Motherhood/ Pregnancy & Birth

Is One Child Enough?

Something that has been weighing on my mind the last few months as I recover from my most recent pregnancy and miscarriage is the idea that our culture seems to believe that one kid is simply not enough.I remember reading an article in some parenting magazine maybe seven years ago, about how four kids was the new three, and three kids was the new two and, well, one was one and not even deserving of any attention in the article. It was talking about how the number of kids for some wealthy families, is way to show how wealthy they are. That they can afford 4 insane private school tuitions not just 3!

Maybe it is a Christian thing that has carried over to our entire culture, or maybe it has been deeply imbedded in our DNA since the beginning of time, that we are here to procreate as fast and furiously as we can.

For the record, I am Catholic. I do not use birth control. I have never used it since partnering up with my husband. We have always done natural family planning (NFP), whether we were trying not to get pregnant or trying to get pregnant. If you don’t know what NFP is, you must stop reading this post and go read Taking Charge of  Your Fertility. Ah-mazing book.

I think a lot of the pressure I feel is from being Catholic. In the Catholic culture, big families are expected and there is almost a undercurrent of competitiveness. No one really says it, but it is like you are only a true and good Catholic if you have lots of children. Technically, you are supposed to always stay “open” to the possibility of children, but I still feel like in order to be a good Catholic I need to be popping healthy babies out, one after the other.

And even outside the Catholic faith, it’s as if single children are not acceptable.

I have heard and seen several derogatory remarks from mothers of multiple children to mothers of one child, one that sounded like ” Oh, she is such a classic mom of an only child, running over to her child the second he cries.”  Some mothers of more than one child are sending the message that those with only one child are too doting, too mindful, too uptight.

Then there is this whole other thing going on with moms, no matter their religion or lack thereof, they give off this sort of air of superiority if they several kids. That they are somehow more tired, work harder, are busier, better, etc., than a mom who only has one child.

I came across this woman’s blog, she has about as many kids as the Duggars (and not superior sounding at all) and she wrote this great piece about people judging her for having so many kids. It resonated so much with me that I actually emailed her and told her that is how I feel about having one child. We emailed back and forth for a bit and the thing that stuck with me was that she said we are all mothers – whether we have one or 16, we are all the same.

I also find myself thinking the flip side of this. When moms with several children comment on how organized I am or how much I am able to accomplish in a given a day. I downplay the compliment (or maybe it is not a compliment at all, maybe it is a passive aggressive jab at me?) and I say something like, “Well, I only have one kid, you have four!”  Really, I am just an organized and driven person period and that is how I have always been.

Or I find myself asking mompreneurs who I am inspired by how they do it all with several kids. I may be organized and driven, but I still find myself feeling overwhelmed sometimes, and surely having more kids would make it all more difficult. Or would it? I read a great post months ago about how having one child is actually more work than have several because there is no one for them to play with or to occupy them and you cannot get things done.

I am also guilty of saying derogatory things about only children myself. My husband is an only child and I used to give him so much crap. When he was acting selfish, I would blame his behavior on being an only child and never having to share anything. I would casually joke to friends, “Oh, Peter is an only child, he does not share well or play well with others.”  In reality, it is probably just a personality trait. If he had brothers and sisters, I could totally see him bossing them around, that’s just how he rolls.

After this miscarriage, we are both comfortable with having only one child. We will always be open to it, in good Catholic form, but we are not going to great lengths to procreate. I would actually love to adopt, but my husband is nervous that he wouldn’t love the child as much as Penelope, which is a very normal thing for a person to worry about when considering adoption. But either way, we feel fulfilled with one child. Some of it comes down to finances. We would like to provide the best for Penelope, especially being able to afford the absolute best education and to travel around the world with her.

But the trauma of the miscarriages, is involved too. After Penelope, I have gotten much stronger at standing up for myself and doing whatever I need to do to protect myself and my mental health. In fact, my mental health is my number one priority. Who cares if you eat perfectly, but you are totally emotionally and mentally unstable? I don’t think I would be able to come out of another miscarriage and keep it together for my family.

So I guess the point of this is:  Am I self projecting? Or have you all noticed or experienced this too? For those of you who only have one child, do you regret not trying harder for more? Do you feel like a child needs a sibling to be truly happy and healthy?

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  • PottyMouthMommy
    May 15, 2012 at 3:43 PM

    I honestly think that it’s just another “mompetition”. I’ve gone from having an only child (three years of single-motherhood plus four years of infertility meant my oldest was 9 when my second was born) and the constant questions and judgement made me crazy- I wondered if it was all in my head and whether people really cared or not. Then I moved to a place where the NORM is for people to have 4, 5, or more kids. And people have actually commented in disbelief about the fact that I only have two kids. Now currently pregnant with my third- I get comments from both sides- from those with 2 or less it’s “I would NEVER have three children- that’s too many!!” and from those with 4 or more, “ONLY three – when are you having more??”

    It seems to me you can’t win either way- so I let it roll off! Three is the perfect number for US. For our family and what anyone else thinks just doesn’t matter.

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      Yeah, it’s like you damned if you do, and damend if you don’t. Someone is always gonna find something to pick at you for. Ugh, I just wish Mom’s would have more confidence in themselves not need to make anyone feel bad about their choices or lifestyle or personalities.

      • Amanda M.
        May 15, 2012 at 11:51 PM

        Oh goodness, I agree with you 110%!

  • Amanda M.
    May 15, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    WOW. I love this post.
    I do NOT think an only child will miss out on anything or will become a spoiled brat simply because of their singularity. I have a good friend with just one and he is the sweetest little gentleman and so kind and always looking out for others (I want my daughter to marry him someday). On the other hand, I have friends with more than one child who unfortunately have some spoiled brats. Sad to call any child that, but it’s true. I think who a child IS comes down to parenting, environment and that child’s God-given personality, in my opinion.
    And as for being a mom and the mom wars, I have experienced both having a large family and having just one child. I am biologically mom to one amazing 7-year-old. I am also stepmom to three older children (who I have been stepmom to since they were very young). Their mother is pretty unpredictable and well, sometimes we just don’t know where she is. For a short while, the older children lived full time with her. This meant I only had one child at home, and I can tell you it was different in ways, but it surely was no less tiring, demanding, etc. And I retained all the same personality traits/quirks (organized, obessive vacuumer, etc.) that I had when I was mom to four children at home! I think it’s all what is in our nature, you know? I think no matter if we have twelve children or one child, we are going to retain those certain traits. It’s who we are, right?
    I think putting your mental health first is the best thing you can do for your sweet little girl! And for your husband and as a human being!
    Sorry to write so much. I just loved this post. 🙂

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 3:49 PM

      I loved your comment, thank you! That is really good to hear.

    • Anne
      May 15, 2012 at 3:51 PM

      Amanda, I agree. I have friends with 1 child. I also have friends with no children. I love them just the same. I do not judge them by how many children they have or don’t have.

      • Stephanie
        May 16, 2012 at 2:40 AM

        God Bless you Ann!

  • Anne
    May 15, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    For the record I have three kids (8, 6, and 4). When my husband and I started trying to have kids, in the back of my mind I asked myself “what if i can’t get pregnant or carry a child to term?” I came to the conclusion, I love children and I would do whatever I could to better children’s lives. Such as working with kids with special needs.

    I was also raised Catholic (no longer practicing) and I can relate to the big family mindset. I am one of four, my Mom is one of fifteen, my Dad one of four etc…

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 3:53 PM

      Oh, great point! I feel like that too. If I only have one child, I feel like maybe God has bigger plans for me. Like mothering and mentoring other mother’s like I do here on my blog. Or like before I became a mother, I was a nanny for years. My mothering instinct and skills are very strong, but I can channel that energy and talent into different things too. Thanks for that reminder!

  • Matushka Anna
    May 15, 2012 at 4:05 PM

    I love children and always wanted a big family. I came from one (oldest of five) although there are lots of exceptions (my mom was one of two, my husband was one of two, but then my grandfather was one of seven). We are Orthodox and use NFP rather than contraception although we’ve mostly just been “ok with whatever happens”. One thing I have had to learn is that being open to having children and “letting God plan your family” also means being open to *not* having children if that is what God ordains. We have five beautiful children, but last year I lost two boys, eight months apart. I would love to have one more living child before it’s all said and done, but I’m having to make myself step back and accept whatever God has in mind for us. I have pious Orthodox friends with one child, two children, three children (etc) up to six, seven and ten children. Knowing plenty of couples who have had struggles with infertility and miscarriages I would never presume to ask “so, why don’t you have kids?” or “When is the next one coming?” How large any given family is is between that family, their spiritual father and God. There are plenty of “mothering” opportunities out there beyond the nuclear family. If God has given you (so far) your one beautiful child, then she is a gift and a treasure and rejoice in her! If down the road you have another baby or decide to adopt one or more children, then that will happen in God’s time. For now, you don’t have anything to explain or apologize for. God bless.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:41 AM

      So well said, thank you.

  • elizabeth
    May 15, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    thank you for this post. i’m quite happy with my one little one, and while i do feel a *twinge* of guilt not giving him the joy of a sibling (though i haven’t ruled the possibility 100%), i get almost enraged by the constant “oh, you’d better have another, or he’ll turn into a brat/don’t be selfish, have a second/why would you deprive your child of that relationship.” part of me wants to snap back, “STAY AWAY FROM MY UTERUS. IT’S NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS,” but instead i smile and tell them “perhaps.”

    it’s infuriating though the way people project *their* idea of the “perfect” family on me and my family.

    my only point (aside from a little venting) is that i appreciate this post. it’s nice to not feel like i’m the only one who experiences this.

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 5:50 PM

      Yes, I feel very guilty about that too. I feel that I let my daughter down. That I was not able to provide for her and meet her needs. That is why I asked about whether or not kids really do need a sibling to feel whole and happy. I wonder if she really does need/want a sibling or if I am just being hard on myself. Glad you appreciate the post, thanks for letting me know.

      • Cassandra
        May 15, 2012 at 6:56 PM

        I’m going to say this to make sure the point gets made – having a baby is something YOU have to go through; it takes from your body, your mind, your spirit, your time, your energy, everything from YOU. You are the Mother. It is NOT your responsibility to “provide” a sibling if that is not what is best for YOU because you are the one making all the sacrifices to begin with. You are not failing the child you have or taking away from that child’s life because you could not or did not want to have another child. If someone else feels that they have the ability and resources to give to another child and they are happy that it has benefitted an older child, great grand for them. Please do not feel guilty. A child does not *need* a sibling. If they’re sad and they want one, well that is a life circumstance that will add to their character and provide challenges to overcome and prosper in their own way.

        • Stephanie
          May 15, 2012 at 7:32 PM

          Thanks Cassandra.

        • elizabeth
          May 16, 2012 at 4:23 PM

          PREACH, CASSANDRA! Seriously, sometimes as a mama, it’s just so easy to give into feeling guilty, but you are so right.

        • Paula
          June 24, 2012 at 6:46 PM

          Well said. I have always hated it when people tell me that I am being unfair to my son by not providing him with a sibling or how I need to have more so our parents will have more grandchildren. The only reason someone should have a child is simply because they want another child not to make someone else happy or fit in with what is expected. I have dealt with judging eyes and comments from others because I am making the choice to not have another baby.

  • Mitzi
    May 15, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Thanks for writing this. My husband and I have been struggling with this same question as our only child is approaching 2. We are older parents (by definition of most). Besides our age, we also consider finances, time management, etc. I am an only child and remember wanting a sibling, but then my husband has a brother and they have never been close. I believe we are happy where we are and enjoying our little one.
    Thanks again for being so transparent and authentic with such a controversial topic.

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 5:54 PM

      Yes, my husband often felt lonely as a child and he worries that Penelope will feel the same. But I honestly think his situation was more of his parents personality. They are not very social and they are immigrants in this country. They had no family. So not only was he an only child, he had no cousins or family around to hang out with. Our plan is to always allow Penelope to have friends over and to take one of her friends with us whenever we travel, so that she never feels like she is the only kid.

  • katryna
    May 15, 2012 at 5:38 PM

    My husband and I have always said we only wanted one child (unless God deems otherwise). The majority of my mom friends all swear I will change my mind, that I am crazy to purposefully only want one. We may reconsider later, but for now, we are so content with our one. And, like you mentioned above, we can only afford on at this point. I have learned to just smile and change the subject!

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:42 AM

      I think considering finances is really responsible, good for you. I love thinking positive and hoping everything will turn out, but age has taught me that you need to plan for the worst and THEN hope for the best.

  • Frambooske
    May 15, 2012 at 5:52 PM

    Great post – mummy of 1 here and feeling the pressure. Raised Catholic btw, but like to think of myself as ‘be nice to people and try and do the right thing’. Lots of people, friends and family, are asking when #2 is going to be here. Especially since most woman in my antenatal group are now pregnant or already have #2. As if my little boy on his own doesn’t count? I’d like another child, but we will have to wait and see if we’re blessed with a #2 (not been preventing for the last year…) My SIL has four, she’s great but I so totally feel like I can’t possibly be tired with only one….. Hmmm. I suppose we just have to be comfortable with our ‘current state’ and see where life takes us 🙂

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:44 AM

      Yeah, I consider myself a very relaxed Catholic, I pick and choose what works for me as far as Catholicism goes and don’t give myself a hard time about it.

  • TB
    May 15, 2012 at 6:21 PM

    We will not be having any more, people ask and I just quickly say “nope, we’re one and done!”. It does break my heart though, I would love another and may consider fostering or adopting someday if that door opens.

    Having struggled for YEARS with infertility, I can say I’d rather feel the judgement any day of those who don’t think our “little family” is good enough to the pathetic pity of those who felt sorry for us when we couldn’t conceive. Just a heads up, if you see a couple with no children, it may be their choice but chances are it’s not….. Please be kind.

    Is there a link that works to “this woman’s blog”? I’d love to see it.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:50 AM

      one and done, I like that!

      • Stephanie
        May 16, 2012 at 2:50 AM

        oh and I updated the link, thanks for catching that.

  • Jessica
    May 15, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    I have a wonderful 21 mo old DD. I have always had issues with stress and depression. After PPD my depression is gone but I do get emotionally overwhelmed with just her sometimes. It would be great to have another, but I think it would turn parenting into something I didn’t like a lot of the time. I don’t want to have to take anti-anxiety meds to be a parent. We also had a “bad” pregnancy before DD- our child had serious genetic problems and we chose to terminate. Our risk of this happening again is higher now. At the end of the day, we feel blessed to have our healthy daughter and my husband is ok with just having one.
    The problem is that these are extremely personal reasons, and not things I want to share when people ask if we’ll have another. I usually respond cheerfully, “We’re one and done!” But I hate it when people tell me I am depriving DD of a sibling. She needs a healthy mommy more.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:51 AM

      Couldn’t agree more, well said.

  • Megan
    May 15, 2012 at 6:33 PM

    I definitely don’t think that having an only child will lead to them being spoiled and such, but I wanted to share what my dad shared with me. He’s a financial planner and has worked with many adults that are the only child in their family. He said many of them have said how much they long for a sibling to help them make the big decisions for their parents in their later years. They had no one to share that aspect of life with. They also commented that when their parents died, they felt very alone. Some of them had their spouse’s family, but it just wasn’t the same. And some had never married or were divorced, so even though they may have cousins and such, many felt that they didn’t have any family at all left. This is in no way to guilt anyone into trying for more children, just a different perspective that I had never considered before. I currently have a 3yo and 1yo. Our one year old has special needs and one big reason I want more children down the road is so that our oldest daughter doesn’t have to make all the decisions for my husband and I as well as her younger sister by herself. I want her to have some support in those areas, especially if she never marries. I hope this comes across as I intend.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:51 AM

      Thanks so much for sharing.

    • bethCO
      May 16, 2012 at 3:21 PM

      Megan, even with siblings there is no guarantee they will help out with making decisions with older parents. When my grandfather died I was left to care for my grandmother. Even though she had 2 living sons I was the one left with the responsiblity for her care. I did everything from feeding her (she had several strokes and lost the ability to chew), changing her adult diaper, bathing her, cleaning her room, etc. My father did take her to doctor’s appointments but that was it. Her other son, my uncle, didn’t do anything and did not make any attempts to arrange for her care.

      Also, if your father is a financial planner he should know the importance of investing in long term care insurance. My husband and I both have long term care insurance and we have instructions on what should be done if we can no longer care for ourselves. Regardless of how many children you have I think all parents need take on the responsiblity of making such arrangements in advance instead of placing it all on their children.

      As for emotional support after the death of a parent. Most of the support I received after the death of my mother came from my husband and friends, not my siblings. You see, when my mother died I already had a family of my own to turn for support. I hope my daughter also has a family of her own by the time I pass on.

  • Katherine
    May 15, 2012 at 6:34 PM

    Hi Stephanie! Great post! I love keeping up with your blog and appreciate your willingness to be so transparent with your readers!
    I must admit that I am one who believes “the more, the merrier” when it comes to having kids. I do believe that children who grow up in a home with siblings have first hand experience learning how to interact, behave and treat other people their age. I also have a firm belief that it is our responsibility as parents to set our children up to be successful, functioning adults which includes A LOT of things (manners, respect, educational opportunities, etc.) but to me, that also includes giving them a good solid family.
    Yes, for now that is me and my hubby but we won’t be here forever. If my kids choose not to marry then I know, no matter what, they have each other to lean on in times of celebration and in times of need. Thankfully, both of my parents are still living but when the time comes I know I will lean on my sisters for support. Sure, my husband is my best friend and he will be important during that time too but my sisters and I share a very special bond that I don’t have with anyone else. While we were dating, my husband lost his brother. He and his sister and his parents wouldn’t have made it through that difficult time without each other. Sure, I was right by my (now) husband’s side but I just didn’t understand the gravity of their loss since I didn’t grow up with them. Make sense? Sorry this got a bit long …. just wanted to share my two cents 🙂

  • Meghan Unger
    May 15, 2012 at 6:38 PM

    Thank you so much for posting 🙂 We only have our one daughter who is now 1 and a half. Everyone keeps asking us when we’re getting pregnant with our next… and honestly- we are just so happy with one. I’m terrified that the more children I have the crazier I’ll become! I do desire more, but if we were unable to get pregnant again, we would be so happy just the three of us 🙂 The only thing I can really see missing out on as an only child is if something happened to the parents (even later in life). When my husbands gramma died, it was so wonderful for his mom to have the support and help from her sister.

  • Kelly Cooper
    May 15, 2012 at 6:47 PM

    Your post is so true. All of it. Everything is a competition. People do things for the wrong reasons….I found myself actually deciding at one point that my husband and I would make the decision about whether or not we wanted another baby based on what his income was going to be in the coming year. I mean, I know you have to take your financial situation into SOME part of the decision, but we were soley basing it on that! AWFUL!! And how can I be so sure that another pregnancy would come easily? I think it is SO easy to second guess every decision in life, and I am definitely guilty of doing just that. I am a worrier. Your decision to let life happen and embrace another pregnancy, if it happens, but not obsessing over it if it doesn’t, seems to be the healthiest thing you can do. It’s hard enough to decide to (or not to) have a baby with just taking into account your own personal feelings and your family’s situation, it’s unfortunate that society seems to force us to also worry about what everyone else thinks…

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:46 AM

      Yes! Why is always a competition? I don’t think taking finances into consideration, even fully basing it on that is awful at all. It’s responsible. You are thinking about your kids that are already here. I

  • Stacy
    May 15, 2012 at 7:06 PM

    I have noticiced the pressure when I had only one child and and now that we have a 2nd (they are 8 years apart) I hear from many people that we need a 3rd child. Especially once we made the decision that we are done. There reasons are based on either the fact that they cannot have children so we can’t stop having them or we need more so that when they decide to have kids there will be plenty of playmates for them. I have given up explaining that although we would love more kids, financially it would be a huge struggle for us to have another. So in my experience we will always be judged for not having enough kids although we are perfectly happy with the size of our family now

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:49 AM

      Seriously? I thought it was just only children!

  • Shonda
    May 15, 2012 at 7:28 PM

    I love this post. My husband and I tried for 7 years to have a child and God let us to adopt a little girl from China. What an amazing journey it was…and still is today. I adore her and she is my world. I have a full time job (just go to my office twice a week, but work a lot at night when she is in bed), homeschool her (she is 6 and will be doing 3rd grade work in the fall). I am asked all the time when I am going to adopt again…that its weird to just have one child…she needs a sibling…she will be spoiled…it must be nice to only have one child and have so much time on your hands…you are able to do that only because you have one child…so on and so forth. Sometimes it is unnerving. I don’t ever say to those with multiple kids…wow, why do you have more than one kid??? To me it seems rude when you question…either way. We absolutely adore our daughter and are having a great time parenting “just” one. One is enough for us. We enjoy a lot of options as a parent of one and also homeschooling. We travel, we explore, we have great quality time and just enjoy being a family of three. The way we choose to parent doesn’t seem less of a job than parents of more than one. We are very hands on…but not overly so…and our daughter is thriving as an only child.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:52 AM

      How wonderful. Do you have any beginner adoption process resources to share? I don’t even know where to start.

      • Heather
        May 16, 2012 at 1:37 PM

        My husband and I also just adopted after 6 years of TTC and my favorite comment from the peanut gallery is… Well now you will surely get pregnant. As if I view my amazing baby as a fertility drug! The only response I have is, regardless of what happens we are so happy and so in love. I will always feel incredibly lucky even if she is the only child I am chosen to parent! Not to advertise, but my husband and I used American Adoptions and had a wonderful experience. It was 16 months from starting the homestudy until our daughter was born and we assumed her care at the time of discharge from the hospital. Please feel free to email me if you have any questions!

        • Stephanie
          May 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM

          Oh, Heather, I might take you up on that. Thanks for the info and for being open.

  • Michelle M
    May 15, 2012 at 8:02 PM

    I totally understand. When I was a little girl I alway said I would only have one child. After being blessed with my daughter on 6/15/01 I wanted more, I never knew the joy a child could bring. My husband and I also always natural birth control. 5/5/07 I miscarried and we were devastated; again Feb of 2009. The devastation of the last one has taken me almost 3 years to become the woman I was prior to the 2nd loss. My grief was unbearable; my daughter and husband heart broken. You never know why someone has one child until you ask. My heart goes out to all that do because of what I’ve experienced even if they only wanted one. I had a perfect pregnancy and never dreamed what a miracle and true blessing giving birth is until I had to lose 2 angels to Heaven before we ever held them. God bless you.

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM

      Thank you so much Michelle. Lots of love to you too.

  • Sasha
    May 15, 2012 at 8:17 PM

    I really love all your posts. I have an 18 month old and my husband and I decided to wait a couple years before going for number 2. It occurred to me the other day (I’m not sure why it didn’t come sooner) that it could take longer then planned or not happen at all. I had several miscarriages before having our child and I am no sure I am mentally prepared if that happens when I have a toddler. I am totally over the moon happy and content with our family being three and thankfully haven’t encountered pressure (or maybe I interpret it differently!) from my outside world. Thanks for your thoughts!

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 11:45 PM

      Aw thank you. Yes, this most recent miscarriage was much more difficult because of having to take care of my daughter. Having my daughter made it all more understandable what I was loosing, so emotionally it was harder. And then it was harder logistically, when I was physically recovering and couldn’t play and be active and have energy.

  • Julie
    May 15, 2012 at 9:13 PM

    Wow, this post was so good for me. I myself only have one child. I also had a Miscarriage, although, it was before I had my Son. I know all to well what you are talking about when it come to protecting your mental health. I was so scared to get pregnant again and didn’t want to even think about if it happened again. Of course that fear is still there and that is one of the MANY factors as to why as of right now I am good with just having ONE! Kids are expensive and I like you want to be able to give my child all that I can. I want him to go to best schools and travel to wherever his heart desires. I also can imagine splitting my time with two or three. I love spending time with My son.
    As for what I have gotten from others, we call it the ‘Shelby Syndrome’ in our house (My Husband’s Sister-in-law, Mother of Three) 🙂 I have heard it all.
    I get the ‘ wait till you have three kids to deal with, before you complain about that.’ or the ‘you think 1 kid is expensive?’ Or ‘You know if you had more than one you might appreciate being a mother more.’
    I may change my mind down the road, but as of right now I am Happy with my 2 year old SON, and just having ONE! 🙂
    Thank you for your post! I sometimes forget that there are other moms out there that have only one child and that it is Ok.

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      Ugh, yes I have heard comments like those too. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Kendra
    May 15, 2012 at 9:14 PM

    This is a wonderful post, Stephanie. I agree with all of the commenter’s in that no one else should have a say in what is best for you and your family. It is amazing to me how guilt creeps in to so many of the things we are faced with as Mother’s. I totally understand why you feel the way you do. You want nothing more that to be the best mother possible and no matter how well we actually ARE doing, there is always something else or someone else to make us feel like we could be doing even more! But guess what?!? We are doing great. YOU are doing great. Penelope is the luckiest girl to have a mother that cares so deeply for her well being and that loves her so much. This may sound crazy but, I just found out I’m pregnant with baby #2. My son is only 13 months old. I am feeling so guilty for not having spent more time with my son before having another baby. Then I feel guilty that I’m not as excited about this pregnancy because it was unexpected. How ridiculous is that?!?!? I feel AWFUL just typing it!! So than I feel guilty about feeling guilty in the first place, I shake the nonsense out of my head and I remember that this is part of a plan greater than myself and that it is meant to be. My son will be fine, baby #2 is a gift, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for any of it. Every day each of us are faced with our own realities that bring with it our own feelings of guilt or that we aren’t good enough in some way. I wish this didn’t exist. What brings me comfort is reading posts like yours and knowing that as a mother I am in good company and even though our circumstances may be different, we are all so very much the same.

    Chin up, Stephanie. 🙂

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 11:41 PM

      Aw, yes the guilt. You can get away from it! Thanks for your sweet comment and congrats on baby number 2, so exciting!!

  • KristinD
    May 15, 2012 at 5:25 PM

    I was raised an only child. People never believed it. They think that because I’m naturally very “motherly” that I must have grown up in a large family. I sometimes think it’s because I grew up with my parents being older and sick and well…I had a very clear picture of what’s really important in life. But aside from that I don’t think I grew up spoiled. My mom always made a point to emphasize good morals, sharing, how to be a good friend, doing the right thing etc. Those lessons absolutely shaped who I am today and while I’ve met the stereotypical selfish “only child” I’ve met plenty of people with siblings that fall into that category just as often.

    My husband and I have 4 little ones currently. (ages 6 1/2 down to 1 year) I’m an NFP instructor and get the other side of the coin where people criticize us for having so many so quickly saying my students can’t possibly believe that NFP “works” if we don’t space our children more. What they don’t realize is that I have a kidney disease that will require transplant within the next 15-20 years (something we talk about with our students when discussing discernment) and the only way we could safely try and have children is if we did it quickly and closely prior to kidney failure escalating to a place where it’s clearly not wise to actively TTC. But my story of being misjudged is no different then anyone else’s. Those with infertility are often assumed to be contracepting. Those with lots of kids are an example of how NFP can’t possibly work…or they simply can’t control themselves..or they are some how more holy and have things so much more together then the rest of us that they actually WANT more children *gasp* 🙂 I think it’s much much less about the Church or Her teachings and much more about us women needing to learn more about what it is to love and support one another.

    One thing I can add is that my experience has been that people who negatively judge you in regards to family size whether big or small are generally doing so by putting themselves into what they perceive your life to be. Typically negative statements for me are more about the person making the judgement then it has anything to do with me. If they have a colicky baby and are stressed out the thought of having 3 kids to take care of on top of that would be earth shattering. And if they have 4 and are barely making ends meet they may have a hard time keeping in mind that one can be just as tough given the right set of circumstances and personal life experiences. It’s a good lesson for all of us that you never know what is on someone heart.

    The thought of not being able to have another child tears me up and this Mothers day at mass was particularly emotional for me…I doubt anyone who would have noticed me trying not to cry would have taken the leap to assume it was because I was missing the possibility of #5. We all just need to love a little more and encourage a little more….really embrace one another…we’re in this together after all!

    • Stephanie
      May 15, 2012 at 5:51 PM

      I totally agree, we do need to love and encourage more. That is honestly one of the biggest reasons I blog, to send more love and encouragement out to mother’s everywhere.

  • Vanessa Wheeler
    May 15, 2012 at 9:39 PM

    I always feel really sad when I see a family with an only child .. Whether the circumstances be choice to have one or not is irrelevant – I just feel sad. But that would be because I came from a large family, have had a large family myself and simply live being surrounded by kids. My cousin was an only child and always wished that he had a sibling and that’s probably where my feelings stem from. I would never judge a mum for how many kids she has .. I often get the comments ‘I don’t know how you do it with 5, I have trouble with 1/2/3!’ but I shrug and reply ‘well I don’t ‘do it’ – you should see my house!’ But you know what? Like you said with your husband .. I think I am a chaotic type of person .. 5 kids or not. Sure we live in a small 3 bedroom and there literally is no room to put some things away- so it always looks a mess. But God chose me for this (I too am Catholic:)) and I will therefore cope as best I can and enjoy motherhood to the fullest! One baby or 30 – you are a mum – and it is the hardest, most thankless and yetost rewarding job in the world! Yay mums 😀

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:48 AM

      Word. Yay, Mums!

  • Betsy
    May 16, 2012 at 1:37 AM

    As the mother of an only child (our choice), I have received a lot of snide comments from parents of multiple children. After seeing families of all different sizes, I have come to believe that you are the parent you are, and the number of children you have has very little impact on how you parent. If you are the type of parent to not discipline, you won’t discipline 1 or 10. If you are the type to be a very involved parent, you will be involved with 1 or 10. How a person parents speaks only of their personality, priorities and beliefs, I think it is very little effected by the number of children you are parenting. When I am told that a parent of 3 finds me “ridiculous and hilarious” because I play with my daughter at the park instead of sitting on a bench playing on my phone, I find it’s more about her needing to make herself feel better about not being more involved.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:39 AM

      That is a good point. Your style of parenting won’t necessarily change with more kids.

  • Jennifer PM
    May 16, 2012 at 2:14 AM

    Many people above have said many true and meaningful things, but I would say that you are spot on in trusting your instincts about protecting yourself and your family from the heartbreak of another miscarriage. It’s not the same thing as living in fear to know your own limits, and you are right to prioritize taking care of yourself as well as the family you have now. You are strong and confident in yourself, and that’s a good place to be!

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:37 AM

      ooh, good words! Knowing my own limits, yes that is it exactly! Thanks for helping me articulate. 🙂

  • Shawna
    May 16, 2012 at 2:34 AM

    My husband and I tried for years before turning to adoption. Five years ago we adopted our son when he was 8 months old and we couldn’t have asked for a better situation for our family. We have since been waiting to adopt #2 for over two years, which has been incredibly frustrating 🙁 Each family has such a difference experience…

    In the end, you need to do what works you think is best for you and your family. People will say and think things, but they have not experienced what you have, and may never totally understand your perspective. You truly need to trust your heart on this one and not worry about what others think!

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:37 AM

      I totally agree. I guess I was mostly wondering if others had experienced the same things, or if it was all in my head!

  • Erin
    May 16, 2012 at 3:16 AM

    I don’t want to add to your pressure to have more, but I just have to comment. I work in the schools so I am constantly seeing people who are not fit parents have child after child. After I read about your miscarriage I sat and cried at my computer for a while. It’s not fair, you are such a great mom I could imagine you having a whole litter, but instead I know of so many people who can’t afford one kid but *decide* to have 4 more. I know you having more children won’t change the fact that some people who shouldn’t have one have way too many, I just wish there was a way to add some balance. Oh, and I’m not an evil-mommy-judger….I don’t care if you bottle or breast feed, strap em’ to your back or strap em’ in a stroller, cloth diaper or disposables… I’m talking about mom’s who don’t feed their children at all, leave them home alone and let them pee all over the floor. I don’t just sit a judge them either, as hard as it is, I befriend them, show them examples of good parenting and offer free sitting service at the drop of a hat. I just have one 8 month old and we plan to stop reproducing and start adopting. Not because I don’t love being pregnant and childbirth, but I look at my son and my heart feels like it’s going to explode, and the fact that there are babies out there that don’t have someone to love them right breaks my heart. You gotta do what’s right for you though, I can’t wait to see what you decide. And thank you so much for opening up your world to us in this blog, I think what you’re doing is a beautiful thing!

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 10:57 AM

      Thanks so much for your comment! How are you starting the adoption process for you? Are there any must read books for someone trying to decide if it is right for them?

  • Holli
    May 15, 2012 at 11:49 PM

    I have a one daughter who is five. I am constantly asked by family, friends, and strangers when We are giving her a sibling. I usually say we aren’t,but we are thinking of fostering to adopt,but if it doesn’t work out I suppose she will be an only child. People seem horrified that I would “make” her an only child. I wanted another baby, but we had my daughter young and decided it would be best for our family to wait.

    I think whatever the opinion is,is right. Because if it’s your opinion it works for you and your family. But people should never ridicule others for their procreation choices!

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 2:48 AM

      I think we need to start a PR campaign called don’t ask people about how many kids they have! Sheesh, why do manners fly out the window with people when it comes to pregnancy and baby comments? 🙂

      • Erin
        May 16, 2012 at 3:25 AM

        Eh, just take it as a compliment, no matter how they say it out loud, just hear in your head “WOW you’re such a great mom, if you had more children the future of the world would be so bright!” 🙂

        • Stephanie
          May 16, 2012 at 10:55 AM

          I should!

  • Katrina
    May 16, 2012 at 5:34 AM

    Wow, I loved this post! You are so right, with everything you say. WHY is it that people question other people’s family size?!! AS IF there is only ONE right way!! Ugh, drives me crazy. While I have nine children, my very best friend has “just” one. Her daughter is 15 now. I’m going to fess up right now and say that sometimes I envy her a bit! I mean, I do think it’s so incredibly cool to be able to take a last minute stop at the mall with your 15 year old daughter without having to arrange childcare for the others, or worse….without having to take all the others WITH you!! Because that just ruins the whole thing, you know…mall shopping with six or seven younger siblings with you. And my friend never has to juggle sporting events, having to decide whose game to go to when two or three of them are at the same time. She always goes to her daughter’s soccer games and there are no other games that will cause her to miss them. That’s very nice, I bet. And wow, when that “one” child goes to a sleepover at her best friend’s house…my friend has TIME TO HERSELF. Good Lord, what must THAT be like?!! Okay, seriously …I do love my life and wouldn’t change a thing. But I can see the perks to having “just one” ~ just as some with one child might see the perks to having more than just one. Because having more than one can be pretty neat, too. You know what? It’s ALL good. And everyone has their number. My number just happens to be NINE and yours is ONE, and my sister’s is THREE and her best friend’s is TWO. Hey, just so long as we HAVE a number to being with, you know? That’s the real blessing. Because any number after zero makes you a mommy 🙂

    p.s. Thanks for linking up my blog in this post. So sweet of you to mention me. But hey, I only have HALF the amount of kids as the Duggars. Nineteen is NOT my number. That would be Michelle’s number. My number is nine ~ “just” nine! LOL

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM

      LOL, just nine! I know you have nine, I just trying to make a little joke and entice people to click on your link and check out your blog, because it is so awesome! Yes, we are all mothers. In fact, the other day, I tried to remember as growing how many kids I said I wanted to have. And I couldn’t never remember a time in my life when I said I wanted a specific number, all I cared about was becoming a mother.

  • Lisa Waszkiewicz
    May 16, 2012 at 5:48 AM

    Beautifully written. And timely for me. I have so many friends who are having 2nd and 3rd kids. Lately, I feel like I have to explain why I “only” have 1. Which is rather silly. Physically, I cannot have anymore. I’m no longer married. Which, for me, means I’m not going to have anymore. As a single mother, financially, it would be a struggle to add more kids to the mix. And the most honest answer.. I really don’t want another one. God granted me an amazing kid out of the blue when I was never supposed to be able to have any. So I celebrate her and love her. Even when I feel stretched to my limit. Parenting is such a personal thing. I’m flabbergasted at all the motherhood face offs I’m seeing online lately. However kids come into your life. No matter how many you have. Motherhood is such a scary, messy and whacko journey…. it’s so much better when we can support each other to raise happy, secure, confident kids.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      Thanks for commenting Lisa. Does your daughter ever ask you for a sibling? Have you done anything extra to make her not feel lonely?

      • Lisa Waszkiewicz
        May 21, 2012 at 8:32 PM

        When she was younger she used to ask for a sibling every Christmas. She has 2 cousins and 1 on the way which gives her some sibling like connections. We spend a lot of time together and she is always having friends round or over at friends. I think that helps eliminate some of the loneliness. We talk a lot about the importance of close relationships and how you can have the same level of connection with someone who is not related by blood.

  • Claire T
    May 16, 2012 at 11:37 AM

    We are pondering this issue right now so I found your views reassuring. It took us over four years to conceive our 26 month old daughter. I had a very difficult birth and will require a C section and other intervention should we conceive again. In addition, I have just turned 38. We love our family of three and part of me wants that to be enough. Another part of me wants my daughter to have a sibling just like her father and I did. Rationally I know it is likely the boat for a sibling has sailed but insensitive comments by others do not help.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 7:56 PM

      So glad to hear that. Thanks for your comment. 🙂

  • bethCO
    May 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    No, I don’t believe a child needs siblings to be happy. Growing up my siblings were horrible to me. They were very abusive and they didn’t want anything to do with me. It caused me to be very shy and I had a hard time trusting other people or making friends. Even with siblings my childhood was very lonely.

    I also have an only. I had my daughter late in life and it was a high risk pregnancy. Spent 2 months in the hospital and we nearly lost her at 24 weeks. Thanks to my husband and wonderful doctors we managed to get her to full term. It was very traumatic and I really don’t want to experience it again. I’m sure some people would think I’m selfish for not trying again. I honestly don’t care.

    As for your comment about your husband being selfish, I’m sure it is more of a personality trait. My husband and one of my siblings are very selfish and self-centered and they’re not onlies (sorry, love my husband but it is the truth). The bad thing is, my daughter is very much like my husband which scares me. I don’t want her to grow up with the only child stigma simply because she inherited her father’s personality traits. I’m trying to raise her to be very caring and empathetic to others.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 7:55 PM

      LOL, yes I love my husband too, but he is one selfish SOB sometimes. 🙂

    • Beth
      May 20, 2012 at 9:58 PM

      I can relate, in some way, to so many of these comments. I have a friend who had only one child, like Meredith, the three of them are one whole unit. They, in a sense, all grew up together and as a result are very close. I also agree with Beth, above. My mother is the oldest of seven and my mother was the mean one. She wanted nothing to do with any of her siblings, treated them terribly, and often said she wished she were an only child (as told to me by my aunts and uncles). Despite that, I was raised to believe that friends come and go but that your siblings are with you your whole life, to support you, to help you when you need it, to share in family issues (when my husband and I get older), etc. (This belief comes from my aunts and uncles, not my mother.) So, after my first daughter (DN) was born I felt like I needed to have at least one more. After all, I didn’t want DN to be alone. My second daughter (EM) arrived two years and three months later. In the beginning (at 27 months) DN loved having a sister. However, once DN started school, that all changed. To make a very long story short – no matter what I did or how hard I tried, nothing worked. DN was always so mean to EM, refused to spend any time with her, called her very mean names, etc., and even said several time that she wished she were an only child. I could see my mother’s personality so strongly in DN that it terrified and horrified me. After graduating from high school, DN couldn’t wait to move away, which she did. A little over a year ago, at 22, DN got her wish. She became an only child. You see – I had EM for DN, so that she wouldn’t be alone, so that she would always have someone to share all of life’s ups and downs with, the happys, the sads, the joys… but it didn’t work out that way. Now, while I believe that everything happens for a reason, I feel horribly guilty for bring EM into this world to be so hurt this way. Even worse, I can’t help but blame DN, at least in part, for EM’s sadness in life and ultimately her death. EM adored her sister and would have done anything to make her happy but none of it mattered to DN. Despite all my efforts, DN and EM were never close. The point to all of this is – While I did what I thought was the best/right thing in providing a sibling for DN, so she wouldn’t be alone, DN didn’t want a sibling. Ultimately, DN would have been much happier being an only child.

      I don’t think it was ever God’s plan for every family to look exactly alike. Your daughter is a beautiful gift that you and your husband gave to each other and the most amazing gift that God gave to both of you. Cherish her and the moments you have with her.

      • Stephanie
        May 21, 2012 at 6:26 PM

        Thanks so much for sharing. You should read a book called, Even If It Costs Me My Life, Systemic Constellations and Serious Illness. It is a very interesting book about how family members in other generations can take on the characteristics and personalities on other family members and what do about it, so they can be free.

  • Michelle
    May 16, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    After struggling with infertility and not knowing what steps to take this touches my heart. It took my husband and I 5 years to have our precious miracle. Once she was born I was so grateful to God for allowing us the experience of being parents. She was born 6 weeks early and was on a ventalater for 2 days. We spent 10 days total in the NICU. It was the hardest and most emotional 10 days of my life. Once we brought her home and time passed, I couldn’t decide if I could physically or emotionally but myself through it again. I had prayed for months and had all the same questions that you listed above. My biggest was how will she feel when she is grown and we are old. She will have to take care of us alone. Also, what will I say when she wants to know why she doesn’t have a brother or sister? Then I read an article in Parenting magazine called “Loving your one and only”. It was an answered prayer. The summary of the article was this, God sees your family perfect the way it is. My daughter is almost 7 now and she has ask the question of a brother or sister. I have responded with “God thinks our family is perfect the way it is.” She was content with my answer and even says, “Yeah, mom it is!” We enjoy spending time with her and making sure she is a Godly child. We travel and probably spoil her but we only have one chance at being the parent that God saw us to be. Thank you for the wonderful post and remember to cherish every moment. They grow so fast.

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 7:53 PM

      What a wonderful story, thank you! I am going to remember your response for the questions from my daughter one day.

  • Meredith
    May 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

    What a wonderful post! As an only child I will say – I wouldn’t have changed a thing. Sure, I told EVERYONE in my school when I was in Kindergarten that my mom was pregnant (when she wasn’t – let’s just call that an active imagination 😉 ) but other than that – wouldn’t change a thing. My mother didn’t work when I was younger and I still remember those Summer days 30+ years ago when it was just us. It’s a running joke in our family (started by my dad) that we ALL grew up together. I don’t think that’s a bad thing. We are VERY close as a result of that – it was always just the 3 of us. Both of my parents walked me down the aisle – it’s the way it’s always been. Being married for 10 years with a husband who is 1 of 4 it was always an interesting discussion leading up to us having children – He started out wanting 4 – he always said NO only child (even though he is married to one? interesting 🙂 ) but after our daughter was born he said it wouldn’t be the end of the world. We have since had a little boy and we are perfectly happy at 2. I would have been happy at one – I know the relationship that was formed with my parents and I would wish that for every child. It’s funny how people are always amazed that I’m an only child (my husband is the one that can’t stand to share). Where do those stigmas come from anyways – were they ever around only children? My main point is cherish this time, enjoy it – you are making serious impressions on her heart and one day (I’m sure she will go thru the terrible teen years like we all did) the three of you will have a bond and relationship like no other. I guess I did get the best of both worlds though because I did inherit some lovely brothers and sister in laws – I just consider myself lucky that we didn’t have to share a room growing up 😉

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 7:50 PM

      Thank you so much for sharing! I teared up when you talked about both your parents walking you down the isle. That will so be us.

  • Becky
    May 16, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    I have 3 kids, two natural and one adopted nephew, and we love them all the same (dearly) but my perspective is that you and your husband and your child are lucky, blessed, not greater or lesser than any other family. Please go with your own feelings, not influences from around you. I am a Christian mum too and I just want the best for each child as you do for yours. No other human knows what it’s like to be you. You don’t have to justify yourself to them.
    PS I found your blog looking for frozen meals for crock-pot and am glad I did x

    • Stephanie
      May 16, 2012 at 7:49 PM

      We are so blessed. Glad you found me too!

  • Raelene
    May 16, 2012 at 8:54 PM

    I have an amazing 9-year-old daughter and we have wanted more, but due to issues & mistakes that happened at the hospital when she was born, the only way we can have more now would be invitro- which we cannot afford right now. I worry all the time about “letting her down” by not having a sibling to grow up with. I also worried she would suffer “only child syndrome”- you know- bratty, selfish, etc. Many kids I knew who were only kids fell into this catergory- which is why I call it that. 🙂 Anyway- I think there’s pros and cons to either situation- having only the one- we have been able to let her soar with her creative outlets- she is on the competition team at her dance studio and loving it! She also plays soccer. She is very gracious and loves people- and we are so blessed to have been given her to raise. 🙂 She used to ask all the time about getting a baby brother or sister- but she hasn’t asked in a couple years- we did tell her that it would take “special medicine that is very expensive” and she has not said much about it since. I think she realizes now too, that if she had siblings, she wouldn’t be able to participate in as many things as she does now- she has close firends all with siblings who don’t get to do nearly as much- (plus she sees the frustration of having siblings sometimes- haha).
    Sometimes I just think God found perfection in her, and another one wouldn’t be able to compare. 😉
    Thank you for this article- and I LOVE your blog!!!

    • Stephanie
      May 17, 2012 at 2:22 AM

      Thanks for your comment! So glad to hear you love the blog, it means a lot to me. 😉

  • Caroline
    May 16, 2012 at 9:36 PM

    Oh, I’m so sorry you ever have felt this way. My husband and I were not able to have children, and I thought that was devistating. I have friends that have had miscarriages, and I’ve thought, “at least you could get pregnant”, but as I’ve gotten older (well out of my 20’s!!) I’ve realized they have had some tough experiences too.

    We ended up adopting our two oldest, now teenagers, from Russia in 1998. We were extremely lucky that my mother was able to pay for the adoptions, becuase we didn’t have that kind of money. We thought we would like to open our home up to more children, and in 2005 we became foster parents. We thought, “Well, if one stayed and got adopted, that’s great. If not, we’re ok with it too”. Amazingly, Jonah stayed and we got him at 48 hours old from the hospital. I would never say adopting or fostering is for everyone, but sometimes when God closes one door he opens another. I know now that my 17 year old son, 15 year old son and 6 year old son are so amazing. And after a month or two, you never think about “did I give birth to them or are they adopted”. It’s about parenting, not how they got here.

    Just remember – God has a better plan for you than you can imagine, whether that means being a mom to one child (which is still tough), or having more, one way or the other. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for being you. They are not looking for your best interest or theirs.

    • Stephanie
      May 17, 2012 at 2:21 AM

      Well said!

  • Leslee
    May 17, 2012 at 12:21 AM

    I have no idea what the future holds for my little family, but I feel so fortunate to have my daughter that I am happy with just having one child. If we were lucky enough to have a second, we would be just as happy. The thing that gets me is that I feel pressure to have more, that since I love SB so much I should want a million of her. In a perfect world, I would want a million of her (or, more realistically two or three), but one is enough. We aren’t in a perfect world, and we also aren’t in a spot to make more children without burdening our little family greatly, financially and emotionally. So, my husband and I have agreed that we will talk about it later, it’s an open-ended discussion, I’ll occasionally ask, “If we were to have another, would you [whatever is on my mind at the moment]? NOT that we will have one, I’m just curious as to what your thoughts are.” Oh, well. As my grandma always says, it will all come out in the wash.

    • Stephanie
      May 17, 2012 at 2:20 AM

      Yeah, I am totally happy with our little family too. It’s nice to know that I am not the only one who hears odd comments or feels societal pressure.

  • Jessica
    May 17, 2012 at 2:06 AM

    This is something I’ve been struggling with as well. I have a 2-year old son and was actually in the process of miscarrying my second pregnancy when I read your natural miscarriage post. I’m so sorry for your loss. The hardest part of the whole situation for me was feeling like I had failed my son. I made the mistake of telling him early on that a new baby was coming to play with him. He was only 21 months old at the time and didn’t fully understand, of course, but he continued to mention the baby several weeks after I had miscarried, which was like a knife to my heart.

    They would have been 2.5 years apart, which seemed like a perfect age difference. Now they will be, at minimum, 3 years apart, and I worry about the age gap widening further and further as more time passes. I know all kids are different and age gaps don’t necessarily dictate how emotionally close siblings will be, but I do want my children to be close enough in age to enjoy the same childhood activities.

    That being said, I don’t think children necessarily NEED a sibling. I am an only child. I do remember begging for a sibling when I was about 6 or 7 years old, but that’s because I loved babies and wanted to play “mommy,” not because I longed for a long-term sibling relationship. Now as an adult, I do think it would be nice to have a sister, but I don’t feel deprived for not having one. I don’t know what I’m missing, so it doesn’t bother me.

    Also, I know that mothers have an infinite amount of love to give, but we don’t have an infinite amount of time, attention, or resources. All of that gets divided with every child. So to me, the trade-off for not having a sibling is never having to share your parents. That’s one thing that concerns me about having a second child – I would never want my son to feel neglected due to the high needs of a baby. I never knew what that felt like, so I wouldn’t know how to help him deal with those kinds of feelings.

    • Stephanie
      May 17, 2012 at 2:18 AM

      So sorry for your loss. I know what you mean, my daughter still occasionally kisses my belly.

  • Martha
    May 17, 2012 at 2:10 AM

    Well first, wonderfully written post.

    I think a family is a family. Five children, two children, or one child…or no human children and a few four legged ‘children’.

    I have never felt any pressure to procreate and honestly never thought twice about whether a woman has a single child or five children or three adorable doggies. I’m sure a great deal of this ambivalence is having the extremely good luck to have fantastic parents who always told me to follow my own personal bliss- whether that was married/ no, paleontologist/ an artist, a mom…. or…whatever. I also have more than a few close friends who have a single child and either can’t have more or simply made the decision not to have more and are very content in their choice (as well they should be). It pains me to think that mothers would make other mothers feel some how ‘less than’ for having one child. It’s absolutely ridiculous. Now, I will admit to standing in awe as a well put together 30 something Mom glides past me in heels in the Dairy Section with four well behaved young children orbiting around her grocery cart while my 2 and 1/2 year old is hurling Greek yogurt out of the cart and screaming/singing ‘Tinkle Star’ at the top of her lungs. But honestly, when I see a mom of one child patiently negotiating a toddler meltdown in the park over sharing one remaining swing, I feel the same way.

    A mom is a mom is a mom. If you are doing it right, it’s really hard and really, really rewarding no mater how many you are mothering.

  • Jen
    May 17, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    I was raised Catholic (by parents that used birth control) and have two sisters. I always thought I would have at least two, maybe three children.

    Then I didn’t get married until I was 31, and although getting pregnant didn’t take long (8 cycles charting), I do have high FSH/fertility issues.

    Our son is only five months old, but at almost 36 years old, I do need to think about baby number two sooner than later. It’s a tough call. I don’t know that I even get the luxury of number two if I want it, you know? And, I selfishly want a few years with just my son, to really enjoy him.

    I think it’s rude for anyone to comment on your family size. The way I see it, I have one perfect, healthy and happy little boy. If we are blessed with more, so be it. If not, I know he will be fine and so will we.

    I wish you peace with whatever happens.

    • Stephanie
      May 17, 2012 at 12:43 PM

      Thanks so much.

  • Patricia
    May 17, 2012 at 6:31 PM

    I have six children, currently pregnant with my seventh. I love them all so very much and don’t mind (usually) that they take pretty much all my time. I get disapproving looks all the time from people because of our large family and it can really break me down when they have the nerve to say mean things about us. So many people assume we’re on welfare, but we are not. We are on a budget. I sometimes remember how much more orderly our home was when we had only three children and at times I secretly envy my sisters who have fewer kids and the freedom they seem to have but I have to stop and remember that is their life, this is mine. I can make it wonderful for my family or waste our time together listening to all those negative thoughts. That is the choice before every mother, I think. I believe this is God’s plan for my life and I’m going to try my best and trust him to fill in all the gaps that I fear will occur in my kids’ lives. Ultimately, He is who I am living for.

  • Sandy H.
    May 18, 2012 at 1:14 PM

    I know I’m not a mom so my opinion doesn’t count for much, but having tried to get pregnant for almost a year and a half without any luck has also taken its toll and I have found myself wondering more and more if I could go through all this again if I had to. My husband is also an only child and he has been very insistent since before we were married that he wants more than one because he always wanted that sibling experience. We have started to consider adoption, but right now I’m not sure I could ride that roller coaster more than once either! I just keep telling myself this is up to God and God’s timing.

  • heather
    May 19, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Hi Stephanie!
    I’ve beenn a lurking reader for some time, + want to start out by saying I find your blog both inspiring as a mom and informative. I want to thank you imparticular for this post, and your candid post on your miscarriage. I miscarried fraternal twins two weeks apart in october , one on my own and one in my 2nd trimester requiring a d+c as infection had already set in . Reading yourpost helped me not feel so alone. Additionally,3 years ago I had twins, one stillborn, and one who died shortly aftter birth. I almost went with them. I have one living child who is 5, and I often get the dreaded,”is he your only one?” To which the answer is both yes, and no. i often want tomake those who question my only child’s solist status uncomfortable with a remark regarding my other pregnancies and daughters, but I don’t. I just half smile + nod. Incidenally, i was raised Catholc as well, and never used BC because I never needed to. I’ve been married 17 yrs (I married young 😉 and after suffering through years of hoping, multiple IUI + IVF cycles (despite how the church feels about it, but that’s a conversation for another time), and multiple losses, I have come to terms with accepting (even though NOt my choice) I will have only one. And I am so grateful for him, and enjoy every second, and parent my way with no apologies. It’s my only chance, and I’m doing it my way. I am a helicopter mom, + I shout it loud + proud! 😉 Having had a tough few years has given me strength, a thcker skin, and a better focus on the things that are really important. Peoples digs are rooted in their own insecurities, not a reflection of you. It’s obvious you love Penelope, and put her first. the ability to bring children into the world, although the greatest gift, is not the sole measure of one’s worth.
    And now i’ll get off my soapbox 🙂

    • Stephanie
      May 21, 2012 at 6:34 PM

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. So sorry for your losses.

  • Kirsten
    May 19, 2012 at 10:02 PM

    Thank you; I just happened to stumble upon your blog. This was a beautiful post. I am the mother of a 3-year-old, and I feel perfectly fulfilled being a mom of one. I like how you pointed out that this isn’t necessarily easier than mothering two or more; being a mom is a tough job no matter what.

  • Tracy Fitzwater
    May 20, 2012 at 4:36 PM

    As the mother of one child, and the survivor of 2 miscarriages, I must say I never regretted only have one. I was an older mom, and had him when I was almost 31. His teenage years were not fun, but now as he approaches 28, he actually likes me again, and loves me more. W and I felt that one kid felt right, and it was the right thing for us. Being a parent was something of a shock to my system, if you know what I mean. I had worked full-time, and went to half-time, which was perfect for our family, but sort of stretched my employment years out a bit! I’d worked around kids all my life, but I will admit that parenting was not really what I expected! Having said that, the creative, independent individual I hoped to raise turned out to be just that.

    I remember after my first miscarriage how sad and devastated I was – it was so hard to look at other women with children without tears leaking out of my eyes. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but after the second one, I was relieved. Oh, I know I would have ended up loving the idea, and welcoming another person into our family, but honestly, I figured it was just the way it was, and life would go on. And it did.

    Our solution to the only child thing/selfish syndrome was the right family for day care. J was like the 4th child in a family of 3 – the 2 oldest kids were students at the school where I was the librarian, and the youngest boy was at home. J had the experience of NOT being the only one at home, and learned some lessons about getting along with others, waiting his turn, and having older kids to look up to. It worked out very well for us, and I believe it made a difference in his development. He wasn’t there all day, because of my part-time status, so he had both the sibling experience, as well as the just-mom experience.

    • Stephanie
      May 21, 2012 at 6:30 PM

      Thanks for your comment. I really appreciate it.

  • Shelley R.
    May 21, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I got here from Pinterest looking for freezer crock-pot meals, but found this instead. I truly love this post, but where is it written that everyone needs “at least one” child? I don’t think you said it like that, but I have heard it far too many times. I think having children (or not) and how many you have should be a deeply personal choice. Some people who chose to have them don’t deserve them. We hear almost daily of someone who abused or neglected a child (or worse) and most of us know at least one person (or couple) who has struggled with infertility. Because of my situation and those of friends, I do not ask anyone how many kids they have or why they don’t have any.
    As I am sure you have figured out, in my case, my husband and I do not have any children. This was our personal choice, but seldom does a day go by that one of us doesn’t have to “defend” our choice. There were a lot of personal considerations that went into our decision, but the way people talk to us is downright rude, presumptuous, and somewhat infuriating. Frankly, it is exhausting to be around people sometimes. In spite of the strong feelings I have about it, I usually make a joke out of it when I have to answer questions, but I have been rude to people who have asked repeatedly.
    For the record: We are both over 40, have been married over 10 years, live in the south-east US, both of us are the middle child of 3, neither of us has any Catholic background, and we adore all of the nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends kids that have in our lives. We truly wish their parents would invite us to their birthday parties, school events, sports events, etc. Instead, we have been told that they think we wouldn’t want to because we don’t have kids of our own. To me, that’s like saying that you can’t love kids or have anything to do with them if you don’t have any.

  • Crystal
    May 22, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    I am the Mother of one Son. He is 6 years old. My Husband and I decided to get “fixed” when our Son was only 4 years old. I too went through a bout of infertility and the mental trauma of month after month of missed or late periods followed by heavy (possible early term miscarriages) took more than it’s toll on us. But we kept trying! Something was missing… our Son was missing. Once we had Daniel that heavy, dark, lonely feeling of “something missing” went away instantly. There were times when GF’s were getting pregnant for their 2nd, 3rd or 4th time and I got the itch but NOT at all for another child, not to offer a playmate, a sibling for my Son but for my Son at all those different ages and stages. With our Son we want for nothing. Our Family is complete.

    I will add that it is important for us to bring lots of children into our Sons life to learn from them the things that us, as Parents, as adults can’t teach. We also find it important for him to see how multi-children families work as well. BTW our Singleton has NEVER asked for a brother or sister and in fact, when asked whether he wants one “NO” has always been his eager response.

    • Stephanie
      May 22, 2012 at 8:31 PM

      How wonderful, thanks so much for sharing. All these wonderful stories, make me excited to be a family unit of three, if those are the cards we are dealt. 🙂

  • Meredith
    May 23, 2012 at 12:03 AM

    Thank you so much for writing this post. I, too, am the mother of an only child. At times I have also felt like I was treated as “less” of a mother because I do not have multiple children. I also have felt I had to explain or justify why we only have one son. I am always amazed that people I do not know well find it perfectly acceptable to ask personal questions about why we don’t have more children, including asking personal questions about fertility. (For the record, my pregnancy and son’s birth was extremely difficult, and further health problems have kept me from feeling I was able to go through another pregnancy).

    I also had to request that my son not have a certain teacher this year because of his only child status. My good friend’s son had been in this teacher’s class, and she had told other children that the boy “acted like that because he is an only child”.

    My son is a wonderful boy. People regularly comment on how kind and generous he is. Sometimes I think I detect a note of surprise when people tell me this. My friend’s son, who was an only child for nine years, is now fifteen and has a five year old sister. He is a great kid and a wonderful big brother.

    I would like people to realize that being a good person has nothing to do with how many siblings you are raised with, and everything to do with HOW you are raised.

  • Brindy Ayn
    May 23, 2012 at 4:01 AM

    Yay for a fellow NFPer! Lets be honest, having babies is not easy work. I currently have to little girls and just recently experienced a miscarriage. I had my eldest and then couldn’t even think about having another for three years. Every cycle I would tell God not to let me get pregnant. Ha! Then the first month I allowed for a little flexibility in our charting, BAM, there was baby Ivy. I like to think that God was laughing at me and patiently waiting for me to let him have a little control. We did not rush into parenthood and have not rushed into having multiple children but we can never underestimate that ultimately God knows what is appropriate for us and our families. I feel that one of the greatest ways that we can show our love and trust in God is by giving him our fertility. Hang in there, pray for peace and clarity and you, your hubby and God will work it all out.

  • Renee
    May 24, 2012 at 3:57 AM

    Thankyou for writing such a wonderful post, and HELLO from Perth, Western Australia !
    Its like you crawled inside my head and figured out all the guilty confused feelings I have. My husband and I have one dear little girl (nearly 3) who may or may not have a sibling, for such a long time I said only one only one and felt completely guilty and selfish for that. I myself have 1 brother, my husband is the youngest of 4 boys, two very different upbringings.

    Im so sick of other mothers with a brood of children thinking I ‘have it easy’ with just one, or older family members assuming we cant have another one and its ‘so sad’…not that its our choice !
    With that said our little girl ‘might’ have a sibling soon, with our financial circumstances changing for the better, it seems like I might be ready for another one, we have agreed to try for the rest of this year and if it works out then its ‘meant to be’, if not then just one for us is meant to be also and Im completely fine with that. I dont want any assisted conception or anything like that but I feel it will alleviate my guilty feelings and I will be able to look back in 20 years time with no regret – we gave it a shot and it worked or didnt….its not up to us !

    • Stephanie
      May 24, 2012 at 12:39 PM

      Hi Renee! So cool to have readers in Australia! My husband has been there on a surf trip, but I have never been. Glad I could help you articulate your feelings!

  • Lauren
    May 24, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    I’ve followed your posts for quite some time now. They are all amazing. My husband has 3 boys now, one with myself and 2 with his ex. He feels complete, I do not. We’ve had plenty of arguements over having another baby. For me it has never been about competition, but more so what would complete my heart, my soul, my femanine needs. I don’t think he gets that part! My son is only 9 months old yet I know I need another and in some respects I think I do want a sibling for him to grow with. His half brothers are 10+ years older than him. I am one of three so imagining a life without a sibling is difficult. Thanks for this post, it gave me a lot more to consider! However, I think it also solidified why it is I want baby #2.

    • Stephanie
      May 24, 2012 at 8:14 PM

      Thanks so much! I hope you get your heart’s desire!

  • Jane
    May 27, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    I am the mother of a 30-year-old only daughter, who turned out perfectly well-adjusted and is a wonderful mother herself to her little guy and one soon to be arriving. It is perfectly possible to raise one wonderful child. She always knew that she was not an only by choice, things just worked out that way. While she is wonderful and I couldn’t ask for anything better, sometimes I know she felt the pressure of being an only. There was no one else to blame anything on, except perhaps the dog. We always had to find a friend to come camping, etc., so she would have someone else to play with besides us. She had a number of cousins she was close to that filled in a lot of the gaps. But she also carried all our expectations alone on her shoulders. It would have been easier for her many times to be able to share expectations and attention. It’s hard for the parents when you have all your eggs in one basket. After having gone through the particularly trying experience of my mother’s last days (she spent all her last 8 months in a hospital or nursing home), it was nice to know that sometimes my brothers could pick up the slack. My daughter has already commented on how it will fall to her alone to fulfill that type of commitment. I know that she definitely doesn’t want her son to be an only. So can you raise a perfectly wonderful only? Yes. Would I choose to? No. I know I would choose to have just one over not having any at all, but that is a different discussion.

  • Sarah MacLaughlin
    June 20, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    I am super happy for emotional, mental, and financial reasons to have one child. Reading the book, “Maybe One” by Bill McKibben really helped take any sting out of the decision. Single children are really perfectly normal, and the book cited solid environmental reasons for smaller families too! I highly recommend it!

    • Stephanie
      June 20, 2012 at 1:01 AM

      Thank you!! I will read that book ASAP!

  • Lindsey
    August 9, 2012 at 11:51 AM

    People are so quick to try and have more and more kids, that they don’t realize the miracle in their “one” child. I have congenital muscular dystrophy and am in a wheelchair, but had a baby 5 months ago. He is an absolute miracle, as are ALL babies. I can’t believe i have him 🙂 I’m nursing him right nw as I type this, and am so lucky to have him. Just a different perspective. Thanks for your post.

  • Megan
    August 18, 2012 at 2:48 AM

    I found you through Pinterest. I really appreciate this post for several reasons. I am a mom to one amazing 1 1/2 year old boy. He is truly my gift from God. Soon after my husband and I got married, he [my husband, not son] was diagnosed with cancer. Once he was in remission and got the okay from his doctors, we began trying to have children (at that point we’d been married several years). After eagerly waiting each month to see if I was pregnant, and being faced with the heartbreaking disappointment of not being, we went to a fertility doctor. We were told that as a result of chemo, my husband had a 3% chance of conceiving a child “naturally” (without medical interventions). We had prepared for this before chemo (banking his sperm), but weighed our financial situation and decided not to go the medical route to conceive. Instead, we focused on adopting. Then, surprise… I got pregnant! After facing the possibility of having no children, I really, really valued being able to have one. I treasured every moment of pregnancy, knowing it may not happen again. We now discuss trying to have more (we are in the not necessarily trying, but not preventing either stage), or possibly adopting still. And we already get pressure from others to have more. But I am so happy and grateful for this gift that is our son, I really try to live in the moment and focus on what we have as a family, the 3 of us. If more are meant to be, it will happen. If not, that’s okay too. I am just thrilled to have the one I do. And as far as outside comments go… people will always be insensitive, self absorbed, or naive (someone actually had the audacity to ask us if we were going to hurry up and have kids because we weren’t getting any younger right after my husband finished chemo). I suppose it may be similar to someone who is a parent questioning why other persons/couples would choose not to experience the joy of having children at all. When creating a family, whether it be no children, “furry” children, one child, or more… As long as you are happy with your situation or decision, that’s all that matters. Only you can live the life that is right for you.

  • Miranda
    September 30, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    I’ll admit I didn’t read all of the comments, I don’t have time. 🙂 But I too am judged often for my family size, I have 6 7 and under. Our first 5 were girls and now we had a boy so people like to tell me how I got a boy so I’m done now. I’m Catholic too. I don’t have a large family because I’m Catholic, I have a large family because that is what my husband and I have chosen to do together. If you read the Catholic doctrine it does say that you should not have more children if it is a risk to your health (I include mental health in that personally) or if it would be fiscally irresponsible. So, have 1 or have 100. It’s a personal choice. I in no way believe I’m more Godly for having several children. I don’t understand why others think they’re a better parent because they have less and give them more attention, supposedly. I do homeschool curriculum with my kids until they start Kinder, we cook together, we eat together, we play together, we go places. I love my children and you love yours, that’s what matters. That we love them and raise them to be the best human beings that they can possibly be. People are very insensitive and judgmental, I’ve learned to hate going to the grocery store with my kids, not because of them but because of all the comments I get from other people. Don’t let other people make you feel bad about the wonderful family you have. 🙂

  • Jen
    February 18, 2013 at 3:38 AM

    No matter who you are or what you do SOMEONE is going to judge you, it’s ridiculous! Live and let live. I was actually really surprised to read about people who only have one child being judged for not having more. After 2 miscarriages and then not being able to get pregnant at all for about 5 years I finally got pregnant and actually had a baby! Then another, then another… 3 babies in 2 years 1 month and 5 days. I LOVE my kids but I get JEALOUS of women who have one child, I don’t judge them. I have gotten several “did you finally figure out how babies are made” or “did you discover birth control” I also feel judging eyes on me when I’m out with my kids, because I think people think i have too many!

    • Stephanie
      February 18, 2013 at 2:30 PM

      SO happy to hear that! I am hopeful that God will give me one more earth baby, but if not I am perfectly content with my beautiful girl.
      I read a great book several months ago called Daring Greatly and it talked about why mothers judge and it comes down to shame. Motherhood triggers shame in all of us and the more confident we are in our life choices (and don’t have shame around them) then the less we will judge others to make ourselves feel better. I pray that all mothers can do the personal work to enable them to stop judging other mothers and instead be supportive and loving to their fellow sisters.

  • Naomi
    January 15, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    I know this post is a bit old but I needed to read this. It’s the eve of my daughter’s second birthday and I am so grateful to have her. After discovering my husband really didn’t want children a month before we were going to begin active trying mode (before we got married would have been a good time to be honest), fertility problems, Doctor’s who wouldn’t listen to me about my fertility, miscarriages, and then almost losing my girl to a meconium leak, and a husband who loves his girl dearly but really does not want another AND being Christians, we have agreed to indefinitely hold off on the trying again (despite the last two years of ‘trying’). The imposed shame and guilt I’ve received from other Christian and generally people just from the look on their faces has cracked my otherwise unshakeable decisiveness. Sure another child would be lovely, but at the expense of my marriage, the second most important convenant I have made? When God said in Genesis to be fruitful and multiply it was so much more meaning than human reproduction. If I can not ovulate and conceive another child with my husband should he change his mind I am no less a woman than another surely? I can be mother to my own and nurture to other children also. I can produce marvelous creative things in the image of The Creator in other ways. If my worth as a woman is wrapped in one facet of my being than it is a waste of a spirit, soul and body. Last time I pondered some of Jesus words he seemed more concerned about how I responded to him, loved those who are seemingly unlovable- those who are in front of me now. I’ve got some work to do on that, and that seems much more important to model to my girl. Children are a blessing and I am blessed, I have a child who was nearly never, and then nearly taken… I was also nearly taken from her also in the her first 6 months. I am blessed.
    Thanks for this post, and some of the comments were wonderful also.

    • Stephanie
      January 15, 2014 at 6:15 PM

      Beautifully written.

  • Carla
    May 28, 2014 at 3:37 PM

    Thank you for this. I am a Catholic with secondary infertility who has undergone four failed IVFs. (I still belong in the Catholic Church!) Our child if five and we have been trying for over three and a half years to have another. We are only one month past losing three embryos in our last failed IVF, and I am already trying to discern what God wants us to do next. I am finally very happy and at peace. At last, the strong desire to carry, birth and breastfeed a baby has dissipated, and the grief is passing. I was at peace with our decision to try IVF. I prayed and prayed about it, and I believe God was always in control, and we gave every embryo a chance at life, but He did not bless us with a pregnancy. It is now clear that God would not want us to try IVF again, so I am at peace about that. We could try IVF with donor eggs, but here I also think God is clear: it is not ethical. Now I come to the point where I don’t know what to do. I do not want to adopt, either traditional adoption or embryo adoption, for many reasons. But I wonder if God is calling us to adopt nonetheless. Do I not want to adopt because of the expense and effort, that is, because I am too attached to material things and to our easy, peaceful life with one child? It is so hard to follow God, especially in the Catholic Church. (Which is why I believe it is the one true church.) I have legitimate reasons for not wanting to adopt, like your husband, but are they just excuses? I no longer care about what people say (those who judge are like the Pharisees), and I am not ashamed of being a one-child family in the Catholic church. This is really about me discerning God’s will for my life, not winning others’ approval with a bigger family and dramatic adoption story. I keep thinking of Mary who only had one child, but again, is God still calling me to adopt, even more so in that it is not what I want to do? I just need to give it time and keep praying, I suppose. Perhaps it’s understandable to be appreciating the return to normalcy after the difficulty and grief of failed fertility treatments. Dear God, show me your will.

  • Rebecca
    August 17, 2015 at 5:34 AM

    Hi. Yes, thank you, I agree with you. I am a Non-catholic, but in my faith, there is a lot of pressure as well. We only want one. It’s just as plain and simple as that. I’ve gotten to the point where I offer no excuses, and everyone can think what they will.