Welcome everyone! It’s week twenty-seven of the “On Being Childfree” blog series and this week it’s Sarah’s story. Sarah falls into the category of having one child but still facing that inevitable judgment and thoughtless comments from people who don’t necessarily realise that we all are capable of making decisions that work for our own situations. Please do read, leave a comment and share as much as you can, I’m really willing this to grow and grow so that we can help as many people as possible who may be going through something similar.
We Are: Sarah, Simon and Jess
Home Is: The Cotswolds
Find Me: Instagram
Having one child definitely comes with social stigma in this country and equally so we were firmly in the childfree camp for many years. I thought some of this might resonate with others.
Simon and I met 20-ish years ago. I’d recently been diagnosed with M.E. having been ill to varying degrees for several years. That first year I was pushing my limits in the hope I was well and it all came crashing down. I ended up being bedbound for several years; improving to housebound over several more years! Simon moved in and tag teamed my mum in my care. Our relationship was intact, we got married (in the local church as the registry office wasn’t wheelchair accessible) and moved out together, with a brilliant care package. We were barely visible to the outside world, we didn’t get the “when are you having children” questions.
Over the following three years I was able to participate in the world a bit more. I was driving again, had a powerchair… life felt fuller and we still have no idea when our mindset of “we can’t have children” changed to “could we have a child?”.
We moved closer to extended family in anticipation but I knew from life in a medical world that getting pregnant was not a given. So much so I remember Simon saying “but if we conceived now, we’d have an August baby. I’m an August baby I don’t want an August baby” and my response of “that’s not how babies work, we have to give it at least a year to try and get pregnant”. Our daughter was born in August!
Exhaustion levels were high but far from the bedbound days. For the first 3 years Simon worked so locally he came home every lunch time, saw Jess roll over the first time, swept up after baby led weaning… Heady hormones had my body wishing for a second baby, or was it a desire to experience the same magic again or to “do better”? Pragmatic head kicked in though; we work well as a three. I carried Jessica in a sling on my powerchair until she was 3 when she got too big for me to see over. Remap adjusted my large chair so she can, even now, ride alongside me. Simon got diagnosed with IBD and now also works further away. I can walk up plane steps with Jess leaving Simon to sort my powerchair into travel mode… we’re definitely done at one.
There have been comments from others about the non existent no. two unlike pre-Jess. There have also been comments about “spoilt single children” or “lonely only child” sometimes closely followed by “not you/your Jess”. We know that Jessica is perfectly happy not to have to share us but equally that she won’t get to learn from siblings. Judgement is unfortunately more common than connection. Which is why spaces like this are very welcome! Our life together has been far from conventional and will continue to be that way.
Thank you so so much to Sarah for sharing her honest story as a guest poster and sharing her thoughts and views in this piece. As I’ve stressed from the very beginning, this is a warm, empathic platform for people to share their stories, hopes, dreams, fears. Please do read Sarah’s story and leave a comment if you’d like to and share this series if you know anyone it could help. Together we are making changes.