It took me a long time to accept that reaching the perfect amount of family members - mainly the number of kids- is something out of my power. There are people who have children more or less by accident, maybe with different partners, and just go along blending their ever changing family. There are also people who methodically plan each offspring together with house moves, holidays, and career progress. And those kids appear as planned.
Then there are people like me. People who aren't sure they will ever marry, almost hope they won't, and then they do. People, who don't know if they will manage to have a child. People who struggle to conceive but also think that if it never happens, that's fine, life will go on. The pressure comes mainly from want to be grandparents and friends from group number two, who demand others to have their plans coordinated with theirs as it makes socializing so much easier (plus they can see for themselves that their parenting method is really the best).
And then, one day, child number one arrives. The pregnancy finally works out, all goes well and the baby is here. Everybody is happy for you. They give you few months of peace before they start questioning when is the next baby coming. I was different after my child was born. Before parenthood, I did want a baby but I also thought that if it isn't meant to happen naturally, I will accept it as a fact and move on. But once we were aproaching first birthday something shifted, probably the dreaded clock started ticking, or the hormones took over, I really really wanted another child or two (preferably two as my mother and most 'perfect parents' friends had two and kept reminding me how super simple my life is, so three would give me the winning strike back). Even knowing how hard labour was, and terribly sleep deprived, I just wanted more... I also assumed that after difficulties before our first baby it would now go smoothly, because we were so lucky...
I had one miscarriage before my child was born and it took me long time to get pregnant again. After my child was born I did manage to get pregnant faster. But it led to three miscarriages in less than a year. With the first I thought: well, it happend before and then it worked out. It happened while we were travelling and I felt bad for not being able to be more careful, disciplined etc. Of course it would have happened anyway if it wasn't meant to be. The second time I thought: maybe second time means one more before it gets better? To be honest, it was a strange episode of prolonged bleeding and repeated visits to a very unhelpfull GP who kept offering me contraception to 'sort the cycle issue' without listening to my story or bothering to make sure there isn't some serious issue. When she repeated blood test for pregnancy hormones and saw that levels are falling week on week, she wished me good luck over my phone as if it was nothing. Being pregnant the third time gave me such pleasure! We just moved house. My first baby was conceived shortly after moving, too. The due date of my first one was near my birthday. The due date of this one was close to my husband's birthday. It is meant to happen this time, I thought. But it didn't happen. It ended shortly before the first scan. And this time, it took a long time to get over. Looking back, I believe I was depressed for most of 2016. I was low. My husband was devastated. And we both felt that we can't keep going like that. Charting, trying, hoping. Most of all, even though we wanted another child, we both couldn't face another loss like that.
So much was written about the lack of support for early miscarriages. I could write and talk without end. People who didn't experience it will never understand, people who did will never believe it was as bad as it was for them.... But to justify a family of three as a thing that is simply what it is is also hard. People are meant to marry and have children. Children, not a child. Even people close to us who knew about our struggles with conceiving our first baby would casually ask about next babies, even say that we didn't struggle more than average. Easy to see it that way if you never experienced it. We decided not to share our later issues widely. And with time, when the clouds in my mind cleared and I realized that being sad and unwell isn't great for my child, I thought it is time to accept and make a closure. If an accident happens and miracle occures, fine, but no more trying, no more pressure, no more pain. We are a family, all three of us. And once I got myself used to the idea I felt a strong sense of relief. I don't have to worry about many things. As my child grows I have more time to do things I like and enjoy and my energy can go into projects that are like babies to me, too.
By the end of last year, when child started reception, I was ready for our next step and filled our home with animals. I brought two budgies first, which my husband didn't want but now enjoys. They were supposed to sustain us while we search for our ideal dog. But as luck would have it we found our ideal dog only two months later. And having a puppy is so much like having another baby, it is not even funny. Sleepless nights, poo issues, health and safety.... But there we are. There is room for more but if it doesn't happen, it is fine. Life is good, we are a family of six if you count all souls under our roof (and accept that all being have souls).
When we travel I feel lucky, as big families mean lots of luaggage, full hands, stress, and at least one grumpy and/or screaming child. One of us has always a free hand and we can split and one can read a book for a while. Same goes for every day life. Being a parent of 'only' one child isn't selfish, it isn't a failure, it is great. It has its pluses and minuses, as does any other way your life works out. If we were still only the two of us, we would have a very different life, but it would be great in its own way, too. If more of my pregnancies worked out, it too would be very great. But to find a balance and acceptance and the good in the lot we were given in the lottery of life is truly very much the greatest.