'I want second child, but there are many worries'

Ms Carol Feng with her husband Qu Hua and their 10-year-old daughter Shuyuan. The family lives in Beijing.
Ms Carol Feng with her husband Qu Hua and their 10-year-old daughter Shuyuan. The family lives in Beijing.PHOTO: COURTESY OF CAROL FENG

The end of China's one-child policy has led Sunday Times China Bureau assistant Carol Feng to consider the possibility of having a second child. She shares with China correspondent Esther Teo her thoughts on struggling with the difficult and emotional decision.

"I am turning 43 this year and my husband is 45. Although pregnancy at this age would be considered high-risk, I have a great desire to have another child.

But I have mixed feelings about the issue, and I am at a loss over what to do. I have been on a roller-coaster of emotions: From joy and excitement, when I first heard the news, to confusion and turmoil.

I have two siblings, and so does my husband. When I was younger, I remember catching grasshoppers with my brother, and playing hide-and-seek and taking care of our pet chickens with my younger sister. There were no iPads or smartphones, but we had fun growing up together.

In 2011, when one of my good friends went to Hong Kong to give birth to her second child so as to circumvent the one-child policy, I was particularly moved.

How I wished I could have another child too so that my daughter, who was born in 2005, would not have to be lonely.

My husband and I considered going to Hong Kong or even the United States to have another baby. But as he is a civil servant, the one-child policy was strictly enforced on him. We found out that he would lose his job if we ever had another baby.

Since then, I had given up hope of having a second child.

On Thursday, when I heard that China's one-child policy would be abolished, the news hit me like a tonne of bricks.

During dinner that night, I asked my husband if we should try for another baby. "Yes!" he exclaimed. "But will we be able to afford it?" I probed further. His answer was again a resounding "yes".

But I remain anxious over the issue, with my heart and my mind going in different directions. While I have always wanted more children, I worry about the finances, time and energy involved.

We spend almost 100,000 yuan (S$22,200) yearly on extra-curricular activities for my daughter. This is about a quarter of our household income. Much of my time during the weekends is devoted to ferrying my daughter to and from her classes. In Beijing, there are very high expectations for school-going children to perform well academically.

Now that my husband's and my parents are older, I also wonder if they will be able to help us look after a second child.

It is likely that we would need a nanny or one of us would have to stop working. This would have an impact on our family income.

Another concern is whether the policy can be implemented in Beijing soon enough. It took a year for a previous relaxation of the one-child policy to be introduced here after it was announced, and I wonder if I might be too old to have another baby then.

Despite this tangle of emotions, I still wish the policy would be implemented soon so that, at the very least, I can have a choice in the matter. If not, my hope will simply be in vain."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 01, 2015, with the headline ''I want second child, but there are many worries''. Print Edition | Subscribe