A Letter to Liam

Dear Liam,

You are an only child by choice.

In some ways, this was a difficult choice to make, and in other ways, it felt like the only choice to make.

But I feel like I owe you an explanation.

I would have loved for you to have a sibling, someone to share your life with, someone to be here in the world with you, after your father and I depart it.

If my life had gone as I had planned it, I would have met your dad in college or in the Peace Corps. We would have married, traveled the globe together, backpacking on a limited budget and loving every minute of it, and then settled down somewhere near your aunt (my sister), wherever she was, and started a family. You would have come along with little effort, and your dad and I would’ve not thought twice about trying for a second child and enriching your life with a sibling. I had always planned to have two kids.

However, (I will tell you now, even though you may not believe me) life doesn’t always proceed as planned.

I didn’t meet your dad in college. We were a thousand miles apart, me in New York and Dad in Minnesota. Your dad was working in a restaurant, either cooking, waiting tables, or tending bar, and I was busy playing volleyball and working on my school’s literary magazine.

I didn’t meet your dad in the Peace Corps. We were thousands of miles apart, me in Namibia, and Dad in Minnesota. Your dad was working in web development, and I was busy learning how to teach English and mathematics to students for whom English was a third or fourth language.

It wasn’t until much later that your dad and I found each other (and that wonderful story is, perhaps, its own separate letter).

I was thirty-six years old when we married. My prime baby-making days were in the past. Women over thirty-five are considered of “advanced maternal age,” and their pregnancies are considered high-risk. We worried about not having a healthy baby. And then when we didn’t get pregnant, we worried about not having any baby at all.

And then, through the scientific advancements that made in vitro fertilization and genetic screening possible, you, this healthy, wonderful, little boy were conceived, carried and cradled in my womb, and born.

It was too much to hope that this same success could happen again. It was too much of a risk. I was forty when you were born. We didn’t want to have another child right away. We were too busy enjoying the magic of having you in our lives. To try now, when I am 42, is too scary for us. Mathematics are not sentimental (it’s why I’m an English teacher and not an Algebra teacher). The statistics, the odds, are overwhelmingly not in our favor, not in the favor of producing a healthy sibling for you.

Nevermind the fact that the IVF process to produce you cost over $14,000, the cap on our insurance for fertility treatment. Any attempt to assist our fertility would be out-of-pocket, and our pockets are not that deep. Some couples, once they have conceived through IVF and had a child, gain the ability to conceive in the regular fashion. We don’t know if this would have been our circumstance or not. Still, finances were a consideration, not the deciding factor, by any means, but a part of the decision.

And that decision was that you would be an only child, surrounded by loving parents and a number of furkids.

And for that decision, I am both sorry and glad.

I hope you can understand that.

I love you, Liam.




2 thoughts on “A Letter to Liam

  1. Liam-

    I dislike disagreeing with your mother. She’s right about a great many things. But, in this case, she is woefully wrong. Math is beautiful and better than English.

    There, I said it; and damn the consequences!

    But, the rest of what your mom says is true. I would have liked to give you a little brother or sister, but statistically and medically, we are ill equipped for it. My hope is that you find someone to enjoy life with as I’ve found with your mother. I don’t particularly care who as long as that person makes you happy.

    Love, Dad


    1. I don’t usually reply to you on here, Honey, but it is clear you misunderstood me, so I need to set the record straight. I did in no way say that English was better than math in my post. Only that English is sentimental where math is not. And that I am a sentimental person, and wanted to connect with my students emotionally so chose to teach English instead of algebra. I agree that math is beautiful. Not that it’s better than English. It is different, and thank goodness for that.


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