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One and Only?

Breastfeeding Awareness--One Working Mom's Story |


| Parents, Please--Vaccinations Can Save Your Child's Life!

August 02, 2006

One and Only?

Lauren Young

When you start dating someone seriously, everyone asks you when you are getting married. And once you walk down the aisle, you are interrogated on your procreation plans. Then first child comes, and everyone wants to know when the second one will arrive. If you have two kids, the next question is "Will you go for three?" (Suddenly, two is the new three.)

Right now I think I’m stuck on one. But that doesn’t stop people from asking me when I’ll be knocked up again.

A good friend told me over the weekend that having two kids is more than twice the work, and, as a Working Parent, I’m not sure if I can handle the juggling act.

The reason for my reluctance “to go for two” is probably because we had a rough start: our son Leo came out on Halloween 2004 with an enormous, lumpy, bumpy birthmark covering 80% of his back. I’ve blogged about it before, so I won’t bore you with the details.

Suffice it to say, he’s spent more time with doctors and hospitals in the past 21 months than all of my family members combined. Leo's surgeon suggested to us that we delay having kids until we are finished with his medical treatment (which should be by the end of the year), and frankly I'm enjoying the free pass.

Yet I think about having another child every day. As I write this, I'm sitting in our guest room/office/crapatorium which is filled to the ceiling-—literally—-with baby crap that I cannot bear to part with yet: a bouncy seat, an exersaucer, five trunk-sized plastic bins of baby and maternity clothing. Still, the idea of two bambinos seems so daunting.

My biggest fears?

When I'm tired, I'm an uber-bitch. I'm not sure my marriage can survive another kid.

How will we afford college for two children?

Can I work full-time and have enough of me left to go around for my family?

If Leo is an only child, who will he have after my husband and I are gone.

New York Magazine did a provocative cover story on sassy only kids, which included these amazing statistics: “Today, according to the 2003 Current Population Survey, single-child families outnumber two-child families (20% versus 18%), and social scientists tentatively predict that the number of onlies will keep growing, bringing the national average number of children per family down below 2.1. In Manhattan, more than 30% of New York City women over 40 have only one child, and over 30% of all families are single-child families, according to data compiled by Rutgers University.”

I'd love to hear from other Working Parents, especially those with only children, about your choices.

12:30 PM


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I am 44 and had my first and only child when I was 42 (she is 21 months old). People ask me all the time if I am going to have another one and I have to say I can't fathom the thought, at least with our present situation. We live in the city and have a very small 4th floor walk-up (a challenge in itself with the needs of a baby and now a toddler). We take our daughter to daycare 5 days a week so our schedule is pretty full and our existence is physically challenging! Even as a runner who fancied herself in pretty good shape before giving birth (I have not returned to running as I once knew it....that would be an entirely new blog in my opinion) the physical challenges of lifting a stroller up and down subway stairs day in and day out and hauling laundry and groceries up 65 stairs (Hello, Fresh Direct) make the thought of another baby pretty much out of the question. I would maybe consider it if I didn't work full time or if I worked from home part of the week.....I simply have loved being a mom. I have to add that my partner has an 8-year old who we have with us every other weekend so I consider myself a stepmom at the same time. So I feel I get the best of both worlds: my daughter has a sibling she adores, I get to enjoy raising two kids (one part time), and I only had to endure one pregnancy. I'll quit while I'm ahead.

Posted by: Jennifer Knudsen at August 2, 2006 03:39 PM

Hi Lauren,

my daughter is 5 and a half, and I'm 37, so this question is also on my mind. For me, the pull to have a second child is mostly emotional... and the pull to stop at one is something I frame in terms of my values. I value the planet's future, and I want to participate in slowing down population growth enough that there are possibilities of healthy life on Earth for seven generations from now. (Before I ever got pregnant, I read a wonderful book by Bill McKibben called "Maybe One" which stayed with me in terms of my environmental values.) I value spending time with my husband, and my parents, and my aging grandparents -- and while I know a second child would bring them great joy, it would also, at least in the short term, lead me to focus more time on the infant and less on the others already in my life.

My husband and I are starting to joke playfully about the possibility of a second, though we are not yet ready to begin actively trying to conceive. If we get to that stage, and if we face any problems conceiving, I will not push that issue. No IVF or any of that for me. We might consider adoption, instead.

I too have a mound of infant stuff still sitting in the basement, though I periodically lend it out to my doctoral students who are expecting babies. Last month I gave away our infant stroller, our umbrella stroller, our cosleeper, our high chair, our infant bathtub, and some other items, and I didn't really feel a twinge about it -- so perhaps I really am emotionally ready to stop at one. And yet this is not a choice that I can just make one day, and then we're done thinking about it -- for at least the next year, I'll be thinking about it at least once a week, if not every day.

Posted by: Sandy at August 3, 2006 07:37 AM

My son just turned 2 and I can't stop thinking about having a second child. I know it sounds crazy - I met a woman who works full time outside the home, as I do, at the grocery store. You know that mad dash after work - leaving with a guilty feeling that you aren't doing enough for work but you are going to be late to pick up your child who has already put in a 9 hour day at daycare - rushing to get to the store, figuring you'll decide on something for dinner while you are there. Anyway this woman was juggling her two kids - when the older one pinched her HARD for not letting her buy candy and the toddler in the cart wouldn't sit down. She told me 'Don't Do It!'

My husband runs his own law practice so he works a lot and I have obtained an interesting, well paying job with some influence in the tech industry. We waited until our 30s to have kids. So it is already a struggle to find time for everything - especially for myself. Plus we are so tired with a bamino that doesn't require much sleep!

But my childhood best friend just had her second and she's a doctor. My closest friend is pregnant with her second, my boss is trying for her second, my sister-in-law is trying for her second. I am surrounded and I suppose the pressure is on!

I have such intense feelings for my son that I know if he is an only child I will smother him. He is already having trouble sharing at day care, he has gotten in trouble numerous times for biting. He's fine with his cousin or our friend's children.

I feel like a second child would divert some of that focus - he would learn how to share and have a partner to commiserate about his parents with. Plus he would have someone to always hang out with on rainy days - fighting or not!

Plus we lost my husband's father last year and his brother meant so much to him during that process. There was someone to share that loss with completely - I was there for him but I didn't have that history or that shared experience. I know I've learned a lot from my sister and feel that my life has been enriched by that experience.

Also having more than one child gives us overachiveing parents more than one chance to get it right! (Although I think so far I am batting 1000 with this one!)

I think we will try for a second later this year - I am not going to go as far as artificial insemination or IVF - if we can't get pregnant organically then it wasn't meant to happen.

Posted by: Carin at August 3, 2006 03:14 PM

I am torn. As both an only child and an oldest child (two younger half sisters), I see the benefits of both. But my reasons are selfish: I don't want to be a stay-at-home. I love the balance we have achieved as a family. I am terrified of disrupting the Jenga game of our lives. I don't want another baby. But I am melancholy at the loss of my daughter's babyhood, the absence of that sibling relationship for her, the missed opportunity for us as parents. I mourn those things, because I have pretty much decided (though my husband has not). Still, there are piles of baby things that wait, undiscarded, testing my resolve.

Posted by: Kate at August 3, 2006 10:40 PM

I am 38 and have two kids, ages 6 and 4. My second child was an "accident," and in fact when I found out I was expecting I was kind of upset. I had just gotten the art of parenting figured out, or so I thought, and things were humming along very smoothly. I was even happy to be back to my normal pre-pregnancy size. Then I found out #2 was coming along. My ambivalence continued for quite a long time into the pregnancy. I was worried about having "enough" love for two kids...what I would do it if it were a boy (my first was a girl and felt I "got" girls better than boys) my work would adjust (I worked three days a week at a magazine, and it was perfect with one kid, but how would it work with two?)...and even the state of my marriage, which was not great. Ultimately, my second daughter was born just 22 months after our first. I was definitely stressed at the beginning. I remember one awful day early on when I was caring for a not-even two-year-old and a newborn, and i found myself yelling at the newborn for crying. For crying! What kind of a mother was I? The irrationality and even cruelty of my action hit me like a two-ton bomb. My newborn daughter stared back at me with huge blue eyes, not seeing much, but yet seeing everything. I suddenly fell in absolute and crazy love with my new baby. We haven't looked back since. It's been a blast. It's been a ton of work -- my marriage ultimately did fall apart and I got divorced, but I am 100% convinced that had nothing to do with having two kids vs. one. My daughters fight sometimes, but most of the time they're like two peas in a pod. One could not imagine life without the other. They've been around each other for as long as either can remember, literally. The nights when they pitch their sleeping bags on the floors of their bedrooms across the hall from each other, crack the doors open just enough to see each other, and fall asleep trading secrets and giggles are my best nights, the nights I most feel like I have succeeded in bringing each together. Twice as much work? Sometimes. But worth it, every day.

Posted by: Jackie at August 4, 2006 10:58 AM

And I thought 3 was the new 2! I've had plenty of people ask me if I was going for a third. And since my husband is the youngest of eight, having a larger family has certainly come up. In the end, it is always a very personal decision, and having mixed feelings comes with the territory. As the mother of one at this point, you know all the pros and cons of pregnancy, child rearing, and trying to balance it all. Yet, sometimes the choice isn't even yours. I had miscarriages before each of my two, so maybe if those pregnancies had worked out we would have had 3 or more kids, who knows. Anyone who has had medical challenges with a child is perfectly sane in wondering about going for a second one. And there is a lot to be said for having some marriage time and normalcy in your life for awhile. I couldn't imagine what our life would be with one child when we were married a year. And when pregnant with my second I still couldn't imagine how our family would be with a second personality in it. So we had two and yes, when they were very young it was a crazy life that has settled in a bit now that they are in elementary school. Last night, with all of 4 of us strewn across one bed having a tickle fest, I wouldn't change it for the world. But I also don't think I want to roll the genetic dice again for a possible third.

Posted by: stacy at August 4, 2006 11:35 AM

Miscarriages are a whole other (albeit verboten) topic, and one I'd like to blog about soon. I actually had one, too, while I was in the process of getting hired at BusinessWeek. I'm not sure if I would have taken the job here if I was pregnant. (I did plan to bring up my pregnancy if I was offered a position.) In the end, nature made the decision for me.

But since you aren't supposed to make a pregnancy public until the second trimester, I felt very alone and unable to talk about my loss with most people--especially my new colleagues. Luckily, I have a very supportive family, as well as friends.

By the time I got pregnant again (about 10 months later), I had a great support system in place at my new job.

Posted by: Lauren at August 4, 2006 12:59 PM

I think it is just so hard to close the door on having more children. I have 3 kids now (ages 7, 5, and 1), and I am struggling with saying that I am done. It is not very practical for us to have a 4th child, and I've had 5 miscarriages along the way so that is a very real possibility if we try again. But I still can't bear the thought of giving away all of the baby items I've packed up. Baby stuff is just way too cute! And I loved being pregnant and feeling the baby move inside of me. I'd love to have another baby, but do I really want another child? Probably not. Coming from a family of 7 kids, it is hard for me to imagine my daughter growing up without a sister. Luckily she has cousins that live close by. That will have to do.

Posted by: Lisa at August 9, 2006 02:11 PM

I am completely torn myself as well as my husband on the question of having another baby or not. We have a beautfiful 15 month old that is the biggest joy of our lives and the most challenging at the same time. I'm 38 and can't really wait too much longer to make a decision but I would rather enjoy our son more before inviting another life into ours. We know, if left up to us individually that we would not have another. We're very selfish with our time together as couple and as a family, it's the three of us against the world. I had a very bad pregnancy and horrible post pardum and dread the thought of going through it all again. I've started to convince myself it's chic to just have one, more cosmopolitan. If we have another we would be doing it soley for him, so he'll have someone on his team if and when we're not around. Someone to go to his graduations, wedding, birthday parties, have nieces or nephews and an extended family with. Afterall my husband and I both come from families with 3 other siblings,and for good or for bad, we love them and enjoyed great childhoods, should we deny our little one the same? I'm just so torn. I'm afraid of how crazy our life might become and how little time we'll have for one another and I'm afraid of wishing for the days when it was just us three again. I know I'll desperately love a second baby as much as the first but I'm afraid of losing the life we have now. We seem to have finally hit our stride as the baby turned one. Turn our life upside again? I am just so crazy torn up about this.

Posted by: blahdi at August 9, 2006 05:20 PM

I am 22 years old, and have been married for almost 3 weeks. Perhaps I am a bit naive on the subject of children, but I absolutely cannot imagine having less than 3 children. I grew up with 3 siblings, and my husband with 2. We both agree that we want more than what we had. I cannot imagine my life without my two sisters and my brother. We all have such different personalities, but we're so similar. We have so many fond memories together, going sledding in the dead of winter, going on family vacations (driving of course instead of flying), visiting cousins and relatives, staying up late and sharing secrets, etc. I absolutely would never want to deprive my children of any of these experiences. There is something to be said about the closeness of sisters (or brothers for that matter) that last a lifetime. Life is such a precious gift! Children require a lot of work, but all I have to say is I'm sure glad my mother decided to have the third child- me!

Posted by: Rebecca at August 11, 2006 04:19 PM

Well Nature decided for me. At the age of 21 I found out I was expecting twins! One boy and one girl who are now 16 months old. Our problem is do we go for a third? Some people think we're nutty to even consider it, but I just don't feel done. Oddly enough I might have felt different had I only had one child but I will never know. When you've got two though what's one or two more!? Nothing can be harder work than twins (ok maybe triplets or more) so I think I'm prepared. That's the conclusion we're coming too anyway.

Posted by: Anne at August 31, 2006 02:36 PM

Hi Lauren,

I was reading your article and it was just like if I wrote it. I am 35 years old and I have a wonderful 32 month old boy. Every day I think about if we should or not have another child. My husband said he is fine with any decision I make (since I am the one taking care of the child 24\7), I just don't know if emotionally I can handle it, or want to do it all over again... My son had little problems when he was younger (febrile seisure, lots of ear infections, etc...) and also a ton of energy (much more than I did). I miss working and being around other people. We like to travel a lot and my parents and sisters don't live in US (one child would be easier to go everywhere).

I love having my sisters so I always wonder if he will be missing something (I am not sure - I have many friends that are the only child - the "girls" seem to miss much more than the "boys" do about having a brother or sister)

I think we will give a couple of years to think about it, but right now we will just stay with the one he have (meanwhile we keep everything in the garage :)

Good luck and all the best for all of us !

Posted by: Lilly at September 6, 2006 08:45 PM

I am 37 and am 5 days late with my period. My husband and I had just decided to wait until spring to starting working on #2. I've been stressed for that last few weeks regarding the decision whether to have 2 or 1, to wait or not, and so I don't know if the stress is contributing to my late period. Anyhow, can anyone share how they coped with work and their 2nd child? I work part-time, 3 days per week now. My parents watch our 11 month other daughter. I'm trying to figure out if I could still work part time. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks. Donna.

Posted by: Donn at October 16, 2006 11:10 AM

I am 49 year old single Mom and I have a nine year old son. Unfortuantly, I miscarrried twins six weeks before becoming pregnant with my son. It was the boy and girl that I had always wanted.Since I was a high-risk pregnancy with my son and was already 39 then, I knew or was pretty sure that I was done with having children. I applaud women and men that have more than one child-but its not for me. I adore my son and have love being a Mom(every minute of it) but its hard to do everything by yourself without a partner to share in the child's life. My son's dad and I are divorced and he remarried and had another child. I chose to remain single for many reasons. My ex-husband comes around to see our son when its convenient and when his present family doesn't have something planned-which they usually do.I don't care that he remarried but the part I have trouble with is that his youngest child seems to take priority over my son. I know this is probably to keep peace with his present wife. But this is so unfair to our nine year old son. I have had other people suggests to me to get my son involved in sports so that he can spend time with another male role model-but it seems that the coaches also have their own families. I see the sadness in my son when he asks when is he going to see his dad and it breaks my heart-to say the least. I have tried to talk with my ex-husband about this issue and he always blows me off with a comment that the youngest child is to young to understand why dad is away-but our son should understand about this. My son and I are very close but he is very much a man's boy. Has anybody got any suggestions or ideas about this blended family situation?

Posted by: Paulette at October 17, 2006 01:46 AM

I'm 28 and have decided that one is enough. My son is two and my husband actually was the one to make the decision final by having a vasectomy. There are so many things that we as children never got to do or see because of low income and large family size that we just don't want the same for our child. There are plenty of things we want to do with him, too that we just couldn't afford with two children, such as travel and extras, like sports and such. I hope everyday that we made the right choice and that he will not be lonely but I think he will make friends and form close relationships. As for who he will have after my husband and I are gone, well, I intend to see him married off to a good woman before I go!

Posted by: Sandy at October 17, 2006 02:28 AM


I am 45 and have a 22 year old son. He is an only child and I have struggled with the decision to have one child for all of those 22 years. When he was 3 years old, his father and I toyed with the idea of having another one, but for a couple of reasons (I work full time and have since he was born, and we have a VERY small home) we didn't do it. I started taking anti-seizure meds in in the early 90's and that kind of made the decision for us due to side effects. I talk to him about the fact that he doesn't have a sibling and he assures me that he is perfectly content. Of course, he knows no different so doesn't have anything to compare it to, and has always had all of our attention which he enjoys. He is my life and I would give mine for his in a heartbeat. I on the other hand, have two brothers and our parents are deceased. When this happens, sometimes the greed of dividing up an estate can cause a family to split which it did in my case. People say and do things that can't be taken back. I have one brother which I no longer associate with and never will again. So, I tell my husband that our son is lucky in that respect, that when something happens to us, our son won't have to worry about ending up hating his sibling. Everything we have, even though it isn't alot, will go to him. My only hope is that he marries a girl that has siblings and they open their hearts to him.

Posted by: Kelly at December 8, 2006 07:46 PM

I have just started fitting in my old clothes, just started getting some more time to myself and i have discivered that I am pregnant.

Selfishly I know I dont want another kid. But its such a hard decisoin to make.

You cant have a kid just because you are pregnant

Agreed that was foolish, stupid, etc...but now how can u really choose without being gulity for rest of your life

Posted by: Lost at December 24, 2006 09:24 PM


Im 31 years old, married with a two year old girl.

I had a miscarriage three years ago, now i'm truly worried and emotional drained about having another one, i get asked so many times through the week to have another one soon before it's to late, i had such a hard labour, it took more than a year to recover and still have problems due to the birth. i ask myself everyday should i go through this again due to the fact that i have had alot of digestive issues i have dealt with over the years, i know i would have to deal with more pain after another kid, would i have the energy to take care of two kids, people tell me i'm being selfish, but alot of people don't know all the health problems i have. i truly don't want the next child to suffer i truly love being a mom, i know deep down i'm so blessed and think to myself i'm truly content with a family of three

i need to enjoy the time with my daughter and try not to listen to others as we are all different, the world i think would be so boring if we all wanted the same things.

Posted by: missy at January 13, 2007 01:25 AM

I am 29 years old and have a 2 year old son. I'm still in the process of deciding whether or not to have another child but I'm starting to think that I'll just stick with one.I am a journalist so my son and I travel all over the world,we are very close and I could not imagine doing all of this with 2 kids: finacially or emotionally. At the end of the day it is all about what fits your lifestyle.

Posted by: Aimee at January 18, 2007 05:35 PM

I feel your pain. I am 35 and the mother of a 3 year old daughter. She will be 4 in March. I am debating on having another one. The closest in age they will be is over 4 and 1/2 years. I have 2 other siblings and I had a great childhood, but even though we experienced the same things growing up, our perceptions are different. So, I don't know if my sisters had as good a childhood as I. My husband, on the other hand, was an only child until he was 14. And even then his dad and stepmother did not include him in their family. He spent his junior high and high school years living with his grandparents. Even now, over 20 years later, his relationship with his dad is strained. He is just fine having only one child. What I find though is that, emotionally, boys and girls are different (duh). What I mean is that boys may not have the emotional ties that come with siblings. Please correct me if I'm wrong. My OB/Gyn is an only child and she warns about having only one child. She was 40 something when she had number 2. But, again she is a female and being an only child was harder on her. More so in her adult years. When her parents died, she had nobody to talk to. Friends and cousins are great, but not when it comes to reminiscing about the parents. Would she feel different if she were a boy? Very possibly, because boys are different emotionally. And they react differently to painful and stressful situations. If I had a son, I might not be so adament about having another child. Good luck on this decision. Hopefully, it will be one both you and your husband can make together.

Posted by: Sheila at January 28, 2007 11:42 AM

I am 33 and have an almost 2 year old. I had an absolutely horrible, traumatic pregnancy, but was very lucky that we ended up with a wonderful, healthy little boy. I never contemplated having one child until my pregnancy difficulties, but I simply do not know if I can go through that experience again. Add to that my husband I both have demanding careers that we love, and we seem to have a good thing going now. So sometimes I think we could be happy just the three of us. But I don't know . . . I am afraid we will smother our son without another child (my husband shows signs of that already), and I hate the idea of him not having a sibling, even though having a sibling can be challenging, too (I had a special needs sibling, which is an entirely different relationship). It's all kind of up to me now. My husband has no interest in adoption, which I would like to consider, and says he could be fine with one. If I said I was willing to try and endure another pregnancy, he would be on board. But I just don't know. We are so blessed with what we have, but I feel like it will be a lonely existence for my son, and maybe us, without another child. I don't know how or when I will be able to make this decision--I think about it every day. I just keep hoping one day I will know what is right for us. Life rarely turns out as we planned. . .

Posted by: Melissa at March 4, 2007 02:15 PM

I am a 23 year old mother of two, who works full time, and goes to school full time and i still have pleanty time in a day to spend with my children. I have recently found out that we are expecting number 3 and our baby isn't even 5 months old yet. I couldn't be more excited! We have taken our children on vacations and in a couple of years we want to go to disney land. I am very passionate about haveing several kids, because I was an only child and I hated it more than anything. My parents worked full time and that didn't bother me at all, what bothered me what the fact that on family vacations there was no one my age and I was always bored, at home there was no one to play with except me, and i vowed that i would never have just one. I am hopeing to be a stay at home mom once i finish school, I am going to school to be a teacher and I work at a day care right now. SO have only one child for me was not an option.

Posted by: Ashley English at March 31, 2007 12:25 PM

I had a horribly traumatic pregnancy, that came with bleeding, placental problems, too much flid, detachment of the placenta, bed rest, single umbilical artery, pre-mature labor and ever other horrible thing you can think of I had it, so I was mortified to find out that I was expecting again. I miscarried early on, but I had two very normal pregnancies after my horrile one so don't always think about the worst.

Posted by: Ashley English at March 31, 2007 12:30 PM

To All Moms of One Child;

I was only blessed with one child. We tried so long to have another that we even gave up adopting because the age difference would create 2 only children! Here is what I found worked well for us. Friends. Encourage friendships. Our daughter was in every group activity I could find if she enjoyed it! How about cousins around the same age? Going on vacation - yup, make certain you bring a friend or a relative the same age..otherwise it truely is not fair to make them follow you around. We had a cousin spend a summer w/us around the same age and my daughter was begging us to send her home by the 2nd month! Most importantly be commited to your decision and be certain to remind them of all the wonderful things they have (including your love and time) that they would have to share with a sibling. Oh by the way, I have two brothers myself and all we did as children was adults we rarely see each other. Really and truely it could be a lot worse in your mind than it actually is. Just remember to be fair and make sure that he/she has a friend or you must be willing to act the part (hey, it can be fun).

Posted by: Wendy at April 7, 2007 03:48 PM

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