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Those of you with 'only' two older / adult sons, do you wish you had had more children?

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CrystalBall Wed 01-Jul-20 13:24:10

This is my 1st post on GN as I would love the perspective of those further down the line to me, so to speak. Sorry for the long post! I don't have one clear question I'm afraid, despite the post title!

I have two sons who are 4 and soon to be 8. Before having our 1st child both my husband and I hoped to have 2 children.
My elder son was born after two distressing years of unexplained infertility IVF treatment (we were lucky that our 1st cycle worked). I was 35 when I had him. We both desperately wanted our 1st child and also desperately wanted a second too. We had an unsuccessful transfer of a frozen embryo from that same treatment cycle when my son was 2.5. I conceived but had an early miscarriage which was emotionally very hard.

We tried naturally next time as couldn't face the stress of more treatment even though we had a couple of embryos remaining. I conceived my first ever natural pregnancy but sadly lost that one just before the 12 week scan. This was again hard emotionally and harder still physically as it was later in the pregnancy.

We decided to try once more naturally as we now knew we could conceive and were lucky to conceive a third fourth time and that gave us our youngest son. As you can imagine it was a very stressful pregnancy given our earlier losses. And there were additional issues in the pregnancy which luckily turned out to be nothing but at various points my son was suspected of having an overly large head and small limbs. He was born healthy just before I turned 39.

So, I will soon turn 43. My eldest is moving up to junior school in September and my youngest will start in reception year. We still have two embryos frozen in storage at our IVF clinic, almost 8.5 years on from when they were created and have paid annually to store them every year since.

I have worked part time since my eldest was 10mths old in a job that is boring but suits me practically for now. I have transferable skills which mean if I wanted to work more hours I would in theory have other job options open to me. I have also considered retraining (teaching/social work/ nursing appeal) but wonder if I'm too old.

We have no family support locally, just me and my husband. My own mum passed away when my youngest was tiny and I miss her dreadfully. My lovely MIL lives hundreds of miles away.

I am one of two with a sibling who is much older than me so we grew up effectively as two only children and are not especially close as adults but we do get on.

My sons are amazing and I adore them. But both were awful sleepers as babies and toddlers and we found the slep deprivation so so hard and while they mostly get on now, and they are very close in many ways, I find splitting my attention between them and refereeing their squabbling very hard and draining.

My husband is the eldest of 3 boys and is amicable with but not close to his brothers.

Both my BILs have had new / 1st babies in the past year and this, along with my own two getting older and the youngest moving to school age, and the remaining embryos we have, has had me in turmoil for over a year now about whether to try for a third baby. Opinion on similar threads on mumsnet is divided though the saying 'you only regret the kids you don't have' comes up. So grans, is this true?

I have so many thoughts going round my head daily and it's exhausting!

I feel an obligation to give my two remaining embryos a chance? Or at least one of them. But I also feel that having had IVF and being lucky enough to have 'spare' embryos has left me in an unusual and emotionally charged situation.

Are 3 kids better than 2? For you as a parent and for them as siblings?

Would a baby take away from my time with my two boys? Would I regret this?

Could I cope / be happy as a mum of 3? Why do I feel I would be a worse mum to 3 than I am to 2, especially when others with less means seem to cope with 4,5 +?

Do boys stay close to their mums (and dads!) as they grow up and become adults?
I know gender isn't guaranteed if we try for a third but I do feel sad to be missing out on a mother daughter relationship if we stop at 2.

My husband is happy as we are and had tolerated my prevarication but is getting frustrated now. He says he doesn't want me to regret things and will agree to try for a third if I am sure it is what I want even though he doesn't want a third in the same way he wanted a first and a second. We both have worries about the risks to me, any baby and our existing children of any future pregnancy. I fear another miscarriage especially if late on, or a still birth, or baby with health issues, or a multiple birth!

The feeling for a third comes and goes, and seems to be linked to my still regular menstrual cycle (perimenopause some say?!), my boys growing up and pregnancy announcements from others. I find myself noticing 3 children families whenever we are out and about (which isn't often at the moment of course!) and thinking of all the 3 or more child families I know. Part of me wonders and is frustrated by why I can't just decide what I want and why I seem to worried about possible bad outcomes.

But the main thing holding me back is that my husband clearly doesn't want a third in the same way as he did a first and second. I clearly don't either given my hesitation and constant mind changing, but I have more of a want for a third than him and fear that the inevitable stress of any future pregnancy and of raising a third child could be damaging to our relationship and our relationships with our sons.

I partly feel I can't tempt fate after ending up with two healthy and, to me, perfect sons after at one time fearing I would be childless forever and all the loss and stress that we experienced on the way to having them. Trying for a third is a total unknown and sticking with what we have feels safer.

Will I regret not trying for a third?
Will I find peace with stopping at two? And how?
Did you have these feelings for another baby in your early 40s? Is it hormones talking?
Am I just too risk averse?
Will the empty nest come too soon if we stop at two?
Will my sons grow distant as they grow older, more than any possible daughter might?
Does my husband's preference to stick at the two we have trump everything anyway?
Is my uncertainty about a third a sign that we should stick where we are?
Am I too old now and are my age gaps too big to work well?
(I will already be 57 when my youngest turns 18. If we had a third I would be great 62 when they reached 18.)

Thanks for reading! I would so appreciate your thoughts.

MellowYellow Wed 01-Jul-20 13:39:49

Oh, I feel for you, going round and round in circles. I won't try to answer most of your questions because I've not been in your position, but I have to say I have a daughter 41, two sons 37 and 39, and am as close to the sons as I am the daughter. I love boys (and girls!) so never imagined I wouldn't be close to them. I do hope you receive the advice you need here.

Illte Wed 01-Jul-20 13:45:30

I had three and sometimes wish I'd had a fourth. I've even dreamed about him and know his name.

But I know that the decision to stop irrevocably at three was the right one.

I had medical problems with that pregnancy and worse after.

I knew I couldn't put my little sons through that again. Their needs came first. But that's just my experience and I appreciate that I did have my third child.

Tough decision OP.

annodomini Wed 01-Jul-20 14:03:45

My two wonderful sons are now middle aged - 47 and 49. I have never thought of it as a matter for regret that I didn't have a third. When DS2 was born, he spent 9 days in SCBU as he had a problem with his bowel. He was a difficult baby because he always had some discomfort. He was also extremely active and mischievous! When he was 2, he got a correct diagnosis and had an operation which removed a small part of his bowel; he grew up strong and healthy and is now father of two big (12 and 14) sons himself. As he was a handful, we never considered adding to the family, but were contented with the two we had. I was mid-thirties and needed to take on several part-time jobs to maintain the family's finances.
As you have asked the question, no - I don't ever wish I'd had another child. I hope you will make whatever decision is right for you and your two children.

GagaJo Wed 01-Jul-20 14:16:37

I knew I shouldn't have a 2nd baby and it was right for me. But I had a daughter.

I'm very close to my grandson luckily. I do think sometimes that I'm lucky to have had a daughter because if I'd had a son, the chances are I wouldn't see my grandson daily.

Later in life, sometimes, parents aren't as close to sons families as they are daughters. Something else to consider.

rockgran Wed 01-Jul-20 14:50:20

There are no guarantees - you may have a daughter who hates you! You may have a son who adores you. Just do what feels right for now and if you have a good relationship with your children when they are adults then that will be a bonus. Personally I think you should enjoy the family you have now.

Lolo81 Wed 01-Jul-20 14:53:10

My Brother and Sister in last have 3 beautiful boys and she said that the move from 2-3 wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the one from 1-2 kids. Only you know how you really feel though.
The old wives tale about losing boys is exactly that. My brother and I are close as adults and still speak to our parents and each other daily and pre-lockdown my brother saw my parents at least weekly (dependant on work etc), I like to think that’s because we are people who all respect each other and value each other. There have been peaks and troughs in the relationships, but the fact he’s a man doesn’t make a difference in our family. On the other hand my husband wasn’t as close to his mum, but that wasn’t because he was a “son” either and more to do with her “difficult” personality. So I suppose what I’m saying is that the sex of your children (in my experience) doesn’t indicate how good your adult relationship will be.
Are you physically and emotionally healthy enough for no 3? Maybe get a physical and have a counselling session to explore your options?
Finally, not making a decision here is by default making the decision not to try. You’re obviously aware you have a finite window of fertility. My advice would be to make a decision soon either to go ahead or not to, because running out of time may be the actual thing that causes you regrets. Wishing you every happiness regardless if you decide to try again x

Curlywhirly Wed 01-Jul-20 15:32:18

I have two adult sons. Never wanted a third child as my husband worked away a lot and it was hard work looking after them on my own and working too. I also suffered from post natal depression, so a third was out of the question for me. I have never regretted it. I would have liked a girl, but as my first grandchild was a girl, I have been fortunate to now know what girls are like! Both sons are very close to us, and we probably see more of the grandchildren than their other grandparents do (probably because I'm a soft touch and can never refuse to have them!). I think that generally (I know there are exceptions) if you have a lovely relationship with your children there's no reason for that to change.

AGAA4 Wed 01-Jul-20 15:47:03

You have 2 lovely boys CrystalBall but I can understand that you feel there may be a potential third child.

Sons can be just as close and loving as daughters.

I think it depends on how much you really want another baby. Only you know that.

SueDonim Wed 01-Jul-20 15:50:43

I have four children, two boys followed by two girls. There are large age gaps, with over 20 years between oldest and youngest.

We’ve never really planned our lives as such so didn’t make a decision such as you’re having to do. I was hoping for another boy with my third, partly because that’s what I knew, but fell in love with my beautiful girl when she was born. I then wanted another girl with my fourth - there’s no pleasing some folk! grin

I love having four children and wouldn’t change a thing but if I hadn’t had more than two, I think I’d still be just as happy, because for me, it would be a case of what you don’t have, you don’t miss. Not everyone will feel that way.

I found having a baby in my 40’s a lot more challenging than the earlier babies and if I was in your circumstances I’d go for the status quo. However, if I had frozen embryos, I’m not so sure...the thought of that potential human being already existing must be difficult to let go. flowers

trisher Wed 01-Jul-20 16:00:04

I have 3 sons. 43. 40 and 37. They are lovely young men and we are very close. I had my youngest at about the same age you had your second child and I think your age is something you should take into account, not necessarily about having the baby but about caring for him as he grows up. If he wants to go to university you will be over 60 when he starts.
I did wonder when I was younger what it would have been like to have a daughter, now I have a wonderful granddaughter.
Retraining might be something that would help you and you are not too old. Why not look at something like early years teachiing where you will have contact with lots of younger children. Good luck!

FlexibleFriend Wed 01-Jul-20 16:05:58

I had two sons eight years apart (planned), when the youngest was around 8 I toyed with the idea of a third, stopped taking the pill for 6 months and nothing happened so left it at that. No regrets, only ever hoped for sons and that's what we had. They are now 40 and 32 with a child each. I have no regrets. The older you are the more tiring pregnancy is and the more possibilities of things going wrong but each to their own, no one can decide except you. Even with frozen embryo's there are no guarantees of a successful outcome. Good luck whatever you decide.

diygran Wed 01-Jul-20 16:08:47

I had 2 children in my early 30s and wanted another but financially we couldnt afford it at the time. None of family have GC and may never have. I now wish I'd had a bigger family. Husband's sister had 5 children and they are a happy lot with loads of GC.

As you are now 43 I'd be very wary of more pregnancies and as you say, the effect this may have on your partner and childten. It would be difficult to train and change careers as you get close to 50. Wishing you well in deciding what is really important to you.

Toadinthehole Wed 01-Jul-20 16:13:22

I feel your uncertainty too, but absolutely no one can answer these questions for you. We’ve all had to go through gut feelings and instinct I would imagine. I had four children, two boys first, and then two girls, 5 years from oldest to youngest. So many people used to say how perfect that was, but the perfection to me was...that we could have children at all, and that they were all healthy. I originally wanted 6 children, my husband 2, so we compromised at 4! He’d had a difficult life as one of four....and didn’t want the same for his children. We were a lot better off financially, so it was always going to be better from the start. My personal experience is that my girls were so different to the boys, but in some families, they’re not, so it really is individual. My daughters always want me in any ‘ crisis’, and take the advice. However, my two DIL’s are both lovely, but one goes to her own mother, the other is estranged from her parents and sees me as ‘ mum ‘, which is not perhaps the norm. Do you think you’re in this quandary because you have the frozen embryos, and don’t want to let them go? I can definitely understand that would give you a feeling of not being finished. I do hope you can find peace about it.

B9exchange Wed 01-Jul-20 16:13:24

Only you can weigh up what is right for you. We had four children, were going to stop at three but it just didn't work, it was always two ganging onto one, so we had a fourth, and that worked so much better. They still fought, but at least they had someone on their side!

The only advice I would give is that the only right time to have another child is when you just can't not have one, the feeling has to be so strong, with no ambivalence.

klerg000 Wed 01-Jul-20 16:26:35

At 16 I had chosen all the names for the 8 children I wanted
two lots of 4 with a break in the middle I adored babies and looked after any I could at 18 I had two invalid parents who were 61 and 63 with a full time job and no future. How I longed for siblings to help. I did get married at 31 to a wonderful man who understood the restraints I was under but was younger and did not want children at that time.
by the time we were in a position to have children his mother was very ill and needed care and we took on that job
he was one of 5 and the only one who was prepared to help
so no children. Be thankful for the children you have and
also think carefully of the future if you had another child
and that child's future. If you decide to go for it then good for you hope all goes well. On a lighter note I have a friend who as 4 children under 6 and she had the first one at 42 you have never seen anyone so happy. Dead on her feet but happy.

Grannynannywanny Wed 01-Jul-20 16:38:31

CrystalBall forgive me if I’m barking up the wrong tree. But might it be possible that your IVF situation with having unused embryos is the underlying cause of your turmoil? You should be able to access counselling services at your IVF clinic. Perhaps speaking to someone there might help you to unravel all these options that are spinning round in your poor head.

silverlining48 Wed 01-Jul-20 16:50:53

Crystal, I was in a similar quandary many years ago. I found it particularly difficult when my youngest started school. My husband wasn’t keen on a third child but hadn’t been that keen about the other two. Of course we would not have been without them when they were born.
After a lot of agonising I took up college studies and I never did have that third child, but sometimes even now, 40 years later, wish I had.
43 these days is not old, and only you and your husband can decide. It’s a tough one. Be happy whatever you end up doing.

Esspee Wed 01-Jul-20 16:53:08

Sorry, your post is too long for me to read.
To answer your question so succinctly put in the title I have 2 boys and and no way would I want to have any more children of either sex.

CrystalBall Wed 01-Jul-20 16:56:48

Thanks for all your replies. Interesting to get a range of responses. The frozen embryos are definitely a factor. Risk averse me would not choose to try to conceive a 3rd naturally at 43 due to the risks of abnormalities. The frozen embryos feel like a blessing and a burden. An insurance policy we were relieved to have when we weren't sure of IVF would work but then didn't end up needing to have 2 children but now an emotional dilemma even if there are no guarantees that they would be successful if we used them.

I know plenty of families who have stopped at 2. I wonder if I would find it easier to try for a third had it not been for our losses and issues so far, but I also wonder if the losses and our IVF experience is also what means I can't totally let the thought of a 3rd go. But I may have to. A happy accident at 43/44 feels very different to a planned frozen embryo baby.

My sons occasionally ask 'can we have a sister?' as they seem enthralled with their twin baby girl cousins who they've only met a couple of times due to distance. But having a 3rd because your older kids ask for one doesn't seem sensible.

If I knew for certain I would have a single healthy baby at the end of it my decision to go for it would be much easier. But nothing is guaranteed not least gender.

I think I'm just too risk averse. When we did IVF and frozen embryo transfer we insisted on transferring just one embryo each time as more felt too much of a risk of multiples which brings risks of its own and which I'm not sure we would have coped with. I will have to live with the regrets of not trying versus the risks of trying (and possible regrets if something went 'wrong'.) I think the other factor is my husband not being fully on board even if he's not saying an outright no. It makes it worse in a way as it feels the decision is all mine and decisions in general are not my strong point!

My late mum and my older sister both started out wanting 4 kids each but ended up with 2 each as both has fertility issues and miscarriages like me. My sister was in her late 20s when the youngest of her two was born after 3 miscarriages between that baby and his older child, so in theory had plenty of time to try for more but didn't. I think she just felt she couldn't face any more worry and heartache and that was that. My mum gave up her dream of another child after years and years passing and a few miscarriages after having my sister quite young but I was a big surprise in her late 30s. Maybe the journey we have to get the children we have, however many that is, affects the overall number?

CrystalBall Thu 02-Jul-20 07:32:42

Another sleepless night over this decision! So so hard. And my husband and I had a disagreement about something else yesterday evening so I didn't speak to him about how I'm feeling about all this as I had planned to. sad

Sparkling Thu 02-Jul-20 07:57:31

More than happy with my two, now married themselves with their own families. Children are not an insurance against a lonely old age. Children added to my life but they were not the reason for it, but i loved my journey with them. You haveto be happy with yourself and hopefully your partner. Eventually they leave and you become a very small part of their lives if you've bought them up to think for them selves and follow their own path. I know of people that once their children had grown and flown had nothing in common really except the children and split up. I would not have gone the ivf route if I couldn't have had children, probably fostered or adopted.

GrannyLaine Thu 02-Jul-20 08:19:08

CrystalBall it must be so very difficult to work through all of the complex thoughts and emotions swirling around with no clear answers. Though we all share common ground, we each tread a unique path through parenthood. One thing to consider that may be helpful to you is how powerful the desire for another child can be. I had four children and the innate longing for another baby remained for a very long time. I accepted that feeling as a kind of positive thing, but knew we wouldn't do anything about it as there always has to be a last baby. If you were to go ahead and have another baby, the longing for another may well persist. I do hope that you can find a way through the turmoil you are feeling right now flowers

TwiceAsNice Thu 02-Jul-20 08:30:31

I feel for you and have some similarities in my situation . I have a brother I never see because there is 7 years between us, I left home when he was 12, and as adults we were never close and he had given up on the relationship not me so I feel as if I am an only child.

I have two grown up daughters 43 and 36, they are very different and although I love them equally I get on better with the youngest we are more in tune.

I had a son in between them ( gap of nearly 8 years between the girls but they mostly get on well) but he died in childhood and after his death I bitterly regretted not having a 4 th child and would have had another if husband at the time ( I’m divorced) had said yes but he’d had a vasectomy after the youngest as third pregnancy was awful. Would I have not wanted a third if son had not died? I don’t know but the decision was made for me . I love my daughters but so miss having a son. Will you miss not having a daughter ( not guarantee with another pregnancy) Again I don’t know but something to think about.

There is the risk having a pregnancy in your 40’s and will you have enough help with 2 children if there are problems? My ex didn’t really want a third child but I persuaded him, it was always me who did all the childcare anyway, his job involved a lot of travel.

So there are lots of pros and cons for you to consider but I do understand your longing and I agree that you might find counselling helpful in deciding want to do . Good luck and update us.

sodapop Thu 02-Jul-20 08:42:46

No guarantees how things will turn out with your children Crystalball.
My advice would be to enjoy the children and life you have and put thoughts of a third child out of your mind. I get the feeling from your posts that your age is a concern and you are right to think about this.
You will feel much happier when you have made a decision.