The Great Sibling Debate.

I realise that by writing this blog post, I am leaving myself open to criticism, and very deeply felt opinions, but  I really REALLY feel the need to write it. I’ve been thinking about one thing and one thing only for months now on and off, but it’s now to the point where I think about little else:

Should we have another child?

I grew up with a sibling – an older brother to be exact and wouldn’t change a thing. I have vague memories of the odd brother/sister bickering, but I couldn’t recall what any were actually about. We got on (and still do get on) brilliantly and I’ve always assumed I’d have a two-kid family myself. But the truth is, I’m completely torn.

I never accounted for the pressure to have a second. A colleague of mine asked within weeks of Grace being born when we’d have another. “You will have another won’t you? I’m an only child and have to nurse my elderly Mother now. You have to have another one.” Now Grace is two, the question raises itself more and more frequently. Why do even vague acquaintances feel the need the need to ask such a personal question anyway? What the hell’s it got to do with them? Why are they bothered? Here are some of the things taking up far too much brain space at the moment:

  • I had a horrible pregnancy due to morning sickness. Not as bad as some, but not something I’d want to go through again.  
  • I had a traumatic birth. See previous sentence.
  • My Mum was diagnosed as terminally ill when I was 8 months pregnant. She died when Grace was 10 weeks old. I cannot even begin to explain the stress this caused at a time in my life that should’ve been one of the happiest: hardest yes, but happiest. Although I know I wouldn’t have that stress a second time around, I am afraid of the memories that will come back – especially at a time when you’re hormonally all over the place.
  • My other half isn’t keen. He would do it if I wanted it enough, but he would be the first to admit that he wasn’t good with the sleepless nights. They affected him so badly that it just felt like an extra weight/responsibility on me to get her to sleep or to be the one to get up. (Most of the time, he would have to be up early for work, so I am in no way bitter about this, just anxious.)
  • Grace has been hard work, especially entering the toddler years. Most people I know that go on to have a second have had a relatively easy first. I don’t know if I feel strong enough to going through it all again. People tell me you “just get on with it”  but I can’t help but question the quality of life we’d have? If another child happened to be a difficult one, I have to be honest and admit that I’m not sure I’d enjoy it.
  • I feels like we’re finally getting our independence and our life back. We can have nights away, full nights sleep, less and less paraphernalia to cart around, go everywhere and anywhere with Grace now with minimal fuss. 
  • We have one Grandparent to help us out family wise: That’s all. I love her to pieces and we are exceptionally grateful to her for all she does. As things stand we can occasionally leave Grace for the night, but we couldn’t do that with two as  it’d be too much for her.
  • I was diagnosed with depression after having Grace. NOT post natal, but “normal” depression due to loosing Mum, but I am terrified of any kind of depression reoccurring.
  • I am very aware and feel very guilty that all the above reasons are completely selfish and are only for a short time.

Almost all the friends who had a child around the same time as I had Grace have either just had, or are pregnant with another. This makes me feel like it’d be a good time for me too aswell.  Seeing those bumps and holding those little newborns does tug on the heart-strings and make me a bit broody, but not that broody. In fact, if I’m really honest, almost a little relieved I’m not in that boat But then the guilt kicks in.

Am I being cruel? Or at best a little unfair not giving Grace a sibling and allowing her the chance to experience that special relationship? Would she resent that  decision as she grows up? What about long-term, when me and Stu are no longer here? I don’t know what I’d have done without my brother when we lost Mum. I have someone who knows what it feels like – someone to always reminisce with. And yet, I also know of  siblings who hate one-another, who are not close at all, who only remember fighting and who have  fallen out over wills.

But suppose Grace lives abroad? Or doesn’t want kids herself? Selfish thoughts again, but thoughts non-the-less.

 I asked a smashing little girl at Grace’s child-minders if she liked being the only one. “Yes!” was the firm reply as she carefully pieced her lego together. “I get my Mummy ALL to myself.” 

I think the crux of it is this: I want to want  one but I’m just not sure if I do. I am waiting for some kind of thought or revelation to hit me and BAM: decision made.

Nothing is forthcoming though, and I don’t know what to do.

What to do  . . . .


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20 responses to “The Great Sibling Debate.

  1. The grass is always greener hun. Those of us who had siblings fought and argued, but pulled together when need be, lived with constant noise and arguments and longed for the peace and quiet being an only child can bring – but then I had a best friend, an only child, who use to love coming to mine and my other best friends house (I’m 1 of 4 and her 1 of 5) cos there was always so much going on others to play/fight and share things with, but we preferred her house cos it was quiet and peaceful and you could hear yourself think and talk to an adult without having to fight for attention.
    There is no easy answer, and only you and your husband can decide what you and him think is best for you in the long run.
    weigh up the pros and cons, write them down if need be, and prioritise them. would you feel resentful towards another child if it causes rows between you and hubby over sleep/work balance??
    Might you feel different in 2, 3 4 yrs time and reconsider then if your answer is no right now? just because (if) you decide no at the moment you might decide yes in the future.
    My 2 daughter grew up with the only thing in common being they hated each other, resented the ground the other walked on, everything they did and ever breath they took – but now in their 30’s they are brilliant to each other, help each other out, support each other in every way possible and would fight to save the other – its a strange world.
    Sorry I cant answer your question for you, I will say dont feel pushed into it because you think you should be having another, or cos your friends are having another. Do it because it is the right thing to do for the 3 of you
    Does she have cousins to grow up with she can use as siblings?
    Sorry if this is no help

  2. What a lovely considered comment. Thank you. Grace has 2 cousins but they live long distance so we don’t see them very often. Lots of friends though. My age is also another consideration as I don;t want to be too much older if I were to have another, and yes – I’m worried I’ll regret not having two furtherdown the line. ALso we still have all the baby stuff at the moment. What you said about resentment rings very true though. It’s so hard. . . x

  3. I am debating this at the moment. I had a horrendous labour with The Boy and it’s had lasting repurcussions psychologically affecting me in ways I wasn’t expecting. I want another child but I’ve already demanded a promise from the GP that it will be a c-section. But I’m still scared. I don’t think I’ve slept more than 6 hours since April 2009 and am desperate to remember what it’s like. Hubby and I have struggled on and off since having him, it’s certainly affected our relationship. And as for finances…

    But I don’t want The Boy to be an only child. I look at him at nearly 3 and I can see that he needs a sibling, he’s getting lonely. As the youngest of four, I treasure my siblings. And for the first time last night I actually wanted to be pregnant again, I loved being pregnant.

    I think all of the things you’ve mentioned are valid points that you need to discuss with your husband. You do seem to be entertaining the thought of it, but can you handle another three years of upheaval? And more importantly to remember is that no two children are the same lovely.

    • Thank you for that. Me and the husband have discussed little else for some time time now- we just keep going round in circles. Since posting this I’ve had a lot of friends who were only children come forward and all of them – without exception so far – say they had a fantastic chiildhood and never felt lonely or resentful. This has surprised me, but I’m still stuck. I hope you guys can work things out too – although it sounds like you’re going for it? x

      • I think we are going to. My mum was an only child and felt lonely (but I suspect that was down to her mother more than anything else) and she always wanted a big family. Hence being one of four children. I don’t want to repeat that cycle and I do think The Boy would benefit from having a sibling. I’ve also started to get a little bit broody and smiled when I thought of being pregnant again. I just need to lose 25 stone first and develop some level of fitness. Oh and have sex more often!

  4. hi minty,
    first of all – please excuse lack of punctuation, i only have one hand free as the other is feeding.
    it is a tough decision indeed! noone can honestly help you with that decision im afraid because there are so many positives and negatives.
    having my second was always an assumption in my head i guess, but i have to say the pregnancy was TOUGH! no time to be tired with a toddler in the house. but remember how you forget so much after the event? – well, it doesnt seem so bad now…….
    The sleeplessness isnt so bad this time around either, one because it isn’t such a shock, and two because you already have a huge database of experience to draw on which solves your problems twice as fast…..
    the days range from chaos to calm and back again. its harder than having one, but then once they are older they will hopefully amuse each other and give me some peace.
    there is no rule that an age gap of 2 years is necessary, youre putting unnecessary pressure on yourself. it doesnt sound to me like youre ready. what you went through was unimaginable and awful and i can fully understand why that makes things difficult. but please dont let your mums passing and the pain and grief you went through be the reason not to have another. let it be for another reason if any…..
    i cant tell you what to do, to be honest i just ‘did the deed’ without thinking about it too much before i chickened out! i just knew i wanted tom to have a sibling to lean on as he grows. when my mum left us we fused together in a way i never would have expected, and to this day we are very supportive of each other and confide in things we would not want to burden our parents with. i wanted this for tom even if there are no guarentees.
    but even if we can sacrifice the good nights sleep, the nights out, the endless patience and added stress – not to mention the pregnancy and birth traumas – we should never have to sacrifice our selves, and if you think that it would be giving away too much of yourself to do it then it just isnt worth it because ultimately you have a life too, and you already have a daughter who needs a fully functioning and happy mother.
    my heart goes out to you minty, its a tough decision indeed……..

    much love,

    • Sarah your comment is so considered and caring, I’ve read it 20 times over. . . . thank you for taking the time to write it. You make such wonderful points on both sides. I think Tom and Charlie are very lucky to have you, and hopefully things will work themselves out in the Barlow house one way or another. My Mum always used to tell me “It’s ok not to know ” so I guess I shall take her advice and sit on things for a while (although that is NOT a euphamism for an attempt to concieve!!!) Big hugs to you xxx

  5. I admire your honesty Minty, I always thought I would have had a second child by now but my other half isnt so keen. Only last week I was having this conversation with a friend (who was giving me all her sons outgrown clothes – he is 3). I said to her ‘aren’t you going to save them for the next one?’ and her simple reply was ‘absolutely no way I am having another’.

    Ali is a handful (very stressful for us) and I am loving the morning independance we have when he is at nursery. I have a rubbish nights sleep every night and often wonder if I had another how on earth would I cope.

    Everyone asks us ‘whens the next one then?’ and I always notice people looking at my stomach as if in anticipation that I am going to be pregnant (although I look 4 months pregnant! it is just too much tapas!!)

    I would like another but am happy with one if the other half doesnt want another. I wont keep on at him for another as I am quite happy with life progressing as it is. (if it happens it happens for me).

  6. There’s no right or wrong here. You just have to go with your gut. Siblings have advantages, but it’s also harder with 2 kids! I’d have loved a 3rd but sadly I’m just too darn old. Everyone has different lives, different circumstances and what’s right for one is not right for another. Time will tell you the right answer for you

  7. Circusmum

    Its such a difficult situation isn’t it? My partner and I both wanted to have at least three children but after a terrible pregnancy and also having bad memories attached to that period in our lives I really made a point of dodging the “when’s the next one” questions.

    You need to do what is right for you when it’s right for you. Don’t worry how many kids your friends or family have or think you should have, trust your gut, it won’t steer you wrong!
    My princess is four in a few months and only now am I comfortable with the idea of having another baby!
    It’s lovely to see such thought out comments on your post xxx

  8. Do not ever have another child because other people presume you should have one or suggest that it’s good for you as a family. Have another child if/when the time is right for you as a family. And I truly mean that.

  9. iotamanhattan

    I haven’t been following your blog long enough to feel I should really comment on such an intimate question, but I do have one reflection. Take it with a total pinch of salt and ignore it if it isn’t for you.

    Might it be that having a second pregnancy, birth, baby, could turn out to be a healing thing? I have no medical or psychological background to base that thought on. It could be very different second time round.

    I think there is a lot of wisdom in the previous comments telling you that you don’t have to decide right now. You can wait and see. There’s no perfect age gap (I have 3.5 years between mine, which was longer than we’d hoped for, but you know what? these things work out). Your feelings might clarify over time. Don’t be in a rush.

    • A lovely considered comment and one that has made me think the most: the suggestion of a second child being a healing thing has really struck a chord and is something that had not occured to me at all. Thank you SO much xxx

  10. I’ve only just found your blog today so I don’t really ‘know’ you but I can understand your debate. It’s one I’ve had since my son was born in 2009. Hubby is 1 of 3 children and I’m an only child and we both said from the start we wanted at least 2 children. After our son was born he changed his mind and said one was enough. I was upset at first but then thought about it and understood the reasons (similar to your reasons in some ways) As time went on I switched between wanting one and not wanting one and it really drove me nuts, in the end it seemed the decsion was made as we live in a tiny 2 bed apartment, have no money (and no jobs as hubby got made redundant and I’ve been at home with Leo since he was born) and it’s all looking a bit pear-shaped.

    Then I went and accidentally got pregnant…..arrgh! but on the other hand it made the descion for us *rolls eyes*

    Sorry, I know that won’t have helped you at all but I think what i mean is don’t do it if you are not sure, but life has a way of just happening and things may change in the future.

    I apologise for the longest blog comment I’ve ever left!

    • Hi Emma – Thanks for reading. I feel very honoured that my blog has recieved your longest comment! (It’s usually a bit more humourous than this post.) It’s funny how things turn out isn’t it? I think I may just need to stop over-thinking and see what happens. We’re no nearer a decision as things stand, but each and every comment is very gratefully recieved and so lovely to know I’m not the only one who found it a dilema. xxx

  11. Muddling Along

    You have to do what is right for you

    A preganancy will be harder with a toddler to deal with – been there with HG when pregnant with Bigger and it was horrid BUT it does pass

    And yes, the 2nd can be even harder – our Littler was incredibly high needs and, whilst it was a smaller gap, the two children thing initally nearly killed us – yes it is great now but it was incredibly hard at the time and we had support from my parents locally

    There is no perfect answer, there is no wand to wave to show the right answer but you will, in time, find the answer that works for you and your family

    With love x

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