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Does anyone else regret having children?

(287 Posts)
Zahora Mon 29-Jun-09 02:39:04

Does anyone else regret having your child? I loved my old life. My husband really wanted a child and I put it off for so long, just knowing that it's not my calling. I gave in after so many rows thinking I would adjust. It was either that or leave my husband whom I loved very much. My son is 2 years old and it has been such a lonely and desperate struggle. I feel like my wonderful life has turned upside down. I still do not feel like a mother. I look after my son full time, I even breastfed for a year, yet it just feels so ...hollow. It's not me. I miss my old life so much I just feel like walking out and leaving my husband and son. I hate playing in the park. I want to go to a gallery. I hate watching peppa pig- I want to read a novel. I hate going to playgroups - I want to have lunch with freinds. I do everything I can for my son and he is lovely. Yet motherhood so far has left me feeling like I have been conned out of my real life. Will life ever return to normal. Will my son feel that I am detached? I don't think I'm depressed. Has anyone else felt like this?

Summertime14 Thu 24-Jul-14 14:04:00

I mean pro- choice. Sorry all mixed up

Summertime14 Thu 24-Jul-14 12:55:28

Thanks for replies. Still in two minds, but will wait 6 months to see how we are/ how I feel. Just feel like I have been so irresponsible. Am totally pro-life, but feel ashamed with what I did, only to terminate. The guilt is eating me up. I think we could have made it work. I'm such a horrible person. sad

blackeyedsally Thu 24-Jul-14 10:16:50

Hey Ms Owl, glad you're doing OK. No regrets here either and my ex and I are also good friends. smile I am loving my new life in the city, spending my weekends having fun instead of doing gardening and DIY <yawn> :D

I was already 99% sure I wouldn't date anyone with kids, so thank you for confirming that for me!!

"I would think long and hard on if you would be willing to be a single mother before you consider becoming pregnant again, because that is the worst case scenario and one you have to consider and be prepared for before making that leap, IMHO."

God, that's an excellent point. Just imagine, having a kid you never really wanted, in the belief it would save your relationship, and then the relationship going down the pan anyway and having to bring the child up alone. <shudder>

MidknytOwl Wed 23-Jul-14 21:50:43

Guess I'll update too.

It's been a year now since my ex and I broke up over the kids issue...and I can confidently say that it was the best decision and I'm really glad I went with my gut and didn't have the kids.

We're still best friends, and honestly our relationship got a lot better once we stopped dating. It's been weird; I don't know if he realizes he's been doing it, but we've kind of been emotionally dating? At least, he does things that seem a little above and beyond the feeling level of best friend.

However, now that so much time has gone by, there are plenty of things he does that bug me, and at this point I feel like I could do much better for a partner. After spending some time with him and his daughter (7.5 y/o), I can say we would have had some conflicts in parenting too, something that never even crossed my mind. (ie Things he thinks are okay for the kid are not always what I think are okay. I'm not her mother, so it doesn't matter, but I can see there would be a lot of arguments if we had kids together.)

If I had any lingering doubt to whether or not it was the right decision, that was completely wiped out by going on a several day trip with the two of them this weekend. Actually, I highly suggest going on vacation with a young child if you are still agonizing over the decision, because it is an eye opener, not being able to get away from the kid for days. You get to experience fun things, like going to a water amusement park and not riding a single ride because the kid doesn't want to. Or having to watch her brush her teeth because if you don't she only brushes them for 15 seconds. Or taking 12 hours to make an 8 hour drive because you have to stop so often. Or repeating yourself over and over again, whether to answer the same question repeatedly (yes, we'll go do x, but not until later today) or to tell them to do something that they don't feel like doing.

It actually had such an impact, being full time partial parent for three days, that I'm also going to no longer consider dating anyone that has a kid, no matter how small their visitation is, because I hate being in that stepmother role, even for one weekend a year. Needless to say, very happy I didn't reconsider and have my own with him.

Summertime14, I'm sorry for the situation you're in. Like blackeyedsally said, only you can make that decision. One thing that worries me though is you saying you two were rocky the year leading up to the seems from everything I've read, here and elsewhere, that adding a child in the mix is just going to exacerbate any problems you have. I would think long and hard on if you would be willing to be a single mother before you consider becoming pregnant again, because that is the worst case scenario and one you have to consider and be prepared for before making that leap, IMHO.

One other thing that might be helpful to the group: my ex was reading this book called All Joy No Fun, which looks at the effects that children have on the parents, versus the other way around like most parenting books. I'm only about a chapter in, but it's been good so far at talking about the real impacts of parenting, if you wanted to give it a look.

blackeyedsally Wed 23-Jul-14 15:24:50

Oh, Summertime14, my heart is breaking for you sad

All I will say is you must make the decision for you, not for anyone else. Listen to your gut feeling.

And also bear in mind that even if you do give your partner a child, it is absolutely no guarantee that he won't cheat on you again. sad

Soveryupset Wed 23-Jul-14 15:00:28

So glad I found this thread. I don't regret having my four children but life is bloody hard and happiness is something I feel even less these days.

I have an amazing job which is very flexible and I love but I am exhausted all the time. I also see my career has ground to a complete halt and that hurts a lot.

I though once my youngest was 5 things would be easier but they are not really. As they are all still at primary, if I am not working I am supervising homework, tidying, cleaning, ferrying around, etc...i barely have time to sit down and I seem to get ill a lot from sheer exhaustion.

Its been great finding this thread as I often feel so trapped whilst most people including dh think we are living a pretty perfect life..

Summertime14 Wed 23-Jul-14 08:22:23

Hi, I wish I'd read your post a few weeks ago. I'm 41 and my partner is 36. We have been together for 14yrs. I've always known deep down he would have liked kids etc. I have never felt maternal to children (very happy being maternal with my cats) Last year, my partner had a fling, I was devastated, she was only 27. He decided to stay with me and the thought of him being with her and having a family together churned me up and tied my stomach and heart in knots. I decided in Feb, to come off the pill and let nature decide (but I did not, stupidly tell my partner as I thought the pressure would be on and wouldn't then be able to change my mind) I found out in June I was 3 wks pregnant. I felt mixed emotions, but mostly dread. I couldn't believe what I had done. What was I thinking? We have had a very, very, very rocky road over the last year, only recently starting to become ' a couple' again. My partner was shocked,(i told him I was taking the pill) but I could tell he was quite happy with the news. I told him, I didn't think I could do this. He agreed the timing wasn't great and supported my decision). I felt like time was ticking, I knew if I had an abortion it would have to be sooner, rather than later. I took the first pill at 6 weeks, went home and cried my heart out. I felt like it was a big mistake. I rang the hospital who told me the pregnancy could continue, but to see how the following 2 wks were. I miscarried 4 days after taking the first pill. Part of me felt relief, the other part, guilt, stupidity that I had put myself in this situation ( i thought this only happened to teenagers, not a woman in her 40's). I wish I was still pregnant, even though I felt like I keeping it for the wrong reasons (for my partner, our relationship, which I don't think does help a relationship). I feel so confused, down, sad. I'm 41 and now I think in a yr I would maybe like to try for a child, (but fear it will be too late) for the right reasons. I want my partner to be with me for me, not because we have a child together. All my friends think the pregnancy was an accident, I'm too ashamed to tell anyone the truth about coming off the pill. I wish so much my partner did not want kids, this is tearing me apart. I now do not know what I want.

jessica334444 Wed 23-Jul-14 05:33:00

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Shakey1500 Sun 20-Jul-14 21:36:32

This thread has reached it's FIVE YEAR ANNIVERSARY and a little bit but I forgot to post on the actual day

Love to all thanks It's testament that this feeling is felt far and wide as many posters say they find it through search engines. I hope we are all well and keep updating as and when as well as offering support to each other wells up a little bit

dimsum123 Sun 20-Jul-14 20:17:35

I don't know if I regret having DC's as much now as I did a few years ago when they were younger. I do still feel very restricted and tied down and trapped by them. I can't do what I want, can't travel (not the sort of travel I actually like such as climbing Mt Kilamanjaro, trekking in Nepal, watching mountain gorillas in Uganda), can't have a weekend off just lounging in pj's, can't devote myself to retraining and a new career.

I don't really get any joy or pleasure from the day to day tedium of looking after them.

But otoh, if I had never had them i am sure i would be wishing i had.

The only way to be happy I think for me is to somehow go back in time with the knowledge i have now, and chose not to have DC's. Impossible.

Shakey1500 Fri 18-Jul-14 23:24:46

Madrid Thanks for posting. Please try not to be too hard on yourself. Your feelings are completely understandable and I'm sure that, despite you thinking otherwise, you're doing a grand job given the circumstances you've unwillingly found yourself in. Do you get any time to yourself at all?

Don't forget, the fact you acknowledge your feelings proves a lot.

Can I give a little reassurance that it's entirely likely that you will reclaim a lot of your life as the years speed by? And the feelings of resentment will subside somewhat.

I'm one of the last people who would have ever uttered such a phrase (see my previous posts on this thread) up till about 3 years ago. My DS is 7 now and I can honestly say that I feel differently than between him being born- age4.

And once again, I reiterate that it is not "wrong" to admit to such feelings, it's "different" and all of us are brave in admitting them. It shouldn't be the taboo subject it still is.

Anyone else feel like giving an update? (It's been going a few years this thread!) Would be nice to see how things are for those who still have the thread on Watch

Madrid22 Fri 27-Jun-14 10:49:35

I have a 3 yr old DS who I adore but I absolutely regret it. I'm a single mother, completely not through choice, I was engaged & my baby was planned & I desperately wanted him but where I'm alone & I have no family (my parents died years ago), I find the whole thing a lonely struggle.

I could ramble on for pages but basically I never chose to do EVERYTHING for my child & I never ever said I could be both parents, breadwinner, etc, so to be dumped in a situation I find almost impossible is hard. All I seem to hear is how you have to be able to do it all & smile about it, so I feel useless that I can't be like that.

I regret the circumstances not him but it plays such a big part I really wish I'd not had a child (& this comes from someone who previously had an infertile partner & did 8 yrs if IVF treatments!), I feel guilty too, he's so lovely but me being so worn out & feeling like a failure will effect him.

HLD716 Wed 25-Jun-14 17:25:12

I am so glad I found this thread. I too regret having a child. All my time energy and money goes to a child that I regret. It makes me angry. I cant go out or do anything without her either crying or throwing a fit because Im leaving her. All I do now is work come home and take care of her. Thats it. I do not even get to shower or use the bathroom by myself and if I lock the bathroom door she screams and beats on the door until I open it.

maxjnrweber Tue 03-Jun-14 00:37:45

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albark Thu 29-May-14 03:43:44

Honeybadger - respect!! What an amazing, refreshing, honest post.

Congratulations to each and every one go you who's posted on here - I'm serious, you are all heroes for being so honest!

I'm 35, divorced, and in a (pretty crap) relationship. I don't have kids, and all my life I've been fold that basically I'm not fulfilling my purpose.

One friend told me that the love between me and my (ex) husband wasn't as string as the love between her and hers, as they had a kid. I'm so sick of hearing about how ' I don't know heat love is' etc etc, because I've not had a child.

I'm not maternal - well, not with babies. I adore dogs, I love older kids, and am always drawn to help and support older kids that have problems - but babies just don't do it for me at all.

I'm so sick of having it rammed down my throat that I MUST have children to understand the meaning of live and life. I've always secretly been scared that if I did, I'd hate it/regret it/be awful/flings screaming baby from a window - and your postings are a JOY to read, so refreshing and honest.

THANK YOU LADIES! You all sound fabulous. Xxx

Its funny how you never love your children so much as when they are sleeping! I mean I love my DS, don't get me wrong, I have always loved him in a dutiful functional kind of way, but I have never enjoyed being a parent until recently, and even now occasionally its really tiresome...

Known affectionately to me (or not) as 'being under house arrest', it was horrid being a SAHM- just mind numbingly boring and endlessly tiring, like an 18hr job with no pay and no one to talk to, then in the other 6 hours you get to do further housework etc and maybe squeeze a bit of a snooze in here and there.

When you're a single mom, you might as well be in solitary confinement, but its even worse because you add total sleep deprivation, slave labor and mental torture that you cant share with a significant comes to something when you have seen all the episodes of peppa pig (my favorite being the one where they go ice skating) and the thing you look forward to is an episode you haven't seen, and that you have managed to learn basic sign language courtesy of Mr Tumble.

I was never maternal, people even used to comment how odd it looked if i held a friends baby (normally at arms length hoping it wouldn't puke), i have no idea why I decided to have a baby- it seemed like the right time I suppose, financially stable, engaged (although he left not long after DS was born) blah blah blah.

Turns out I'm a crap mom, not in the basic needs sense, but in the actually liking children sense. I mean if it were Neanderthal times then I'd be the most awesome mom ever- like if it were about survival of the fittest then my offspring would be chubby feral survivors.... but its not. Its a day and age where even the mere sniff of not being totally grateful and in love with motherhood gets you shot down by the mummy mafia. Those who chirp on about how fulfilling and meaningful having children is and who do arts and crafts 8 hours a day, and bake cakes with perfect princess daughters like something off a bloody flora advert.

I had post natal depression, which sucked, I dont think i really loved DS with affection until he was about 6 months old thanks to that, but i was a good mom in the functional sense (keeping things clean, keeping DS fed and watered, changed and comfortable and happily dribbling at the tweenies) for the first 18 months, it didn't get really bad until the 'terrible 2,3 and 4's kicked in, along with speech, potty training, breaking things, tantrums and the words 'no' and 'why'.

In hindsight i think i got off pretty easy as my DS was a pretty good child looking back and having experience now of other peoples kids who are far more 'naughty' than my DS was, or friends with kids who have disabilities requiring constant care... but at the time, being an exhausted single mom with no support network and no outside contact from grown ups other than my parents or family maybe once or twice a week, i used to think about walking out all the time and leaving DS with his dad or with my parents....I mean men just take off all the time without much recrimination, so why couldn't I?

NO IDEA...god i wanted to....I wanted to SO badly. I used to fantasize about running away and working in bars in greece or on cruise ships etc all the time, but there was just something that stopped me, I don't know if it was some deeper primal in-build mother love/instinct or just plain society based expectation and guilt.
I used to get to the point of packing my bags then I'd have a flash forward into how much I could screw him up emotionally. See his little face understanding that his mom didn't love him. To think I hadn't loved him enough to stay, to think he wasn't worth the effort, to think he could live his life feeling like he wasn't worthy and where those feeling of self loathing/guilt/worthlessness might take him. The kind of life he could end up living if I weren't there to keep fighting for better for him(cue tears and floods of guilt). Bloody awful times they were. It was just a cycle of misery- frustration- resentment and guilt.

It started getting easier when he turned about 5 and started to understand the world a bit better, and being more independent....I think it also helped that I started working full time about the same time.

He's 8 now, and I can say now that he's brilliant 90% of the time- he's my little mate and has a great personality and I love him to bits, I miss him now a little bit when he goes to his dads or grandparents, which is a relatively new experience as I've always enjoyed and craved my child-free time and as long as his safety was assured I'd go and have a 'single and childfree' 48 hours once every 2 weeks- where I could pretend I had my life as it was pre-DS and go back to real life on a sunday evening.

Having been just me and him for so long now, I cant imagine my life without him (wait that's not true- I imagine my life without him fondly and wistfully for 5 seconds, then realize there's only so much clubbing in Day-Glo bikinis a woman can do at the age of 34 LOL).

Its a pain in the bum all the rushing about and organizing and planning that you do when you are trying to 'enrich' your child's life, all the driving to cubs/football/cricket/parties/swimming lessons/karate/play dates...god it just goes on and on and never ends, kind of like the laundry pile created by afore mentioned extra curricular activities. I am convinced I could personally captain an elite squad of Navy seals with my military timing and planning precision.

When i look back i feel massively ashamed and guilty about all the times i resented him and the life i chose in having him, yes it was hard, yes it was tiring and thankless and exhausting and at times soul destroying. Yes I felt like I had lost who I was, and that the only thing that defined me was being a mom, that I had given up my life for 18 years.
But truth be told I was selfish and immature and not particularly nice before I had him- I realize that now. He has taught me to be truly selfless, to make sacrifices when I REALLY don't want to, to think always of someone else's future beyond my own and having him has in general made me a more patient, organized and independent person than I would ever have thought possible.

I still wear my 'bad mom' t-shirt every now and again (metaphoric of course) and scream and shout at him over small things that needn't be screamed about...and he knows to give me a wide berth on those days... but when I see the kind, sensitive, helpful, mostly polite and thoughtful boy that he is becoming already, I have hope that despite everything, despite all the negative thoughts and misery and despair i felt in the early years, and all the crying in the shower, and all the wishing I'd never had him, that he is, against the odds, going to turn out to be a lovely young man....and it absolves me a little of the guilt.
That if our children are reflections of us as parents, I cant be such a truly awful terrible incapable mother.

TBF I think I got away really lightly with him- cos he's more of a moaner than a rebel, and aside from ongoing (grrr) annoying nightly negotiations about why he has to go to bed at 8.30, he's pretty low maintenance.

I never thought i'd find myself saying i wouldn't change having him...up until the last couple of years i was still saying i regretted ever having fact i could have been voted the person most likely to build a time machine and go back and change everything so I could carry on clubbing in furry boots and run away with the circus... but now the hardest times have passed, I wouldn't change him.

....still there's the 10% of the time when I cant wait for him to grow up and sod off lol.

Hugs to everyone feeling crappy...all I can say is hopefully it will get easier for you like it has for me. And don't feel guilty if you aren't mary poppins- the mummy mafia will manage with one less member. xxxxxx

vitaminZ Thu 15-May-14 08:56:41

Also, what people don't understand is that if you have children and realise it was a mistake, there is no going back, you have to live with your decision forever and it is totally taboo to admit you made the wrong decision in rl. If you take a job and it is wrong you can change jobs. If you buy a house you don't like you can sell it and move away. With children it is a one way decision which you can never reverse. Such an important decision (for mother and child) should come with a lot more warnings and real facts, not just the glossy media presentation and the "keeping up appearances" that we currently have.

Bollydarling Wed 14-May-14 00:36:37

Thanks. I can really relate to a lot of what been said and realise that I am not depressed, just not happy with my current situation.

It really is taboo to say anything negative about having children. If I am slightly down with one 'friend' who has spent the deposit for a house on IVF, I am immediately reminded of how lucky I am. Yet I have to keep stum when she says how much she needs her week long yoga retreat in Turkey. I have had a friend reshuffle since having kids.

I think for those of you considering kids I would say

If you are getting on a bit (I was 40 when DS was born and 42 when DD was born) and in any way ambivalent then don't do it. Try and ignore the pressure or deal with it outright, take the steps to ensure you don't stay in a relationship when DP/DH changes his mind about kids, find something else meaningful to fill your time etc. I'm not sure that I regret that I had kids but if I had my time again things would be different.

If you do go ahead make sure you have done your maths. Full time child care for one child can be covered by a £20k salary with a bit to spare. It costs over £2k a month for two.... And when you have moved to the sticks for a better quality of life, £35k jobs in the charitable sector are hard to come by. I didn't plan to have kids so didn't plan my career. DH earns enough for us to live on but there's nothing to spare.

Two kids also seem to be sooooo much more difficult than one so if you are in any way ambivalent about the second don't do it. Having said that my 9 month old DD is gorgeous with a sunny nature (she didn't get that from me) and seems to be an easier baby than her brother. But I am sure when he is 4 and she is 2 he will be the easier child.

Don't have preconceptions about how you will parent or let anyone tell you what to do. Have confidence in your gut instincts. Breast feeding past 6 months, baby wearing, bed sharing etc have helped me bond with children whom I think I love but have no overwhelming feelings for. For other people bottles, schedules and sleep training work as they enable them to return to work and have a break.

It is very difficult when grandparents are too old/far away to be actively involved, and the local mums I have bonded with are those that work or who will be going back to work shortly so limited opportunities for helping out with child care to give each other a break. It feels selfish to walk out the door for run as DH walks after a 12 hour day but if it means I have more patience then it isn't selfish. I personally have used baby and toddler groups as a chance for break as sometimes someone will hold the baby and the toddler can play independently, it just depends on how he is feeling. Often someone will make me a cup of coffee as well

Good luck to us all. This thread has made me realise, once again, that things are not so bad for me

PPWAH Mon 12-May-14 22:44:01

Reading here has pinpointed what it is I struggle with. It is that it's relentless, endlessly relentless and it's the same relentless every single day, same routine, same mess, same fights to referee, same stories to read, same games to play.

I also think this competitive keeping up appearances makes you feel like you're the only one to find it hard because no one else seems to. I have to admit I do to - because you admit struggle & someone (often good friends) walk off with a spring in their step after saying in so many words they aren't struggling & listing how it's harder for them!!

amothersplaceisinthewrong Mon 12-May-14 22:15:26

What I found the hardness was the sheer relentlessness of it all - made harder by the fact I had not a single family member (other than DH) near me to help out. The first year of baby and toddler was the worst year of my life. All worth it now though to see my 25 and 23 year old making their way in the world.

CuriosityCola Mon 12-May-14 22:11:23


vitaminZ Sun 11-May-14 11:12:25

I think one of the problems is that women are expected to "have it all". Be mothers, have perfect bodies, have loads of friends, have the perfect relationship, go out and have a wonderful career, have loads of confidence and get up and go, have your own home etc. This is just not possible in this day and age. Everything is so stressful, so inconvenient and so expensive. Especially if you are living in London. What makes it worse is that so many mums are so snobby and competitive so if you haven't achieved one of these things (at least for appearances) you can feel really dejected, like you are not perfect. It's just so utterly draining and takes all the joy away from what used to be a natural thing.

PPWAH Sun 11-May-14 09:32:40

After googling 'struggling with my children' I found this thread. And have spent the last hour reading through comments.
It's reassuring others find it hard and that it seems most people say it gets easier.

I think I started finding it difficult when I had to become a full time mum last year as my wage would not cover childcare. And now my husband works away through the week.

I have three boys, 6, 4, 3. For the most part they are well behaved, well mannered, thoughtful, eat well sleep well etc. On the flip side (mostly when at home) they fight, argue, whine - the little one once triggered can scream for up to two hours regularly (the health visitor is involved with this). The same routine day after day is busy, monotonous and wearing.

And I know this is just children being children and the typical life you have with children but I find it mentally exhausting and I find myself not enjoying being a mum most days. Most days my goal is just trying to get to their bedtime without resorting to shouting at them. And if I do end up shouting I spend the evening regretting it & wondering if I am somehow damaging them and wondering why I'm finding it so hard.

Also, I know really I have loving super boys, I can take them anywhere, feed them anything, put them to bed for 7pm and not see them until 7am. Which makes the guilt worse for not enjoying them.

It just feels too intense being a full time mum it feels like a constant battle and my thinking that makes me feel bad about myself and terribly guilty.

LaQueenOfHearts Sun 16-Feb-14 18:20:36

I totally failed to bond with DD1, and was diagnosed with PND just a few weeks after she was born. I took good care of her, but I was desperately grieving for my old life - Like you OP I loved my own company, enjoyed pottering about, novels, spontaneous weekends away with DH.

I felt all that I enjoyed in life had been taken away from me. I just couldn't adjust to having a baby, and felt wretched and resentful, and frankly scared all the time. I just wanted to travel back in time, and never have got pregnant.

The problem was then hugely compounded when I accidentally got pregnant with DD2, when DD1 was only 3 months old shock

The next couple of years were just a grey, exhausted haze. I don't remember a lot of it. My PND had lifted, and I had fallen in love with the DDs, but it was still relentless drudgery. I just did not enjoy it, none of it.

But, by the time the DDs were 3 & 4, life had improved such a lot. Slowly I found the time to actually enjoy a coffee and a few chapters of my book, while they occupied themselves. They began having proper conversations with me - and became proper people, with opinions.

Then they started school, and I felt I was really hitting my stride as a Mum. They could wash, dress themselves, get themselves a drink/snack. Life just got easier and easier.

Nowadays, they're nearly 10 and 11, and bizarrely I sometimes find my self grieving for back when they were little enough to snuggle on my knee (both are now well over 5ft tall). They are getting more and more into their friends, and they often disappear into their bedrooms for hours to Skype their friends, or read...and I find myself missing them, and feeling a bit lost and lonely...yes, even though I could drink umpteen coffees and read as many books as I wanted, with no disturbances.

And, I simply cannot bear to think of them leaving home and going to university. I will encourage them to go, and wave them off with a smile, but inside a little piece of me will die, when they go.

harrap Fri 14-Feb-14 14:24:20

Hello Madcat-sorry you are going through this-I'm just wondering if you might get more responses if you start a new thread or with a title referring to PND.

I didn't have PND so I'm probably not the best person to comment but I'm sure there are plenty of others who can help, but they might not see your post.

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