I just read this extremely touching article in The Guardian, about secondary infertility. It's an interesting, although difficult, read.
But typically, I can't just leave it there, I have to go and weigh in.
Families who suffer from secondary infertility have so much pain to contend with, that I can't bear the thought that they may feel guilty for leaving their first child without siblings.
I was raised as an only child. My father married twice (my mother is his second wife) and I have a half-sister and two half-brothers from Dad's first marriage. But they were born and raised in the UK, and are quite a bit older than me, so although I get on great with them, I tend to call myself an only child because I grew up as one.
It was brilliant.
I know that if I'd had siblings growing up, I'd probably love them. My friends who aren't only children are all very fond of their siblings, naturally, and wouldn't like to be only children because it's hard to wish someone out of existence (they have to be pretty rotten).
But being an only child, I don't know what having siblings is like. I just know that growing up, I got as much of my parents' attention as I wanted. I was never compared to anyone (and kudos to my father for that, because he had three other kids he could have compared me to, and didn't). I had plenty of my own space and came to value my own company a lot, which I'm thankful for now. I never felt I had to compete, and I never had to put up with anyone for longer than I wanted to. That rocked. Oh, and no one messed with my books either :)
No one is entitled to a certain kind of family. Yes, if your child wants siblings it can be hard, but no child gets everything they want. Most people I know, regardless of the composition of their family, recognise that their unique familes did the best they could, and made them the people that they are. If the family you can offer your child is sibling-free, or enormous and sprawling, or even if it just consists of one person - who cares? Just do the best you can. I'll lay money that if you're intentions are good, they'll turn out fine. Not every kid gets a twin, or younger siblings, or two parents, or a protective big brother, or even to meet any of their grandparents (I only met one of mine). Instead, we love the people we do have.
This isn't in any way intended to belittle the pain of secondary infertility (or indeed any infertility), which I can't even begin to imagine. It is just intended to say 'don't blame yourself'. And don't feel bad about not being able to 'give' your child siblings. Being an only child is fine. And if you have a judgemental pain-in-the-arse neighbour like Maggie O'Farrell's, please direct a nasty comment to her with my compliments.