age has played a part as i had DS at 41. Dc2 never happened and for ages i blamed myself for not trying hard enough but it was never the right circumstances for us. But now i have finally accepted it..DS is the most precious thing and i feel like you that just cling to him too much. I worry he is too clingy to me too. He has never wanted a baby in the house but i still worry he'll be lonely later. At the end of the day though, all what Wellthatsit says above is true. There is so much good about having one and i'm glad i have my only smile..

Dontcarewhatimdoing Sun 11-Aug-19 22:45:38

I found focusing very hard on the positives helped. Those of us with one child are incredibly lucky. We get to experience being a parent, and watching a little person grow up. A lot of people don't. Time also helps. Mine is 12 now, and I can honestly say that I rarely yearn for a second child any more. I'd still have another one if someone could wave a magic wand, but the desperate need has gone.

Wellthatsit Mon 12-Aug-19 12:20:03

Sorry I disappeared. Magpie, I think you are being way too hard on yourself. You don't need to pull up your big girl pants and stop crying. What is happening to you is very, very difficult to deal with, and you are in the early stages of facing that reality. Being upset is normal.
I hope those of us who say having an only can be great are giving you some comfort, but we are all much further on than you.
You have done an important thing in acknowledging what is happening, and you sound thoughtful and grounded, so you will get through this.
Getting upset when people ask is fine - to be honest, it might make them sit up and think, and realise that they are making assumptions and being judgemental, which is a good thing. I sometimes used to pre-empt the questions by dropping into conversation that I would love another but it just hasn't happened. People didn't always ask why, although I would tell them if the conversation merited it. It was kind of cathartic for me. Not sure if everyone was 100% comfortable knowing, but hey ho, that's how I dealt with it. It comes up less and less as they get older. In fact, I can't remember the last time anyone mentioned it. If someone says, "do you only have one?", I don't get offended, I just say yes. Conversation over. If they did comment, I would bluntly tell them if the problems we had and it would soon shut them up!
Your DS asking for a sibling is also normal. It is a tough one. In the end I just told DS that I would love to but couldn't, but it would all be fine. He got used to it. He actually told me recently that he likes being an only now, so that helped. I always let him have friends round or go on playdates, to encourage social skills. And he was very close to a cousin when they were little. It also helps that two of his grandparents (one on each side) were onlys, so he had a reference point.
The reality is that we simply can't control everything that happens to us in life, so focusing on the positives is always going to be the best option. I still have pangs occasionally but it's manageable and I can cope. You will too. And every time you feel sad, look at your gorgeous, perfect DS and rejoice that you have him. He is a lucky boy.

Aria2015 Mon 12-Aug-19 13:25:05

I'm trying to come to terms with this myself. I suffered miscarriages before lo and afterwards so because he didn't come easily in the first place I've always felt super grateful just to have him but at the same time, I never imagined i’d just have one child so I'm having to work hard at letting go of the idea of having more. We’ve decided against anything intrusive like IVF because I know myself and I think it would just make me feel even worse if it didn't work.

What I struggle with is the idea that I’ll only get to experience everything once with my lo. There are such enchanting moments that I think it would be lovely to do it all over again and experience them with another child. But I think I'm romanticising it all a bit too because from what most of my friends tell me from having 2+ children is that their attention is divided so they aren't able to always enjoy the little moments like they could with their first anyway. In fact a few have said that they wished the early years of their second away because they knew it would get easier once they're a bit older.

I do love being able to devote myself to my lo and he's never expressed an interest in siblings. In fact he was he doesn't like babies! What I don't want to do is waste precious time I have now feeling sad so I'm working really hard to find peace with it all. I might even speak to a counsellor if I can't manage it on my own.

Fizzy13 Wed 14-Aug-19 15:59:26

I'm slowly coming to terms with this. We tried for 2 years and 2 MC and now have decided to be happy with our fabulous 4 yr old boy.
Its rough seeing friends get pregnant, its rough seeing silbings being lovely together, its been hideous selling the baby kit I bought thinking I would use it twice.

But my son is wonderful and I love being able to read another story, listen to his thoughts, play his crazy made up game, make his favourite meal without worrying about another one. I will be able to be at every match/parents evening/performance.

We have time, energy and money that we wouldn't have had with another. Also I love that I have time for my husband and my life. I know all parents get their own lives back eventually but we're managing to sooner.

There are many many positives about having one (I'm reading one and only by Lauren Sandler which is helping me) but its ok to cry when you sell the baby toys, when someone announces number 4, when you walk through the baby dept in M&S. Its ok to mourn the loss of the idea of the family you thought you'd have.
I have a few one liners ready for the inevitable personal questions about when I'm having another or if I'm worried about him being lonely.
"why, whats wrong with this one"
"are you interested in my health or sex life"
"are you worried about your kids being attention seeking emotionally scarred as they always have to compete?"
Sorry for the essay! I've done a lot of thinking about this!

BooseysMom Fri 16-Aug-19 20:33:47

@Fizzy13.. what a brilliant post! I couldn't have ever said it as well as you have. I feel just the same about my 5yo DS. Today we have been playing his little made-up games with his tiny characters who are rubbers ..a crocodile called Crocky and a turkey called Turk! It's amazing the stuff they make up isn't it?

Good point about being always able to be at school events..we've even been able to go to two singing performances in one day..we are lucky!

I totally get the thing about finally realising you have to sell all the baby kit. I did it in stages. I was convinced i was going to have another and then knew it was def the end when the clothes all went. It was hard but i have kept a few really special things.

As @Aria2015 says, it's difficult to deal with the fact that you will only be able to experience things once. I kept a diary and recorded everything in there, esp firsts. The craziest thing i remember is being in hosp and leaving the day before we intended and so missing the best food on the Sat i had chosen the day before. Why the fcuk did this matter in the grand scheme of things but i wasn't thinking clearly and was totally drugged up and hormonal!! I was convinced i'd do everything differently next time ..like have a C section..but that next time never came and that's really hard to accept. sad

But as the years have gone by, we have finally come to terms with it and it's ok now. Those things didn't matter. What does is that i'm glad i have my only! smile

Thornhill58 Fri 16-Aug-19 21:01:45

We have one son and it's absolutely amazing we can afford to give him a lot of time and we lavish him with attention. He is 13 now and a great kid. No trouble at all. He isn't selfish or entitled. He enjoys being an only child too.
I am a overgrown kid so I do anything he wants to do.
We don't have discipline or behaviour issues. There are many pluses for having one child. Also no sibling rivalry or fighting smile

Thornhill58 Fri 16-Aug-19 21:05:33

Our son was the result of IVF. Nobody has ever ask us why we only have one child. Enjoy what you have not what you don't have. Also you'll get to enjoy having his friends round.

magpiecounter Fri 16-Aug-19 21:58:02

Thank you all for your insight and experience.

I feel sorry that he only has me to play with (he isn't allowed friends over to play) unless he's at school. These holidays have been hard because the failed ivf twins were our dream come true and it's hard not to cry constantly and be there for him. It was my one job to keep them alive and I failed miserably with both of them.

I hope it will get easier. I'm never going to get rid of the baby things as they're his and I'd like to think I could still look back at them in years to come. It's the firsts I'll miss and the fact I stopped bf this year and that was something I loved too. It was something special we had together and I'll never share that with another baby. We bought a house big enough for more because after two years ttc we thought it was bound to happen soon and they years have passed now to two more years with nothing yet. It's impossible for us to conceive naturally and £11,000 a go at IVF is difficult so I think my choice has been taken from me.

I want to make it my choice not to have more. It's hard enough every single person in my life having four or five kids each easily and quickly and telling me I'm doing something wrong.

Thank you all again 🙂

DeniseRoyal Mon 02-Sep-19 17:54:01

I have one dd, who's almost 6. I have wanted a second child since she was 3, but apart from one miscarriage, another pregnancy hasn't happened. I know the odds are against me, i'm 43 and overweight, and i am trying to lose weight, but it has been a long hard road to accepting that she may be our only child. She is our world, and she is a wonderful child, and as she's getting older, our lives arw getting easier, so it is therefore getting easier to accept that there will be no more babies! And thats ok. I have family members who have several children and their lives are chaos! It will get easier to get accept, as there are many advantages to one child families. Its easier financially, and easier to give them all the time love and attention they need 💜

ValancyRedfern Tue 10-Sep-19 21:34:06

Why do you have to explain to anyone why he's an only? It's none of their business! I hate that people ask such personal questions. If anyone asks me if there's another planned I say something like 'no you can't improve on perfection!' or 'hell no!/when hell freezes over' if I'm feeling more honest. Find a simple line which has the subtext 'wind you neck in' and change the subject. Or just be honest. They'll stop hassling you if they see it upsets you. Could you say you'd love another but it's not happening?

magpiecounter Tue 10-Sep-19 22:29:56

@ValancyRedfern it's note family telling us to have more because it's cruel apparently to have just one. Losing the twins recently has been an eye opener though. Turns out family are more upset about a pet going missing! Their judgements now mean less to me.

I think if I had to only have one I would be ok on the surface but alway regret not having more. There will always be part of me that might feel annoyed I didn't try harder for more.

magpiecounter Tue 10-Sep-19 22:30:13

More not note

user1488038434 Tue 01-Oct-19 03:50:18

Thank you magpie for sharing your feelings and for the wisdom of replies. I have a wonderful 4 year old son too and have spent the last 3 years obsessed with TTC another with IVF. For a while each day ranged between being grateful for my lovely life just as it is, trying my best to enjoy the present through to obsessing about my son’s potential future loneliness or obscene expenditure on baby stuff I thought I’d need again. And of course treatment for more children is a physically draining, cash crippling, guilt ridden affair. I’m slowly moving away from erratic feelings as the end date for IVF is looming and this fills me with weird relief.
I feel reassured by the posters with older children that say once the baby making phase is truly over for you and your friendship group it starts to feel easier. I myself am an only child (premature menopause). My parents though devastate at the time tell me it’s the best thing that could have happened in hindsight. And as a child I found it easy to make friends but was quite happy on my own too. I don’t actually recall feeling lonely ever so I’m not sure why I worry my son might. I was a probably bit slow picking up on playground etiquette but those awkward moments didn't last long. My parents were able to provide opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible. I’m super close to both my parents and in laws, I have more time for them .. and Im much better at sharing than my husband and his 2 siblings! In 20 years we will look back with regret ofcourse but we will look back with so many more fond memories and ours won’t be as hazy as those who endured multiple years of sleep deprivation flowers

user1488038434 Tue 01-Oct-19 03:52:43

...She says posting at 3.50am. I’m catching a flight not stressed smile

TottieandMarchpane Tue 01-Oct-19 04:06:25

I feel sorry that he only has me to play with (he isn't allowed friends over to play)

Why isn’t he allowed friends over? Who decided that?

cultkid Tue 01-Oct-19 04:29:12

"He is our first, our only and our everything"

Cry if you need to. I really feel so sorry for you and the sorrow you have. It's awful wanting another baby and not being able to have one.

magpiecounter Tue 01-Oct-19 19:37:37

@TottieandMarchpane my DH does t like other people's children and so doesn't like them coming over. He'd rather we went to the softplay and met people or he just played with his cousins for a couple of hours every few weeks. Actually we don't really have ANYONE round to our house. Not even adults except occasionally our parents but that's a brief visit only.

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