Yes, I Know My Daughter Needs a Sibling
But thanks for pointing that out to me. Again.
Out of curiosity, what reaction are you anticipating? Do you genuinely foresee something along the lines of ‘Oh! Of course! I’ve been so wrapped up in this one I’d not given it a moment’s thought! Thanks though – I’ll get right onto that tonight!’?
Do you truly imagine I’ve not considered it? Or, perhaps, do you think I have – but clearly a nudge is in order, and you’re the right person to give it?
What if I’ve deliberated, but ultimately decided against it? Are you the right person to convince me I’m wrong?
It’s such a deeply personal and complex decision. I used to be of the naïve assumption that once you’d had one baby, there’d be little holding you back from cracking on with the next. But I now know better; and, if you’ve had children yourself – perhaps you should too.
However, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt, and so I’m writing this to help you appreciate just precisely what it is you may be suggesting to those you impose your unsolicited opinions on.
Edit: For those on a well-known baby platform discussing this post (July ’18), here’s my personal truth.
Does My Child Need a Sibling?
Here are some of the very legitimate issues only-child families may be contending with:
Throughout my first pregnancy I was scared of giving birth, but I didn’t know what was in store and tried very hard to remain calm and zen. I allowed myself to believe that maybe, just maybe, it wouldn’t be quite as horrendous as I feared. But it was worse. Everything went wrong and my baby was in danger. The pain was indescribable. The very thought of wilfully putting myself through it again is enough to induce sweaty palms and near-hysteria. Naturally I feel guilty for that, but each time I close my eyes and try to consider the wonder of holding another infant in my arms, the anxiety takes over and panic sets in.
Quite simply, I can’t do it.
I’d love nothing more than another baby – but I’m unwell. Carrying another child could exacerbate my illness; it could even prove fatal. This is already something that hangs over our family every day; I certainly don’t need reminding of it with your unnecessary comments.
While my daughter would probably benefit from the addition of a sibling, I’m not convinced that would be the case should it be at the expense of her mummy.
I can barely make myself cope with one child – I cannot begin to think about bringing another into this situation. Just dragging myself out of bed in the morning is sometimes beyond my capability. I’m a failure as a mother and the relentless guilt I feel towards the toddler I have is overwhelming enough.
I cannot risk the idea that a second may heal me; because equally, it may be my undoing.
My Body is Not Ready
Yes, I’d quite like to start thinking about it, actually. But my periods have not yet returned. Oh, am I making you uncomfortable now? Sorry about that, it’s a rather personal issue to discuss, isn’t it…
I’d love nothing more than another baby. I’m ready; I’m broody; and you’re right – my toddler needs a sibling. So imagine my immense heartache and despair that I can’t give it to her. Each time you repeat your assertion, it’s like scratching at a wound which refuses to heal. My partner wants it too, but [insert reason] is preventing us from having a second child, and we’re devastated by that.
I Just Miscarried
If you’d told me this last week, it’s possible you’d have been rewarded with a reticent smile and a whispered confidence. But this week the best I can do is look away and choke back my tears, while I silently scream at you for your cruel words.
I’m utterly bereft, and too emotionally exhausted to want to share that with you.
I’m desperate to have another baby, but we’ve done the sums and they don’t add up. Would you have us put ourselves in debt? We have to consider what’s best for the child we do have, and right now that means being able to afford to put food on the table and keep a roof over her head. Naturally, we’d be thrilled to accept your benevolence should you wish to gift us enough to cover the cost of a sibling for our daughter; but until that day arrives, your ill-thought words feel callous.
I’m Scared for My Health
Following the birth of my daughter I was affected by a mild case of Postnatal Anxiety. I say mild because I beat it alone, without medical intervention – but make no mistake: it was a dark time. I am terrified of returning to that place, and that the additional responsibility of baby number two could be what would send me there. I need to be a good mum; I can’t risk the possibility of a deterioration in my mental health jeopardising that.
I’m Scared for My Daughter
I have a high needs daughter. For those unsure of what that is, it basically means she requires lots of love and attention. (In my opinion, most babies would probably fall into this category if cared for by a mother who had the time, energy, capacity and inclination to respond to their every need.) I’m grateful that right now, if my daughter requires something from me, I can give it to her. I can’t bear the thought of being needed that way twice over, and being unable to provide either child with what they need from their mummy.
I’m Scared for My Marriage
Having a baby the first time around was daunting enough. But now we’re finally finding our feet as a family, I’m frightened of upsetting the applecart. My husband and I have had to learn to adjust and there have been times we’ve only just made it through – a new baby could complete our family – or it could destroy us. We’re not prepared to bet on those odds.
My Partner Doesn’t Want To
I think you’re right, as it happens. Alas, my partner disagrees. I’m devastated that we can’t seem to find a way forward together, and it’s tearing our marriage apart.
I can’t discuss this with him, let alone with you.
You want the awful, humiliating truth? We’re not having sex. Having a child has been the equivalent of throwing a stick of dynamite at our marriage. What was a previously unbreakable union has become a desolate, lonely place. We initially blamed sleep-deprivation and fatigue. But eventually the fuse burnt out and now we must face the reality: we’ve grown apart. And I’m in despair.
I’m Getting Divorced
If things were different I would be pregnant right now. Unfortunately having a child put such unprecedented pressure on our relationship that we’ve been unable to sustain our marriage. We’re yet to make the announcement; but we will be imminently. The guilt we both feel that our daughter is losing her stability instead of gaining a sibling is vast.
Your remarks feel like the picking apart of the delicate threads of our family.
My Partner is Abusive
In another lifetime, I’d be blissfully happy and planning my next pregnancy. Alas, when it’s impossible to tell which moment or event will be the one to set him off – I can’t risk it. I need to consider the child I have: we need to leave. But it’s not that simple. However, it’s not too late to protect my child’s sibling: simply by preventing his/her conception. Be under no misapprehension, this is an appalling position for our family to be in, but right now it’s the best I can do.
I Just Lost My Partner
Imagine the depth of my sorrow. We started creating our family; but we’d not finished. And now my husband’s been prematurely stolen away, my family will never be complete. Of course I’m grateful for the child he gave me before he was wrenched from us; and naturally I’m glad for the memories we made together, which I look back at with fondness.
But I’m also flailing; I’m so eaten up by the unfairness of it all. I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a home shrouded in bitterness and grief – that’s not the childhood I foresaw for her. Yet forcing smiles when my husband – her daddy – should be here, gifting them to me, is an indescribable anguish. So I’m not only mourning my husband and best friend; I’m mourning the second child we will never have together, and the family we’ll never be. I’m doing my best, but the next time somebody asks me when I’ll be having another baby, I might just fall apart.
I’m Worried For a Loved One
She’d be horrified if she knew my concern for her well-being was making me cautious of extending my own family, but the fact that my sister/friend/cousin [delete as appropriate] is desperate yet unable to conceive is a factor right now. I dare say we will eventually go on to have a second child; but, right now, I’m content with my family and my priority is focusing on my loved ones.
Actually, for your information, we agree with you and we’re trying. But is that anyone else’s business? Essentially, you’re asking me to divulge details of our sex life, and I’m not comfortable with that. It’s inappropriate; that you’re asking about babies does not change that fact.
We Don’t Want To
We’re deliriously happy: our family is complete.
There’s no more, nor less to it. I shouldn’t have to justify our position, but I shall nonetheless. We’ve given our options due consideration and we know in our hearts we only want one child. It’s our belief we’ll be better able to provide everything she needs emotionally and financially if we accept ours is a unit of three. Our daughter has mutually adored/adoring cousins; she has wonderful close friendships; but most of all – she has devoted parents who cherish every moment with her.
So – thanks for your concern; but, as her parents we feel we’re best placed to decide whether siblings are a necessity. And in our daughter’s case, I can assure you – they are not.
At least one of these applies to me; I dare you to ask which.
Does My Child Need a Sibling? Our Truth
As it happens, it is on my radar – in as much as it weighs heavily on my mind. But I have no intention of sharing the very personal components of our decision-making. Perhaps there will be an announcement soon; perhaps not.
I know you’re trying to impart your insight; but please credit me with the wisdom to make the right decision for myself, and for my family.
And those reasons above that are not applicable to me? They may well be to someone else. I urge you to consider all the many, many potential implications of your words. Because without any malice or cruel intent, your impertinence could very well be splintering somebody’s heart.
For more of my scribblings on parenting, sign up below for email notifications of new posts!