Home » Family Life » Let's Talk About One Child Families

Category: Let’s Talk About One Child Families

Emma @ Bubba Blue and Me

Let’s Talk About… One Child Families: Interview with Emma @ Bubbablue and Me

It’s been a little while since I featured an interview with another parent of an only child, because life has been pretty darn hectic behind the scenes here at The Patch lately.

But today I am really pleased to be bringing you another interview with a blogger who is raising an only child, just like we are. Emma @ Bubba Blue and Me

 

Meet Emma:

Emma’s a working mum of one and farmer’s wife…yes, she has the stereotypical Aga, Hunter wellies and (occasionally) bakes cakes.  She blogs to journal life on and off the farm with N, having started Bubbablue and me to reflect how she got on having a child when she’s not really a baby person.

Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?

I always thought I wouldn’t have children.  I couldn’t see myself having them, and wasn’t into babies or children at all, apart from our nephews and niece.  I did always think that if I changed my mind and wanted children, then I’d have 2.  I didn’t like the idea of only children, having only known 1 growing up.  To me having a sibling was the norm and something I’d have wanted for any children if I had them.

I hit 32, and then realised that actually I might regret not even trying for a child by the time I got old. My OH had been going on about children for years (I can never tell even now whether he’s joking) and we decided we’d try but keep it fairly relaxed.

Once N arrived I was surprised at how easy it was (apart from him not breastfeeding like I’d hoped, and the unplanned c section), and always presumed he’d be the first of two.  Then reality hits, and life gets back to normal, I go back to work, and childcare costs start.  Practically, with the OH (other half) being a farmer, he works 7 days a week, so the onus is on me to deal with working and childcare.  So having a second wouldn’t have been realistic – too expensive for childcare which would have meant me having to give up work, and there’s no way I could give up my only link to normality and enjoying the work I do (or did, bit different now in the work I do).  There’s also the change to relationships when you have a family, however long you’ve been married.  We’re quite happy now with only N, although I think if he didn’t have 6 cousins living within 1.5 miles, I might think differently.

Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?

It’s a real mix.  Out of 7 in our NCT group, 3 have only 1 for various reasons, and the rest have 2-3.  Other friends with similar aged children to N, mostly only have the one at the moment, a couple have had a second.  I think many of us are in our 30s, and have taken our time having children, so one works at the moment.

I also have a lot of online mum friends – we quite often have discussions over who’s still only got one because it seems like lots of them have had more, are pregnant or trying.  But actually, I’m surprised by how many are now only having one.

Do people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond?

I used to get it quite a bit.  The worst was a Great Aunt congratulating me on being pregnant at my mum’s funeral.  I didn’t think I looked like I had a ‘tummy’ at the time, but her reasoning for saying it was because ‘it’s about the right age gap after the first’.  I was mortified, but mostly because I thought I’d lost a bit of weight and was looking quite good in my dress!

A couple of friends have asked, but it’s more interest than anything judgemental.  Luckily, I think people probably wouldn’t dare ask me in case I snapped back.  Now N’s older, people probably presume we’ve chosen to have one and that’s it.

Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?

Aside from the money aspect, there’s the getting your life back earlier and not having to split your time across more than one child.  With more than one, you need to be able to balance the different personalities and needs.

I think also, only children have to be able to speak to and socialise with a wider mix of age groups, where in social settings often siblings will get sent off to play together, and not be expected to sit and talk to the adults.  It’s a good way to ease them in to adult conversation while still ensuring the adults get to play at being children to entertain the only child.

And what are the hardest things about having an only child?

Definitely worrying that they’re not growing up to be spoilt, and making sure they have enough social opportunities with peers.  I think it’s brilliant that all of N’s cousins live so close, and that he’s really good friends with his 6 year old cousin.  Without them around, I’d have to organise a lot more playdates outside nursery.

They do say that only children tend to be more confident. I’m not sure N’s at that level, but that’s not surprising with a quiet dad, and a naturally shy mum (although talking for England and being opinionated tends to cover that up).  Being an only child means N will have to find his own way, and not be encouraged or challenged by having either an older sibling to follow and aspire to, or a younger one to compete with as they come up behind.

Having lost my mum last year (our dad died when I was 3), I do think it would be hard to have gone through that without my brother as well.  We’re now dealing with our Nan’s dementia and putting her in a home, and again, it’s not something I’d want to go through alone.  That kind of thing in future will be harder for N, but hopefully he’ll still be close to his cousins for support.

Does your son ever ask about siblings? If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond to their questions?

Thankfully no.  I think N is pretty oblivious although he knows that others have baby brothers or sisters.

What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Do people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or are people generally positive about your decision?

People don’t really comment on N being an only child.  Comments tend to be more about how happy he is, or chatty or reserved until he gets to know someone.  I think most of what I’ve heard was growing up or in the media about other people.  I didn’t know many only children growing up, but once I started work I came across quite a few.  The ones I’ve met have predominantly been very self-assured and confident, and as adults you don’t notice if they were spoiled as a child or not, so the stereotype of that isn’t always true.

Do you worry about any of these things, or are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?

I worry a little about N being spoiled.  He does have a lot of stuff because instead of spending money on me, I now spend it on him to a certain extent.  But I think if we can instill correct values, expectations and breadth of experience and situations where he’ll meet lots of new people, hopefully he’ll grow up having not missed out on having a sibling.

If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?

If you’ve chosen specifically to only have one child, then it’s your decision and sod what anyone else says.

If you’ve not had a choice in the matter but circumstances have meant you have one child, then make the most of having the time to spend with one child.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Ultimately as long as your child is happy and fulfilled, they don’t have to have a sibling to make their way in the world.

********************

I’d like to thank Emma for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Emma then you can find her on the Bubbablue and Me blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Pinterest.

********************

Let's Talk About... One Child Families

This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.

Trish Burgess Mums Gone To

Let’s Talk About… One Child Families: Interview with Trish Burgess @ Mums Gone To…

A couple of weeks ago I started a new series, here at The Patch, interviewing other parents of an only child in the hopes of sharing a wide variety of views on what it is like to raise an only child.

This week I’m featuring Trish Burgess about what it has been like raising her “one and only” and how it feels now that he has left for university.

Trish Burgess Mums Gone To

Trish is mum to Rory, who is 18.

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself?

Originally from Newcastle upon Tyne, I now live in South Lincolnshire with my GP husband, Dougie and my son, Rory, who has just started his first term at university. My blog, ‘Mum’s Gone To…’ began as a place to write up my holiday diaries and although I write about other subjects, travel is its main topic.

Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?

It wasn’t a planned decision. We had some fertility issues which meant it took four years before Rory came along. There followed a miscarriage two years later. After that, my husband and I decided we didn’t want Rory’s childhood to be affected by us constantly pursuing a wish for another child. We were so grateful that Rory had been born, we wanted to just love him and accept the dynamics of our little family.

Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?

Yes, I do know one or two parents who just have one child although most of our friends have more than one.

Did people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how did this make you feel and how did you respond? At what point did people stop asking this question?

I was very relieved that people never asked me if I was going to have another although, interestingly, in the early years, my husband used to get a lot of queries from people, something he found very frustrating.  However, as Rory grew older, and the number of photos on his desk of Rory at different ages increased, people thought our family was larger than it was!

Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?

We have had lots of time to give to our child and, in return, he has been very close to us. He has been content in his own company from an early age, although very sociable outside of the family. We breezed through the teenage years. However, I’m not sure how much of his personality has been affected by being an only child and how much is just in his genes. He may have been the same child even if he had been part of a larger family.

And what are the hardest things about having an only child?

When he was growing up, unless he had pals round, his dad and I were his friends. It would have been great to be able to say, ‘Off you go and play with your brother/sister.’

I do worry about the future and the fact that he will have to deal with ageing parents alone. However, my husband is an only child and although his parents are elderly, he has me by his side to support him.

Did your son ever ask about siblings? If so, how did this make you feel and how did you respond to his questions?

I don’t think he ever asked about siblings. He has cousins, although they don’t live nearby, but it doesn’t seem to have been an issue.

What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Did people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or have people been generally positive about your decision? Has this changed as you son has grown older?

Not so much what people have said to me but I have read articles over the years which would suggest an only child could be lonely or introverted. I don’t think people consider him ‘spoiled’ but they have teased me recently because I have had to start teaching him how to cook and iron before going off to university. I think I mothered him a bit too much but would I have been just the same if I had been the mother of more than one child? Probably.

Did/do you worry about any of these things, or were/are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?

I did worry a little when he was younger but my husband never had any concerns, reassuring me that Rory was content and that, just because he enjoyed his own company, this wasn’t something to be seen as a bad thing.

If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?

A family is a family whatever its size. Try not to be overly concerned about him or her being an only child and, instead, go with the flow. Don’t force your child to have company all the time. I used to try and encourage him to play with friends, which was great, but sometimes it was all a bit too much and he preferred the peace and quiet once they had gone. Not every ‘only child’ is going to be the same.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

When your only child does leave home, the nest becomes empty straight away as there are no brothers or sisters staying at home to ease the pain: that’s quite tough.

 ********************

I’d like to thank Trish for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Trish then you can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Pinterest.

 ********************

Let's Talk About... One Child Families

This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.

Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One

Let’s Talk About… One Child Families: Interview with Mary @ Over 40 and a Mum to One

In light of my trip to London this week to talk about my decision to never have another baby thanks to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, I’ve decided it is an aspect of our lives that I want to focus on in more detail. I’ve touched on it before and you can find out more on my “One Child Family” page.

However as one child families are on the rise, for a multitude of reasons, I thought it would be both fun and beneficial to find out from others just how they came to be a “one child family” and what it has meant to them.

I have already made some great connections online with other parents of only children and so I am beginning my series with one such parent, the lovely Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One.

Mary from Over 40 and a Mum to One

Mary is mum to Monkey, who is 4 years old (soon to be 5 in December, which we all know is a very important detail at this age!)

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

“I’m a mid 40 Mum of one.  Before Monkey was born I had a busy career in Export Sales and enjoyed visiting customers across Europe.  But since becoming a Mum I decided to take time out and enjoy life with my son.  We’ve had an amazing time together and I now look forward to watching him as he starts his journey through school.”

Can you explain how and/or why you decided to have an only child? Was it something you always planned or did some circumstance force you to make the decision?

“I had always hoped to have two children, I certainly didn’t set out to have an only child.  I had Monkey when I was 41, and fell for him within 3 months of trying.  I knew that time was against me to have number two, but it took longer to fall second time around.  Lots of tears when each month nothing had happened.  Then I fell pregnant early in 2011 but had a rather unpleasant miscarriage just before my 12 week scan.  It was heartbreaking and for me I just couldn’t go through that again.  By this time I was  43 and just felt that I could either spend each month getting more upset that I wasn’t pregnant, or draw a line under it and be happy with what I had – a beautiful little boy.  My OH works very long hours so I’m practically a single parent really, with no family support.  I was tired and worn out and just realised that for me, that was that.  It was upsetting, and I’ll always feel guilty that Monkey doesn’t have a sibling. But he’ll never know what he’s missed.”

Do you know other parents who have an only child, or are you the only person in your group of friends/colleagues who has stopped at one?

“My oldest school friend has an eight year old daughter and always knew she would only have one child; and another friend tried IVF a few times after not being able to conceive for a second time, they failed.  But in general all of my friends have at least two children now.”

Do people often ask you, “so when are you going to have another?” If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond?

“Friends and family used to ask, but I’ve always been open about my miscarriage and they know how devastated I was at the time.  I think most people who don’t actually know me, presume that I had to have IVF to have Monkey in the first place!”

Can you share some of the best things about being a parent to an only child?

“They have your full concentration.  There are no arguments about sharing/breaking toys, unlike my friends.  I don’t have to worry about activities that will cater for two different age groups or interests.  Everything can be totally focused on what Monkey likes.”

And what are the hardest things about having an only child?

“Knowing he won’t have the sibling relationship that I had with my brother growing up. Worrying about Monkey being spoilt and not as sociable as other children.  Being older parents I worry about Monkey being alone to deal with life in the future.  I’ve always been lucky that my brother and I have supported each other in difficult times.”

Does your son/daughter ever ask about siblings? If so, how does this make you feel and how do you respond to their questions?

“When our NCT group had their second children – all boys, I was waiting for Monkey to ask when he was going to get a brother too.  He never has.  But last week when he started school, he asked me why his friends were going a different way home.  I told him that they had older brothers and sisters to collect from other classes.  Oh, ok Mummy. Can I have a brother or sister then?  It made me feel sad.  I just said that I didn’t think he’d like to share his train set would he?  Oh no Mummy!  That was end of that conversation.  But if he asks again then I’ll try to explain why he’s an only child.”

What are the best and worst things that people have told you about only children? Do people tell you they will be “spoiled” or “lonely”? Or are people generally positive about your decision?

“I can’t actually think of anyone making comments about him being an only child to be honest.”

Do you worry about any of these things, or are you confident that your child will thrive as an only child?

“I am worried that I do spoil Monkey, it can also be the downside to blogging when new and exciting things keep popping through the letterbox!  I’m sure there will be times when he might feel lonely, but he is very good at entertaining himself.  He is very timid and no matter what I have done to try to make him more confident, I’ve had to accept that this is who he is.”

If you could offer some advice to someone who was considering raising an only child, what would you say?

“The most important thing is to have a happy child who knows that they are loved.  That’s the only thing to consider in my opinion.”

********************

I’d like to thank Mary for taking part in this series and answering all my questions so openly and honestly. If you’d like to find out more about Mary and her life with Monkey, you can find her on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and Pinterest.

 ********************

Let's Talk About... One Child Families

This post is part of my “Let’s Talk About… One Child Families” series. If you are a parent to an only child and would like to take part, please get in touch using my contact form.

Let’s Talk About One Child Families

There’s been a fair amount of media coverage this past week regarding “one child families”, which seems rather timely for me as I have recently been coming to terms with and even finding peace with the idea of joining this part of society and remaining a “one child family” rather than adding to our little brood.

SAM_0043

I never thought I would have an only child. It just never entered my mind. I considered the fact that we may not be able to have any children, but never that we would stop at one. That was, of course, before I discovered how truly awful pregnancy is for me and how to go through another one would be to seriously jeopardize my relationship with TJ.

I’m not exagerrating, and I’m not saying that we don’t have a strong relationship. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. In the 6 years I have known TJ we have been through redundancy (for TJ) and subsequently two career changes, two chemically-induced menopauses (for me) and surgery for my Endometriosis, several relocations, and a pregnancy complicated by Hyperemesis Gravidarum and Cholestasis. Not to mention that in that time both of us has suffered from depression as a result of the strain from all the health issues. We wouldn’t have survived this long if our relationship wasn’t strong.

But, I know we have found our limit. We both do. In fact, TJ knew it long before I did (or rather he was able to admit it long before I was!) To face another pregnancy would be devastating for our relationship and it is that knowledge which helps me put to rest those maternal urges that make me think “I want another baby”. I have wrestled with this a lot over the past 18 months, but I finally feel like I am getting to the point where jealousy no longer creeps in as soon as I hear of someone else adding to their family. In fact I had cuddles with a friend’s newborn a couple of weeks ago and there wasn’t even the teeniest pang of jealousy at all… and that took me totally by surprise!

SAM_0026

You see, for a long time I thought that even if I couldn’t expand my family through another pregnancy, then we could look into adoption. But the more I really thought about this the more I realised that it wasn’t just the pregnancy that was an issue for me, but the overwhelming exhaustion that comes from looking after a child. I am exhausted all the time, and though this was true before my pregnancy (Endometriosis and side effects of the hormonal treatments to try and control the Endo symptoms will do that to you) it is most definitely true now that I have Little Man to consider.

Just this past month I have been battling a horrific cold. I’ve had cold after cold since last September, but this one has been a killer. In fact I am now on antibiotics because of the fact that 3 weeks later it has developed into a chesty cough, sore throat, and completely blocked sinuses. And today is the first day that I have dropped Little Man off at the childminder, called in sick at work, and had a day to simply rest on the sofa and try to get better. Gone are the days when a cold could be fought by plenty of rest… it just doesn’t happen when you have a toddler.

And therein lies the key to my thinking… Little Man won’t always be a toddler, he won’t always need this much energy and attention. But do I really want to get to a point where he is becoming less demanding and then go straight back to square one with another child? Unbelievably (to me, at least) I don’t.

WP_000005

For many years I have dreamed of having 2 or 3 kids. I looked forward to those few years when I would be surrounded by all the things that come with young children. Having just one child means that those years are going to be much shorter. And for a long time that was not okay with me. No siree.

But suddenly, I realise that this is something to be enjoyed, not grieved. When those around me are still changing nappies and dealing with childhood illnesses, my little boy will be a much bigger boy and we’ll be saying goodbye to the difficulties of these early years. Sure, we’ll miss out on the fun bits too (I don’t need reminding of that!) but there will be so much more we can do with our only child…

I’ll have time and energy to devote to him that I wouldn’t have were I the mum of a second or third child. If he needs taking to a social group several nights a week it will be no problem, as I won’t have to work it around the whole family, just him. If he wants a big party for his birthday, or a random sleepover, that will be fine because I won’t have to worry about how the other kids may feel left out. And if he needs me to sit with him every night of the week and guide/encourage him through his homework then I can do that, because my time won’t be split between several children.

NWP_121124_0002

This isn’t to say that I think having one child is better than having more than one. Had things been different, I would have loved to have a second or third child. But as it stands, this is a positive choice for our family and I am relishing in the positives that come from this choice. It is no longer something I choose out of necessity, but something I am beginning to embrace.

Once Little Man is at school, if we want to up our income I can take on more hours. I’ll not have to take time out for maternity leave or pay for further childcare. We’ll be financially better off and that special trip to Disneyland for Christmas that I dreamed up for Little Man may actually come true!

And looking way into the future, TJ and I will still only just be hitting 50 when Little Man is ready to leave home – that gives us plenty of time to enjoy life as a couple again while we’re still young and (hopefully) healthy enough to make the most of the extra free time we’ll gain.

WP_000039

There are fears, of course, aren’t there always? What happens if Little Man desperately wants a sibling when he is a little older? What happens if he never wants kids of his own and we miss out on being grandparents (this is, of course, his choice entirely, but it would be nice to think that one day we might have the priviledge of being somebody’s grandparents). And what happens when we’re old… will all the pressure rest of Little Man and will he be left with no-one to share his grief with when we die?

But all of these, like most fears, are unfounded.

If Little Man wants a sibling, we will reassess the situation. We are pretty sure that adoption isn’t right for us as it stands right now, but that doesn’t mean we might not change our mind in the future. If it turns out that adopting is a better option for our whole family instead of remaining a one child family then we will look into it. And we certainly haven’t ruled out fostering as something we might like to do when Little Man is older – after all, what better positive could come out of having an only child than having the extra time and energy to give to someone who truly needs and wants that love and attention?

And if Little Man doesn’t want (or can’t have) children of his own, then we will accept that. As I say, it would be nice, but it isn’t something I want him to feel pressure over. I can quite happily be the “honorary granny” to all my friends’ children’s kids and those of my nieces and nephews.

And as for Little Man being alone – well, that is still a worry. But he has 4 cousins on TJ’s side and 1 coming on my side, so it’s not like he’ll have no family his own age around. At the end of the day, having siblings doesn’t always mean having someone around. I know only too well how distanced siblings can become, having seen it happen to others. I truly hope Little Man will never feel alone, but it’s not something I can guarantee by giving him a sibling, nor is it really the only reason to have another child. So it becomes a bit of a moot point.

SAM_0027

For all the positives of having more children, I am actually glad that I have found peace in my heart about remaining a one child family. I am somebody who loves to give… all I have to anybody who needs it. I have been frustrated this past year and a half when I have been unable to do more for charity, or when someone has had a baby or been going through a rough time and all I’ve wanted to do is sit and crochet them a little gift to cheer them up a little or celebrate their new arrival. By having an only child, not only will I have more time and energy to give to him (without totally exhausting myself and my limited energy reserves) but I will also have more time and energy to give to others. Of course it would have been nice to give this to another child of our own, but when balancing it all up, I feel that this is a true positive of this choice.

And that’s where I’m at right now, learning to love the idea of being a one child family. It’s not what I expected to find myself saying, but it is all exactly what I’m feeling right now.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, if you fancy sharing them.

Realisations and the Beginnings of Acceptance

I haven't blogged for a couple of weeks now because I have been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of reading and then a lot more thinking, and a little bit of praying in the midst of all that thinking!

And I have come to realise a few things that have made accepting a decision we've had to make that little bit easier. It's like I've come through the bleakness of winter and the hope and promise of Spring is starting to blossom in my heart, just like the flowers and trees are starting the bloom right now…

SAM_0021

Do you remember when I wrote about our decision to never have any more children of our own and how heartbreaking that was for me? It was entitled "The Hardest Decision" and it really and truly was. And when we made that decision I don't think either of us was really ready for it. Little Man was still only a baby and as I spent most of his first year going through a grieving process I wasn't really in a place to accept it.

I had moments when it was clearer in my mind, moments like those I wrote about here. But mostly I was clinging on to some tiny hope that one day we'd be able to do it all again, if we planned everything meticulously.

Grief isn't a linear thing, and letting go of the dream I had always held of having more than one child was a hard thing. To put this into perspective, my aunt once commented that she thought I would end up with 6, yes six, kids. I thought that was a little excessive, but it does help point out how alien the idea of having just one child is for me.

It isn't that I am not eternally grateful for the opportunity to be blessed with Little Man and the chance to experience motherhood in this way. I adore him and if he is the only child we ever have, he will be showered in more love than he'll know what to do with.

And therein lies my thinking – I have so much love to give, surely it must be in the plan for us to have another?

But more and more lately I have been coming to terms with the realisation that having another child naturally is just not the right choice for us. It isn't just a case of 9 months of sickness and poor health (as if that isn't enough, because believe me that sucks big time!) But for me it is also the recovery and the fact that my hormones seem to hate me and even 17.5 months after giving birth I am still struggling…

I let the gynaecologists brush me aside last summer with the words, "nausea is not a typical symptom of Endometriosis, it's just a lifestyle thing!" I should know better by now than to listen to them. It may not be a typical symptom for most women, but it is one of mine. Fast forward a few more months and the classic Endo pains have started to resurface, and I still haven't got anything under control. 

And all of this makes me realise that to have another baby of our own, we're risking 2+years of poor health for me. I do struggle with Little Man, I truly do some days, because I feel like absolute crap. But that is because of my health and it doesn't have to be this way…

When I first met TJ, I had my Endo under control (as much as you can do with Endo). I was healthy and I was happy. I had energy and I did all sorts of things. But since then I've been subjected to several awful hormonal treatments and struggled through a pregnancy with various complications. It's no wonder my body is struggling to get back to a healthy state.

But I have hope and faith that it will do. And when that day comes I really and truly do not want to jeopardize it and go straight back to square one because I want another baby. It isn't worth it, for me or my family. I don't bounce back from these things easily and so I have to make a responsible decision rather than one based on emotion alone.

I've known this all along, but suddenly I feel a kind of peaceful acceptance falling over me. It's not that I don't have days when I wish things could be different, but it does mean that I am beginning to accept that the path I am being led to take is a different one to that which I expected.

SAM_0020

So this past couple of weeks I have been working on letting go of that final little bit of "false hope" in order to heal my heart and make room for what is to come. Whether that is as a parent to an only child, or a family extended through adoption, or even offering up our homes to those in need through fostering, I need to heal my heart in order to move forward with this.

It feels like the right time. It feels like I shall be able to give away Little Man's baby clothes to someone who wants or needs them. Ditto with my maternity clothes. It will hurt, I know it will, but I feel like the time has come when I will be able to do it. That hasn't happened before.

Of course, this in itself is not a decision to be rushed. We need time to heal, as a family and as individuals. Our emotional journey through conception, pregnancy, birth, the first year and beyond is going to take time to deal with. We're still reeling from some of the things that happened that we just could not face at the time. 

And equally, there will be times when we desperately wish that things had turned out differently. As it is, when I mentioned how I was feeling to TJ the other day I expected him to be relieved (as he has always been the one who seemed much more able to accept us not having another baby one day) and yet he seemed deeply saddened by it. So of course this is something we need to talk about together over time as well. But for now, I needed to make a record of how I was feeling in this moment. 

And right now, that's scared as hell of taking that final leap and truly letting go… but it has to happen sometime, and I feel that time is coming fast!

We’re Getting There…

100_2864

I thought it was about time that I wrote a follow-up to the post I wrote a few weeks back about our decision to never have any more babies of our own

When I wrote that post I knew it was the right decision but I was going through some major emotions in reaction to it. 

But slowly and surely something is happening deep inside that I cannot quite explain. I am beginning to truly accept the decision and am feeling far less pain around the whole thing.

I didn't really understand how far I had come though until we recently went to a couple of conferences. On the Thursday I saw some beautiful babies at the PSS annual conference. Then on the Friday I got to meet and hug our nephew for the first time, before heading off to BritMums Live where there were rather more bumps and babes in arms. And surprisingly this overload of babies didn't break my heart!

I still find it sad sometimes, but mostly I'm beginning to find the joy in our life as a family of 3. I'm not saying that maternal instinct won't kick in several years down the line and make me wish desperately that things were different for me healthwise, but right now I am happy. And right now is all we have. I get that now.

100_3111

Little Man is becoming the more joyous and amazing thing to ever have happened in our lives. He was always a beautiful blessing, but recently his little personality has grown so much that I think my heart melts a million times each day. 

He has this funny little grin that makes me want to squeal with delight every time I see it.

He has begun to snuggle in, even crawling across the room mid-play just to lay his head on our laps for a few seconds. And it makes me want to hug him and never let him go when he shows such affection.

He has even started trying to eat  *ahem* kiss us which is the most darling thing ever.

In the past 3 weeks he has cut no less than four more teeth, taking his total up to 6. He's also mastered crawling, standing up, cruising and is trying his hardest to walk with just one hand holding on to something so he has his other hand free.

He likes to "help" me with my chores these days, making them so much more fun (even if it does take three times as long!) 

And he sings along with me in his own beautiful little way. We love to sing in our house and it's wonderful to hear him practising changing the tone of his own voice. 

And compared to all that, everything else seems to fade away. Life isn't perfect. In fact we have several things that are rather stressful and challenging going on in our lives right now. But Little Man has brought a whole new focus for us and when I realised I was missing out on the absolute joy he brings us by worrying about the future and a family we may never have it was the easiest thing to let that go.

100_2922

This is my family… and it means the world to me. 

The Hardest Decision (HG)

If you haven't been following this blog for long enough to know about our Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) journey, then you can catch up here.

I've been wanting to write this post for a few days now but really wasn't sure how to start. So let's go straight in at the crux of the matter: TJ and I made a promise to ourselves last week that we will never put ourselves (and Little Man and our families) through another pregnancy.

We've been going backwards and forwards between "never again" and "but we might want another child". Okay, who am I kidding? I've always imagined having 2 or 3 children and the thought of stopping at one is a very hard one to get my head (and heart) around. But HG made our life such hell that even I began to believe the "never again" option…

And so when that jealousy and anguish started to kick in when Little Man was just a few months old, when I realised I'd never get to experience the newborn stage again, never get to give birth again and cherish those first few hours with my baby, I lost my resolve. I began to believe that if we planned everything meticulously it might be possible. It certainly seemed preferable to that awful feeling in the pit of my stomach every time I heard of another friend having a baby or saw a random pregnant lady walking about town with a smile on her face.

But the more we talked about it and the more I researched it the scarier the whole thing became. We realised that we would have to wait until Little Man was in full-time education (so almost 5 thanks to him being a September baby) and that we'd have to spend a good year prior to trying to conceive preparing ourselves and Little Man physically, mentally and emotionally. 

It would mean potentially getting my health to a certain level only to risk it dropping to one of its lowest points again. And it's not as if my health is great at the best of times! I've had difficulties with my periods since they began in my early teens, but in the past 5-10 years they have really taken a toll on me. And not surprising when I realised that the pain I felt with my Endometriosis was akin to the pain experienced in labour! I had been going to school, university and work for years in the same level of pain as early labour, only thinking to take the day off when it got to the level of transitional labour. And doing that month in and month out, especially when I'd sometimes only go 2 or 3 weeks between periods, has taken it's toll.

So my recovery from pregnancy has been a slow one, what with the reappearance of my periods at 3 months post-partum, complete with nausea. 

And then there are the other factors playing against us. Things like my increased risk of an ectopic pregnancy (thanks to damage from the Endo to one of my fallopian tubes) and the risk of possibly developing Obstetric Cholestasis again. And I was considered at risk of developing Pre-eclampsia throughout my last pregnancy so may well have that as a factor again. And all of this made me begin to think that there were just far too many reasons not to have another pregnancy than to do it all again.

We were lucky that I fell pregnant quickly last time and that Little Man came out healthy and strong. There is no guarantee we'd have the same luck a second time. And the emotional trauma that both TJ and I experienced is ongoing. The guilt I feel at having put us both through it once is bad enough. And that was with going into it having no idea how bad it would be. To do it a second time knowing just how bad it could be, well that would just be too much.

So logically the decision makes perfect sense. 

And yet it is one of the hardest, if not the hardest things I have ever had to do. 

My head and my heart have been at war. And it was tearing me apart. So it felt like a relief to make a final decision, rather than going back and forth between one choice and the other. But it still hurts. 

One of the things I had to do in my CBT sessions recently was write a list of "I deserve…" and it was hard. What I wanted to write was, "I deserve to be healthy. I deserve to have another baby. I deserve to enjoy pregnancy". But I couldn't, because I know that it really isn't likely. Endo continues to affect my health and even if I had another baby of my own it is highly likely it would be a battle rather than a joy. 

According to my therapist, this is the point. These are things that I should be able to write, even if they aren't likely. That I should feel justified in the pain and sadness it brings knowing that these are things I should be able to experience. But it doesn't change the reality…

But even though it is hard, I know it is the right decision for my family. The pain at not having the chance to do all those things connected to carrying and giving birth to your own baby is far less than the pain we could feel by trying to do it all again in spite of all the things against us.

It hurts to know I'll never get to breastfeed another baby, especially as we had such troubles when Little Man was young. It hurts to know we'll never get to go to another scan, to see our baby for the first time, to choose a name and prepare our hearts and lives for a new baby. It hurts in a way that I know some people will know in their own hearts, but so many others will never understand. Not fully.

We feel blessed that Endometriosis didn't rob us of my fertility, but at the same time it is a leading contributor to the decision to never do it again. The time it takes for me to recover from pregnancy and the risk of Ectopic pregnancies that it has caused combined with the risk of complications during pregnancy makes me feel like, in some way, we have more in common with those who physically cannot have a baby than those who can. Because we feel it is an option we just cannot take, however much we'd like to.

But where does that leave us for support? We could try for another baby, so don't really have infertility issues. We're not actively trying and unable to. But choosing not to is not our first choice. 

This is why it is so important for me to dedicate as much of my time and energy to raising awareness of HG and that it is so much more than "severe Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy". There needs to be much more understanding of just how bad it can be. There needs to be much more research into potential causes of it and possible medications to help with the severity of the symptoms. There needs to be far more support. All of this is needed to help prevent other women having to face these exact same decisions and to support them if they do.

TJ and I are heading off to the annual conference held by Pregnancy Sickness Support this month, and I am working hard on reading through as much research as I can and bringing together as many "personal experiences" as possible from other HG sufferers and survivors to ensure the book I am writing is as accurate, informative, supportive and representative as possible. It is a big task but it is one close to my heart.

And having this project helps, in a small way, to give meaning to all of this. As a writer, this is an ideal project for me. It gives a purpose to my work. And gives me something positive to focus on rather than only the negative.

TJ and I still have a lot of healing to do. And we still have some big decisions to make. The biggest of all being do we remain as a one child family, or do we look into fostering and/or adoption. And I'm sure I'll be writing about this a lot over the next few years. But for now, we've made the hardest decision of all. Little Man is to be our only biological child. Our journey of creating a family in the natural way is over. And that is taking some getting used to…

NB: I must add here that since writing this I have done much more research and we have discovered just how badly managed my pregnancy was and how we could potentially have a better experience a second time round, is still difficult. So we have opened it up to a "maybe" again, however not for several more years yet!!

Hyperemesis Gravidarum

I just wanted to let you all know that I have now updated the page on Hyperemesis Gravidaum here on the blog.

I have been struggling a lot with this over the past few days and have plenty I’d like to write about, but also have very limited time to blog right now because I want to spend as much time with Little Man as possible.

In short, I have been struggling with seeing other pregnant women, especially those pregnant with a second or third child, because that makes me face my decision to never go through pregnancy again. And that hurts. Anyone who knows me well will know I always looked forward to being pregnant and having a family and to turn my back on expanding my family in that way is painful.

As it stands we won’t want to even think of expanding our family until Oscar is several years older because I need to get my health sorted, having been ill for several years with Endometriosis and the treatments for it before my Hyperemesis Gravidarum hell last year. We still aren’t sure whether we will have more than one child and whether that addition will be through adoption or not.

This past week I started wondering if I shouldn’t have said “never again” so hastily during my pregnancy and yet I know I would be terrified to try again. So basically I am torn in two by it all and am trying to work through my thoughts and emotions rather than pushing them down and letting them build to unbearable levels.

Of course these decisions don’t need to be made now. And I am more than happy with Oscar being an only child for the time being. I love every minute with him and want to cherish these early years and would be quite happy if we didn’t expand the family until he was 4, 5 even 6 maybe. But I know that one day I will have to make the decision as to whether I can face the possibility of HG again or whether Tim and I need to look at adoption or even remaining a one child family.

So I am trying to deal with these emotions as they come up. I don’t want to feel jealous every time I see a pregnant woman. I don’t want to have to change channel every time an advert for One Born Every Minute comes on the tv, or turn of Twitter because it is trending. I don’t want to become bitter about it, and so that means I need to work through it.

So I decided now was the time to finally get around to writing my page on Hyperemesis and I would be hugely grateful if you would check it out.

This post has been added to the Tuesday Tea and Sympathy Linky. Click on the image below to check out the other posts taking part.

 


meme2