Motherhood

On Having an Only Child

Having an Only Child

How many children do you hope to have? For some families, one is the magic number. So! We asked nine parents about having only children — the pros, cons and how they decided — and here are their thoughtful, funny answers…

Prioritizing Space

Shirim (Eli, 15):

Am I allowed to say we like our two-bedroom apartment and did not want to be cramped? In truth I always grew up wanting two things: to live in an apartment, not a free-standing house, and to have only one child. I have never, ever regretted either.

I have been lucky not to have had pressure from friends or family to have more kids. Economically, it also did not make sense to me. My husband would have liked another, but was a good egg about it. Having cousins live so close has been really helpful for Eli in terms of having sibling-like relationships.

Trusting Your Gut

Erin (Reed, 3):

I guess the main thing is: We feel like our family is whole with our son. People often say the second or third or fourth child was the final piece of the puzzle. I’ve always felt as if we have all of our pieces. 

Chris (2-year-old son):

My husband and I became fathers to our amazing son through domestic open adoption. Is it weird that the phrase only child now bothers me? When people say it, they lean into the only. I am a gay man in my early 40s. Even one child is so much more than I ever expected to have a few years ago, and more than my teenage self would have said I had the right to ask the universe for. Then our son’s birth mom chose us to be dads, and everything changed for our family.

Stacey (Dash, 7):

I was never one of those women who always knew I wanted a baby. My son wasn’t really planned, but we weren’t working hard to *not* get pregnant, either. After having Dash, we’d have brief conversations about more children, but they were mostly around my not wanting to push my luck after having such an awesome kid.

I don’t know about the rest of the world, but here in Brooklyn people love to comment on everything. It’s like constantly being booked on a talk show. My least favorite is when someone says something to Dash like, “Don’t you want a little brother or sister?” Not up to you, person, and not up to my seven-year-old, either! I guess the headline here is there is no right answer, so trusting your instinct is enough.

Raising a Child With Special Needs

Kate (Ocean, 7):

When Ocean was born, we were so in love with him, but it was hard. He was the kind of baby who needed to be held upright and bounced all the time. He didn’t sleep much. Nursing was hard. He dropped off his weight curve around six months. I had concerns about his development. He was so adorable and joyful, but there were red flags. 

When Ocean was one, I remember sitting John down one night, shaking. I was terrified of having sex because I couldn’t go through it all again: pregnancy, but especially that first year. I was worried that John would be disappointed, but he got it.

Our pediatrician suggested physical and occupational therapy, and I began to scramble down the rabbit hole of special education. As Ocean evolved into the extraordinary and challenging person he is, I couldn’t see room in our lives for more. I felt completely fulfilled and completely overwhelmed at the same time. I’ve become his advocate. Our family feels just right.

People did ask a lot at first. I’ve always been ready with one-liners. First it was: “Well, this one was a miracle, so…” Then: “Having Ocean is kind of like having two kids.” Now it’s just: “Yup, one and done!” with a big smile showing off my wrinkles.

Reagan (Piper, 10):

I grew up in a big Mormon family, so I was surprised myself when stopping after one felt so right. It made more sense the more I thought about it, and letting go of that expectation gave me a lot of sweet relief.

My child also has serious physical disabilities that prevent her from being able to live at home with me, so I do sometimes mourn the loss of having a more typical family setup. For a long time, I thought having more kids would help heal some of the heartbreak of what she and I have gone through and what we’ve missed out on, but it feels too scary and uncertain to do.

The pro is that I get to have a very special relationship with Piper, and devote as much time as possible to her. Anything left over can go to my relationship with my fiancé, my career and any projects I feel passionate about.

The decision was also tricky at first because of my Mormon family. When I was little, having children was my main goal in life. There are tons of Mormon kids’ songs about motherhood, and I remember singing this one at four years old: “Of all the jobs, for me I’ll choose no other. I’ll raise a family. Four little, five little, six little babies of my own.” Many of the lessons I was learning at my church heavily emphasized developing motherhood skills — sewing, cooking, organizing, cleaning, crafting, even decorating. It was a challenge to break out of those expectations, versus what I really wanted.

Striving for Balance

Janna (Harley, 3):

My husband and I both come from two-child households, and before becoming parents we talked about having two. And then there was that huge recalibration of life that occurs after you have a child. It took us years to get into the groove where we each got the family time, alone time and social time that we needed to thrive. For us, this balance is what makes us good parents.

With one child, we can be spontaneous. When we take turns being on duty, the other gets to be totally off duty. We’re able to be present for Harley when we’re together — he has all of us. We live in a family-filled neighborhood, so he has playdates constantly. He is very independent, and he’s comfortable with a group of all adults or kids. We also can travel more easily with one child. We went to Barcelona for a week and ate and drank our way through the city, just the three of us. We had a blast.

I do often wonder if I’ll regret not having another child, and there’s no way to know. I’ve sought counsel from older friends who have only one child, and their continued happiness with it makes me feel confident in our decision.

Confronting Infertility

Melissa (Sammy, 7):

It took seven years — and five miscarriages — to have our child. When our healthy baby boy was born, we felt like we’d hit the jackpot. Going through the stress of trying to have another seemed absurd to us. My husband and I felt like our dreams had finally come true. I will say that our son LOVES being an only child and getting all the attention, and actually begs us not to have any more. (I’m 47, so I tell him not to worry!)

Sandy (Margot, 4):

Raising an only child was never my plan. My daughter was born in early 2013, and I conceived her sibling a year and a half later. But as I neared the end of my first trimester, I learned something: my baby’s heart had stopped beating at nine weeks gestation. That little love of mine had let go. I was pregnant one day, and then, without any prior warning, suddenly the next I was lying in an operating room while my uterus was hollowed out by a team of masked professionals. Six months later, I was diagnosed with secondary infertility.

I’ll never forget the moment my next-door neighbor commented on the size of our house, telling me we needed to have more kids to fill up the bedrooms — nor the time when a woman next to me on a plane assured me that even though I’d lost a baby, another one would come soon enough. “No, unfortunately, I’ve been told that won’t happen,” I replied.

As for pros, my daughter gets every ounce of my attention, and I get to bury her in a thousand kisses every single day. My daughter is my heart on two feet, and there’s not a con in the world about getting to raise that sweet person!

I’ve learned over these past three years that grief is anything but linear. I can go weeks with my head held high, and then, out of nowhere, a pregnant woman’s swollen belly or the sight of two car seats in the back of a car knock me right over. 

But never until now have I typed this or said it aloud: I’m just now finally feeling the light of acceptance warming my face. It’s new, it’s unfamiliar, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Do you have an only child? Were you an only child? I’d love to hear your thoughts… xoxo

P.S. How did you know you were ready to have a baby?

(Photo by Harold Feinstein, Coney Island, 1957. Via Land of Women.)

  1. Sarah says...

    I know this article is from months ago, but as a 41 year old who has been trying for a sibling for my now 4 year old son for a while, it was really helpful. Some of the comments on here were very similar to our situation-we decided late to try for a kid and it worked out beautifully but were a little indecisive about having a second. My husband is an only child and I have a brother I am not real close with, but we thought maybe a second child would be great. Two miscarriages and a year later and older I feel like we missed the window for a second and we are both on the fence about whether that is good or bad and whether we want to shut down trying and be happy with our family of three or keep trying and fighting nature. I love the advantages of having one child, but then I see a friend with a new baby girl or yet another pregnancy announcement and I’m undone. It’s so hard to have closure or know what to do. We could keep trying but there’s no guarantee I won’t miscarry, or that it will be the daughter I would love to have, or that siblings will get along, or that the baby would be healthy and not an emotional/financial stress in our nicely balanced lives. If anyone knows the answer, I’m all ears. For now, thanks for posting this article for those of us in this stage of deciding what our family will look like.

    • Meg says...

      One is perfect! Be happy for what you have and don’t worry about what you don’t have is my motto and what I say if anyone ever mentions I only have one kid. You never know what will happen in life. Having more than one child guarantees nothing. I have a friend who is in a family of 4 siblings, both her parents were only children. Not one of the 4 had children. No grandkids – probably not what her parents thought would happen in their family when they had 4 kids! You cannot know the future. Enjoy the life you have today.

    • Jess says...

      I wish I had the answer too, but just wanted to write to say I am in a boat that looks a little like yours. I am a month from 41 and the mom of a 15 month old whose arrival changed every fiber of my being (I was kind of ambivalent about having kids even when morbidly pregnant). I want a second desperately but have some evidence my fertility is not what it was two years ago. We haven’t miscarried but the lack of luck each month fills me with close-the-office-door sadness. I too see parents of single kids living a lovely, more adventurous and well resourced life -the perks I see are international travels, more financial ease and the ability to focus so completely on your child. I recognize those great opportunities but my heart just longs for the chaos of two kids. Even recognizing how much it will alter my life, my already scarce moments of free time or calm. I jus wanted to wish you well on your journey to a decision or resolution and to say that I see you and hear you and think I understand the feelings in your heart ❤️

    • Rachael says...

      I could have almost written this! I’m 37 and we had very mixed feelings as to whether we wanted to try for a second after I daughter was born. We decided to go for it and I miscarried twice in 8 months. We haven’t tried since then and I haven’t been able to bring myself to try yet. I have the EXACT same fears that you have.. what if the child is special needs, what if they didn’t get along, what if it added way too much stress to our very happy lives that we just wish we would have stayed a family of 3?? SOO many what if’s on either end.. what if we regret it, what if she resents us for being an only child, what if we’re missing out on another tiny person we’re supposed to meet? It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever struggled with. I actually met with my doctor last week to talk about my all consuming thoughts and it was the most amazing ‘therapy session’ ever. He told me that we are giving our child one of the greatest gifts ever by being an only child.. she gets all of our love, all of our resources, and siblings are a bit of a crap shoot! She’ll get love from sooo many other people that she truly won’t be missing out. He told me to stop feeling guilty and to embrace our life, to celebrate it, and rejoice in the beauty of having an only. We tried, lost 2 babies, it didn’t work out, and guess what…. we’re still 100% fulfilled and happy and that’s what I’m holding on to. Life is full of so many what if’s that we can’t ever know if we’re making the ‘right’ decision.. but I think it’s important to make the decision that feels ‘right’ at the time and not look back with regrets. Life is too short for that. SO for now, we are choosing to celebrate what we have and not what we don’t have.. which is the most perfect little girl that loves us with every ounce of our being that we get to love with our whole hearts! Hugs to you.. it’s so, so hard, but try to embrace it and celebrate the positives instead of focusing on the negative. Easier said than done!! But I’m getting there! xo

    • beth says...

      I’m 42 with a 5 year old son, and have desperately wanted a new baby for the last 2 years. To the point where baby showers, baby pictures on social media, anything about pregnancy and babies stabs my heart and guts me in the pit of my stomach. Funny enough, I was also ambivalent about having kids at all, and even during my first pregnancy didn’t really know how I felt about it all. And other people’s kids are still not very interesting to me! Anyhow, I went down the fertility doctor path last year but was stopped by my husband’s reluctance to continue on the journey with me. I now find myself with one sweet, rambunctious boy and all of the memories of him as a baby – memories I hold even more dear now that I know I won’t make more of them with another newborn baby. I went a little crazy for awhile and entertained ideas of doing IVF on my own, adopting, or getting a surrogate. In my head I knew I was crazy but I just had to consider it all before I settled on the life I have and began accepting that it’s not what I envisioned, but it is my life and my story. I am comforted by my son’s numerous only-child friends (it seems much more common nowadays), his cousins who will provide some of the sibling-like relationships I wanted for him, and the shared stories of fellow single kid moms out there. I know that it will be easier for travel, finances, career, etc. but it’s still a hard thing to accept when it wasn’t part of the “plan”…hugs to all of you…

  2. Lauren says...

    Thank you for this thread! Having an only child is not something that was on my radar, but it may be what is in our future. My daughter was born at 28 weeks due to an emergency c-section as a result of my chronic hypertension. She spent about 3 months in the NICU but now is a healthy 16 month old, only with a slight delayed development. We are beyond blessed to have her! My general doctor and OB/GYN have suggested it’s best to not have another child as we are not guaranteed my or the baby’s health wouldn’t suffer more severely. It’s so hard to come to terms with this as it’s not something I had envisioned, but also, I don’t think I would be able to forgive myself if something were to happen to my future baby or what it would do to my husband if something happened to me. Adoption sounds wonderful, but I don’t know the finances are something we would be able to do. Anyhow, thank you for this thread and the reminder that our family of three is wonderful as we are!

  3. Sindija says...

    My son is five and I love him to bits. I always thought that I would have several kids, coming from a family of thee children myself. While my husband was an only child and had found memories of his own childhood. I battled severe depression for the first four years of my son’s life and it almost seemed that the more tired I got the more I longed for another baby while being painfully aware that I am barely enough for this one. This February I had a silent miscarriage and while the pregnancy was not planned, I began envisioning a future with two children. My husband and I said we will give each other time to grieve before deciding if we want to try again. Some days the longing for another baby and the loss of the one I had is so strong that I feel it tugging hard deep inside my chest. But then I look at my son or watch him sleeping for a moment and tell myself that he is here and he is mine and that he is enough.

  4. Meri says...

    This was an interesting article! My husband and I have a 9 year old boy. I had always planned on 2 or 3, but after the 1st we decided to stop. I had about 1 year of post-pardum and I did not want to put my husband or son through that. I know it doesn’t always happen the 2nd time around but I know myself and have trusted my gut. It has been difficult because my son ( surprisingly and unlike his parents) is very social and still asks for a sibling from time to time. However, I think we made the right decision and I have never felt us to be an incomplete family.

  5. Emma says...

    My husband and I have an amazing 11-year-old son. We three are very close. He is so caring, worldly, and sensitive. But he understands what the future brings in terms of his parents getting older getting sick or needing care in the future or that we will be gone at some point. He has been wanting a sibling intensely for the last three years so much so that it’s taken over his life and it’s become a complex that we deal with every day. He feels Hey it’s missing out on experiences with siblings. He feels alone I guess. Although we have a very rich social life friends community family cousins. But nothing sways him. It’s heartbreaking because I’m 51. For three years I have been arguing with my husband to try donor eggs and that’s become another big sore point. I haven’t read any posts where being an only child really affects the child so intensely that it takes over our lives. Can anyone please share if they have experienced this with their child and also tell me how you weathered this storm?

  6. Just passing by says...

    I was an only child until I was 8 when my baby brother came along unexpectedly (I am 30+ year-old female).

    I know there are lots of different circumstances to why many families choose (or sometimes have no choice but) to have an only child, but for myself, I just feel like it’s unfair to the child. Note, I am NOT criticizing anyone’s personal decision, whether they have no children or 5. But I know that as I grow older, I am glad to have my brother around, even though he annoyed me to no end when we were younger! Being 8 years apart, we were never close until he went into college; now he’s one of my best friends.

    I’m glad to know that we will go through major milestones together; particularly taking care of aging parents and going through our parents passing together. It might be a cultural thing (Asian), but I have seen some of my friends without siblings at a parents funeral and it just broke my heart. They seemed so alone in their grief, as no one can likely truly understand other than a sibling who was raised by the same mom and dad.

    I always promised myself that I would not stop with one, even if it meant adopting. It may be financially harder and more difficult, the siblings may not like each other, but I still want them to have each other to lean on when times get too rough.

    Just some food for thought~

    • Rachael says...

      I realize you aren’t trying to offend anyone by making this comment, but if you read through these comments, you’ll find that A LOT of mothers that are commenting on this post have an only child by circumstance (myself included) and to hear comments like this is truly hurtful. You are saying all the things we already fear.. this is not new information. A lot of us are unable to afford to adopt or might not feel called to do that. There are MANY positives to having an only child and that’s what we are all choosing to focus on, instead of hearing the negative aspects of it. it breaks my heart that we are unable to give our daughter a sibling, so please don’t say how awful it is and how you’d never do that. You never know what you would do until you are faced with that choice or lack there of.

    • Rosie says...

      I just want to deeply and sincerely thank you for this extremely timely comment and insight! My husband and I DO have somewhat of a choice whether or not to have another child and seeing as it’s one of the biggest decisions I’ll ever make I’m so grateful for the firsthand experience you presented. Your comment And it’s timing felt like a sign to me to press forward. A few weeks ago I had a friend offer to be my surrogate and I’m absolutely over the moon! But my son is 5 1/2 right now so he’d be about 7 years older than this next one and done would say that’s too much. But it’s not! Thank you for your perspective.

    • Just passing by says...

      Re: Rachel

      Thank you for your reply and insight. As you mentioned, I certainly did NOT mean to offend! And I apologize if my words were hurtful. I was indeed shortsighted not to realize that these are fears that parents of an only child must have already thought through a hundred times.

      As I’m not a parent, it’s certainly hard/impossible to know what it’s like to deal with these situations. As a sibling though, I just thought I would throw out a different perspective.

    • Rachael says...

      Just Passing By- thank you for your thoughtful response.. I definitely understand where you were coming from with your comment, but it is a little hard to hear those things on a positive thread like this when we already fear what you are saying. I have 3 siblings who I am EXTREMELY close with, so I definitely know the importance and value of siblings. They are my very best friends, so it makes us so sad that our daughter won’t have that, but thank God for her 5 cousins that she gets to grow up with. That is a huge source of comfort for us, so we are grateful for that. Still not the same as siblings and we realize that, but God had other plans for us. We’ve decided that can’t dwell on what we can’t give her, we have to focus on what we can give her and all the positives of being an only.

    • Meggie says...

      I have 3 selfish siblings I don’t talk to. I have an only son. I am happy for what I have and don’t worry about what I don’t have. He is a beautiful person and I feel blessed beyond words to have him. You also NEVER EVER KNOW what life will bring. Children can die before their parents. Siblings can die. Having a brother does not ensure you will not be alone when your parents die. There is no point projecting the future. The only thing any of us have is the present.

    • Megs says...

      One is great! Live has no guarnatees that any person will not be alone. Onlies are probably best able to cope with it if it happens.

  7. Rosie says...

    I’m sortve desperate for advice and I feel that all of you are maybe the only ones who could give it. I had a life threatening ectopic pregnancy before doing ivf (age 34) and getting the most beautiful little son (now age 5 1/2) followed by a miscarriage followed by no pregnancy after implanting 2 embryos. That last round destroyed my health and I’m still crawling out of the chronic illness hole it left me in. Trouble is, I have 4 frozen embryos left and hugely conflicting feelings about that! My lil guy is so social and he’d make an incredible older brother. But my health isn’t amazing and I’m going to be 41 in October. I’d love to get a surrogate and then a night nurse but my husband isn’t interested in draining our savings. He’s an entrepreneur and dealing with more than he felt was his share of the infancy stage isn’t something he’s crazy about possibly doing again. He’s delighted with our beautiful fun loving son but I can’t stop feeling that somethings missing and it naws at me daily.. I don’t know if I’d feel this way tho if I didn’t have these embryos hanging over my head. I need closure! A large part of me wants to take a huge leap of faith and implant them in a natural cycle.. but if all goes badly (I think we could maybe handle another perfectly healthy easy baby but what if it wasn’t?!) my marriage might suffer with resentment from him. We have a great marriage so why would I test it?! But but BUT what if we’re missing out on a darling baby girl who’d then give my son someone to do holidays with when we’re long gone? And maybe she’d keep in touch with me since this boy is so independent and not the call his mom type. Also, I wonder if I’m not just trying to fill a hole of sorts… I had to quit a very high stress job due to my health and as my son goes into kindergarten this year even tho I’m not well enough to find a full time job I’m feeling a bit useless just dealing with lingering health issues. But one doesn’t have a baby due to boredom or feeling useless, does one?! I would love to just fully embrace our little 3 person family but somehow I’m caught in this distressing limbo. Any thoughts are so appreciated :)

    • Kat says...

      Hi friend – I’m so sorry to hear about your health and hope you are feeling ok. . I don’t believe in having a 2nd baby simply to give your child a sibling – because there is no guarantee they will get along – but I think it’s best to picture your life – 5, 10, 15 years from now – do you picture another child? Will having a 2nd baby hurt your health so much that you can’t fully enjoy both babies?

      I’m not sure what the right answer is but I do know that no matter what happens – there is always going to be “what if’s”. Not sure if this is helpful but you are not alone!

    • Just passing by says...

      Thank you for your kind words! I posted a reply but it hasn’t come up, so just writing one more :)

      Basically, I said in my previous reply that of course I cannot appreciate how difficult and challenging it must be to make this sort of decision, not being a parent myself. But as a sibling, I truly appreciate that my parents had my brother, even if it obviously took up more of their resources and energy. I thought I’d throw out a different perspective from the child’s point of view.

      And, no, I do not think that 7 years apart is too much (obviously!). In some ways, it was better because I was able to get plenty of attention as a young child and my parents weren’t as overwhelmed when my brother came along because I was already in school and could do many things for myself. Although we fought a lot when we were younger, we can’t be closer now as adults.

      I wish you all the luck and I am so happy that you were able to find a surrogate! No matter what, I know you will have a lovely family, whether it remains 3 or grows :)

  8. Holly says...

    Like many others, I miscarried four little heartbeats before my little miracle arrived. My life was whole at that moment. I knew I needed nothing else to be complete. He’s in private school and sports. Has manners and shares! (Gasp right) He’s spoiled rotten with love and toys and 1 is an easy number to truly enjoy. I’m grateful beyond belief for my little man. He was all we ever needed.

  9. Margot says...

    Since having my perfect beautiful little baby girl 3 weeks ago.. I have been through an emotional rollercoaster. I had the baby blues from day 4 to day 12, what a frightening experience.

    Luckily the sobbing has stopped and I feel like I am coping more.. however one thing that is plaguing me is that I find HUGE relief in the thought that she may be an only child.

    I don’t think I can go through this again..
    The newborn phase is so hard, and I truly feel eith another child I would be spread so thin I will not be the best mother and wife I could be with just one.

    This has left me feeling very sad too.. as I imagined a family of 4…and imagined giving my husband a son.

    But this is just so hard.

    • Mother of One says...

      Hi Margot, please know you are not alone in feeling this way.

      And it is still early days. You might change your mind. You might not. Even if you decide to only have one, you might still experience a grief of some sort.

      Be kind to yourself, Mumma. Motherhood is a journey like no other.

  10. Mel says...

    I just went for dinner with a close friend the other day and at the end of the dinner she asked me about what our plan is for trying for the next. She has done this twice, both times trying to convince me to have another child. She knows we have fertility issues and that it’s not completely by choice to stop. I’m not sure why people feel the need (even close friends) to make you feel less because your family isn’t the social norm. Is it really anyone’s business to tell you to have more?

  11. Valerie says...

    I have a 7 month old son and my husband and I (thanks to this post, actually) discussed how we feel about having one child. We were shocked to realize that neither of us had ever even considered stopping at one… and that it feels so right. A co-worker had told me she only felt complete after baby number three and I had wondered if there was something wrong with me that I already of that sense of wholeness.

    I didn’t enjoy being pregnant, my labor was incredibly scary due to some sudden issues, and I suffered from terrible post partum depression. My son was colicky for the first three months of life. I had a surgery on my one breast four weeks in to nursing- my supply never fully recovered and it’s been a daily struggle since while being a full time working and pumping mom. To realize that it’s in my power to never have to go through that again… it’s a heady thing. My husband focuses on how we are more economically suited for one child, how our relationship can be stronger, how we can all travel together more easily, and how our son can have all of the best of us. I agree with all of these things, but I feel so much more empowered to know that I don’t have to lay my mental health on the line again if I don’t want to. We may yet change our minds, but I don’t think it’s likely.
    I never post comments (I don’t even have social media accounts) but this article and the following comments have made an oddly profound impact on my life. Thank you for posting it.

  12. E says...

    I’ve heard other mums say after having their baby they knew they weren’t done and continued to have more until they felt done. When my daughter was born she brought us so much joy I already felt complete when she came along. I never really had that feeling of not being done I hear of, plus my partner & I both say her personality is so big she complets us. Economically too my partner and I think one fits perfectly into our lifestyle.

  13. Wow, as an only child whose mom miscarried 3 times after I was born, that last one brought me to tears. People have so many misconceptions about only children. We’re looked at as spoiled attention-grabbers. The majority of the time when people find out I don’t have siblings their first question is either, “Was it boring being the only one?” or “Wow, were you like really spoiled?” No and no. And why is my upbringing anyone’s business? I was able to have so many opportunities as a kid that I probably wouldn’t have had if I did have siblings, and I don’t take those things for granted. People need to be more sensitive about the possibility that when you start asking someone why they don’t have siblings, many times there’s a lingering story of infertility that isn’t just something you want to share at a cocktail party or a first date. And even so, I had a wonderfully close relationship with my mom growing up that I wouldn’t trade for anything, and I don’t think she would either.

  14. Loved this post. I am an only who has an only. :) When our almost 17-year-old son, Dylan, was about two years old, we had the conversation about having more. My husband’s thoughts (he has one sibling, younger sister) about having another child were very sincere and resonated with me as well. He said “I just want to try and do a really good job with this one. I don’t want to have another child just for the sake of not having an “only” and then half ass our job with both.” I agreed and still do.

    • D says...

      Your husband’s sentiment resonates so much with me! That puts exactly into words exactly what I’ve been feeling but couldn’t articulate. Thank you!

    • Margot says...

      Yes.. I feel the same way.
      Having another child for the sake of having another.. because that’s what you are supposed to do isn’t enough for me.

      I need to be the best I can be. The best wife and mother.. and I don’t think I can do that with a second child.

  15. Emily says...

    As an only child, I had a wonderful upbringing and still have a close relationship with my parents; I now have a fantastic two-year-old daughter. My husband is leaning toward staying with one because we can provide her more resources and put more effort toward keeping our relationship strong. I have been surprised that I find so much of motherhood magical and think I might want another. However, the environmental impact of another child on the planet would be huge, so I’m thinking about looking into adoption. It is a question I think about every day…

  16. B says...

    Gosh, I keep coming back to this post. All of the perspectives speak to my heart! I always imagined I would have two children, maybe more, with my husband. And we had one little boy, for whom I am so very grateful. But, almost seven years later, that second child never arrived. Lots of factors…secondary infertility, the special needs of my son, personal health issues that cropped up for me, and some marital struggles in the midst of all this. In many ways I feel at peace with our family of three. I don’t think adding another child to our family would be the right call at this point, for a large number of reasons. And yet, I still sometimes grieve for what might have been. Recently my sister-in-law told that her favorite name for a girl is my grandmother’s – my namesake’s – name. (Me too! I had really hoped to use it!) It is funny how these little moments pop up and surprise you, like someone unexpectedly pinching your arm. Ouch! I feel like I will never quite be at ease with the decision, but need to find a way to live in that “in-between” space.

    We are all doing the best we can. Hugs to all who commented here!

    • Laura says...

      You put this so beautifully. Thank you for commenting. Also living in the in-between space over here.

  17. Lana says...

    I grew up as an only child and I loved it. I never wanted any siblings and I’m somewhat proud I was so spoiled with my parents’ attention.

    I had my daughter and I loved our connection. I really enjoyed our bond and I knew what to look forward to as my mom and I are so close.
    4 years later little brother joins the scene. Everyone is puzzled- siblinghood is a mystery to all of the parties in the equation.
    But fast forward 3 years later I see him bringing her a glass of water and her asking for extra candy “for my little brother..yeah that cute one over there” and I see what I might have missed.
    But also didn’t. I asked my mom about siblings and she said that after the collapse of the USSR and the image of 5 yr old me standing in bread line while she stepped out to get in line for milk – she made her decision to focus on me. And provide me with the best future possible. And I am very grateful for her decision. It now allows me to provide opportunities to 2 little humans.

    So I think any number of kids is good as long as it makes you happy about your life (and 0 is a number too)

    • Jay says...

      I just really appreciate the last sentence. 0 is a number too. At this point in my life I thought I’d be married with kids, or at the very least married. With neither on horizon I am starting to re-think goals and future oriented thoughts. Thank you for pointing out, 0 is an option, even if it’s not someone’s first choice.

  18. Heather says...

    About a year into our relationship, my boyfriend casually mentioned to me that if I wanted to have kids that I should really give it some thought. He came into our relationship with a son and was semi open to having more if it was something that I really wanted. I took a good three months to really process it and talk to my mother and my sister about it. In the end (and a lot of anxiety later), I made the decision that I didn’t want to have any children of my own. Once I had made the decision, I was so relieved! Just letting go of that plaguing question mark made me look at my life in a different way. I feel so incredibly fulfilled now. I’ve been able to embrace my step-son as my own and he will be my only child. Even though he’s not my blood, I can already see traits that he’s developing because I’m in his life. Plus, my boyfriend and I love to travel and he’s so easy to bring along. Planes are built for families of 3!

  19. Sadie says...

    My husband and I have a 9-month old son, and I’ve been thinking about this issue, OBSESSIVELY lately. My very wise husband tells me that we will be very happy either way. We have an amazing kid. I’m 41, though, so feeling a bit of a time crunch, and I also really don’t do well living with loose ends.
    In the past, with some difficult decisions, I’ve tried that strategy of picking a decision and telling someone about it (to make it more real), and then living with that decision for a while to see how it feels — in an effort to get in touch with your gut feeling about something. Though, admittedly, it’s never actually helped me with decision-making in the past, I still maintain that there will be a situation in which this strategy will work, and I think the second kid issue might be it. My thought is that if my husband and I pick the choice that we will not have another munchkin, and tell someone that (God, not our parents. .. but not a stranger either), and then live with that for a while until a time that we’ve picked to re-evaluate, maybe that will give me peace. And, if it doesn’t give me peace, maybe I’ll know that it’s the wrong decision. Maybe.

    • Rachael says...

      Sadie- I can relate to this comment on so many levels! Our daughter is 20 months now but I OBSESSED over this question for the whole first year. She was a tough newborn so I just Had a hard time imagining doing that again, but with a toddler in tow! Still gives me major anxiety, but we decided to start trying when she turned 14 months and I actually got pregnant immediately, but sadly miscarried around 5/6 weeks. We’ve been trying again for a while but I’m 37 so we know it gets harder the older we get. So we talk often about just having her and on one hand we are at total peace and happiness with that, but there is another part of us that has a hard time imagining a life without siblings for her since we are both incredibly close with ours. Although- we might not have a choice in the matter, which I think will help. One way or the other- it’ll be meant to be. Good luck with your decision and enjoy that sweet baby boy!!! Xo

    • Tracey says...

      If it helps. I find that with big changes that imagining the whole package helps. Maybe read through the comments and see all the positive ones about having one baby and see if you can get excited for that life. That instead of a compromise, see if you might ENJOY choosing that path. If you can’t, well you have your answer.

    • Jess says...

      Sadie – I keep coming back to this page and seeking peace or maybe some secret answers – and today your comment was a source of comfort because I’m in the same spot of tumult. I’m 40 years old, with a 9 month old who is the light of my life, the best thing I’ve ever done (every cliche come true) . I’ve never been happier – which begs the question – why mess with this? But it also makes me want MORE!MORE!MORE!, and I can’t imagine her not having the love of siblings that I have in my life. I like your experiment idea. Has it been working for you so far?

    • Rachael says...

      Jess– I too keep coming back to read these comments and actually got a notification last night that you commented on this thread. We are struggling BIG time and I keep waiting for that magical moment or comment that gives me the answer. Last time I commented on this post I had miscarried once, and sadly I just miscarried again, which has been so sad and horrific and it just makes us wonder if these are signs that we’re meant to just have one. I don’t know if we can weather another miscarriage and heartbreak, but then I feel sad at the thought of not trying just one more time. Other factors are holding us back, such as a strong fear of having a special needs child… anyone else out there have a strong fear like that??? Our nephew has autism and we watch what their entire family goes through– the therapies, the sleepless nights, the meltdowns, the financial strain– and it scares the crap out of us. He is SUCH a blessing and I can’t imagine any of our lives without him, but I don’t know if we’re cut out for that. I read something one time that said “I know I am a great mom to one, but I fear that I’d be just an ‘ok’ mom to 2” and that really resonated with me. Especially if said baby #2 is special needs. And also, with having 2 miscarriages back to back, the decision might not even be ours! Ugh something I struggle with daily, multiple times a day. It doesn’t help that my husband is happy either way.. it’s great that he is leaving the decision up to me, but it would also maybe help with clarity if he had more of an opinion one way or the other. Wishing everyone peace and love who might be struggling with the decision, or lack there of, of having another baby. xo

    • Jess says...

      Rachael – I am so sorry about your miscarriage, and that you are still stuck in this same boat, but I am happy for your thoughtful and kind company. My husband is leaning VERY strongly towards sticking with 1, in very large part because of his fear of ASD (and other age-related and chance-related disorders). He feels like we hit the jackpot with our girl, and worries we would not be so lucky again, especially because he has some sensory processing disorder-like traits that are shared with people with autism (he has said that if I could promise we would have a girl, he would be less opposed…). Not sure if you’re aware already of this blog post, but I’ve been thinking through the recommended thought experiment to imagine my ghost ship: http://therumpus.net/2011/04/dear-sugar-the-rumpus-advice-column-71-the-ghost-ship-that-didnt-carry-us/. Warning: just reading the title brings a lump to my throat. Hope you can find some peace in your decision soon. Sending big solidarity hugs over the internet.

    • My husband and I have a two-year old. I wanted to have multiple children (I have 4 siblings and my husband has 3 so it just sort of came out that we’d have multiple children). But after my emergency C-section, though it wasn’t traumatic, I didn’t want to go through it again if I have the choice. My little boy has been an easy one even when he was a newborn. Never had any problem with feeding and sleeping so I wondered what it will be like if we had a second, as we’ve always been told that every child is different. Also, I feel sad whenever I look at him and imagine holding another child in my arms.

    • Rachael says...

      Jess, I can’t thank you enough for your kind and thoughtful response to my comment. Knowing that we all have each other to lean on through this community has helped more than I can even begin to say. My husband said the same thing about having another girl.. if we can guarantee that, we’d probably be more inclined to go for it too, BUT obviously no guarantees like that in life! One of the big struggles I have too is I don’t have this burning desire for another child or feel like there is a missing link in my life if we don’t add to our family.. there is a large part of us that feels we are complete just the 3 of us. But there is still that nagging fear in my mind that we might regret it later in life or feel sad that she doesn’t have a sibling to share life with. I’m SO glad you linked that article. I actually read the whole book, Dear, Sugar, years ago and absolutely loved it. I very distinctly remember this section and it definitely hit home to read it again. And actually inspired me to make a list of the pros and cons. My list of wanting to have another baby is all heart and emotion… all logic points to stopping and enjoying the perfect blessing that we have in front of us. Why tempt fate when I have everything I’ve ever wanted in the little girl we already have?? Also, the crazy thing is is that I don’t even know if I’m able to have more children given 2 back to back miscarriages.. I think I’m just afraid to try again because I’m not certain how I feel either way and not sure I can handle the heartbreak of another loss. I think I’ll share the list with my husband and see if he has things to add to either side and hopefully soon we can try to make a thoughtful decision that we feel at peace with. Thank you SO much again for your response. I hope you’re able to find that magical comment or sign that helps you to make your decision a little easier. Love and hugs to you and your sweet family! xo

  20. Melisa says...

    This was a great read. I also have a few friends with only children and the sole reason they don’t have more is because they got divorced and haven’t met someone with whom they want to expand their family.

  21. I didn’t read all 750+ comments, but I wanted to share my thoughts.
    I read a lot of accounts of the choice being made because of not wanting to go through it again, or not being sure how it would be the second time around and that wasn’t me. I WANTED another baby. Especially because of the trauma I experience in the delivery room with my first (an emergency c-section) and wanting another chance to have the birth story I imagined. But I just never got pregnant again. We never felt comfortable with exploring infertility options and our hearts weren’t called to adoption. So the choice was basically made for us! We love our son and even though I mourn the loss of a second chance and another baby, I am coming to realize more and more the beauty that lies in just having one. One amazing, special and sugar-sweet boy who calls me “Mama.” And I’m totally good with that!

    • Rachael says...

      Hi Bianca,
      I really appreciated this comment, among all the other amazing comments! We currently have the sweetest little girl and are in the process of trying for a 2nd. I actually got pregnant again very quickly, but sadly miscarried. We’ve been trying again, but I’m almost 37, so I know it could take a while or never happen at all. We are both on the same page of being MORE than ok with that. Our little girl brings us more joy than we could have ever imagined, so how can we feel upset or slighted for that?! We have so many friends who have struggled with infertility and sadly ended without a baby at all, so we feel so grateful to have her and if she’s all we’re blessed with, we count ourselves very lucky. We’ll see what the future holds, but reading all of these beautiful and honest comments has been so uplifting and helpful in what our future might be with our daughter. Love and hugs to ALL mamas out there! We’re all in it together.. be it 1 or 10 babies!! xo

    • This is so me! I mean the emergency C-section and all. My husband and I are trying for some time now, but nada. I am comfortable with the thought of one loving boy for now.

  22. ifigenia vlasi says...

    Hello, I am Ifigenia 37, from Greece. We are a family of an only child- girl Chrysianna, 9. I was never keen on being a mother, this is how our mother brought me and my sister up. Our education was our priority. Both my husband and I are really happy with her, she fulfills us so much and I think we are blessed having her in our lives. As you can understand it is not in our plans to have anoter baby. it was really hard to make close family and friends to stop asking and urge us to have a second child to “keep company” to Chrysianna.

  23. Stella says...

    Thank you so much for writing about this. I had my first baby at 41 and it was shocking to me how often people commented that I needed to have another one. Why is it such a stigma?? We made the decision to just have one after multiple miscarriages previously and for financial reasons. We felt so grateful for our beautiful girl and we also enjoyed our life and wanted to be able to do those things with our daughter. Love your blog!

    • Lindsay says...

      We had our gorgeous boy when I was 42. I would love another but after a missed miscarriage at 43 I know it’s not going to happen. We’ve stopped trying which has been a hard decision but I know it’s the right one. Just want to get to the point where I am at peace with this. Love the article and all the comments. I know I’m not alone. ❤️

  24. Molly says...

    I am an only child and so many people have always commented on it – usually negatively or with sadness. Which always confused me. I’ve always loved being an only child. To be honest i didn’t know anything else – it is my norm. I never felt lacking. Actually, I had friends with multiple siblings and they mostly seemed starved of attention. As an only child the biggest struggle is being the center of attention and wishing there was something or someone else to occupy your parents attention (especially in high school). All that love, attention and care can sometimes be overwhelming but at the end of the day I know how deeply cared for I am. As a child holidays, birthdays, occasions revolved around me. My parents and I are very, very close as a result.

    Recently, both of my parents have had major health issues and it’s the first times I’ve ever really wished I could have someone else to equally share the burden of bringing them to appointments and coping with the stress that is involved.

    • MT says...

      I’m an only child as well and ALWAYS got, “didn’t you miss not having a brother or sister?” Seriously? I’ve never had one, how would I know!

    • molly says...

      MT – Yes, exactly!!

    • lacey says...

      I have a brother and when my dad almost died 2 years ago, it was my brother making it more stressful, not my dad’s possible death! We got into a huge fight and I felt like we were being pegged against each other over various things by my parents during such a difficult family season. It was a mess. Suffice it to say, who knows that it would be easier with a sibling. Each family is so different. I think its partially because of my lack of closeness with my brother and seeing my own parents have so many issues with their siblings that lead me to pause at the thought of adding another child to the mix!

    • Toni says...

      Lacey – I literally went through the exact same thing as you (also 2 years ago!). The fighting, the strained relationships, the frustration on top of all the sadness and grief! My heart is with you.
      I look at my friends with siblings they are close to and envy them. Not all siblings are meant to be best friends or get along or even like each other. It’s taken me so long to accept this and as I begin to plan a family with my husband, I’m reminded constantly of the stigma of an only child and of my difficult relationship with my brother.

  25. JJ says...

    My parents are both 1 of 5 kids and they each only really talk to 1 of their siblings. My husband and I each have 1 sibling.

    I’m 7 years older than my sister and we had a strained relationship until we were both in our 20s! Even though our relationship has improved, she is not completely independent from my parents due to various mental health issues. I see and hear the stress she adds to their lives and it’s hard not to make note of that.

    My husband’s sister is closer in age, but has special needs. At 33, she has the mental capacity of a 2 year old and has lived in a group home for the past 18 years.

    So, when it comes to our aging parents, even though we have siblings, we are going to be the ones to take on the burden when the time comes.

    Once we had our perfectly healthy daughter, she didn’t sleep through the night for 15 months! And at 3.5 is still the worst sleeper. (I always say, though, if that’s the biggest of our problems, I’ll take it!)

    Given our unique circumstances – not to mention the additional financial strain, our current home size, and emotional well being I work hard to maintain – I could not fathom bringing another child into our life. We are happy and complete as a family of 3.

    The pressure is real and being a recovering people-pleaser has me doubting my feelings at times. But here’s my truth: I know I will be a better mother one. And our experience shows us that a 2nd child isn’t always the missing piece.

    I do worry about our girl when she’s older. Of course I don’t want her to feel like she’s “all alone in the world” when we are no longer around. So, my focus is to raise her to be kind, inclusive, and loving. I believe she’ll be able to make friends that will become her unique family and she’ll have to find peace in that.

    I love seeing families of ANY dynamic who are happy and thriving! One size certainly doesn’t fit all and we have to do what’s best for us – which no one on the outside could possibly know what that should look like.

    • Tara says...

      I think the decision you’ve made is incredibly responsible and will save you so much stress later.

      As for your daughter finding her unique family via friends, this is absolutely true. I am an only, and I have found my “sisters”. I’m not worried in the least about being alone once my mom passes away. These relationships have such a unique sweetness because I chose them instead of forced closeness because we happen to have the same parent(s).

  26. Sydney says...

    I have two boys, 25 months apart, and I absolutely can’t imagine depriving them of the relationship that they have with each other. I feel like it is sort of how you just can’t know what it is like to have a kid until you do– you just don’t know what that child is missing out on until you give them a sibling. My kids play for HOURS together. Some Saturday’s we will think that we will go do something fun as a family as soon as the boys stop playing, and we end up not leaving the house because they play so well together all day long. The other day at breakfast they–totally unprompted and of their own accord–told each other they loved each other, and then gave each other a big hug. Even if they don’t end up being friends as adults, their relationship is so worth it to me now.

    However, I understand that siblings aren’t always possible because of infertility, and that parents aren’t always up for it. Parenting is hard, and I really believe you should only have as many kids as you feel like you can handle. You can’t sacrifice your mental health to give your child a sibling, because a healthy parent is most important. So I try to be understanding and not to judge either way.

  27. GR says...

    I will be 42 this year and am mother to a wonderful sensitive caring and happy 5 year old boy . Both my husband and I don’t have the temparament to handle 2 children. I don’t have a desire to raise another child but worry about my son feeling alone when he grows up .
    I need to use this comment a previous poster posted as my mantra ‘Kids aren’t happy bc they have siblings. They are happy bc they find happiness within as all people should be able to.’

  28. Lindsay says...

    I love this community of kind and caring women! I want to share my current story and would appreciate any insight. I’m an only child with lovely parents, and my husband is one of 6 from a wonderful family. We have been happily married for a few years, and have been together a decade, one filled with adventures, career changes, etc… He now and he desperately wants at least one child, he always has. I have always been nervous of having children, but said I would, though I have been pushing it off for years. I am now in my mid-thirties and dealing with a medical problem that will not allow me to put off motherhood. My age, medical problem and husband are all pushing me to make a decision. A huge decision that I have been questioning recently; do I want to have a child? How do I make this choice? My husband doesn’t feel like he could be happy without one. It’s a major discussion in our marriage and could possibly be a deciding factor on if we stay together. He has a very busy career with lots of traveling, and we live on the other side of the country from our families. He has done everything to reassure me that we would have all the help we need, and is okay with adopting children if I cannot have them (or if I don’t want to go through pregnancy). He is more than loving in this process, but it creates tension because I don’t know what I want. I fear that I will make the wrong decision. I love my freedom, I have traveled the world, I adore little children and have tons of friends with kids, but I just can’t imagine it at times. It’s the hardest decision of my life and one that I will not be able to change once it is made. It feels harder because my husband and I don’t feel the same way. I would like to know if other women have had a similar fear and how you knew you were making the right decision. Thank you for reading! xx

    • Loribeth says...

      You’re not alone, Lindsay <3 My husband also desperately wants children and I'm just not sure. He's the sweetest, most caring person and I love him more than anything but I don't know if I'll enjoy being a mom. It's so hard, I'm hoping for the best for you!

    • Lindsay says...

      Thank you @Loribeth! That means so much to me right now xx

    • Lindsay says...

      I also hope the best for you! :)

    • Jeanne says...

      Dear Lindsay,
      I can empathize with your struggle. After 12 years of marriage and successful careers, my husband and I decided it was time to have a child. Sadly, I was not able to conceive, so we chose to adopt a child from Korea. Our wonderful son is now 17 years old and we simply cannot imagine our lives without him. The question that led us on the path of whether or not to have a child was this…what will our lives feel like in 10, 20, 30 years? Will our lives be full if it’s just the two of us? Fortunately, we recognized that we didn’t want to grow old without sharing our life with a child and even though I do not share the same DNA with our son, my love for him is unbelievably powerful. The joy he has given is has made my life complete.
      Best of luck to you and your husband on this challenging journey.
      Jeanne

    • Lindsay says...

      Dear Jeanne,
      Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful story of becoming parents. My husband and I both have cousins that have been adopted and we also think it is so wonderful and something we’ve talked about. There are so many children that need a loving home. I will definitely use your advice about looking further down the road in life as we make this huge decision. Thank you!
      (Also, my husband and I met while traveling and working in Korea). ?

    • As someone who had the same fears and went ahead with having a baby, I feel the need to respond. For us it was a mutual decision, though we knew it would change our lives drastically. My husband is in the military, so I also knew that I would be the primary caregiver, which is never what I imagined for myself. And I can tell you — having a child is everything you think and more. It’s all-consuming. And I have an EASY baby. She’s healthy, SO happy, and we were able to get her on a schedule and she sleeps through the nights. I’m grateful every day.

      But. I do miss the freedom that comes with being child-free. When I was 6 months pregnant we got the news that we’d be moving to Italy. My husband is nearing retirement and I’d JUST given up on that dream and accepted the fact that experiencing life overseas wasn’t going to happen. And now it’s happening with a baby, which is never how I’d imagined it! But now that I’m getting used to things here, I’m realizing that babies (or at least mine) are adaptable little creatures. I take her with me on adventures. And sure, I have to slow down the pace and sometimes find a place to breastfeed and wonder whether it’s worth trying to take a stroller to Venice — and I miss how easy it was before I had to worry about these things — but showing her the world and seeing it through her eyes has been, and will continue to be, amazing as well.

      There is no right decision. You will wonder either way. I do know that having a baby to keep your marriage together is not a solution, especially if you will be the primary caregiver. That is a surefire way to breed resentment — towards your husband and your child. Ask yourself whether you can be happy in either scenario. Can you be happy with a new little heavy wiggly travel buddy? Can you be happy with the changes that will happen to your own body? With the demands on your time? Can you be happy with all of the freedom in the world but the possibility of losing your relationship and wondering what you might have made together? No one can answer these for you. And it’s especially hard because with conceiving a child, absolutely everything is out of your control.

      Sending love your way. I know this is hard. Whatever decision you make, I wish you the best.

    • Lindsay says...

      Katie,
      Thank you for taking the time to share your experience with me. I appreciate your message so very much! My husband and I are both reading, and seeing someone to help us through this difficult decision. He is understanding my concerns better and is open to making this decision together. We both know that we will need to either give up our total freedom or the chance at being parents together. We feel that we will morn something in both scenarios.
      I think it’s so amazing that you are living abroad with your family. That is something I would love to do.
      Thank you and I wish you all the best xx

    • Sarah says...

      Dear Lindsay,
      promise, that you won’t let yourself get pressured into something that in your hearts of hearts don’t really want. As a child of a mother who probably shouldn’t have had children I can say with the utmost certainty: there’s nothing worse than being the child of a parent who can’t truly love you. Having said that: I have never, ever, ever, ever (aside from my mother) met a parent who wished Not to have had children. As a mother myself I promise you: once your child is there, there’s nothing else.

    • Kathleen says...

      Hi Lindsay,
      My husband and I are about to embark on IVF to help us get pregnant after trying for 1 1/2 years. Even through this, I am still not 100% sure I’m wanting a child.
      My husband has always wanted one – early on in our relationship, he made it clear to me he did….and I made it clear to him that I wasn’t sure. He was upset. We should have talked about it earlier. He assumed I would want one, just as many people assume women always do.
      I assure you, I have not allowed myself to be pressured into having a child. It took time for me to make the decision.
      I think it’s unfair to expect all of us to be 100% sure – as much as I can witness others with kids, spend time with my nephews, see my husband play with our friends’ kids and how natural he is at it, how could I possibly be 100% sure I want something that for 30 years I never thought was going to be part of my life?
      I was and am concerned I will not be that loving obsessed mother I see everywhere. Frankly, for me, here is how I came to the tip the scale decision to have a child with my husband….

      The thought of my husband as a father makes me smile.

      Raising a puppy! I know this sounds silly…. but I love this furry beast so much, and he’s been very high maintenance and I’ve been willing to put him ahead of me….. honestly, I needed to see I could do that (acknowledging that babies are probably more high maintenance than dogs).

      That my independence would still be possible. Nothing scares me more than the thought of having no time for me, or my pursuits. I have work goals. I have health goals – physical and mental. My husband and I have talked a lot about this and we’ve gone through many scenarios of how we can do this for each other. This is one reason why we’ve decided to just have one.

      Being open with my husbands about my concerns, insecurities, emotions. We talked through them together. This was invaluable.

      Time. I took my time thinking about it. 4 years in fact. I’m 35 now. At 33 I remember looking to my husband and saying “ I think I’m ready to have a baby”.

      It’s been a journey and it led me to being quite comfortable with the idea. Not 100% – but enough to take the plunge and commit. I have many friends who have said no to marriage, no to kids, and are very happy. Personal preference that is completely unique to the person making it.

      Best wishes to you Lindsay

  29. Meagan says...

    My husband and I are struggling with infertility due to a congenital defect I have. We are going on two years without a child. We’ve lost 3 babies and I’ve had three surgeries, not to mention countless visits to the ER and months off work for recovery. We always said two, maybe three kids, depending on how life plays out. Since we discovered what the issue is, we’ve agreed that we would feel content with any number of children we can have. Pregnancy is really scary for some women and the emotional and physical trauma can be life changing. My husband’s grandmother always said that we all think we’re so clever and full of forethought when we decide how many kids we want, when at the end of the day there’s a number beside your name in a book upstairs and there’s nothing you can do to change it. I am starting to realize as time goes on that she was right.

  30. Kelsey says...

    As a person who is a bit introverted, I worry about all the comments that say “we lived in a great neighborhood and she had lots of chums” (we don’t) or “lots of cousins close by” (1, far). That socialization is largely coming from school (daycare, she’s 3). That’s my biggest worry. But if I have a new infant Now (well, a year, if it takes right away), there is not going to be an interactive sibling relationship until she’s 7 anyway. And what will be lost in that period of time that I am completely overwhelmed by a baby+FTjob+homemaker+personalhygiene, as I was with her? No, I think one for me (But as my husband says when I question his comfort level with one, “you are the one hanging on to 10 bins of baby and maternity shit, not me”).

    • Kristin says...

      This is me. I’m completely happy with one, so why do I have bins of maternity clothes in my basement?!

  31. L says...

    Loved this. I have a 2-year-old and had always thought I would have 2-3 kids. However, my husband and I found the newborn phase to be so difficult for us (me with what was likely PPD and him with ongoing clinical anxiety) that it’s looking like we will likely remain a family of three. I’m having the hardest time unraveling all of my thoughts around potentially having an only child. It’s hard to know how much of this is my family background (and my mom’s extreme distaste for families with one child) versus my own real dreams and wishes. I’m so encouraged by reading everyone’s comments about this topic!

  32. Kate says...

    I was born in the late 1980s in China under only child policy and came to the states when I was elementary school. Until my move to the U.S., every child was the only child, so it was strange to me when I discovered my U.S. classmates had siblings. My parents had my brother after we immigrated, so we are 9 years apart. Due to financial circumstances, my brother was sent back to China and didn’t return to live with us until I was 14. After I turned 18, I left for college and graduate school and never lived with my brother since. As a result, I spent most of my childhood as an only child, and never had a normal sibling relationship with my brother given our age difference. Now, he’s in college and we are finally in a position to have adult conversations. I’m lucky that he’s a mature, good natured young man, and I love spending time with him during vacations or family events, but having a sibling certainly never made no difference in my childhood. On the other hand, my husband and his sister are 2 years apart (her being older), but they are like night and day. She never graduated from high school while he went to a prestigious college and graduate school (they were raised together, so this is not a result of parenting styles or environment), and currently my husband is supporting both his mom and sister. They see each other at least once a month at family dinners. His sister is only 34 but every 3 or 4 months or so would send text messages accusing him of not spending enough time with her (He has a full time demanding job and does see her once or twice a month). So I think the take-away is this…. you shouldn’t have children so the kids can be “best friends” or that they can help each other when you grow old. My brother and I are ages apart and are just now growing to have a real adult relationship together, while my husband’s sister has become a financial burden while we are still in our early 30s. I think you have to accept kids as individuals, hope that they like each other as they get older, but you should have children because you want to raise another child. You shouldn’t do it for your existing child.

    • Emily L says...

      Thank you for sharing. I only have one and completely agree that one shouldn’t have more unless they want the actual child, not just to provide a sibling for the first. I never wanted another, and am completely content with the one I have.

    • Maria says...

      Thank you so much for your insightful comment, Kate! My husband and I are on the fence about having a second, and what you said made me look at things in a different way. It’s so ingrained in our society that you should have a second so the first can have “a friend”, and you hear it so much it becomes truth. It’s so good to get a fresh perspective.

  33. Marsha says...

    I am writing to say, with deep respect and love, that I feel confused about the only children who say they wish they had a sibling to help with aging parents. As others have said, there is no guarantee that the sibling would be any help, or that there would be any relationship at all between siblings.
    And – the aging parent situation is one perspective, one that I completely honor and understand the difficulties of – but what about the perspective that parents sometimes do not want to parent a second child? What damage might be done if they have a second child and have to parent two kids for 18+ years? Depression, anxiety, lack of resources, feeling like something wasn’t right… ? Obviously these are the “bad” scenarios, and it’s also possible they would be thrilled they’d done it even if they hadn’t been sure at the outset…
    I guess my perspective is that parenting is a lifelong commitment, and the consequences of doing it when it doesn’t feel right are intense.
    Please know that I say this with sincere humility and compassion and do not mean to hurt anyone’s feelings.

  34. Brittany says...

    I know my mother would have loved another child or two, but she nearly died during childbirth and had an emergency hysterectomy. Now as an adult, I’m horrified by how much I pestered my poor parents for a sibling! I always let them know how lucky I feel to have so much of their attention and involvement.
    One strange story: I once read an online dating profile from a man who wrote “Only children need not respond.” Ouch!

  35. AZ says...

    I’m an only child. My family is closely knit, so my cousins became my protective and annoying demi-siblings that I, now at 30, still compete with and utterly love.

    But. My cousin is not my sister nor my brother, whose memories of Mom and Dad refract or deepen my own.

    My parents, twice divorcees each, aren’t doing well. My Mom is sick, my Dad fell on hard times years ago. I have no one to help pick up my mother’s medication, send a check to Dad, manage the back and forth of holidays. And sure, family is family, but there’s something about the core unit of Mom-Dad-Brother-Sister that’s committed to helping one another in a way that just feels too much to ask from others.

    Friends have offered more cheerful perspectives: your parents’ situation is happening, has happened. There’s nothing that you could have done to prevent their current crises. What good would a sibling do? Are you sure they would even be helpful? They might even make it worse! Too many nurse-cooks in the premature geriatric kitchen.

    I look wistfully at my husband and his brother, whose mutual love and camaraderie, despite stark differences, is a beautiful and sincere thing to witness. I wish I had a sister to call – she’d say, “Don’t worry, Mom’s always been that way. You’re not crazy. Just be patient — I’ll be there on Thursday.”

    So, when people ask us how many kids we want, I always respond: “More than one.”

    • Carolyn says...

      Az – Your situation mirrors mine almost exactly. I scrolled down to write a similar comment but will simply echo yours, and I’m sure many others. As my parents are getting older I am beginning to feel the weight of planning to be their care-takers. Each of them are facing health issues, including psychological which I am foreseeing will be particularly difficult to manage. Neither of them are financially comfortable.

      I can’t help but feel slightly guilty that my husband will also be affected by our future of caring for them by default. But the more tricky emotion I feel is anger towards my parents for not planning properly financially, not taking better care of their physical and emotional health, and yes…for not having more kids. So I too plan to have “more than one” and to be conscientious about how my lifestyle choices and plans for aging and retirement will affect my children.

    • Amelia says...

      I think when you don’t have siblings it can be easy to idealize what that relationship would look like. Unfortunately I have several friends for whom having a sibling has complicated caring for aging parents more than it’s helped – deep disagreements about care and how to pay for it, resentments about one person being left with all the work, siblings with additions that render them unable to help out with other family commitments, etc… I really don’t mean to dismiss your feelings, but just a reminder that there’s always so many ways that family relationships can go! I have siblings and our relationships are… complicated.

    • Amelia says...

      *additions = addictions (oops!)

    • Tricia says...

      Personally I don’t think dealing with aging parents is easy with a sibling or without one. I have a sister whom I adore but as our parents get older, it’s taken a bit for her to realize exactly how dire their financial situation is. It’s nothing short of a tickingtime bomb. There’s no savings. No retirement. Nothing. When health problems inevitably kick in for them it’s going to be a nightmare. The only thing I can do is be financially responsible enough so that my own single daughter will hopefully not have to suffer the same fate that my sister and I will.

    • Sarah says...

      Amelia – I agree. I have two siblings and I am still solo in taking care of our parents… sometimes siblings do share the burden, sometimes not…and bring more drama and stress than help unfortunately… but i too can idealize the situation i do not have and wish I had less or more siblings (the grass is always greener on the other side, eh? :)) I guess it all depends/control how life turns out. i have come to believe that whatever situation you’re in re: siblings, it is the one for you…

    • Sarah says...

      Woops, I meant to say “I guess it all depends… and one cant control how life turns out (wish we could though! ;))”

    • AZ says...

      Carolyn – thanks for your reply. It’s always a good reminder that I am never the first nor the last to experience these sorts of situations and strange emotions. I relate to your comment about anger. This whole process has been a lesson in patience and trying to find moments of grace when you feel so often at the end of your rope. I, too, have pangs of guilt for my supportive husband who willingly offers comfort and help as he can. But the voice in the back of my mind says, “I know you didn’t sign up for this.” As with any difficult situation, gratitude is the better perspective to chase after — but can we not just agree that it’s inherently human to think the “grass is greener”? It’s not so much as we believe our situation would be better, or that there would be more resources or more sanity, but rather a deeper desire: that there’s some way to mitigate the loneliness and isolation of being sole caregiver, sole responsibility. This experience has been a major catalyst for my husband and I to take better care of our health, finances, and our relationship.

      I think of it much like single parenthood. Indeed, that’s what caring for your parents as sole caregiviger is. I suspect single parents would agree that it would be easier to have a partner to help – but only if that partner was actually helpful.

      And why can you not have a child for the sake of your first child and also for the joy of having another child? It took me so long to understand how to be a good roommate, how to be more conscientious, how to fight against the natural inclination for only children to feel their world and their people solely belong to them.

  36. Mia says...

    Im so glad you wrote this post, but for some reason it’s very painful for me… I’ve always wanted two.
    Then hyperemesis gravidarum happened. Then preeclampsia, then mothering a wonderful little preemie, then not sleeping for 18 months… I’m scared I’ll have to go through it all again. And I’m scared that my partner will never jump out of bed in the morning so that I can actually sleep past 6. Actually I’m scared that I’ll die of exhaustion. And finally I’m scared I’ll regret not having another out of fear.

    …. it’ll be a Felix (boy) or a Fey (girl) that will be missing. Is that okay?

  37. Carla says...

    Thank you for including a story like Sandy’s. I know how she feels. We were pregnant with our daughter on the first try and a few years later faced the unanticipated possibility she would be our only child. Secondary infertility is very difficult. After five years of treatments we finally had our son thanks to embryo donation. Now we have two special children seven years apart and thankfully seeing pregnant women and babies is no longer so painful it’s unbearable.

  38. Jodie says...

    How wonderful this post and comments are, And timely for my family. After five years of living with infertility my daughter was born five months ago. Many tests and Procedures to clear endometriosis, ivf rounds and two miscarriages, we’d made peace as a family of two, but then along she came, naturally (diet change? Shit ton of acupuncture? Who knows?!) she’s a joy and I’m so in love. But you know what? I’m done Baby making, I’m exhausted. Of course i’m exhausted, I have an infant. But I’m also the kind of exhausted that five years of hope, heartbreak and hospitals will bring. My partner and I got together in a whirlwind romance and we started trying right away. Infertility has been our companion our whole relationship, but we haven’t wavered, we are strong. But I am done. Because I am so excited to get back to nurturing and building my relationship, with my partner and with myself. I can’t wait to go on dates and adventures as a two, as a three and also just me. There’s so much to do and see and I’m so excited for the future. I’ve had my head down for a few years now. It’s time to look up.

    • Carla says...

      People who fight infertility are so strong!

    • Lindsay says...

      This is beautiful and I love your outlook on life! Wishing you all the best!

    • Briana says...

      This is so inspiring to me. Thank you for writing about your journey. I also have endometriosis and after years of infertility, ivf rounds, etc, we also have one little girl. We recently learned we will likely not be able to have another baby and I’m struggling with it but your post helped me. I am so thankful for her but I can’t bear the idea of letting her down by not giving her a brother or sister. Hopefully she will learn how to have grace for me and herself earlier than I learned. Thanks again.

  39. Sarah says...

    I feel this article was written for me. My girlfriend actually sent me the link. I’m MAJORLY undecided about another child. My son just turned 5 and I grew up as an only child primarily (my brother was 14 years older and moved to live with his dad in another state when I was a baby) and I never had any complaints. But, I always thought I wanted two. I had my son at 30 after a miscarriage. I was head over heels for my baby, but I realized that my relationship with my now ex-husband was not going to last and we divorced when my son was 16 months. I remember my dad telling me when I told him we were going to divorce, that I needed to realize that I might not have anymore children because of that. That made my heart stop…and angered me a bit that he would say that. Luckily for me, I have remarried as of last Spring and have a wonderful husband who is a wonderful father figure for my son (who lives with us 90% of the time). The 90% custody is new. I went two years almost of having my son 60% of the time before our custody arrangement change. This was devastating for my heart, I missed my son so much and part of me yearned for another to fill that void. I think when we took on almost full custody almost 2 years ago, it was almost like I got my life and son back and I just wanted to soak him up and I changed my mind about another baby. I even convinced my now husband that we didn’t need another and he agreed. But, the last 6+ months, I’ve been wavering. Maybe I do want another. My son says he wants a sibling, but realistically, I worry about how close they could be with that age gap. I also worry about how our lives would change with a baby…the sleepless nights, the naps, the schedule, finances, less flexibility. My son was a great sleeper, nurser, and is FULL energy…sometimes I feel like I have two. Not to mention that I teach 1st grade, so my days are spent with small children. I’m in my mid-30’s and my husband is in his late 30’s, so time is winding down for us to decide. We bought a house, right before we got married, and we chose it because it was big enough to grow our family. Now, when I go upstairs, I stare at this empty bedroom, that is highly visible, and I wonder will it ever be filled with another child. I wonder why I have kept EVERY single baby item and sock that my son used and still refuse to donate or give anything away. There is a part of me that wants that second child. But, there’s a huge part that LOVES our life, more financial freedom, and my son…I love him more than I’ve loved anything in my life and the bond that we have feels so sacred. I worry about how that would change and it kind of breaks my heart.

    • Alyssa says...

      The fear is real. I too have it. I just felt inclined to chime in and let you know that my sister and I are five years apart, and have always been very best friends. She is nine years older than our younger brother, and they too are extremely close. We all are. Good luck on your journey!

    • C says...

      Good luck with the decision you make. I too wavered for many different reasons but in the end, we went for it. My kids are 10 years apart and I am so thankful for both of them. Sometimes I think, this is ridiculous, when trying to find things they will both enjoy etc. Other times I realize that families w/3 children and up must have those very same issues! For the most part I love doing this again. I have learned so very much and my heart has healed and expanded in ways that were foreign to me before having a child, ways that have helped me to be an even better parent the second time around, for both of them. I am so thankful for my second and the light and joy she has brought to us all. I am so thankful to observe my first loving the second, learning what it means to be a different family, what it means to love another and to be loved by another. All this said, I will not say for certain that our family would have been somehow less had we chosen otherwise. You just simply never know. But I will say that whatever you decide try to embrace it with all you are. Life spend looking to deeply at what we ‘may’ have missed misses so much of what we have.

  40. Allison Stabile says...

    Loved this so much. I have an only, but, like Sandy, not by choice. That said, it’s pretty rad to be able to travel with our little (she’s 7 now) and to save all our money for her education, et al. I’ve mourned multiple miscarriages and don’t want to go through that again!

    On October 20th, my newest niece was born and we’ve been so so so fortunate to have her every other Saturday while her mom works. Our daughter looooooves having a little one to take care of. (And I suspect she likes that the baby leaves, too!)

    I really, really appreciate all the people who shared here as it shows me how incredibly fortunate we are to have our little one. Thanks, guys!

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

  41. Fascinating stuff, Jo.

    I grew up in a family with three kids. I always thought I wanted four kids, until I had one. We now have two wonderful children with no plans for more. Sadly, I feel like “less” of a mom because I have “only” two kids. Do you ever feel that way? Ugh.

    I would love to read this same type of post about families with two kids, three kids, four kids, five kids, etc.

    • Jenna says...

      Agree about wanting to see the same type of post from families with multiple children. Isn’t it crazy to think how a blog post or comment could affect this huge decision in a reader’s life? I just had a baby and I know this has got my wheels spinning.

  42. Jennifer C. says...

    My husband and I have an only child. I was “blessed” to be laid off when I was on maternity leave so I got to stay home with my baby! It was the BEST experience! So, my husband stayed at a job he hated so that I could do that. When our son was about a year and a half old, we agreed that I would go back to work and he would stay at home with him. It was the BEST experience! I got to be at home with our baby and he got to be at home with our toddler. When our son started school, my husband went back to work. We didn’t really talk about having another because the chances of it working out where we could do that again was slim to none. When our son was about 11, we realized that if we were to have another baby at that point, we would have a child starting kindergarten the same year our son started his senior year of high school! We decided we didn’t want two-only children so my husband had a vasectomy. We’re happy being empty-nesters! Our son is happy being an only child and he’s a very mature, level-headed, young adult that will graduate from college this year. We didn’t plan it but wouldn’t change a thing!

  43. Athena says...

    I have a one and only. I was 40 when I had him, and I never thought I would be a mom. I have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which makes it very difficult if at all possible to conceive. We weren’t actively trying to get pregnant, but we weren’t doing anything to prevent it either. It took 8 years for me to get pregnant. I was completely shocked to say the least. I am so blessed to have my beautiful boy, and he is enough. Yes, we’ve been told we need to have another or asked if we’re going to have more. In the beginning it really annoyed me, but now, I just smile and say no and keep it moving.

  44. Kim says...

    I have a 9-year-old only child. I could go into all of the positives of having an only child, but I know most have already been addressed in the comments. I just want to say to those who are on the fence about having more than just one, do what you feel is right and don’t feel pressured by ALL THE PEOPLE who like to interject their opinions about your situation. I’ve heard it all and it used to cast self-doubt (“Have one more!” “She’ll be lonely!” “It’s easier with two”….yeah right!). Every single night since my daughter was 3, we’d lie down together during bedtime and we talk and talk until it’s time to sleep. We know each other intimately. She has our undivided attention and resources. She has many friends and cousins whom she’s close to. No, she’s not missing out on anything at all. She’s very lucky, in my humble opinion.

  45. Becky H says...

    My dad is one of three and wishes he was an only child. My mother was an only child and loved it. I have a younger brother (31 to my 33) and I have always wished I was an only child.
    My partner and I both want to remain child-free. Most of our friends are well on their parenthood journeys and it’s not something that I witness and what for myself. Although I do enjoy the occasional fun day out with the cheeky little noodles!

  46. Benito says...

    Single child family over here. If we choose to welcome another into our family we’ll adopt. The world doesn’t need more people. ZPG (Zero Population Growth) please.

  47. Marie says...

    I’m planning to have at least 4 kids. I have 5 siblings and I think it’s the best thing my parents have could give to me! Raising even one child is tough but it definetely pays off later in life :)

  48. Leah says...

    Love this! Thank you for doing this post! Been married four years but no kids, only three pups and we’re fine like this right now. I don’t know if we’ll ever have kids. We’re not ‘not trying’ and I’ve had an OB tell me that even if you’re not trying you should be getting pregnant if all is normal. I don’t know about that. I’ll be 37 this year, so I think the hubs and I really need to decide soon. I don’t know. We’ll see.

    It’s nice to read about different experiences. Looking forward to the posts about child-free women and/or couples!

  49. I have one eight-year-old son. I was an only child as well, and loved it. I wasn’t sure I wanted kids until I was 31 when we started trying (and got pregnant a month later). When we had our son, we were living in London (we are Canadian) with no family around, and that was challenging. We came back to Canada when he was two, but only stayed for a few years before moving to Germany. Personality-wise, I just don’t think my husband and I are cut out for more kids. I didn’t grow up near any extended family, and was perfectly happy on my own a lot, which I think has stood me in good stead as an adult. My son used to ask about having a sibling, but then he gets annoyed when other kids are in his face for long periods, so I think he liked the concept rather than the reality! When my son was three, I thought I was pregnant for about two days and I felt incredibly panicked and resentful about it, which really clarified for me that I didn’t want another. But, like many people have said, it is so personal, and while I can’t imagine having two kids let alone three or more, some people really thrive in that role and I respect that.

  50. Maddie says...

    Joanna, I love reading these posts and I equally love reading the comments. I would love more, more, more! In particular, I’d love to read posts about

    Ladies who choose to be childfree

    Big families

    Families with twins

    Families with disabled children or children who have a disability

    Families who regretted having more kids

    I’m CLEARLY leaving a lot of other interesting and insightful ideas off… these are the ones that jump to mind as I gratefully sip a glass of rose in the sixty minute window I have to myself while my four littles sleep.

    Please more?!?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, absolutely! thank you so much, maddie. xoxo

  51. Katharina says...

    I got pregnant with my son easily and am so thankful for that now. My husband was diagnosed with cancer the same week our son was born and is now infertile due to cancer treatment. We do have the option to inseminate/do IVF, but hearing about the grueling experience that is for many women, I don’t know whether I want to put myself theough that. I think I’ll just count my blessings with the one child we have got rather than dreaming about something that may never be.

    • Lisa says...

      My best friend’s husband had a rare lymphoma and was told he was infertile. They banked his sperm and did IVF 4 times which all failed. They decided to take a break and two months later my friend found out she was pregnant! They were shocked! He went back to have his sperm tested and he’s still supposedly infertile…but there was at least one good swimmer because they now have an extraordinary 10 month old daughter!!

  52. Lindsay says...

    We had our first, sweet, baby girl this past May. Due to complications from my labour and delivery, a second baby may not be in the cards. I’ve been trying to wrap my head around the idea of having only one child. This post brought be a lot of comfort and helped to start the process of reframing my thinking. Thank you xo

  53. I just love this article. My husband & I love being a part of the “one & done club”. We do not have mixed feelings about it. If people ask us if we are having another we get to share proudly that we are part of this club!

  54. Robin says...

    This hit home. I’m currently three months pregnant with my first… a little boy! My husband and I are THRILLED. We both want one child, and yet, at THREE MONTHS PREGNANT, we are already being asked about “the next one”. It’s utterly baffling to me. I am so filled with joy, and it’s jarring that it’s just assumed that our little one couldn’t possibly be “it” for us. Well, he will be, and we three will be a happy, happy family. It’s extremely helpful to hear how others have responded to these types of comments.

    • Mel says...

      It took us a while to get pregnant but after many years we have been SO incredibly grateful to have our son who’s now 3. We always wanted to have 2 but it just isn’t happening for us. What really hurts (and I’m sure a lot of people don’t understand when they make a comment), is that just because you have one doesn’t mean you can easily have another. We have felt so happy that one child happened for us but then someone makes a comment that makes you feel like less of a mother, even though it’s not a decision you can make! It’s just so insensitive.

      I’m also having a hard time about what to tell my son when he asks why he doesn’t have a sibling. I think that day might break my heart a little.

    • Rachel says...

      @Mel, I am the mother of an only, and she has asked about siblings as well. I had preeclampsia, she was born at 29 weeks, I dealt with severe anxiety after she was born and I just couldn’t imagine going through an experience like that again. When she has asked about a sibling, we tell her that we are so lucky to have her, that God chose us to be her parents, and that we are thrilled to be able to give all of our love to her. She is now seven, and while she still comments that she wishes she has a little brother or sister, she seems to gracefully accept the fact that she’s our only. She says, “I will always be your only child and that means forever.” She’s not saying it in a sad way, but in a way that acknowledges she has a very special and full place in our hearts. I still sometimes feel badly that she is an only child, but mostly, I am happy that we’ve found our rhythm in life. I just wanted to share that I had similar feelings and worry over my child asking about siblings, but that it ends up as it is meant to be. Hopefully that is at least a little encouraging. Best wishes to you!

    • Mel says...

      @Rachel, thank you so much for comment, it’s very helpful hearing about people in the same situation!

  55. Kaitlin says...

    This is a subject about which I feel passionately! I’m an only child and absolutely loved it growing up. I credit it for my maturity, and I would not have had any of the amazing opportunities I’ve had in my life if there had been another human to split my parents’ limited resources. For my entire childhood and into young adulthood, I was convinced I would mirror my family and have only one.

    Then my parents started getting older.

    I am so epically lucky to have an amazing support system of friends and extended family, but nothing compares to the partnership of a sibling later in life. It changed the way I rely on my friends and, perhaps most prominently, what I look for in a partner. I needed someone to be more than a significant other – I needed The Person who would be next to me during Those Times – making decisions, etc. It’s really a lot to put on one human, and as a result I will definitely hands down be having two if I’m able to do so.

    I’ve spoken to my parents (well, my mom) about this a lot in a super healthy way (she’s the best human), and she echoed my thoughts – neither of us considered any of this until it happened. I try to talk about it to share my experience, since it’s beyond the typical “parenting timeline” (lol like anyone ever stops parenting).

    Just my two cents. Love this forum!

    • Liz says...

      Thank you for writing this. There are a ton of reasons to have only one kid and it’s a completely personal decision (and often not a decision at all), but my only-child experience has convinced me to have more than one, if I’m able to.

      The full attention of my parents was nice when I was a kid but became too much once I hit adolescence. And as you point out, the prospect of aging parents is really daunting. Not just the responsibility that comes with that, which I will gladly bear, but the fact that at the end of the day, I have no one to share the experience of my parents and childhood with. We moved several times, so no one else grew up in the same places I did. And there’s no one to compare notes with! I can’t help but envy the way my husband and his brothers joke about their parents when they’re alone.

      You are right that a partner and friends are so important to fill that sibling role later in life. We are lucky if we find those people.

    • Kim says...

      I have a sibling who is two years younger than I am (we’re in our early 40s) and our parents are 70 years old. Because I am the responsible and competent one, I will basically be faced with the challenges of our aging parents alone. Having a sibling does not magically solve this problem.

    • Marnie says...

      I grew up with a brother. However, my brother passed away when he was in his twenties. So, I will be taking care of my aging parents, eventually, without him. Even starting out as not-an-only child doesn’t guarantee that siblings can help out later in life, they could be irresponsible, or,as in my case, they could pass away before the parents do.

    • Lindsay says...

      This is exactly how I feel about my only-child-dom. I couldn’t agree with you more.
      I loved my upbringing and it’s a huge part of my identity. I love what it has given me: independence, self-containment, maturity.
      But then, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s and I now have enormous responsibilities that I cannot share with anyone. My parents need me in a way that can be overwhelming. That ‘were-in-this-together’ feeling can only exist with a sibling. No one else has the same skin in the game!
      In planning my own family, I know for certain that I’d like more than one, to give my kids the built-in support that I often miss.

  56. Lowell says...

    My son is almost 2. He’s a dreamboat. Robustly healthy and full of vigor. I’m 41. I did IVF to get my little guy. All the new moms I’m friends with, most of whom are much younger than me, are pregnant with #2 or planning #2. I’m jealous. I wish it were an option for me. I guess *technically* I could try IVF again. But it gutted our savings and it was harrowing emotionally and physically. And then the pregnancy, which I HATED, and then the birth, which was traumatic, and then the first year, which was sleepless and more exhausting than I ever ever ever could have imagined. Plus we have zero family help/support, so we pay for every single minute away from our beloved son. So, no, I can’t really imagine trying again. I’m grieving. I’m pissed that I don’t have that freedom of choice. I’m lucky, yes. But I’m also sad for myself. I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted kids. I waited a long time, didn’t prioritize it. But once my guy was here, I realized it’s the awesomest thing ever. Sigh.

    • Nattie P says...

      Hi Lowell, I feel you. I’m in the same boat. My little girl is 19 months. I had a really tough pregnancy and I just can’t imagine looking after her whilst pregnant. Even if I managed that, as I know my partner would be great support, having two children with no family support would mean I would have to leave work and would be probably very challenging financially. If we stay 3 we can have a comfortable and fun life. So i echo the fact of not having a real choice. We haven’t made up our mind fully so interesting to read all your stories.

  57. Danielle says...

    I am an only child. My parents tried for years to have more, and unfortunately were unable to have more. Because of that, I knew I wanted at least 2 kids. After my second son was born, I knew our family was complete. I was always in the mindset that people who choose to have only one child were being selfish, but reading this article I was able to open my mind a little bit to more possibilities. While having more than one child was something that was important to me, for various reasons it’s not for everyone.

  58. Kim H says...

    I am the mother of a bright and beautiful ten year old, and I am grateful for my one and only! It is possible to feel complete with one child. It is also possible for that one child to grow up feeling happy and complete.

  59. We have one perfect and healthy boy. We wanted more kids, but I lost one baby at an early stage of my pregnancy. So having only one was not our plan. What hurts is that a lot of people speak of our ONLY child as if ONLY was some kind of a sickness. If my son misbehaves at the playgroud, I get the hear that that kind of behaviour is typical for the only child. I have a huge list on all the “typicals”. It used to make me quite sad, specially when it comes from friends who know how much I suffered after losing a baby.

    • Sally K says...

      Oh, those “typicals!” Some years ago two secretaries at work were talking about another woman who used to work at the same place and was a relative of one of them. They were talking about how spoiled and selfish she was. One of the secretaries said, “Well, she’s an only child and on top of that, she was adopted and you know how THEY are,” then asked what I thought about that. I told her I thought she was asking the wrong person since I am an adopted, only child.

  60. Danielle says...

    This post and these comments are everything. We still struggle with whether we should continue to try for a second child after having several miscarriages, but I know our family will be complete either way. Our daughter is lively and challenging and at nearly 4 years old, I wonder if introducing a sibling in a year or so would bring her and us the joy we think it would. My husband and I have so much love for our siblings that we think a brother or sister would be a gift to us all, but is the gift worth losing our sanity, our whole savings, and the pain of fertility treatments? Only time will tell.

    • Laura says...

      My son was an only child until he was nine years old. We suffered from secondary infertility and had several failed infertility treatments and a miscarriage. We agreed to do one round of IVF and as many frozen cycles as it produced and then move on. I live in Illinois, which requires insurance to cover infertility treatment as it would any other medical procedure, but it was still expensive. Infertility treatment is very hard, both emotionally and physically. It was eventually successful and we now have one year old twin girls (which is fun since I also have a twin sister). My son adores them and is an excellent big brother.

    • Danielle says...

      Thanks, Laura! This is great perspective!

  61. Sherry says...

    I definitely agree to have as many children as feels right to you- 0,1,2,3,4…. And I Just want to add my voice that it is definitely possible to have more than one child if one has special needs. Don’t let that scare you. I have three with the middle child having special needs. Worth doing if you feel more than one is right for you!

  62. When I was born, my mom was 17 and my dad was 21. Needless to say.. I was unexpected and a huge wake up call! For the next ten years of my life I was an only child. My dad was in the Army and I spent most of my days hanging out with my mom, running errands, etc. I was very independent! I had no problem entertaining myself. Then, my brother was born when I was 10. I was no longer an only child. I longed for the days that I had my parents all to myself. But, another addition to our family was so much fun! It was a learning experience for me. I had to learn how to share and be patient. I do not have any children of my own yet, but I have always dreamed about being a mother. When I was asked as a child what I wanted to be when I grow up, I would say, “A mom.” Adults just gave my parents “the look.” However, I am getting married this year and me and my fiance love kids! I hope to have 3, maybe even more! I think I want many kids because I grew up in a small family. I just adore the idea of having so many people to love and care for one another. Great post! I love the insider stories.

  63. Justine says...

    We have one child, a daughter, Isabelle, 9 years old. My husband and I just recently decided that we will not expand our family and I felt such a sense of relief. Isabelle lives 50% of the time with us and 50% of the time with her biological father, step-mom and 1-year old little sister. She ADORES her sister and is building a wonderful relationship with her, but she is very vocal about how being the only child in our household is her preference. She gets all the attention, all the love, all of us. People ask me all the time “When will you give that man a child of his own?”. It’s one of the most infuriating things to ask someone who’s raising a child…she IS his own and she’s all he/we need. I’ve already “given” him the most wonderful child and to assume I “owe” him one is just…ridiculous. People find a single child household so unusual, but it just makes so much more sense to us. Your life is yours; let us live ours. Our hearts are full to the brim.

    Thank you for this topic — it his so close to home. One of the many, many reasons I love this blog so much.

  64. Berta says...

    I am so very grateful for the many sides and voices of parenting you talk about on your blog. It is refreshing and much needed. Thank you.

  65. Kate says...

    Wow, the photo, the post, the comments, so spot on. I was so comforted to hear from other parents-of-onlies. (Onlys?) I found it difficult yet oddly comforting when we got the news we wouldn’t be able to have baby #2. After several miscarriages, we at least had an answer, which I know so many couples rarely get. (A change in my DNA after having our son that meant my body thought subsequent fetuses were foreign beings. Any other HLA-DQ alpha ladies out there? :)) Anyway, The knowledge that our family was complete was a peaceful moment for us, as if it was meant to be. We are so thankful to have our sweet, spunky, and smart 7-yr old. :)

  66. Catherine says...

    I’m seeing a lot of comments about those who struggled with infertility, which is something I am going through right now. So far it’s been a very lonely and stressful road for me. I would really love to see a post on this topic – and what various women’s experiences were with it. What’s it like to do IVF? Adoption? Keep trying naturally? Most of all, how do you keep yourself from going insane through the entire process? I would love to see this topic more discussed in the open, because right now it feels like something to be ashamed of.

    • Dana says...

      Sending you love as you navigate this! Been there.

    • Marianne says...

      I mean, I think you intrinsically know this, but you are NOT alone and you do not need to feel ashamed! Infertility is such a hard road! Having babies is such a hard road! The older I am and the more friends who have had (or tried to have) babies, the more I see that nothing is straightforward or easy. Hang in there! Yes! Cup of Jo! Let’s talk infertility!

    • Sarah says...

      Catherine, you MUST check out “Matt and Doree’s Eggcellent Adventure”, an amazing podcast (featured here on CoJ last year! Just search the name or IVF on the blog and it should pop up…) on all things IVF. I went through secondary fertility for 2.5 years, including 2 egg retrievals and 6 embryo transfers, and it was one of the biggest challenges and darkest periods of my life, hands down. The podcast was one of the only POSITIVE, funny, and honest online resources I could find, and does a great job of de-stigmatizing infertility. I recommend it to everyone! Happy to report that I’m now 33 weeks pregnant with twins, and still listening. Best of luck to you, and know that you are most DEFINITELY not alone.

    • CMS says...

      The Cut/NYMag has a really great column, “How I Got This Baby,” that touches on all sorts of ways women became or did not become mothers. I look forward to it every week, and it’s been comforting to me too on this bumpy road of fertility.

    • Susan says...

      Catherine-
      I know the struggle. I have always been very open about our fertility challenges and how blessed we feel to have come through it all with our precious boy. We tried without medicine and with Clomid,IUI, considered embryo adoption, traditional adoption and became pregnant with IVF. There is nothing to be ashamed of! I looked at it like, “every body is different, this is what my body is doing”. The same can be said of having one/none/more kid(s). I wish you strength on the journey.

    • rachelle bell says...

      Eggcelent Adveture podcast is great! I love listening and learning the ins and outs of the emotional rollercoaster that is ivf.

    • Lisa says...

      @ Catherine — I’ve been doing acupuncture for a year for secondary infertility – I have one son who is 4 – so far no success pregnancy wise, but the emotional benefits have been great. I feel more balanced. I’ve generally been open when family members ask, saying things like, “I’m open for it to happen! I’m ready! It just hasn’t happened yet.” Further than that, I don’t think I owe anyone any explanation. Also — YOU ARE ENOUGH. Just as you are. A baby won’t make you a “whole person.” You already are, and you’re right where you’re supposed to be, and you are loved.
      My husband and I are going to keep trying naturally. Maybe pregnancy will happen. Maybe it’s not in the cards. But life is going to be ok — good — beautiful, no matter the outcome.

    • Allison Stabile says...

      Oh, Catherine. You are not alone. But it does feel like a lonely road. Or, it did for me.

      5 miscarriages, one child (7) and finally thriving in the what-it-is not yearning for the what-I-wanted. You’ll get through this. Hugs.

    • Katie says...

      Amen – been there, injected that. IVF was the hardest, scariest, most intense thing I’ve ever done. Not to mention expensive! It strained every relationship in my life, especially the one with myself. That said I’m happy to say I’m currently pregnant. Scared everyday I’ll lose this baby but so grateful for my tiny miracle.

      Jo – I definitely think this would be a great series to support all the open men who gave infetitlity and feel its taboo. Happy to share my story and would love to lift the veil on s9,etching we shouldn’t have to be adshamed of.

      Catherine – my prayers and thoughts are with you, whatever you decide. Know you have a community of support out here rooting for you.

    • Carla says...

      Infertility is so very stressful, and you feel so lonely and left behind. For me IVF was very scary at first, but women are strong and you get used to the injections, shots, procedures, etc. We eventually chose embryo donation for our second child because we had male factor but I didn’t respond well to IVF. Follow your instinct, pray, never say never, and don’t feel you have to explain yourself if your plans change – for example, how many times did I say I’d never do another round of IVF. The IVF failures are devastating but you still hope. I sincerely wish if you do IVF you don’t have too many failed transfers. Good luck

    • Stefanie says...

      I agree that a discussion on infertility would help so many women here. As someone who wanted to have more than one child, had a miscarriage, and then was diagnosed with cancer, the treatment for which means no more pregnancy – I can tell you there are all different kinds of infertility and they are all painful. Even reading some of the comments here is too upsetting. I’m so happy though that I had my daughter before th diagnosis, not all people are so lucky.

    • Catherine says...

      Thank you all for these truly lovely comments – it’s been so comforting reading through them. One of the million reasons I love CoJ so much is because of the amazing readers :)

  67. Juliette says...

    I couldn’t agree more with Erin: we feel complete as a family. Our daughter is 20 months old so people are starting to ask us when we are planning on having the next one. And while saying you feel complete after two or three is accepted, people don’t believe us when we say that that’s it for us. But both my husband and I feel content and we have never been baby people. It’s us three, our cat and soon a dog and it’s bliss.
    Plus I suffered badly with post partum depression so I am scared to do that again and to impose it on my daughter as well. I feel it would be unfair to be a bad mother to her.
    One it is, whether people (family, friends, randoms…) like it or not.

  68. Lauren says...

    I knew I wanted a child, there was no doubt, how many was up in the air. But having my son at 35 (later then I thought I would be a mom) and knowing that if I had a second they would have to be at least 3-5 years apart, I pretty much knew I was only having one. Thinking about having another baby at 40 did not appeal to me whatsoever. In addition I had many complications and delays having my son, so to go through all that again also did not give me the warm and fuzzies. My son as also spoiled me in that he is one of the easiest kids I’ve ever seen. He lives to sleep, he eats almost everything and he’s always happy and cheerful. So I say why mess with perfection.

    • Rose says...

      This is crazy- I could’ve written this WORD FOR WORD!!!! I would add that in my case I had this weird lingering mom guilt that I’d deprived my extremely social son of something he might grow up to feel he’d missed out on (a sibling). But the truth is, I’m 40 and running out of energy! I just wouldn’t be the kindve mother to either of them I’d like to be. The sleep deprivation again might be enough to send me to an early grave! I also suspected (incorrectly) that my husband felt deprived of more until he set my mind at ease. I feel tremendously blessed to have one. If I could be guaranteed I’d have one more exactly as easy as this one I’d think about it .. but when have you ever heard any parent say their 2 kids were so much alike?? Also- the infertility journey was brutal so there’s probably no chance anyway.

  69. Sarah says...

    I love the idea of “finding balance”. Whether to have a second child is a question that enters my mind several times each day, usually when being struck by the enormous amount of love I feel for our two- year-old daughter. I own a small immigration law firm, manage a staff of eleven, and love to exercise daily, travel, and spend one on one time with my husband all between Court hearings and briefing deadlines. Spending quality time with our daughter has now become the single most important part of my day. Needles to say, fitting it all in is challenging. Sometimes I wonder whether having just one is the perfect compromise. I get the most amazing experience of being a mother and yet have a fulfilling career, travel, etc. I wonder if adding a second would push me over the edge and add too much to such an already full and busy life. And yet I struggle to wrap my head around not experiencing the joys of pregnancy, mothering an infant, and the sweetness of these toddler years once again. Hoping that a decision will eventually become clear.

    Thank you or this post. Would love a post on how working mothers as fathers find balance between parenthood and career.

    • LL says...

      Wow, you expressed my complete thoughts on this topic much better than I could, thank you for putting words to my emotions. I too have a 2-yr old daughter and flip-flop daily on whether or not expanding our family is the right decision for us. I feel so complete, yet don’t want to miss the opportunity to do it again. It’s difficult for me to decipher my own feelings and reconcile them with society’s expectations. My husband would be supportive either way, a blessing, yet this leaves further ambiguity to wade through.

    • Sarah says...

      Sarah, if you haven’t checked out the podcast, “Best of Both Worlds”, do so now! It’s an awesome new podcast hosted by two moms who work full time and have families, all about balancing career, life, family, etc.
      It’s such a hard decision- best of luck to you, and know that what really matters is what works for YOUR family.

    • You really hit home on a lot of feelings I have about whether to have another too. I always thought that once my son was out of the baby stage I would start to long for another, but he’s now 3 and none of those emotions of wanting another have been triggered. I’m terrified of exactly what you mentioned – what is a second would just be too much for me to handle emotionally?! So I go back and forth between telling myself it’s fine for that to be my reasoning and feeling like I’m robbing my son of the experience of a sibling just because I can’t bring myself to do something that hard. Almost like feeling bad for backing down from a shorter term challenge knowing that the sacrifice is a life long experience to my son if that makes sense?

    • Caitlin says...

      I have so many similar feelings. I love the life we have with our three year old, but I also feel sad at the idea of not having one more. We have balance, and we want to travel. Another would make the more flexible lifestyle we desire more challenging, but the idea of not giving my daughter a sibling leaves me disappointed. So many complex emotions. Thank you for the original post and all of these comments.

    • BH says...

      ” I wonder if adding a second would push me over the edge and add too much to such an already full and busy life.” Sarah, you expressed my sentiments on this issue so well. I have an almost one year old son who is the joy of my life. He’s spunky, independent, happy, and curious. I didn’t know I could love anyone as much as I love him. I have a career that I love – I’m also a lawyer – and a supportive spouse. The last year has been the hardest of my life – an unexpected C-section, a difficult recovery, challenges with breast feeding, the headache of fitting pumping into an already full work day, days (and days and days) out of the office to tend to a sick child, dealing with unsupportive family, stress on my marriage, depression, self doubt. Time for self care and time with my spouse are hard to come by. Everyone says it gets easier, but it hasn’t and I don’t know when it will. I love my job so much (and I think working makes me a better parent) but I mourn the time I lose with my son – between a full work day and a commute, we only get about 3 waking hours together each day. My spouse and I jealously guard our evenings and weekends as family time. This time as a family of 3 (plus our neurotic dog) are full and wonderful. Where and how does another child fit into this? I have always assumed I would have more than one child – I am the oldest of 3 and my spouse has a sister. But I have been questioning that assumption for the last several months. Neither my spouse nor I have ever really considered parenting one child. But after a challenging year, the thought of remaining a family of 3 is surprisingly comforting to me. Thank you, Cup of Jo, for this post – it is so reassuring and thought-provoking.

    • Sarah says...

      I feel all of this in the exact same way. It’s so hard to know if you’re life would be better off with another or if it’s already perfect the way it is.

    • Jess says...

      Sarah and BH and Caitlin – all of this. I return to this Cup of Jo post every now and again when the indecision of whether we will try for #2 becomes too much, and I am in need of good company :) I’m a professor at a medical school – and had my now 9-month old daughter at the brink of 40. After being an independent person in the world for so long – with a rewarding teaching and research career that took me to all of the corners of the world – and only meeting my husband in my late 30’s, motherhood wasn’t something I ever banked on. I saw a clear path forward without children that was deeply fulfilling. But my daughter has cracked open new vaults of happiness in the world that I never knew existed. The radius in which I travel has shrunken dramatically to a few blocks around my house, and I am surprised to find such deep happiness watching her discover the joy of plastic cups. This all makes me think: “i want MOREMOREMORE! of this!” But we live in an extraordinarily expensive city (that we like), and I’m not sure how we would afford childcare, college, etc for both. I also treasure the time I can lavish on my girl (she may not love this later in her life ;), and am anticipating the ways we can give her a childhood rich in all kinds of experiences. But then I think of how my childhood with my brothers didn’t involve exotic travel or spotlighted attention from my parents, and I wouldn’t trade my siblingships for any of those things. On top of it all, my husband (now 43) feels he doesn’t have the energy to have another child – he likes his sleep and time to himself, and I think he sees that all being totally obliterated by a second baby (when we are just starting to be able to steer a ship with just 1). No answers here but I wanted to thank everyone for sharing their story and letting my bang out mine here. The “stigma” of having an only is something else I am vulnerable to, which intensifies my feelings of ache even further.

  70. C says...

    I always thought I’d have just one but was never really at peace with that idea. Now having 2 at 10 years apart I find that I am so very grateful to take this journey again. When I had one I had no idea what I was doing! I feel I was rather a mess and mostly feeling my way forward. My love was and is strong but literally, no idea. With this new little person I realize that I too am a new person. I parent differently and understand much better the lightening fast way that little ones become big! I am so thankful for the gift of this new life and the depth she had brought to our world even though sometimes I truly do want to run far away. As I understand it though you can never truly know how things may have been, what your life could have been if… we can each simply choose to follow our hearts as best we can and embrace our choices with as much love and kindness that we would wish upon our children. (This is not meant to exclude those who struggle mightily w/infertility ♥️)

  71. N says...

    Married young, I was infertile for 13 years then after proper diagnosis for painful endometriosis, through modern surgical science (and lasers!) AND prayer, cleared up my internal scarring and one week later, at 38 years of age, we conceived our son. Was so over the moon! Then after he was born (an induction that turned into an emergency section) I became extremely sick, waking up after a month, doing my best at breastfeeding, unable to move my arms and hands upon each waking, literally paralyzed for weeks. I was diagnosed with a chronic disease I knew nothing of then, SLE, systemic lupus erythematosus. It was likely onset by the trauma of rapid hormone changes and physical stress after baby.

    I live in the country and my first year was devastating. The joy of having my son turned into utter fear of me dying alone, trying to care for my long-awaited, beautiful son, while my husband had to work, many times out of town at a long distance. My family was bizarrely detached from me during my time of need and I was turned down during repeated cries for help.
    During this time I suffered lung and heart issues made me realize that I just needed to be there for my son, and that was all. I was so afraid of leaving him after getting sick…the pain was so frightening. I questioned God, the universe and it all. Why was I given such a glorious life, after so many years, only to suffer afterwards?

    I can truly only say that my faith, my rock, helped me through.
    In those dark hours, suffering in pain in bed, while my son lay quietly lay sleeping near me, I could only rely on prayer and asking/begging the Creator of the universe to be near me and not leave my side. It’s darkly amazing how suffering put me in touch with my spirituality very quickly…

    Long story short, I now manage my pain and my son is the most amazing 4 year old. So vibrant, fun, confident, hilarious, sweet and tenacious! My joy!
    He was an utter miracle with a twist. I still guilt myself into thinking he needs another sibling, but it could kill me. Especially now at 42.5.
    Instead of a child, I have given him world full of joy, play, friends, fresh air, animals, cousins and utter devotion.
    There are absolutely no guarantees in life; it can all change in a flash, into outcomes never expected.
    I am so so lucky I was able to have one, despite it all.
    Thanks for letting me ramble.

    • Rose says...

      Thank you for sharing this :)

    • Briana says...

      Wow! Thanks for sharing your story. I also have endometriosis and I’m considering getting the scar tissue removed so we could possibly get pregnant naturally. Did the doctors clear it with lasers? Was it laparoscopic? What city did you have the surgery? Hope is such a big deal to me right now. Thank you again and I’m so happy that you have your son.

    • N says...

      Yes Briana! It was a laparoscopy where a few minor incisions on my abdomen were made and internally lasers are used to burn the scarring and lesions.
      Everything after happened naturally. Had sex a week later (dr said give it a go) during “prime time”, and prayers answered. Find a well-rated obgyn surgeon who does lots of these procedures successfully in your area. I’m in Canada. MD ratings can be online. My surgeon had zero bedside manner but did her job flawlessly. There is ALWAYS hope. My journey was very long and lonely…i know how lucky I am to live in the modern age where these things are at least possible. If I would of been born 30+ years earlier, no way. Keep trying and advocate for yourself-I learned my lessons waaay to late.
      Hugs and keep us posted please. Ask anything else too! ❤️

  72. I have an only child. He’s 10. Unless I adopt he’ll stay an only child.

    Sometimes it makes me sad. He’s an extrovert and I’m not amd I think it would be easier for him to have a sibling. Take some of the pressure off me to talk amd constantly hear another person talking. Why do they talk so much?

    But we have a dog and cat nad he gets jealous if they get attention (though he wants more and more pets all the time) and I don’t know that I have the emotional capacity to pander to 2 (or more) sensitive children.

    I always imagined a home full of children so that’s why I get sad. And some people love pregnancy but I really didn’t. I was ill from conception to (early) birth and miserable.

    Nothing guarantees siblings will be friends. Maybe because I have many (9) – some I rarely talk to because I just don’t like them as people or their lifestyle choices.

  73. Jos says...

    My son is an only but he is not lonely! Turning 17 this Tues, he is a divine chap – sociable, caring, loving – all of that and more. I get so fed up with throw away lines about only children being precocious or spoilt. It’s not a special trait of onlys – you can see that in children with siblings any day. If you decide to have just the one you make all sorts of choices around ensuring they have playdates with their peers. Our son can hang with a two year old as easily as he can hang wiht a 70 yr old – he has been brought up to socialise in all sorts of settings and situations. I’m v proud of who he is and where he will go in this world. Let’s not judge the onlys and their parents.

    • Carolyn says...

      This is so true, Jos. My husband and I got really tired of hearing about all the personality and behaviour issues that would supposedly plague our son if we didn’t have another child. He was neither self-centred nor spoiled and people often commented on how he didn’t fit the typical “only child” mould (whatever that is). Like your son, ours was, and continues to be, comfortable in all social situations and easily makes new friends wherever he goes. He’s a grown man now, and we couldn’t be more proud of him and who he’s become. I can’t imagine how siblings would have improved this.

  74. Carrie says...

    I am the mother of a single child (personally I prefer that term to “only”) who is 8. I am so grateful for this post and for the comments.
    I have one sibling who I’m closer to now as an adult but we had a pretty difficult relationship as kids. My husband has many siblings who he is close to. Ironically, before having any kids, I wanted more than one but he wasn’t sure.
    It took my husband and I a long time to come out of the baby haze and then there was just life, and another just didn’t happen. We did talk about it but I think neither of us were committed enough to a second to push too hard, and time just kept ticking. We did try in earnest for about 6 months, but easily let it go after that.
    I often wonder if I will regret this, but honestly, I feel like my life has so much balance and I am happy with our little threesome. I feel somewhat sane, I can have my own life, while enjoying the benefits of an amazing child and family.
    I am exhausted by negative commentary about single children. We don’t do the same level of commenting about oldest or youngest or middle, do we? Maybe we do. Thoughts?
    Also- I struggle with the “wanting to give the child a sibling” reason for having kids. I believe that parents need to want to parent another child. As other comments have said, there is no guarantee regarding a sibling relationship and plenty of older children wish they could send back their younger siblings (I don’t know anything about that, wink wink). I’m sure younger siblings often wish the older would vanish as well. This is not to put down the incredible sibling relationships out there, obviously. Just saying it’s not a sure thing.
    Would love to see a similar post about single mothers or fathers by choice.
    And thank you to Jo and beautiful readers for this conversation.

  75. Naomi P. says...

    Thank you for this post. There is so much I want to say about this topic. But there is only so much time and so much space. So….

    Dear Kate, your comments touched me deeply. While my situation is no way as tough as yours, I can appreciate your struggle and especially identified with your comment about being terrified of sex. My daughter is 6 and I still struggle with this. My pregnancy and my daughter’s birth were incredibly stressful, knowing she had a significant (but fixable) birth defect. The unknown, the fear of surgeries, the guilt and emotional strain of knowing you need to guide your own child through pain at an age where she will know pain… knowing you will have to see your child in pain and can’t do anything about it other than hug and hold. That is enough emotional strain for me and I’m terrified of having to possibly do this twice.

    I’m an only and I loved it. I had a wonderful, loving childhood, and I don’t regret or miss having a sibling. I knew, before we had our daughter, that I would be perfectly happy with just one. We always said, let’s have one, then consider a second… So when the one was hard… and yet so fulfilling, it was easy to be done with just one.

    That being said – I really dislike referring to it as “one and done” or “just one” … I have a daughter. I have a husband. I have two cats. End of statement. I don’t need to justify this and no one else should either. I don’t expect my friends who have two kids to explain WHY they have two – just as I don’t think anyone should ask me. It just is. And it is lovely, either way.

    • Chels says...

      100% all of this. Don’t pity me or assume I’m selfish because I chose to have one. I will do my damndest not to pity you or assume you’re selfish because you had 2 (or 6).

  76. Meg says...

    This is such a lovely piece to read (and the comments). We have a darling little boy and he’ll likely be our one and only. I’m 37 tomorrow and struggled with miscarriages for a few years. I had a horrific pregnancy and couldn’t manage another one. I feel a little guilty not giving my son a sibling but hoping to give him a wonderful life.

    Thank you Jo, for the space to have these conversations. xxx

    • Carolyn says...

      Oh Meg, your little guy will be just fine! When my son was little, I too wondered how it would be for him not having a sibling, so I know what you mean. But he’s grown now and he’s awesome — secure, happy, independent, confident — the list goes on! We don’t regret it because, in the end, we were able to spend so much time with him and do for him all the things we wanted to. People love to tell you all the negative stereotypes about onlys but just ignore them! Our son wasn’t spoiled or socially awkward because we exposed him to all sorts of people and experiences and he thrived. Your son will too!

  77. Claire says...

    I’m an only child. I know I’m biased in this (wink wink), but I really do believe that only children grow up to be more well-adjusted, confident, and high-achieving people. Not because we’re so special or anything, but when you get such all-encompassing attention from your parents and spend lots of your childhood around adults, it’s just bound to happen!

    My parents divorced when I was really young, which means I got lots of one-on-one time with both of them. My mom and I are really close, and I’m so grateful for it. I also have a really special connection with aunts and uncles and grandparents.

    That said, my dad passed away when I was in my early twenties and that’s when I started to really wish I had siblings, because it was a really difficult thing to face on my own. (My mom was there for me every step of the way, but since she hadn’t been married to my dad in nearly 20 years, I was the only immediate family member he left behind and it was a lot of responsibility for me at a really young age.) It hit me that all the family members I am closest to are at least a generation older than me, and at some point, they’ll all be gone and I’ll be left alone. This has made me think that when I become a parent, I’ll want to have at least two – but there are so many wonderful things about being just a family of three that I still am not totally sure.

    My mom eventually remarried after her divorce and I ended up with stepsiblings who are close to me in age. I’d say we were raised more like cousins than siblings (though we definitely feel like close family now after all these years) because we had different sets of parents and lived by different rules even though we were in the same house about half the time. When they moved in I realized what a relief it was to have a family that looked “normal” to society after all those years as an only child with a single parent. It does come with a form of privilege, or at least a lack of awkwardness that I was used to before, and it was so interesting to see what a difference it made in the way people reacted to us.

    Not sure why I’m sharing all this but I hope it’s helpful to anyone who needs it. :)

  78. A.M. says...

    I always assumed that I would have 2-3 kids and very much wanted to be a mother, even more so after several miscarriages. But when I had my daughter I found the reality very challenging–I sometimes say that I lost myself during the 1st 6 months–and I began to feel a really strong conviction that having a 2nd child might not be the right choice (my husband feels the same). This parenting gig is HARD. I’ve tried not to forget this conviction, but the societal and family pressure is so strong that it’s easy to be swayed.
    The hardest part of the only child choice for me is that it’s not only a result of feeling that our family is complete as is, but also the admission that motherhood does not come as easily to me as I thought it would, and I don’t want to make it harder for me to be a good mom, which is kind of what I feel will happen. I wish I could be the mom that relished it all so much I was ready to jump in again, and it saddens me that I’m not.
    The only child thing is so strange. People really do look at you askance if you “choose” just one. It’s as if they think you’re selfish. There’s also this assumption, I think, that if you love the first the first child so much you will of course want to replicate that with another, and therefore the converse must be true…that somehow you don’t love the first that much. But it’s because I love her so much that I don’t want to compromise that in any way.
    Clearly this has been weighing on my mind of late! Sigh.

    • Leah says...

      I identify so clearly with what you have written, it’s almost like I wrote it myself.

      My son is 3.5. He’s wonderfully happy playing by himself or with friends. He’s travelled, eats well and loves his parents. What more could we ask for?

      I have been babysitting since I was eight. I thought I wanted three kids but after our son was born, I realized there’s a huge difference between sitting and being a mom. I truly struggled and didn’t come out of a dark fog until he was 18 months old. The idea of starting all over again gives me sheer anxiety.

      My husband is done. 99.3% of the time, I’m right there with him. I have zero interest having another one but my son being alone at 65 gets to me. And yet again, I have a brother and it will all be on me. Blood does not guarantee a relationship.

      I’ve got this. I can manage one and actually enjoy it. I’m balanced and at peace. I love my husband. I love my son and career. When are we going to give ourselves a break and say screw stereotypes?! Peace is my goal. Happiness is my dream. Isn’t that enough?!

  79. Amy says...

    This post and all the comments have really spoken to me. I always assumed I wanted two kids. We got pregnant the very first month we started trying and then miscarried at the end of my first trimester. A year passed before my next pregnancy and subsequent miscarriage. Then began the infertility testing, procedures, etc., culminating in two rounds of egg retrievals, from which just two chromosomally-normal embryos fertilized. We transferred one and beautifully, got pregnant. Then I started throwing up. And didn’t stop. I was diagnosed with hyperemisis gravidarum. I lost a lot of weight and was put on at-home IV treatment. Finally we gave birth to a gorgeous, healthy boy, who had colic for the first five months of his life. At 15 months now, our son is a wonder; he’s bright and hilarious and HARD. We’ve spent the last year or so in a fog of exhaustion. It’s so hard for me to fathom going through IVF, hyperemisis (I’d have at least a 75% chance of having it again), sleep deprivation and god forbid, colic, again. Only this time, I’d also have a toddler! I feel some sadness about that other embryo we have on ice. And frankly, I sometimes feel un-womanly for not being all gung-ho about trying to give my son a sibling. I’m struggling with this everyday, but it’s becoming clearer for me that one might be our magic number. Thank you to all the other women out there sharing their feeling on this topic.

    • Lisa says...

      I too had a hard pregnancy (hard is an understatement but whatever I’ll go with that). Have you considered surrogacy? Especially if you already have an embryo! I’m looking into it right now.

  80. Christine says...

    Thank you for this post – I have been waiting for it. Thanks also for all of the heartfelt comments – many of them echo my feelings about having one child. I am the mom of a 5 year old boy who is likely to be an only child. As my son gets older, I have found myself hungry for examples of families with one child. With my 40th birthday looming, I still swing back and forth between continued hope for a second child and joy/acceptance with having one wonderful child.

  81. TC says...

    After the (lack of) sleep I’ve been getting with my 8 month old the past few weeks, chances are he’ll be an only child. I’m so tired — how do people do this again and again? :)

  82. Savannah says...

    I’m an only child (my mom had me at 37 and wasn’t able to have more children) and I’m currently pregnant with my first baby. I’m not making up my mind either way about if we’ll have more than one but I’m definitely trying to enjoy my pregnancy and all of the milestones because this very well could be my only one.

    I absolutely loved/love being an only child! I’m extremely close to my parents and grandparents and I was lucky to have a best friend who lived next door so I was hardly ever alone growing up. Before my grandparents passed away I did have a support system to talk through problems or frustrations I was having with my parents and now I sometimes wish I had a sibling to connect with when it comes to my parents but I’m also aware that even if I had a sibling there isn’t a guarantee we would have that type of relationship.

    My husband has a sister and they have a somewhat strained relationship. As does my mom and brother and quite a few friends I have with siblings. So I think I’m very aware that just by virtue of having a sibling doesn’t mean the relationship will be healthy. Of course I see sisters who are best friends and think about how nice that must be, but I’m extremely happy with my life and having such a special relationship with my parents.

    I have found that people have preconceived ideas about only children that we’re selfish or weird which can be frustrating but I just try to remind myself there are stereotypes surrounding oldest, middle, or youngest children too and to not take anything personal.

    Deciding on how best to build your family is so deeply personal and there are countless ways to create a happy family.

    Thank you for this post!

    • Faye says...

      Love your comments! Thanks for sharing!

    • Meg says...

      This was such a great comment. As the mother of an only daughter, I hope she’ll feel like you do when she is an adult. And I get very irritated by the stereotypical comments as well. If you look into the research, only children typically have better than average maturity, empathy, intelligence, etc.

  83. Kelly says...

    I am so appreciative of this posting. After years of infertility and being told we had less than 10% chance of having a baby, when I found out I was pregnant, it was the best moment of my life. She is a healthy 6 year old now, and the great love of our life. I would have loved more, but it wasn’t in the stars. I think a lot of older parents have similar stories to mine. Any child is a miracle, so families should never be made to feel they are any “less than” by having one. That’s why I loved your posting! Friends and cousins are incredible “siblings”. Less fighting, haha.

    • Julia says...

      Exact same boat, and I totally agree!

    • Elisa says...

      This is my story, as well. We’re thrilled to have our wonderful 7 year old and wouldn’t have it any other way, even though more children aren’t an option.

  84. Kim says...

    My husband and I each have one sibling. Neither of us are close to our siblings and never were. We decided to have only one child even before we were married. We wanted to be able to devote our time and energy as parents to one child 100%. I also like that our son is addressed by his name when he is being talked about versus “the kids.” I personally think only children are more confident and independent adults. There are times when I think I want another, but after much introspection, I realize that I only like the IDEA of another – not the reality. Our little tripod of a family is perfect for us.

  85. Anon. for obvious reasons says...

    I was always, always a “one and done”. The universe surprised me with twins. I’m 12 weeks pregnant and still trying to make peace with it. I briefly considered aborting one (I have about one more week for that particular window to be safe) but I worried I’d get angry at someone’s teenage shenanigans and feel like I picked the wrong one.

    Too scary.

    So two. And then yes, we are certainly done!

    • Rebekah says...

      Blessings. You will be a good mother to these two little ones, though it’s not what you foresaw. :)

    • A Friend says...

      This happened to me too! My twins are almost a year and a half and they are incredible and the absolute greatest loves of my life, but LORD, the first several months were ever so trying. And you will feel like an amazing superhero for getting through it all. But it does feel nice to have two little ones in one fell swoop. Congratulations and God speed! : )

  86. Saz says...

    This was really interesting – thanks!
    It made me think of another similar topic I’d love to read about on here… I don’t know if you’ve already done it…
    Thing is, I’m slowly edging towards a time of life, where the likelihood of having my own biological child is becoming less likely, and I’m increasingly okay with it. But I’d love to hear more from women (especially single women) who made a conscious decision to remain child-free, and live with it very happily.

    • I second this post idea! :)

    • Ashley H. says...

      Can I “third” this?!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea! we would love to do this. thank you so much.

    • Lena says...

      Can I fourth this, but also add that I’d love to see such a post that doesn’t just involve those said women doing lots of traveling or luxury living as a means to happiness? Some of us in that boat are women with little expendable income and would be great see that reflected too when you do the post. Thank you so much!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      definitely hear you, lena!! thank you!!!

    • Love My Cat says...

      Along with my husband, I made the decision to not have children (coincidentally, I am also an only child, which presents its own challenges, ie: parents! you will never be grandparents even though that’s your dream!). In October, I accidentally got pregnant. I planned to have an abortion, because we still did not want to be parents. I googled forever to find women who were happily married, had an abortion, but didn’t have children (I know… very specific); I came up with nothing and I’ve never felt so alone. I was 100% confident in my decision, but also felt like a monster of a woman. Who aborts a child when they, on paper, would be a perfect mother!! Anyway, I miscarried before I had to go thru with an abortion and promptly got an IUD. So, ya. Women who are happy not being mothers would be a welcome post.

  87. Katha says...

    This was such a nice thing to read.

    I am an only child and so is my husband. I have always liked being an only child.

    We have three children now and no idea what we‘re doing ;)

  88. Marlena says...

    This post invoked in me a strong and deep reaction. As a parent of one, by choice, I always felt we were complete and did not need to keep going. Luckily for me my husband felt the same way! I have always felt that since the industrial revolution has long been over that overpopulation is a huge problem and that having multiple children to teach them to share or to create a “real” family is just a conceit. I come from a rather large and close family, which I appreciate, however; in this day and age where having more children to help on the farm or to offset child morbidity is outdated it seems to me it is important to raise quality rather than quantity in our progeny.

    • Meg says...

      Yes. Haven’t seen many posts about the environmental costs of additional children. Having one fewer child reduces your carbon footprint exponentially more than any other “lifestyle” change you can make.

    • Jen says...

      Yes this this this! Definitely something we’re considering as I work in the environmental and global development fields, hah.

  89. J.M. says...

    This post really hits home. My husband and I are parents to our adorable 5 month old daughter. My pregnancy was very unexpected as I assumed I was too old to get pregnant without any kind of intervention because early menopause runs in my family (my mother stopped her period at 38) and I had been having issues with skipping periods for several months. I was in complete shock when I got pregnant at 35. Despite my fears of something going wrong, my pregnancy was uneventful and my daughter was born healthy. Although she is the light of our lives and motherhood is more fulfilling that I ever expected, it is also the hardest job in the world and trying to balance that with my relationship with my husband, a full time job, time for my friends and family, and time for myself has really been a struggle. I didn’t really enjoy pregnancy and do not look forward to another c-section (or vbac). We had a very difficult first few weeks with my daughter home as we had to evacuate our home because of Hurricane Irma when my daughter was 2 weeks old and did not have electricity for 11 days after. Breast feeding and pumping were a nightmare. I cried because I felt like taking care of my baby was a chore. Every feeding took over an hour because I had to do breast-bottle-breast, then pump as the lactation consultant recommended. I didn’t feel bonded to her very early on. I can’t imagine going through all of that a second time, yet part of me wants a second chance, a “do over”. My husband is on the “one and done” train but I can’t say for sure 100%. My daughter is so perfect to us and I can’t imagine having another one that makes us feel like this. It is comforting hearing from others who have one child that do not regret their decision and hearing from others who are on the same undecided boat as me. Most of the people around me assume that they are going to have at least 2 kids, but I just don’t have that desire right now. Maybe things will change when my daughter is a little bit older, but right now I can imagine our family being a family of 3 forever.

    • Lena says...

      J.M., i feel for you so much. That must have been so traumatic and anxiety provoking to go through the Irma evacuation and lack of electricity so close to having your baby, by a C section no less. Just wanted to send you empathy, appreciation for all you must have had to do to get through and care for your daughter with such love, and hugs.

    • Heather says...

      It’s nice to know someone else is in this same boat. Our son is 3mo and I’ve already received comments about his sibling(s). But all I can think is: can I put myself through that again? The heartache of a failed embryo transfer? (We’d be having another with frozen embryos.) Another traumatic birth? Another NICU stay? Another round of low milk supply? If I have another and it’s all easier, what does that do to the struggle and hardships my little guy and I had to endure? As you said, maybe this will change as our babies get older. In the meantime, I wanted to let you know you aren’t alone. ❤️

  90. Liz says...

    Thank you Chris for your perspective. I too am a parent by adoption. After thinking I would never be a mom and then being given the greatest gift in my son (who was an amazing baby/sleeper/eater), I don’t want to tempt fate and am happy with what I have. I am older now and really love the life we have created as a family of three. While I think my son would gain some things with a sibling, he also would lose some things. It isn’t an easy decision but after 3 1/2 half years, I am finally starting to come to peace with our decision. Some days are easier than others and this post really helped me on the path to acceptance.

  91. Olivia says...

    I’m not an only child – quite the opposite (nine siblings!) – but I had to comment because THAT. PHOTO. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a visceral reaction to a photograph before. I’m a photographer and I wish I took it. It’s stunning.

    • Laurel Hammond says...

      It is so moving! I know that feeling – that” I wish I took it feeling. ” based on your comment I feel like I would like your photos… do you have a website?

  92. Cara says...

    I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids when I became accidentally pregnant at 33. In the months after I found out I was pregnant, my sister died unexpectedly, I realized my workplace was not super cool with my having a child, and I scrambled to find a different job (and the one I found was in another city). It was hands-down the most stressful period of my life, but I survived, and pregnancy was this weirdly comforting constant during this terrible time. I now have a bright, talkative, extremely inquisitive four-year-old, and I feel like he is the perfect child for me. I’m a single mom now, and I have a job I like in a city I love. My son and I live in our little dream bungalow with our two cats. I don’t even want to hope for anything more.

    • Emily says...

      I am so moved by your hope and joy in the midst of so many trials and challenges! What a great reminder that even though life will not go as planned, it can still be really, really good.

  93. Lucy says...

    This post went up the night after my husband and I had a very difficult conversation about having another child. We have twins, as a result of years of infertility treatment, and I assumed they would be our “onlies.” But my husband has voiced his feeling that although we have two, we only got to expereince each stage of parenting once. He wants so much to try for a third (using embryos we’ve frozen) but after all of the treatments, miscarriages, lost sleep that comes from raising two infants simultaneously, two full-time careers and a harried pace of life with two four year olds, I just can’t picture it. But what keeps me up at night and hurts my heart is that I am saying no to something my partner desperately wants. When I was dealing with repeat pregnancy loss and infertility I would never have thought that choosing not to have a child would be such a heartbreaking decision.

  94. olivia says...

    Gosh, this hits at such an interesting time for me. I’ve read through the comments and they are so fascinating. My husband and I are completely on the fence about having another. We have a six month old (who took 2 years to conceive), and from someone who wasn’t sure if I wanted kids at all, I’ve surprised myself with how much I LOVE motherhood – I truly feel like that quote “to become a mother is to allow your heart to go walking outside your body” – which makes me wonder if I’m meant to mother and expand this love even more. But, we’re in a small house in a wonderful neighborhood (at the top of our budget), and while we could afford more, we really like our lifestyle, and want to be able to provide even more for her than we are right now (in terms of saving). My husband and I aren’t close with our siblings, so our thought is that it is less about siblings for her, and more about how we want our family to look. And, I had a very rough delivery experience, and am still recovering from it. It’s hard to process these feelings and I wonder sometimes if I want another just to “do-over” the experience, which seems completely crazy. This is on my mind so much, and I’m terrified of getting pregnant again too soon, or of ruining my relationship with my daughter, as my relationship with my sister has caused and still causes a lot of pain and guilt from my parents to me. It’s hard and complex and I probably just need to spend some time in therapy figuring it all out. Anyway, thanks for the post and for the wonderful comments.

  95. S says...

    The pressure from society for couples to have more than one child is real. Pregnancy was torturous for me and I felt that I wanted to stop at one. I felt it was the smarter choice for us financially, living in a very expensive city, plus I knew I become overwhelmed easily. But I was raised hearing all the stereotypes of the only child, had pressure from my husband and other family members. I didn’t stand strong in my desire to have one. And, of course the love that a mother feels for her child is just out of this world and it can be pretty seductive to have another little human join the family and love so well. So, the call for another baby came. But the second pregnancy was even harder on me and 5 years after having my very loved, wonderful, challenging, sweet boy, I have not fully recovered. My career that I worked so hard for (and have major debt for the masters degree) has been set aside because physically I am not able to do it. I have to focus on my family and my health. This has very hard for me, though peace has been coming. I love both my children and never regret my 2nd, but there’s that part of me that thinks….Why were you swayed? Why didn’t you stick to your intuition? I so fully commend and respect women who know themselves well enough to stop at one.

    • Birgit says...

      “ I so fully commend and respect women who know themselves well enough to stop at one.“
      thanks for this!

    • G says...

      Lovely post! I hear you about the pressure… from TV adverts showing us the perfect family (and of course, ideally one girl, one boy) to museum tickets discounted specifically for families of four, it’s all around us.

    • Juliette says...

      We were actually talking about this yesterday with my husband. We were annoyed about to have once again received questions and pressurising comments about having a second child and said people (not just women actually) should be able to have that conversation with themselves and be honest about what they WANT vs. what is expected of them…

    • Chels says...

      Thank you for sharing and for your encouragement. I’m 99% one-and-done, but it’s hard to ignore the guilt and pervasive societial rewards for families with 2 kids. Your words are so helpful.

    • Melissa says...

      I feel that way about my first and only child. Love her to death but in retrospect I have realized I became a parent to please other people, not myself.

  96. I love this post, specially the “striving for balance” part, because that’s exactly how my husband and I feel. We live in Manhattan and we do love our lifestyle with one kid. We love traveling, we love our apartment, and we feel complete with our 2.5 son. People often ask me when I’m getting pregnant again instead asking if we’d like another kid, it’s annoying. But we’re happy with our little family! :)
    Xx,
    Fernanda

  97. Heather says...

    I used to want 4 or 5, but after 11 years of infertility, I would happily be a mama to just one!

    • Nicole says...

      Just want to wish you luck, Heather! Will be sending you all sorts of good vibes and hope that you get your wish very soon! xx

    • Heather says...

      My infertility/IVF journey was not as long, so I can only imagine what it must feel like to try for 11 years. Sending you love and light, and sincerely hoping for your chance at motherhood. ❤️❤️

  98. Lisa says...

    This post really speaks to my heart. After a perfect, careless pregnancy our son was born in 2011. Then came some extremely happy but also difficult years, struggling to find the balance between being parents and also partners. Having a second child was not at all in our thoughts at the time. When we finally felt ready to give it a try, we realized how much truth there is in “man plans and God laughs”. In the last two years we had three consecutive pregnancies with a bad ending: two of them in the first trimester and one in the second. All three due to chromosomal abnormalities. We do not know yet if we will eventually manage to become a family of 4, but this last year, after all the pain and disappointment, I have come to terms with the possibility of our son being our only child. I wake up every day feeling grateful for the miracle that he is!

  99. Laura says...

    Oh the tears! Thank you for sharing such beautiful stories. This is a question I am struggling with now. I have a beautiful baby boy who is about to turn one. He was the best surprise to both me and his Dad, but his Dad and I can’t seem to get our relationship to work. Whereas before, I didn’t even know I wanted a child, now I am filled with this weird greedy longing for another baby. I finally have the baby itch so many of my friends had described and I had never understood. I feel desperate, willing to put up with a dysfunctional relationship all so I can possibly have another baby. I’m afraid that if I leave this relationship, there will never be another opportunity for another baby. I was so lucky! How can such good fortune strike twice?! What therapy to write this. And how helpful to hear stories of parents who think having one baby is wonderful. Because it is wonderful.

    • J says...

      Laura, I feel i could have written this comment. In my case the longer for another (and to give my little one a sibling) is so bad, I often consider staying in a dysfunctional *and* abusive relationship. I don’t want to be even more tied to my co-parent and I don’t even want to co-parent with him again, but I’m almost 41 and honestly I just want his sperm and don’t want to miss my window while I take the time needed to seek out another option. I think about it every day and feel awful. Most likely I will miss my window, and he’ll go on to have another child with someone else younger down the line.

    • J says...

      *longing

  100. Amy says...

    Such a welcome post, and it couldn’t be more timely. We have a wonderful, funny 2.5 year old little boy. I think only recently have I, we, come to the awareness that we’re done and happy (and SO relieved). Thank you for this post; I can’t wait to read the comments.

  101. Katherine says...

    “Out of nowhere, a pregnant woman’s swollen belly or the sight of two car seats in the back of a car knock me right over.” – How beautiful and gut wrenchingly accurate/similar in describing my pain after losing a pregnancy after my first child.

    The strength of these women and the way in which they poignantly share their experiences will give comfort to more people than they know. Bravo.

  102. Emily says...

    One interesting thing I am running into at this point, with my only child being 10, is a lot of parents of multiple children asking me to help them out with various things (could you take my child w/ you to practice–it’s so hard for us to manage because we have three kids; or could so and so come for a playdate-he and his brother are fighting like crazy today and driving me nuts; OR the expectation that my house is where one of their two or three children should automatically play since their house is more chaotic b/c they have multiple kids). I don’t mind it too much it’s more of just an observation and it’s funny to me to think that someone thinks I should bear their extra burden b/c my load isn’t as heavy as theirs–when for the most part they have chosen to have multiple children and I have elected to have one.

    • Laurel Hammond says...

      My son is only 2 but this is so interesting!

    • Yes to this! My son is 5.5 and I often end up with extra car pool duties etc for families that have 2+ kids. I don’t mind bc it’s easy for me but what irks me is when people complain constantly about how much stress their kids cause-activities, fighting etc. you chose to have those kids and create a life like that. Don’t complain.

    • A.M. says...

      This is hilarious. I feel like that kind of complaining or assuming someone else can cover for them is often true of people who choose a more stressful job or life, but it’s really ironic when people judge you for having an only child and then simultaneously take advantage! Consider me warned, ye parents of many children!

    • Sarah says...

      This happens to me all. the. time. Neighbors send their children over (for hours — including meals) and I’m asked to babysit/shuttle/sub for volunteering duties. It hadn’t bothered me until recently, when I finally realized it was not all in my head! It’s nice to be helpful but I have a busy life too!

  103. Jo says...

    One child seems right for my family. Financially, emotionally, environmentally and all the rest. Our little boy is 4. He is social and out going, but can play by himself and entertain himself when needed. He often asks to leave a party as he has had enough of the crowds. However lately he has told me he wants to be a brother. This breaks my heart as I just don’t know how to tell him this isn’t going to happen. A few of his school friends are about to have new additions to their families and I wonder if this is what has triggered it. Do I give him what he thinks he wants or stick to what I feel is best for our family? Its such a tough one…..

    • Chelci says...

      I remember when my son was age 4 and he too would ask for a sibling but by age 6 he was over it. I think because he started to see the annoyance of a younger sibling through his friends. We were honest about our choice to only have him. He’s nearly 9 now and just fine with our decision to be a family of three. Best of luck to you!

    • Dianne says...

      I have one children and my sister has four. Every time she had a baby, my daughter wanted a sibling. When her cousins got a horse, she wanted one, too. Thankfully, I never took her wants too seriously. :)

    • Rose says...

      Ugh I’m going though the same thing.. my son is about to turn 5 and has been bringing up wanting a sibling a lot the last 6 months or so. When he plays with his toys the action figures are always brothers. I’m heartbroken to be withholding something from him but the struggle just to get him has made me chronically ill. Physically, I can’t possibly handle doing more treatments at this stage.

  104. Nicole says...

    I am an only child and, selfishly, I’ve basked in the undivided attention my parents gave me. My father was in the Navy and gone for months at a time during my childhood, leaving my mother and me to forge a strong bond between the two of us. When my father was home, it gave my mother the opportunity to take a break and do the things she enjoyed, allowing my dad and I to make up for any lost time one-on-one. My parents are honest in that having only one child became a matter of convenience — moving every 3 years is hard, and having only me to nurture and help with the adjustment was easier and more cost effective. Because I have a strong relationship with both of my parents, I never felt I was lacking anything. My parents are my best friends, a comfort and a relief throughout all the moves and changes.

  105. Hannah says...

    Despite loving my brother and stepsister, growing up I sometimes wished I was an only child. I have no qualms about raising an only child, but I do have a question for those only children out there…my only concern in having one child would come into play later in his/her life. As an only child, do you wish you had a sibling by your side when your parents are no longer alive?

    • Katha says...

      This is a valid question.
      I am only child and so is my husband. As much as I have always liked being an only child I fear the day when my (our) parents will need more help in their daily life or even full time care and I‘ll have no siblings to support me. For me it‘s not so much about what is once they‘re gone. It‘s more about when they‘ll need my support and it‘ll be hatd to do that all by myself.

      I don‘t feel line this should be of concern when deciding on how many children to raise.

    • Jessica says...

      I’m an only child and have always loved it. I do sometimes think about how hard it will be when my parents get older and I’m dealing with it alone, but there are also no guarantees with siblings. I’ve seen many friends deal with troubled or irresponsible siblings and I’m so glad that will never be a problem I’ll have. When you’re an only child your friends often become your family. I’ve had my same two best friends since childhood, my chosen siblings in a way. They will be by my side through the tough times.

    • Natalie says...

      My best friend is an only child and I love her and her parents. Though we are not biological sisters I would be there for her through anything as she has done for me.

    • Jordyn says...

      I’ve read almost all the comments on this post and I think they’re beautiful and valid. Everyone’s opinions are right for them… My experience though is the opposite of what the majority is writing. I have a brother I’m close with — along with my entire family. 2 years ago my mother passed away and it was very hard for all of us. I decided then that I wanted more kids and family to love on and to support when life gets hard. I leaned on my brother and husband so much when we lost my mom, and I couldn’t of imagined going through that without them. When my dad passes away, I find comfort in knowing there is someone left who knows my beginnings (my brother). Someone I can remember my the magic of childhood with, who understands it all, who knew my parents the way I knew them. Someone who is a part of my story. I feel my brother was the greatest gift my parents gave me.

      Also, when my mom died (at 59 from cancer), my grandmother, who also lost her son, my uncle (when he was 35 from AIDS), had lost both of her children. Her pain was (and still is) indescribable. The fear of no longer having children, who are the focus of my world, is real.

      Please don’t construe this post as to judge or belittle anyone’s decision, I only felt it right to share another, different heartfelt perspective –

      PS: I love what Natalie said.

    • Malia says...

      Yes. I loved being an only child as a kid because I didn’t have to deal with siblings, sharing things, having things broken, etc., and knew I had more opportunities my folks couldn’t have managed otherwise. As an adult, however, I feel lonely. I don’t have close friends nearby and my cousins live thousands of miles away. It’s also stressful dealing with aging parents alone, especially from a distance. And now that my dad has died, it’s difficult helping/managing my elderly mom from afar. Seeing my two kids interact really makes me me wish I had a sibling.

    • Kate says...

      Desperately.

    • Emily says...

      I’m an only child. While I respect my parents decision to have one, I disliked it as a child (and asked for a sibling every year for Christmas) As an adult, it’s even worse. I’m 34/single/childless and have seen both parents through cancer treatment over the past 5 years. I feel incredibly lucky to still have them both, but I realize if something happened I’d be all alone in the world. It would have been great to have a sibling to lean on during these times.

    • Marnie says...

      I grew up with a brother. However, my brother passed away when he was in his twenties. So, I will be taking care of my aging parents, eventually, without him. Even starting out as not-an-only child doesn’t guarantee that siblings can help out later in life, they could be irresponsible, or,as in my case, they could pass away before the parents do.

    • Jen says...

      I’m an only child, now in my 30s but lost both my parents around 20. It was devastating and challenging at the time but thankfully I had very caring aunts, uncles, and cousins who helped me through and continue to be there for support. It’s still not the same as having a sibling, but from the comments here it sounds like I’m romanticizing the idea of a sibling, as nothing can guarantee the sibling(s) would still be alive, close, and supportive. I don’t feel lonely because all my life I’ve relied on a community beyond just my parents, and obviously after their early passing. My husband, extended family, and friends are so important to me. It’s made me realize the true importance of community beyond immediate bloodlines. To know how to lean on others and seek out support, through relationships and therapy and a sense of purpose. Just some thoughts…

    • N says...

      Love this. Such wise thoughts.

  106. Sara says...

    Loved reading this post. I am the parent of an only child (9). My daughter is just now discovering that it is not common to be an only child in our community. When we discuss it, we talk about how families come in all shapes, sizes and colors, and that no family is without its wonderful benefits or without challenges, despite its size. We discuss how it is our honor to care for and love well in the relationships we have now, today. (I think this applies to our relationships both spiritual and with ourselves as well.)
    I do love having a 3 family.

  107. Celeryroots says...

    What about people who had an ‘only’ child but then had another? My firstborn was the only child, on grandchild on both sides of the family for seven years. Then we had another. So 2nd born has always had a sibling, but firstborn had an only child early childhood.

    • Elizabeth says...

      My brother is five years older than me and seven older than our sister. We tease him all the time about his weird “only child” traits. He jokes about us ruining his perfect world. He adored us. We worshipped him The gap seemed huge when we were young but has shrunk away with age.

    • Nadege says...

      I accepted that my son would be an only child when his dad left us. He was 2 then. I got used to (and came to love ) being a single parent and raising him as an only child. Though I had never expected to, I eventually met someone new, an my 7year old “only” is now big brother. And an amazing one at that :)

  108. Andrea says...

    After 17 years of heart break that included the still birth of our twins (a boy and a girl) we, along with our miracle medical team, finally gave birth to a healthy baby boy who is now 6 years old. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of my dear sweet twins but I also know that if things had happened differently then we wouldn’t have the life we have now with our little boy. In my 20s, when I was first ready to start a family, I always thought that it would be pretty neat to have one child born in each century. I never dreamed the path life would take but now I can’t imagine a life without THIS child at this time in my life.

    • Su says...

      My story is similar to yours. I lost twins (two girls) in the second trimester to preterm labor. A year later I had my “only” – a full term baby girl. Like you there is not a day that goes by (it’s been 11 years now) that I don’t think of the twins, but my heart is full and so grateful when I look upon my only child who amazes me and makes me laugh every day.

  109. Anna says...

    I am the mother of a seventeen year old only child. I own a business and knew that I could only have one child and have the life I was comfortable with. Over the years I have been astonished by the comments and stereotypes directed at only children and their parents. My daughter is about to graduate and go to college. Maybe now people will stop asking me if I’m “ready to have another” but I doubt it. I love my small family and I am proud of the life my husband and I have made together. Just because I’m not frazzled and stressed 24/7 doesn’t mean I’m less of a mom. I just know my limits and I’m not afraid to do things my way. Thanks for this forum. I have never commented on anything before but I have been waiting years to get this off of my chest.

    • Sandra says...

      Amen!

    • Melody says...

      I love this! I have a 10 mos old and a successful career and feel as though I have reached my limit. I’m sure my daughter would love a sibling one day but I don’t think I have it in me. Pregnancy and motherhood is so much harder than I ever expected, wonderful, but hard, and I think if I went through it again ultimately I’d be doing a disservice to everyone I love, including myself. Thank you for this wonderful forum cup of jo! <3

    • Cara says...

      I love this.

    • Yes yes yes!!! I just read your comment out loud to my husband. Our son is 5.5 but I echo your sentiments 110%. Thank you for sharing.

    • A.M. says...

      Yes to this! And Melody, your comment echoes exactly how I feel! But sheesh, not looking forward to spending the next 18 years answering the “when are you going to have another” question.

    • As a business owner and mother to one child, this is the feeling I have been trying to articulate but couldn’t find the right words.

      “I know my limits and I’m not afraid to do things my way”

      I think I must just frame that.

      Thank you Anna! x

    • Leah says...

      ?This! Dead on. Amen, Anna!

  110. Maria says...

    Beautiful post to read for me as a young women thinking if i would want children and if so, would one just not be enough? I think many of us have been somehow taught that ‘one child is not fair for that child’.
    I do wish people would not comment on each others big life choices so much!! (In real life i mean, not on this post) Like in the last part ‘oh well you will have a new baby soon enough’, when someone just cant. Heartbreaking.
    Also, loved how Stacey formulated it – it is how i feel exactly – it is not up to that person, or her son, to decide on another one! I also feel hoping-to-be-grandparents would be a bit more aware of this: it is HER body and HER life and HER time – for the rest of her life!

  111. Julia says...

    I feel like I have been waiting my whole life to read a post like this! I am an only child, and I have an only child. I didn’t know that people thought being an only child was weird until I was in high school and someone teased me about it. But I was never lonely growing up–I always just had playdates, I guess.

    I think one thing that helps is that my parents get along so I never felt in the middle of their relationship or pitted by one against the other, as someone else here mentioned. My parents have bad relationships with their siblings, and so I never had that desire for a sibling based on what I witnessed in my own life. And as I am 40 now and my parents are getting older, I don’t think I would worry less about them if I had a sibling. I would worry the same, and the sibling would worry, too, and I don’t take for granted that I would have help caring for them. Someone else here said that it usually falls to one person anyhow, which is what I have seen.

    I have one daughter, who is five, and we went back and forth about whether to have another, mostly based on money (I live in NYC and it’s expensive) and our age and careers. But also we wanted to preserve some aspect of our adult lives–like the ability to take a break when she napped, or that one parent can be off if the other is on. Both of us have other interests and didn’t want to be fully subsumed into parenthood.

    I am also a worrier, and can be impatient, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be the best mother I can be if I was divided among multiple kids. I think we made the best decision for our family.

    I am completely content to be an only child, and I hope my daughter will, too. I had a happy childhood and so I just hope that if she is happy and fulfilled in general, she won’t feel that something is missing.

    It is one area in which I do feel judged though; it feels as though multiple children is the baseline, and being or having an only child is weird, and needs to be defended and explained. I don’t feel like I am weird, or my daughter is. But I do sometimes feel judged. And when people suggest it is selfish to only have one, I wonder what could be more selfish than for me to have another knowing that it would be a financial strain that we weren’t prepared to undertake?

    In any case, I appreciate all the comments so much, especially those who are happily and confidently existing as an only child or raising one.

    • Michelle says...

      Thank you for sharing this. I’m currently pregnant with my first and have always been unsure if I’d want more than one. The older I get the more I imagine it like this for myself.

    • You basically just wrote my life story! I am 38, an only child, raising a son with my husband. Same situation with my parents siblings. And in fact my mom has been dealing with chronic health issues for a long time and I don’t think twice about not having a sibling to help. It doesn’t even occur to me. Kids aren’t happy bc they have siblings. They are happy bc they find happiness within as all people should be able to.

      I fully agree with what you wrote about being a better mom
      To one. I wrote that in my post yesterday :) thanks for sharing. I have loved reading all of these posts and connecting with people who share similar experiences and feelings.

    • A.M. says...

      So well put. Your comment gives me so much reassurance about my daughter most likely being an only child. This line sums up exactly how I feel too: “I am also a worrier, and can be impatient, and I was worried that I wouldn’t be the best mother I can be if I was divided among multiple kids.” I feel like being able to acknowledge this about myself and choose what’s best for our family is the far more responsible decision than caving to pressure to have another, much as I would sometimes like to myself, and be a more frantic, stressed, less present mother. And not that anyone ever admits to feeling it, but I wouldn’t want to risk ever regretting a 2nd child.

  112. Katarina says...

    After 8 years of TTC, 2 miscarriages and diagnosed infertility, I found myself miraculously pregnant, currently at 10 weeks.
    If we are lucky and this pregnancy holds, our child will be an only child.
    I have always wanted more children, but due to my age and mainly my husband´s worsening health, we would be lucky and so grateful to be able to have this one child.

    • Chiara says...

      That’s such good news, Katarina! Sending you warm wishes.

    • ZM says...

      Best wishes!!! ?

  113. sha says...

    Loved reading this and the comments (duh!). Would love to see a similar one from childfree couples.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea, sha! thank you!