April 6, 2007

To have or not to have...

Below is the mail I got from a reader. Since Im also sailing in the same boat, it would be great to hear your thoughts on this issue. Is a family incomplete without a second child?

It seems like everyone of our friends is pregnant again. After a difficult pregnancy and first year, we have decided not to have another child. Most of the time I am fine with this decision, but every now and then, it feels strange and scary. I find myself revisiting the decision every few weeks and tormenting myself over whether it is the right thing or not. I feel guilty that I may be depriving my son of a sibling and then I wonder whether that is the right motivation for another child. Should I have another one only because I am afraid that this one will be lonely ?

As Indians, we live in a society where 2 kids is the norm. It is something everyone takes for granted. It is really difficult being the exception rather than the norm. I am working on coming to terms with this tough decision and was hoping to hear some words of wisdom from parents with one child who have found peace with their decision, instead of regrets.

I would really appreciate it if you could address this issue in

Sahithis Mom has written a post on the same dilemma here. Seems like yesterday when I was going through the same dilemma for the first one. It never ends, does it?


B o o said...

I ll join the comment section a little late as Im off to Prague for 4 days for the Easter weekend. Back to regular programming from Tuesday. Happy Easter everyone!

the mad momma said...

wow.. no one else has commented yet?!

Frankly this as never a dilemma for me. I had a tough pregnancy, a screwed up cesarean and a tough first year too. but i felt the need for two kids. i dont think its an indian thing. i just feel that we have our spouses for company and the kids need each other. i love the way my son has learnt to share with his sister and be a much calmer person. in my mind its a rich learning and moulding experience for all three of us to have my daughter. the trouble with pregnancy and infanthood and toddlerhood is short lived. besides it never really ends.. they could end up being painful teenagers!!! i always wanted my kids to have someone to care for them when my husband and i are no more. it may not work out that way, but i would have tried. all the best with whatever you decide.. at the end of the day, if a kid doesnt know the pleasure of a sibling, he or she wont really miss it, will they!?

Cee Kay said...

When I and my husband finally realized that we were suffering from a condition called "Secondary Infertility", we went through a lot of angst but finally decided that we were happy with just one kid and will not go for infertility treatments. The reasons we did go for the treatment later are worth a post in themselves, and I am thinking of doing that post soon as I don't want to post a large comment for it here. But I went through the same sentiments described in the letter - guilt over dpriving our daughter of a sibling, the fear that should anything happen to us, she would be all alone in this world (of course she would have our extended families but wouldn't have any siblings) etc.

It is a different situation in that we wanted to have another baby but couldn't, but the anxiety was similar. I guess the decision is more difficult if you have no desire for a second (or even first) baby and have to have one just to fulfil social norms. I believe one should NOT buckle under these reasons, however compelling. Decide to have a baby ONLY IF one feels the desire to do so. It would be VERY unfair to the baby if one held even a teeniest bit of grudge in one's mind that they had to have this baby only because of some pressure.

It is no one else's but our business whether we want one kid, or none, or 5. Don't worry about the society - you can NEVER please it. Do take your older child's welfare into consideration but in the end decide what YOU really feel is right for you. There is no "one decision fits all" case here.

Anonymous said...

Mostly parents tend to look back at their childhood and want the same for their kids as well. Those who don't have siblings may say that they were the only child for their parents and they have turned out ok (if they are ok that is)..and kids who were raised with siblings talk about the rich sharing,fighting and loving relationships they have with their siblings and how it is very important for a child to go through the same experience for crucial character development. So there is no ONE answer to your question. It is totally about what YOU want..mind you..it is not even what your child wants..because the child at this age doesn't know life with or without siblings

Tharini said...

I have gone thru this too. The whole debate on whether or not to have the second child. I always wanted a short gap of abt 2 years between my kids, but when that time came arnd, I just didn't feel ready to take the plunge. But a part of me has always wanted to have a second child, because I have two younge siblings and know the joys and companionship of siblings in the house, to team up against my parents ;), and I just wanted my older son to have that too.

Yes, one of my biggest reasons was that my older one should not grow up alone. A family of 3 sounded like a lonely prospect to me. So, we just went with that.

And now with a 10 week old baby, I have no regrets whatsoever. Its the sweetest thing in the world to do it all over again, and sometimes I am tempted to do it all once more...;)

As others have said here before me, it is ultimately about what you feel more strongly about...the resolve to stick with a single child, or the desire to have a second.

Anonymous said...

HI. We have a 2 year old and we are really happy with the way things are. We love our son and we are content with the way our life is.

2-3 years down the line or later, if Sid comes to us and feels the need for a sibling, we have decided that we will adopt a baby. It is something which we are very open to and this way, we will involve Sid in the process as well - he can decide whether he wants a little brother or sister and he gets to be the Big brother every step of the way.

There are so many babies out there who need love and belonging - we have one who is our flesh and blood, so why not do it differently the second time around?

So, don't worry so much my dear.
Don't get bogged down by labels.
Enjoy your baby now and you can always cross any bridge once you come to it. I hope this helped alleviate some of your stress. Take care.

Malini said...

All the comments above pretty much say it.. The decision should finally be yours and no one should pressurize it. I have a 2 1/2 year old and so far, we are not ready for another baby. This is more because, both me and my husband would like to devote as much time as we can and as Nayantara says, enjoy our daughter's early years right now..I too go through the same thoughts as to whether we will be depriving her of a sibling.. If she wont have anybody closer to her age to talk to when she needs, like how I do with my sis.. But so far, these thoughts have always paused when I think about sharing the time that I have with 2 kids.. Even though I work reduced hours, I have never been satisfied with the time I spend with my daughter...and right now, when I think of a second baby, it always makes me feel that, I will be depriving her of the time I spend with her right now.. But when Ani starts school and if all the three of us feel the need to have another one, we will rethink and see what our options would be.. Hope this helps in some way..Good luck on your decision..

Usha said...

Many parents say that having a second child ensures that the children have eachother. I have known siblings who are very close and I have known an equal number who aren't.
But definitely for the parents it is a nice experience to have a second time to do things without the panic and inexperience of the first.
And it would be nice if one of them can be adopted.This way both children stand to benefit and the society too.

Itchingtowrite said...

i am glad that I have my siblings to fall back upon and they are the only ones with whom I can demand without necessarily giving a return favour. On my part, as a sibling, I try to be unconditional in my approach. Similarly for my grandparents, if my parents are not there to help out, my uncles or aunts fill in and vice versa. I would regard it as a network of support system which we are buliding by having the second child. Also sbilings are great company to each other in the growing years. I would not like to comment on the common belief that single child is usually self centred, likes to grab the best for one self or does not know how to share. I have seen various degrees of self centredness among one or more of the siblings set too. Also I have seen that after growing older, getting married nad having children of their own, many siblings fall apart. May be it is due to self preservation- wanting the best for one's own blood and point of veiws of the spouse that colours or provides differece in the otherwise unidirectional thinking towards the sibling. But, well, it is good while it lasts so I would rather have erred on the side of having at least 2 children rather than one. Atleast, I always wanted to plan for 2 children until nature intervened. Touch Wood.

Rohini said...

I have some pretty strong views on this. I think not having a sec ond child because of a difficult pregnancy or first year is selfish to say the least. For the one and a half years of discomfort, you deprive your child of family. Because in our generation, there will be no joint families and close cousins - the only person your child can have a shared history with is a sibling. And who will the single child turn to when one day both the parents pass on... very unfair in my mind.

Anonymous said...

No wonder women choose to be anonymous. It's because of people like you rohini.

Manchus said...

I would love to have another, but it is not because it is an Indian thing. Even in US that is kind of becoming the norm this generation. The reason is simple, kids need company too. Especially with both parents working, no friend in the day care would level that relationship.

Also, one more reason I want my daughter to have a sibling is that I had my brothers for heart to heart talk whenever I needed them or just for the little fights, so she shouldn't be left behind.

But now the question that constantly bothers me is the age-spacing between them. I

Anonymous said...

I can relate to you. My husband has Keratoconus which is an eye condition. A lot of research is on for KC currently and we found out that it does have a genetic link - meaning it can be inherited.
We have one child already. We get his eyes tested regularly and hope and pray for the best.

Knowing that a genetic link exists, I cannot bring myself to conceive once more.

I would rather have just one child who is healthy. I can drive myself crazy with thoughts of him being lonely after we pass but I prefer to believe that we will live until he is married and settled in life with a support system of his own.

So, if you do decide to just stick to one , don't beat yourself up over it,hmm ?? Those who have clear cut ideas about these things are lucky. Good for them. Your being in a dilemma doesn't make you a selfish person. It only makes you human.

You love your child and he will turn out fine - it doesn't matter if he is your only one.

Sunita said...

I had a normal delivery,the few following weeks were so tough I sweared never to have another. But today I do want another. A second you need more for your child's sake than your own. Growing up togather is lots of fun and maybe the second is worth just for the sake of growing up with an elder one. Growing up with a sibling makes you a better person. Who out lives who is not anyone's guess and so is whether siblings will get along life long. They might not. The 20 years of your life is fun. Thatz 1/4th of your life, if thatz all, so be it but it was indeed beautiful 20 years.
I think you were looking for support and all you have found is a bunch of us who have siblings and want our children to have siblings :). It would good to hear from mothers who were the only child.

Sunita Venkatachalam said...

I disagree with Rohini who say's that it is selfish. I don't think folks who are planning to have one child are any more selfish than parents who have two. For that matter having even one child is a selfish act.

Children don't ask to be born, parents want them for whatever reason and so they are conceived.

Whether you have one or two or even none, it is nobody's business. You do what is right for you and your family.

In the interest of complete disclosure, I have one child and I plan to have one more. But that is because I love the idea of two kids and it works for my family.

B o o said...

MM - I wonder why some moms are so sure about wanting two and others are confused.(like you and me.) I think I need some time to completely forget the first year pain. So may be its just time which we need to decide rather than the decision itself!

CK - Oh yeah and I hear from my mom all the time "Look how many people want kids but can never have them"! As if its a reason to populate the world!

San - Not exactly. I have a great relationship with my sis but undecided about a second one but moms who are the only child have always wanted two because they think they missed out on so many things. I think its a woman thing though! My hubby is an only child and he says he did nt miss having a sibling. But may be girls would want a bro/sis! Just my theory!

B o o said...

Tharini - If only everyone had such clear thoughts like you do! The world would be a better place! :) Im sure no one would regret a second child but the whole process is so daunting and this time you know what to expect! May be thats why the jitters!

Nayantara - Wow! Thats really a great thing! I know everyone of us will give a passing thought to adoption but only very few people see through it. It requires a big heart. May be Sid will make your jobs easier by asking for a Puppy instead! ;)
By the way, theres also this biological clock ticking which we have to consider hence the confusion starts as soon as we have the first one!

Malini - Thats the exact place where I am right now. Not planning to think about it for another 2 years. but the "tick tock" sound is scary! :(

B o o said...

Usha - To be honest, may be the next generation can make the adoption choice more easily since the new parents(us) will have more exposure and more broad minded than our parents are now. I know that my parents and some others I know are nt very enthu about the idea. Though thats the not THE reason which is stopping me from adopting but I have considered that as an issue! Am I wrong?

Itchy - I so wanted twins! However difficult the first few years would have been, I did nt have to make the decision. Nature would have made it for me!! :)

Rohini - May be the pregnancy and the first year was very traumatic, you never know! But I fully agree that a single child would not have family later on. I can see how my hubby has nobody except his parents now. And Ashu has only one aunt and uncle. The future does look scary! But in spite of all this, choosing to have only one is nt selfish. Then do you mean to say having one/two is nt a selfish act?

B o o said...

Anon after Rohini - Whats your point?

Manchus - Age-spacing! Thats worth another post! :)

Vasudha - Sorry to hear about that. All these advances in the Medicine field is a two edged weapon. Wishing your son well!

B o o said...

Sunita - I would beg to differ with this statement of yours:
<< Growing up with a sibling makes you a better person. >>
No way! I know some amazing people who are an only child and Im not half as good as them even though I have a sister! Growing up with a sibling is definitely more fun but I dont think it makes you a better person. Like you said, it would be great to hear from moms who are the only child.

Poppins - And I agree with you! But I think Rohini means the reasons for not having a second child are selfish not the decision. And consufed moms like me need to hear that!

Unknown said...

Ahem, I add my two bits to the debate. I conceived brat after infertility treatment and eight years of marriage. Now we find he has developmental issues which could be genetic. Chances of a sibling having the same are quite possible. I was an only child. My husband has five siblings. I yearned to have brothers and sisters to fall back on, and, when I see my husband with his siblings, I know at the end of the day, your siblings are the only one who will watch out for you once your parents are gone. But, my husband is firmly against a second baby though my clock is doing a jungle drumbeat, so am stuck in a limbo land right now, of wanting a second child, and knowing that I cant take the risk of a further challenged child, and yet wanting to give my son a sibling....Terribly confused. Sometimes just feel like pretending one has conceived accidentally and holding on to the baby. But that would be deceit, or would it...

B o o said...

Kiran - God does have a strange sense of humor! Good luck with whatever you decide.

Anonymous said...

If you're planning on adopting in India, I think you have to adopt a child of the opposite sex to the one you have. In that case you won't really be able to select the sex.

Sheela said...

b o o, thanks for stopping by, and yes, sure, please, add me to indianmommies!

my reasons are probably most common, reading the wonderful comments here:
1. I have a sibling i am close to - a brother - and wish I also had a sister so i know what it feels like to have "one of each kind" to rely on during the teenage angst phase when parents become the "enemy" :)
2. i also spent a lot of time with my first cousins, and i think i learnt to share and bond as a result of having siblings and cousins (who were practically my siblings)

ultimately, i believe it is the parents' choice - no point in bringing another life into the world if one is not mentally or physically ready for it...

and, just giving birth is not enough - one has to weigh how best one can raise the second and third child... right?

A, mama of twins said...

I was lucky enough to be gifted with two at the same time and I guess my opinion might not count on this one but I really see how my babies interact together and pinch myself. They love each other, get irritated with each other, want what the other wants, starting to play little attention games with parents. Two is more fun to me than one. Two is more work than one. Two is a little bit more than one in all respects. I think if I had only one baby i would have gone the route of adoption for baby #2 but i think we are set for now.

Good luck with your choice, know that you can only do what works for your family.


SJ said...

Hi, I am an only child and have a 2 year old. Not decided whether I want a second one or not :-)
Having grown up as a single child, I'd like to re-iterate (as some have before me), being a only child does not make you self centered, spoilt, etc. On the contrary I think parents are at times harder on you, and are held to high bar of expectations.
Having said, that - while growing up, I have never felt the need for siblings. I have been lucky to alwaya have good friends and have spent hours and hours with them.
It is only now in my paranoid moments do I wish I had a sibling and the ONLY reason being, if my husband and I were to suddenly die in an accident who would bring up my daughter? Still having a sibling would not guarantee that I'd have someone to fall back on, it would all depend on his/her circumstances.
About growing up and being close, I must say I see a lot of friends with siblings who are not at all close and other single kids who have wonderful relations with cousins and friends.
I would suggest having a second only if YOU want one.

Anonymous said...

My take on this is "the minute we sign up to have kids, we sign up for a never ending guilt trip". Try having a second one, there will be more guilt in the air - may be the second one was too soon, may be I must have had the second one earlier, more guilt when they get vocal and say, "But mom there are so many pictures of kid No1, there is hardly any pictures of me", "Mom this is not fair, you allowed me for a sleep over only after I was 12, but this brat is just 10 and she gets to have a sleep over so soon?" Ahhhh....it never ends.

There are no definite answers to certain things! When to have a baby, how many to have is one of them! I know for sure that my comment is of no help to you.

Unknown said...

This is like the best discussion I've read in a long time.
Bottom line I think it is a personal choice but most people who've had kids are so happy with the experience that inspite of difficult pregnancies/ deliveries would be thrilled to do it all over again.
Happy Mother's day to all you Mommies!

Artnavy said...

Pl see my post Minority report

It is a very personal decision- nothing right or wrong about deciding either way