After reading a piece by another of the Natural Mamas on when to make the decision to have a second child, I realized that perhaps, the other side of the coin should be presented as well.
My husband and I made the choice to only have one child. We don’t plan to have another child and we never really did. I will be the first one to admit that this decision was more in my hands than my husband’s. He confessed to me that he would like to have a little troop of boys to play with. However, he also understands what is within our emotional, physical, familial and fiscal means.
Yes, I included three things there and took into consideration more than just money. Let me explain.
I will start with the most obvious and easiest to explain; the fiscal means. Children are expensive. I know everyone always says that you just find a way. I am certain that is true, but I want to be able to provide comfort and safety to my child and I don’t want to have to worry about finding a way to pay for bills as well as my child gets older. To be honest, I also want to be able to do things with my child. I want to be able to sign him up for activities and sports and fun classes. I remember growing up and it was hard for my parents. There were times when we did not have enough and I know it caused a tremendous amount of stress on my parents. This stress was transferred between my parents to anger and eventually down to us. So, really, fiscal readiness can affect emotional readiness as well.
Speaking of emotional factors; to have multiple (or really any) children, you have to be emotionally balanced. You don’t want to show favoritism, drown your children in your personal drama or teach them bad emotional habits. Children are far more cognizant of their parent’s emotions than parents like to think. How you deal with your problems affects them directly. Your stress, tension, anger, happiness, etc all filter down to them. While I do think my husband and I are more than able to handle more children in our emotional state, it is not the only factor to consider. I have written before about my basic fear of motherhood. This is not going to go away because I have multiple children. In fact, it will probably only multiply and produce more fears.
I also have to take in account that I have three sisters who are much younger that my parents adopted. My mother has already had cancer once and it looks like she may have cancer again. If anything happens to my mother I will be the one who has to take care of my adopted sisters as well as my biological sister who is mentally disabled. This is a familial responsibility that will add to emotional strain and makes it difficult to consider having more than one child. There is the real possibility that I will have to raise additional children in the future. Cancer is something that causes a huge amount of emotional burden which brings me to my own physical limitations.
While I am (relatively) young and healthy, there are issues I know I will have to address in the next few years. I am BRCA2 positive. For those who don’t know, this means I am 96% likely to get breast cancer. It also makes it highly likely I will get Ovarian Cancer (which is worse than breast cancer because it is far harder to detect). This means that I have to think about these things and the fact that I plan to have preventive surgeries to help prevent this from happening in the next few years. By 35, I will have my ovaries removed (that is three short years away) and by 40, I will have a double mastectomy and reconstruction. This puts a time limit on when I can have more children and also a consideration about the ages of my child during my recovery. I want to be healthy for my family and not get cancer, so these are things I think about.
So, after serious discussion with my husband, we decided that we were going to be a single child family. All decisions we have made are negotiable. We are allowed to change our minds, but so far, this is the decision we have made. This is part of what it means to be emotionally stable and responsible. Having the ability to change our minds and decide if maybe we are willing to have another child.