Lamenting our Single Child Household

Huck or Cosette. If Little Miss has a brother or sister, those are my choice of names. Mom will surely veto my first round picks, just like she vetoed "Gamera" as my first choice for Little Miss. (You know, the giant flying turtle from Godzilla-era Japanese monster movies. Gamera is known as the protector of children and guardian of Earth.)

Oh come on, it’s a good name! Imagine how many plush turtles would have adorned her room. That’s all a dream though. We won’t be having a second child. Here is why.

Pregnancy Woes

Mom had a tough pregnancy, an experience we will think twice about before repeating.

1) We had a couple pre-term labor scares resulting in her spending the last five months on tocolytic (anti-contraction) medication and modified bed rest. She took off work and was bored out of her skull lying and sitting around the house. I was gone during the day with an office job. DVD rentals, books and friends visiting only went so far.

2) The birth took 36 hours, with several interventions (intradermal water papules, internal fetal and uterine monitoring, intrathecal analgesa, pitocin augmentation, IV narcotics, AROM, etc.), followed by a third degree tear and copious amounts of vomiting. This from a woman hoping to have a serene, natural-as-possible birth. At the end, Mom was beyond exhaustion and told our doctor she couldn’t endure any more, but the doctor had her do one final, successful push.

3) Several months after birth we realized Mom had severe postpartum depression. In hindsight, she had prenatal depression too; we just didn’t recognize it. So, much of the pregnancy and first months were filled with many non-joyous moments. An infant causes sleepless upheaval for any new mom and dad, but throwing depression on top of that is devastating for everyone in the home.

Mom was 100 percent certain we would not repeat that experience. No more children, period. When our daughter outgrew her first outfits, we donated them. We continue to give away outdated baby items we would keep if Huck or Cosette were coming.

Brother and Sister Bonding

Mom and I have been thinking about how our daughter will grow up alone. Mom grew up with a sister and I had three brothers.

Grandma recently recounted to me the afternoon she let my oldest brother babysit us at the ripe old age of 12. By evening he had locked himself in the bathroom with a pencil and paper, documenting our numerous infractions… who was yelling, who had jumped on the couch, and, uh, the fact that I was pounding on the bathroom door yelling his name. Ahhh, good times.

So, when Little Miss and her playmates began walking and developing complex modes of play, her playmates also began interacting with their own siblings. I was saddened to see toddlers the same age as my daughter laughing and playing with an older brother or sister.

Money, Money, Money

We don’t have the money for two children.  Well, I suppose that’s a relative opinion. You hear about families who have 8, 10 or 12 children and wonder whether the parents are independently wealthy or just living by very modest means with public assistance.

I suppose we can technically afford a second child, but we want to maintain a certain standard of living. We will provide for her college, pay off the house she lives in, have her attend schools of our choice, give her educational opportunities outside of school, have good medical care (our insurance sucks), live in a good community (crappy jobs, but good people), handle any unforeseen circumstances and jump on unexpected opportunities.

So…

I guess I’m accepting and lamenting that my daughter’s childhood will be a very different experience than mine, lonelier in a way. Sure, having a one-child family is not the end of the world. And yes, she will have no problem growing up to be a well adjusted woman.

It’s just that our daughter—and all kids, really—respond differently to people their own age. No matter how playful Mom and Dad can be, we will never be a substitute for a sibling. I feel like we are cheating her out of a monumental experience, a rite of childhood.

Comments

8 Responses to “Lamenting our Single Child Household”

  1. Kim says:

    My husband and I are debating this same issue. I had somewhat of a joyful and uneventful pregnancy. I did, however, have a C-section. In my 39th week my blood pressure got a little high and my doctor said let’s go on and induce you since it is time anyway. Well, long story short, no progress = C section. I, however, loved having the C section. I was up running around the next day with pretty much no pain at all!! That is when the problems started, I then got the baby blues pretty severe, my milk never came in (which I didn’t know was a possibility and only added to the blues), and 5 days after giving birth I was put on bed rest for TOXEMIA (didn’t know that was possible either). Based on all that, my biggest fear is the depression when talking about having another child.

    I want, and tell my husband, will have another child (I tell him with or without him – joke). I have three brothers, my husband is an only child. He sees it “as the life” — I see it as sad and lonely. Just looking at family albums of summer vacations. Me and my brothers on the beach playing – and him on the beach by himself. I think what bothers me the most is that my husband doesn’t want to have to make any sacrifices in his life for a second child, which to me is selfish. Not to mention, in my opinion, untrue. We are saving for college. I don’t think having Blake has put a dent in our pocketbook. My husband’s arguement: …so far….

    I also look at the fact that when his parents are gone – that’s it…there will be no “family” other than me and our son. And when it comes time to make decisions about their care, he will have to do all that on his own.

    I am a teacher and the past two years I have worked part time to stay home with my son as much as I can. On the days I work my son goes to an in-home daycare which is absolutely wonderful. My son has a problem with hitting and pushing. I spoke at great length with “Miss Linda” about it. One comment she made to me was, of course, used as ammunition. She said of the two children that are the most aggressive (mine being one of them), they are the only two that are “only” children.

    I feel your pain….

    February 22nd, 2006 at 7:28 am

  2. Kathy says:

    My daughter, 2 1/2, will also be an only child…but only because of my “advanced maternal age.” I do wish I’d started younger so I could have another, but that’s the way life is. I don’t worry about her being “alone” when my husband and I are gone, though. She has cousins, and I’m hoping she’ll have a family of her own at that time anyway. As for the “aggessive only children:” Oldest children are all only children for awhile, often for many years. Are they more aggressive? I doubt it. I was an only child until I was four, and my parents say I wasn’t any more aggressive than any of my friends. (Well…the biting incident aside. ;-) )

    February 27th, 2006 at 9:27 am

  3. Arianna's #1 Fan says:

    I am a single parent with a 2 1/2 year old daughter. I had her at 33 and midway through my pregnancy, I was informed by her father/donor that he already has a family. Heartbroken as it was, I still felt as excited about motherhood as the day the stick showed 2 pink lines. My pregnancy was uneventful, deliriously joyous and ended in a C-section that went exceptionally well! Would a second pregnancy be as heavenly? Don’t know. But I do know I do not want to have another child and be single parent to 2 children. Like the author, I want to be able to provide for my daughter as much as humanly possible and since I receive no financial support it is imperative that she wants for nothing.

    August 16th, 2006 at 8:17 am

  4. The Mrs. says:

    Sorry to hear it was soo rough on all of you. I’m not trying to downplay your grief at having a family different than what you had originally intended, but if you really would like more children, and want siblings for your daughter – there is the adoption option. There is a really good workshop called “If You Were Mine” my husband and I went to which explores all different kinds of adoptions and the hard questions like, “Can I love a child that is not biologically related to me?” “Can we afford to adopt?”, etc…
    Anyways, best wishes with your family – regardless enjoy every minute!

    March 10th, 2007 at 5:58 am

  5. PrettyPregnant says:

    I am almost towards the end of my pregnancy. I had never expected to have biological children of my own. I had always planned on adoption because I felt that there were plenty of children out there in need of love and a home.

    Well, as life happened, I accidentally became pregnant. While I was not overjoyed at first, she has grown on me. And I do like the idea of spoiling her but there is the debate on whether we add another or not.

    I’m still quite keen on adoption and find it odd that so many people just don’t even consider it. There is no time constraint with adoption. And you have your choice on ages and sex.

    As for affording children, it’s easy to afford them. You can have huge broods on any budget. It’s just a choice on what your priorities are. What are you willing to give up for your children?

    March 16th, 2007 at 12:19 pm

  6. The Not Quite Crunchy Parent says:

    This is an issue on which I go back and forth. Due to my age, we’ll only have one and many days I like the idea. Many days I am sad.The sadness, I think is for me, though, not for my son.

    My DS loves being an only child, for now at least, and my DH also loves having an only child. Having another would certainly impact the experiences my DS would have (time and money issues) but maybe increase his emotional experiences.

    As I watch others with 2 or 3, I am often happy I have one. Maybe this will change.

    March 28th, 2007 at 8:08 pm

  7. KarenF says:

    I read this post twice. My husband and I are planning a family and it helped me adjust my future expectations. It is very generous of you to share your painful learning experiences with others. I have learned a lot from this blog about parenthood. My future kids and I thank you! Keep up the good work!

    May 10th, 2007 at 9:53 pm

  8. Michelle says:

    I’m an only child, an only grandchild on one side and an oldest grandchild by twelve years on the other side. Honestly, I don’t remember ever feeling lonely as a kid. I loved spending time with my parents and grandparents, and all that adult attention really gave me a lasting edge in school in terms of my maturity, verbal skills, etc. Until recently, I would have said that you shouldn’t worry a bit about raising an only child.

    But my perspective has shifted a lot over the past few years. I see my parents aging and, like Kim says, I know that I’ll be the only one there to care for them when the time comes. I also know that the perpetuation of my family’s history, its stories and traditions, rests solely on my shoulders. And that’s a heavy burden.

    My husband is one of four siblings and eight first cousins, all of whom are very close in age. I envy him more each day, and I know that we’ll try to create a family structure more like his, with multiple children. I wouldn’t want to place the burden on my children that my parents placed on me.

    June 25th, 2007 at 6:26 am

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