Only Child (So Far) Guilt

“Mommy, I want a real baby. Emily has a real baby. I only have pretend babies.” My almost four-year-old reminds me of this daily. I never intended it to be this way. My brother and I are 13 months apart. While I never thought I would have two children in just over a year, I love how close I am to my brother and expected my children to be fewer than three years apart in age. But alas, it’s looking more and more probably that dear daughter will likely be in grade school before her “real baby” comes along. And my feelings about this are, in a word, complex.

My girl is, and always has been, a strong-willed child. She was never much of a fan of sleep. I was never a fan of the baby phase. Then, when she was 9 months old, we moved 11 hours away from our families to Baton Rouge. And we built a house. And I went back to work. And we sold that house and bought a new one. Through it all, there was always a reason why I wasn’t ready. There were days, weeks even, when I thought maybe it was finally time. More than once I was jealous of a pregnant coworker, a mother snuggling a newborn, and Facebook pictures of my friend’s children who are clearly BFFs. But I never could commit.

Em Doll2

That girl, though. She loves every baby she sees as if it is her own. And her dolls can be found scattered around the house going on trips to the “grocery store” sitting in her toy shopping cart, tucked under the covers in the guest bedroom, and buckled into the backseat of the car so they stay safe. She will make the best big sister. But here I am, with no immediate plan to give her the gift she wants more than anything.

I have the standard fears: Maternity leave is expensive. Daycare is expensive. Diapers are expensive. Babysitters are expensive. Pumping is miserable. What if I never get to sleep again? At this point, do I really want to start over now that I’m through the toddler trenches? We have too much debt. We have too little in savings. Our house is too small. I need to lose weight. I have the patience of a toddler. Oh, and did I mention daycare is expensive.

My vision of my family always looked more like Parenthood (the TV show that never should have been cancelled). I love the idea of having several adult children to laugh with and cry with (and care for) my husband and me as we age. But several small children? Do I have to? A friend recently said to me, “They say you blink and your kids are grown. I keep blinking, but nothing is happening!” I echo her sentiment completely.

I will admit I do miss the feeling of baby kicks. I wonder how different birth and parenting will be the second time around. I dream about Etta Mae fiercely loving a sibling (or two).  And I long for her to have a playmate. But so far, none of that has been enough to convince me that I’m ready.

Do you have more than one child? How or when did you decide you were “ready” to take the next step toward having more than one?

Ashley S
Ashley grew up in Joplin, Missouri and attended the University of Arkansas where she earned a degree in Finance and Insurance. She met her husband, Jason, in Fayetteville and they have one daughter, Etta Mae. They moved to Baton Rouge in 2013 for Jason's job with the LSU Tigers. Ashley is an extroverted introvert who loves Ted Talks, following politics on Twitter, and figuring out how to get the best deals on everything without paying shipping. If it were up to her, she would get paid to read books and take every college class so that she could learn everything about everything, but instead she pays the bills by working in recruiting for a multinational tech company. Ashley is blessed to have a daughter who is at least as stubborn as she is and a husband who is laid back enough to put up with both of them.


  1. I love this post. I’m currently pregnant with #2 (accident all the way), DD is 3 and will be 3.5 when sibling arrives. I was excited at first, and it pains me to admit this, but ever since I realized how much daycare for 2 is going to cost me, I have been full of dread and discontent. An expectant mother should be over the moon, but here I am, sad that when we were finally starting to see the light financially, we’ll be struggling all over again. I feel AWFUL for feeling this way, not to mention while like you, I envisioned Parenthood or The Family Stone for my future immediately after baby #1’s arrival, now that she is out of diapers, sleeping through the night, and we can do such fun things with her, I am lost again and not sure how to do it all over from the beginning. I don’t know how we are going to do it, to be honest. For a normally carefree person, I’ve had a lot of panic attacks and emotional breakdowns trying to figure out how we can afford $1,400/month in childcare or live on one income. But my daughter gets me through it. Now that she knows she’s going to be a big sister, she tells me all the time she’s going to help me with the baby. She even asked me this morning if she can help give the baby milk when “she” (she’s determined it’s a girl) comes out of momma’s belly.

    But my point being, don’t feel guilty for feeling the way you do; at least you aren’t pregnant yet and STILL feeling that way 😉 Plus, one should never feel guilty for spending MORE one-on-one time with their child. I have definitely already thought a lot of about missing time with just my daughter, not to mention the fantasies in my head of trips to Disney or the beach that have all gone out the window.

    P.S. I love your daughter’s name!

  2. Big Hugs to you! I’m sure it will end up being easier than we expect for both of us, but definitely scary. And yes, daycare is a terrifying expense. It’s a crime that it’s so hard for women to work and afford childcare for multiple kids. And, Etta Mae is a family name. It fits her perfectly 🙂

  3. I never wanted children. I never understood the urge that most ladies get. My husband and I were quite happy just being us. Then, accidentally, I got pregnant with #1. She was the perfect baby. Insanely perfect. So perfect that she’d make you think you could have 10 more. She was what we never knew was missing. We did not want another. When she was 4, we got pregnant again and yes it was accidental. Apparently, once in my 30’s birth control was no longer my friend!! So, at 5 years old, my baby got her baby sister. (and I got my tubes tied plus hubs got the snip) We love our girls and wouldn’t change a thing but not going to lie, it’s hard to go from a child that is very independent to one that needs you all the time for everything. I ended up having to quit my job and stay home because there was no way we could pay more for childcare than our mortgage. Diapers are crazy expensive and while #1 potty trained at 18 months, #2 is going on 32 months and potty training is a struggle to say the least. But, I will say, for ever “negative” there are 10 positives. When I look in the rear view mirror and they are holding hands. When the older one helps the little one wash her hands before dinner. When they hug and tell each other and say I Love You before bed. It’s so worth it. But, we are certain there will be no more!!


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