When one is enough

I’ve talked a lot about infertility before – that’s the reason this blog started in the first place. But once you’ve been through it all and ended up with a baby – what are you? I’m still technically infertile, but I am a mother. I don’t feel like I can properly call myself infertile, aligning myself with the many women still in pain, still trying to deal with infertility, when I have our longed for child.

Post infertility

I talked about the strange hinterland of post infertility on one of my previous blogs. It’s that way we’re a particular kind of mother, an ever-grateful mother, a mother who doesn’t take having a baby for granted. I feel like a mother in an everlasting state of wonderment and joy that I get to be one. (It’s kind of sickening how happy I am about the whole thing, and I can assure you I don’t go around pooping rainbows – I just hold the happiness in my heart when my baby giggles or reaches for me, or does just about anything…)

I also feel The Fear for others. I have friends who get pregnant and announce straight away and I have to stop myself from saying, – Stop! What if?! and How can you be sure? – because those are my anxieties and not hers. It’s a strange place to be because we know what could go wrong, and we are those Miracle Mamas, the Mamas Against All Odds, and so our very being is confirming to them that good things do happen, and so we can’t be the ones to rain on their parade even though we know that not all trying ends up with a pregnancy, and not all pregnancies end up with a baby, but we nod along and smile because that’s what we do.

One of the things that’s come up a lot lately is the idea that one might not be enough.

And that’s something that’s just so alien to me, I can’t even imagine how it must feel to have that degree of sadness from having an “only”.

I was one of four siblings, and we got on well. It was complex, for sure – having two bios and two adopted. It was harder for the adoptees, but overall it was good – we had a fun childhood with lots of family games, kids going on adventures, and lots of freedom to play together. I don’t know why I never pictured myself as a mama of many. I guess I knew from quite a young age that I would find it difficult to have children. (I had been told something fleeting when I was much younger, which was never repeated by later doctors, but then told I had extensive endometriosis and likely fertility problems in my mid twenties.) I’ve always been someone who didn’t wish for things I didn’t think I could have. So the most I ever wished for was one.

Also, personally – I think I would have enjoyed being an only child. I don’t know if this is to do with being adopted or just my personality. I always felt as one of four that I didn’t get quite the amount of attention I would have wanted. And I don’t mean this in a drama queen way (although I had plenty of that) – I always felt needy, and maybe that is an adoption thing. I would just wish sometimes I could have a day of my parents just to myself. Don’t get me wrong – I do get on with my siblings. But I also enjoy now that I’m an adult that I often see my parents on their own and I don’t have to share them with anyone else! I guess I’d have been what they call now “a high needs child”!

So when I was told I probably couldn’t have kids, I just wished for the one, and when that wish was granted (by a lot of medical science and a fair amount of money and effort, rather than the Fertility Fairy!), I felt – gosh, life couldn’t get any better.

I see a lot of stuff now on FB about people worrying about only children. People worry they’ll be spoiled, or socially inept, or not know how to relate to other kids, or not able to function as adults, and I find it interesting because I wonder – where are they finding these terrible only children who grow up to be dysfunctional adults?! All of the single children I know have grown up to be just fine as adults. I don’t think they’re any better or worse functioning than the general population. And one thing they all had was a good relationship with their parents. B has been in nursery since a young age and he’s probably more socialised than a child who stays at home with his mother who doesn’t have a sibling for a few years. He enjoys seeing his friends at nursery, but he’s also securely attached to me. (And to his dad, and dog brother!) I figure so far, so good – he doesn’t seem like an irreparable weirdo!

For us, the lengths we went to in order to have B were pretty gruelling. (Though not a patch on what some have to go through. We were lucky.) I know that for me, I couldn’t be the mother I want to be to B if I were to continue going through additional treatments. It’s most likely I’d need another endo op, possibly another fibroid op, more IVF, more immune therapy. It was hard physically, but it was harder emotionally. I already feel a degree of loss that I have to go to work and B is at nursery during the work week, even though I know he’s absolutely fine. I wouldn’t want to be under emotional strain as well, trying to conceive a sibling, when I don’t think he needs one to be happy. I hope that by giving him a full life, and living in an urban area where there are a lot of kids about, that we can counter any potential loneliness he might have as an “only”.

I understand that being okay with one is not “normal”. Most people have more than one child. And maybe there’s something a bit strange about having no siblings, or not having multiple children. I don’t know. I feel sadness for people who can’t have children, including those who can’t have a second child and desperately want one. I just don’t feel the sadness of being a mother of one myself.

I never thought I’d be “that kind of mother”. I sort of thought that the baby phase would be kind of boring, that I’d probably find it a little bit of a drag until toddlerhood, until some kind of doing stuff like walking, eating, talking… but it’s been a joy. I thought I’d find it hard, because everything leading up to having a child has been hard, but it’s been relatively easy. And I don’t take that for granted at all. I’ve seen others struggle with breastfeeding and reflux and post natal depression and sleepless nights and I think we’ve been lucky, because it hasn’t been that hard for us. No tongue tie, no breastfeeding problems, no ongoing health issues and the sleepless nights I was used to due to my job! So whilst the adjustment has been monumental in some ways, it’s just been a case of slotting in as though he’s always been here in other ways.

And the thing that’s bittersweet as a mother of one is that I know that every time is the only time, and every last time is the very last time.

I’ll never have a tiny little baby again. B is my one and only (human!) baby and he’s now one, toddling about, vocalising, making his feelings known. (He’s a terrible tweenager already! Just like his mama used to be!) I’ll never see a baby take their first steps again. I’ll never see my baby roll for the first time again, or the time he worked out how to giggle and it made me cry with happiness – that’s the first and last time. We’re coming to the end of our pumping journey – and it’s been a slog. But the last time I pump breastmilk for him will be the last time. I can’t even think about the last time I breastfeed him. The last time I babywear. The last times are all the last times.

But… I feel so much gratitude that I even got to experience the firsts. And even if the firsts are also the lasts, I’m at peace with it, because it’s more joy than I ever thought I’d have.

I thought for so many years that I would never even have one, that I’d never be a mother. So to me, B, my “only”, my boy, is the most amazing thing. (I hesitate to call him a gift, because he’s not an object. He’s his own person, who has his own ideas of what he wants to happen in life, and most of those involve chocolate or bubbles). He’s an amazing, wonderful – and completely run-of-the-mill all at the same time, because that’s amazing also, the way we take the normal stuff for granted, the giving of life, the joy of family – little boy I never thought I’d have. So I guess I just never had the time to wish for another, because I was so busy wishing for him.

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25 comments

  1. sbach1222

    I completely understand. Thank you for writing this.

    I don’t know yet if we will only have 1, but my heart is so full that I am completely okay with 1.

    When I stopped pumping it was a little sad, because I knew that it could very likely be the last time. But like you said, I am so happy I got to experience it!

    Hope you are all doing well over there!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Thank you for understanding! I actually LOATHE pumping but equally I feel like it’s something I’m not quite ready to quit when B still wants milk. I’m hoping we can move to just normal bf from source soon though!

      We are doing great – cold season round here of course so spend most of the time snot-covered – wouldn’t have it any other way! 🙂 Hope you are doing great too! x

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Marixsa

    Such beautiful thoughts! I always look forward to your posts. Your gratitude just emanates off the screen. I’m so happy that you got your “only”… and an ‘only’ is okay. I’ve often told Jake that I’d be thrilled with just one, so if that makes me “weird” then at least I’m in good company! xx

    p.s. Coincidentally, I can totally get down with little B—the things I want most in life are also bubbles and chocolate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Oh that’s so lovely of you to say. I appreciate it so much. I really hope you get your “only” too. We are all a tiny bit weird but hey, that’s half the fun of it! 🙂

      And you’re a lady after my own heart! Although my bubbles are slightly different than B’s! I suspect yours are too! 🙂 xx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. calcandide

    I hope no one takes this the wrong way, but I tend to think of those who are “post-infertility” as “subfertile”. You’ve obviously not entirely infertile, since you’ve had a baby, and you’re obviously not fertile (no explanation needed there). Also, I think the only real worry about having an only child would be that they’d be alone in taking care of you if something happened. My mom was an only child and her parents were both incredibly unhealthy. Her mom was dependent on her for 22 years after she had a stroke and she had no one to share the burden with. But they were really unhealthy and somewhat selfish in demanding my mom do all the work by herself, and you can obviously choose to live a healthy lifestyle and not be so demanding of your only child… In other words, I wouldn’t worry!

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    • Nara

      I understand what you’re trying to say, but by the usual medical definitions, you’re incorrect. Infertility relates to the inability to conceive a child without medical assistance, by the “natural” route. Subfertility relates to difficulties conceiving where it takes longer than average to conceive (1-2 years). By the medical definition, I am infertile – I did not conceive for 20ish years of conception-possible activity. I only got pregnant via IVF following other interventions.

      https://academic.oup.com/humrep/article/20/5/1144/2356853
      https://www.verywellfamily.com/subfertility-1960142
      https://www.invitra.com/infertility-and-sterility/

      On the only child thing, I’m not worried… I don’t intend to make my child responsible for my future health. My post was more relating to the norms of expectations that people seem to think it’s strange that anyone would want one child.

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      • calcandide

        Ah, I did not actually know that. Thanks for sharing! I haven’t had the greatest doctors and it seems like their main concern has been avoiding liability rather than helping me, so the whole time we actually tried to have a child we were flying a little blind. Given the range of reasons why people have trouble concerning and the array of options for treatment, it seems like the medical terminology could use an update…

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      • Nara

        Yeah, I totally get what you mean. It seems odd to label someone infertile when they have a kid! But there’s a big difference between someone who could still get pregnant – I know a few who took more than a year, so I guess they’d be classed as subfertile – versus someone who can only get pregnant with interventions.

        It’s annoying you haven’t had the best doctors. I think there’s a huge variation. I’ve definitely seen that where I am, some seem to be very empathetic and some are terrible!

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    • Nara

      I do understand and sympathise with people who want more kids… I just don’t personally feel that pain. I am sure that secondary infertility is a very painful emotion. (Though I honestly don’t think it’s the same as infertility / childlessness.) It does seem to affect a lot of people. I’m in a discussion group for parents of onlies and it definitely seems that it’s the norm that people question why you’d only want one! I guess I’m usually too happy about my “only” one to worry too much about other people’s expectations. It may be harder when he is older and asks for a sibling, though…

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      • thisishowimadeyou

        I agree, primary and secondary infertility are different, but both can be very painful depending on what you want. I’m in a good position to try for a second since I have a few frozen embryos, but I don’t know what to do (my husband just wants one, but I feel like I should try again)…reading your post made me wish I was at peace with a decision one way or the other. I know this is an enviable problem to have… never thought I would get to the point of even having one, so I never gave much thought to what would happen after.

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      • Nara

        See I think that would be a difficult situation because you know you have those “potential children” – they’re a step further along than just deciding you want another child. I guess it was easier for us in a way because we only ever got one viable embryo, so I have none in the freezer. Would have to go everything again with no guarantee of success. I can imagine how you never thought of what might happen after. I hope you manage to make peace with it one way or the other.

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  4. Sarah

    This is such a beautiful post. I have loved reading your blog. I’m sat here cuddling my sleeping 6 month old IVF baby, and your post has reminded me that if he is our only, he is enough.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      So many congratulations, mama! I’m so happy for you. Do you have a blog? Would love to read it. So lovely to think of you cuddling your little one. x

      Like

  5. C.C.

    Thank you for this. I am pregnant with my first after 12 years of waiting. This time next month we will most likely have our miracle, finally. We have 4 frozen embryos at our clinic, and we are not really sure if we will use them. We pay the storage and we talk about it sometimes, but I’ve always kind of been okay with just one, once we knew for sure we could even do that. Like you, we might have to have another surgery before we could “try” again (do another transfer). I’m not sure I could go through that. And then there are the transfer drugs. The Progesterone in oil shots are so awful – worse than 15 of the stim shots. I just don’t know if my body and soul can do it again, and even when our first hasn’t even been born yet people will look at me as if I have a third eye or something when I say she might be our only child. Some of them give me this sad face like they’re devastated at the news. How does it affect anyone else, at all? And why is it so important for every child to have a sibling? I’m not sure. I would have been just fine as an only child, and I am sure our baby will be, too. I’m with you, the joy of having her is so amazingly all-consuming that I don’t feel like I need anything else. I’m so happy for you and enjoy reading your posts. Thanks for being so open.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      Oh thank you! I’m so happy for you. Read your last post about THE RAGE (haha) and I can totally relate. And also to the concern about the last weeks… I remember it seeming really odd that I knew something was going to change, but still being worried. I think it helped that people started treating me like An Actual Pregnant Person and that helped me think yes, it might actually happen. People who haven’t been through it don’t assume the worst (apart from that annoying person you talked about!) so I think that helps to feel “normal”.

      I’ve heard bad things about PIO – I didn’t have to take it, thankfully. Although I did have to take Clexane which was not fun at all! That was an awful shot! Really hurt! I think my body would cope with pregnancy again (I enjoyed it really apart from the anxiety) but I don’t think my soul / emotions would cope with the trying… I really feel happy how we are (and thankful I don’t feel that yearning for another). I think maybe it might be very different if B then starts asking for a sibling! I hope that you enjoy the last few weeks. x

      Liked by 1 person

      • C.C.

        I’m trying. People don’t treat me like an adult anymore. The “courtesy” I receive as an obviously-pregnant woman is nice. People are more polite, open doors, let me go to the restroom first, etc. Then, in the very same moment will say something that makes me feel like a child, like I can’t make my own decisions all of a sudden just because I’m pregnant. So frustrating. I’ve loved being pregnant but I am over it. I’m tired of being ignored, disregarded, and left out. You really discover who your true friends are when you decide to have a kid and they realize there will be someone in your life who takes priority over them.

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  6. notabroodychick

    Enjoyed this post. A lot of my mummy friends who had their first the same time as EJ was born, have already had their second and I know a ton expecting this summer. However like you, one is enough for us. Even if you could guarantee that if we managed to find the money to fork out for another IVF round that it would be successful, I still wouldn’t choose it. That money is better spent on our boy and enjoying life as a family of 3. Also he has never been a great sleeper, only just about sleeping through in the odd occasion now, and I just could go through the same 2 years of sleep deprivation again if I had a similar child. It’s probably my age showing, but it has been so debilitating, and so often you just feel like you are surviving not thriving. Now that we are improving, I want him to enjoy the benefits of a less tired mum. As someone with 2 siblings, I am sorry that he will miss out on that, but we can make sure he has lots of interaction with other children, and his first cousin is due this summer and I hope we can spend a lot of time with them too. The only sad part for me is as you say, knowing that every first for him, is the last for you. But then we treasure those moments all the more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nara

      All of this! Sometimes I wonder if doing another IVF would be less emotionally upsetting and I think maybe it would – I wouldn’t have the same desperation to become a mother. But I also remember all the physical symptoms and that awful feeling of anticipation mixed with fear and I just think – I can’t do it. I’d probably need to do immune therapy too and I just don’t have the spare cash. I never added up how much it all cost but it was a lot!! And it just seems crazy when we are happy now. Gosh I’m sorry you have sleep deprivation! B goes to bed really late but he wakes up late too! It’s quite manageable- apart from him being in a bad mood when I have to wake him to go to nursery! 😂

      Like

  7. gsmwc02

    You’ll figure this all out. Despite the unanswered questions you have and things not feeling like you thought they would to me you sound like a confident person who will some how some way figure out what to do. Best of luck navigating life.

    Like

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