Just about every time I've expressed that we've decided not to have any more children, the statement is met with amused smirks, disbelief and concern. It seems that most people find it difficult to wrap their minds around a young, happy couple who doesn't desire to procreate excessively (not that we don't practice!) When I say "oh, we are very happy with our one little girl," the response is generally "you'll have more, you'll see," or "oh, just wait!"
My childbirth experience with Iris was amazing up until the end. It was perfect, in fact - up until I birthed my uterus. I had an inverted uterus, which means that the entire organ came through my pelvis and was outside of my body. The experience was extremely traumatic for myself and Marius. We both thought I was going to die as I bled out on the table and the doctor struggled to figure out how to literally push my uterus back inside me. Fortunately, it was manually replaced into my body, but without any sort of pain medication. I can not find the words to describe the intensity of the pain. It was worse than labor and pushing Iris out. I am actually amazed at my capability to remain conscious - most likely only due to the hormones released after birthing Iris. This is an urgent reason as to why we do not desire to have any additional children.
Having a single child is also a financially smart decision, especially in the current economy. Having only one child omits huge financial burden and stress. We are very lucky to be a military family - our insurance pays every penny of childbirth costs, which is upwards of $10,000 for a hospital birth. You can read a bit more about the cost of children here.
Many worry about the myth of the Only Child Syndrome - our one child could be raised to be spoiled, self-centered, unsociable. This assumption is untrue, as studies find quite the opposite. Single children are more socially and emotionally precocious, as they are raised to interact with adults on a regular basis. They will only be spoiled if we fail to set the example for respectful behavior, gratefulness and empathy. Single children also generally have a higher level of self-esteem and independence, which is very different from "selfishness - lacking consideration for others".
Some believe that Iris will be lonely growing up, worry about being our sole caregiver when we become impaired with old age, and fear being alone when we die. We will be making a conscious effort to ensure that she is able to have a childhood surrounded by her peers. We will welcome her friends into our home as often as she desires and she will have extracurriculars to learn how to function in a large group. We have no worries that she will be responsible for us in our old age, as our long-term financial plan will deliver freedom from the usual concerns in this area. As for her being alone when we are no longer physically present, we can only trust that she will create her own happiness and find comfort in other "family - a group of people related to one another by blood or marriage."
Closer friends and family seem to have easily forgotten the frighting aspect to our experience of having children. They are confused about why we wouldn't want at least one more baby to "complete the family". Before Iris was even conceived, our family was complete. Marius and I were the most important people in each other's lives. We still are today. Iris made our family, our hearts and our love bigger. However, we know that the most important thing a couple can give their child is a healthy and happy relationship. This means that our love for her is boundless, full and deep - but our marriage does not revolve around her. We are able to give her our fullest attention, encouragement and energy while still having time for ourselves.
Academic studies show that couples with children are just as happy or less happy than their childless counterparts. It seems that the more children, the more stress, rush and disagreement exists. Parents get much less time to themselves, if any at all. Their once "free" lives morph into simply living for their children. They feel obligated to provide for and sacrifice everything for their children's benefit. They feel as though who they "used to be" has been lost. We are different in the fact that we live for ourselves, and no other. We are responsible for Iris and we adore her, but she is not the meaning of our lives. It would be more difficult to retain our own enjoyment of what life has to offer if we were to have more children. I understand how few people may be able to accept this notion in our child-obsessed culture.
We are the type of people who favor logical choices over emotional ones. From our standpoint, having one child is the the most sensible and sound decision. If you disagree, please explain why!
|We are very happy with our one little girl!|
Edited to add extra clarification - We would have made the same decision even if I hadn't had childbirth complications, but it certainly does reinforce our choice!