What to say to people who ask: “Do you want any more children?”

ready Almost as soon as we brought Freya home from the hospital people began asking: “So, do you think you’ll have any more?”

Back then it seemed more like a sneaky way of discovering whether we were finding new parenthood appropriately difficult (we were). The immediate and resounding “NO!” from both of us gained a few knowing smiles.

However, now she is edging ever closer to two, the question seems to have taken on new significance – and I’m being asked it more than ever. At softplay, in the park, wherever we go, in fact, strangers who I have often only said hello to have no qualms about posing the question.

I suppose it’s natural, in a way, they see no harm in it. Sometimes I think it might just be something to say – although it’s not something I would ever say but I wonder if that’s because I know my own answer is not as simple as a yes or no? Is anyone’s?

Usually I can dodge it because Freya is almost certainly about to hurt herself/another child/property (delete as appropriate) by behaving like a toddler so, as I dash off towards her, I shout over my shoulder: “Hah! I can’t cope with the one I have got.” Which seems to satisfy most people – and is also sort of the truth.

I often think, afterwards, what would I say, if pressed? Maybe the correct answer should be “that’s none of your business” but, as I said, I don’t think they see harm in it. However, if they ask such a question -and I’m willing to give an answer – I think they need to be prepared to hear the whole explanation, even if they might find it uncomfortable.

I suppose my initial response would be that I am incredibly grateful for having the one reasonably healthy – not to mention funny, spirited, beautiful, clever and generally happy – child I have. Even after more than 700 days straight with an average of two hours of sleep in one go, I still know how blessed I am to have her. She isn’t just enough, she is everything.

But.

Before ever getting pregnant I always imagined having more than one, particularly because I have an older brother and would like Freya to have that lovely connection. I find it hard now to shake that desire. However, there are so many things holding me (us) back. Things that seem insurmountable. 

For me, I think fear is the biggest one.

I’m afraid I won’t be able to get pregnant and then I will be thrown back into the absolute obsession of trying to conceive that consumed me after I lost the first and second pregnancies and until I finally saw those two lines that became Freya. My heart ached with the need to be pregnant, to feel that link with a baby growing inside of me again.

I’m afraid of how I would cope if I did get pregnant (and I have endometriosis/age to contend with) and then lost him or her (or the horror of the baby being diagnosed with anencephaly again).

I’m afraid that if I stayed pregnant, the 40 plus weeks would be filled with a fear that never completely goes away no matter how good the scans look.

I’m afraid of the trauma of actually giving birth which was no picnic with Freya (29 hours of labour, most of which found us ignored in a hospital bay, followed by an emergency c-section when it became clear she was struggling).

I’m afraid of whether the baby would have the same reflux/allergies Freya had/has and of seeing my baby writhe in pain day and night, refusing feeds and losing weight but not being able to do a thing about it. I know there are far far worse things that can be wrong, believe me, but I think if I can’t cope with something relatively mild what good would I be with something harder to deal with?

All of that is without taking into account things such as where we would put another baby in a two bedroom flat, whether we could afford another one and whether it would be the right thing for Freya.

I imagine, if another child was truly something we wanted, nothing would stand in our way so maybe that, right there, is the answer.

I still don’t think a simple ‘no’ covers it though.

Do you get asked the question? Have you ever told anyone to mind their own business?

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16 thoughts on “What to say to people who ask: “Do you want any more children?”

  1. just before I was discharged from the hospital with Adam, a “friendly” nurse said – “we will see you in a couple of years time for the next one”. It was hours after a traumatic birth which saw us nearly losing Adam and me having an emergency c-section also. The thought of another baby was so far from my mind it made her comment sting all the more.
    Adam was/is a dream baby and slept through from five months, ate well and generally caused us no problems what so ever so we decided to have another once Adam was a year. And we now have our lovely James.
    James doesn’t sleep through yet and a hospital day over New Years for three nights was devastating to say the least. I also didn’t escape PND with James and the anxiety of leaving the house with both of them is now only starting to leave me (James is 8 months).
    It’s such a hard question to answer isn’t? I still battle with myself in my head whether or not to have a third. But it seems that people think anymore than two is greedy. There’s sometimes just no winning.
    Whatever you decide I think Freya is a happy and much-loved two-year-old 🙂
    One point I missed off, and one that maybe influenced our choice, Adam will never have a cousin. Ben is an only child and my sister doesn’t want children.
    Thanks for posting Tara.

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    1. Thanks for commenting. I’m sorry you had such a tough time with Adam’s birth and after having James. I can’t really imagine life with two, you do so well! Mark is an only child but he tells me (and his mum confirms) that he never wanted a brother or sister, he was very happy having all the attention. Freya has a cousin/14-year-old giant but he lives in America. The key in Mark’s case seems to be having plenty of friends to play with so maybe we’ll work on that instead 🙂

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      1. Yes Ben was the same. Loved being an only child and even now views those childhood friends as family 😊

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  2. I’m a big believer in what will be will be. I always wanted three but then struggled having one. (It hurt like hell at the time but in hindsight destiny didn’t let me down.) But then surprisingly the next two sort of just happened, the third being a bit of a surprise…well I wouldn’t plan 3 in 3 years! 😉
    So I ended up getting my own way through the hands of fate. People now assume I’m some sort of baby making machine so it’s a question I get fairly regularly but now I’ve reached my ‘ideal quota’ it doesn’t bother me in the slightest, before it probably would have caused me quite the irritation.
    I’m probably guilty of asking the question but I seem to think I’ve always received very honest replies so hopefully I’ve only asked the appropriate people at the appropriate times.
    As for you dear Tara, I hope that you are happy – whatever your decision. 😘

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    1. Thank you, lovely Clare. We have the same life philosophy. I think the beauty of it is I am happy (and genuinely feel lucky) being a mum of one and my concerns are probably more for Freya being lonely/alone than my need to have another. I think I’m coming to terms with the fact that we’re meant to be a three.

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  3. I completely get where you are coming from. I initially thought I’d like to have two children and thought about trying for another soon after BattleKid was born but the reality was very different. After falling pregnant quite quickly at 36 and a smooth pregnancy, it was all marred by our traumatic birth experience and it’s put me off for life! I’m happy with my one and am sick to my back teeth of one side of the family always saying things like “he’ll be lonely” or “you can’t just have one” or “you need another now” just because they’ve all had more than one. None of them went through what I did to give birth to my son and the complications afterwards. If so it might be another tune they’d be singing. We recently were shown a picture by my MIL of a christening outfit she made saying “I only need another grand-daughter” to model this, totally directed my way. I maintained a dignified silence through gritted teeth.
    I have also just gotten used to sleeping full nights again and going back to waking every few hours to feed is not my idea of fun right now. I haven’t totally discounted it but I’m happy with my son for now. I just wish other people would accept this! I enjoy the time I have with BattleKid and it’s tough being a full time working mum so to have another child now wouldn’t ideal.

    So I totally get where you are coming from. Maybe we should print t-shirts that say “I’m only having the one, bugger off” , haha!

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    1. I like the sound of those t-shirts! Just after we got married we had a lot of those sort of hints and, like you, I gritted my teeth but it was annoying to say the least.

      The thing is the people asking have no idea what’s going on with you. They seem to forgot all the other stuff that comes with having a baby! And also why can’t you just be pleased and settled with one? That’s what I don’t get.

      Thanks for commenting (and Tweeting) 🙂

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  4. Oh, sweetheart. That’s a long list of fears to have. I’m a firm believer that the perfect family for you is the family that you have. If you choose to stop at one, that’s okay.

    For myself, I’d like to have an enormous family, preferably in batches of two at a time – but I think that the next pregnancy will probably be the last take-home baby or babies for me, because we probably can’t afford more children than that. After that, I’m hoping to concentrate my efforts on being a gestational surrogate for others.

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    1. Wow Amber, what an amazing thing to do. Your selflessness will change lives.

      I like the idea of more children as I love being a mum but all the fears are like a big brick wall. I suppose there is the option to climb it though…

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  5. My mother was told she would be lucky to have a baby so I was always going to be an only child as she didn’t want to tempt fate. A lot of people said things that were insensitive…but once I could talk I made it very clear I loved being an only child. I think all children are happy with what they get though. Bond is one of three and he wouldn’t change that and now I get default sisters who are wonderful. I am sure people just ask out of curiosity which seems fine, but it’s anyone who implies you’re ‘wrong’ with your choices who need to get over themselves!! Freya is gorgeous and is clearly the apple of your eye and no one can say there is anything wrong with that!! xxx

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    1. I’m glad that comes across, thank you.

      I like hearing happy only child stories. My brother is five years older than me and I ALWAYS wanted a little sibling to play with. I suppose it just depends on the child.

      Thanks for commenting. I hope you’re having a fab day and not missing your guest too much 🙂

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  6. Honestly all my only friends say they wouldn’t change it! I seem to have found quite a few only children and we have become like siblings to each other. My friends are so important to me and there is a lot to be said for getting to choose them.

    When I see people with lots of siblings it can sometimes seem like quite a lot of extra work to me. I am lucky that I can just decide to go and see my parents and not have to fit in with siblings plans etc. My cousins have to share their mother for babysitting etc too…I won’t have any of that to deal with!

    I am sure though that if you go for the second baby root then Freya will love her brother and sister! It does really depend on the individual and the situation!

    I am getting my new car today so am quite excitable! xx

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    1. That’s brilliant to know, thank you. I think Freya will be an only child so it does my heart good to hear you say things like that.

      Ooh how exciting! You be careful though, it sounds crazy on those roads.

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      1. I am sure she will love it! There is a lot to be said for being an only child – I am happy to entertain myself, I can easily walk into a room and socialise and I am pretty independent. You just need to be wary of the whole spoilt brat thing – not just for material goods, I have friends who do not quite get the concept that they can’t behave how they want when they want. I don’t really think you need to worry about that, my mother never stood for it and I am really laid back for the most part! I bet Bond would read this and laugh though…
        Thanks I will be careful and I am going to tail Bond!

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  7. I’ve never told anyone to mind their own business, but I have felt the sting of the question. I have 8 years between my girls and would never have planned that gap, people/relatives made lots of assumptions. Eventually, my tenth pregnancy produced the littlest, I obviously wouldn’t change things for the world, but I do worry that the eldest was exposed to too much reality, however much we tried to protect her. But I think some things are meant to be. I hope your destiny makes you and Freya happy! Lots of love xx

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    1. So sorry for your losses, Lisa. Goodness that must have been tough for everyone. Thankful for sharing with me.

      I think writing it down (and reading everyone’s comments) made me realise that I am blessed to have Freya and she is more than enough 🙂

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