A one child family is really a strange phenomenon to some.
“Really? You just have the one?”
“Shame, she must be so lonely.”
“Don’t wait too long, its not nice to have a big age gap.”
“You should tell mommy and daddy to get you a brother or sister.”
“So, when’s the next one coming?”
Sometimes those close to me will jokingly tease about this, and we’ll have a laugh together. Usually though, the questions/statements come from those who don’t know me well, or from complete strangers I meet in Spar. Sometimes, I give some sort of answer, other times I just smile politely, not sure what to say.
This post isn’t going to be me raging about how I hate being asked/told these things all the time. I’m just saying this is what happens. Often. I actually don’t get irritated (much). I do get that just because I wouldn’t ask/say a lot of what people ask/say to me, it doesn’t mean they’re being malicious when they do. I also get that some things, like a one child family, are foreign to some people, and this makes them curious. Those times I’m awkward and unable to respond, it’s because part of me is worried what they’ll think of me. Or that I’ll get the reaction I’ve gotten so many times when I did respond – that dismissive wave of the hand, accompanied by, “no man, don’t be silly! You’ll be fine!”
What this post is actually about, is why we first chose what we chose, an unexpected trauma, and how a lot of what others assume is completely off the mark. Hey, maybe next time someone asks, and I’m standing there all awkward, I’ll just send them the link.
*Warning: there may be an overshare of details, some a bit heavy for sensitive readers, or those who’ve not had babies yet.
The initial decision (no, this isn’t the main reason, we’ll get there in a bit)
So I guess we should start at the beginning, the first real reason we have only one little person in our home. There’s not a whole lot to say really. Before I was even pregnant with Zee, I told Shawn of my wish to have only one child. He was happy with that, as long as “our child is a girl, and looks just like you.” Not bad conditions those, and it turned out pretty well for him too. 🙂 Even today, nearly a decade later, I can’t tell you exactly what my reasoning was, but that’s what I wanted, I was sure one child was it for me. We did agree though, that if our child were to ask/show the desire for a sibling, then of course we’d get right on to making one for her. 😉
And if you’re wondering, we have asked her many, MANY times (after all, I don’t want to be 45 when she finally goes, “hey, about that little brother…”). And her reply each time has been an emphatic “No thank you.” I don’t blame her – we’re a happy bunch, we have loads of fun together, and our family feels complete. So even seeing her friends with siblings doesn’t lead to her feeling like she’s missing out on something.
The assumption: A pregnancy so difficult and awful, you can’t bear to do it all over again
So, a popular follow up question to my reply of, “we’re not planning on having more kids” is, “did you have a really difficult pregnancy?” And the answer to that is No. I had an amazingly smooth pregnancy. There was no heartburn, I literally experienced one day of morning sickness, very early on – and it was just the nausea, I didn’t actually hurl. We were on holiday in London, and I felt like I was going to be sick in front of Buckingham Palace! Shawn, and my friend T got me away from there so quickly, it still makes me laugh. So ja, I was one of those sickeningly happy pregnant women, caressing her ever growing belly, and talking about how I loved being pregnant. Ooh, and I finally had boobs – winning! I was healthy, happy, and huge, ha! I ate everything, because you know, YOPO (You’re Only Pregnant Once)! 😀
Of course, it wasn’t all picture perfect. I spent a fair bit of the third trimester nights sleeping in the sitting position, propped up by every pillow in the house… when I wasn’t running waddling to the loo to wee, that is. I also experienced painful cramps in my calves. And of course the worst – not being able to shop to my full potential, because even the walk from the car to the mall left me exhausted. 😋 Still, being pregnant was amazing, an almost nine months I truly enjoyed.
How that day in the delivery room reaffirmed our decision not to have more kids
That subheading may be a little misleading. Yes, labor is horrifying, especially when you decide to be Wonder Woman and go natural, plus decline any drugs. But even that isn’t what convinced us. Because once that beautiful, tiny baby was in my arms, all of that was forgotten, and an incomparable love was all I felt. I think I was still holding her when my doctor noticed that something was wrong – with me, not my baby, thank goodness. She was strong and alert, despite making her arrival four weeks early. She was perfect. ❤
*Now is where we get into the gory details I mentioned earlier. Shawn would tell me later that he heard the doctor say the bleeding wasn’t stopping, something wasn’t right, and that the nurse was to book the theatre immediately. I was blissfully unaware of all this at the time, I had no idea what was coming. When the nurses took Zee to the baby room, Shawn went with, as we’d planned. A few minutes later, everyone had left, and I was alone. A short while after, a nurse came in to check on me, and I told her that my back hurt a little. She adjusted the pillows to help make me comfortable, and left.
It was probably only a couple minutes later when a blinding pain shot through my back. I tried to reach for that remote near the bed to call someone, but I couldn’t move. The pain only got worse, and I had no idea what to do. I remember my vision going blurry, and not being able to even lift my arms. I don’t know how much time passed before Shawn and the unit manager (this is the nurse who’d taken care of me from the time we arrived at the hospital) walked into the room. I don’t remember if I’d told them something was wrong, or if she’d noticed on her own. Things were really hazy by that point.
Both the nurse and Shawn helped me off the bed, but I couldn’t stand, let alone make it to the shower. She quickly got me a chair, and told Shawn to keep speaking to me and to keep me awake. She filled water in a dish, and bathed me on that chair. The next thing I remember was being on a different bed, and the same nurse was telling me she was going to push down on my stomach. She said it would hurt, but she had to do it. By this point, I could barely see at all, I still couldn’t move my arms or fingers, and I doubt I even responded to her. I don’t think I had ever felt so weak and useless and confused… Then, I heard her say, “I’m so sorry, I know that hurt.” And it did hurt like hell at that moment, but then I felt better. I remember saying something stupid to her like, “don’t say sorry, you made it better, I can see now!” Shawn told me that a frightening amount of blood and clots had come rushing out. It was gross and scary, but after that I got to see my brand new little person again. I fed her, and couldn’t stop looking at her.
Afterwards, two nurses came with an indemnity form, and to get me ready to go into theatre. I remember asking them why I had to go, because the other nurse had sorted everything out. I was terrified of having to go in for a procedure of any kind. Apart from that day, I’d never even been in hospital before, and I suddenly recalled all the things I’d heard before about people not waking up after being under anesthetic. I was convinced I was going to die, and I freaked out. All I kept thinking was, no wonder they let me carry my baby and feed her, because I’m never going to see her again.
Shawn says I was in theatre for an hour. He says he sat outside the room on the floor, praying I’d be okay. And I was. I’d lost tons of blood, and would be in pain for a while still, but thanks to the quick thinking and action of my doctor, and the prayers of my guy, I was okay. We also learnt of the severity of what what had happened from my doctor at my six week check-up, and that sadly some women have in fact lost their lives due to this not being treated immediately. Turns out I had suffered the effects of a retained placenta. Here’s a little about what that is, from those who actually understand these things:
If you have a retained placenta, it means that all or part of the placenta or membranes have stayed inside your womb (uterus) after the birth of your baby.
When all or part of the placenta is firmly stuck to the wall of the womb, this is called an adherent placenta. In rare cases, this happens because part of the placenta has deeply embedded itself in the womb. This is called a placenta accreta, and is more likely if the placenta embeds itself over a previous caesarean section scar. If the placenta has grown all the way through the wall of the womb it is called a placenta percreta.
When left untreated, a retained placenta can cause life-threatening complications for the mother, including infection and excessive blood loss.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to prevent it. If you had a retained placenta in a previous birth, you do have a higher risk of it happening again. But that doesn’t mean it will definitely happen.
Sources: BabyCentre; Healthline
So there it is, a summarized version of my post-delivery experience, plus a few of the facts/medical terms. I know I’m not the only person this has happened to; I know it’s not guaranteed that it will happen again; I know there are women who’ve gone through this, and then went on to have more kids… none of that completely alleviates the anxiety though. It’s not as if it consumes me, I don’t live in fear… but when there is a pregnancy scare for example, I do find my mind going there – what if it happens again? This – more than sticking with an original decision, more than Zee not wanting a sibling right now – this is the biggest reason we’ve held off on growing our family. And we’re okay with that.