I’m Sorry That You’ll Never Have a Sibling

Dear Thomas,

A year ago, just after your second birthday, I wrote you a letter, explaining just how much we wanted to give you a sibling for your birthday and how sorry I was that it hadn’t happened. I also promised to try the best we could to make it happen this year, for your third birthday.

Your third birthday has been and gone. You loved your new train set and your Buzz Lightyear.

But you still don’t have a sibling.

The sad truth is that you will never have a sibling.

When, a couple of weeks ago, you asked me where your baby sister was, my heart cracked in two. I couldn’t answer that question, not only because the hurt in my heart made it hard for me to speak without tears, but more simply because I don’t know the answer. I know that you believe that there is no question I can’t answer and that “Daddy is good at fixing things”. But I don’t know the answer to this, or why this has happened, and sadly, this is something that Daddy just can’t fix.

It’s not for lack of trying. The one thing I can promise you is that we didn’t give up easily. After I wrote that letter last year, everything went a bit crazy. Just a few short weeks later, we received the crushing news that medical science was our only chance to have another child. So that is what we’ve spent this year doing; Three rounds of IVF. We came close on the first try. So close that for a blissful but brief time I really believed it could happen. That baby would have been due the week before your birthday.

But it wasn’t meant to be.

It seems that another member of our family just isn’t meant to be.

I know that right now, at the age of three, you don’t really care about any of this. You only ask questions about a baby brother or sister because so many people in your world have new baby siblings. You don’t grasp at all what having a sibling really means or the finality of our inability to give you one. My greatest hope has been that the upheavals we, as your parents, have put ourselves through this year haven’t impacted on you negatively. Given what a happy kid you are, I’m pretty confident that reading these letters when you’re old enough may well be the first hint you’ll get of the turmoil we’ve been through.

I also know that there’s every chance that the “older you” will be wondering just what I’m making a fuss about. I know of plenty of people who’ve grown up happily without siblings and say they wouldn’t change it for the world – your own Grandpa included. After all, you cannot miss what you’ve never had.

But then, you don’t know what you’re missing either. And sometimes I just feel so sad that this is being thrust upon us and you, and that none of us have a choice. I can understand where people’s sympathy wanes when it comes your Dad and I. After all, we’ve already had the joy of parenthood once, and perhaps we don’t deserve any more. But you. You’ve done nothing to deserve to be denied the opportunity of a sibling relationship.

This is why secondary infertility really hurts. Of course there’s my own unsatisfied longing to become a mother all over again. But there is also my unsatisfied longing to see you as a sibling. It’s a double punch.

I don’t want you to think for even a moment, however, that my pain at not having another child can eclipse my joy at having you in my life. I hope that you’ll know that intrinsically as you grow up. I’d be lost without your cheeky smile, your infectious giggle and your quirky obsessions. If we can’t have two, thank goodness we have you.

I can’t really say much more that hasn’t already been said in last year’s letter. My feelings are largely the same. The main difference is that back then we had hope.

Now, we have none.

Or at least, no realistic hope.

I’m just grateful that this doesn’t hurt you yet. And if you should grow up to be unhappy about your “only” status, at least we have time until that happens. And I will cherish every moment of your childhood until then.

Just know, kiddo, that I love you endlessly.

That’s the most important thing of all.

Mummy xxx

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5 Replies to “I’m Sorry That You’ll Never Have a Sibling”

  1. I am absolutely certain that Thomas will grow up knowing that he is loved and adored beyond measure; and at the end of the day that’s what will truly matter to him.

    I’m not sure I can completely make this make sense in writing but I’ll give it a whirl – to Thomas whether he has siblings or not was never his choice. If you’d only ever wanted one child that’s what he would be, if you’d been able to have a whole football team (and wanted them) then that’s what he would have. What hurts for you (among other things) is that circumstances and biology have taken that choice away from you and forced the result that Thomas is an only child. But to Thomas it just is, he hasn’t had that taken from him because it was never his in the first place. The future him might well be sad for the turmoil you went though but I’ve yet to meet anyone who really grieves for a family situation they never had.

    1. I know that you are right in many ways. He will never know what he’s missing, and neither will we know how a sibling relationship might have been. But I do know how fantastic sibling relationships can be. And I just feel angry that he won’t have the opportunity to know that. It may never have been his choice, but he’ll never have the opportunity.

      And sadly I’ve met only children as adults who still resent that they never had a sibling. Perhaps that speaks more about them and their overall family situation. I can’t imagine Thomas would be angry, with the knowledge of how it came about, but he’ll have every right to be sad. Or to not care!

      I know that time will heal to some extent. And what seems a really big deal right now will probably fade. But it’s tough.

  2. So beautifully written Caro. I can 100% understand where you are coming from on not only your longing to be a mum again but also the sibling relationship that Thomas is missing out on.

    What Carrie wrote is actually of some comfort to me, hopefully it is to you too.

    I know that Thomas will always know how loved and wanted he is, I’m sure that when he is grown and reads these letters the belief that he has held all his life will only be cemented further. x

    1. Thank you Amy. Yes, I’m sure that Thomas will be fine with it all, having known no different. The hard thing is we can only go one way, so we can never be sure how things would have turned out on a different path!

      I hope you are ok x

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