Thursday, June 13, 2013

- why my child is still an only child -


It's a question we get asked a lot...when are you having your second child? Why is Ellie still an only child? What are you guys waiting for? And to be totally honest, I have a million answers to those questions. And I'm sure everyone out there has an answer to all of my answers (trust me, we've heard them all already).  But the honest answer is that we just aren't ready to have a second child right now. We're just not there yet. And maybe we will be soon...and maybe we won't ever be. And that's okay, too.

Most people we tell that to are appalled that the thought of only having one child has even crossed our minds. We have close friends and family that ask us constantly why we won't just do it. Maybe we're scared, maybe we're selfish, maybe we're just very content with our family of three right now...maybe it's a little of everything. But I certainly know that we aren't going to try for another baby just because everyone is telling us to.

Here's the thing...we always planned on having two kids. Two was our maximum, but it also was always our minimum. We never considered having an only child. Matt has a sister, and I have a sister, and that was just our "normal". Two kids. And then we had Ellie, and she rocked our world...in so many ways. We felt love we never knew we could feel. We felt happiness and joy every time we looked at her. And we also felt a lot of stress. She was not an easy baby. Truth be told, it was probably the roughest 12 months of my life. It was more than just the normal "adjusting to a newborn". It was non stop. She was a very high needs baby, with a lot of digestive problems (which required daily medicine and a lot of strict diet changes) that made every day a force to be reckoned with. It's an interesting feeling...the feeling of loving her so much, while at the same time, crying tears of frustration at our inability to make her feel better, to stop her crying, to make things a little bit "normal" in our house.

We survived, of course, and Ellie is growing up to be quite amazing in every way. But I don't think any of our friends or family that continually ask why we aren't having a second baby understand what that first year was like for us. I honestly think it changed me, and Matt and I as a couple, in ways that I would never imagine. I'm going to be very candid and honest here...while it gave me (and us) strength, it also tore me (and us) apart on so many occasions. And that's a scary feeling. And, I know that our second child might not be as high needs. I know that our second child might not have all those digestive problems. And I know that even if he/she does, we are more prepared to deal with it the second time around. But...there is still that "but"...that always stops us in our tracks.

And while Ellie is an extraordinary child, she still DOES NOT SLEEP THROUGH THE NIGHT. And once again, I don't think those people that badger us about having a second child understand what it is like as a mom to have never gotten a full nights sleep consistently for 3.5 years. I can tell people until I am blue in the face, but unless you live my reality of usually only getting 4-5 hours of broken up sleep most nights for 3.5 years, you will not understand that that alone is a good reason not to throw a newborn into the mix right now. A lot of people we know with young babies nod their head enthusiastically when I describe my sleepless nights, but most of those parents will get relief, or have already gotten relief as their babies get older and start sleeping better and better. Your baby was a rough sleeper for 6 months? 8 months? The entire first year of their lives? Try 3.5 years!! And while I know there are other parents out there that are also dealing with non sleeping 3 year olds (I hope!), none of our other parent friends are really dealing with it, so it's a little rough being alone in this situation. We have had family and friends offer to take Ellie one or two nights so that we can get some rest, and while that is always a very thoughtful offer, I most often decline, because we DO get a few nights of rest here and there when she decides to sleep well, and honestly, I don't really think an extra one or two nights will really be helpful in the grand scheme of things! (and let's just be honest...I'm a mom...and I worry about her...I know I'd just be up most of the night wondering how she is doing and if she's getting a good nights sleep at someone else's house anyways. I know I wouldn't get any rest! lol)

And even after all of that said, we still have people telling us that this is just a short season in our lives, and things will get better, and we will regret not having a second child. And maybe that's true. And maybe we are depriving Ellie right now if we don't give her a playmate. I know some people with two kids who are the best of friends..always playing together...completely inseparable. But I also know some people with two kids that don't play together at all. They're just not interested in each other, and honestly I don't think they ever will be, even though they are close in age. And like I said, we HAVE NOT decided we aren't going to have a second...we've just decided the time is not right right now. Our life as a family of three is fantastic right now, and maybe we are being just a little bit selfish, but we just want to enjoy our life to the fullest for now. Neither of us want to deprive Ellie of having a brother or a sister, but we also aren't ready to dive in and do it quite yet. And you know what, that's okay!

So maybe I haven't fully answered the question as to why Ellie is still an only child...because maybe the answer just isn't good enough for most people. But the honest answer is, it's just not time. Maybe we'll feel differently in a month, maybe it will take a year, maybe the answer will be "it's just not ever going to be time". But, as I've always said, you need to do what feels right for your own family. What works for you. And this just feels right for us...at least for now. Maybe we are a little scared...and I'm sure we are being just a little bit selfish. But we definitely are content with our family of three right now, so we're just going with it for now...until we feel differently. It's as simple as that.

(Image credit Nina S.)



16 comments:

Shannon said...

Personally, I find it rude that people are asking you that. It's entirely your call. I know many only children that are happy as can be. And I have a brother 16 months younger than me, and we never talk.

And here I am having 2 kids 23 months apart.

It's a personal choice. There is no right or wrong answer. It's what is right for your family WHEN it is right for your family!

Leah said...

you guys make such a beautiful family. my two youngest ones are very close in age, and they don't really get along. i don't know if it's because of the gender difference but that's one thing i thought that would be different with them being back to back so to speak. plus it was tough having two little ones with basically the same needs.
and you're right, you have to do what is best for your family and you will know when. whenever that time is, i'm sure everything will fall into place beautifully.

Mrs. Mama said...

I can really relate to this post. We only have one (granted he is only 7 months old)but we have gave thought to only having just this one baby. I had a bad pregnancy, an even worse post pregnancy (ended up having to have surgery 2 months after my c-section). I'm just not sure if we can go through this again. I think maybe I do want a second baby but I am scared about the ramifications. Jack is a very high needs baby and is very difficult. I love him but he takes a whole lot of focus and energy.

Kira said...

People need to leave you guys alone! It's your decision and you clearly have good reasons for not being ready!

courtney - larking. said...

So glad for your honest post! You have to do what works for you and your family - and forget everyone else (I know, easier said than done). And by the way, you would be in such good company in my moms' group - there are SEVERAL who have older toddlers who still don't sleep through. A woman at my church told me, after Lorelei was born and we struggled with her sleep, that her youngest child didn't sleep through the night until HIGH SCHOOL. Here's hoping Ellie doesn't beat that record! ;)

-Danica- said...

I was pretty positive that my daughter would be an only child till she was about 2. She didn't start sleeping through the night till about then, and I don't care what ANYONE says, that messes with you big time. Everyone had their opinions on what we should be doing different, or how you just push through it and have kids close together "because eventually you will be out of this phase," but I realized it came down to one thing: I was Hadley's mom, not anyone else. Therefore those types of big decisions came down to me and my husband, and not anyone else. Your life is yours for a reason, and you are doing a great job at it! Keep it up, even if it is with an only child :)

Sally said...

I love this. My son isn't quite one yet and people are already asking us when #2 is coming along! The thought of taking attention away from Mace to another little baby makes me sort of sick actually. The first couple months for me with Mace were NOT great.....I did not handle the tiny tiny baby stage very well. And we had major sleep problems too, although just a month or so ago, things have gotten a lot better around here. Ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Life and family are waaaayy too important to feel like we have to keep up with the Joneses and do what everyone else is doing.

Allison in NH said...

I am with you 100%. I have a 3 and a half year old and I am so content with her. I love my independence (her independence)and thinking of having another one is not in the cards...right now for us too. I always thought that she would be 5 and have a sibling, that way when she was in school full time, I'd have time with my second. I think that I don't want to go back to sleepless nights, feedings, etc.
Thanks for writing this post...so many probably relate.
Allison in NH

Christine said...

I understand exactly where you are coming from and truth be told (even as hard as it is sometimes), its ALL about you and your family. others are welcome to grow their family as much and as quickly as they please, but they shouldn't feel they have a say in YOUR family. you are a wonderful mama and Ellie is a lucky lucky girl!

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Andrea {kerubo mama} said...

I LOVED everything you said!! Goodness, sometimes people just need to keep their opinions to themselves, you know? It is 100% your choice, and you are doing such a fantastic job raising an amazing little girl. You will know when the time is right (if it ever is right) to have another child. It's a huge decision! love you, hon!! xo

Amy said...

Word. people asked me that once brady was born and never stopped. Hell, when I was pregnant with Benny, I wasn't so sure I was ready. Panic attacks about 'omg, please don't let me hate sleep!' entered my mind daily. It's funny but Brady is still that kid. He is still my spirited kid and will always be and in a way, I knew I wanted more kids but I was scared to go there again more than anything and I'm with you, it was a rough year and I didn't want to do it again. People need to let you be, for reals. Hell, I have ppl ask us when we are going to try for a girl and it ticks me off, what if we are ok with two boys or what if we WANT another boy? Oh, people NEVER shut up about anything. Thanks to God, I am SO blessed with Benny in our lives and I can't imagine my live without him (and thank god he loves sleep!!!!) but I was there and I totally get it :) <3

Amy said...

let HIM hate sleep. Gah, amy!

Sarah said...

Always have loved your honesty. I posted something similar a while back even though Drew was only 18 months.

Courtney B said...

Ever since you posted about this on instagram I've been dying to come read this! Just goes to show how crazy the life of a mom is... It's taken me 2 months to find the time to get on the computer and read this!
Don't feel bad about not being ready for a second child, or if ever! You and Matt, and ONLY you and Matt know what is right and what is best for YOUR family! One of my closest friends had her baby a week and a half after Mia was born, on New Years Day, and they have already started trying for their second. (I die a little inside just writing that!) Of course she is nervous about getting pregnant again but she loves the idea of having her kids so close together. She asked me if we were going to wait a long time and my reply? OOOOOOOOOOOOOOH YEAH! A freakin' long time! The idea of getting pregnant right now just freaks me out, makes me sick, makes me want to ball up in the fetal position and cry all. day. long. Clearly, getting pregnant is NOT the right choice for us right now. And I don't think I'll like the idea for a good 2 years or more. Like you said, it could change in a night, a month or a year! But I have no doubt that you and Matt will know when or if it's the right decision! I refuse to let people make me feel "bad" about it, and you shouldn't either! You're doing nothing wrong!
Love you, mama! And someday we really need to play a day to meet!! Ha!

salmons leggings said...

I understand how you feel. I experience the same with you, my child does not sleep at night eventhough she was very sleepy. She only sleeps after 1am sometimes she didn't sleep the whole night and slept only in the morning to afternoon. It happened from she was born until now, three years already.

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