First of all, I am going to quote Perpetua’s welcome and introduction to ControverSundays, in case anyone is new. She sums it up best:
“Anyway, this week we’re chatting up child spacing. Oh, you’re new? Here’s how it works. You write your post, leave a comment over here to let us know you’re participating, and grab the badge from Accidents’ sidebar. I’ll link you up under the badge below. Simple as cookies, sweet as pie.”
Again, thanks to Perpetua for hosting and Accidents for the badge!!
Okay, child spacing. For me this is really two questions, both that I/we have been contemplating and discussing for a while since A was born. Question #1: Baby #2 or no baby #2 (or more???) Question #2: How long to wait before starting to try for baby #2? Honestly, I don’t think there is really a wrong answer here for us. We have a wonderful daughter, so no matter what we do and when, I will be happy with our family. The only thing I could think of that I would be unhappy with would be if I had gotten pregnant with #2 when A was less then one year old. Not because I wouldn’t want baby #2, but because the idea of taking care of a very young toddler and a baby is SCARY to me. Oh, and maybe the idea that #2 would actually be #2 and #3. Twins are lovely, but again the idea of two at once is kinda scary!
Anyway, some in some ways I feel like discussing it or planning for it is not worth it. Why? Because do we really have any control anyway? Having a child is not as plan-able as we like to think it is. It seems to be a somewhat cruel twist of nature that so many people end up pregnant when they don’t want to be, while others try and try and all the want is to be pregnant and nothing happens. A lot of pregnancies are unplanned. A lot of planned pregnancies don’t happen, or don’t happen for a long time. Such is life. So why do we try so hard to plan? I think because we want to feel in control of our lives and fair enough. I mean there are some pretty serious things you have to consider before having a baby. They take a lot of time, effort, money, love, energy and your whole life changes. I am not saying we shouldn’t take these things into consideration and think ahead and well, I guess, plan. I just think we need to recognize that there is only so much planning you can do, and the rest you just have to leave up to chance. Life always throws curve balls, you have to be ready for them.
Further more, as with many things in parenting, sometimes you end up with something that wouldn’t have been your choice. I wanted to breastfeed, it failed. You may have wanted to not use a stroller, opting to ‘babywear’ and your kid screamed like a banshee at 6 months until you plopped them in your friends stroller. Someone else may have planned to use CIO but their baby is a tension increaser and made themselves sick crying. You see? The kids- they like curve balls. Sometimes you just have to trust the universe and go with the flow.
That being said, this question is still something I think about a lot. After my husband and I were married, we decided not to start trying, but to stop preventing. We probably weren’t really ready to have a baby right away, but we had been dating for 5 years when we got married, so it wasn’t like we hadn’t had time just the two of us. And my doctor warned me that because I have PCOS that it could be a LONG while before we got pregnant. HA! We were pregnant within a month of our wedding. HA! So, while we are happy with our wonderful daughter, if we were smart from a financial/stability point of view, we would have waited a couple years. Oh well. Anyway, my point it, now I feel like we really need to consider our options re: baby #2, because we are not as financially stable as we could have been when A came along.
Here are the factors that I think about when I contemplate this:
1) Where we live
We live away from our all family. We used to have family in town, but we don’t anymore. Part of me is basing the baby #2/when question on when we can move to where our family and many of our friends are. Because it would really help to have some family in town. Support, help, free babysitting, ect. This move is likely at least a year away, and possibly as much as 5 years. And a lot of it depends on the job market (damn recession!). So, in other words, out of our control.
2) Age of siblings
Sure, I didn’t want A and a sibling to be too close together, more for my husband and my sanity, rather then their interactions between the two. But now that A is one, it would be fine. I have two brothers, one 18 months younger then me and one is 4 years younger then me. As kids, I got along better when the youngest then the brother closer to my age. But my father has a brother who is 5 years (I think) older then him, and he felt like his brother was too much older to really have a lot of interaction with him. So, I tend to think the ideal distance is somewhere between 18 months and 4 years. I am sure that less then 18 months and more then 4 years totally works for some families and can be great in some ways. All different family dynamics have benefits and draw backs and often it is more about how that family communicates then the ages of the children. But I would like to have two kids that are both little kids at the same time. Just ’cause.
3) Financial stability/Career stability
Oh what to be when I grow up! The truth is that kids cost a lot of money. And yes, there are some amazing parents out there that get by with very little. But it sure would be less stressful it we were a bit more stable. You know, ‘debt down a bit and able to buy a house’ stable. But that could take quite a while. So it is worth putting a family on hold for? I think it we were in really rough, can’t pay rent shape, then maybe. But we aren’t. The budget is tight, but not impossible. However, even a couple of years would put us in a better place.’
And then there is the career question. You see, I am 100% a work outside the home Mom. I went back to work a couple weeks ago and I am SO MUCH HAPPIER. There are some amazing stay at home mom’s out there and you all do an amazing job. You impress me. But I just can’t do it. So, what that means is that when/if baby #2 I will be taking an other mat leave and then going back to work. The contemplation here is do I want to do this sooner, before I am well into a career, or do I want to wait until I am better established in my career? I see the benefits to both. So I don’t know.
4) Family dynamics of one versus two kids (or three, I guess)
My husband is an only child, so he really wants A to have a sibling. I think I would actually be okay if she didn’t end up having a sibling, but we will likely try for baby#2 at some point. The argument goes that kids with siblings get used to having to share- not just toys, but attention and time from their parents. I think this is a good thing and can help them learn compassion, consideration and awareness of others needs. Not that I don’t think only children can’t learn this, but I think the parents of only children would really have to consciously try to teach their kid these things, rather then it being a natural part of the family dynamic. So, yeah, probably two kids is good. Noticed I haven’t mentioned 3? That is because, unless we have twins, I am not going through pregnancy, child birth, breastfeeding (attempt and possibly failure), sleep issues, feeding issues, potty training, ect. ect. THREE times. I am just not. Call me lazy or selfish or whatever, but I have my limits to sanity.
5) Diapers, cribs, ect.
Then there is the classic “Do you want two kids in diapers at once?” versus “Why not just get the diaper stage over with?” debate. Yeah, they both have their advantages. But if we had two in diapers at once we would need to buy more cloth diapers. Although, we are already slowly moving towards more disposable, as much as it pains me, because we have an uber-wetter and I am sick of her giant bum and skinny waist… the pants just aren’t working. Anyway, potato, patato. Same goes for cribs… do we want to have to buy an other crib. Although, A’s crib turns into a toddler bed and so we would likely need a crib and a mattress anyway, unless A was old enough to get a single bed for her.
6) Day home/preschool, ect.
So, truth be told, I know there are lots of amazing Mom’s out there that handle a maternity leave/stay at home Mom-ness with two, three, four… ect. kids. It scares me. (Are you starting to see a theme here? Why am I so scared?) I know, I am being a wimp, but it still scares me. So I kinda want to wait until A is at least in half day 5 day a week preschool before we have a second baby. Not to mention the fact that if we have to pay for two kids in day care/home I might as well not work. AND I NEED TO WORK.
So, yeah, there are lots of things to consider. And sure, you have control over if you are preventing or not preventing or actively trying. But you don’t really have control over anything else. The rest is up to the universe. So I am going with trust. Trust that when the time comes we will just “know.” Or we will get thrown a curve ball and we will deal/thrive regardless. Such is life.