Only child, lonely child?

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From the moment you have a baby (and sometimes before you have even given birth), people simply can’t resist the temptation to ask you when you are planning to have your second child.

The first time I was asked this was when I was around 6 months pregnant. At the time, I remember thinking “err… first things first, eh?” and making some vague, non-committal noises.

The second time was when I was sitting in my hospital bed, drugged up to the eyeballs on morphine after a disastrous labour that resulted in an emergency caesarean under general anaesthetic; and this time my well-meaning, smiling inquisitor was one of the same nurses that had just witnessed the full drama of my son’s delivery first hand. I have no recollection of what I said in response; however I do remember a strong urge to punch her, thankfully prevented by a baby in one hand and a range of drips, catheters and wires in the other.

Since Baby T-T and I left that hospital over 2 years ago – him gurgling and tiny, me shell-shocked and hobbling – I have been asked that question on average once a week, and regularly by people who try to change my mind when I tell them we’re happy as we are – for now, and maybe even forever.

I struggle to know how best to respond to the pleas of near-strangers on behalf of my child to provide him with a small playmate/victim at the earliest opportunity, and I have now run the gamut of responses from serious (“we honestly just haven’t decided yet”), to glib (“you can’t improve on perfection!”) to frankly ridiculous (“our hardcore crack and gambling habits just won’t really support a new addition to the family right now’) without really being able to satisfy people’s need to tell me that I’m doing him a huge injustice.

Now, can I just state for absolute clarity that I have not yet decided whether or not I’ll have a second child. Also, I am in no way against other people having multiple children. Siblings are (I’m reliably informed) a wonderful blessing. Or a terrible curse. It seems to depend on who you’re talking to at the time. Regardless, I’m definitely not multi-child-ist. Some of my best friends are sibs, etc…

But the idea that having one child is in some way inferior to having two or more, or that an only child is disadvantaged by their parents’ decision to stick with one sticks in my craw, and gets me feeling a little bit rage-y.

Of course, I am biased, being an only child myself. Having been asked just as often when I was growing up whether I missed having a sibling, I could only ever respond that it’s impossible to ‘miss’ something you have never experienced. Although these days I am certainly missing that private jet.

Meanwhile, Baby T-T is happy in his world of trains, bears and yoghurt, unaware that his future has already been mapped out by parents who are probably too selfish to even provide him someone with whom to share the changing of their colostomy bags in years to come.

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Poor baby. But on the plus side, having one child does mean we can afford to buy him a bed in the shape of a car. Yes, that’s right. A car. I’m jealous too.

But I’ll be sure to ask him if he’d prefer to swap it for a brother or sister.

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