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The tale of a second child and a relationship emergency

(84 Posts)
Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 12:23:57

I wasn’t sure whether to post this in relationships or conception, so here it is. Apologies for the length:

DS is now 3.5 years old and such a joy. After he was born I was adamant that I was not having any more children and had a Mirena coil fitted, but over the past 18 months I have changed my mind. Sadly for me, DH has not. He feels that another child would stretch our lives very thin, that we would have trouble in giving him/her the time and resources they should have and DS has had. He is dead set against it, for very sensible reasons, and I know that, even if I somehow forced him to go along with me (by emotional blackmail, for example) he would always have such severe reservations that it could have a terrible impact on our relationship and his relationship with any child.

Worse still, a large portion of me actually agrees with him. I had PND after DS’s arrival and have no wish to relive that, plus I’m not really a baby person and so don’t really look forward to a dose of maternity leave with any great joy. The financial stress would be inconvenient, although not disastrous, and I know that the quality of life we have worked out with DS would take a big hit, for a short period, if not permanently. DS might hate his sibling.

But, but…..I make birth plans in my head. I see programmes with babies in them and cry hopelessly. I wonder whether another baby would be a boy or girl, blonde or brown, my eyes or (God forbid!) DH’s nose . I plan outings for two children.

So I’m torn in half. If I side with DH and my sensible inner half, then I’ll always wonder what I’ve missed and I think, barmy as it sounds, I’m going to have to deal with some grief. DH is worried I’m going to end up resenting him and it will drive us apart (to which part of me responds: ‘duh, no sh*t Sherlock!’ so he may well be right). If I force things through, and have a baby with an unenthusiastic DH, then, well I don’t need to join up the dots for you, do I? Every time the baby wakes us up, it’s my fault. Every time DS is upset because we can’t do something because of the baby, it’s my fault. Every time I am exhausted and unhappy with two small children and a full time job, it’s my fault and I really can’t be looking for much sympathy from DH.

Either way, this has the capacity to do some real damage to our relationship. I’m loosing control emotionally here, and hoping mumsnetters might have some coping mechanisms for me.

How do you deal with the grief if you can’t have another child? Do you think I might be able to find some other way to subdue my babylust? How do you move a relationship forward when you have a fundamental disagreement about something so serious as whether to have another child?

My thinking is going around in circles so anything new is going to be helpful. Please help?

Gwenick Tue 14-Jun-05 12:26:22

Gosh I'm afriad I can't help you - but I nearly posted a thread very much like this one last night, except I have 2 children, and would like a 3rd - but not for a while yet (maybe another 2 or 3yrs). After DS2 was born we 'agreed' to no more children.....but I only agreed to keep him happy. I'm not at the stage yet of broaching the subject with him again, but wanted to prepare myself for the time.

Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 12:30:03

Thanks Gwenick

I knew he wouldn't be keen (I had to persuade him against a vasectomy when DS was a year old!) so I waited and waited, played it gently, trying to sound out DH and find out why he was so against it.

Normally we agree things based on logic, you see, and there really isn't a logical reason to have another child.

handlemecarefully Tue 14-Jun-05 12:33:26

Poor Gizmo,

I'd be bereft in your situation. Is dh really immovable? he can't be persuaded?

Re your husbands objections: 2 children imo are much easier than 1! They are entertainment and company for each other. As an almost only child (my siblings 14yrs older so had left home for uni when I was a tot)I mooched around at w/ends and school holidays bored out of my tree, with no sister or brother to spar with. It would have taken the heat off my mother if I had got the distraction of a sibling, and she often says that she regrets not having another child directly after me.

I personally think that a sibling is one of the greatest gifts you can bestow on your child (with all due sensitivity to those mumsnetters who are unable to have more than one child )

Also I don't really understand your dh's view that he doesn't have enough time to spread amongst 2. Two kids really isn't a lot - if you were intended 3 or 4 then that argument might have more validity. It is perfectly possible to lavish attention on two - and I say that as the wife of a workaholic dh who is pretty absent during the weekdays.

Suspect you'll get some helpful / caring posts on this thread. You might find it useful to print it off later and show it to your dh

beansprout Tue 14-Jun-05 12:33:38

I really feel for you. It took dp 2 years to decide he wanted ds. For all that time we did not know if we would stay together as I was longing for a child and dp already has two.

You are in such a difficult position as there are no easy answers. Do you think couples counselling might help, as this one is one of those "elephant under the carpet" situations that is not just going to go away. Really wish you well and hope you find a way forward.

tarantula Tue 14-Jun-05 12:35:54

I know the feeling Gizmo. I would really like to have another child but at the moment its impossible and I know it in my mind but that doesnt stop me wanting one.

Fran1 Tue 14-Jun-05 12:36:12

HARD HARD HARD!

Really difficult one. I'm all for large families so imo i can't see why a second child would stretch your lives very thin and how your son would suffer?

As you say financially you may suffer initially but things will go back to norm once you go back to work. I think the same applies to attention for your son and your lives. In the long run your son will have a companion possible leaving more time for yourself and your husband if you did have another child.

I don't know whats best to do. I guess you have to ask yourself, can you go along with dh's wishes and remain a one child family - will you be satisfied in years to come? do you feel you can deal with that? or will you always have regret?
Have you made your husband aware just how real this is for you. Does he know you sit and cry hopelessly about this?

Maybe you need to sit down together and list pros and cons of for and against having a second child. Maybe having a counselling session could help?

YOu have to weigh up who would be affected the most e,g if you have a second child you would be happy, how unhappy would your dh realy feel in relation? Can he consider dealing with it to make you happy?

In my experience of only children, (one in particular i know) being an only child in adulthood can make you feel very alone in the world, when your parents have died and you have no matter how many friends you have around there is nothing lonelier than having no family. I do not intend to get into a debate about this, but just wonder if your husband has considered the future and how your son would cope if anything happended to his mum and dad?

starlover Tue 14-Jun-05 12:36:13

this probably won't help. But I don;t think that having another child would necessarily stretch you too thin. I mean, people have 4...5...6 kids... and still manage to give them all the love and attention that they need.
I also don't think that the quality of life you have with your DS will take a hit. Things will change...yes... but not necessarily for the worse. And DS might NOT hate his sibling!!!
There is also no guarantee that you would suffer from PND again.. and having had it before means that you could prepare properly in case you got it again.

So, all these things aside... you are left with your real dilemma... the fact that you crave another and your DH doesn't.
Thankfully you realise that forcing him into having another one isn't the way to go... So how about asking him WHY he doesn't want one... and then giving the solutions to each of his reasons. Sensible solutions... and see how he feels...
Ask him to tell you what he thinks the worst outcome would be if yuo ahd another child... and then see if you can work out a way for it not to be like that.

Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 12:50:30

I wonder a bit about counselling, because it might help find the 'third way' that we seem to be missing at the moment. Or at least help me deal with the grief of not getting my own way (stamps little foot and pouts). Normally we are extremely good at resolving the toughest disagreements: it's something I'm proud of in our relationship, but ironically that doesn't make us naturally inclined to talk to a third party.

Thanks for your comments about two children vs one: that actually helps me deal with my inner 'sensible head' and its reservations. Although I'm almost scared to make these points to DH: it seems to me that he has not yet reached down to the most fundamental reason why he doesn't want a second child, and if I challenge his reservations strongly, I will make him get there. Which could make him even more immoveable.

<sigh>perhaps I should just let it lie. If I knew I could forget it and it wouldn't affect the way I look at DH in the future, I would.

pooka Tue 14-Jun-05 12:53:33

Again, wouldn't want to provoke a debate about pros and cons of one child families. But it seems to me that the timing is pretty good for you. Your ds will be starting school soon and is also of an age where he might actually appreciate a brother or sister and be involved with its care.

Enid Tue 14-Jun-05 12:55:29

gizmo, your head isnt as sensible and logical as you think! There is no earthly reason why you wouldn't be able to give your ds as much love and affection as you do now. Having two is easier than one in a lot of ways as others have said.

I have to say I dont think your dh's reasons are at all logical. i think they come from fear of the unknown and in fact he is being extremely illogical.

Is he an only child? having no siblings can sometimes produce children who find it hard not to get their own way and cannot compromise...

expatinscotland Tue 14-Jun-05 12:55:30

Good luck to you, Gizmo. Guess DH and I are pretty lucky, we are both 100% in full agreement that we want to stop at 2. We both want to pursue careers that will make life better for our family. I'm also 34 and feel content with stopping after this one.

Counselling sounds like a good idea.

Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 12:57:43

Hmmm, cross posted with a load of sensible suggestions here, ways for me to think about it and to talk to DH about it.

Yes, Fran, I showed him the depth of my feelings about this last night for the first time and I think it shook him. I'm vaguely embarrassed about it: I've changed my mind from a very definite 'I'm never having another child' and at the moment I feel like I'm begging for something as if I'm a little girl. In an ideal world, I'd want DH to do this because he wants another child, not to humour me. And of course, now that I understand how unkeen he is, even if he does agree because he knows I'm upset, I'm not going to believe that actually he really wants this child. Which will have loads of knock on consequences if we have a new baby (see below)

Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 13:00:31

Oh, and BTW, re our backgrounds.

Ironically, I'm the only child in this relationship. Double irony: I loved being an only child, although now as I and my parents get older the issue of being alone is more double edged.

DH has an older sister with whom he has had a fairly competitive relationship but who now he is rather fond of.

Doesn't make sense, does it

Enid Tue 14-Jun-05 13:04:54

but it would it be possible for him to change his mind when he realises the depth of your feeling? Surely your relationship recognises that people do change over the years?

starlover Tue 14-Jun-05 13:05:04

I think you need to find out his "real" reasons for not wanting another child. Once you have that you will be able to talk it through properly... and see where it all goes from there.

Also, I know it's difficult, but try not to let it consume you... let him know that you want another one but not RIGHT NOW... he may feel like this is such a sudden change of mind, and that he is being pressured into it. Let him realise that this doesn't have to be immediate... get him used to the idea... tell him stories about how lovely it'll be to have 2 kids!!!

Prettybird Tue 14-Jun-05 13:15:00

Gizmo - I've been through very similar with dh (only difference was that I had 8always* known I wanted more than one).

The issue for dh was age - he was concerned that he would be 65 when the child was still at uni (this was two years ago, when I fell accidently - but happily - prengant but unfortunately miscarried).

We had lots of attempts to talk about it, either by letter or through some counselling that I had and some counselling we went to toherther (we went throguh some really rough patches) - but mostly we have avoided the subject (a lot my fault - I get upset by the going round in circles). However, about 9 months ago, dh finally said that we should try for another one. I know that he has reservations and that he is just doing to keep me happy - which means that if we have a wee horror, I will feel very guilty and try to bear the whole burden (ds was and mostly still is the child from heaven - slept through from the start). Bu that is balanced by the fact that he knows I really want one - and he knows that my fear is that I will resent him in years to come, and if anything were ever to happen to ds.......

My situation is complicated by the fact I am 44. You are much younger.

One thing my counsellor, who I saw after the miscarriage, warned me against was trying to use logic with dh. He was using "logical" arguments with me, about money and age - but whenever I "proved" them wrong or addressed them, it made no difference (eg his concern about money - I gave him a budget showing how we would cope while I was on maternity leave, plus I pulled together a spreadsheet of our assets, showing we were sitting on a pile of cash...). She reminded me that his concerns weren't really about logic but about something deeper.

I've never really got to the bottom of it, but I think it is something to do with "he's made it from working class to comfortable middle class and doesn't want his adored child - ds - to have his start in life compromised in any way". He'd also just taken a package from his job and was upset at the thought of being forced back in to the rat race, when the package had given him some breathng space (and was horrified to find that I was still wanting another one - when I though I had always made it clear I didn't want ds to be an only child) The age thing is a concern for him - he would now be 46 if I were to coneive in the near future.

Ds is now 4.5 so if I do manage to conceive (I've just started on Clomid to "improve the quality of my eggs"), there will be quite a big age gap.

I'm not sure if any of this helps you, except to show that others have gone through similar dilemmas.

Fimbo Tue 14-Jun-05 13:15:11

I am an "only child" and think I am quite independant because of it, I don't need loads and loads of friends and could happily entertain myself for hours and hours as a child. The downside is now in adulthood, my parents took 10 years to conceive me and are now in their early 70's and I worry about the future for them and for me. I live an 8hr car journey away from them, in a part of the country that does not have good transport links and would not be able to get to them quickly in an emergency. My dh on the other hand is the youngest of three and his siblings live close enough to his parents to be able to visit them frequently. My dh and I are now having to make the decision of staying where we are or moving back home to a job with a lesser salary just so we can be closer to my parents.
My dh and I were both unsure of having a second child, and were blessed with my ds 18mths ago. It hasn't been easy and as my dd is nearly 7, I would have probably had at the very least a part-time job by now, but every time my ds points to a bird and says "ello duck" (we live in a village full of ducks - his first word was duck) my heart melts and I know that we made the right decision. My dd adores her little brother and they are now at an age where they play together. My dd told me the other day that she was glad I had him because it was boring when she was on her own!! Good luck, with whatever you and your dh decide.

puddle Tue 14-Jun-05 13:21:30

Oh Gizmo...

I must be honest and say that I have found having a second very easy at first but it has got progressively harder. My children are 5 and 2.5. My Dp like yours feels we are stretched thin in terms of our time mainly - finances too but that's always the case! My view is that when you make the leap from one to two children something has to give somewhere. For us it was our work - we have both scaled back to be able to spend time with our children.

But I'm currently debating a third with my DP! His current position is 'convince me that we'll cope and I'll say yes'.

I think you need to be honest with each other about how you feel. In your position, given you use logic to resolve difficulties, I'd approach it logically with your DP - make a business case if that's not too awful a concept to grasp! Maybe have a conversation with him about his concerns and then work on how you both might get round them. Really set out how you think your lives might need to change and where/how the changes could be made.

Do you think he's worried about your PND returning too? It's very hard on partners as well as dreadful for the women experiencing it IME.

Don't know if this helps - I'll watch this thread with interest!

Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 13:22:48

Well, we know we've changed: that's what people do in relationships, isn't it?

And we're working very hard to stay on the same page as we change. This situation is a shock because we're so far apart and it matters so much to both of us: it's easy to get angry and shouty but that's not going to help us resolve it...

Yes, counselling sounds sensible: I'm sure there are loads of things about my own need for another child that it would help me to understand and I think this whole episode has bought up a lot of questions about us that need to be thought through more deeply. Has anyone done it? What happens?

handlemecarefully Tue 14-Jun-05 13:25:02

"My dd told me the other day that she was glad I had him because it was boring when she was on her own!! "

Can't argue with that can you!

crunchie Tue 14-Jun-05 13:25:56

Gizmo, I have to say I agree with everyone else about a 2nd child being less work rather than more (in some ways) as they can play together without need for constant attention from you. I also don't know of any kid who 'hates' their siblings for preventing them getting everything they want. Yes they might SAY that but deep down I doubt it is true. You may have planned a specific life for your kid, private school, great holidays etc but does your child REALLY need all that?

I look at my family, I have 2 girls, my brother has one, my other brother has 2 and may have a third. My eldest (single child) goes to private school, has nice holidays etc but has always missed the closeness of a sibling and LOVES her neices in a way that she wouldn't be so bothered if she had a sibling.

My girls have each other and they are really close at times, they would do anything for each other - including virtually kill each other!! They won't go to private school and our holidays are spent camping, but they have each other which is worth more than any money. With one child I would have more work to keep them entertained, with 2 let amuse themselves.

Please try to get your dh to at least discuss the matter, perhaps councelling is the way to go. Explain to him how desparate you are, and say that you feel the need to have councelling to help YOU come to terms with things. This way when you get there you can talk the whole issue through in a less confrontational way and perhaps find a solution to the issue.

bootsmonkey Tue 14-Jun-05 13:28:25

My goodness, I could have written this post to the letter! I have no advice to give as I am going through exactly the same. I go around and around in circles, until I feel I am going mad. My DH is just getting his life back together - started earning again, self esteem rising, etc - he was primary carer to our DD who is 3.1yo. I feel I have lost control of my hormones at times and I concur with you about how I cannot force the issue as it will only result in huge amounts of resentment further down the line. My first DD was the result of an ultimatum as he has never wanted kids. Ditto, PND, not being a baby person etc.

As others have said, logic really does not come into the equation...

I will be following this thread closely!!!

Gizmo Tue 14-Jun-05 13:36:00

Arggghhhh, keep cross posting with people.

Prettybird: you're having similar issues, but hang on, what were we saying about stolen bodies a few weeks back? . Your counsellor's comments about the dangers of logical argument sound very pertinent to me: it probably is something deeper, but getting to it is going to be hellish, I think, since DH is oyster like on emotional stuff and requires similar levels of pressure to get him to open up.

Maybe if I keep working on the logic case and presenting the positive emotional elements of child number 2 (the pros and cons list suggested earlier) we can isolate the real knotty underlying fear.

I would probably benefit from working out the answer to 'why is it a good idea' myself....

Enid Tue 14-Jun-05 13:37:07

oh god, cant you just get pg?

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