Thursday, July 15, 2010

One Child: Please, No Grief

Every time someone I know announces they are pregnant (again), there is one reaction I am supposed to have: "Congratulations! That's so great!" I have congratulated the conception of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th children to friends and acquaintances. In our society - in this current world of almost 6.7 billion people - the addition of another human is supposed to be seen as an exciting, wonderful event.

Our daughter is four years old. She is our total love. I quit my job to stay home with her and raise her. My husband took a different job for three years so he could spend extra time with his daughter. We have sacrificed a great deal - financially mostly - to give our daughter the upbringing we feel every child should have.

We look around us and constantly see kids in families of two, three, or four children who are left to mediocre daycares, uninterested nannies, exhausted moms, and often two parents who work 50 hours a week. We look around us and see an Earth bowing under the weight of overpopulation and stress on the environment. We look around us and see a beautiful world in which we want to travel, a world which we want to explore and discover as a family. We look around us and see the perfect size family for us: three.

So recently, when my husband got a vasectomy and it came up in conversation with his friends and my friends, we were surprised and dismayed to receive these reactions:

"You know that's permanent, right?!"

"Wow, did you plan that?" (My husband's response: "No - it was so weird... I just stopped suddenly on my bike one day, and that was it!")

"Well, it's always reversible!"

And this one, from my own ob/gyn: "He can always get a sperm biopsy."
(Me: "What's that?" She: "Retrieve sperm by cutting into the testicles." Ouch!)

There were no "Congratulations!" or, "Good for you. You really made a responsible decision." Not even an "Okay," or some other neutral response like, "It was time, huh?" We don't need pats on the back. But we don't need the judgement or negativity. And we were so surprised that there were only clearly voiced opinions along the lines of "You can't be serious at stopping with only one child."

My husband and I have discussed how many children we want for five of the eight years we've been married. Most people we know who have had a third child planned it for fewer than six months. When my friends announce they are pregnant with #2 or #3, I don't answer, "Oh, wow... you know, you can always abort."

I don't begrudge others' decisions for multiple kids. So why can't our decision to have one child be just as great as someone else's decision to have three or four?

So please, next time it comes out that my husband - or someone else's - got a vasectomy, don't belittle the huge decision the couple has made. Believe me, they have thought it out. Not many guys get their private parts handled and punctured by a doctor just on a whim. Give the parents credit. And let me have one child without giving me grief.

Let it be a beautiful and courageous thing that we choose to have one child.
Just as it may be a beautiful and courageous thing for you to have more.

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