The question of whether or not we’re “one and done” has been on our minds a lot lately. Now that Lady Jr is less of a handful. Now that we can think. Now that Dr Lady is feeling her own biological clock ticking. Every year we pay for storage for other vials, we face this choice. Will Lady Jr have a sibling? Or will she be an only child?

There are a lot of things to consider, not least of which are my own feelings about siblings. Every time I’ve seen someone argue that by having an only child, the parents are depriving their kid of a lifelong friend I want to lash out. Anger surges in my chest and my throat tightens and it takes all of my willpower to walk away. And before I can properly give this question, for us, its due, I need to ask myself why I have such a visceral response to that statement. Where am I coming from, and how does that color my choices?

Because, to be brutally honest, my brother and I have a horrible relationship. With age, it’s faded from hate and disdain to an uneasy truce. I thought I’d moved past whatever happened between us growing up. I finally have the life I’ve dreamed of, I finally have something to be proud of, so much to celebrate –

…yet not one word from my brother. No sign he even knows I exist. And out of all the congrats and love I’ve received, I noticed that. And it hurts. And I’m surprised it hurts. And yet I shouldn’t be surprised it hurts.

I idolized my brother growing up. Fuck, I can’t help it – I still kind of do. When I was in fourth grade, I tested in to the gifted program after having failed the test before. I barely passed. My mom told me I had a choice – I didn’t have to go into the program. But I insisted – because my brother was in it.

I followed him around the neighborhood, played with him and the other boys on bikes and with supersoakers. We ran behind houses and crawled through bushes together. Discovered the Florida swamp, climbed up giant mounds of dirt at construction sites, kept secrets together. Then, one day, something changed. He and the other boys chased me away. He blamed me for everything. He closed his door and shut me out. He got violent. Once, I walked by him sitting on the couch and he grabbed the flesh of my elbow and dug in his nails so deep he drew blood. For no reason except that I’d walked by.

He resented me and I still don’t know why. And to this day, I still want his approval. I brag about my cool, helicopter-flying, Navy brother. I ask him what he’s up to. I befriend his wife. Yet…

So yeah. Maybe that’s why I get such a visceral response when people make it out like having an only child is akin to abuse. And maybe that’s why I’m a little afraid of having another. I can’t help but wonder: if we have a second, will it ruin Lady Jr? Will she resent us and her sibling? How can I possibly make sure whatever happened between me and my brother doesn’t happen to her when I don’t even know what happened?

I don’t know. But I do know I need to work through this before I can make a rational decision. Thankfully, we still have some time.



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7 responses to “Siblings

  1. There is nothing wrong with having only one kid. My husband is an only child (not for lack of trying, his parents point out), and he’s stayed unusually close with some of his friends from growing up, almost as if they were siblings.

    That said, if you want to have another, I think it’s a pretty good bet that it’s not going to ruin Lady Jr’s life. You can’t know for sure, of course, and I’m sorry to hear your own experience with siblinghood has been unpleasant. But most siblings have good relationships. My brother and I are less than two years apart, and we did have our share of sibling rivalry when we were kids. When he started going away to summer camp every year and had a chance to miss each other, we became very close during the school year. We still have a good relationship as adults, and enjoy each other’s company when we do get together. But we live 3000 miles apart and neither of us is that great at communicating regularly, so I wouldn’t say we’re that close anymore.

  2. I always wanted 2 or 3 kids. In (mostly) accepting that we’ll only have just one I’ve really had to think about my own biases too. And the one thing I always remind myself is that a sibling is not a guaranteed life long friend. There just is no guarantee that they will get along.
    After that realization I think for me the question of how many kids has more to do more with our ability to go throufh a second adoption (both financially and emotionally) and our desired lifestyle with our kid or kids.
    All i know is that I hope whatever you decide, it’s something both you and Dr Lady are happy with.

    • Thank you for reminding me that I should be grateful to have the choice at all. I’m sorry you never got to have that choice – not unless someone drops a ton of money on your doorstep. ❤

  3. I’m in the one-and-done camp, but that’s mostly because of my wife’s preference and my really crappy fertility, where I’m at the point I’ll be ecstatic if we get the one (in a world where I was perfectly fertile, we’d maybe go for two kids)-

    Does Dr. Lady want to carry?

    • She does, which is why this question is coming up sooner than we expected. She has two years at her postdoc here and we’re already coming up on the end of the first year, and her boss/PI just told her in no uncertain terms that if she wants to be pregnant, she better do that while she’s still a postdoc. The researcher/professor world is still exceedingly hostile to mothers, unfortunately. So basically, if we’re going to do it, we need to decide within the next six months, instead of the two years we originally thought we had.
      If she didn’t want to carry, we’d be one and done for the same reason. I can’t go through that again, even knowing what I do now.
      ❤ I should be grateful I have the choice at all. I was just blindsided by those emotions and had to do something with them.

  4. oc15

    i don’t have any advice on this as it is such a personal thing but i just wanted to write and acknowledge that this decision is so, so tough and i fully understand the feelings you are having. we went back and forth on this so many times i can’t even tell you how many. it just seemed to be a constant thing in my mind for well over a year. our final decision was to have maeve and that is it. we have sooooooo many factors that play into this decision but at the end of the day we are so fulfilled with having her, our little miracle, and have finally put the period at the end of that chapter. good luck you to you and lady. talk about it. a lot. your hearts will guide you on the right path for your little family.

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