The Moment I Knew We Would Have One Child

Because I have one child, people almost always assume that I couldn’t have more.  But that’s not true.  I simply didn’t want to have more than one.  When I’ve said that to other moms, I’ve had mixed responses; I’ve had women tell me that I was depriving my son of the greatest gift I could give my child – a sibling (clearly, they have never met my siblings), I’ve been asked if I was afraid my child would become spoiled or be lonely or socially awkward – no, I’m not the type to give in to every whim or lock the child in the house for weeks on end.   But I’ve also had women tell me that they too would have stopped after one, but for whatever reason, chose to have more kids.

It wasn’t as though I intentionally set out to have an only, in fact, I had always assumed that I’d have two kids.  Even in our early days of our couplehood (you remember those early dream-sharing days, feeling each other out on things that might encompass your life together) my husband and I had fleetingly discussed having two children.  But we were naïve and really had no idea what being completely responsible for another human being would entail.  After our son was born and our lives were turned topsy-turvy in every possible way, both wonderful and not-so-wonderful, we collectively agreed that one was about all we could handle.

Until our son turned three.

Between the baby boom going on among our friends and the time that had passed between sleepless nights, we considered bringing another person into our family.  Besides, we were tired of being asked when we were going to give “A” a brother or sister, because, when we told people we were done, they would smile and tell us that surely we would change our minds or give us some other reason that we didn’t want to have an only child (see above).

So, we took a vacation from the birth control method we so cautiously used and a few months later, my period failed to show up on its appointed day…or the day after…or the day after that.  A week late and feeling bloated and moody, I paid a visit to our local CVS and bought an early pregnancy test, took it home, and well…you know.  As I watched and waited, I prayed – not for a positive result – but for the opposite.  I was incredibly relieved when the little plus sign failed to appear in the window. And when I shared the information with my husband, he confided that he was as well.  That’s when we knew we really were done. Neither of us wanted another child. We were all really happy the way we were.

That’s not to say that it was an easy decision, but we both knew that we had all that we could handle with one – emotionally, physically, and financially – and still have something left over for ourselves and each other.  Sometimes I look at big families and wonder what it would have been like if we chose to have two, or three, or four kids. I try to imagine how I would feel in the throes of the day-to-day chaos of getting several children, each with their own needs and personalities, through the day and it overwhelms me.  I watch my friends with three and four kids do their precarious plate spinning and I don’t think I could do it – nor would I want to…and that’s the difference.

10 thoughts on “The Moment I Knew We Would Have One Child

  1. Ann, thank you so much. I share many of the same feelings and I love what you wrote here! And it makes me feel a little better when others share my decision — sometimes this choice feels very rare.


  2. You should check out the book “One and Only: The Freedom of Having and Only Child and the Joy of Being One” by Lauren Sandler. My husband and I are also thrilled with our only child and can’t imagine having any more. I read “One and Only” this summer and really enjoyed her take on the only child research.


  3. Thanks everyone for your comments! I love that everyone is marching to the beat of their own and done or four and counting – do what feels right for your family.


  4. I have two sisters my partner has four. Three of four of my daughter’s grandparents come from huge families. I don’t think I can see myself pregnant again. I am still learning how to be a mother to one. Being Latinos, we get looks like crazy from people who ask me. I always tell them that I never wanted any and to have one is enough for me. That is when I get the looks. As an older mother, I just don’t have the patience some days for the people in my family let alone add another child to the mix. Thanks for sharing.


  5. I feel exactly the same way as I also just have one son and we are so happy with our little family of 3!! There are so many reasons why we chose to stay this way, and for everyone it is personal, but I can tell you that there are more of us out there!


  6. This is so timely for me Ann. We have one child and so far it looks like it will stay that way. I honestly struggle a little bit with that but so far it seems to be right for us.


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