Before we had Ava, I could never have imagined that I’d feel this way…. so undecided on the way forward. I always thought I knew, but then I guess its easy to say what we’d do or how we’d act or what choices we’d make, until we’re in that situation. I was in an abusive marriage, before that, I was very opinionated on abused woman, but then when I got in the situation I realized it wasn’t so easy to make all the choices I always thought I’d make, prior to the abuse. I’ve realized, the same thing applies to becoming a parent. It was so easy for me to be opinionated on what I would and wouldn’t do as a parent, prior to actually becoming one, I actually was pretty clueless before and I have to smile at myself when I think of some of the opinions I had prior to Ava.

Before having Ava, before realizing we were infertile, I always wanted two children. Then as we traveled further and further down our infertility journey, that changed and I started to feel that one child would be enough for me. As much as I’d love a second one, if one was what was on the cards, then so be it. Then Ava came along and, those of you who’ve been there will relate, we went through those first few weeks of having a new-born, and it was the hardest thing I’d ever done, I was a mess emotionally, I was so conflicted and the sleep deprivation, oh the sleep deprivation, nothing quite prepares you for that. It was during this phase that I decided I simply could never go through that again and there was no way in hell that we were having another baby.

Of course, the new-born phase does end, while you’re in it, you think it never will, but some how you do get through it and we have been blessed with one of those babies that makes parenting look easy and feel easy, she eats, she sleeps, she smiles, she giggles, she is simply a breeze and slowly slowly the thoughts of baby no. 2 started creeping in. And the plans that go along with that.

Well last week, I came back to reality with a hard bump! We love Ava, we want the very very very best for her. Second best will simply not be good enough. I want her to have every opportunity in life. I want her to have the childhood I had. A very privileged one, complete with the best education, the opportunity to a tertiary education, numerous overseas vacations and a car for her 18th birthday. I believe every parent wants the best for their child, I believe ever parent wants to give their child better than what they had. In my case, that will be very hard to do, but I strive to give her what I had growing up.

So, in light of that, after much research, this week, Walter and I contacted the private school we want her to attend and boy did my bubble pop with a very loud bang when we got the registration forms. The first shock came when we were informed that we needed to pay the R5 000 admission within the next 3 months to ensure they had a place for Ava. They are fully fully fully booked with long waiting lists for babies born from every year except 2009 (to start Grade 000 in 2013).

What bought me back to reality was seeing the school fees:

Pre-Primary – Grade 000 – 00 – 0: R2’980-00 a month

Junior Primary – Grade 1 – 3: R3’495-00 a month

Senior Primary – Grade 4 – : R4’480-00 a month

Junior Secondary – Grade 8 – 9: R5’100-00 a month

Senior Secondary – Grade 10 – 12: R5’355-00 a month

Obviously, these also go up annually, so I shudder to think what the fee’s will be when Ava reaches Grade 12?! So the reality of the situation is, as things stand now, we simply cannot afford to put two children through private schooling and see to all the extra mural activities and all the other things that go along with giving Ava a childhood that’s anything like what I had. And while some think that we should just not worry about it and throw ourselves into having number 2, that just does not sit well with me. This is a big responsibility, neither Walter nor I are comfortable with just not worrying about, it feels irresponsible to simply have no. 2 without being absolutely certain of the way forward. While my SIL and her boyfriend are of the opinion that all a child needs is love and so they continue to pop babies despite being unable to see to their needs, I do not want to be that type of parent. And while I have no doubt that we could, if we lowered some of the standards we’ve set for ourselves and Ava, have a second child, I’m simply not certain I am prepared to do that.

So for now, we will be registering Ava at her school and paying the R5’000 fee, we have also started saving money for her first overseas vacation… to Disney World! And we’ll see if time changes our minds at all.

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  • Reply lea2109

    Oh my word, I can’t believe how expensive those school fees are. If you ever come to NZ, you won’t need to consider a private school. You could if you want, but I found I am perfectly happy with the level of education Bianca receives from the public school in our area at something like NZ$146 a year. They even cater to the kids’ individual needs.

    Regardless of what your plans for Ava, regardless of what opportunities you provide her with going forward, I can guarantee you that she will be happy and she will feel loved!

    But don’t quite give up on that dream of a sibling for Ava just yet. Take the time, think it over, but whenever I see Bianca and Caitlyn play the way they do, whenever I see Bianca loving being a big sister, and Caitlyn admiring her hero (Bianca) and Caitlyn saying “you’re my best friend Bianca”, then I would not want it any other way.

    But only you will know what is right for you, only you will know the way forward and you should stay focused on that regardless of what others may say or what is important to them. This is your life, and Ava’s and this is your moment. You go for it!

    PS – The only thing I would suggest if I may – Give Ava about 3 years before embarking on Disney World. She will be in total admiration then, realise who the characters are, she’ll have memories and she will have a much more flexible routine than when she’s still a baby. We took Bianca and Caitlyn to Rainbows End on Monday and whilst it certainly is no Disney World, Caitlyn absolutely loved loved loved going on the rides (you should have seen her face) and Bianca (being 6) even went on the rollercoaster 4 times.

    May 18, 2010 at 10:18 am
    • Reply Sharon

      We’re hoping to take Ava when she’s about 6 years old to Disney World. I went twice, once when I was about 8 and again when I was 16 and out of all the family vacations and overseas holidays I ever went on, those two holidays were the very best ever!

      May 18, 2010 at 10:48 am
  • Reply zamom

    Once again, I’m very glad I don’t live in Joburg. The private school that Zoe and Ava will be going to costs R15 000 a year for Grade 0. Now, these are purely my feelings (sitting from my “position” as a mother of 2 and wife of a plastic surgeon). One of my very best friends is an only child (not by choice but infertility) and I can tell you that if you asked her what she would have chosen, the best education money could buy and overseas holidays (which she had) she’ll choose a sibling without a moment’s hesitation. The fact that I am so close to my brothers and my mom is to her sisters, is what kept me going and going to give Zoe a sibling as of all the gifts we ever give her, I know that Ava is the greatest, most precious one of all. I am well aware that for you to have another baby would take another amazing miracle, but all I’d like to say (purely my opinion)is please don’t base your decision on money.

    May 18, 2010 at 11:43 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Thanks Katherine, but I really want to stress I don’t see this as being a money issue but as being a responsible parenting issue. I don’t want my child/children to miss out on any opportunities because of choices we as adults made. And while I whole heartedly agree that a sibling for Ava would be awesome, not everyone is close to their siblings, I for one have always wished I was an only child and we could land up in the same situation with Ava.
      There’s just so much to think about…..

      May 18, 2010 at 6:32 pm
  • Reply bratty37

    Shooo…Sharon..those school fees are hectic. I shudder to imagine how much extra mural activities will cost above that..

    I tend to agree about one child and giving them the best..but then I always think about how much I love my I understand the dilema

    Good luck with your decisions…

    May 18, 2010 at 11:57 am
  • Reply niseysmusings

    i guess its all a matter of opinion. i am with you on wanting the very best for jaden. i was never close to my brother growing up and as adults we tolerate each other and more than once wished i was an only child! our school fees are also going to be astronomical – there are only 2 english schools in the area, one is super expensive and Jenna Cliffords kids go there so isn’t really an option for middle class families and the other one charges R32 000 per year for grade 1-3. pretty scary but we don’t really have the luxury of options!

    May 18, 2010 at 11:59 am
  • Reply Yvonne

    All I can advise is that for now keep your options as open as possible. Your feelings and circumstances will probably change a million times before AG even gets there, so it’s definitely good to just keep all possibilities open.

    I have no idea what area you are in but the area in which I live has fantastic primary schools – 3 private and 2 governement..all fantastic. My dh and I have decided that we will rather send our two government for primary schools for various reasons. We are already saving and putting money aside so that we will (hopefully!!) be able to send both of ours to private school in their high school years, when it really counts.

    Hugs and good luck. It feels like just the other day that I was putting Caeli’s name down at all the private schools and now I’m already 6 months away from her starting Big School for real. Scary how time flies!


    May 18, 2010 at 1:10 pm
  • Reply trishdg

    I am SO glad you did this post Sharon. I honestly never thought about school fees before I had my son but afterwards we seriously did the education maths before embarking on more IVF for no 2. We have plowed all the money we previously handed over to fertility specialists into paying off our bond so we are debt free by grade 000 and can send our boys to good private schools (similar prices and more for Durban private schools – Over R100k per year for Hilton / Michaelhouse)
    It is a hard decision and no real right answer but it is really good that you are weighing your options so carefully. More people should do this esp when considering a 3rd child. Maybe it was a little easier because my dh and I were both govt school kids who paid for our own varsity fees and holidays were in tents so our expectations are probably a little lower when wanting to give our children more than we had.
    Oh and I have been to Disneyland twice as an adult and best Holiday EVER. We are taking the boys in 3 years time when they are 5 and 7.

    May 18, 2010 at 1:18 pm
  • Reply suestuart

    Wow I had no idea the waiting lists were so long! Will haveto start looking into it for Katy soon then!

    I must admit, I am not at the stage of wanting to try for a sibling for Katy, and to be perfectly honest I will be happy if she is an only child!

    May 18, 2010 at 1:20 pm
  • Reply skrambled

    Ai, it is very very expensive. I went to Disney World twice when I was young. If there is one trip I will plan for it is definitely that! So Magical!

    May 18, 2010 at 1:45 pm
  • Reply charnetrollip

    thats exactly the reason we not sure about baby number two!

    disney world sounds like agreat plan! never been and also want to take Em in the future… maybe the two bff nedd to go togheter :)))


    May 18, 2010 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply gailsnail

    Schools are expensive! We are paying R2500 for nursery school for Kyla already (and that is until 2pm). DH is dead set against sending K to a private primary/high school but we still have 3 really good government primary schools in our area and a few good high schools as well. Nevertheless, we have booked her into 2 private schools as well (Crawford and St Peters)just in case.

    Things may change and in a few years time you may be more financially ready for another baby. Ava is still very young. But, I know lots of only children who grew up perfectly happy. I was never particularly close with my brother anyway…

    As for Disneyworld, We have just come back from Disneyland Paris and Kyla just LOVED it! She is only just over 2. I had tears in my eyes a lot of the time as I watched the look of amazement and excitement on her face, especially during the parades and meeting the characters. Luckily I get staff discount so it was a bit cheaper for us 🙂

    May 18, 2010 at 7:42 pm
  • Reply mayflowerladybugs

    Hi Sharon
    We live in Midstream Estate and we have our own schools here form preprimary to high school, also private. The schools are excellent ( I have enrolled D in about 4 different schools for various reasons and this school compares with the best – a private girls’ school in Pietermartizburg) and the fees are more reasonable than what you mentioned. We want the best for our kids in terms of education and lifestyle, but for us that included siblings as at least as important as the other elements. I have 3 sibs and my husband 2 and for us it was non-negotiable. We are also trying our best to get the house paid off in the next couple of years and then we will concentrate on the school fees ect. I am in a good position working for the university of Pretoria so our kids will be bale to attend free of charge, which is a very important reason why I am not working in private. So we are planning ahead to ensure our kids get the best there is. Watching the twins and Danielle play together is such an amazing experience, knowing they will have this bond forever, always having that stability of a sibling (I know not all sibs get along but we are making it a priority to teach them to be good friends). Tehy already love each other so much! Please take this into consideration, children are for so many reasons better off not being an only child and that is part of responsible parenting, no? Anyhoo, good luck with making the decisions, parenting is way harder than one can ecer imagine right?

    May 19, 2010 at 8:37 am
    • Reply Sharon

      Hey Paula
      Thanks for your comments, I have to disagree with your statement that children are better off not being an only child, I think that is more a matter of opinion than a fact. Not sure if you ever watched Child of Our Time? In that show, they referred to and showed numerous experiments that actually prove otherwise. So its really a matter of personal preference.

      May 19, 2010 at 8:48 am
  • Reply coachmarcia

    I have a very different opinion (no kidding) LOL

    The LAST thing in the world I want is to give my kids the very best of everything material. Seriously.

    Things I want to give my kids the very best of are things like a good spiritual upbringing, good values, great life skills and so on…

    (I’m not saying that the two are exclusive, just saying)

    And I agree with someone above, I think family is more important than going to the best of the best of the best.

    But that’s me 🙂

    May 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Family is family whether we have one child or two! We are a family now with only one child and we were a family of two before we had a child.
      And when I said I wanted to give my child the best of the best, I wasn’t ONLY referring to material goods.

      May 19, 2010 at 1:46 pm
  • Reply coachmarcia

    You are absolutely right about “family” – I also have a bugbear with that word from WAY before we were even trying to have a baby.

    Sorry, I got all hot under the collar and didn’t think about that word carefully enough.

    What I should have said was something like “having more kids”

    May 19, 2010 at 1:56 pm
  • Reply dee

    All I can say is gees school fees are expensive!!! Whoa! Ive never even THOUGHT of school fees before!

    PS – Im not sure if Im the only one with an issue but sometimes when I open your blog your photos cover your posts and I cant read them. I have to copy and paste your post into word so I can read. Maybe Im just being blonde…

    May 19, 2010 at 2:25 pm
  • Reply wenatcheegirl

    I think you are very wise, Sharon, for your ability to look at a situation such as this and be open enough to change your mind. Only you know your family dynamic inside and out. It sounds to me as if you have set very high standards and I see nothing wrong with that.

    I can speak to this situation from the perspective of experience and many, many years. My boys were adopted in the 1960’s and they are both into their 40’s now with families of their own. And truth be told, each one of them SHOULD have been an only child! Together they were like oil and water. Growing up they were not close (though they were only 17 months apart in age) and they are not close now. They live in different cities, have very little in common (except to call me Mama), and have not seen each other for over 15 years.

    Is this what I imagined for them all those years ago? Of course not. But we cannot always orchestrate “happy endings.” So, when people talk about having a sibling so that their little one “won’t be alone”, I cringe inside. Sometimes “alone” is better.

    May 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      Aaah! Spoken like a wise owl, thank you Suzanna! And I agree with you, from my own experience, I would far rather have been an only child myself (long story) and my cousin who is an only child, had such a good experience growing up that her and her husband (one of three children) have decided to only have one child themselves so that they can give her the same experience.
      And you’re so right, we cannot orchestrate a happy ending and it doesn’t matter how much we think we’re teaching our children togetherness, the point is, it just may not work out that way.

      May 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm
  • Reply kirstymac72

    Try pvt school fees x 3!!!!! Seriously – I am going to sell my kidney on e-bay to fund my kids fees!
    This is heart stopping stuff, so sensitive readers don’t read this: BUT – in the 2022, all 3 kids will be in the high school of the pvt school that our eldest currently attends. (St Stithians) Husbank did a calculation of the fees, with an annual increment of 10%… and that year, our school fees alone (with no extras) will be……….R508 000!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I guess I’ll be selling both my kidneys and living on dialysis….

    May 19, 2010 at 5:04 pm
  • Reply aussiekim

    After 4 miscarriages and almost losing my son when 6 weeks preg. I was so very determined to give him a sibling and I felt immense guilt when I could not. Can you believe he is happy and content that he is an only child and does NOT feel sad that he has no siblings or that he is missing out in life (he has had a step sister the same age as he is, since age 7 who is with us p/t and they are both now almost 17) He is very well balanced and not self centered or absorbed. Where ever he goes in life ppl are shocked he is an only child as he fits/blends so well into other families with more than one child etc. He loves that we could afford to send him to camp NZ in year 11 (many of his peers could not go who had numerous children in their family) and that we can help get him a first car etc, he loves the closeness we share, he also spends time with close friends families who have siblings so gets to be a part of the hive of activity that larger families bring then gets to come home to a somewhat quieter time to study and focus on his final year 12. My greatest worry turned out to be unfounded and he is as happy as Larry and has the best of both worlds in his situation.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:19 am
  • Reply mayflowerladybugs

    Hi! yes no for sure, it is only an opinion. I suppose if you ask 10 people, each will have a different take on this, depending on their circumstances ect. I do watch Child of our Times, I love that show, but I seem to have had a different impression from the show, on this subject. Personally, having more than one child, I can just say that for miss D, specifically, it is way better having sibs, in terms of sharing attention and toys, as she is a very determined young lady, exactly the type to get very spoiled if an only child.

    May 20, 2010 at 3:58 pm
  • Reply orbit365

    Sharon, I really admire your ability to think rationally about this and the fact that you just “know” what will work for you and your family. My problem is that my heart rules me and, as much as I apply logic and rationale I still go ahead with what is in my heart. Because of this “flaw” in my personality I have made many bad decisions in my life, one of them being to have a 2nd child. Now don’t get me wrong…I love my kids with every fibre of my being and would jump in front of a train for him but we should not have had another child. I know how bad this sounds and obviously I would never verbalize this to anyone, especially to him. Having a 2nd child was a great thing for my older kid but it was bad for my marriage and finances which are also two very important things to think about. Seriously. I envy you for the clarity that you have on this situation.

    Another point that I wish to make is based on my experience. Please note that I’m not trying to prescribe what you must or must not do because only you know what will work for you. I think that one of the mistakes we make as parents (even though it is not always intentional) is to base what we do for our kids based on either what we had or what we would have wanted. This is not a bad thing necessarily but it can also be somewhat harmful if you are not careful and balanced about it. I’ll give you an example. I was also private schooled. I wanted this for my children and was determined for them to have it. A few years ago we went to look at a couple of schools and everything was perfect. Then one day I had an epiphany. If I must tell you what led to said epiphany then I would probably need to write a whole blog post. Anyway, I realized that my son was more a creative spirit than an academic (My husband and I are both academically inclined) and that the private schools that we had looked at did not suit his personality and who he was. My husband and I thought long and hard about this and after much prayer and research decided to enroll him in Montessori, the best decision we ever made for him. I guess the point that I’m trying to make is this: You don’t know yet what will work for Ava. Therefore, I would suggest looking at various options and having a plan B, D and D.
    I don’t know yet what we are going to do for our 2nd child. He appears to be academically inclined so chances are that private school or a very good Model C will probably be the option for him.
    All the best.


    May 22, 2010 at 10:20 am
  • Reply orbit365

    Sjoe…I just realized how long that comment was. Sorry lady..x

    May 22, 2010 at 10:20 am
  • Reply pandoragelb

    Yep, had the same realisation abut schools!First shock was the price of the creche we chose. The reason I did not even look at any others is because my sisters went there in the 70s, my niece in the 90s. It is not bad on average, but it was a shock to us. Also that you need to enroll your kids before they are even a couple of months old for the private schools. We are also wondering if we should try to adopt a sibling, but are leaning towards no at them moment. I was an only child till I was 7, then had 2 sisters.They are now my best friends, but live overseas, so I am again ‘alone’. I wished often that I had remained an only child, I only appreciated them really when we were more grown up. So I don’t think there is a right or wrong here. Its what feels right. I also want to give my daughter the kind of childhood that she will always remember as a happy one.

    May 22, 2010 at 3:05 pm
  • Reply amyc623

    I think you’re making a very well-reasoned decision for your family. Ava is so blessed to have you as a mum!

    May 22, 2010 at 10:48 pm
  • Reply Mash

    Oh yes, I have thought about this so often. At this stage we don’t even have the financial where withall to provide for one child. At times I think of myself as selfish for even wanting a child. It’s one of the reasons I am seriously looking into immigration, because I think we can provide nicely for a child if we take private schools and astronomical medical aid costs off the table. I’m also a stickler for providing for my retirement so that i won’t be living off my children, like 96% of South Africans do. Life in SA is ridiculously expensive, not if you convert into other currencies, but if you take living costs into account. My minimum provision for my kids is going to be good education, access to university education, they must each have their own bedrooms, a good sized garden, and a good holiday every year. And, Universe, if you are listening, I would like to be a stay at home mom, considering I earn most of the money at this stage… we’re going to need some miracles.

    May 23, 2010 at 9:34 pm
  • Reply Mash

    PS what school was that?

    May 23, 2010 at 9:36 pm
  • Reply samcy

    As with any decision I think one should temper it with your emotion and rationality about the whole thing.

    Not an easy one.


    May 24, 2010 at 11:53 am
  • Reply samcy

    Ps I have the same issue as Dee does with the photo’s covering the blog post – perhaps I too am a doffie??

    May 24, 2010 at 11:54 am
  • Reply hcouperus

    Sharon, Would love to comment (to encourage you), but since the post is way out of my depth, I’m not sure what to say :).

    Education is important for us too, my DH went to a private Christian school but those schools now are integrated (ie keeping their ‘culture’ but govt subsidised). At the moment in NZ and our church culture, there is a huge (understatement!) to homeschooling! So in our circle of friends we are the only ones who do ‘school’! Our girls thrive!!

    As far as a sibling? Well opinions do vary, all I would say on the matter that some people do not deserve to have babies, the neglect, abuse, it’s horrible! So on that note, keep up the good work Sharon, Ava (as well as all children!) deserve to have their needs met!!

    May 25, 2010 at 1:37 am
  • Reply Jaded

    Oh wow! Those are some sobering figures. I’m with you on giving the very best to Ava but don’t rule out baby# 2 just yet. I had a combination the upbringing you and W had and I think it was a blessing. My mother struggled but I did get to attend private school for a few years, took many vacations and was exposed to extras such as ballet and jazz classes and summer camp – which was a great experience. I did work from the age of 15 and started to contribute to the household as of 17yrs. I also had a lot of chores around the house. Everything in moderation I always say…

    You will figure it out and Ava (and maybe another baby) will do just fine.

    May 28, 2010 at 6:43 pm
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