Mamahood Exposed: One And Done


Hey guys, Mamahood Expose continues with Katie from Hems For Her writing about her choice to have one child.  When I read this piece I was very moved, and I couldn't wait to share it with you.  Katie's vulnerability and honesty is beautiful, and I appreciate her sharing this so much!

I slept through the most important text and phone call of my best friend’s life. When I awoke from the midday nap, I had a missed call, a voicemail, and a text message. The message was attached to a cell phone snapshot of a positive pregnancy test, and before I could be happy for her, I was relieved that it wasn’t me.

My entire life I planned to have two kids, separated by just a couple of years, just like me and my sister. It was going to be the perfect little nuclear family. When I started dating my high school boyfriend (and now husband of eight years), he, very early in the relationship, told me he had his first-born son’s name already selected. Sean Logan. It rolled nicely off the tongue. “Why Sean Logan?” I asked already imagining what our child would look like. He was incredulous, “Ummm, Sean after the best James Bond, Sean Connery, and Logan because that’s Wolverine’s real name.” Ah, the mind of a 17-year-old male virgin.

Fast-forward ten years, and we begin to plan in earnest for our family. I started tracking my cycle and taking my folic acid, and then, on the very first try, it happened- I got pregnant! It wasn’t a great pregnancy. I didn’t glow; I broke out (everywhere). I was nauseated all the time. I had terribly heartburn and worse hemorrhoids. I once bought myself a whole ice cream cake as a reward for finally being able to insert a hemorrhoidal suppository where the sun don’t shine. I was riddled with anxiety- the kind that affects both your sleep and your bowels. But I was happy. I was having a baby! One down, one to go.

When we found out we were having a boy (still Sean Logan after ten years), we excitedly decorated a nursery and begin stocking up on dinosaur and sports-themed onesies. My labor, while drawn out over 12 hours, was a positive experience and I was thrilled when I finally pushed Sean out into the world we had prepared for him. But then something strange happened. They had to make me hold him. Here he was perfect and beautiful and all mine, and I didn’t even want to hold him. I know much has been written about mother-infant bonding, but this was more than that. This was terrifying. I had to take two tests to get my driver’s license as a teen, but they were just going to let me take this tiny creature home. I didn’t even know how to change a diaper and now I’m in charge of his well-being. Bad idea.

Nights were the worst. I was severely sleep-deprived, nursing around the clock, and documenting every poop, pee and breastfeed fastidiously in a notebook I carried around at all times. I was insane. I knew all about post-partum depression. I was already on Zoloft. But I was not functioning. If the poop wasn’t the creamy mustard-colored as indicated in What to Expect, I started looking up what terrible diseases must by lurking within my beautiful infant. I even packed up a dirty diaper in a Ziploc bag and rushed him to the pediatrician once. She pulled my mother and husband aside and sweetly suggested they hide my books.

One night I convinced myself I had a blood clot in my right leg and death was imminent. I cried the entire trip to the emergency room convinced I would never return home to my son, but relieved because he’d probably be better off without me. After hours in the ER, a full physical and an ultrasound of my leg, my doctor diagnosed me with a leg cramp and prescribed “sleep.” When I would try to sleep, I had aural hallucinations. I would hear my baby crying in my dreams. I would bolt out of bed, heart pounding, to check his breathing. Days when I was alone with him, he stayed in a diaper and nothing more. I was too scared to pull a onesie over his big melon head and floppy neck. 

He cried. And cried. And cried. For the first three months it seemed like he never stopped crying. What was I doing wrong? Back to the books (I found them hidden behind the television). He was going to die I just knew it. One day I could do nothing to soothe him. I was alone and it wasn’t even lunch time. I cried. Finally, desperate and feeling like I might be losing my mind, I called my husband and told him, “I am putting in my ear plugs and getting in the shower. Sean will be in his crib. I am staying in the shower until you come home. I can’t take it anymore.” He rushed home.

I never wanted to hurt my child. I loved him more than life itself. I only wanted him to be safe and healthy. I wanted to stop feeling crazy. I wanted to run away and never come back because I knew he would be better off without me. I increased my Zoloft. Time passed. He slept longer at night. I slept longer. I went back to work. He went to daycare. I begin to be able to enjoy being a mom and having a son. I still wanted to rush him to the pediatrician anytime he presented with a fever or the sniffles, but my husband was able to calm me down.

People began asking, “When are you going to have the next one?”; “Don’t you want to give Sean a baby sister?”; “It’s about time for another one, don’t you think?” I tried to brush the question off with vague answers and knowing smiles, but deep down I already knew I was ever going to have another child.  I had no desire to have another child. One and I was done. I never ever ever wanted to go through the hell that was a newborn baby again.

They said, “Oh, you’ll forget the pain. You’ll forget the sleepless nights. Just wait till you hold someone else’s baby, then those ovaries will start aching.” I don’t want to hold other people’s babies. And I can promise you I will never forget the sleepless nights and the insanity that consumed my life.

Within a year of Sean’s birth I wanted my husband to have a vasectomy, but he gently refused- not so much out of penis fear, but because he hoped I would change my mind. I waited and smiled obligingly at infants that didn’t belong to me. I congratulated people with they announced the “good news”. I tried to avoid telling them about my personal experience since it was a little too real. Expectant mothers don’t want to hear about how I pretty much lost my mind and have spent years begging my husband to sever his vas deferens. They want to hear about how wonderful having a baby, not about night terrors and crying in the shower. They want rainbows and butterflies and I can’t give them that. So I choose to stay quiet and nod when appropriate and smile when necessary.

Over the summer, I chose to have a Mirena IUD inserted. This means I don’t have to worry about getting pregnant until 2016. I will be 35 years old. Sean will be 9 years old. As I lay on the table, my legs in stirrups, I thought to myself, “This is it. I will never have another baby. I will never feel that flutter of life within my womb. I will never labor for hours. Sean will never have a little brother of sister.” And I felt just fine about it. I can always change my mind. The IUD could be taken out in five minutes. I could start tracking my ovulation again. But I don’t want to. Why is there something wrong with that?

I have been told I am selfish for not wanting to have another child. I have been told it’s unfair to deny Sean a sibling. I have been told only children are awful children. I have been told the second one is easier than the first. I am still pestered all the time, “Isn’t it about time you had another baby, Katie?”

Before I was scared to tell them the truth. That having a child made me crazy (or crazier than I was before). That the idea of a newborn in the house fills me with such dread I physically feel sick. That I couldn’t emotionally handle another child. I didn’t want to tell them these things because they judge and cluck their tongues at me like something is wrong with me. For a long time, this made me feel like a terrible mom or less of a woman.

Now I just tell them, “Nope! One and DONE!”

Are you a Mama with  a story to tell?  
Send in your submission to joanna.haughton{at}hotmail{dot}com. 

11 thoughts:

  1. This is a touching story! Thank you so much for sharing this with everyone!


  2. Katie, thank you so much for sharing your story with such honesty!

    I believe you are being responsible to not have another child, to recognize that you are only human and you have your limits. Additionally, I am an only child and at least 90% of the time when people find that out they say "wow, you don't seem like an only child". We are not all crazy and weird!

  3. Wow! I had no idea that you had such a hard time after Sean was born. I applaud you for not only making the choice, but for having the conviction not to conform to society's idea of the perfect, nuclear family. Having one child can be just as rewarding & fulfilling as having 2 or 3 or 4! Whether or not to have another child is a personal choice that shouldn't have to be explained or justified to anyone. I have learned to never ask someone when they are having their next one... you never know the situation! Only children turn out just fine! I am an only child & look at me!!! LOL! Thanks so much for sharing!! Love you!!

  4. That was amazing! Good for you! I had a horrible first time mom experience, and did choose to try again... It wasn't any easier, I was doubly stressed. I have no regrets, but I completely understand... And now since I have 2 girls the new question is where 's the boy??? Sorry folks this uterus is closed, no vacancy!
    Hugs and cheers and a great post!

  5. You have made the right decision for you. I was an only child and don't think I turned out so bad. Every couple needs to make the right decision for themselves without worrying about what others think or say.
    Sure I would love to have more grandchildren, but the decision is for you and Curtis, not me. I love you very much and appreciate your honesty. I know you love Sean more than anything and that is what counts. You and Curtis are great parents and you are raising a wonderful son!

  6. I appreciate this post. I am also "one and done," and I have been surprised at the way people have reacted to it. Good for you, for knowing what's right for you!

  7. Thank you SO much for your honesty, mama. <3

  8. Katie -- It's refreshing to find someone so confident in their decision to have one. A friend of mine was pressured by "society" to have more than one and, while she loves both of her children, she was disappointed that she made a decision based on what other people said rather than what she thought. Good for you.

  9. Katie, thank you so much for your honesty. I can relate to your story. We would have been 1 and done as well except for the fact that a higher power seemed to want us to have another. Yep, pregnancy prevention failure and we have a son and a daughter. If Mirena IUD would have been around after our son was born we would have gone that route as well. I have always loved and now adore our daughter but it was a rough time for awhile.


  10. thank you for your honesty. my daughter is 15 months and I have felt very similar to you for some time now.

    thank you for sharing

  11. My only child passed away due to an accident when at daycare :( I was just coming around to giving him a sibling, he was almost two years and I finally though I might be able to share my attention between two kids. Now I pray just to have one - I am a only child myself and don't like it (the only good thing is I have plenty of cousins) (My child however would be even more lacking, that is why I would have a sibiling) x


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