An Heir and a Spare

I remember when Princess Diana gave birth to Harry and the media quipped that she had fulfilled her duty of providing the royal family with “an heir and a spare.”  At the time, I thought it was a very odd thing to say but an even odder way of thinking.

I was talking to my friend the other day and she brought up her step-sister, who had a series of miscarriages before ultimately giving birth to her daughter.

The step-sister now wants another child because — and I am paraphrasing here — you don’t want to put all your eggs in one basket.  She said something about never knowing what could happen and wanting to have more children because she lives in fear that something might happen to the one she had.  My friend was horrified and said she just could not understand how a 21st-century mother could think like this.

But I do understand.  Two miscarriages taught me to be this cynical.

I don’t worry about Baby S (who isn’t really a baby anymore!) constantly or obsessively, but I do know, first-hand, that shit happens.  I want another child because I want another child; I want to have children that can grow up together and learn from one another.  Yet  I understand what this woman was saying.  You lose a pregnancy and you see how fragile and delicate life is.  You see how your hopes can be shattered in a minute.  In my case, I do not think I will ever completely let my guard down.  I try not to let this fear for Baby S overpower me or color how I raise him, but it is always there.  Always.

July 29, 2009. Another One?, Miscarriage #1, Miscarriage #2.


  1. Jensational replied:

    It is a cynical but realistic view of the world. I agree with you. It’s been a strange summer where two families I’ve known have lost children and in both cases there were other children left and in many ways I think that’s been a comfort to the parents.

  2. Kate replied:

    It sounds a little morbid to think that way but I have a feeling I’d feel the same way. Having had a miscarriage myself, I believe it would have been easier to handle if I had a child already. If you have at least two children and you lose one (god forbid) you have that “spare.” Again, it’s morbid but it’s true.

  3. Sam replied:

    That’s why I won’t have husband get snipped for a very long time. Just in case something happens. We need those swimmers.

    • MC's Husband replied:

      Sam- have him store some swimmers in a sperm bank (for your use only), then get the snip. Everyone wins.

  4. Artblog replied:

    I would never have even thought of using the word spare in relation to my children, but I get when she’s coming from, in a way.

    Before I had little D. I always said if LaLa “went”, I would too, from heartache, now I can’t anymore. Not so much thanks to a “spare” but more out of parental duty and love for the remaining children.

    It would have been nicer of your friend to say it that way, perhaps 😉

  5. DD replied:

    My SIL’s MIL actually said to us when XBoy was 6 months old: “You better have another one, just in case something happens to him.”

    Stupid, stupid cow.

  6. anon replied:

    I lost a sister, and were it not for the us kids, my parents would not have survived it. We were there to provide a continuing source of happiness – and eventually grandchildren and so joy continued in their lives despite the ongoing daily pain. It isn’t morbid or cynical. It simply is the truth. While I still had just one child, I attended the funeral of a colleague who died in a car accident. She was very young and an only child. The look of utter shattered grief on her mother’s face at the funeral terrified me in a way my own mother’s grief never did. Mostly because I walked away feeling that this broken ghost of a woman had lost the center of her life. I wanted to be my parents should the absolute worst ever happen to me – not that woman. I had a second child not because of fear of the death of the first, but because I knew I needed to be able to continue to love a child if the worst ever did happen. It is as much about love as fear.

  7. Ms Planner replied:

    Wow, what a deep post (and deep replies, too).

    However, I am really writing about is your momma weaning post a few days (weeks?) ago. How is the once-a-day pump going?

    I just transitioned quickly to nursing Missy once a day and my b**bs are killing me. As in, I can barely hold her. So I think I will add in another pumping session. But I hear you, I hate pumping.

  8. Rachel replied:

    As an only child, I tend to see this from the perspective of the children, rather than the parents’ desire for a “spare” (which kind of squicks me out for indeterminate reasons). I am the only person (+ the spouse) available to bear the burden of my parents’ needs in old age and infirmity; I don’t live near them, I can’t/don’t want to work where they are; I’m not available all day to shuttle them around. How this will work when they start to decline is something I am already fretting about, because it will all depend on me in some way or another.

  9. Ethel replied:

    It’s a tangent, which is what I do, but technically babies are babies until they are 3 years old. So he’s a baby.

  10. replied:

    An Heir and a Spare | Missed Conceptions

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