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To Have “Two Under Two”…Or Not

Mar19

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Hello again!

You’ve already helped me once when I had my mid pregnancy freak out, and now I have another question for you.

I’ve been thinking about when to try for baby number 2. My original thought, before he was born, was to start trying when our son reaches one – so in December. But I didn’t account for how much I miss being pregnant! Which is silly, but no one tells you about the fact that you have this teeny tiny baby in your arms and yet you instantly go back to having bump envy. It’s bonkers.

Though, a couple of weeks ago you answered a question from someone who was talking about how they wanted an 18 month age gap – and practically every commenter underneath that post said how hard their small age gap had been on them and their partner, how it had nearly split them up etc etc and I’ve since been wondering about it.

My pregnancy wasn’t massively physically difficult. I did have spd and towards the end of the pregnancy moving around became difficult and painful. I managed without painkillers for the most part – mainly cause I sat my ass on the sofa a lot – but wouldn’t be able to do that if running round after a toddler/young child. So would a smaller age gap mean that I do less running around? I know he doesn’t stay immobile for long, but he’d still be taking frequent naps etc and I could hopefully put off the painkillers for as long as possible.

My breastfeeding relationship with my son didn’t quite go as I planned either. He didn’t take to it very well to begin with and lost too much weight so we ended up supplementing with formula and I expressed. He’s now at the stage where he takes five 6oz breastmilk feeds a day, with the occasional formula top up if he needs it. I also have a reasonable freezer supply. But I have fed him directly from the boob on a couple of occasions and now I know what I’m more confident, and so is he, he can latch properly and take full feeds from me. I’m worried I’ll forget how if I wait too long.

I think my main thing though is that it took us nearly three years to go from trying to get pregnant to actually having our son. I can get pregnant really easily. Sustaining a pregnancy, well, that bit I’m not so good at. Even if we started trying tomorrow and I was pregnant again in April, well, I’m not so convinced I’d carry to term. I think I still think in my head that it’ll take all that time again to get pregnant, and we’ll have all those problems again and so do I really want to wait a year, or two, to go through a process that took us so long last time? I don’t want that big of an age gap.

So, what, in your experience/observations is a ‘sensible’ (in as much as there can be one) age gap? So far this little one has been fairly straight forward (though when he’s crying for no apparent reason I’m inclined to change my mind at little!) and I know I might not be as lucky next time around. I love this little guy to bits, he’s amazing and made everything seem worthwhile. I’m just pondering when to think about giving him a sibling!

Thanks,
Claire

What’s right and sensible for one family is what’s right and sensible for them, full stop. There are endless (ENDLESS) pros and cons to every single baby-spacing scenario in the book, the end. Most families, however, tend to mostly see the pros after awhile. Or at least see the cons as not really that big of a deal. Because what’s done is done, right?

I could sit here and give you a thoughtful, sensible counterpoint to each of the pros you mentioned (pregnancy spacing has no real impact on your likelihood of breastfeeding success — you’ll remember enough and be more relaxed whenever; 18-month-olds require a different, frantic sort of running-around-after than an older child, since they have yet to really grasp concepts like “no” or “gravity” or “not chewing on power cables”), but then anyone who has done the “two under two” thing and lived to tell about it could easily give ME another dozen counterpoints as to why it’s an EXCELLENT idea.

(Yes, the comments on that post were skewed pretty negative, but I think that was more of a response to an OP who really needed a bit of a reality check, beyond simple baby-spacing logistics.)

It’s just…so different for everybody. Some people like getting the diaper stage done all at once, while others like getting one kid trained before bringing home a newborn. Some people have age/fertility concerns that bump their timetables up rather than any real desire to have babies that close together, but they do it anyway. Some people have “whoops” pregnancies, and other people overplan and overthink things a lot and start wishing for a “whoops” so they can just stop freaking out about these endless pros and cons and HAVE A BABY ALREADY.

My kids are spaced out at three years and two-and-a-half years. Absolutely neither of those age gaps are what we were technically “aiming” for.

Like you, I wanted another pregnancy right away. We started trying (-ish) at one year. A full year later, I still wasn’t pregnant. So I ended up with two boys spaced three years and two weeks apart. AND IT’S AWESOME. Yes, there were challenges (three-year-olds can be bratttt-teee, and my particular three-year-old had developmental delays), but there were also so many great things about it. I had three years of one-on-one time with my oldest child. He was out of diapers 90% of the time AND started preschool during the last stretch of my pregnancy so I had time to rest…and then could count on a few precious hours to fully enjoy being with my newborn. And now, as brothers, they seem completely unbothered by the three years between them and enjoy all the same things and play and fight and argue and love each other.

So then, like you, when it came time to debate a third, I mentally factored in the whole “it could take awhile” fertility aspect — this time, though, I was COUNTING on it. We figured another three-year age gap was about right, or maybe even longer. Four years seemed just fine too — get the older two more independent and able to help/contribute around the house before outnumbering ourselves.

Whoops! I was already pregnant. AND IT IS AWESOME. Noah is old enough to really be a help and having a baby is something fun and special for him, while Ezra was little enough that his world seemed less rocked by the appearance of a younger sibling. We’ll only ever pay for one preschool tuition at a time, thanks to the public school kindergarten age cut-off. (Though on the other hand, by the time Ike enters K, we’ll have been paying for preschools for EIGHT STRAIGHT YEARS.)  My pregnancy was a bit of blur — it was challenging to find time to take care of myself and “cherish” the experience and all that — but in the end, there was no sense in overanalyzing the timing or spacing because it happened when it was supposed to happen.

So listen, while I don’t think there’s any denying that the “two under two” age gap is particularly challenging in a lot of ways, it’s ALWAYS going to be challenging, just in different ways. Only you and your partner know which challenges you guys are honestly up for and can handle best. And what challenges you’re okay with struggling with because of what you perceive as the long-term benefits to that spacing scenario.

And yeah, it absolutely can be a total crapshoot of best laid plans gone awry, since your body could completely surprise you, either good (pregnant on the first try and carry perfectly to term)…or not so good. At some point, you just have to take a deep breath and go for it. It’s a scary, dizzying jump, but rest assured that most families — even the ones who claim to have the “perfect” sibling spacing — were built on similar leaps of faith.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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36 Responses to “To Have “Two Under Two”…Or Not”

  1. Olivia Mar 19 at 1:13 pm Reply Reply

    Since this is such a case of every family is different, I’ll share our thought process on this decision. We talked about spacing our children about 2 yrs about, but around the time our first turned one, I started feeling like I wasn’t ready to be pregnant yet. I was still nursing a LOT, had just gotten my period back and was finally not experiencing any lingering pain from my c-section.

    I hadn’t said anything to my husband yet when he came up to me and said he felt our first was still such a little baby. That he wanted to her to be truly well past the baby stage before we had another, so both she and the 2nd child would benefit from being the only baby. 

    So here we are with our 2nd on the way and they will be 3 yrs apart. While my first is still (stubbornly) not using the toilet, she is so much more independent than she was a year ago. Feeding herself, dressing herself and even buckling her own booster seat. Her ability to communicate clearly is off the charts compared to a 2 yr old and that has made me really happy we decided to wait one more year.

    • Anastasia Apr 07 at 8:05 pm Reply Reply

      I was looking around the web and saw this site, though my children are older now (18 & 16!) they are exactly two years apart, I just wanted to say it was the best decision we ever made.  Our daughter was 15 months old when we got pregnant with our second child, deliberately, and they have never not been close.  It was a bit hard in the beginning, remembering to make one on one time with each child, required some balancing, but it is doable and well worth the effort.  She went off to college this fall, and she and her brother remain very close texting and video chatting.  Just thought it would be good to have a perspective from a parent with older children close in age!  

  2. Michelle Mar 19 at 1:14 pm Reply Reply

    I have two boys that are just shy of 10 months apart. So right now they are both 3 years old. I won’t lie and say that it was easy to have two little ones. When my younger son was around 4 months old until he passed his first birthday, sometimes my husband and I felt like we were simply in “survival” mode. Just trying to keep them both happy, fed, rested, etc. and accomplish everything else we needed to get done was a challenge at times. We were seriously lacking sleep. But here we are a couple of years later and looking back we would not change a thing. Today it is clear to me that my two boys were meant to be together. They are friends, playmates and provide us with endless laughter every day.

    • Meredith Apr 13 at 10:31 am Reply Reply

      I have two that are 17 months apart, and we had the same experience…the first year or so was HARD (but also awesome), and now I wouldn’t change a thing. In fact, I’m pregnant with my fourth, who will be only 15 months younger than my third. I also tried the wider gap…our third is 3 full years younger than our second. I found that when you really feel like you want to start, as long as it is the baby you want, and not just a cute, attention grabbing pregnancy, and your partner is also on board, then it probably is the right time for your family.

  3. Martha Mar 19 at 1:25 pm Reply Reply

    I am one of five daughters, we are spaced out over 14 years. I think a spacing of two-three years really is ideal. My older sister and I are four and a half years apart and that was a bit too much, we weren’t able to be close as children (although we are great friends as adults). We have a two year old now and are hoping to get pregnant again soon!

  4. Kailee Mar 19 at 1:34 pm Reply Reply

    My boys will be 13 months apart. It took us so long to get pregnant with our first, plus my husband was already 40, that we took a “let’s see what happens approach” and lo and behold, I got pregnant right away.

    I’m not going to lie, I am a bit freaked out. I know it’s going to be crazy and busy and maddening at times. But, I’m also genuinely looking forward to it too. My siblings are much, MUCH younger than me. I am not close to them, and I am so happy my boys WILL be close in age.

    I think Amy gave perfect advice. What is perfect for one family, isn’t for another. Good luck with adding to your family, whenever the “perfect” timing happens!

  5. MR Mar 19 at 1:47 pm Reply Reply

    I always wanted to have my kids about two years apart. But, when our first was 1, she was still an AWFUL sleeper, and I was exhausted. I’d ended up with a surprise c/s and the recovery and associated bonding issues from that combined with her being a HORRIBLE sleeper made the first year really, really rough. So, we weren’t ready for another. Six months later was a completely different story. But, then it took a few months to happen, and my girls are now just under 3 years apart. And I love it. Because I LOVE my girls. My youngest is 10 months. Have these 10 months been difficult – yes. But, I truly think the first year is difficult no matter what. No matter WHAT age difference you have. Adding another child is an adjustment, always. A good friend has two boys 14 months apart (complete surprise second pregnancy). The first year was hard, but now they are 3 and 4 and she has been loving having them so close together for the last year or more. I think having a second child, we feel like there should be less of the “am I doing the right thing?” because we already have one and we “know how it works”. Lol. We never know how it works. We just do the best we can. And some days it sucks. And some days it is WONDERFUL. As long as you and your dh are on the same page about trying again, then whatever age difference you end up with will be absolutely perfect. For the record, I used to think my first was such an easy baby and that couldn’t bode well for a second. But, the second one made me realize exactly what a horrible sleeper my first was. But it doesn’t matter. I wouldn’t change anything about my first. She is an amazing little girl and I love her exactly as she is. And I feel the same about my second too. Because I’m their mom. No matter what age gap you end up with, you are going to love both kids and you are going to love the age difference. Because that’s what gave you THOSE children. Don’t over think it. You’ll do great!

  6. Ashley Mar 19 at 2:06 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter will be a little over 3 1/2 when our next baby is born. Originally I wanted 5 kids and they were all going to be 2 years apart! Well, starting later than we originally thought and the adjustment of becoming parents changed that big time. I had a very hard time when my daughter was born. There were a lot of circumstances surrounding it that just made for a very difficult first year. I swore I was done! But then she grew and matured and I realized I did want another. Then enter lots of moving and job changes, etc. and we finally felt settled enough to start trying after Christmas. I’m glad we waited b/c my daughter is in preschool 2 days a week now and will be in 3 days a week in the fall. It had helped so much to have some down time when I feel like puking all the time. Plus in the fall it will give me one on one time with the baby. She is also old enough that she is super excited about having a baby brother or sister. She asks for all the time. It’s what had been best for us but like Amy said everyone is different. Good luck!

  7. Ally Mar 19 at 2:08 pm Reply Reply

    I have three and got pregnant when each child turned one. They are all 21 months apart. I actually really like it. It definitely has its challenges. It is nice to do the whole diapers/naps stage of life at once. 

  8. Karishma Mar 19 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    I… am so unsure what this obsession with the 18 month age gap is all about. My little brother and I have a five year age gap between us. We are ridiculously close, probably the best sibling relationship I’ve ever seen, and I do not say that lightly. We are basically best friends. I know people who are similarly close to their siblings, even with 7 years or more in between. Plus? There’s the added benefit of being able to stagger out college tuitions, etc, when the age gap is a little more.

    Which is all to say – age gap has nothing to do with how close or far apart your children are going to be – their very own personalities dictate that – and it genuinely *is* easier to have kids a little further apart. As my brother was growing up, I was actually old enough to help my mom, to babysit, and to be generally self sufficient as she took care of him through his toddler years. And now? It makes no difference whatsoever. My not-so-baby brother is still my favorite person in the world, even if months go by in between my visits home.

    • Olivia Mar 19 at 3:58 pm Reply Reply

      Word. My sister is 6 yrs younger than me and we are not close. I very much doubt we would be close even if we were closer in age simply due to our personalities.

    • BR Mar 19 at 6:54 pm Reply Reply

      Amen to the fact that personalities dictate closeness, not so much the age gap. I’m the oldest of three girls. There are a little over two years between the middle sister and myself, and 18 months b/w her and the youngest. We love each other. We get along. But we’re not best friends. And it all comes down to our very different personalities! My husband, on the other hand, was VERY close with his brother who was about five years older than him (his older brother passed away). 

  9. Cathy Mar 19 at 2:57 pm Reply Reply

    I had a “whoops” that made my children 20 months apart. It was very difficult at first because number 2 was a terrible sleeper; however, they starting playing together all the time when she was just 18 months. They are now best friends (4 and 2.5 years).
    My sister constantly pondered when to have number 2. Will they be close? Is it hard? Etc. I do think it takes longer to be very close when the age difference is more pronounced, but it can still happen.
    Whenever she would bring it up, I would say, “Whatever happens will be your family, so it will be perfect for you.” Nothing happened as I planned, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

  10. Tai Mar 19 at 3:03 pm Reply Reply

    Can I just say that having kids close together won’t make them close? 

    My older brother and I are only two and a half years apart. That’s not a big age gap at all. Guess what? We HATED each other growing up. I’m talking knock down drag out fights that ended really violently.

    I have a friend who has a sister five years older than her. They’ve always gotten along. They’ve always shared a room and hung out and gone places together.

    My mom had eleven brothers and sister, some half and some step and all that. She was only ever close to one sibling growing up, one who is about six years younger than she is. One brother is only two years older than her, and they’ve never been close.

    What I’m really saying here is that being close in age will NOT make them best friends. It won’t make them hate each other, but you won’t automatically have kids that want to be bffs. And for the record, forcing your kids to be friends won’t work, either. 

  11. Jeannie Mar 19 at 3:14 pm Reply Reply

    I just want to echo others — child spacing has its pros and cons at every gap.

    And *also* to say, like a couple other commenters — don’t have them close simply to have them be close friends. They might well be; or they might despise each other. That’s totally personality driven.

    Honestly if it were me I’d start trying once I was feeling out of the “exhausted” phase and just see what happens. ;) that’s what we did — it just do happened that my first was a TERRIBLE sleeper, and didn’t sleep through the night –not ONCE! — until he was 2.5. So we started trying around his 3rd birthday and my kids are just over 4 years apart. Is it perfect? Is it horrible? Both. :)

  12. mostlyfitmom Mar 19 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

    My husband and I both have siblings close in age and we decided we wanted the same for our kids, as we always had someone to play (and fight – haha!) with growing up and are good friends those of our siblings who are close to us in age. We figured 2 years would be good, but since I have PCOS, we thought it might take a bit for me to get pregnant. After our son was born, we started trying when he turned 1. It took just a few months, and our daughter is 22 months younger than her brother. It was a little hairy for a few months, but we really like that they are close enough in age to enjoy many of the same things and can play together.

  13. JCF Mar 19 at 3:29 pm Reply Reply

    1. I don’t think that you should even pay attention to that other post, unless you have serious marriage issues, which it doesn’t sound like is the case.  That post was way more about relationship issues, not about child spacing.
    2. I believe 100% that children do not break up a healthy marriage.  Children can put a strain on the less healthy parts of a marriage, but you’d have to try pretty hard to convince me that children are the problem (in the majority of cases).
    3. I’ll echo what everyone else has said–whatever spacing you end up with will be fine.  All sorts of happy and unhappy families have various sibling spacing, and you’ll be fine.  Try not to over think things, as difficult as that can be.
    4. Finally, I just want to encourage you if having babies close together is what you think you actually want.  I have three kids–the first two are 15 months apart.  The second and third are 18 months apart.  That gives us a grand total of 33 months between number one and number three, and…it is awesome.  Yes, those early days are rough, but I don’t think they seemed that much rougher than the experiences of friends who had a larger age gap.  It is tough to add another person to your family.  Yes, it was more physical work, but my kids were too young to really experience much sibling rivalry.  

    They’re now 4, 3, and almost 2.  Obviously, it is too early to see how their relationships will be when they’re adults, but right now they’re like the three musketeers.  They all adore each other, and they have the best time together.  Again, age spacing is no guarantee of closeness, but we love how our family is spaced.  Good luck whatever you decide/end up with! 

  14. Melissa Mar 19 at 3:38 pm Reply Reply

    I’m a 2u2 mama. My girls at just shy of 19 months apart. Right now they are 6 months and just turned 2. There are pros to the age gap and cons, too. My first was young enough when the baby was born that she adjusted easily and I doubt she even remembers life before a sibling. We are a family that wants the diaper years over and done at once instead of starting over in 5 years. I hope they will be good friends and always have each other to laugh and cry and fight with, though I realize that’s not a guarantee.

    BUT, they are also two very young children. Who require a lot of attention and a lot of help and a lot of time and a lot of care. I have not a lot of “husband and me time” and even less “just me” time. I’m exhausted, even with two fantastic sleepers. And I have to wipe two stinky little butts every day ;) 

    So it’s not easy… but it’s not hard either. And some days it’s perfect, and some days I’d like to sell them to the circus. But I think any mom would admit to wanting to pawn of their kiddos someday whether they’re 19 months or 19 years apart ;)

  15. jL Mar 19 at 4:11 pm Reply Reply

    I have 19 month old twins and another baby due in August so we will have an exact (almost to the day) two year age difference and 3 children under 3. We would like 4 kids total so I think we will have to have them all close I am mostly excited about it and a little bit nervous. My brother and I were three years apart and were not close at all. We are both adopted and are so incredibly different in every way. My husband and his sister are Irish Twins, less than a year apart. They were like best friends growing up until they hit high school. Now, I am very close with her so their age gap is great for me :)

  16. My kiddos are 20 months apart and wow, it was really hard there for awhile.   Really hard.  Someone mentioned survival mode and that is a good description.

    However, I am glad that my kids are so near in age — they are so close and on the same level as far as playing.  Truly they are best little buddies.    also, they think each other’s jokes are funny, which saves me from suffering through the same lame joke again and again.  :-)

    I am 5 years older than my next sister and that sucked.  We were not close until we all grew up and were out of the house. After that experience, I swore I would not have my kids far apart because it was such a bad situation (for us, anyway) to be so far apart in age from my siblings (the others are 15 and 17 years younger.)

  17. B. Mar 19 at 4:57 pm Reply Reply

    I’m currently pregnant with my second and my two kids will be almost exactly 2 yrs apart.  I actually wanted them a bit closer, but it took a few months to get pregnant.  I think the timing is all a matter of preference that only you and your husband can decide.  I have one girlfriend who tried for 7 yrs and lots of fertility treatments to get her son.  They figured it would take a while for #2, so she was shocked when they got pregnant the first try.  She’s now got a newborn and a 20 month old.  It’s crazy, she says, but it won’t always be.  I have another friend who’s daughters are 16 months apart.  She says it was really rough at first, but now they are 2 and 3 and it’s great. 

    So talk to your husband.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  This is your family and only the two of you can decide what’s right.  

  18. Jules Mar 19 at 5:33 pm Reply Reply

    Tai, my brother and I were the same way. Horrible, violent fights that never ended well. We’re only 12.5 months apart. We’re still not very close, though we certainly don’t hate each other anymore.

    That said, I think that was due more to family circumstances than the age gap. My fiance and I are expecting baby #2 right now, and my kids will be almost exactly 18 months apart. We were “aiming” for an 18-24 month window and happened to get it right the first time. We just know that this age gap will work well for us. It really is all about YOUR family and works best for all of you.

    • Tai Mar 19 at 8:00 pm Reply Reply

      My boyfriend and his brother are almost exactly eighteen months apart. They were best friends growing up. They’re still best friends!

      What I’m really trying to say here is–you never know. For some families it works. For some, it really doesn’t. I think having kids close together so “they can be friends!” is not the best reason in the world. Sometimes they will be friends, sometimes they won’t. It’s up to the kids, really.

      If you have kids close together, good on ya! If you don’t, also good on ya! 

  19. Erin Mar 19 at 6:30 pm Reply Reply

    Mine won’t be 2 under 2, but my firstborn will be about 26 months when his brother is born. As far as my marriage goes it has been just fine so far (I’m 37 wks pregnant now), although we did have to talk about the fact that we were both having a bit of a case of “holy smokes what did we do??”

    Total honesty: I have had many moments during this pregnancy when I felt like we rushed in too soon. We got pregnant again when we did because we are getting a little bit up there in age ourselves and didn’t want to wait too long. But having a young toddler while being pregnant has been SO challenging. Pregnancy with #1 was a breeze but this one has been harder – more nausea, more fatigue, waaaaay less time to sleep or take care of myself. This is a common experience from what I hear.

    HOWEVER. I also know people who love having 2 under 2. I’ve had a miscarriage myself, so a lot of my friends from the miscarriage support group have spaced kids close together just in case. So if you want to do this, and it sounds like you do – make sure your husband is on board and go for it. Just know that it will be hard at times and that’s okay.

  20. Katie Mar 19 at 7:24 pm Reply Reply

    Going to echo a lot of others…it’s something you can endlessly obssess over, but in the end, you take a leap of faith, throw out the birth control, and go with it. We started trying when my little guy was 13 months, hoping for at least a two year gap, and counting on some fertility issues.
    I got pregnant the first month, delivered early due to some pregnancy complications, and I now have two under two (21 months and 1 months). There is a load of 30 diapers in my washer as we speak. And I can tell you that it’s both wonderful (my one year old loves his brother! 30 diapers are just as easy to wash as 15!) and it’s a ton of work. Had we gotten more of the spacing we were aiming for, I’m sure I would have told you how great that was too. Really, the reality is that newborns are hard. 2 is hard, but 3 and 4 have their own challenges (and fewer naps). You’ll make it work, and you won’t regret it :)

  21. Mona Mar 20 at 7:25 am Reply Reply

    I think the degree to which anyone is ready for a second depends a lot on the individual personality of the first… I love my first son with all my heart- but he was a tough, demanding baby and kind of a crummy sleeper to boot. It took me a couple of years to be ready to tackle another baby. Our second son is now five months old, and they are almost exactly 3 1/2 years apart. My older guy is still a handful, but so much more independent and mature, and that’s been hugely helpful. The new baby, as it turns out, is a fabulous baby and a terrific sleeper and all three of us are enjoying him SO much.

    • Heidi Mar 23 at 10:50 am Reply Reply

      This is very much my experience, too. My husband and I began talking about having our second child when the first was around 10 months old–but we didn’t actually begin to PURSUE that second pregnancy for another two years, ultimately resulting in an age gap of just over 3 1/2 years. If my older son’s temperament had been different, we would have gone for #2 right away. However, he was a horrible nighttime sleeper and almost never napped, was quite dependent and easily freaked out, and did not function well with groups of children or babysitters (it later turned out that he had some sensory processing issues and is borderline Asperger’s). So for US, it made sense to give him the kind of attention he needed for the first few years and be on the brink of pre-school before trying for #2. We are very happy with the spacing we chose and probably would have preferred to wait for #2 until #1 was in kindergarten, but we are older parents and didn’t think a longer wait was prudent. The upshot: there is no right answer, and temperaments of the existing child AND parents are important to consider.

  22. Jadzia@Toddlerisms Mar 20 at 7:29 am Reply Reply

    I think it does depend on the family, especially with respect to the parents’ work and childcare situation.  That said, I have 5 kids and the spacing is all over the map.  BY FAR THE HARDEST gap that I have experienced is between #4 and #5, who are the “magic” 18 months apart.  I never, never again want to be up all night with a newborn while wrangling an 18 month old during the day.  It is unbelievably difficult.

    Here are the other spacings we’ve done (none of them planned) and what it was like:

    6 years between #1 and #2:  This was incredibly easy, because my oldest son was in school all day — plus he was old enough to help at night.  And he was old enough that he was kind of tired of being my “baby” and seemed to be happy not to have to bear the brunt of my loving alone anymore!

    10 months between #2 and #3:  The first year of this is kind of a blur.  It wasn’t easy.  Once #3 was two years old and walking, though (he was delayed probably due to prematurity), it became incredibly, INCREDIBLY easy and these boys are best friends.  #3 is a precocious little thing and he’s being skipped ahead in school next year, so they are actually going to be in the same grade.

    3 years between #3 and #4:  This was great, and for me, the perfect spacing.  #3 was pretty independent at this point and getting close to being potty trained.  I only had 2 in diapers for a couple of months.  He was also old enough not to be that jealous.

    18 months between #4 and #5:  Hell.  The youngest is my very first “high maintenance” baby.  Her slightly older sister is really, really jealous.  And not potty trained yet.  It’s been four months and I am more exhausted than I’ve ever been in my life.  That said, assuming they don’t have oil-and-water personalities, I’m sure it will get much easier in a year or two when they are able to play together.

  23. Lise Mar 20 at 10:26 am Reply Reply

    I really wanted another pregnancy right after my first child was born. I totally understand what you mean about missing being pregnant, and I also wanted a do-over as labor and breastfeeding didn’t go as planned. ‘The urge lessened as my daughter grew out of the tiny baby stage, and I ended up having spacing of 2.5, 3, and 3.5 years. (And the closest-in-age siblings have always fought, and the furthest-in-age siblings are the best of friends. Go figure.) Now I’m glad I had time to really enjoy each of my kids’ babyhoods.

    Have you talked to your doctor about another pregnancy? Many doctors recommend waiting, as getting pregnant within a year of giving birth may result in higher rates of placenta previa, placental abruption, low birth weight, prematurity, and small size for gestational age. Which is not to say that you can’t have a perfectly healthy baby right away, just that your odds are higher if you wait a bit. It takes time for the uterus to fully recover, and for the body to replenish its nutritional stores.

    It sounds like it’s important to you that your son be fed breastmilk. You’ve obviously worked very, very hard to make that happen. Unfortunately pregnancy will make your milk change and diminish, and may make your breasts so sensitive that pumping become a problem. If you wait a few months, he’ll be eating solids and need less milk.

    As far as the spd goes, it seems like it would be easier for you if your son was already walking well during the latter part of your pregnancy. My daughter had spd during her second pregnancy, and carrying her first baby up and down stairs all day long (the lived in a town house) just about did her in.

    Good luck with your family, whatever you decide.

  24. VG Mar 20 at 11:09 am Reply Reply

    Definitely going to give kudos to the ladies who do have babies close in age. That has to be tough.
    Also – would like to reiterate that closeness in age doesn’t always make siblings like each other. I’m the 3rd out of 4 children. Our ages are 39, 35, 29, 20. I see my oldest sibling are a parental figure not as a sister (and her and I are the only girls so there’s no other sisters to share). My older brother and I used to HATE each other. The hate was so bad, when my sister was getting married I threatened to not be a bridesmaid if I had to be paired up with him. It was THAT BAD. I can say now, it’s not so bad, I don’t hate him, but we’re not BFFs either.
    My little brother, we fought like cats & dogs growing up, the usual crap that goes on, but I was the “baby” for 8 yrs, then he came along. I had major jealousy issues growing up with him. He was our rebel and is now currently incarcerated so I have no relationship with him at all due to his “life choices”.
    With all that being said – my siblings and I aren’t really all that close. I thank God that I grew up in a huge family and had cousins by the dozens, so I have several close cousins that I have great relationships with. Do I love my sister and brothers, absolutely. But we’re just not close. It happens.

  25. Annie Mar 20 at 3:18 pm Reply Reply

    Well, I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old (I am a SAHM) and I STILL feel like I’m in survival mode some days! But that has more to do with MY personality as a mom. I’m a fairly boundaried person myself; I adore my kids and think they’re brilliant, but I need daily breaks and occasional weekends away or else I am an ogre. And I’m incredibly fortunate because I get those breaks. We’re stopping at two because I think having three kids would stretch me too thin. So I would say that the decision on spacing also hinges on what you think YOU can handle. What did you learn about yourself with your first kid? I discovered that I am WAY more of a toddler and preschooler person than a baby person. So, it made sense for me to wait until my first was decidedly into being a preschooler before adding another child to the family. Friends of mine who ADORE babies, and get charged up from being around babies, loved having two little ones who were so close together. That wouldn’t be the case for me, but it was perfect for them. I think a lot of the decision about adding siblings depends on what parents feel about their resources as loving caregivers.

  26. Christine Mar 20 at 9:34 pm Reply Reply

    You don’t say how old your baby is, but I get the feeling things are still in the early days. I thought a lot about my hypothetical “next” pregnancy when I had a newborn (both times) – I think it’s a hormonal thing.

    I’d say it’s prudent to give yourself a little time for things to settle down in that area, and to see how breastfeeding goes as you start to feed the baby “directly” more often, and to see how he sleeps, and all that. It might make no difference to your eventual decision, but then again…

    Just to add some data points, mine are 2.5 years apart and I think that’s just perfect. But a lot depends on the personality of your first. My best friend is now pregnant with her second and will have a gap of over 6 years. My husband likes all his siblings but gets on better with the sister who’s 6 years older than him than the one who’s 3 years older. Whatever you do will be right for your family. Good luck!

  27. Lisa Y Mar 20 at 10:28 pm Reply Reply

    We have–oops–Irish Twins.  The only major con to me is that I don’t remember a lot of our second daughter’s early days.  It’s kind of a blur.  A smaller issue was that my older daughter wasn’t a confident walker until well past a year, so if I had them both on my own, I was carrying both.

    That said, there are some big pros too.  My older daughter was never jealous and she was still happy to play in her playpen or her exersaucer so that made things easier than if I had one running around while trying to care for a newborn.  I also liked never getting out of baby mode before having the second.  I think it would have been hard for me to go back to that if my first had gotten really independent.

    It actually all worked so well for us that we went ahead and had our third 19 months after the second!  Now our oldest is about to be four, the youngest is 16 months and they are all GREAT together.  We have our CRAZY moments when we wonder what we were thinking, but I suspect those happen no matter how many years between kids!

  28. professormama Mar 21 at 10:12 pm Reply Reply

    The following is an excerpt from the World Health Organization’s most recent study on birth spacing, they considered data gathered both for infant and maternal mortality and complications:

    Recommendation for spacing after a live birthAfter a live birth, the recommended interval before attempting the next pregnancy is at least 24 months in order to reduce the risk of adverse maternal, peri- natal and infant outcomes. 

    There are lots of factors to consider, and if there is a time constraint due to age or other factors, the risks the WHO considers are probably outweighed.  But to attempt a second/third etc. pregnancy to ensure close sibling age is (from a health perspective for both mother and child) not advisable.  Even those of us who had “easy” pregnancies, need time for our bodies to recover, hormones to rebalance etc. Pregnancy and breastfeeding are exhausting to the body, even is we are feeling good.  If a subsequent pregnancy begins with the mother without optimum health there are increased risks both to baby and mother.

     I have many friends with kids close together (by accident or due to age) and generally acknowledge the age difference as difficult. That said we all love our kids once they arrive, close in age or not, and no one likes to say they wish they had done anything differently.  
    My own kids are 4 years apart, and they get along GREAT, play together all the time, and fight far less than the many kids we know with a 2 year difference.  My first was a giant surprise, in grad school. And while I “wouldn’t change anything” I absolutely don’t want either of my kids to have to deal with what I did, it was not ideal. So while we can all give advice based on our experiences and say we’d not do anything differently based on emotional bias, it’s important to be realistic about what is/was hard and perhaps not exactly something to plan on purpose.

  29. Erin Mar 22 at 5:05 pm Reply Reply

    It really is all about your own perception.  We were thrilled to have our first son and we always new we wanted more children, but thought we’d wait 1 1/2 to 2 years before getting preggo again.  Turns out, there were other plans.  My son was 8 months old when we found out we were pregnant again at 8 weeks.  They will be 15 months apart! I was in shock.  I didn’t want to tell anyone and felt completely vulnerable.  But I am 25 weeks now and cannot wait for my next baby to be born! We just celebrated my son’s 1st birthday and I am so happy they will be so close.  It is all about your own perception and how you handle things.  Do what works for you and your family. 

  30. Aly Nov 15 at 1:21 pm Reply Reply

    My husband and I were married for 5 months before we conceived. I won’t say we “planned” it, although we chose not to use birth control and just let nature take it’s course. My daughter was born the following June, and three months later SURPRISE! I was expecting my second child. I freaked out. Having a baby was so hard, I cried so much, and we live far away from all family because of my husband’s work, so I pretty much thought I was just going to have to be locked up in the loony bin. The end. Baby #2, a boy, was born one year and six days after my daughter. And it was HARD. Some days I didn’t know which way was up…or down…or even that it was daytime. But…um….that’s pretty much how it is for every mom…..with all kids…..ever. Being a parent is the hardest thing we’ll ever face. It takes entire sacrifice of self, temporary denial of our own desires. Geez….it takes sleep deprivation, destruction (for most of us) of our figure, and pretty much the loss of any time for ourselves (UNLESS you are totally blessed like I am *knock on wood* and get your kids on the same nap schedule!) All of this to say, we spend way too much time as moms comparing ourselves to each other. There is no standard for how many kids we’re to have or how far apart they should be (look at the freakin’ Duggars!) That’s between you, your spouse, and tentatively your physician. My daughter is now almost 2 1/2, my son almost 1 1/2, and I’m almost 10 weeks pregnant with baby #3 (DUE IN JUNE AGAIN! Good grief). And while it’s hard, and I cry a lot, and sometimes I mourn the loss of my freedom, etc etc etc….I love it. It’s wonderful. My kids are best friends. They absolutely love each other and neither of them know what life was like without the other. So after you read this, forget everything I’ve said (along with everyone else’s opinions…because that’s ALL they are) except for this: do what you want and what’s best for you. Period. The end. <3

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