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Mamas with only one child, but not by choice?

There are mamas and papas among us who have chosen to have just one child.  On the other hand, there are mamas and papas among us who have just one child, and not by choice.  Have you shared this experience?

I'm hoping you can help me connect with local mamas who are mamas to only children but not by choice.  I am very blessed & grateful to have a healthy son - but my husband does not want any more children. It took us awhile to conceive our son and I am so THANKFUL to have a healthy child - but I am in difficult place when it comes to not being able to even try to conceive another child. I don't want to be resentful - would like to connect with others who are or have experienced this.


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I can share my experience with you in hopes it will help in some way. I am just coming out of this same difficult place with my husband. While we didn't have any trouble conceiving the first time around, my husband was pretty adamant that he didn't want to have any more children. He was worried about the strain it would put on our marriage, how hard it was/still can be with only one and how our one child gives him everything he could ever ask for. While I could definitely see where he was coming from I couldn't ignore my intense desire to have another baby.

We had so many discussions, tears shed on my part as we went back and forth about what we were going to do. The only advice I can give is to try to be patient and hopefully he will come around. I made myself drop the topic for the summer in hopes that it would give us all a break. I don't know what did it but I think in the end I just wore him down and he realized my heart would break forever if I didn't get the opportunity to have another child. It sounds selfish and even as a write this it makes me feel a little guilty but I come from a large family and the though of my toddler not having a sibling just didn't make sense to me.

To make a long story short, he is now totally on board but I tell you I worked very hard to get him there.

I am sending good thoughts your way and I wish I could help out more. One thing I found comforting is that after talking to my midwife, friends and even a therapist, it became very clear to me that this is so common so you are definitely not alone.

One last thing, don't forget your voice. I remember some good advice I got, "there isn't any reason his no is more important than your yes". This perspective doesn't help in you finding a middle ground right away but it helped me remember to ensure I was heard and that he considered my point of view as well.

Sorry to be so long winded...my passion is showing.

for what it's worth, and I don't know if this helps or not, I am an only child (all grown up now with my own children - almost 5 years apart in age because we weren't sure that we wanted a 2nd child and it was about 5 years before we did). My parents tried to have a 2nd child but my mom kept having miscarriages. So they stopped trying. I didn't know any of these details as a child - only revealed to me as an adult. Here's my point: I had a wonderful childhood. I never yearned for siblings. I was (am) a very social, outgoing person and always had lots of friends. If it ends up that you don't have any more children, I believe firmly that your child can and will be happy in their no sibling world. Also, perhaps a career for you where you get to work with lots of kids? When I was in 5th grade my mom went back to work - as a preschool teacher. I wish you well in your journey.

I guess I can offer a blend of both of the above comments: I am an only child and my childhood and adulthood have been great. There really are a lot of wonderful things about being an only child. I had and have plenty of friends, I was the focus of my parent's attention, I had financial assistance from my parents that I probably wouldn't have been able to have if they had more kids, my children are the focus of all of my parents grandparent love, etc.

On the other hand, I have two children: my son turns 7 in February and my daughter turns 7 months in February - as you can see there is a very large spread there. At least four years of that spread is due to the fact that my husband and I just weren't sure we wanted a second child for quite awhile. We felt like our lives were a carefully orchestrated dance and adding another dancer would throw the whole thing out of balance. That said, when my son was 4, I began to want another child deeply. My husband did not. We had several very painful conversations about it and kept working through it. Eventually as my son got more independent, we both decided we wanted a second child and then we had trouble having one. ANYWAY, long post shortened, we are so happy to have a second child and my son loves being a big brother, but it took us a long time to get here. So, I guess my advice is not to give up hope. Your husband might come around when your child is older. I know for me the thought of having a toddler and a baby was just too overwhelming to even get my mind around. Once children get older though the thought of a baby isn't as overwhelming.

I might suggest trying to see a couples therapist about this issue. It might help to keep the conversation moving, and to really flesh out what both you and your husband are thinking/feeling about the matter.

I can chime in too -- from a different perspective. This topic is very, very fresh for me. My husband and I decided to quit trying just recently (November). Much of November and early December I was heartsick, very weepie, profoundly sad. The grief still comes and goes quite a bit and, I suspect, will for a long, long time. (Maybe forever?)

We quit trying for a couple of reasons:

1. In all honestly he is happy with just one child. He's been the stay at home caretaker and really did not want to start the whole process again.

2. I'm 41 years old and, for me, I was beginning to feel "too old" -- socially (I'm the oldest already of many moms I know) and physically (Our first kid came on our first try. We tried for a year and a half for a second. Plus I'm having thyroid issues, etc, etc)

For me it's been a difficult, difficult decision to live with. I've lost both my mother and my father and, in certain ways, this loss is harder. It's a real loss, but invisible, and profoundly isolating. There is a lot more I could say....

We have been seeing a therapist (Dr. Fred Coler). He has been amazingly helpful.

And Tracy, above, thank you so, so much for your comments. I hate the idea of depriving my daughter of sibling relationships. Your words were very powerful for me.

(Okay, here I start...tearing up again :)

I have been following this thread this morning because two people I know are in the same situation and I want to be able to tell them about this conversation. I just read previous post by Kate and wanted to chime in about Fred Coler. My husband and I saw him on and off for 2 years for couples counseling for a different issue and he is an excellent clinician and so very, very helpful. I think this is a great topic to be talking about and I love Urban Mamas for providing a place for us to have these kinds of conversations!

i'm in a similar situation.

my hub and i were happily married for about 10 years when i suddenly "got the bug". i was around 35. then it took a few years before he got on board. then after a few more years of a very long and painful journey with fertility, we finally conceived via IVF and are now blessed with a beautiful and amazing daughter (now 1).

so now, as i approach my 42nd b-day, i feel torn b/w being content and desiring more children (we have more healthy embryos-which is a whole nother blessing/heartbreak).

but my hub is totally happy with one, in love with her, and relieved that we had a healthy babe at our age. and although a lot of moms are having babes later in life, the thought of waiting a few more years really weighs on my heart.

so, i guess what i'm trying to say is - i am right there with ya' and it really stinks.

After having one child...I was very reluctant to have a second. How could we love anyone more than our first born??? Our baby was 2 years old, happy, easy going, sleeping through the nite..life was good! Once we both decided to move forward for baby #2, we were at peace knowing that our kiddo was getting a sibling, but more importantly, I was full-filling a deep rooted desire to have another child. In the end, it has been a fabulous experience. Believe it or not, we love the second child as much as the first!!! My first child was fine and happy without a sibling....but now that she has one...it is beautiful to watch them grow up together!

Ditto. My dear husband - who had always wanted two - changed his tune after our first was born. He feels very responsible to his family, and just didn't "want to try to put two kids through school on a retirement pension".

I pointed out that it would be much harder to leave the responsibility of caring for two old parents to one child -- We are in our mid forties -- And plus, we may die while she is fairly young, and it would be nice for her to have some immediate family. And wouldn't it be cool to figure out what other kind of person we might create together. And so on...

We went back and forth for a year maybe. Then, I let it go. But I sometimes felt tragic about it. I knew that I could only embrace a pregnancy if we were both on board.

As soon as I found something else to feel passionate about, he suddenly decided that two might be cool after all. Or maybe it was Obama getting elected, or because he didn't have a birthday present for me, who knows!(We conceived on my Bday)

Then, he seemed overwhelmed by the prospect of two for the whole pregnancy. I felt as though he thought that I had forced his...well, hand is the right word. It was a challenging, emotional time for our family. Especially since our first pregnancy was the most romantic thing we had ever done.

That being said, our baby has brought so much love into our home, and we are all smitten with each other once again!

So many people are happy having one child--and, if you and your husband can come to agreement on this and enjoy your child (not that you don't already)...maybe things will be easier...who knows? Most of our friends have one child for various reasons and are VERY content with their decisions/situations. Their children are also happy, well-adjusted, and have GREAT relationships with their parents and friends. They seem like very relaxed parents who enjoy their child immensely, but also have fun lives/careers/interests in addition to the joy of being parents.

I have one child and will probably only have one. My husband and I have had this discussion over and over again. I yearned for a second for a few years it's just recently that I am finally coming to terms with it.

Partly because I had some problems with my uterus. I cannot bare the though of not being able to reproduce. So instead of letting them confirm my fear of no longer being able to bare children. I thought if I just made the decision that my child will be an only child that it would be easier the accept.

It's been a struggle to accept that we will be a one child family. I always thought I would have many children. I love my son and he is everything I could ever wish for in a child. I feel so lucky to have one at all. Already his life is so much more full then I ever imagined. He gets all our attention as well as his grandparents.

We struggled mightily to have our first child - I repeatedly miscarried before we found a specialist in recurrent miscarriage (Dr. Patton at OHSU) who helped me stay pregnant despite my advanced age (other RE docs in town just wrote me off as old eggs).

I delivered my daughter when I was nearly 42 and although I would love to have another child, I am wrapping my head & heart around the very real possibility that it won't happen. In fact, I am NOT doing the acupuncture etc that I did in pursuit of the first, so perhaps I know I'm not going to have another.

Every pregnant mother at daycare just breaks my heart.

But my 3 year old is happy, delightful, and I am trying to stay in the moment - happy and grateful for all that. I try to focus on enjoying her instead of thinking of what might have been... Some days I'm more successful than others.

This is a timely post for me too. After our son was born we both absolutely agreed that we were done. One was perfect for us. Now that our son is 4, we are seriously thinking about it again. To be totally honest, my husband would love to have another child, but I am not so sure. We have a wonderful family of 3. We all get along so well. I am not 100% positive that we should disrupt our sweet balance. And I am not as young as I once was, ahem. I do worry about all of the "what ifs" like being pregnant at 40, will it put a strain on all of us, will our comfortable balance be challenged to much? My amazing husband would jump at the chance to have another, but he understands so wholly that he isn't the primary at home parent. Such an emotionally complicated experience especially because there will be a point very soon when I will no longer be able to contemplate this decision, as the clock continues to tick. And maybe in the future, somewhere in the back of my mind I will wonder what if....we'd had another?

I just wanted to say thanks to love momma-hood, r, and AC for sharing their thoughts and experiences. It really helps to hear what others are thinking and how they are coping.

And SusanOR thanks for the reminder to stay in the moment and be grateful for what I have. One healthy kid is much to celebrate.

(And Jennifer... We started seeing Dr. Coler because you wrote about him on UM. Thank you so much!!!)

I can really relate to this thread....

We have one beautiful boy right now, and I would love to have another baby. My husband does not share this feeling. In fact, we had a pregnancy "scare" (not for me obviously)a few months ago and his reaction was downright depressing. That episode was very painful for me, especially his response. It made me realize I need to be thankful for the family I have and I do not want to add any strain to my relationship. We obviously both really need to be on board for this to happen. He says that he "may change his mind in a few years" but as I am already nearing 37.....
I can say that I am grateful for my son and my husband is a loving father. I love my family and if perhaps if it is meant to be larger in the future, than it will be. Thanks for the timely post.

We happily welcomed our first a year ago. My husband states very firmly that he just want's our one healthy son. I really want to have another, my husband and I have talked about this a lot. He states the door is closed, not locked. Perhaps it will open when our son is more independent. I don't want to have too much of an age gap. I am so happy for this thread to see that I am not alone in this feeling. It is so great to see other mom's just like me are going through the same thing. It is also great to be reminded, we need to be so thankful for the one we already have. Thank you!

on a side note - wondering if anyone else is struggling with the whole IVF/frozen embryo issue. my heart aches over this...

My husband and I have shared all our hopes, dreams and goals with each other. And when he wasn't on board with #2 it felt so alienating.
And then his initial reaction to our 2nd pregnancy felt even worse -- I felt like I was catapulted light years away from him. We had been such a sweet little family. I felt hopeless when he acted like maybe we shouldn't go through with it. It took the entire pregnancy for us to circle around back to each other. Not at all what I expected a pregnancy with us to be like.

Now, he is completely in love with his new son. And is also overjoyed that our 3 year old turns to him more than me, now.
We mamas are generally more hormonally directed to desire to procreate. Our dear partners can be frightfully realistic and practical when it comes to hearts desires.

On the other hand, having one more child multiplies your workload (and your joys) by four..no kidding.
So if you aren't sure, my advice is to just have one. It can feel overwhelming...the two loads of laundry a day, the constant bids for your attention. It used to be imperative for me to have a 'spa day' twice a month. Now, I feel happy to have a shower twice a week. And luckier if there is no one in there with me!
Having one child is so much more flexible. Easier to pawn off on friends for date night. Easier to get a seat at the sushi bar. You'll never have to worry about unloading one of them into traffic when you are parallel parked on a busy street. You'll never suffer the guilt of absentmindedly leaving one at 'Bobs Red Mill' (true story).

THANK YOU ALL for taking the time to share your thoughtful words - I am the one that asked urbanmamas to post this for me. Thank you urbanmams we are so very lucky to have this site! I would love to start a little "support group" of those that are struggling with this currently. Perhaps we can all meet up for a coffee? Please email me and I can organize: onelove@mail.com

Thank you again.

CORRECTION my email is:


@love momma-hood - We too had several frozen embryos left after a successful IVF. I can completely relate to how heartbreaking it is & I searched all over to be able to join a conversation about the agony at the time, to no avail. We ended up using 2 of them in a FET, which ultimately turned into a miscarriage. And by some miracle we got pg on our own (me @ 41). Now with 2 wonderful children, we feel complete. But I will always be haunted by the what if (...i were 10 years younger). The big hunt after that was to find a place for the remaining embryos as we did not want to just toss them. What to do? Bury them with some kind of family ceremony? We ultimately found a place that was doing stem cell research that would take them, so at least we feel that they will somehow contribute to bettering humanity. But it wasn't easy.

@love momma-hood - meant to tell you that before we lucked into #2, we had every intention of keeping them on ice until we were certain we were done. it adds up, but it's a small price to pay for the potential to have more when you start later like we did.

How old is your child? Of course there's no way to know if your husband will ever feel differently, but when our first was born, my husband was ADAMANT that he only wanted one. I was heartbroken at the idea of never having more babies, but didn't want to push him to have children he didn't want.

Somewhere between our son's first and second year, he did a complete 180. He's so in love with his little boy, he wants a whole herd of them. His original, practical reasons for only wanting one haven't gone away, but they don't seem as important to him now. I, on the other hand, am having a hard time mustering the enthusiasm to do the whole baby thing again after parenting a very Mama-only, high-needs kid for two years. I expect I'll feel differently as he grows older and more independent.

My point is just that it's amazing how much our feelings can change

to: thankfulMama - omg, THANK YOU for replying! of course there's thousands out there in same sit. but i don't know of any and it is such an isolating & personal experience (on so many levels)and my girlfriends just can NOT relate or understand. i think you're courageous. thank you for reaching out...

I may be joining this group of women soon, too. It's a very hard part of a marriage, b/c for this, there is no compromise. One person gets what they want and one person doesn't. It's very hard to deal with. I agree that counseling is important--one child or more, you want to keep your marriage intact and strong. The first YEARS are hard and I think without the maternal instincts, men relate to the challenges and can't see the future rewards--just my take. However you end up, my thoughts are with you and i'll keep your email!
Yoga Shala is offering an amazing mom group once a month on Sundays with a very amazing single mom of 5, now adult, children. DaeJa Napier is truly amazing and perhaps going there would give you some support, too.

@love-momma-hood. Best of luck to you on the journey. The whole embryo thing is hard to talk about in general, because people can't relate & it can be an insanely political hot-button. I hope you & DH come to a point of agreement. I think after you are out of the baby-phase, that's when the desire kicks in again. But if you're healthy, I wouldn't worry too much about considering an FET, even in your mid-late 40s. It's a whole different game when younger eggs are involved. I bet there's a whole conversation about this going on @ ivfconnections.com. Good luck! And sorry to the rest to go off topic a bit!

Wow! I am amazed to see this discussion!

When DH and I got married, I had to commit to having at least one child because I was always on the fence. Then, right before I turned 35, we had our DD. She was a very high-need baby and I work full time, so we both really thought that one was it.

When DD turned 4, I started to want another child (which surprised me!). DH was not enthusiastic. We talked and talked. Finally, he decided on a "see what happens" approach. I got pregnant twice (this is at 39 1/2) and had two early miscarriages in 4 months time.

I was pretty shell-shocked and felt like I needed some time to heal. Did acupuncture, etc., then just never really got around to trying again. Now, at 40 1/2, I'm wondering if I should try again or just let it go. DH says no, but I get the feeling that I could get my way without too much trouble. He's definitely more on the fence than against it all.

I know that this is different than the original idea of the husband not wanting to, but so many of the comments on this issue speak to me. If I did get pg and could actually carry the baby (that's a whole other issue!), I would be 41 and DD would be 6 1/2 at the baby's birth. Wow!

On the other hand, I still feel young and love the idea of giving my child a sibling. My sister and I are 5+ years apart and we are very close as adults. On the other hand, we're not rich and I'm already sometimes overwhelmed by my life. On the other hand, what's more important than kids? On the other hand, we're just now getting a lot more space and independence to pursue other interests. You get the idea! It would be easier if I knew I could carry the baby...

I'm interested in the person who posted comments who went to a Dr. at OHSU after being told about "old eggs." (which is what my dr. told me)

Well, thanks for letting me write this out.

Maybe we will try and just see what happens...

I am blessed with a DD, and after 4 years of miscarriages and heartache, my DH has shared that he is content with just our DD and that having just one child is probably what is best for us. My head agrees, as we don't have the funds for IVF, adoption, or any other option (plus I don't think I can handle another miscarriage). My heart is breaking though. I always pictured myself the mother of more than one child. I love my DD more than anything in the world, and I as struggling with the thought that she'll be an only child. I feel like such a failure as a woman. If anyone knows of any groups for mothers in the same boat as me, I would LOVE to know about them!

Oh my dear friend. I wish I had better advice. The only thing I can say is that adoption isn't always as costly as it can seem at first. You have probably explored this deeply already, but if you haven't, please do contact the Northwest Adoptive Families Association and explain your situation. There may be an agency and a form of adoption that works for your family. http://www.nafaonline.org/considering%20adoption.html

I am so glad to have found this conversation since it sums up exactly what I am going through. I just turned 37 and I have an 11 year old son who is my world. I have been with my husband since I was 24 (he is currently almost 45). He had two children from a previous marriage that have always primarily lived with him. I have helped raise them since their mother only got them on weekends and has never been as involved in their lives as she should have been. They are now both grown...the girl is 22, lives with her boyfriend, and has a 5 month old baby (yes I am technically called "grandma"). The boy is 18, just graduated high school, and still lives with us. When I met my husband he told me up from that he didn't want anymore kids. I was ok with that because at the time I didn't think I wanted any. Getting pregnant with my son at 25 was a shock and I was very scared, but he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. I really thought I was ok for a long time with only having him. I also lost a baby (unplanned-birth control fail) when I was 28, which made me even more scared to have another child since that was so hard to go through. Over the last few years the biological clock has really hit me. I have tried to talk to my husband about this, but he is 100% sure he is done. He feels that I should not consider myself a parent of an only since I have raised 3 children. While I love his kids with all my heart and have a pretty good relationship with them, I am not "mom". I feel sad when I see pregnant women and am around babies (except for my granddaughter...I love any chance I get to spend with her, even though it reminds me of my own desires), and get very depressed around my period. I am starting on Monday with a therapist to see if I can work through all of this, because I don't want to spend the rest of my life with regret and resentment. I guess I am not ready for an empty nest after my son is grown. What's funny though is that I worry about how he would react if I ever did have another one since we are so close. He is a good uncle, but would he be jealous as a big brother? I would hope not. Maybe it's silly to be thinking this way after all this time, but I feel like it has been consuming my thoughts lately. I know part of it is seeing my son grow and knowing that soon he won't be my little boy anymore...I really try to stay focused on the present, but I can't help but feel like time is quickly passing. I have always struggled with anxiety and depression, but feel like having one more would satisfy this desire that I have. The thought of pregnancy in my later 30's also scares me a lot, but my mom had me when she was almost 40, so I know it's possible. I guess at this point in time I can only hope for a miracle and be thankful for what I do have. Sorry to ramble on for so long, but it brings me comfort to know that I am not the only woman struggling with this, since I don't have any friends that can relate to how I feel.

I wanted to comment on your post, Liv. I know this is an old thread, I just found it. I'm in a similar situation, my husband has 2 sons from his first marriage, although they don't live with us. We have one daughter together. He doesn't want anymore kids, I do. It's really difficult, I also struggle with depression and anxiety and this issue is consuming me. It's really hard to move forward in the marriage with this conflict between us. Just wanted you to know you're not alone if you see this.

Wow, what a lot of "glass half empty" going on here. There are millions of couples who would give their right arm for ONE child, and go through an awful lot (be it fertility treatments, adoption or even fostering) for that one child. All the moms posting here already have a child. Instead of weeping about the baby you're not going to have, focus that energy into the family you already do have.

If your only barrier to an additional child is biological, adopt one of the millions of legally free children languishing in our foster system and REALLY make a difference in the world. (And yes, I do understand why this isn't an option for many/most people, just a thought).

If you're really deeply depressed over this, it isn't just because you're not getting to have another child, there are clearly either other issues in your life or biochemical reasons. Because sorry, a new baby will NOT solve all your problems. Plus, if you are deeply depressed, what sort of mother will you be able to be to that baby?

If you life feels empty because you no longer have a cute baby to play with (which is what a lot of this actually IS and I do understand) find something or somewhere else to direct your energy. Consider fostering, go to work full time, if you do work, look for something perhaps more meaningful or challenging, focus your energy back into your marriage in a positive way.

To anon: you obviously are not in this situation otherwise you would not have the audacity to speak this way to women who are struggling. I am sure you struggle over SOMETHING and you would not appreciate anyone telling you to suck it up.

My head and my heart are clashing like a relentless seesaw. I have one beautiful daughter nearly four. We lost two pregnancies last year. We have decided that we would be happy with just one but everyday I back and forth. Husband adamant he doesn't want more but I think my hormones disagree . I'm 32 and feeling like it's now or never for me. I know my daughter is going to be a happy fabulous person but I am saddened of her not sharing life with a sibling. It is consuming me :(

I am so happy to have found this thread as my heart is breaking. As my husband has been giving me false hopes for a year that we can try for #2 then 3 days ago he told me he does not and will never want another child. He already has a 13 year old from previous relationship and he is happy with 2. I have always wanted two children but the one person whom I love and adore is the person who is taking away from me my dream. I am 37 now our son is nearly 4, and I am heartbroken. My husband does not understand how crushed I am and has no compassion for my feelings. I look at my gorgeous little boy and I burst with love but I also cry as with everyday that passes and he changes I know I will never experience that again.
I am so consumed with grief for a child I dont even have yet. My husband thinks I should just get over it and move on.
How can I move on when my heart is broken, where everywhere I turn there are babies and friends having their 2nd, 3rd child and I know that I will never have that again. And through no choice of my own.
I welcome your comments as I am finding it very hard to cope with this. I'm worried how this will effect my marriage as even though I have to understand and accept my husband is done, I cant make these feelings go away and the resentment in building in me every day.
Good luck to all

Oh Corrie, my heart broke a little when I read your post. I am in a similar position. My husband and I have been married for seven years and together for ten. He has a 12-year-old daughter from a previous relationship and we have a five-year-old son together. I was always under the impression that we would have more children together, but three years ago he told me that he didn't want any more children. I was devastated and it certainly did affect our relationship. It has taken a lot of time and therapy to overcome the sadness around not having another child of my own. If you want to talk about this more please e-mail me at shadowslanding@hotmail.com. Peace to you xo.

I am a 44 year old mother of a 13 year old boy. I have been with my BF now fiancé for 10 years although we don't live together. I have been so extremely depressed over the fact I only have one child and he's getting older and going to be gone soon. For the earlier poster- I do work full time but have a flexible job, hobbies and friends but when your priority and true deep happiness come from your child.... It is so difficult watching them get older. My dream since I was young was to have 3-4 kids. I have such extreme depression now and so many regrets because I do just have one child. I try to be strong for him but not sure where to turn and as adoption is an option I still can't get over the depression of having my own child.

If I didn't have a child I feel like I just wouldn't want to exist the sadness and depression are so severe. Antidepressants don't seem to help and I keep thinking to have another child ( even w donor egg) would fill that void and dream. My fiancé doesn't have any kids and would be happy to have one but also would be ok if he didn't. Nobody understands but seeing pregnant women, women with 3-4 kids just makes me so sad. I get my son to school and crawl back in bed and work everything is suffering. I am so lost and alone!

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