So I’m not pregnant and I’m not going to be pregnant. I have had so many feelings since we started trying and even more since we decided to stop trying but they generally boil down to this: I’m disappointed I won’t get the chance to be pregnant but I’m happy that I won’t have to live through late night feedings or any of the other really really hard parts of living with an infant.
After we made the decision that the last IUI was it, I started making a mental list of the positive things about not having another child. That’s harder than it seems. For every upside, there are tiny white onesies and sweet smelling sleepy babies. But as the month wore on, it turned out there were a lot of positive things about not being pregnant. Or, in the spirit of the list, positive things about having an only child.
As Becky mentioned, sleepovers. With one child, we can look forward to her going on overnights and not having another hanger-on at home to entertain. A sleepover means a whole night alone.
We’ll be able to afford to nourish special skills, extra tutoring, lessons, activities, whatever school she wants to attend. We’ll be able to ferry her around to soccer games and piano practice without having to weigh schedules for two children.
Once RR is out of diapers, we’ll be done with diapers. Done. Those things are expensive (and so is formula) and that extra money each month would be a godsend.
We won’t have to endure the uncertainty or the risks associated with having a child at an “advanced maternal age”. I was deeply worried about nuchal tests and unforeseen circumstances, gestational diabetes and postpartum depression. That’s just the tip of the iceberg. I was queasy thinking about possible challenges and catastrophes. It’s a relief to know that I don’t have to worry about my health or the health of an unborn child.
Speaking of risks, I won’t pass on any genetic hiccups. I’ve had my share of mental and physical illness and I’m not proud that we were taking the risk passing that on to a new person. Not to mention, I won’t have to address the uncertainty of staying on particular medications while pregnant.
I can go back to speculums once a year and seeing my doctor when I’m sick. I don’t dig doctors. I’m always stressed out that my blood pressure will be too high or I’ll have gained too much weight. I’ve made a miraculous turnaround from the crying jags I used to go on every time I went to the gynecologist and I wasn’t looking forward to 9 months of probing.
I’ll admit, I was terrified of labor.
Vacations will still be doable with a family of three. Sure, we’d have still been able to do it, but we’ll be able to save for vacations instead of going into and paying off debt. We’ll still be able to afford plane tickets. Four people would have put us over the edge.
My mom played favorites. Still does actually. I might be the actual favorite in that I’m everything my parents hoped I could be, but it’s my sisters who get the extra time and attention. For years my parents have poured money into my sister’s family, paying her mortgage, serving as daycare, sending them on vacations. They baby my other sister and try to give her the moon. Seriously. Look outside. That moon you’re seeing is just borrowed from my sister. And yet, when my parents visit us, they try to spend as little as possible. They take advantage of our hospitality and ignore our requests (see: dog attacks cat, parents feign ignorance). I was scared I’d play favorites with my own children, trying to prop them both up to the same level and, in the process, freezing out the more confident, capable, successful one.
I am acutely aware of how different this decision is in light of it being a second child instead of a first. Without RR, we’d have an entirely different landscape to navigate. I feel both lucky and very, very sad. For me, it was my first. I wanted to have that special, totally unique experience. I’m a little relieved, too, but that’s a story for another day.
So this is a special call to the only children, to the parents of only children, and to the children who wish they were only children sometimes even though they’d never admit it: What is wonderful about only children?