A few years ago, my friend Hannah gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Isla. Hannah had what I can only think to describe as a traumatic birth. To tell you the truth, when she recounted her experiences to me shortly after, I was quite traumatised hearing about them.
Shortly before Miss Isla’s first birthday, I was chatting to Hannah about her life as a mumma. I can’t remember whether I asked when she and Dan would be having another baby or how many they were planning to have. She responded by telling me that they were not having any more children. Isla was going to be an only child.
Yes, I was THAT person. I can report that a wee while after Ollie was born I did get in touch with Hannah and apologise for that conversation. She as always, was gracious and kind in her response. Hannah told me not to worry about it and that there was nothing to forgive.
A couple of weeks ago, I had my own experience with a conversation of this nature. Oliver and I were out grocery shopping and I ran into an old friend, let’s call her Rebecca. We chatted for a few minutes before she asked casually, “So, how long until you have the next one?” I wish that she had been asking about my next jar of Nutella, but alas, not.
Being asked this question, is certainly not a new thing for me. In fact, it’s not even an unreasonable question. In the past, when people have asked me this question, I have responded with a joke. On the odd occasion where I’ve been truthful and said, “I don’t know if we will have another child”. I have usually been met by responses very similar to what I said to Hannah. However, on this occasion the conversation went slightly differently.
I was truthful in my response to Rebecca, and told her that we would likely be having one child. Her response was like mine, but with a little more persistance thrown in. She told me that I COULDN’T just have one? That we NEEDED to have more. Didn’t I think that it was SELFISH to have only one child? Who would Ollie play with? The questions went on and on. I started to answer the questions and then I stopped. I took a deep breath and started to tell her the truth. I told her that I didn’t know if I could have another baby…
Rebecca immediately assumed that we must physically be unable to have another baby. Suddenly it became acceptable to her that Ollie would or may be an only child. That HE would be okay. She went on and on….. and on. She kept trying to assure me that it was okay for us since I couldn’t have another baby. Okay seemed to be the word of the day. I managed to summon up a smile, we exchanged farewell pleasantries and we parted ways.
The truth is this, to the best of my knowledge, there is no physical reason that would stop us from having another baby. My ‘issue’ if you will, is mental. I don’t know if I can have another baby because I don’t know that I could cope. There it is.
I know that I could handle another pregnancy. Here’s the parts that I’m unclear about, I don’t know if I could handle the anxiety leading up to birth. I don’t know that I could endure another birth or the first few months of having a new baby. I don’t know if I could cope having two children and a husband that is constantly away for work.
On the question of whether we are being selfish by having only only child, my answer is a resounding NO. To me, it is selfish to have another baby because we feel obligated to do so. How about the concept of having another baby because that baby is wanted?
Aaron and I have discussed this topic on many occasions. We have also discussed the comments that have been made to us both by a number of people. If we have no other children, Oliver is enough for us. We are grateful every single day that we are his parents and he is our son.
We have by no means made a hard and fast decision to have one child and to never budge from that. That is definitely a conversation that we will revisit in the future as time passes and our lives evolve. We will make a decision that is right for our family. Maybe that decision will be that Ollie will be an only child and maybe it won’t. I’m just grateful that it is up to us to choose to have more children, since I know that not everyone has that option.