Kara Desforges always thought three children sounded like a good number.
But “a series of events over time” tipped the scale towards being “one and done,” says Desforges, mother of five-year-old Mackenzie.
“I had Mackenzie three weeks shy of turning 31 and my husband is seven years older, so age was definitely a factor in having one,” says Desforges.
“We would have had to have them super close together and it never happened.”
Even on anti-nausea pills, the Rockland resident suffered from sickness daily and her pregnancy was “extremely difficult.”
“The pregnancy alone was a pretty big factor in stopping after one,” she says. “I also have to admit that having a child was much harder than I had anticipated.
“We have a non-existent support network and I honestly believe that in this day and age it really does take a village to raise children.”
She was also diagnosed with general anxiety disorder when her daughter was two and decided she needed to care for herself.
“My daughter and my husband deserve a mother and a wife that is mentally well and I love them too much to take a chance that I could handle another little life,” she says.
Desforges and her husband Ben are two of many parents choosing to be one and done.
According to Dr. Katherine Arnup, award-winning author of Education for Motherhood and retired associate professor at Carleton University, the fertility rate in Canada was 1.61 in 2011.
“It’s clear that women are having fewer children than they did in the Baby Boom period,” she told Parenting Times.
For Ottawa resident Jessica Scallen, there was no real defining moment when she and her husband knew that their family was complete with one child, but said that age was a factor.
She was 33, and her husband 39, when their daughter Georgia was born.
“We enjoy traveling and our house is comfortable with one child,” said Scallen. “We could fit more, but feel complete.”
Georgia is now six, and her parents still enjoy frequent travel, and because they only have one daughter, they feel they can focus on her, and ensure that she receives the best of everything without factoring in cost.
Travel and financial freedom are only a couple of the benefits to parenting one child.
“We are never outnumbered when solo parenting and find it much easier on our relationship to have individual time,” adds Desforges.
Ottawa resident Karen McIntyre agrees that there are perks of being a single-child family.
“We only have to go through diapers once, terrible twos once and daycare costs once,” says McIntyre, mother to two-year-old Jordan. “We are able to coordinate our schedule with only one other schedule of activities, playdates, etc. There is more room in the backseat when we travel.
“We have more means to provide for one child. We can focus on one child and make sure he has the best life possible without having to share us.”
Despite their reasoning, these parents all say that there will always be inquiries from well-meaning friends, family members and even acquaintances about the possibility of adding a second child to their clan.
Scallen has been asked “tons of times” if she and her husband would want to give Georgia a brother or sister.
“If you say you just got married, the question is, ‘when will you have kids?’ And when you have one child it’s, ‘when will you have another?’” Scallen says.
Time doesn’t seem to be a factor. Although her daughter will turn six this summer, Desforges still gets asked regularly by friends, colleagues and strangers whether they plan on a second child. It makes her feel pressured, inadequate and “like a failure,” she says. “Everyone seems to think she needs a sibling.”
McIntyre is asked constantly by friends, some family, co-workers and strangers. The question, she said, makes her angry.
“I have been told the ‘average’ family has two children,” she says. “I would never ask someone about their personal choices.”
Scallen considers herself pretty immune to pressure from other people, but she sometimes worries that Georgia won’t have the support of siblings later on, when she and her husband aren’t around.
She does realize that a sibling is no guarantee that a child has a friend for life. “Children can seek the company of friends and other relatives,” she says.
Desforges, who knows many people who are estranged from their siblings, agrees.
And Scallen says Georgia asks for a sibling from time to time.
“We are open about how we were so happy to have a girl and she was the perfect child for us so we finished our family there,” she says. “We talk about travel, our age, all of it.”
Despite all the questions, Scallen is “very confident” in her family’s decision to have only one child. She works with children, so she feels that there are other kids out there who she has helped.
Despite second-guessing her decision two years ago (“it was driving me crazy,” she says) Desforges says she’s now “100-per-cent confident.”
“Now that (Mackenzie is) almost six, I couldn’t imagine going through the baby days again,” Desforges says. “I can confidently say our family is complete.”
And those people who persist with the questions? What does she say to them?
“Some of the most amazing people I know are only children,” Desforges says. “I want my daughter to be just like them.”