Only Child Family- When Not by Choice


Only Children Forums Discussion Forum Only Child Family- When Not by Choice

This topic contains 24 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by  Ria 4 years, 6 months ago.

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    Article discusses the feelings of hurt and resentment of parents who have an only child not by choice but by medical or other factors. Coming to terms with your Only Child Family situation.

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    I have a little girl, nearly 6 – the joy of my life – conceived after many long years of trying before we finally discovered that we had an almost zero chance of getting pregnant naturally. We did one round of ICSI and miraculously the result was our beautiful girl. I am one of 7 and always wanted a big family. So just assumed it would work again when we tried for a second It didn’t – 4 times in a row – by which point I had a bit of a breakdown. I have suffered from depression on and off since then – now nearly 4 years ago.
    I am finally trying to accept this – for years I played with ideas about adoption, donor eggs etc. Because thinking of alternatives stopped me from having to deal with the horrific grief of not being able to have another baby and of having lost so many babies (just potential babies to the world but to me I already loved them and they were my babies who died). I suffer huge guilt, feeling I have failed to create the ,right size’ family and to give my girl a brother or sister. Every time I see her playing alone I suffer a pang.
    I am now having grief counselling. Just being able to acknowledge the pain is helping a little. The thing is I know I am blessed – I love my husband and daughter deeply and we are a great unit. I am working very hard on mourning my lost babies, whilst also really affirming the family I do have. Because the alternTive is to stay in limbo forever and miss out on the pure joy of this life I do have. But it is bloody hard to let go and the hardest thing is the feeling that no one understands how much this hurts. It has helped me to see that others feel this grief every bit as strongly as I do and I am not selfish / crazy. I hope my post helps some of you other brave ladies out there. We have been dealt a really tough hand and most can’t understand why we feel so badly when we have ‘just one’ (a hated phrase for me, so much judgement..) But maybe if we can reach out to each other we can start to feel less alone.
    Would love to hear from anyone who has managed to find some acceptance and peace with only one and not by choice, to give me hope that thus is possible.
    Sending positive thoughts to all out there who are going through this.



    This article is not only insulting to parents who suffer from secondary infertility — it’s downright cruel. After multiple miscarriages and failed fertility treatments, I was hoping to find something positive to read about having an only child to help me adjust to the fact that we’ll be “one and done” not by choice. Whoever wrote this article does not understand the mindset of a parent coming to terms with secondary infertility. I’m only commenting because I want to thank the previous commenters…your words moved me so much. It’s probably the first time I’ve read anything that captures what I’m feeling and experiencing. This article can go to hell, but commenters…thank you.



    Hi Jayne,

    Everything you said sounds exactly like me and my situation. I, too, have an only child not by choice. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the pain of my situation or the guilt of my son growing up alone. I am at an age where conceiving would be very unusual but still wish I could give him a sibling. To make things worse, people constantly make comments about my having another one. I look younger than I am so people assume I can still have another one and make comments like “time for another one” or “you can’t just have one” or “it’s not to late”, a good one was “there’s still time”. It just breaks my heart and I literally have to fight back tears when these comments are made to me. People can be so insensitive.
    Another thing is my son, who is almost 5, has started becoming very aware that all of his classmates have a sibling and making comments like “I want a baby” or “can we have a baby?” It’s heartbreaking.
    I just can’t help how I feel and that my entire life one child never seemed like family to me. It’s still so hard to get used to the notion that my “family” will never consist of more than the three of us.
    I’m hoping maybe talking with someone else in my same situation will help. My husband gets very upset with me because he feels like I’m not grateful for our beautiful son and should be thankful for the one child I do have. Although I am very grateful and love my son more than anything, it seems like no matter what I do, the hurt and pain is just not going away….even a little.




    Hi all, I just wanted to weigh in as I am getting to be in the same situation. My daughter is the light of my life, but I am starting to think that she may be an only as we have been trying for some time with no luck. Again, nothing specifically wrong with me/husband after many tests, but it just doesn’t seem to be happening.

    I guess where I have something else to offer is that I myself am an only child. It was my parents’ choice. Yes, I want desperately to have another child and give my daughter a sibling. BUT, because I have experienced being an only child, I have at least some comfort that my daughter will be OKAY. Or, better said: my daughter won’t not be okay because she is an only child. Does that make sense? I had a happy childhood, and my parents made sure I had lots of neighbourhood friends/ firends over all the time. In fact, I grew up with very close friendships likely because I was an only child and those were the peer bonds I relied on. My best friend today has been my best friend since I was 4 years old. We chat all the time and she knows everything about me and I her. Interestingly, she has two siblings herself. And I don’t think she’s any happier or less happy than me based on that difference alone.

    My point is this: I get everyone’s struggles here. I am going through it too. I have very bad days where I can’t even get through five minutes without tearing up (usually after getting my period), and then I have days where I feel a bit better and a bit more confident about where I am at in life. The thing that gets me through is counting all of my blessings, my daughter and husband being at the top of that list. Yes, sometimes reciting my “list” seems futile, but after I get through it I do feel better. To add to that, what gets me feeling less “guilty” is reminding myself that my daughter can be very happy in life. Her happiness does not depend on having a sibling. Again, whenever anyone asks if I had a happy childhood, I answer “yes” without hesitation.

    And again, the above is not meant to lessen what anyone here is going through. I am going through it too. It’s to hopefully give some persective that your child won’t live life in misery for lack of a sibling. That is what gives me some small comfort and I hope it does for you too.

    In the meantime, I still have some hope for myself and am not quite ready to give up just yet. But if that day comes, I know that focusing on the positive, while also mourning the loss, will be the best way to come to terms with it.



    Ray, Susan, Andrea and Katie,

    I don’t know if you are still reading this – I hope you are. I too have an only not by choice and agree with everything you have said. I feel very lonely and in need of a community (online or otherwise) of mothers who are in the same position as me as there are many very difficult challenges to having an only not by choice. I adore my lovely daughter and am very thankful every day and have devoted my life to her care, but I want a sibling not only for my sake but for her sake too. I want to SCREAM at people who say I should be thankful for what I have. I AM, more than THEY can ever know, but I have grief for the babies I have lost, the children I have never had and for the sibling she will probably never have – and all the things she will never experience. She has asked me multiple times about having a sibling. She wants one. It hurts me so badly every time I see her wanting a sibling. I have been honest in an age appropriate way. She knows I have some problems in the baby making part of my belly.

    The grief is there, and always will be there, and dealing with it is difficult. How do you cherish your miracle child but not smother them? How do you prevent your anxiety over your multiple miscarriages from affecting your only who you want to wrap in cotton wool? As Ray says, how do you make sure that your child knows that wanting another (if you are still trying) does NOT mean that they are not enough? And conversely how do you prevent them from feeling the intense pressure of being your entire world? I need others who truly understand to discuss these problems – most people just do not understand the complexities of our situation – and it is complex.

    It is not possible to keep trying forever – finance, health and age problems prevent this (we have been trying for children for 12 years and we have to stop to save my health and our marriage). It is not easy to adopt (another line many people glibly make) especially when adopted children usually come with problems and could have a negative impact on your only. There are other problems with adoption with one biological child too I think – you’d have to be really sure you could love them equally for example, the consequences if you couldn’t for both children could be very severe.

    There are communities out there for people who are childless not by choice, but I really feel a huge lack of support as mum to an only child not by choice and the challenges i face, and I COMPLETELY agree with Katie who says “the author doesn’t seem to understand how infertility and repeat pregnancy loss destroys your faith in your body (sometimes your faith, period), your confidence, and leaves you struggling with a sense of failure, guilt, and grief”. What I would add is that this sense of failure, guilt and grief CAN affect how you are as a mother – we need support in addressing this and there seems to be literally nothing out there (please someone prove me wrong).

    One thing I would recommend for anyone who has desperately wanted another child but is beginning to accept that their child might be the only one – the book ‘The Next Happy’ by Tracey Cleantis (if you search on Amazon you’ll find it). It has been the only thing that has helped me cope after our last IVF failed. It does not address the complex issues of being a parent to an only (not by choice) but it does address how to identify when your pursuit of the dream of another child may be hurting you (and your only child, and your marriage, and your finances!) and how to start to let go of that dream.



    Katie, I am just curious if you ever found those resources. I too am looking for such resources and having a difficult time finding them. Sounds like you and I have had very similar experiences. If you could leave a comment regarding any resources you found I’d really appreciate it.



    I agree with Katie, Andrea and Susan. I have a beautiful and loving daughter – and I always thought I would multiply that love with another child/sibling for my daughter. But after several miscarriages and an all clear-there-is-nothing-wrong-with-your-insides blood work and tests, I am coming to grips that I may have an only child. It is not easy. I cry a lot. I am so thankful but I also grieve. I smile and take it like a champ when people say oh it must be so easy with one. I live in a place where everyone has at least two children. I am surrounded by people who will do anything to have children – surrogacy, IVF, etc. It’s like the more you have – the more you mean in life. I don’t ever want my daughter to think me wanting another means she is not enough or good enough. Laying in bed with her tonight I asked wouldn’t you want a sibling to snuggle with? She said no and that this is God’s world not mine. I realized I need to stop talking about what I don’t have because she is picking up on it. There is a lot of pain and grief with miscarriages and fear too – getting pregnant doesn’t mean a baby for me. Sorry for the rambling on. It is hard and I feel for all of you – I know where you are coming from and I am sorry there is nothing to say to make us all feel better. I try to find comfort in knowing God has a plan for us all.



    I have an only not by choice and I hate the phrase be thankful for what you have. I thank God each and every day for her and for HER, I want to give her the gift of a sibling. Someone to grow up with, always have someone to help her, especially when her parents are gone. I am an older mom and had horrible delivery and internal issues and our chances for a second ended. I cry each and everyday for her and that I feel like I let her down when everyone around her has at least one sibling. All our friends children are older, all her cousins all have siblings, it is just very hard. Whether you want to feel it it or not, it consumes you. I thank God every day for my beautiful girl but crying and so sad inside.



    Thank you Katie (7/3/15 reply) for your response. She basically wrote my sentiments exactly. My love and adoration for my first (and probably only child) has nothing to do with my desire to have another or my grief over my subsequent miscarriages and failed fertility treatments. My journey to have a second has NEVER had anything to do with a lack of satisfaction of my first. Actually the exact opposite- I want more of what I already have. My daughter has made my life better in every way and I’d just like that to grow. When people have told me I should “Just cherish what I do have” it has has crushed me. My daughter and husband are the only things in this world that have gotten me through this difficult time and I get teary-eyed every night putting my daughter to bed b/c I am so thankful. This article pushes the positives of the only child, but seems to down play the extreme grief when it’s not by choice. Now not only do we get called “selfish” from people who have multiple children for having one, we get called “selfish” from people who have one child because we grieve the fact that this is not by choice. Katie, maybe we should get together and write something genuinely helpful. It sounds like we have similar stories and aren’t finding anything to help us with the next step!



    As a mother to a child who is currently–and may always be–an only, not by choice, this article is frustrating and frankly insulting. The example given and the instructions provided seem to chastise parents who want another child and paint a very ugly picture of people experiencing secondary infertility: a couple fighting over whether and how to continue trying to grow their family, a sullen and childish mother neglecting her first child while selfishly pursuing another.

    For most families going through this, the parents are both trying–together–to decide what is best for their family and how best to proceed, and that includes doing their best to take care of their first child. This article seems to imply that those of us experiencing secondary infertility don’t recognize the gift we have, when believe me, struggling so hard to have a second and losing baby after baby has only taught my husband and I how lucky we are to have our daughter and what an absolute miracle she is. No one knows better than a parent struggling with secondary infertility what an absolute gift our first children are, and often, it is our concerns for our children that drive the desire to have another.

    The author doesn’t seem to understand how infertility and repeat pregnancy loss destroys your faith in your body (sometimes your faith, period), your confidence, and leaves you struggling with a sense of failure, guilt, and grief. These are hard things to come to terms with, and finger wagging over how we just need to suck it up and focus on being better parents to the children we have is not helpful. I found this article because I was looking for a resource on how to begin the process of accepting being an only child family. I was hoping I could gain some insight from people who have been through it, hear some of the positives of saying goodbye to infertility treatments and embracing your family as is, and maybe get some resources for parents who are dealing with infertility and loss. Instead, I got a load of insensitive crock from someone who obviously has never experienced infertility or loss themselves and has no compassion for those who have.

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