People ask me all the time when we’re planning on having a second child. When I answer that we’re not, I always get a barrel of questions. I feel like everyone’s choice to have any number of children, from zero to 10, is a very personal decision, yet people seem to feel free to ask about our (and everyone else’s, it seems!) child-choices, frequently in front of other people.
(Brief sidebar on asking people about when they’re planning to have children, be it their first or fourth. You never know someone’s personal situation. People who are childless might have been trying to get pregnant for years. Someone who has one child who has hit two, might be wanting a second child, but either can’t conceive or may have had a miscarriage. From someone who found it difficult to get pregnant, and who struggled to cheerfully answer people’s questions on when we were having a baby, please, please, please don’t EVER ask someone when they’re going to have a kid. Sidebar over.)
For the record, Alec and I are pretty sure we only want one child. Maybe in a few years we’ll change our minds, but I think it’s unlikely. Here are the reasons that we’re pretty sure Eloise is going to be an only child.
1. I had a horrible childbirth experience.
2. The first six months of Eloise’s life were miserable for all of us. A sad reflux baby and no sleep for anyone. We’re still traumatised by it.
3. I didn’t get a full night’s sleep for the first 10 months of Eloise’s life. She’s still a bad sleeper, and wakes up a few nights a week on average. I am so. tired.
4. Alec and I feel like we are just holding everything together, with having one child. We have no idea how people manage lives with multiple children. Our respect to all parents with lots of kids! We know that we just couldn’t handle it.
5. We want to spend a lot of our lives travelling, and want to take Eloise with us. The more kids you add to that, not only the more expensive it gets, but the more years you spend not being able to travel.
6. We want to give all of our attention and resources to Eloise to help her achieve her dreams. We don’t feel that with multiple kids we’d be as able to do this.
7. For a very selfish, personal reason, I feel ready to get my life back on track, after spending two years pregnant and taking care of infant Eloise. I’m finding it really hard to get back into the work force after this gap and trying to take care of Eloise, so I can’t even begin to imagine how much even harder it would be if I had a second kid – both because of time out from the work force, but also trying to take care of two kids and balancing work. I can’t even begin to imagine how people do it. Again – my utmost respect to everyone who does! You’re all super human 🙂
8. We both love Eloise so much it’s just insane. We feel so complete as a family of three that we just have no desire to add anyone else to it. I probably should have put this as number one, as it’s the absolute main reason. The other points are factors that reassure me that this is the right choice for us, but, at the end of the day, it just keeps coming back to our family feeling complete. Me, Alec and Eloise.
I constantly think about how this choice of ours will effect Eloise. I don’t worry about her being bored or lonely – especially since we are living in Brooklyn, where she has friends all within walking distance. I expect it will be hardest on her being an only child when she is an adult. A lot of my friends get a great deal of support from their siblings who live nearby, helping with their kids. A lot also don’t get any help from siblings living nearby, so just having a sibling doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have more help with your family later on.
The other thing is ageing parents. My number one biggest concern about having only one child is that Eloise will have to deal with Alec and I ageing and dying on her own, with no siblings to share this huge burden with. Life is so uncertain though, and you never know how things will go. While I’m a massive planner of everything possible, I don’t feel like this worry of mine is worth having another child, just for this specific concern. I hope with all my heart that Eloise will find an amazing partner like I did, who will happily share her life – and all the baggage it brings – with the grace and unselfishness that Alec has brought to my life.