I’ve been warring with myself for months now over having one child and wondering if I was going to be OK with that or not. (Like, I have a choice about it? Sometimes the universe tends to make it’s choice for us. Or do we try to balk against it anyway?? Grrr. Too philosophical – I digress.) I’ve talked to tons of friends about it – ironically, mostly friends who have siblings. I just realized that I have very few friends that are also only children. (Is that a function of being born in the 70s or something else?) Being an only child myself, I always thought I wanted a brother or sister growing up, and with the loss of my father a couple of years ago, I felt a sudden overwhelming responsibility for my Mom, and realized I had no one to share in that with me. (I also have no one to share stories with about my parents. “Remember when Mom/Dad did this??!!” Only I remember. And sometimes I even question my own memory….not sure if something really happened, if it was a dream, or some fantasy I created as an imaginative kid.) Being an only child has meant that I form friendships that are, to me, like my family. And I have some fabulous friends, so I’m certainly not lacking in that regard.
My husband and I, in the early days of our relationship, always said we wanted to have two children. We struggled for 3 years before we finally had Penelope. Because of my fertility issues, it took thousands and thousands of dollars, a ridiculous number of doctor visits and procedures, and more nights of crying myself to sleep than I can remember. The hope, the waiting, the disappointment, utter despair, but finally the joy – it was a wonderful and exhausting ride. Since then, we have certainly tried to have another baby. I miraculously got pregnant on my own in 2011 and had a heart-wrenching miscarriage. Earlier this year, we went back to the fertility clinic that helped us have our daughter, and started the process of attempting to get pregnant with the last of our frozen embryos. We jumped back on the roller coaster of emotions and fertility drugs, and unfortunately, we were not successful. We have no more embryos, and decided we didn’t want to spend exorbitant amounts of money, time, and toll on our emotions trying to do IVF again, especially now that I’m 40 and the chances for success are even slimmer than they were before.
We could try on our own….I got pregnant naturally once, it could happen again, right? But with my “advanced” maternal age, there’s always more risks of birth defects, of the toll it would take on my body, on the possibilities of complications with the baby – you name it, we’ve thought about it. I am finally losing the weight I put on while pregnant and trying to get pregnant, and still have more to go. I am on a very long road to getting into shape and in better health (so that I can BE active with our daughter and have fun), and getting pregnant again would halt that for the time being. And let’s not even talk about how difficult it is having type 1 diabetes in all that bucket of concerns.
We feel so lucky and blessed to have our wonderful little Penelope. She and I both came through the pregnancy with flying colors (more or less – some high blood pressure for me near the end, but in the grand scheme of pregnancies, it was really good.) Should we throw the dice and risk something happening to me with another pregnancy? Is my personal health and well-being, and the possibility of it affecting how I can take care of my child/children worth that? Do we risk the emotional pain of another miscarriage, or of something being wrong with a baby and affecting our family life forever?
We could adopt – it’s certainly an option we’ve considered at great length. I was adopted, and I turned out OK, even as an only child who was adopted. Yes, I had some emotional angst to overcome in my younger years, but it wasn’t all just because I was adopted or because I was an only child. (Those pesky teenage years are trying on everyone, trust me.) Adoption is wonderful option that I feel I am more than qualified to understand….but, again, how would that affect our family dynamic? Do we want to engage in *that* emotional roller coaster of trying to adopt? And if we succeed, how will it affect Penny, being our biological child paired with a child we adopt? How would our adopted child feel? Assuming it’s an open adoption, how would interactions be with a birth-family? Do we want to pile on even more emotional responsibility for ourselves?
So many questions, and so few answers.
Here are a couple of articles I read that spurred me into writing about this topic:
Only Children: Being One and Raising One
Only Children – Lonely and Selfish?
Those articles were certainly enlightening and thought-provoking for me, but I’m still no closer to understanding how I truly feel, or knowing what I want. My husband would be fine just having our one, but if I asked for another, he would happily try to oblige – whether it meant more fertility treatments, adoption, whatever. And my sweet, sweet Penny-girl. She’s so amazing and so vibrant and full of life and growing and learning every day….I don’t want to miss out on this part of her life because I’m too busy chasing after the hope/thought/want/need of having another baby. I love Penny with my whole heart. I have never felt a greater love for any other human being, although my husband runs a very close second. But is my heart wanting/needing to feel even more love with another child? Am I prepared to feel even more worry over their health, their existence, their happiness? Am I up to the task? Is that what I truly desire? Should I just be happy with what a wonderful family I have, and that be “enough?” Not sure if I will be answering these questions anytime soon. We’ll see what the universe has to offer up, and if the choice(?!?) actually ends up being made, or just made by default.
Friends can be as good as sisters/brothers, right?