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.
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.
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…
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?
Jacki Evans said:
i am five years older than my younger sister and we did some AWESOME playing. my brother is two years older than me (so seven years between those two), and even he did some great playing with her for years and years. the only time we’ve really, properly felt the gap was when my bro and i were in our early 20s and our sis was still at school; but by then, we were out of the house and not really “playing” anyway!
(incidentally, my bro and i had awesome fun both before and after sis came along. I think kids just play like mad no matter what the age gap is).
That’s encouraging! See, I have no siblings and no concept of these things.
I totally planned out my last two pregnancies based on how much time I could spend with the brand new baby, so I know where you are coming from. It’s not crazy at all. For me, it worked out perfectly with kid #2, but a miscarriage scuppered my perfect plans for #3, but #3 turned out to be perfect (if a little later than planned) so it all worked out in the end.
Anyway, onto the subject at hand. There is a 3 yr 5 mth age gap between #1 and #2, and a 2yr 8 mth age gap between #2 and #3. When my eldest girl was born, my son wouldn’t go near her until she was almost one as he worried he would hurt her. By the time his baby sister was born, he was 6, and he played with her from the start. Big sister wasn’t that impressed until the baby got more interesting. Now that baby sister is 22.5 mths, she follows her siblings everywhere and they have a lot of fun together. In fact, one year old babies are perfectly capable of playing with their older siblings, so Owl wouldn’t have to wait too long for a playmate.
As for the perfect time to deliver a baby from your perspective as the gestational host, I have done both the hugely pregnant during the summer with my August (#1) and September (#3) babes, and hugely pregnant over Christmas with my January babe (#2), and here is my opinion. I would much rather have a summer baby than a winter one because as miserable as it is to be waddling around in the heat, it is actually worse to feel like you want to throw up 24/7 in the heat. Ack, that summer was horrible. All my kid wanted to do was play outside, and I just wanted to lay down so the room wouldn’t spin. Plus having to buy a winter coat to fit a huge belly sucks, and you can’t enjoy all the yummy Christmas eats because there is a baby taking up all the space!
Hmm, good points. But nauseous over Christmas isn’t any better, surely! If I lived anywhere else I would be concerned about walking on ice when pregnant, but ice is so unknown here that I have seen people HOSING the ice off f their driveway!
Erin B said:
Just to add to the complication…. Owl is an extrovert, but there are no promises that new babby will be. My sister and I are 2 1/2 years apart, we should have had lots of time to play and bond…… but I’m an introvert, she is an extrovert and mostly we can’t stand each others company.
I know I am likely just stressing you out, but what I’m trying to say is that have a babby where the timing works for you, don’t try to do it for Owl because it might not work out that way no matter what you do.
Are you older or younger? It definitely occurred to us – let’s face it, we’re hoping for it. But I always figure that it’s usually te younger pestering the older for attention, so maybe a young introvert would make a less annoying younger sibling, while still a good occasional playmate?
Erin B said:
I am older, but my best friend was the younger introvert sibling and she hated that her older sister wanted to drag her out to social stuff as much as I hated my younger sister trying tag along. Sibling dynamics are a crap shoot.
Hi, I'm Natalie said:
HhYou’re totally over thinking it. =)
Firstly, good luck timing the time of year you have a baby. Most of the time Mother Nature is not cooperative.
Secondly, how the kids interact (as kids AND as adults) is only minimally impacted by age difference in my experience and more to do with personality/circumstance. As kids, my little brother (4y gap) got along brilliantly and rarely fought. As adults, we really have nothing in common and don’t keep in touch apart from Facebook updates – We like each other, just have nothing to say to each other. With my older brother (3y gap), we are very close as adults and have LOTS in common – but we agree that its unlikely that we would have gotten along as kids if we’d had the opportunity to meet. DH and his sister, however, fought like cats and dogs as kids (5y gap), but really enjoy each other as adults even though they have very little in common. Give me a few years and I can update you on the result of the 3y gap between my girls.=)
NurtureShock says that too – that how well siblings get along is largely a matter of whether they can find common ground or not, not a matter of age or even gender.
Oh man, I spend so much time trying to figure this out, because for all intents and purposes I was an only child. Plus we can’t decide if we even *dare* try again. Plus we don’t know what is the best age for etc to potentially have to deal with an extended hospitalization on my part. Sometimes I just wish I was a crazy fundie popping out a baby every ten or eleven months.
Okay, I don’t really wish that. And I don’t have any answers for you. But you’re not alone on the over-thinking thing!
I knew you’d understand my crazy :-p
Jessica (@jessicaesquire) said:
I am going to do that obnoxious thing where I don’t give advice and instead just share my experience.
Last spring when people asked me when we’d have another kid I laughed and said, “Not for a while.” And I was completely serious. We were NOT READY, I insisted. Bug was just starting therapy, I was just back at work, life was crazy. Then, well, I got pregnant. Unplanned but there you go.
And the thing is, I felt scared for about a day. And then I felt really really good. It wasn’t really the spacing I’d planned. I’d wanted to wait until Bug was in school and we had a handle on what his needs were going to be. It was also better to wait financially. But when I found out #2 was coming, I immediately just felt okay with everything.
And it turns out I’m really happy with how it went. While everything seemed overwhelming and crazy around the time I got pregnant, now everything is more stable and really good with the Bug. He continues to do astonishingly well with his younger sibling even though he was barely 2 and a half when she was born. I know it’ll be a while before they can really play together, but they’re very interested in each other right now and it’s helped to teach the Bug a lot about patience while I attend to the baby.
I’d originally wanted baby #2 to be born in April/May 2013 and had specific plans just like you. But you know what? Turns out February 2012 was pretty darn awesome.
(Oh, and the baby urge didn’t come back until I was already pregnant and just didn’t know it yet. Ha. Hormones.)
I’m so glad it worked out well!
Very quick thoughts:
Age spacing has very little to do with sibling compatibility. My two oldest are 2yrs9mos apart, and play together in truly heartwarming fashion. Hubs & his sister have the same age spacing and are only really becoming close now in their late 30s.
Sibling closeness waxes and wanes over time. I’m super-close with my sister (3yr difference) now that we are both adults & moms, but as teenagers we were not. My brother and I (8yrs apart) had a really unique bond as kids, but as adults not so much.
I know you know this, but you *are* overthinking it. 🙂
It doesn’t help that I have zip experience with these things, either!
Last time I commented here, it was to promote the idea of closely-spaced siblings, so now I’ll switch to the other team. 🙂 My kids have a 2-year-old cousin, and one of my favourite things is watching Bub (age 8) play with his six-years-younger cousin. I also have a good friend whose younger sister is six years younger, and when we were younger I used to go on vacations with them in their camper. We had lots of fun together, in spite of the age difference, and once all of us grew up, the age difference disappeared and we all have a strong friendship today. So while I’m a big proponent of having kids close together, I don’t think there’s any such thing as too late.
That is encouraging. I think the kind of dynamic changes, though. My cousin was 6 years old when his baby sister was born, and I’ve never seen such a good big brother. He doted on her from day one, and played with her, and tolerated her as she grew. They got along great… but he was also sort of… babysitting her. Even though he did it openly and willingly, it wasn’t the playmate dynamic that I (NOW) would like Owl to have.
Jennifer @ Also Known As...the Wife said:
I thought I wanted to have a Brady Bunch sized family and then we had one kid and though she is an “easy” child I’m not sure I want another one, now, later, or ever.
Tim and I are both the oldest in our siblings sets and frankly it’s a gamble with sibling dynamics. Tim and his siblings get along great, me and my sister are at one another’s throats constantly…even as adults. We are almost three years apart and we rarely played together after I started elementary school. Tim is nine years older than his youngest brother and sister (twins) and he’s closer with them than he is his other sister who is only two years younger than he is.
I think in the end you need to follow your gut/heart/instincts/whatever you want to call it. I don’t think the need for a sibling and the pressure of some arbitrary age bracket should be the driving factors behind when you create another pregnancy because when it comes down to it Owl isn’t going to be the one up all night nursing and rocking nor is he going to foot the bill for baby expenses.
Ha ha, ain’t that the truth!
Grace Goldragon said:
Well, crap. I had typed out a big long comment, and I thought for sure that I had posted it, but apparently not. The shortish version:
I knew I wanted a second child when I thought I might be accidentally pregnant, and I was disappointed when I wasn’t. I was instantly pregnant after I came off of birth control. A stark contrast to the 9 months it took to get pregnant with the Girl. So instantly pregnant does happen.
There is a 2 year 8 month difference between The Girl and The Boy. The Girl started playing with The Boy when he was 1 month old. He started playing back around when he became mobile, so around 7 months, maybe? It’s actually quite heartening to see how much they love each other’s company. Siblings with larger gaps can totally play with each other. The older sibling might have to adjust how they play, but the younger sibling will put up with a lot, because they want to be around their older sibling. (the Boy loves being sat on)
I’ll just say, most of your pros and cons are so dependant on variables that you have no way of predicting or controlling (as people mentioned above, new baby’s temperament, personality, compatibility with Owl, and even the timing of the pregnancy itself) so really they are superfluous to the decision. Basically, if YOU want to have another baby now, then you should have one. If you don’t, then wait. Everything, and everyone, else will adapt to your ultimate decision.
Here here! She said it all perfectly. 🙂
I’m glad The Boy and Girl get along so well. Considering that their are different genders and two and a half years difference, I was really interested in your experience.
There’s 3 years between my brother and I and we had lots of good playing together, plus we weren’t in the same school together after he left elementary and that seemed to work in our favour. We didn’t fight much. We bickered a little but never physically fought and we got along pretty well. We have a lot of the same interests and the same friends. I wouldn’t put too much thought into the exact “perfect” gap as I don’t think it exists. I think you should have babies when you want to have babies. But I have heard that the effort involved in each child tends to go down because the older children help out.
It makes me sad though that so many of my friends and family are one baby number two and I’m still waiting to have number one.
I guess that’ll happen when it happens, too… a friend of mine always used to tell me that kids come when they come and life adjusts itself around it.
I’m a year and a half older than my one brother and a little over four years older than the other one–we had lots of good years of playing together, crazy made up games that only we understood, and although my youngest brother and I fought a lot, we get along really well today. (It did basically take me moving out of the house for us to really start to get along though). Personally I’m all in favor of close spacing of kids (and plan on spacing mine fairly closely when I have them), but I suppose I don’t really know any different.
Whereas I don’t know anything about having a sibling at all. The idea sort of terrifies me. How can a parent be SHARED? And will anyone ever babysit TWO for me, or do I have to say goodbye to movies all together?
Obviously I don’t have the opposite experience to compare it to (I can’t remember a time before I had siblings) but I don’t ever remember having a problem sharing my parents. Of course I did get to do special things one-on-one with my parents from time to time, so that probably helped. But I don’t think it ever occurred to me to consider it a problem to share my parents. It actually seems weird to me to have your parents’ attention focused just on you all the time…wouldn’t only children be under so much pressure because, well, there’s no one to ever deflect the attention? (But again, never having experienced it, maybe that’s not how it is?)
As for babysitting, I would totally babysit two kids for you if I lived anywhere close–I babysat all through high school and college and regularly had two or three kids to keep track of. (Once I even had six to watch but I brought a friend along for that!) There are definitely babysitters out there who will watch more than one!
Yes, that’s just how it is for an only child. There’s no one to blame anything on, no one to compete with. You are the biggest pride and the biggest disappointment. You compete with yourself and everything that goes wrong is your own fault. But there is a level of closeness with your parents that I don’t see in multi child families. You have no siblings to bond with or two fight with so family life is harmonious but the parents are unchallenged and unquestioned…
my sister and i are less than a year apart (thanks to my mom believing you can’t get pregnant when breastfeeding…yeah, right). anyways, despite being so close in age we never really “clicked” and can go months without talking.
my girl cousin and her sister are 7yrs and a few months apart and i remember them being not really into each other because they were at very different stages in their development. the older one was in school and the little one wanted to play dress-up…
if i look at my friends most have a 2-3 year gap between their siblings but the question of were they engaging with each other as kids is very different for each sibling pairing.
thus my conclusion: if you don’t feel ready for a second one yet take the time YOU and PH need to make that decision. owl will love his sibling and they will play. but it’ll be their personalities and not their age difference that will determine how much they’ll enjoy each others company.
The joy of the crap shoot, I guess, eh?
Our Baby#1 was born in April, and I was nice and toasty in the winter for the first time ever, but come March and April I was miserable. Baby #2 was born in August and I remember thinking “oh S***” when calculating my due date but it was smooth sailing all the way through the summer.
Both girls, 3 1/3 y apart, both extroverts born to 2 introverts. They play raucously while we hide in the bedroom reading.
Having #2 solved many issues we were having with #1 (she FINALLY started sleeping through the night b/c mommy was Just Not Available) but also created a whole new set of headaches. At least with #2 I had more confidence and the feeling that #2’s sleep problems were NOT MY FAULT.
I’m so scared our second baby will be another colicky one and wake Owl up… *shudder*
My first 2 are 16 months apart and it’s great, the first and third wont even be 4 years apart. So I’m no expert on the gap;).
All I know is my 3 1/2 year old is super stoked for a baby boy, but not a girl.
Those what ifs you had there are more like when wills. OWL WILL pinch the baby just to hear it scream, that’s what kids do. I don’t think age will matter in that case either. Kids like to find out hat they can and can’t do, and how far those cans can go before they’re cants.
Don’t overthink so much. Take out the IUD and just let nature decide for you:)
I wonder what Owl would think about a baby sister? Maybe I could tell him that he could borrow her dresses :-p
I am “4 sometimes 5” years older than my brother and we have been close since he was born. I am now 30 and he is my closest friend. Longer spaces can definitely work.
That’s good to know! A friend of mine had 4 years between her and her brother and he always treated her like a bug to be stepped on.
My kids are 3 yrs and then 3.5 yrs apart. It was perfect (for us) and they DO play. A lot lot lot. AND I have Boy, boy, girl which can be influential in the whole “will they play” issue.
Siblings are NOT guaranteed to play together, though. They may be the perfect distance apart, but totally different personalities. Don’t push yourself till YOU’RE ready. You can’t take it back once you commit, you know?
Now I’ll start researching how to orchestrate personality in the womb :-p
I’m not exactly qualified to give advice here, but I have two sisters. There’s three years between the oldest and the middle one, and five years between the middle one and myself. The two oldest have done a lot of things together over the years, and I’ve more been the odd one out. There was a lot of squabbling between me and the middle one growing up, so I’m probably closer to the oldest one. I think what I’m trying to say is that three years is pretty good growing up, five less so … but that it all evens out when you’re adults. 🙂
I think 3 sounds good too.
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Tara Dong (@TaraDong) said:
ok…my experience. 18 month 17 day difference between my brother (introvert) and I (extrovert) we loved each other until we were teenagers, then he hated me (and I grieved), in his twenties he drove me bananas…in our thirties we are loving AND respecting each other. Never really playmates at any of these times…but there you go.
18 month 9 day difference between Matty (introvert) and T’ea (extrovert) they LOVED each other until T’ea entered highschool (and played together, shared a best friend, etc etc) then Matthew became annoying, smelly boy…still love each other but nothing in common and no desire to be together unless required. Still holding out hope that they will love again 😉
Oh, they definitely will. It’s hard to like ANYONE when you’re a teenager! I’d settle for childhood friends. My strategy for teenager hood will be to lock them in their separate rooms with phones and TVs and tell them to come out when they are 18 :-p
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