I recently wrote a piece on Savvy Mom about what it’s like having an only child. The thing I’m always surprised about with writing is what happens after you throw your ideas out there. Because of the questions and response I’ve gotten, I’ve decided to share our path towards parenthood and how we ended up having an only child.
If I’m being honest, I wasn’t all that jazzed about motherhood to begin with. I loved my job that had me travelling to Europe on a monthly basis. I knew this lifestyle wouldn’t be sustainable with a baby on board, so I wanted to milk it for as long as possible. We had agreed to try and conceive a year after getting married. When the time came, I wasn’t ready. My husband wasn’t fussed, so we extended that by a little over a year.
Getting pregnant happened within a few months of trying, and I was fortunate to have an easy pregnancy. Eve turned breach in my last few weeks of pregnancy, so it was a scheduled C-section for us. She was a totally chill baby, but it was still a MAJOR adjustment for me.
One thing after the next
When Eve was three months old, I felt I had it together. That lasted all of two weeks. I remember, because suddenly, my father died. His death was somewhat predictable (he’d had heart problems for years), but my mother’s grief was not. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I didn’t expect her to be blue for what seemed like an eternity. She eventually got her mojo back towards the end of that summer, and we had this lovely pocket of time taking my daughter on little adventures in the sunshine.
When I was pregnant, my husband had a job opportunity in London. We decided to take it, but with the time it took to secure work visas, we knew the move wouldn’t be until Eve was halfway through her first year. When Eve was nine-months-old the work visas came in, and we made our final moving arrangements. As soon as we booked our flights, mom was diagnosed with Stage IV Cancer.
We still moved. I ended up seeing my mom as much (if not more) than I would’ve had we stayed in Calgary. After her diagnosis, she lived another two years despite being given only months. I think my daughter had a lot to do with that. Shortly after Eve’s first birthday, The Huz and I had the conversation. Should we start trying for baby number two? We were both in the unequivocally no camp. A baby, a death, a move to another country, a new job, mom’s illness…it was all too much.
Life in London
Then Eve’s second birthday came. Mom’s condition was stable and controlled. The timing was right, except that it wasn’t. The Huz’s job was going off the rails. His world was nuts and he asked for a reprieve. I was more than happy to give it to him.
I was loving life in London. It was exciting, fun and so very family friendly. London is like a collection of dozens upon dozens of little villages. The community spirit and support were fantastic. We made friends. We had a fantastic weekly routine with playgroups and fancy ex-pat lunches. We went to France on weekends. I wanted to wring every ounce of pleasure out of our time there and that I did.
Then Eve turned three. By this time, my mom was failing fast. There was no way I could handle her palliative care, a toddler and a new baby. We were moving back to Canada, too. We had too many major life events going on in too short a time. Baby number two was once again put on the back burner.
Coming to terms with having an only child
After my mother passed away, I went back to work full time. I managed to snag what I thought was my dream job. It felt so good to dust off the cobwebs and challenge my brain in a way I hadn’t since having Eve. It was finally the right moment to try for baby number two. And we did try, but after two months, I pulled the plug.
We were finally in a stable, happy place and I was scared to rock the boat. More importantly, I didn’t really want more children. The biggest reason I could think of for having another child was to give Eve a sibling. But is that the right reason to have another baby, I wondered?
I wish I could say that was the end of it, but it wasn’t. I’ve wrestled with this decision for years. I felt like a bad parent, like some completely selfish person for having just one kid. After much soul searching, The Huz and I admitted we’d missed the window. We were too comfortable and happy in our way of life.
Occasionally I regret our decision. When Eve was nine-years-old I finally felt ready. Really ready. I could’ve happily welcomed a new baby at that time, but I didn’t think it would be fair to bring up the conversation yet again. Also, I’d entered my 40s and felt that could be pushing things. The only other time I feel pangs of regret is during Christmas. I’m from a family of four and miss those big, boisterous days. My daughter, however, loves our quiet Christmases, and bristles whenever we visit or host other families during the holidays.
If I’m channelling my inner Oprah, what I know for sure is that there’s no perfect family. Most people don’t have a straightforward path to parenthood. You can’t predict timing or personality. All you can do is make the most with what you’re given.
I’m curious, did your family turn out the way you expected it would?