One of those questions moms seem to get asked as soon as their first child is born (literally like before your body has healed from giving birth) is “Soooo, when are you having another one?” No joke. I was unaware of this nuance in 2009 when my first daughter was born.
I kept thinking to myself….“I can see discussing family planning with your spouse or your close friends, but random people asking this question: strangers in the grocery store, people in a waiting room, church members really feel the need to know when I want to try to procreate again?” It kind of floored me.
I had a pretty traumatic birth experience so when I first heard this question with my newborn in my arms, my emotions were still raw and I wanted to cry and say, “Oh I dunno, NEVER!!” I became used to it after a few months and would rattle off “sometime in the future” with a smile on my face and awkward laugh. After a year or two I could joke more easily about it and say, “If I could pop one out at about 18 months without having to go through pregnancy and newborn days, that’d be great” and we’d share in a chuckle, this stranger and me.
By the time my daughter was about 4, I could tell when people asked this question they thought I might be having trouble conceiving or something, yet they still asked…you know – because they’re concerned.
Soon after that, people pretty much quit asking. So when we announced to family and friends that we were expecting another baby right after our daughter’s 5th birthday, I’m sure you can guess everyone’s reaction right after the dumbfounded and joyful expressions…“Wait, was this on accident?!”
The truth is during those 5 years, my husband and I weren’t ready for another child yet. I needed time to heal from my birth: physically and emotionally, and honestly we really enjoyed having just one! We never had a set number of offspring in mind, we always said we would see how we like one baby and go from there.
I had NO desire to breastfeed back to back, be pregnant back to back, or have two in diapers. I had many friends who did want this and it was great for them! Just not for me!
Now more than anything I get asked if I like having them spaced so far apart. My answer is a resounding YES! But once again, this is what we wanted and planned for and if you want three under three then good for you! Or if you are one and done, congrats! To those mamas thinking you would like to space your kids a few years apart, here are some perks that I love about it!
Built in Helper.
I didn’t purposefully wait 5 years to make the older sibling be a helper but guess what….it is a nice perk! And she is usually very eager to help! From rocking to reading to soothing to burping to entertaining to spoon feeding, big sis has been in the thick of it!
In the beginning she wanted to learn all about the breast pump and was ready with the parts necessary. And now she loves to push the stroller when we go places or hold her sister’s hand walking into buildings. There are many ways siblings can help each other in a family and I’m so thankful I get to witness my daughter help me AND her little sister!
One on One Time with Each.
I am a stay at home mom who doesn’t like to stay home. When my oldest was 2 or 3 we were on daily adventures out and about in our city. Museums, playgrounds, music venues, art walks, you name it I took her there. We were down for whatever and I could not imagine having to share that precious time with another child. Yes I gladly share it now, but I still get that one on one bond with my youngest when big sister is at school.
And since some things aren’t possible for the little one to do yet, I still get one on one time with big sis too. This summer we went to Frontier City, White Water Bay, and lots of movies while little sis napped at home or had one on one time with her daddy. We still do plenty of things all together but it’s nice to get that uninterrupted time with just the two of us in those early formative years!
Emotionally Ready & Part of the Pregnancy.
I loved the fact that we could have a conversation with our oldest daughter about our growing family and she was old enough to understand it for the most part. I’m not saying there weren’t any changes that my 5 year old had to learn to deal with once her baby sis arrived, but we had many months to prepare her and explain things to her.
We had the opportunity to read books together about how babies grow. We got to attend a sibling class at the hospital. She even attended an ultrasound with me and got to share in many moments of feeling the baby move inside my belly. I know if she’d been younger she would’ve experienced these things too, but I loved that she was able to comprehend them more and be a part of it all!
A Close Bond Despite the Gap.
Many people worry that their children can’t play together or have as close of a bond if they are spaced apart. I know the relationship might look differently than other siblings, but my girls adore each other. They share a room, they play together, my oldest can read to my youngest, they laugh in the back seat of the car and when sister is at school all of those tiny legos and lalaloopsies are her favorite things to get into, because she wants to be just like her big sis!
At the gym one day in the childcare little sis was having some separation anxiety, but big sis was there and she sat in her lap the whole time and eventually fell asleep in her arms when I picked them up! They may not be the same size or the same development level, but they find ways to connect and play that melt my heart on the daily.
I’m not saying spacing kids out is for everyone, and I understand sometimes we don’t get to have much say in the spacing out of our children! I just wanted to give a glimpse into some of the reasons I’m so glad we waited. Especially to the other mamas out there who are going through those fun stranger questions in the check out line at the grocery store! What do you like most about the gap in your children’s ages?