When it comes to family planning it seems everyone has an opinion... whether or not it affects them in any way. Having kids? “Oooh. Why are you trying to hasten climate change?” Not having kids? “Why are you so selfish? Don’t you know we’re in population decline?” Did you happen to have two boys? “Better try for that girl!” Two girls? “We need to have a boy so dad can carry on the family name!” And for moms who are “one and done,” other people’s opinions come in a barrage of concern-trolling leaving many feeling like they have to justify their choices.
They don’t. But we talked to 12 moms who were happy to talk about why being “one and done” was the right choice for them.
Shannon, New Hampshire
“I'm your classic Type A planner, and had my life all mapped out – the whole marriage, first kid before 30, and a plan for a party of four. Then our daughter comes into the picture, and I did not have any set target date for baby #2. Fast forward a bit, and my husband hits me with this bomb: ‘You know, we can be done.’ I just look at him like, ‘Wait, what?’ It never even crossed my mind that we could call it a day at one kid: Total game-changer realizing I could adjust my plans. I had a hard delivery which I think scared him a lot more than it scared me. Now she's 12, and our little family is exactly what it was supposed to be. I love our little triangle family.”
Dora, New York
“My husband and I have been together for 18 years and we have a wonderful 9-year-old boy. When we first met, we talked all the time about having three children. I had some minor fertility issues when we started trying. The problem was easy to fix, we could have had more kids, but during the fertility difficulties we talked about how grateful we would be for just one, the joy of just one, which planted the seed. After my son was born we moved halfway across the country and we said we would discuss the second kid question as soon as we got settled. Well, whenever we talked about it we both just felt so happy and complete with our one perfect child.
My husband is the child of Jamaican immigrants, and I am Jewish. Our backgrounds make us both feel like the world is a tough place and we need to protect whatever children we bring into it; pour all our resources into helping our kid — with the odds stacked against him — survive this ugly world. More and more, having an only child fit into our life plans. Donald Trump winning the election in 2016 was the nail in the coffin. That was when we decided officially not to have another.
My husband and I have found so much joy and happiness in this choice. Most of my favorite people are only children and loved being an only child. My son loves being an only child.”
“My son is 12 and I still feel guilty that I never gave him any siblings. After he was born, we and spent four and a half years practically on the poverty line because we couldn't afford for one of us to stay at home, but also couldn't afford daycare while we both worked. It was an incredibly stressful time. I have lived for years completely envious of people who can live on one income so someone can be a stay at home parent. I can't help but feel judged when people meet me or find out I only have the one. It's like I'm being punished for not figuring out how to make it work so my family could be bigger than three.
Having just one just was a solid 80/20 financial decision — 80% based on finances, and the other 20% on actual choice. My son was a hard baby, but after he turned 2 I would have done it again. My dream was always to have three kids.
Most days I try to reframe my emotional state and realize my son is amazing and we did a great job and things worked out how they were supposed to. But it is hard, and probably will be forever, especially as I get older and watch my parents age and realize the importance of having a bigger family in sharing those responsibilities.”
Kim, North Carolina
“We got married later in life. He was 46 and I was 35. We had our son two years later. I had a very easy pregnancy and we had the financial security that I could be a stay at home mom. I wanted to try for a second as long as I was under 40. I tried to talk husband into it but finally he had to give me straight talk: He said he just didn’t want to start again with another baby and he’s worked hard all his life and wanted to be able to retire sooner than later so a second child just wasn’t going to happen. I understood and am totally fine with how things worked out.”
“I’m a ‘one and done’-er, but more by circumstance than choice. It took eight pregnancies and six rounds of IVF to have my son. He is the kind of kid people tell me is one in a million and ‘the next one will be trouble…’ so we’re not taking that gamble. He’s slept since birth, is the mayor of every room he’s in, and is the epitome of calm. There’s no guarantee of closeness of siblings and I don’t have another six rounds of IVF in me at 41.”
“I always pictured myself only having one kid. I’m one of four and I never felt like I got enough attention; I always wanted to be able to give my future child more attention than I got. I also care a lot about the environment and know that adding additional humans to the planet has the biggest negative impact on the environment. And now that I see how much work it is, I also honestly can’t imagine stretching myself even thinner with the amount of blood, sweat, and tears it takes to raise a tiny human.”
“My husband and I decided not to have another child when our daughter was a toddler. I can't remember the exact moment, but it was a conversation that constantly came up. I know the driving factor was finances. We were two journalists living far from family, trying to raise our daughter on our limited income, and childcare was eating into our savings. Today we both work in marketing and communications. Today we are doing better financially but still have no plans to have another child.
Sometimes, I regret the decision because I worry our daughter will get lonely, but when I can afford her tutor, swim lessons, and flute rental, I know I made the right choice. Because she wouldn't have had those opportunities had we decided to have another kid.”
Kim, New York
“We were ‘one and done’ from before we got married. Both of us are only children and we were happy only children. I also personally didn’t feel I could handle having more than one. I don’t know what path we would have chosen if we hadn’t been able to conceive. But we are still happily ‘one and done,’ six years later. Whenever people ask when we’re having another, I very bluntly but politely say ‘never’ with a smile!”
“My husband and I were firmly in the ‘maybe baby’ camp for the first four years of our marriage. We were really happy as DINKs — Dual Income; No Kids — until I was hit with a very strong desire to at least try to become pregnant and my husband didn’t object. We were lucky that it didn’t take us long to conceive, and after a pleasant pregnancy and delivery experience we were very content with our little family.
We had a conversation about trying for another child when our daughter was 18 months old, but my husband was a firm ‘no.’ Between us owning a business and his travel schedule being very inconsistent, we just couldn’t see ourselves adding another little human to the mix. I went through a brief mourning period after that decision since we were officially closing that chapter of our lives, but I’ve never regretted it. Our daughter just turned 7, and we’re a happy family who has more money and freedom to travel and enjoy an almost-DINK lifestyle.”
“We both were on the fence for so many years about having kids because we loved our life together but then we decided we wanted to try. We’re so lucky we got pregnant easily and I had an amazing nine months. My birth story was pretty traumatic — pushing for four hours, postpartum hemorrhage, pre-eclampsia — I felt like I barely made it out alive and I think a part of me wonders if I would make it out ok a second time. I desperately wanted a girl, which I got and I felt very ‘one and done’ and so did [my husband]. Now he’s loving being a stay-at-home-dad and would have more kids, but I struggle with what that would mean for us. I work full time and already hate the time I don’t get to spend with her: another child would mean splitting that.
I think society tells us that we are doing a disservice without siblings to our kids — but I’m an only and I don’t feel that, and my husband’s sister hasn’t spoken to him in over a decade as she’s in a controlling and abusive marriage. So I really feel like there’s no control of ‘they’ll have each other!’ Of course that’s what you want, but if that’s my only reason to have a second I don’t know if it’s good enough? I hate that you always have to explain being satisfied with one child. Most people don’t accept ‘one and done.’”
“In short, my daughter’s birth was so scary that my husband was adamantly opposed to a second. Understandable seeing as he almost lost us both. It took me a while to come around but I finally reconciled with the fact that I would have risked anything to have her but now that I had her… she needs me and I want to be around to see her grow up. In-between there was lots of guilt around whether I was robbing her of having siblings. Would she resent us? Be lonely or socially awkward? What about having the sole responsibility of caring for us and making decisions as we age?
Fast forward to today and I’m so happy. There are so many things we can do and give her that we couldn’t if we had to do it for multiple children.
One of my employees in her mid-20s is an only child and it seems like she has an amazing relationship with her parents. That excites me! The three of us are so bonded that I know our connections are stronger than I had with my own parents as the middle of three girls.”
“I was an only child and though most of me loved it, part me wanted a bigger family.... cue to me learning I am going to be a single parent. OK I can handle that, no worries! Then my mom got sick and I'm caring for her and my son full time, then I went through all my money, had no job prospects and everyone kept asking when I'm going to get a boyfriend and I realized that a) that was totally far down on the list of life needs and b) there was no way I could do another kid alone. So it slowly morphed into just my son and me against the world and I love it! There were times I wished he had a sibling, and he did too, but overall he's super happy he's an only.”