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I’ve always planned a rather large space between children.

I was an only child, and that means that I am entirely unused to the sibling dynamic. The rivalry, the fighting, the chaos were all absent from my childhood. It was just me and my parents. Often it was just me, hanging out in my room.

A wider spacing between kids would give me the chance to focus on each child with the kind of intensity that I enjoyed from my parents as a small child, while still giving my children siblings to share family memories with.

I figured about three years would be about right, but I wasn’t too picky. When Perfect Husband said a couple of months ago that we would have to wait until Owl was in school before we could afford a second, I just laughed. Five years seemed extreme, but if necessary, so be it.

PH has begun to change his tune.

As previously mentioned, Owl is an extrovert TO THE MAX.

Our week in Vegas really made clear to us how much of our time is spend in simply trying to entertain Owl. Taking him places kept him busy, but any time spent in our hotel room was time spent wrangling a pent-up extrovert.

Then, by contrast, our time in Wisconsin involved lots of people to deal with Owl. He especially adored his 12 year old cousin who came down for the reunion as well. He demanded her by name constantly, and we found blessed relief when she was around.

“Take out your IUD,” PH told me.

I think he was only half serious, but we are becoming more and more aware of the possible benefits of having a second child as a potential playmate (and, yes, squabble-mate) for Owl.

We also have begun to do the math.

Owl is not even two, so we have always felt like we have plenty of time. Turns out, it takes 9 months to make a baby.

“Even if you got pregnant right now,” PH pointed out, “there would be two and a half years between them. If we wait much longer it will be three years, and then three and a half.”

How big of an age gap would be too much? If we want a sibling that Owl can play with, and not just share memories with as an adult, we may be fast approaching a pregnancy deadline.

There is another thing that we are beginning to take into account, too. While we were away, we found ourselves really looking forward to when he is old enough to enjoy bigger-kid things. Rollercoasters and the Nuclear Testing Museum – the kinds of stuff that we like to do in Vegas. And we realized that we wouldn’t just have to wait until he is old enough – we have to wait until his younger sibling is old enough.

My mind has been whizzing with numbers.

If we had a baby when Owl is three, he would be four when the baby was one. They wouldn’t be able to play. The baby would be two when he was five. They could start to play. The baby would be three when he was six. They could probably play. The baby would be four when Owl was seven. They could almost definitely play.

If we had a baby when Owl is four, he would be five when the baby was one,  six when the baby was two, seven when the baby was three, eight when the baby is four…

It might be too much.

We’re beginning to think that instead of three being the minimum age gap, three may be the MAXIMUM gap.
The problem is, I don’t feel ready for another baby yet.

I always thought I would just wait until the baby urge came back. Perfect Husband only wants two kids, so if I pop out a second and then get the urge after that, well, I’m out of luck. My next kid is my last chance.

So I’ve been keeping that second future kid like an ace up my sleeve. When the baby urge came back, well, I could bring out the “time for a second!” card. Why condense the baby years, when I could enjoy them consecutively, instead?

I haven’t felt the baby urge yet. In fact, when I think about having a second one at this point I start panicking with thoughts like “OMG no one will ever baby sit for us ever again” and “what if Owl pinches the baby on purpose just to hear it scream??”

But if we change our goal from “let’s wait until we actually want another” to “let’s get someone Owl will actually be able to play with”, I may have to take the plunge early.

And soon, apparently.

The problem is further complicated by my nitpickiness.

Complication #1:

I have always had this dreamy image of being pregnant over Christmas: My family crowded around the tree, bringing me presents of baby clothes that I spread over my belly while Nat King Cole sings in the background. Christmas fills me with a deep peace and it makes me think more about birth and family than any other time of year.

I was technically pregnant over Christmas last time, but since I didn’t know it yet, I don’t think that counts.

If I want to be noticeably pregnant over a Christmas season, I would have to get pregnant either RIGHT THIS INSTANT or in spring/early summer next year.

Well, considering that I have an IUD and don’t really feel ready for pregnancy, not to mention that I don’t have a “pregnant” switch that I can just flip to ON, right this instant is clearly not happening. But if I wait until spring/early next summer before getting pregnant, Owl would be three and a half by the time the baby is born, and that may be too large a gap.

Complication #2:

I don’t want to do the ready-to-give-birth in August thing again. I don’t know if you remember, but I had the cankles of doom and was sweating peculiar slime last time.

Nor do I want a Christmas baby, because Birthmas gifts suck and I wouldn’t wish that on a child.

That leaves a time frame of getting pregnant in May-August, which again leaves me either getting pregnant RIGHT THIS INSTANT or waiting until next spring/early summer. Which, again, might be waiting too long.

Complication # 3:

I feel obliged to give my boss at least a year of work before I become knocked up.

I hate to tell someone who just hired me a few months ago, who just told me that she considers me one of her “senior techs” and who wants me to take an “active role” mentoring the newbies that I will be leaving in 9 months. I figured I wouldn’t be getting pregnant until after next February. But maybe I should be rushing things…

Complication #4

I DON’T HAVE A PREGNANCY SWITCH.

It’s all very well to over think this to the skies, but as The Farm Fairy pointed out to me today, nothing ever goes as planned.

Even if I decided I did want to get pregnant RIGHT THIS INSTANT, chances are excellent that I wouldn’t.

Ditto goes for waiting until early spring/late summer next year. An age gap of three and a half might be pushing it. If I don’t get knocked up with gusto, we could end up with that four year age gap which we no longer want.

…Which means that we should probably begin trying a bit earlier, since a smaller age gap is a better outcome than an earlier age gap.

…Which means that we should probably file Complication 1 and Complication 2  under the category of “Suck It Up, Princess.”

Tell me, honestly – what age gap do you think is too big? How long can I put this off?

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