Is it time for another baby?

I always imagined having kids close in age.  I also imagined marrying Christopher Atkins and growing up to look just like a cross between Brooke Shields and Kristi McNichol.  Alas, life does not always deliver just exactly what I imagined.

On the subject of child spacing, what do you think of having one kid very much older than the other? I’ve got a four-year-old, the clock is ticking if we’re gonna press reset on the whole baby thing and do it again.
Tell me having kids 5-6-7 years apart is JUST FINE. I should also note that while Ava was super high-maintenance for like the first 2 years (all boob, zero bottles, zero pacifiers, OHMYGOD was that hard), she’s like no maintenance now. Plays independently for hours, doesn’t require discipline of any kind…she’s so good that other people brag about her, no joke. I am pretty legitimately scared that a second baby wouldn’t be like her.

Amy – From (Yup.  That Amy West.  She has a new site!)

I’m not one of those women that thinks I know much about parenting.  But I think I know a little bit about me.  And I think Amy and I might be cut from the same parenting cloth. So, I feel wholly qualified to tell Amy what to do with her life.

I was almost eight months pregnant when it dawned on me that starting over might be the dumbest thing I have ever done.  I was on the couch as I hollered up the stairs “Just jump in the shower, Em, put your pajamas on, brush your teeth and bring a book down to read.”

From the top of the steps she hollered back at me “I can just tuck myself in, Mom!”  I didn’t let her.  But it was tempting. In that moment I realized I might be out of my mind.  I had an incredibly independent little person.  She was kind and well adjusted and self-sufficient.  And I was starting over.  With a baby.

In the months since Lucy was born I have realized that having my kids six years apart was perfect for me because of the way that I choose to parent.  Without entering in to the nature vs nurture debate let me just say that I think a kid is the kid that they were destined to be for the most part. But I do think that the way that I parent can foster certain qualities like independence.

I breastfeed on demand.  I co-sleep.  I practice gentle discipline and I talk to my kids like they are small people. It’s time consuming in the beginning.  And I can not imagine doing it with more than one small kid at a time.

I know that it can be done.  I see a picture of a friend nursing two babies and the part of me that longs to envision myself  as an Earth Mother feels a certain pang of jealousy.  But then the part of me that loves a good Pinot Noir knows that I couldn’t possibly have a glass of wine and juggle two babies. I have had to resort to the stemless glass as it is with just the one.

When Em comes barreling into the house after school and I am trapped under the baby nursing her down for her 35th ten minute nap of the day I don’t feel guilty when I say “Shhhh, grab yourself a snack and get your homework started.” I hear her dragging the step stool over to the counter and I smile.  She is embracing the independence.  She is blossoming in the open space that I might have felt guilty about pushing her in to any earlier.

I can’t tell you that having kids 6 or 7 years apart will be just fine.  But I can say that now that I have done it this way I can’t imagine doing it any other way.  I feel obligated to point out that I am more than well aware that many women successfully parent two kids close in age.

But you asked me what I think.

And I think if you like to let your baby be a baby for a “long time” and you have a tendency to let Guilt eat you alive the 5+ year age gap is the way to go.  My Big Girl was ready to be a Big Girl.   And I was ready to be attached at the hip to a baby again.  (Or at the boob, or at the boob that hangs down to my hip.)

My Big Girl never looked as big as she did the day my Little Girl was born.

39 responses to “Is it time for another baby?

  1. It’s a tough one. We’ve been trying for a while for Offspring the Second and had we reproduced when we had planned Offspring the First would have been 3. Now he’s 8. He thinks the world belongs to him and that me and hubby were created for the sole purpose of serving him. At 3 he wasn’t such a little dictator and a sibling would have been less of a shock to him than it will when we finally find that stupid stork (keeping everything, except legs, crossed that it happens soon). He’ll just have to learn to share. I had to and I turned out okay … ish.

  2. When my first born was 2 we started trying again. 3.5 years later we got our second. I was terrified at the thought of having 2 kids with a 5 year age gap. In just a few short months I will have a 2 year old and a 7 year old. And I could not imagine doing it any other way.

    I have to agree the 5+ age gap is the sweet spot. Your first born baby is ready to stop being the baby and the transition is seamless. For the most part….

  3. We’re cool with one but if I were going to have a second I’d probably follow a plan similar to yours. We have very similar parenting mindsets with the breastfeeding/cosleeping and the thought of doing that back to back would be tough on me. I’m no mother earth mama. But I am a good mama just the way I am! Great post, Kelly.

  4. No, two years is the perfect split! Because…..I fucking want to kill my toddler, my baby gets zero attention, and I haven’t been able to take a shit alone since I don’t know when. Wait a second. I think I did this wrong. Can I get a do-over with a 5 year gap?

    I kid, I kid. Sort of.

    • You get a gold medal, friend. I really dont know how you do it.

      • Honestly, I think you are 100% right. You do what is right for your family. We didn’t start the whole breeding business until I was well into my 30s so we didn’t have a lot of time to play around with. As much as it is hard now, I think their age difference was the right choice for our circumstances for a lot of reasons. I just…need…to…get…through…this…next…year…

  5. Oh this makes me want to cry! In a bad way! I thought my life would be like yours Kelly, having a baby just when my older turned 5. Turns out the now 6 year old is a needy son of a b#:* He should be independent but he is not. And if anything, having the baby around has made him revert to something like a two year old, although as a two year old he was better than he is now. Now that the baby is mobile and wants to hang, the older has taken to declaring his immense hatred for his brother and for me. He shoves his brother (who is only 16 months old! a baby! – never in a way that he would really harm him, he is controlled and not a truly mean kid, but still!) and does worse to me. And he is a big kid – 55 pounds of pure rage! I used to say the age difference should mean we wouldn’t have as much fighting and that is true, bc fighting is two-sided by definition. What we have is more like genocide. The hour after they arrive home in the evening, the older screaming and needy and refusing to do anything I ask of him – bath – ‘NO!’, ‘dinner in 5 minutes, you don’t need a snack’, ‘I HATE YOU AND I’M GETTING A SNACK, YOU STUPID MOMMY!’, go to your room until you are calm, ‘NO!’ until I have to carry him in there and hold the door closed, the younger screaming and needy and scared of his big bother shouting in his face, it makes me truly dread 5 pm. And just this morning he must have told me he hated me 10 times and pushed his brother down 3 times. For absolutely no reason, other than maybe his brother was trying to climb up on the couch too close to him. Your story about her tucking herself in makes me so envious. Ted won’t even get OUT of bed in the morning by himself. He shouts for me: ‘Mommy, it’s daytime!!’ and then progressively louder with the “Mommy!s” until I get my ass in there. Where did I go wrong?!? Rereading what i just wrote makes me wonder if I need to bring him to a shrink. Emily sounds like a dream…like what I, and probably every parent, imagines when they are in their 20s and innocent and think having a baby will complete their lives. How have you not had 100 of them by now?
    Wow, sorry to unload in your comments box. This is the first time I’ve thought of this from a distance vs dealing with the day to day. And your post about how Emily is has made me think maybe it isn’t even slightly normal for a six year old and maybe I need help!

  6. Reblogged this on Excitement on the side and commented:

    In case I have not been adequately pimping myself out – did you know I am blogging my little heart put over here at One of Those Women?

  7. I have 4 kids. They are 13, 6, 6 and 2.

    Yes, I said 6 and 6, that is not a typo. They are eleven and a half months apart. I hate that. They are each others’ best friend and worst enemy at the same time. Plus, the younger of the two is not happy at not being the baby anymore.

    The 13 year old is pretty fantastic (except for the stupid teenager shit that makes me want to strangle him), but he was SO GOOD with all of his little siblings.

    This way wasn’t planned, but boy #3 managed to get through 2 forms of birth control, so he was pretty much meant to be (also, when he’s not being a little shit, he’s pretty amazing).

    • Keep an eye on that #3.

      • He LOVES his baby sister, and then tells me straight up that he resents her. I guess I’m glad he can say that.

        But he did make me cry a few times last week by screaming at me that he didn’t want me to be his mother and that he was leaving me.


  8. Uh. I’m only gonna read the comments that say “YEAH! It’s all rainbows and unicorns!” Otherwise, the remaining eggs might shrivel up and head for the hills. Pics of Lucy might mitigate that. Spontaneous ovulation and all that. :)

    Totally with ya on letting babies be babies for a long time. Still on the fence, but MUY THANKS (very thanks??) for this. Cut from the same cloth, indeed.

  9. I have done both…my kids are 11, 3, and 1, and I’m a single mom (long story). I think that both age differences have their advantages and disadvantages. My oldest daughter (11) and son (3) fight to the death every day, but she is great with my youngest daughter (1). I think the gender of the children may have something to do with it as well!

  10. This is a lovely post! Once this babe arrives, our children will be 3yrs and 3mos apart. I like that age gap. It has to be right for you and your partner and you do a great job on emphasizing that.

  11. I am just now attempting to take in the fact that my best fried just had a baby yesterday, and that I am a godmother, let alone dealing with having one of my own. I don’t know how y’all do what you do, but I have a lot of respect.

  12. Let babies be babies as long as they can. That’s what I say, because it sure doesn’t last very long, really in the scheme of things. Mine are 3 1/2 years apart and I can’t imagine them any closer in age. I wasn’t ready, and I’m glad I waited so that I had that time with my older son. I love the picture. That’s precious.

  13. For me it’s all about what happens when they hit the teenage years. My kids are close in age and now I have three pretty much going berserk all at the exact same time. Do you want that, huh? Do you? No you don’t. Trust me.

  14. My boy just turned 3 and we are just now even thinking about another baby. I wanted to wait until I felt prepared, ready, educated in the ways of Mom. Yeah. This year I finally realized that time won’t ever come. So we’ll try for baby No.2 knowing just enough to know we have no clue what we’re doing… but we’re enjoying it anyways :)

  15. I’m amazed you went back for another after a longer wait. It sounds like this really is a good fit for your family and the dynamics are wonderful because of it. I found that after my youngest was 3 years old I was so far removed from the baby scene that there was nothing in me that wanted to revert back to that stage. We all find our balance and what works for our families. We can “plan” all we want, too, but surprises or changes still happen. I guess we go with what is, and what isn’t.

  16. Wow – that’s a really great point about why some people like having kids years apart!! My brother and I are 4 1/2 years apart. And I think my mom’s like you – it was perfect for her, because my brother was grown up and independent, and he was ready to be a “big brother”. Loved this!

  17. I think that totally depends on the parents & what they need/want. I wanted two kids & I wanted just as close as I could possibly do it. I mean, I seriously wanted to be pregnant again at my 6 week post partum check up. I discovered pregnancy #2 when #1 was 8 months. Perfect!! Our boys are 18 months apart. But we WANTED them to be super close in age for personal reasons. My brother & I are 16 months apart & best friends. Hubs is 10 years apart with his brother & can’t connect. I also wanted to stay home while they were little & go back to work once they are in school, so if they are back to back then I will get back to work sooner. But then we discovered a suprise #3. 2 & 3 are 20 months apart. Yuuuuuuuuup. I had three in three years. But you know what, it’s not that bad. I spent 9 months being terrified of dealing with two toddlers (one of them still nursing) AND a newborn. But as soon as she arrived, everything fell into place. Yes, life is busy & hectic & messy & I have no peace, but, for me, I’d rather have three little ones all little at the same time & going through phases at the same time. (As soon as one is done with toilet training, it’s time to start the next one, so there’s no starting over, just a continuation, which works for me.) I wouldn’t suggest it for everyone though ::)

  18. just found your blog :)
    Anyway I LOOOOVE my kids far apart in age. I can really cherish the baby stage, the older kids are so helpful, and I feel I was able to breath a little and rest from the crazy first couple years. My girls are 14, 4, and newborn.

  19. My brother came along when I was 5.5 and while I can’t say things were always awesome when we were kids, as soon as he reached young adulthood we’ve been dear friends. My parents have said they basically had two singletons – they were well past the baby and toddler stages with me and then started all over again (their child spacing was not by choice). On the other hand, I was able to read a book or do homework or an art project while mom was nursing or dad was changing the baby, so that helped them out a lot.

    My husband and I have a 27 month old and I’m 10 weeks pregnant. We wanted our kids roughly 3 years apart and figured that we couldn’t assume I’d get pregnant right away – guess what happened? We’re excited for another, but it’s hard. I constantly feel like a crummy mom because I’m exhausted and nauseous and let my kid watch Sesame Street or play on her own with blocks rather than actively engaging her in some sort of stimulating activity. She’s at daycare because we both work full time, so I know she gets plenty of educational and creative experiences there – but I feel like Mom should be doing that stuff too. It’s all self-imposed guilt but it’s definitely there – it’s like, what were we thinking, doing this when she still needs so much from us?!

  20. My husband and I both have siblings significantly different than us in age (6, 8, and 10 years apart) and we aren’t close with any of them – and never were. In fact, we were expected to be more like extra parents, and never got to bond like siblings. For that reason, we decided to let God decide our family planning, assuming that breastfeeding would space our kiddos. It worked the first time – My son nursed well and kept my fertility away until he was 12 months old. First and second babies are 21 months apart and I LOVE that spacing! They are IN LOVE with each other, and I hope it stays that way! My daughter, however, did not hold up her end of the deal with LAM… She had an undiagnosed lip and tongue tie that allowed my fertility to return when she was THREE MONTHS OLD. Yes…that’s right…we will have #3 the week after my daughter’s FIRST birthday. Will it be overwhelming? Yes, I’m sure. However, I’m super excited to have a little posse to raise and school together, so close in age, to train how to get along and work together, solve problems, etc. They will likely share interests and friends because of their ages, whereas my brothers and I were in totally different worlds because we were too far apart in age.
    Yes – close parenting is important to me. I plan to tandem nurse my 2nd and 3rd, and I would love to manage to cosleep. However – I am their mom and will always only ever be able to BE their mom. I think their close ages give them a chance to be more than siblings – to be best friends.

  21. I’m glad to have found your blog! This post hits home. For complicated/boring professional reasons, my daughter will be 4-5 when, or should I say if, we have another child. I always thought I wanted two, but am thus far feeling pretty complete with one, so not sure what to do. But good to hear that your experience has been a good one! Thanks for the post!

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