by AMANDA KENDLE
I never set out to have just one child. Some people do, I know that but I was more average and imagined two or possibly three.
When I met my husband in my late twenties, one of the reasons we got together was because we were both keen to start a family. We got married quite quickly, and waited until he got a job before we started trying to have a baby.
I thought it would be reasonably easy. My mother conceived her first child – me – easily at 34 and another at 36. I was only 30, and I was healthy, fit, had never smoked, drank rarely and had a regular menstrual cycle. It was not so simple, however, and we ended up doing torturous rounds of fertility treatment and were eventually told that my ovaries were acting as though they were much older and I was headed for early menopause.
The doctor had just one final plan for a last chance IVF cycle, full of even nastier and longer doses of hormones and other drugs. We had already been counselled on other possibilities – my husband, by this stage, was labelled as “too old” for us to try the adoption process; we had reached the compromise that flying to Spain or Ukraine for donor eggs was likely to be the best chance we had.
And then, in the midst of a crazy regime of life-dominating medication and suddenly chaotic menstrual cycles, we conceived our little boy, naturally. Unless you have been in that position, you have no idea of the relief and joy we felt. And continue to feel, to this day.
This was not quite yet happily ever after. For no apparent reason, I was plagued with every pregnancy difficulty under the sun. I had to quit my job as a teacher four months in advance of the birth, and spent those months just passing time and surviving, constantly in pain and only gaining joy from the kicks I’d feel from that precious baby inside.
Yet then the most gorgeous boy ever to be born came into the world. He is still, at two, the most incredible young man I could ever ask for and there is no question I would go through all of it again to have him. It took my body a year to begin to function normally again, though, with a lot of physiotherapy sessions and exercises, and I still have serious issues and regular bouts of severe pain.
And now that my son is two, everybody wants to know about our plans for a second child. It was early on when my husband decided he probably didn’t want any another one, that it was too hard and we should be happy with what we have.
At first I was devastated, still thinking that of course we would try for a second one, that perhaps the miracle could recur, and we could deal with the side-effects somehow. But over time, I have come round to his way of thinking. I think our son will be an only child.
For a decision that is really nothing to do with anyone else at all, you’d be surprised how many people have a strong opinion, or at least give me odd looks when I try to explain that I’m thinking of stopping at one. There are so many reasons I rattle off, worrying that all of them make me sound selfish.
For a start, I don’t really want to go through several years more of pain and suffering in pregnancy – since I’m told the problems I had in pregnancy will recur. I also don’t want to go through the agony and mental torture of trying to conceive again, of wondering every month if this is the time, of being bitterly disappointed. You can tell me all the tales you like of easy second-time conceptions but since I’m on a fast downward slide to menopause my situation’s probably different to your neighbour’s cousin’s best friend.
Maybe I am just happy enough with our perfect little boy and I don’t feel the need to share my love any further. It has taken half a decade of my life to have him and now I’d like to enjoy him. And, to be honest, do some things for me again, the things I couldn’t do during the lost years of infertility and pregnancy problems. I didn’t have my child at 30 as planned – I was 34, and my husband was 42, and we were getting ready to move on to other things.
So, everybody, you can go on and on until you’re bright blue in the face about all the reasons I should have another child. You can give me all the odd looks you like. Sadly, few of you will actually understand that for some people in some circumstances, maybe one is really enough.
Amanda Kendle is a blogger, social media consultant and a mother of one. You can find her travel blog atnotaballerina.com or stalk her on Twitter @amandakendle
How many children do you have or do you hope to have? Were you an only child or did you have siblings? How do you think that influenced your childhood?