An early decision, and the other reasons why we only have one child

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.”

“So, when’s the next one coming?”

“You should tell mommy and daddy to get you a brother or sister.”

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 when 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 yet had babies.

The initial decision (no, this isn’t the main reason, we’ll get there in a bit)

Family - beautiful heart

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 48 when she finally goes, “hey, about that little brother…”). 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

Family - pregnancy funny

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 nausea likely from a long flight the day before. 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 Thuraisha 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)!

Family - pregnancy funny gif

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

Family - three hearts

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 that wasn’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 crazy 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, to get me ready to go into theatre. I remember asking them why I had to go since 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 anaesthetic. 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 loads 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.


One Messy Mama

61 thoughts on “An early decision, and the other reasons why we only have one child

  1. Heather says:

    Oh my gosh Charlene I had no idea. How awful. And understandable why you don’t want to go through that again.
    I also have one kid (not by choice, infertility sucks) but I have a lot to be grateful for in Nicky, he is so precious.

    • admin says:

      Oh Nicky.. I can only try and imagine the pain and frustration of infertility.
      How blessed we both are though to have our beautiful children, and be able to be the best moms we can to them. ❤

  2. Rushda says:

    Oh Charlene! That sounds really traumatic,thank goodness that your doctor was attentive ?? I believe we each have the right to live how we choose. And you have a beautiful family to be proud of, what else is there really?

  3. Gaynor says:

    People need to learn that decisions vary from person to person and always will! There is absolutely nothing wrong with your decision. Thank goodness for your doctor and the quick thinking hospital staff.

    • admin says:

      Ja well, human nature hey… *sigh*
      Thank you so much for taking the time to read.. I know it was a long post. And thank you for the kind words too. ❤️

  4. Lebo says:

    Very interesting. I’m not a mom yet, but I feel like having one child is better than 2 or 3. I think it’s more affordable, and it’s better to worry about one person that 2 or 3. I saw what my parents went through emotionally and financially, and I would want to make parenting easier, if there’s such a thing.

    • admin says:

      It’s true, having kids isn’t exactly affordable. With one, we’re able to give our best. This is also another reason it baffles me when random people ask when the next one is coming, and act all appalled when I say there will be no second child – they will not be there to help raise or provide for your child, so why be so judgemental?
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. 🙂 xx

  5. Melissa Javan says:

    I laughed when you said “I have boobs now too” because that’s how I felt (petite person syndrome).
    Eisj this post got scary and sad. Sorry you had to go through all that. I’m happy you’re okay though.

    • admin says:

      Haha… they were glorious! 😀 I miss them! 🙁
      It was scary, but I’m extremely grateful it turned out well in the end.
      Thank you for reading, and taking the time to comment. It is appreciated. xx

  6. Lucy At Home says:

    Ah that sounds so scary. I’m not surprised that you don’t want to go through it all again. I think if your family unit is complete, there’s no point in tampering with it 🙂


  7. Krishni says:

    Just reading this post and I have tears welled up in my eyes. I can only imagine how you must have dealt with the possibilities of what could have happened? We also had to go through a very rough pregnancy & birth. So I know deeply about the fear of a 2nd bundle. I do believe though when you want something so bad, the love we share with our first borns is enough to fill any gap of wanting more kids. Big hugs to you, especially for sharing something so private ???

    • admin says:

      Thank you so much for this sweet, kind message! It means so much, knowing that what I’ve shared, as personal as it it, resonates with others and touches them this way. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. xx

  8. Heather Keet says:

    I hate that when it comes to kids, total strangers feel they have a right to question your decisions. You are so brave to share such personal information and I’m so glad you and the baby were ok. #GlobalBlogging

    • admin says:

      Thank you Heather. The post was a long time coming… took a lot of convincing myself to actually put it out there, but now I’m happy I did. x

  9. Susie/So Happy In Town says:

    That must have been so terrifying at the time and I can only imagine how it must have felt at the time. But everyone should completely respect other people’s reasons to have no children, or one child or 15 children and it sounds like you’re a perfect unit with your husband and Zee. Thx for linking to #GlobalBlogging and sharing this story.

  10. Melissa Javan says:

    Right now this has been going through my mind – should we have a number 2? Because seriously, I don’t know if I’m made for this motherhood thing. I love my child but… How will I be able to handle a number 2 if I’m struggling with number 1 – I don’t even have a sleeping routine. Sorry for TMI
    At least you know for sure.

  11. Noleen Miller says:

    Glad you are ok after that traumatic experience and even more so for your husband. It really annoys me when people asks these questions and you really don’t have to justify your reasons to anyone. Although thanks for sharing your story. With us, my husband was set on just having one child after the traumatic experience we had with the birth of our first daughter being born prematurely. He more than me were more affected by it as he saw what the nurses and doctors did to our daughter to keep her alive. After 3 years, we discussed the matter and I convinced him that we must try for another baby. After our second daughter was born, he then went for a vasectomy. This was his decision and I respected that. Although it now annoys me when people poses the question, why we don’t try for a boy or they will say only girls, where are the boys. I suppose these questions will always be there and I will just take it with a pinch of salt.#Lekkerlinky

  12. Simone Cameron says:

    So glad you’re okay after that experience. I totally understand having gone through something similar with my 3rd pregnancy that I lost. Went on to fall pregnant a 4th time and have my 3rd child, but we were very stressed through it all. I realised I suffered PTSD only after my 3rd child was born, dealing with all that happened and how I almost died. In hindsight I don’t know why the heck we did that again…lol…but we have our Adam and can’t imagine life without him.

    You shouldn’t have to explain your choices to anybody though! Thank you for sharing. xxxx


  13. Briony Liber says:

    I don’t have any children so reading your account just reconfirmed that I was not cut out to produce kids – sorry that you had such a traumatic childbirth
    one kid families are becoming the norm in my circle of friends – and whether you have kids, no kids, one kid or lots of kids – it really has nothing to do with anyone else!

    • admin says:

      It’s such a personal thing, and you’re right – whichever direction you decide right for you, it really has nothing to with anyone else, and we shouldn’t feel like we owe an explanation to anyone. Thanks Briony. x

  14. Michelle Leslie says:

    I would be totally freaked out if that had happened to me Charlene, and can so understand why you’ve made the choice to only have one. And you know what, people should really start keeping their well meaninged opinions to themselves. Nobody makes those kinds of choices lightly. Enjoy your beautiful family as it is

  15. Ella says:

    Hugs lady, this really resonated with me. I only want one I remember seeing families of three and thinking THAT is what I want, honestly Im not as mature as you are, I get annoyed with constant “just have another kid” comments and especially the insinuating that I’m less of a mom because I don’t have many kids ? having lost a two day old and then having Aidan born unable to breath on his own I am very happy with my little miracle and people can take a choreographed jump for all I care ?

    • admin says:

      Yes Ella!!! I just said that out loud, and clapped my hands to this comment! ? Thank you! And I remember reading your story, and feeling my heart break for you. People don’t know our truths, and we don’t know theirs, that’s why it’s better to be polite and keep unwanted opinions and silly questions to ourselves. x

  16. Kirsten says:

    I think a lot of people don’t realise actually how dangerous childbirth still is today and how frightening it can be for us mothers. But that’s not exactly a story you can tell the tannie in the queue at Clicks, is it?! #lekkerlinky

  17. Nadia says:

    Wow. What a scary experience. I would also not take a chance with that happening. Second time around.
    It really gets on my nerves when family pressure you to have more kids. You get home from the hospital with a brand new baby and they’re all ‘when are you giving this little one a sibling?’ ? or maybe it’s just Indian families ??? #lekkerlinky #leavemealoneaunty

    • admin says:

      Funny thing is it’s not even famiy – in fact, my mom’s the one checking in almost everyday to make sure I’ve taken my pill ? “because you can’t go through that again!” ❤️

  18. Brendan says:

    Thanks for sharing! My partner and I decided that we weren’t having any kids and also often get asked why not. It’s really no-ones business but I guess you can share as much as you’re comfortable with. #LekkerLinky

  19. Noleen Miller says:

    Read this post when you published it the first time on this linkup. It is really your prerogative and decision why you only have 1 child. It annoys me when people pry and want to be in other people’s business. For us, deciding to have 2 kids was something we thought about but now I can’t imagine life with just 1 child. But we also get those questions why only 2 kids and why not try for a boy.#lekkerlinky

  20. Venean says:

    Back from #lekkerlinky rereading this again, just made me realise how blessed we were with two absolutely complicated free births! Thank you for sharing! xx

  21. Marishka says:

    Wow this does sound very scary! After having 4 natural births with no complications accept an almost c-section with number 3, I realise ow blessed I was. Birth isn’t an easy thing to go through. I think God puts it on our hearts, maybe even long before we really know for sure. Barry says he fell in love with me the day I told him I want 6 kids! I was only 17! I mean at that age, what do you know. We all have our own paths and if one child is yours, then thats your perfect picture. Loved this x

  22. cherralle says:

    Sorry you had such a traumatic experience! I do not think I would want to do that again too. I had two natural, easy (but painful) births both times. Your family is absolutely perfect the way it is!!
    This is super annoying:“You should tell mommy and daddy to get you a brother or sister.”


  23. Tracey Bowden says:

    Oh wow what an experience, I absolutely do not blame you at all. I too have and only ever wanted one child. I had a horrific pregnancy. Not medical wise just sickness and painful. Labour saw me becoming one of those mums whose story I never believed until it happened to me. The midwives didn’t believe I was in labour and left me on the ward screaming in pain until a Dr came and told them to get me to the labour ward. 14 minutes later I was mum to a premature little girl. She is 12 and I would still never ever do it again #blogcrush

  24. Karen at MomAgain@40 says:

    Thanks for sharing! That sounds very traumatic. My daughters are so far apart, that it always felt like raising one at a time! The eldest is off our hands, and we regularly tell each other that we don’t know how we would have done it if we had more.
    Now when my daughter wants to do something or take part, we can make it happen. It would not have been so easy if there was more.

  25. Soffy says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I too think about this time to time as the birth of my daughter left me disabled for a month and it literally scares me thinking that might happen again so I completely understand. You have wonderful family and Zee has the most amazing parents, people will always ask questions that’s all they do! #blogcrush

    Soffy //

  26. Alice | Letters to my Daughter says:

    We’re a one child family too and get those questions now and again. I’ve even been told I’m cruel for not giving Dee a sibling! I always said I’d only have another child if we wanted one though, not just for her because I didn’t want to end up resenting them both for making me have two children. Honestly, I don’t know that I could cope physically or mentally going through it again. Having said that, I would be up for adopting maybe a one year old but my husband isn’t down with the idea, so looks like it’s just the three of us and I’m ok with that. #BlogCrush

  27. Malin says:

    Thank you for sharing! I also had complications with getting the placenta out after my sons birth, but luckily didn’t need surgery. Actually getting the placenta out was more painful than pushing my son out. We only have one child too, for a combination of reasons. As it’s turned out, I think it’s good this way ? X #BlogCrush

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