How Many?

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As Avery’s 1st birthday approaches, we are being asked all the time “When will you have another one?”  I won’t lie, it is a thought that has been crossing my mind for months.

“When?”

Or…..is one “enough?”

It’s a difficult decision to make. My husband and I are both only children. We both come from relatively small families.  I only have 5 cousins, only one that I see regularly. My husband has a few more, but it’s been many years since he’s seen most of them. My aunt’s and uncles are all across the country from California to Florida, to Michigan, Dave’s are mostly in Florida.

When we first started talking about the kind of family we wanted, we both agreed that we wanted more than one child. Growing up as an only child is wonderful.  You get all the attention, the focus is on you. You don’t have to share your toys or the spotlight. It’s wonderful.  It also taught us both to be very independent, play on our own, and I think it really brought out my creativity.

 

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As an adult, being an only child sucks. You start to feel a lot more “alone” Dave and I are fortunate to have our parents, but there will come a time when they wont be able to care for themselves, and the responsibility will fall on us and only us. Whether it’s financially, or in a caretaker role, we will be alone in it. It’s also very scary to think of what happens when they pass away (hopefully not for many, many years) again, as an only child, I will be left to deal with that by myself. I don’t want that for Avery.

Avery has no cousins. Avery has no aunts or uncles. (yes, she has wonderful godparents, and my aunts, uncles and cousins, but it’s not completely the same) I don’t ever want her to be alone.

The thing is, I really LOVE having just her. I love that I can give 100% of my attention and 100% of my heart to her and only her. She doesn’t have to share me.

I know for certain that NOW is not the right time.  A mom of 4 once told me that she felt a bit sad that her first had to grow up so quickly and never got the chance to be the baby, it really struck a chord with me.  I know many people have children less  than a year apart. But I strongly feel that Avery deserves the chance to just be the baby for awhile. I don’t want to rush her growing up, I don’t want to miss out on her important milestones and the joy of her babyhood because I’m busy changing someone else’s diaper, or washing someone else’s bottles.  She deserves to be the only one for now.

I also worry about the financial “burden” of additional children.  I’m only using burden for lack of a less harsh word, I don’t think of a child as a burden, however they are expensive! Especially as they get older.  While I don’t intend to “spoil” Avery or any future children, I don’t ever want them to feel that we are “too poor” for them to enjoy things. I want them to be able to go to summer camp, or play hockey or go to dance class.  I don’t ever want to have to say “No, you can’t continue swimming because we can’t afford for you to do that AND for your sister to participate in gymnastics”

 

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I also don’t feel like I have a whole lot of time to think about this.  I’m 31, and in the life plan that I made in my early twenties I was supposed to be done having kids by the time I was thirty.  Of course that didn’t happen since I didn’t get married at 24 (as I had also planned) But, I also don’t want to have children after 35. 35 is my personal limit. My mother is 30 years older than me and I thought that was perfect.  I am almost exactly 30 years older than Avery, and I like that.

I also have a fear that my next labor and delivery would be just as horrible and traumatic as the first. It was just such a terrible experience on so many different levels, from pain, to a total lack of respect from hospital staff, to not feeling like I was able to enjoy being a mother, and having my newborn handed to me in a loving and joyous way, because of the negative experience, I just never want to go through that again.

Then there is the fact that Avery has spoiled us.  She is truly “perfect” She sleeps through the night, and even sleeps til 10am on most days.  She takes 3-4 hour naps. She loses her mind just once a month, and any other tears are usually from a missed nap or wanting another “bah” and are quickly dried up as soon as she’s put down in her crib, or given a “bah” She’s healthy, she’s thriving, she’s smart. She’s happy and quick with a smile or a kiss. And I know we’d never, ever get this lucky twice in a row.

That said, for her sake, I don’t want her to be an only child. I look at friends and see these amazingly strong relationships they have with their siblings (and yes, I know there are also some pretty awful relationships among siblings as well. I’ve seen those too) And while I have best friends that I consider family, I do feel that I “missed out” on having real siblings.  (Growing up I always yearned for an older brother, though I don’t know how I expected my parents to provide that) I don’t want Avery to ever feel like she missed out on that type of relationship.

Then I have this paralyzing fear of having three carseats….

So, I guess now we’re “stuck” I know that I want more children, but I also know that Avery is perfect and I don’t want to “ruin” that.  It’s such a conundrum. Will I regret not having more children?  Most likely, yes.  Would I regret having more children? Most likely, no. So I guess I have my answer, but I still don’t feel so clear on it.

 

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So what about you?  How did you come to the decision to either have more children, or to have just one?

15 comments

  1. Shiloh says:

    I’ll be honest — I have a baby girl like yours — smart, funny, cheerful, EASY baby. She just turned 16 on me this week (how did THAT happen?!?) When my husband started to get antsy about #2, I just couldn’t imagine changing that life. But since my husband and I are both the oldest of 4, we knew we wanted more than just one. I needed to get moving on that goal, if I was going to make that happen. So when my darling girl was just over 2, we were blessed to get pregnant again, and then she turned into the screaming 2-year-old everyone had warned us about ! And I thought, “oh, no, how am I going to do this?” But I did, and my second child was never as easy as his big sister, but I love him anyway, and so does my daughter. We went on to have two more, and we love having a big family. My last two are only 21 months apart and I don’t love that spacing the way some people do. They get very lumped together in my memory and I know I missed out on more with both of them. However, the two of them are very close now and I hope they remain that way.

    Whatever happens with your family, you’ll make it work. And while it’s impossible to imagine how your heart can hold another child, it happens, and your heart just grows along with each new addition.

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for sharing!! It is difficult knowing that there is no way that baby #2 would be as easy as Avery, and I worry about missing out on time with her because of it. But you’re right, no matter what, you love them, and your heart can hold two (or more!) It’s just impossible to imagine without having lived it

  2. danielle says:

    We always knew we wanted two. So the decision was easy for us. Timing was an issue, but we unexpectantly got pregnant so that took care of that. No matter what you decide, there is no wrong answer.

  3. Audrey McClelland (@AudreyMcClellan) says:

    Such a great post. You are such an amazing mother. We decided to have a big family because we were both from bigger families, I’ve never thought about your side of it before… I hadn’t realized Dave was an only child, too. Someone once told me after we had Alex that you would know when the right time was to have another, and that was true. I wish you the best of luck as you try to come to a decision… the good thing is, there’s no wrong answer. And Avery always has all these RI friends!! xo

  4. Jen Coelho Senecal says:

    We went in wanting 4 and knew we had our family at 3. I think you’ll just feel when the time is right to try again (if you do decide that). All the fears you have are totally normal fears of having baby #2. The type of personality, the easiness, etc. My biggest fear was that I couldn’t possibly love another child like I did Averi. It scared the heck out of me. But, I cannot even tell you how much your heart just opens up and they all fit in. They are all so different and each bring such a range of qualities to our lives, that I could never imagine only having one now (although when Averi was alone with us, our world was perfect). We chose to do it close together (about a year and a half apart), because we knew we wanted a lot and didn’t want it to take too many years to get our family started and going (the last 5 years were a blur to me, but I’m finally reaching that “my life” point again–which I didn’t care so much about at first, but am ready for it now). But I also have a sister who is 15 months younger than me and we were best friends our entire lives, and it really pushed me to want to have them close together. So I guess, like anything else, you make decisions based on what you’ve experienced in the past. For us, it was large families and siblings close in age that both ever knew, so it is what guided us. Plus, now that I have three, they keep each other pretty busy, which is nice when you need the break of always be “on.” I know they’ll take care of each other in life (and us, someday!) and it is the most wonderful thing in the world to see them love each other. Maybe even more wonderful than seeing how much they love Chad and me. No matter what you decide, it’ll be right for your family.

  5. Stephanie Kay (@stephmommybrain) says:

    I also had a plan to be done by 30 yrs old. Hah! I didn’t get started until 28. I never dreamed I’d be 38 having my 5th baby! Having more children (or not) is such a personal decision mixed up with emotions that it’s difficult to articulate our reasons. I have a younger brother. My husband has a younger sister. I always wanted more siblings so it just seemed natural to have a “big” family (though I don’t consider 4 or 5 big). My 4 are only 5.5 yrs apart from beginning to end. It was demanding when they were babies-preschoolers but now I love it. They play together and are best friends. I can’t imagine NOT having my ‘entourage.’

  6. Melissa G. says:

    I completely agree with you that being an only child as an adult is way worse than as a child. I never really felt like I was missing out on much when I was a child, though. Sure, there were times that I wished I had a sibling, but I never felt deprived of anything magical or amazing. I’m sure having a sibling is fantastic, but…it never crossed my mind that I was missing out on something until I got to this stage of my life, and some parents of several children insinuated that only children should somehow be pitied or were deprived. I’ve even had someone say to me, “I would never do that to my child,” as if it were some sort of torture.

    That said, Benjamin will be our only child. It has nothing to do with money, or not being able to love another baby. We just literally feel as though our family is complete. I cannot imagine adding another child to the mix, and I really have no desire to do so. So for us our decision is made, and I absolutely worry about him as he grows up. Will he hate us for not giving him a brother or sister? Will he have trouble caring for us when he is older? Will he resent us for allowing it all to fall to him one day? I guess that is all possible. But we know this is the right decision for us.

    I think it really is just true, when you know, you know.

  7. Candice says:

    I’m an only child and my husband it one of three. So! i think it evens out for us. His brothers are like my brothers. We’ve been together for nearly 15 years. Yikes. I’m pregnant now with our second and we always knew we wanted more than one. I remember getting pregnant when G was just 6 months old. (I didn’t know i was pregnant and had a miscarriage.) it was so scary for me to find out i was pregnant and i totally freaked out thinking G was too young to have a sibling and we hadn’t had enough time together. Everything happens for a reason?
    This is a great post because you are definitely thinking it through from all angles. I can’t wait to see what you decide. I wish you all the best in your decision.

  8. martinkadelux says:

    We know we want more… but neither one of us is an only (Dave is the oldest of 3, and I’m the middle of 5). Timing is an issue as I near 30 and Dave 40, but it’s a leap we can’t wait to take… maybe even two more times!

  9. Megan (A Baby Makes Four) says:

    I think that when the time is right for another, if it ever is, you’ll really feel it. Until then, enjoy your little girl and soak up every minute with her! It’s true that things change when you have a second but for us it changed in all wonderful and positive ways. Joseph was an awful sleeper, and I felt like a zombie, but we did it, ya know? Stephanie was also a super independent baby who did everything early, so even though she was only 20 months when she became a big sister I never felt like she missed out on any of her babyhood. I love that they are best friends and will go through life always having each other. We knew right from the get go that we weren’t done with only one, and we still know we aren’t done right now. We’d love to have 4 or even 5! We love being parents and love the idea of a big family. :) Good luck with your decision!!

  10. Jennifer @ Mom Spotted says:

    My boys are all 5 years and 8 months apart and people think that because we had so much time in between is a bad thing and I’ve LOVED it. I got to enjoy each and everyone of of them as individuals and as siblings. As one went off to Kindergarten I was enjoying the beginning all over again. With my oldest turning 13 this year and Sawyer 1 tomorrow we are done but I’ve never regretted it and all my boys get along like regular siblings. Johnny & Gavin still battle each other and Johnny still is fascinated with Sawyer so take your time. <3

  11. Alicia Staz says:

    We have a boy who is 8 and our family is perfect. I am the oldest of 2 and my husband is the youngest of 3. My son is not spoiled and does not want siblings. LOL

    Only you can decide whether your family is perfect with your sweet girl or if you should add another. What is the right number for YOUR family? Please don’t have another because:

    1. Someone else said you should (it is YOUR family)
    2. You don’t want your daughter to feel alone as an “only” adult (she might love it)
    3. You want her to be able to share the burden of your care someday (sometimes siblings don’t do that)
    4. You want her to have live-in playmates (what are friends for?)

    I write a blog that explores everything you mentioned above at http://www.only-child-option.com. Read and decide for yourself. : )

    • Sarah says:

      Thank you for your input! It is 100% OUR choice but, as only children, my husband and I know we do not want our daughter to be an only child. #2 and #3 are big reasons for us though. ESPECIALLY #2 as she will be completely alone. No aunts, uncles, cousins, no extended family at all, and that is not something I am OK with.

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