Why I Am One and Done

Why I Am

…because, babies are hard. Real hard. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t change anything about becoming a parent. But the rest of the day is up for grabs (just kidding, just kidding…).

We are a “one and done” family. Aside from the roller coaster of emotions that comes with raising a human being, I had some medical issues that would make it not fun/kinda scary to get pregnant again. I don’t feel badly at all about wanting only one child, even though some people family friends EVERYONE constantly asks me/us if we are certain we only want one child. “You may change your mind in a few years.” Um, no. We’re good. You guys can have all the babies.

But, for reals, it’s HARD. Like, taking-a-test-that-your-life-depends-on-but-you-didn’t-study-for hard. There were times I didn’t think we were going to make it. Just kidding — I still think that. Though, we are now at the 12-month mark of my son’s birth, and I do find that some things are a tad easier to handle than in those first months. I think most issues arise early on due to one simple factor: sleep deprivation. Your whole sleep cycle is thrown to the wind in those early days. You TRY to sleep when baby sleeps, because otherwise you get no sleep, but that is not always possible.

You just fed baby, you lay down, and you’re on the cusp of sweet dream land when *BOOM*…baby starts gagging while he’s sleeping. Oh my gosh, he’s going to DIE! CALL 911! Look up how to do CPR on YouTube! Just kidding. Baby is just clearing out all of that amniotic fluid still stuck in his little lungs from being inside your belly. Okay, whew, catastrophe averted. You lay back down and just as you’re on the cusp of dream land again…*BOOM*…baby grunts and instantly you think he’s suffocating and going to die from SIDS! AHHHH! Flip him over! Pull down the swaddle blanket! Move him away from the side of his co-sleeper (I was CERTAIN that mesh stuff could still suffocate a baby)! Okay. Whew. Safe again. You lay back down and think the third time’s the charm. You’re almost there and *WAHHHHHH*…baby is ready to eat again.

Of course, sleep deprivation is never-ending with children. Why isn’t baby sleeping? Oh, it’s a sleep regression. Why isn’t baby sleeping now? Oh, he’s going through a developmental phase. Why isn’t baby sleeping again?! Oh, he’s teething. Why the !&!*#*$&* isn’t baby sleeping now?! Oh, that’s right…he’s a baby.

You will never sleep this peacefully again.

You will never sleep this peacefully again.

Then there are the other stressors that arise as a result of you being a new parent, your baby being a newborn, and you living in a semi-constant stupor. Why won’t my baby latch? Is my nipple too introverted? Do I have enough milk? Maybe he’s lactose intolerant. Why doesn’t he like this bottle? IS HE GOING TO DIE FROM LACK OF FOOD?!! Or he has infant GERD. Or torticollis. Or asthma. Or a lip tie. Or a tongue tie. Or positional plagiocephaly (i.e., flat-head…yeah, my baby had that so now I think I’m an expert). Or any other number of short or long-term diseases or disorders that require you to have more energy than you should have to muster when you’re living on bits and pieces of sleep.

And you’re constantly questioning yourself. Is he pooping enough? What color was it? How many pee diapers did he have today? Is he too cold? Maybe we should put socks on him. Is he too warm now?! Let’s take him outside to get some natural Vitamin D going. Was that too long? Is he going to get a sunburn?! Let’s just stay inside for forever.

The sun can't kill us in here.

The sun can’t kill us in here.

On top of everything you’re worrying about with this new little creature in your life, you’re dealing with your own problems. Lady parts or cut abdominals so sore you can barely waddle around? Check. Cracked, scabby, bruised nipples? Check. Black-hole bags under your eyes? Check. Or maybe you’ve got a little bit of the Blues. Or it turns into full-blown Postpartum Depression. Or Postpartum Anxiety. Or you have other medical issues (prolapse, fistula, diastasis recti, nerve damage). Or you have to go back to work way sooner than you should because your family can’t survive without your income.

Like I said: HARD. So, how do you function when you’re suffering from perpetual sleep exhaustion and all that other stuff? How do you get through it? How do you make sure you and your baby thrive?

You just do. Day by day, you get through it and you both survive. I can vouch for that (and that’s with having a 12-month-old who still doesn’t sleep through the night and nurses at least eight times a day). It helps having friends, family, and community support, so get connected with as many of those people as possible. They will help you stay sane on the really bad days.

So, why would any of you want to do any of this all over again?! Well, I don’t. But obviously billions of women have successfully raised children over the hundreds of thousands of years we have been in existence, and they keep doing it. There has to be an answer. Here is my short list of reasons why we still procreate (and why a lot of you do it more than once):

  1. Babies are cute. They suck at sleep, they cry too much, they throw food at you, and you have to wipe their butts for years. But they’re cute. And this makes you want more. This is science.
  2. You’re in such a fog those first few months that, as a defense mechanism, your brain makes you forget the realness of sleepless nights, endless crying (you and baby), constant diaper-changing, and anxiety over worrying every second of every day if something is going to cause harm to your baby. If you didn’t forget those things, the human race would have died off after the first baby was born.
  3. Wannabe grandparents hassle the heck out of you for a grandchild. You get so tired of hearing about it you take the plunge and gift them that baby grandchild. All is well in the world…until they start pestering you a year later for a little brother or sister for baby grandchild. Le sigh.
  4. You’re selfish. Listen, I get it. You meet some hunk and you think “Wow, he’s so handsome I bet we’ll make the most beautiful baby alive.” So, you get it on and make that baby. And then you can’t help but ogle that beautiful little baby and think “Wow, we did a great job bringing a good-looking human into the world. We should do this again.” It’s okay to be a little conceited, but don’t do it around the not-so-good-looking babies (yes, they exist–it’s a fact of life–not all people can be blessed with physically attractive features. But they’ll make up for it in other ways, so don’t worry!).
  5. You don’t want your kid to be an only child. You think they won’t have good social skills or learn how to share unless you give them the built-in friend of a brother or sister. So you give him his best friend, and they all live happily ever after. Or, at least, ever after.

Are you one and done like me? Or two and through? Maybe three or more and you’re a superhero for sure?! What made you decide to have more kids and how did you survive the hard times? I’d love to share horror (and happy) stories with you!

, , ,

11 Responses to Why I Am One and Done

  1. Kimberly Mathis
    Kimberly Mathis April 8, 2016 at 6:10 am #

    I had two girls with my ex-husband, and they were 20 months apart. Why I had them so close together, I’ll never know. But, I remember that when we had a pregnancy scare when our oldest was 10 months, I found myself a little disappointed when the test was negative. And he was too. That feeling made us decide that even though we’d sworn off another baby, we actually DID want another one. I’m very glad I have them both, but I had some terrible complications and postpartum depression after my second. And now that they are 6 and 8 years old, I find myself very happy that they’re not babies anymore.

    • Stefanie
      Stefanie April 8, 2016 at 12:42 pm #

      It must have been hard at the time having them so close together, but it’s probably great for them now! My middle sister and I were 14 months apart and were close growing up. It was especially nice when we moved from one side of the country to the other, because we didn’t feel so alone in a new place. I had some pretty big complications too, so I can sympathize. It’s difficult to take care of yourself and heal when you have to take care of another human who can do nothing for themselves. I know that I will miss my son being so little, but like you I will be grateful to get past some of the tough baby phases!

  2. Jessie Weaver April 8, 2016 at 9:24 am #

    As one of those crazy ladies who has multiple children (I’m cooking #4), I will say … your kids having built-in playmates is a lifesaver for mom and dad, too. I get to rest because they have siblings to play with. It’s LOUD! It’s wild. I want to pull my hair out most of the time. My first three were born in 4 1/2 years. This time, I’ve had a 3 1/2 year break and it’s hard to imagine starting over. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love that they are buddies and will play together for hours. I am not a very good play-er, although I will read or craft for a long time with them. I can’t imagine only having one and having to occupy him/her. 🙂 But I totally respect everyone’s parenting decisions! I promise it DOES get easier. That first year is super rough.

    I will say, if I could just skip the whole pregnancy thing, I would be happy to do so. It is not my favorite. But the babies are worth it.

    • Stefanie
      Stefanie April 8, 2016 at 1:01 pm #

      Jessie, you are a superhero! Some people are just blessed with the patience and mindset for multiple children, and I am definitely not one of them. I love love love my son, and he is so worth all of the hard times, but I just have no desire to do this all over again. And I totally get the sibling built-in friend thing! I can’t imagine not having had my middle sister (who was only 14 months younger than me) to play with while growing up. But my son will be surrounded by family and friends, so hopefully that will suffice. 🙂 And thanks for words of encouragement, Jessie! Hope you have an easy and peaceful pregnancy this time around!

  3. Dawn
    Dawn April 9, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    I have two sons and love it but kind of wanted three. Number one was so hard. He never latched properly. He was fussy. He literally did not sleep through the night until he was three. Turned out he had dyspraxia which is a developmental issue that causes sleep issues. As soon as he did start sleeping, I got pregnant again. Number two was a dream baby. The experience was like night and day.

    Of course, as an only child myself, I knew I wanted more than one. My childhood was so lonely and when my mom died I had no one who understood what I was going through, and no one to share my stories with who could feel them or to whom they were meaningful in the same way they were to me. I also recognize my shortcomings that I feel might be rooted in my onliness – like I hate working on a team or with a partner. I’m terrible at handling conflict.

    Put positively though, I am very independent and comfortable doing things alone like eating in restaurant or going to the movies. I hate fighting with others because I don’t know how so I am pretty easy to get along with.

    It’s such a personal choice with pros and cons on both sides. On days when my kids fight (like every day), I wonder why two seemed like a good idea.

    • Stefanie
      Stefanie April 12, 2016 at 5:31 pm #

      Wow, thank you so much for sharing, Dawn. I have a few friends who were only children and felt the same way you did about having more than one themselves. One friend told me specifically that what worries her the most about growing older as an only child is being the only one to help/care for her parents as they get older (and she has two sets, as they are divorced, so that is a lot of parents). I can definitely see how having a sibling while growing up and on whom you can rely as an adult would be beneficial!

      And all babies are definitely different. We could have another baby and he could be a dream baby, like your second. Then again, he could be worse than the first (as far as sleeping and those types of things, not him as a person!).

      I like the contrast you list between advantages and disadvantages of growing up an only child. I think it’s important to weigh those things out before starting a family (or growing a family). It is definitely a personal choice, and one only you know with what you are most comfortable.

  4. Tiffany Norman June 2, 2016 at 11:30 am #

    I love this! So many people make me feel bad for only wanting one kid. I was an only child and I turned out “perfectly fine” (I think). To be honest, I just couldn’t imagine loving anyone more than the one I already have. This was a refreshing article to read. And Stefanie, you’re so GREAT at writing, like WTF? I’m jealous! 🙂

    • Stefanie
      Stefanie June 2, 2016 at 4:15 pm #

      Tiffany! You beautiful mama. Thank you for reading and for your kind words!!! Please don’t let anyone make you feel bad for not wanting more children. It’s totally a personal choice, and by personal I mean you are the only PERSON who will be directly affected by having another child, therefore you are the only PERSON who has a say in the matter! And I feel exactly the same way about loving my son!

  5. Jen Collie June 29, 2016 at 12:49 pm #

    Stefanie!! Just read this post as well as your latest, ‘Empty Pockets Full Hearts’ – and relate so whole heartedly to both!! By the way, I’m Jessi Rymer’s friend – you and I met at the spa meet up!

    It’s so relieving and refreshing to read another mother’s story and feelings that are so very similar to our experience. Our son Elliott is 15 weeks old and we feel 100% sure he will be our only. It’s so tough – just this past week we’ve dealt with thrush, a sudden low milk supply (after that was one of the issues we had been blessed not to encounter yet), ongoing postpartum depression/ anxiety and days of practically zero sleep for all three of us.

    I’m currently the one ‘working’ albeit from home and very part-time. My husband’s game studio in San Francisco that he continued to work remotely for after we moved here closed up shop a week or so before Elliott was born. We live in a small one bedroom apartment with little natural light, so I identify heavily with your’Emty Pockets’ post!! It’s been tough too going from DINKs living large in San Francisco to this radically opposite lifestyle.

    Needless to say, I think we all should get together sometime soon – to commiserate at least!

    Thank you so so much for sharing your parenting journey thus far – helps to know we’re not alone here.

    Cheers!

    • Stefanie July 1, 2016 at 2:20 pm #

      Hello again, Jen! You are definitely not alone! Something I’ve discovered since becoming a mother is that I can’t have any expectations. Because just when I think we’ve figured things out and have a good routine going, eight things change overnight and it’s like having a brand new baby all over again. Fun! Definitely keeps us on our toes, huh?

      I am so sorry you guys have been dealing with so many hardships! It’s like one feeds off of the other. No sleep equals less awareness and patience and focus, which makes it harder to heal, recoup, and get ready for the new day. One income, a small space, a new town…all very stressful on their own, but throw a baby into the mix and it’s about a hundred times more stressful. We never dealt with thrush, but I have heard it’s very painful and difficult to get rid of. I hope you guys found something to help it heal quickly! Postpartum depression and anxiety can be so scary and isolating, but you’re not alone and I’m here if you ever want to talk or just vent!

      Let’s pleeeeasssseee hang out soon. Although it feels like we have so little down time, I KNOW we both need some social time with other adults 🙂

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. How to Announce a Pregnancy (That NO ONE Was Expecting) - July 18, 2016

    […] you relate *hard core* to Stephanie’s post back in April about how baby life is HARD and “one and done” was a perfectly happy and content place for your precious little family? Were you down right […]