I've had this struggle going on in my head ever since Alex was born. Before he was born, I said I wanted just one child. The only child. Now I'm not so sure. I go back and forth almost daily.
The pressure to pop out a second one seemed to start early. From family, from friends, even strangers. Even before I was given the okay for heavy lifting after my C-section, people would ask if a second was in the works. My answer then was "HELL NO" (put more politely for the nosey grannies on the street who had no business asking me that in the first place). Then this person of mine became hard to handle. Something was wrong. He cried an awful lot, as did I. A second child seemed impossible. Not in the cards. Around the same time that Alex had a seriously messed up sleeping schedule, waking every hour for a few weeks (maybe longer, it's not something I put in his baby book) a dear friend told me she was pregnant with her second. It made me queasy to think of myself in that position. It seemed to me, to be good timing for her, she makes motherhood look easy.
I have an easier time with Alex now, but adding a second child into the mix? I struggle to get him out the door on time, to get him dressed or make supper without either of us melting down. I'm told it's easier with a second. Sure, you know the basics, but just when you think you have babies figured out, the next one that comes along says "ha ha ha, not so fast!". Managing two people with different needs at the same time seems daunting. Yes, I know, there's plenty of people that do it, heck even Octomom is able to hit the gym and do her makeup, but me? Am I up to the challenge? Getting through the newborn stage is what scares me the most. The fog, the lack of control, the crying oh the crying.
Why only one? My answer is quite simple. More time. More time with Alex. Losing my mom early, I am very aware of the lack of time I had with her. True, I can't control when I die, but I can control how much time I get to spend with my son. Dividing my time, at his expense for a second child. I then wonder if adult Alex will spend years in therapy because he had too much time with mom ("she puts the mother in smother" he says to his therapist). That's not what I want either.
However I don't worry about the stereotypes of the Only Child. The spoiled brat who doesn't know how to relate to others, to share. It's more about upbringing than birth order. Sure it matters, but so do many other factors as well. I'm also not worried about having a Spare. The kid you have so that in case something BAD happens to one, you still have another one left. Oh yes, I swear I've heard mention of this one.
Where the decision becomes more difficult, not as clear is the issue of a sibling. Someone who understands you, and fights with you and who will help you up the stairs in your drunken stupor so your parents don't find out you've been drinking. That is where my problem lies.
So I sit on my hands about the issue for now. Deciding not to decide just yet. If only I had more time to decide. Hmm, time.