Parenting when you only have one kid

by Dezi Hall

When I was pregnant, I imagined myself working part time, freelance writing while raising my children. I had a vision of myself peacefully writing on a clutter-free wood desk in a room with sunlight streaming through the window- maybe a single flower in vase next to my laptop- while my little ones took peaceful naps in their rooms.

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I am currently writing this piece in cave-like darkness, with white noise blaring (the sound of Extreme Rain Pouring will haunt me until my last breath), feebly typing away with my thumbs on my iPhone.

How did my reality stray so far from my dreamy, serene scenario? I decided to have one kid instead of two.

While I had always assumed I would have two children, pretty early on after having our daughter, my husband and I realized that we kind of loved being a family of three. So, we decided to stick with the magic number and settle for being a "one and done" couple. But this didn't only shift how we thought of the future- it reframed how we were parenting.

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As soon as we made this life-altering choice, I became hyper aware that this was going to be my only time with a baby that was mine. Suddenly, every milestone became even more important and noteworthy. This wasn't just the first time I would see my daughter sit up, this was the first and last time I would see a baby of my own do it.

Somehow the less fun (read: awful) things about having a baby didn't seem nearly as terrible either. Waking up every few hours became far less draining. The diaper changes seemed finite. When you just have to get through a stage once, everything feels a lot more manageable.

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And so I gave up my afternoons. When I thought I would have more kids after her, I had been eager to get her to take her naps in her crib, instead of on my chest so I could regain a couple of hours of freedom every day. But then we decided to stay at one, and I realized this was my only chance to feel the weight of a sleeping baby breathing in and out on my own body while she dreams. If she started to take her naps in her crib, my afternoons would be free, but so would my arms. Forever.

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So, for now I am forgoing the tranquil image I have of my afternoons and am choosing instead to sequester myself in a baby dungeon. Because it means I get to feel my daughter's little nose pushed up against my chest, her tiny fingers curled around a piece of my hair while she sleeps. Because she's my only one and this is my only time to be a mother of a baby.