‘Not only did I grieve for my baby, but I knew my son was going to be an only child.’

Our research associate Helen Williams says that it is common for women to feel guilty about being unable to give their existing child or children a sibling.

Tommy’s news, 31/01/2017

For many parents, seeing those two lines appear on a pregnancy test signals the start of a family.

You may have already begun to imagine what colour you’ll paint your baby’s room, how you’ll tell friends and family the exciting news and how your new little one will get along with any children you already have.

‘I wanted my son to have a brother or a sister to love and play with and share his life with, that thought was far stronger than the thought of things going wrong.’ Lyndsey’s story of #misCOURAGE

Having this taken away from you at any stage is hard and can leave you feeling many different things.

The idea that a baby in your care, inside you, could stop growing can be very difficult to face and leaves many mothers struggling with feelings of guilt.

There can also be a feeling of guilt associated with not having given your existing child or children a brother or sister.

Helen Williams, research associate at Tommy’s National Centre for Miscarriage Research, says that the guilt of not being able to give your child a sibling is a common one.

In a recent article for the Daily Mail, writer Lisa Brinkworth talked about her experience of early miscarriage and the emotions she went through following this loss.

Although she already had two little boys, this did little to blunt her pain.

‘The fact that my two children had each other was little consolation to me, especially when I had to withdraw my unborn baby’s name from their nursery waiting list.’

Speaking to a friend who had previously suffered a loss, Lisa was horrified to hear her friend’s story.

‘My doctor told me that my eggs were nearly 40 years old, “so no big surprise”. I was sent home to miscarry. It was horrible. Apart from being checked over once at the hospital I had no further contact from a doctor or midwife. You are left to get on with it. Not only did I grieve for my baby, but I knew my son was going to be an only child.’

Having to resign yourself to the fact that your family will be one child less than you had planned or hoped for can be a bitter pill to swallow. This is not something that is automatically made easier by the fact that you may already have children.

On her way to the hospital Lisa was asked by the paramedic, ‘why are you so upset? You have two lovely children at home. You weren’t meant to have a third.’

We think that the fact that Lisa was asked this by a medical professional is so disappointing. The loss of any baby is a loss in its own right.

The fact you already have children can sometimes be a distraction, it can also be a comfort. But the baby you already have certainly does not make up for the one you have lost.

As Lisa points out in the article,

‘This baby (I was convinced she was a girl) had been growing inside me for three months. I had seen the scans, felt her first moments. We’d chosen her name – Isabella – and had her glowing future all mapped out. I’d put her name down for the Montessori nursery my sons attended. In my mind we were already a family of five.’

The assumption that mothers who already have children can cope with this loss better than others is dangerous as it can make them feel guilty for being sad, as if their pain somehow suggests their current child isn’t enough.

Women who experience loss deserve compassion and support, whatever their situation.

If you want to read Lisa’s original article you can do so here.

If you are concerned about the effect of your miscarriage on your child or are not sure how to deal with telling them, take a look at our page about how miscarriage can affect the rest of your family.

Read about Tommy's miscarriage research

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