Tuesday, February 21st, 2006
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.
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 We continue to give away outdated baby items we would keep if Huck or Cosette were coming.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.
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 daughterâ€”and all kids, reallyâ€”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.