I’m Sorry You Don’t Have A Sibling

Dear Thomas

Yesterday was your second birthday, and amongst the many wonderful parts of the day was seeing the joy you got from opening presents, discovering their contents and then exploring each one fully. The way you play has become so creative and imaginative in the last couple of months, and your new toys fueled your fire perfectly. A second magical moment was watching you share it all with your cousin, who is just a few weeks beyond two years older than you. Seeing the two of you play together with cars, with the “big bus”, your trains and your new shopping till warmed my heart.

But it also broke it a little too.

You see Thomas, the gift that I’d really hoped to give you hasn’t arrived, and won’t be here any time soon. Mummy and Daddy have been working on trying to get it for your for a long time now, but it turns out that this is more difficult than securing a Christmas must-have or snapping up a bargain in the sales.

What I most wish, with all my heart, that I could have given you (or at least had well on the way) for your second birthday is a sibling of your very own. A playmate. A partner-in-crime. And most of all, a family that will hopefully go on with you in to your old age.

When you’re older, reading this back, possibly with a sibling by your side, you’ll probably be rolling your eyes and telling your old mum not to be so soft. That you didn’t care at two years old. Hopefully that you’re quite happy with how everything turned out. But writing this, the day after your second birthday, we’re not in that happy place yet and, rightly or wrongly, I want to capture exactly how it feels, and to let you know just how much we wanted a brother or sister for you.

People dismiss it all the time. They tell me to be grateful for you. That not having a second child is nothing like as bad as not having a first child. But the person they’re not thinking about when they make these comments is you, Thomas. Of course I’m grateful to have you in our lives and I can barely remember you not being here. Not having you would be unthinkable. I love you endlessly, more than I’ve so far found the words to properly express. But unlike wanting a first child, which is often borne of slightly selfish motivations, having a second child is as much about what is right for the first child as it is for the parents. We don’t just have the two of us to think of any longer; now we’re a team of three.

I know you have the potential to be a great big brother. Of course, you’ll have your share of tantrums, frustrations and jealousy, and I know having two small children will be incredibly hard work. But you’re so outgoing and sociable, loving the company of and interaction with other children of all ages, that I’m sure having your very own little brother or sister, to bring home and be with you everyday, will be a source of enormous joy. You love to fix things, to “help” and to entertain, which will all be fantastic qualities in an older brother. It feels like you were born to be a big brother, to take care or someone younger and help them learn their way.

I have to hide my tears from you when you ask about “a baby” or utter the word “brother”. I think these are things you’ve learned about at nursery, and you don’t really understand. You certainly don’t mention them to upset me, but I’d much rather I could turn those moments into a conversation about the new baby in Mummy’s tummy, on it’s way to join our family. Instead, I pretend I haven’t heard or can’t understand as I divert the subject to something else.

I know these conversations will only get harder in the coming months, as you begin to notice your little friends having siblings and start genuinely asking for one of your own. I’m hoping with all my might that by a miracle of nature or the wonder of medical science, we can bring you that sibling before your third birthday. I hope that you won’t hold it against me if it takes longer, or if the age gap means that your baby brother or sister takes a long time to reach a point where you can actually play together and enjoy the same games. I want you to know that we wanted you to be close in age to increase the chances of you becoming proper buddies. Perhaps it will happen anyway. Perhaps it was never meant to be.

Most of all though, whatever happens, I just hope you’re not lonely.

I love you – every last bit of you. And that won’t change whether you do or don’t get a brother or sister.

Mummy xx





12 Replies to “I’m Sorry You Don’t Have A Sibling”

  1. Oh lovely, sending you lots of hugs today. Thinking of you lots. Yes, of course you are grateful for your first baby but I know from experience that doesn’t mean your heart doesn’t break if having another baby is proving hard. I know I am incredibly lucky to have my little ones but they didn’t all happen without some heartbreak along the way. Lots of love xxx

    1. Thank you Emily. There is definitely a lot of hidden heartache, and one of the problems is that it’s often kept behind closed doors, which can make it all seem so much more isolating. Happy news is obviously celebrated much more openly, so sometimes it feels as though that is all there is. Thanks for the hugs – gratefully received! x

  2. I understand. My boy will be 3 in January. We’ve been trying to have a sibling for him for 2 years. You’re not alone. In fact, I’ve been wanting to do it for a while, but your blog post has made me feel brave enough to finally write a post sharing my feelings on the subject of secondary infertility. Keep on – it’s just what we do, isn’t it! 🙂 x

    1. Thank you so much for your comment, and I’m so sorry you’re having such a tough time. I think it is more common than people realise, but not often talked about, so I’m glad I’ve inspired you to share. People seem to see feeling down about secondary infertility as somehow selfish, or not as bad as primary infertility. I’ve written before about how it can often be tough because as a second timer there is no avoiding parenthood related things. I will be sure to check your blog and really hope things work out for you soon x

      1. Thanks – I hope things work out for you too. I did blog, and I reposted the link to this post on Twitter. I hope you don’t mind. It’s so rare to find someone who understands and feels the same way – the way you describe things as people feeling it’s sometimes not “as bad” as primary fertility – I *so* get this. In fact I torture myself a lot because of it. “Oh I haven’t had it as bad as so-and-so” – my dad telling me to be grateful. I do, and he means well but he doesn’t understand – my mum popped me and my brother out with less than a year between us!

        I am going to add you on Twitter, anyway. Maybe we can keep supporting each other x

        1. I think we all do the “comparing” thing, to a greater or lesser degree. I wrote on this subject a while ago though, about how suffering can’t really be quantified because how each person feels a situation is unique. No two people face exactly thesame circumstances so we can never really compare.

          I will check out your post properly later, but I’ve followed you on Twitter too. I hope neither of us needs the support for too long as I hope there will be happy endings instead!

  3. Wow! What a beautiful, and heartfelt post. And I know exactly all the feelings you describe.

    Lots of people unthinkingly ask ‘when are you going to have another child?’ As if it were the easiest thing. If only! People talk to me about the ‘ideal’ age gap between siblings, and I guess I used to have a naive and rosy idea that 2 or 3 years would be nice. And then I discovered you aren’t able to choose these things. What will be will be, and I hope that that will be the right thing at the right time.

    I hope things work out for you, and thanks for writing so honestly.

    1. Thank you Angela. I don’t wish the situation on anyone, yet it’s nice to know that others understand.

      I do try to remember, when people ask about more children, or thoughtlessly throw out the “but you’ve done it once, it’ll happen again” line, that perhaps it’s not so surprising that people find it surprising and say such pointless things. After all, I didn’t expect it to be this difficult before we started trying. Doesn’t make it easier to bear, though.

      You’re totally right that what will be will be. I hope things work out for you too x

  4. Oh my dear I wish there were words but all I can offer is sympathy and a big virtual reality hug (along with some fingers crossed). Perhaps the only comfort (and feel free to ignore me if it isn’t comfort) is that you only know what you have. Thomas will only ever know the age gap he gets (I’m not going to say or doesn’t because I’m an eternal optimist) and as there’s no guarantee of a certain number of years and months between birthdays delivering a certain sort of sibling relationship he will make of it exactly what he will. All of which is to say in a very longwinded way don’t beat yourself up on his part, and be gentle to yourself.

    1. It does help, and I do know it to be true. I suppose as much as anything I’m mourning the passing of a dream which most probably wouldn’t have become reality in any case. It’s hard not to keep focusing on it though.

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