Tuesday, October 4, 2011

One, two, three, four: Tell me, how many do you want to go for?

Time Magazine recently debunked a whole bunch of myths related to only children. The main findings from the author's research is that only children aren't really that much different from other children. In fact, some studies have suggested that only children score higher on SATs and have higher self-esteem. Does this mean that children with siblings are dumb and hate themselves? No, of course not! But perhaps we have been misled by stereotypes when we think about only children.

A big debate is happening in our house right now. Actually, that's not true - it's just happening in my head. Every day, I wake up with a different thought:

"I will try for another baby"


"What, are you crazy!? No more babies!"

It seems easy for some people - they either embrace the only-child thing, or they have always been sure about multiple children (some are so sure that they bang them out in a matter of a few years!) I'm more curious to hear from the people out there who just don't know...who wake up each day having made a different decision than the day before.

I love babies. I wouldn't be doing doula work if I didn't love babies.

But do I want to love another one of MY babies? Gah!

First of all, I realize that I'm already assuming that I would be blessed with a pregnancy. I've heard of plenty of women who have tried for a second child (after a fairly easy conception the first time around), only to discover a fertility issue. So I realize this "debate" in my head is entirely based on the assumption that I would actually get pregnant if we tried.

I keep listing off all the reasons why we should try for another child - A. needs a sibling; I want to bring another child into the world; I wonder if we're "complete" as a family; and somewhere deep down I worry whether I'm a "real Mom" if I don't have more children (this is a belief that I think truly exists out there - just listen to this quote from Jessica Alba). And as more and more friends have second babies and announce pregnancies, I do feel the pressure mounting.

The pressure in my HEAD of course....brought on entirely by myself.

So why don't I want another baby? There are a number of reasons, which maybe some of you can relate to.

Personally, I don't know if I was cut out for this Motherhood Thing. And I'm not just saying that so you'll leave nice comments telling me how great of a Mom I am - I'm saying it because I really believe that some women have a harder time adjusting to motherhood and all its demands. Perhaps it was lack of preparation, or unrealistic expectations...or a bit of both! I feel very well adjusted right now, and love my daughter to bits, but the newborn stage is just not for me.

So then my head tells me: ok, fine, why don't you just suck it up and get through the newborn stage? It's not that long!

But there are other questions: how will I do doula work with two children? How will we afford me being on maternity leave with no benefits? Can I juggle two children when I find one to be a challenge?

Many unanswered questions, and I know I've got some time. While a decision doesn't need to be made today, I certainly don't want to be wavering for many years to come.

So tell me - what do you think? Are you an only child? What was your experience growing up? If you're having children, or planning for children, do you know exactly how many you want? Why?


  1. I can relate to a lot of what you are feeling. We are now ready for baby #2 and my son is 2.5 years. Almost all of the women I've met with 1st children the same age, have already had their second. We were in no hurry and sometimes I would feel comfortable thinking having E as an only child wouldn't be all that bad. I am the 7th of 11 children and my husband is an only child. We come very different extremes. I have always loved the idea of having 2-4, he says 2 tops. I am guilty for blaming a lot of his silly ways on "only child syndrome" but I know it just comes down to parenting and personality. And I know a lot of my parenting worries come from maybe feeling lost in the crowd. It's a tough decision, but you'll get there :)

  2. P.s. The newborn stage with E wasn't for me either, but I am actually looking forward to embracing next time.

  3. I think that's part of it too Alicia. I almost want to "fix" the problems we had the first time around. Aylen had GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) and it was pretty awful. Another fear I have is a 2nd baby with the same problem. I guess the second time around you can always bank on the fact that you'll at least (kind of) know what you're doing!!

  4. For me I have always wanted 4. Hubby seems happy to have 3, so we will end up either at 3 or 4 ;)

    My issue is how utterly disgusting sick I get through my entire pregnancies. It's hard to even do daily activities and function. Having garbage bags in your purse, car and everywhere in the house because you need them all day while taking care of a toddler is hard. I also get a lot of guilt now because I can't interact and be there for D as much as I would like to because of how sick I am.

    There are days that I tell myself I will never go through a pregnancy again because of how awful I feel but deep down I know I am not done after #2. We have also talked about adoption and I thoroughly like the idea but I absolutely love the labouring part (I know weird right?) and delivering a child into the world. Other than the non stop nursing and absolutely no sleep for almost a year we were blessed with a very happy baby so my fingers are crossed #2 is just as happy. My thoughts? I suffer enough during awful horrid pregnancies and pray the child is done tormenting me until they are at least a teen ;)

    Good luck with whatever you decide because in the end your heart never fails you xo

  5. Hey NamasteMommy: not weird at all to love the labouring part! I often joke I will be a surrogate for the right person :) You may be pleasantly surprised for future pregnancies that you are not as sick (fingers crossed at least!) You seem to be a total natural at Mommyhood, and I can picture you with 4 little ones. Thanks for your thoughts.

  6. I hear ya Misty! Haven't decided over here yet. Still a while away for sure if at all. I don't want to go through the pregnancy thing again, or the sleepless nights. I am very happy with my one little boy. I just feel guilty about him being an only child....
    I think you'll know when you're really ready, just let it happen.

  7. Our shop is closed at 2. I had them back to back as my first pregnancy was totally awful and I thought that if I didn't surrender immediately I would never 'go under' again. The newborn thing was so lovely in all of the control I had over the helpless infant but terrible for the complete lack of personal space (I mastered the art of using public washrooms while holding my infant in one arm).
    Here is the thing. I want 3 - always have. I came from a family of 3 and so did hubby. But we never will. I know that i would never survive it. I too believe that I am not cut out for motherhood the way others are. I need far too much time to myself to stay sane and react far too deeply to much that goes on in the world (including my children's worlds). Two is plenty. I barely made it through the early years with my second. I was terrified for many, many months as I had two in diapers and I just couldn't focus on either of them properly. I'm a one-on-one girl and need my head on straight to focus on what I am doing. Suffice to say that my head wasn't on straight for any of it. I unravelled but managed to give them a reasonably lovely infanthood. I think I paid the price later though when I finally came up for air (when they were 2 and 4, maybe?) I had been holding my breath the whole time trying to survive it. Would one have been easier? I doubt it. Would a third have worked out? Probably.

    What I know for sure is that you can't make the decision based on what might be expected of you. If you really only want one child then your work is to accept that, I figure, and not try to find a way to want more. It makes me sad to think of any woman out there beating herself up over such a number. But hey - I beat myself up for ever having any sometimes. I love my children dearly and can't imagine life without them, but I wonder if they would have been better off choosing a different mother.

    In short. Do what works best for you. You are the Captain of this ship. Your daughter will shine under your bright lights for it.

  8. @LeeAnn, yes, I think the guilt about her being an only child weighs me down!

    @FFM, thanks, you always leave such beautifully written comments. I appreciate your wisdom.


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