Mean Girl to the Rescue!

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Wednesday, August 09, 2006

One and done

Yesterday, I was chatting with my mother about my fertility stuff, and she told me how great it would be if I got pregnant with twins (I had mentioned Arabella's good news to her previously), because then I could be all done and not have to get pregnant again. Something about this assumption that I would, naturally, go for a second child if I didn't get a twofer on the first pregnancy rankled me a bit.

"Well," I said, "I might be all done after the first one, you know."

"Take it from an only child: you do not want to have just one."

"You mean, the only child wouldn't want to be on her own."

"Well, yes. I was so lonely as a little girl ..."

Now, keep in mind, my mother grew up constantly surrounded by all manner of cousins on both my grandfather's and my grandmother's side. Additionally, her mother endured several miscarriages and an infant daughter who died shortly after delivery before my mother was born. Possibly, this is where some of the fertility issues that my sister (who suffered a number of miscarriages) and I have dealt with.

My mother never had a problem with fertility. Her friends called her "Fertile Myrtle." I have three sisters and a brother, with barely a pause between them until the 8-year gap between my youngest sister and myself. Chalk it up to Catholicism (and its then-attendant lack of birth control), or to a little girl who wanted a passel of kids because she herself had been all alone. Maybe a bit of both.

My POV is that of the would-be mother who has already struggled with infertility for 15 months. Will I even want to go through this a second time if I get pregnant for a first? Maybe one baby will be all I can handle. Maybe, one baby will be all I need. I don't want to feel emotionally blackmailed into trying for a second baby before the first one is even a reality.

My mother opined for a little while about her lot in life as a variant on the theme of the Little Match Girl (I kid, I kid, but she does draw a sad little portrait of herself), and then told me about overhearing a conversation between her parents when she was about 12 years old. Her mother mentioned an operation she could have gotten that would have enabled her to carry more children successfully. A family friend had had it done and bore four children. My mother felt a little angry that her mother hadn't had the procedure done and given her a little brother or sister, but she never asked her about what she had overheard, even as an adult. At the time of this overheard discussion, my garndmother was 37, and my grandfather would be dead within four years of a freak heart attack at 48. I can't help but think that their having only one child was something of a blessing in that situation, especially as the Great Depresion was not long over, although obviously, I'd never wish fertility issues like those on my grandmother.

"But, Mom," I reasoned with her, "You've never experienced infertility. You don't know what it feels like to lose a baby. What if the operation hadn't worked? What if she continued to miscarry, or worse? You really can't imagine how draining it is, physically and emotionally, to keep trying." She conceded this was true, and we ended the conversation there.

Is it wrong of me to think of doing "one and done"? Am I being just as selfish as I thought my mother was yesterday? All I know is that I can't decide such things this far in advance. There's no point until I'm further along this road so I can see exactly where it might take me.


At 1:25 PM, Blogger The Big Pugawug said...

I don't think you can know if one, two, or a whole basketball team is right for you until you've settled into parenthood. See how your body copes with pregnancy. Experience the bliss and despair of parenting a newborn. Figure out how a baby fits into the patterns of your life, or shapes a new one. Cede control.

My 2 cents:
We went into this adventure thinking that one kid would be perfect. Now, we're not so sure.

I have one sister; my husband has 2 half-brothers who are much older, so he feels like an only child. We think it might be nice for Pugawug to have a sibling, but I'm nowhere near ready emotionally or physically to start trying again. We're waiting until Pug is out of diapers, at least. We're also wondering how the hell we can afford a 2nd kid in San Francisco, and how this fits into our career goals.

In the back of my head, I worry that waiting will be a disaster. Things went well the first time; what if we struggle with miscarriages or worse by waiting until I'm in my mid-30s?

I don't think a decision like this is necessarily selfish; indeed, it's important for parents to realize that they still have selves when so much of their love, attention, and identity is tied up in their kid(s).

Good luck!!

At 2:28 PM, Blogger Mignon said...

This may be an unpopular sentiment, but I think ideally everyone should have more than one child. What I've read and experienced in dealing with young and old single children indicates growing up without a sibling results in some unattractive personality traits. In addition, dealing with aging/crazy/dorky parents as a single child is a scary and sad thing. (This is not intended to be a blanket statement, so please don't baste and broil me if this doesn't apply to you/your child if you're reading this.)

Having said that, your mental health is so important in raising a healthy child, and if you are lucky enough to get one, I wouldn't want to screw it up by forcing you to adhere to some sort of procreation quota. Meaning, if for financial, health, time, or other issues, having two children would be a serious stress on the family, by all means listen to your gut.

And also what The Big Pug said.

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Tits McGee said...

Do what feels right for you. Most of my and Hubby's fantasies about what parenting would be like and how many kids we would have and how far apart they would be in age, etc. have gone right out the window. You will not be selfish to decide to have only one child if that is the decision that feels best to you and Booby when the time comes.

Anyway, focus on the present. Stuff generally unfolds as it should.

::continuing to send positive baby-making mojo your way::

At 3:20 PM, Blogger Arabella said...

I agree with Tits McGee...stuff generally unfolds as it should. With time.

Besides, even if you only have one, your kid will do so much playing with my two that it won't be lonely. :)

Hey....I just got an idea....want to split the difference and each do 1.5? That sounds a lot more handleable to me than two right now.

At 12:58 PM, Blogger Katherine said...

I say to your mother - the grass is always greener on the other side...get over it! Her experiences are not yours to make up for by having a second child. I also think it's way too early for you to know whether or not you want another one. Sure, listen to your mom and all the other people that give you unsolicited advice, but then you and Booby are the only ones that get to decide. My brother has been pressuring me for years and years to have a child just so his son will have a first cousin. We never had first cousins (although we had scads of 2nd and 3rd great cousins) and for some reason he thinks we missed out on something that he doesn't want his son to miss out on. So yea, let me get pregnant for that reason. geez.

At 3:22 PM, Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Put me on the spit and baste me with butter because I'm in Camp Mignon.

Barring extenuating circumstances, I think its good to have more than one child because kids learn a lot of important life lessons from having a sibling--the main one being that they are not the center of the universe. I think more than one child makes it easier to "balance" a family's needs and for the children to learn compromise. And having navigated the whole aging parents scenario, I completely agree on that point as well.

What I'm trying to say is that I think it's important for the parents not to just consider their own needs but the long-term needs of their first child in making a decision. However, infertility is one of those extenuating circumstances I was referring to above--makes the decision to try again much more complicated.

At 4:37 PM, Blogger mamalujo1 said...

You answer your own question. Looking at it as "One and done" complicates it all unnecessarily. How about "this one," and then worry about more later.

At 9:43 PM, Blogger Fraulein N said...

GOD, no, it's not wrong. You do what's right for you. It bothers me when people assume it's not good for a child to be an only child. As long as you don't spoil the hell out of them, it's possible to raise an only child who is able to interact well with others.

At 2:14 AM, Anonymous wordgirl said...

Honestly? I think "one and done" is all you can honestly be ready for at this point. I mean, isn't the point just to get pregnant? I think your view is the more realistic one. You're taking it one pregnancy at a time, and I think you're leaving it open if you happen to change your mind later on. People who haven't had to consider infertility don't have a clue. You do what you have to do. One step at a time. Only after you have taken the first step can you decide if the second one is wise. I think you know what you're doing.

At 3:15 AM, Blogger Tracie said...

I have one and feel very husband wants more. I was an only child (and perfectly happy with that) and he had a sibling (and believes that siblings make your life complete)

I think that there is nothing wrong with one and done--especially if that is what will work for you.

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Mrs. H. occasionally our parents try to live through us. It seems like your mother wants you to have, what she couldn't.

At 4:26 PM, Anonymous TB said...

I understand what Mignon and V are saying but until you have walked in the shoes of someone who has dealt with infertility, you don't know.

I want a healthy baby. Just one. That's not asking for a lot but it's increasingly difficult to believe it will happen. Why in God's name would you want to subject yourself to this hell again if you manage to get your heart's desire?

No I don't think it's wrong. I think it's realistic and that self preservation in terms of your mental and emotional health are much more important.

At 7:07 PM, Anonymous Nancy said...

I think the commenters above me have all said it so well. You may not know how you feel -- if one and done is really what you want -- until you have the one. Right now focusing on that one is the end goal.

I think sometimes people who say a family "must" have x number of children are projecting their own wishes and desires. Yeah, there are developmental, social reasons why people may give their child a sibling or siblings. But I would say the presence of loving, involved parents and community could make up for some of the things that an only child lacks.

Bottom line: it has to be what feels right for you and for Booby. I can't wait until you are in the position to consider whether it will be "one and done" (or two and done, or three and done...) ;-)

At 7:04 AM, Blogger Dan said...

Simply do what's right for yourself. Trust your feelings.



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