"I might ‘only’ have one but she was hard to get": Why these families chose to have one child.

For six years I was mum to an ‘only child’ and I felt very defensive of my family’s right to privacy around why this was. In truth there were a number of reasons why we didn’t simply ‘pop out’ two children in three years. The main one was because we tried and failed for years to conceive successfully; each miscarriage hurting and challenging us, making it harder to keep trying.

As we got older and my first child Toby’s baby stage stretched further into the past, I also began to see that while I still wanted a sibling for him, having one child had many benefits. We had one last try for an elusive second child and low and behold, the pregnancy stuck and we now have two-year-old Leo.

While I wouldn’t change our family for the world, I still relate to parents with one child who feel as if their small family needs constant justification and explanation.

I spoke to two mums-of-one about their journeys to parenthood and some of the reasons why having a smaller family can be a wonderful thing:

Peta, Justin and Rosie

Peta and Justin were about to start IVF when they found out they were pregnant with Rosie.

“We had just come back from a holiday in Bali when I began feeling quite sick. I put it down to Bali belly but was overjoyed to discover I was pregnant at 41-years-old.”

The pregnancy and birth were uncomplicated and while the early weeks and months of new motherhood were tough, Peta was ready to try for baby number two quite soon after Rosie was born.

“As we are older parents and Rosie’s cousins are all much older, I wanted to go back for one or two more so that she would not have to go through life’s challenges on her own. Justin was much less convinced until she was about four-years-old and by then it was too late.

“It took me a while to come to terms with this, but now that Rosie is in year one at school I look at other mums around me and think that I got out of the intense cleaning, feeding and washing stage early – which is good as I am way too old for all that!”

single child family
Justin, Rosie and Peta. Image: Supplied.

While Peta worries about Rosie not having any close relatives of her own age, she feels very lucky to have a family at all.

“Having any children is a gift and I enjoy spending time with our daughter – she’s the funniest person I know!

“With just one child we can travel more frequently and go out for dinner and spend time listening and chatting to Rosie, without worrying about breaking up sibling fights! We can afford to do these things in the first place because life is cheaper with one.

“Other ‘plusses’ include much less running around to after-school activities, I have more time to myself and more time to enjoy just how lovely a little person she is.”

Rebecca, Matt and Lucy

Rebecca hadn’t considered having a smaller family until years of fertility issues and a traumatic birthing experience made even her obstetrician question her expectations.

“Straight after the birth I was placed in intensive care and Lucy spent 11 days in a special care nursery. Matt was very reluctant to go through that again.

"My doctor who said it was technically possible to try for a second baby, also delicately pointed out how lucky I had been to survive and have Lucy.

"A gradual feeling of acceptance sunk in to the point we felt very grateful, considering many couples don’t get to experience having one child.”

After years working in Human Resources at a senior level, Rebecca has been judged by others who assume she only had one child because her ‘career came first.’

single child family
Matt, Lucy and Rebecca. Image: Supplied.

“One woman came to this conclusion about me in front of a close friend who jumped in to defend me, knowing that the decision had been made because of medical reasons.


“It makes me sad to think that people assume this, especially when three years ago I took on a different role so that I could put family first and be home more for Lucy.

"I might ‘only’ have one but she was hard to get - and I am still a mum! Being a parent is challenging and rewarding no matter the number of people in your family.”

While Rebecca and Matt have enjoyed the benefits of holidaying with Lucy, Rebecca points out some of the simpler pleasures of having one child.

“I love that adventurous travel is more achievable and we have done that regularly but even more, I love that we are very well connected as a family and there is something so comforting about the three of us cuddling up on the sofa to laugh and watch TV together.”

It is not all easy and Rebecca admits she has had to spend many hours as a constant companion, playing dolls or role play games.

“Another friend had the realisation that when you have one child you are sometimes their sibling and you engage in a large amount of play which you don't always want to do! In saying that it has helped me remember what it’s like to be a child and how simple things like bubbles or puzzles can bring joy.

“I would like people with no children or large families to remember that instead of thinking one child is a selfish choice to the detriment of the child, it might be a very joyous outcome for a couple who thought they would never be parents – certainly in our case we feel truly blessed to have Lucy.”

Do you love having one child or would you like more? What would you like people to know about having a small family? Let us know in the comments section.

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