ControverSunday: Child Spacing

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.

8 responses to “ControverSunday: Child Spacing

  1. Megan March 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    I’m with you. Some planning should be involved, but we’re never going to be able to plan it out perfectly. We’re sort of in a “If it happens, it happens” kind of a place!

  2. Fearless Formula Feeder March 28, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    You are so right about the best laid plans… (Haha… I said “laid”. Get it? Because you have sex to make a baby? Haha.) That’s what keeps me trying to conceive even though I have second thoughts all the time about 2 kids only 2 years apart. I had trouble the first time, I’m 32… I just don’t know if I have the luxury of waiting. But I’m also kind of zen about it all (on my good days…), because if it takes us another year, and the kids are 3 years apart, so be it.

    I also hear you on the only child thing. My in-laws were both only children and they have scared us about having only one. I know my husband wants two. I think I want two. But the reality of pregnancy, breastfeeding issues, sleepless nights, PPD, all of it? Not so fun.

    • amoment2think March 29, 2010 at 8:09 am

      LOL. Yeah, I am with you, when I think about the reality of how hard the first 6months- 1 year are I sometimes say- Oh, one is enough. And Perpetua post re: spacing has made me reconsider the 5 year spacing idea. I am lucky in that I likely have the luxury of waiting that long.

      • Briana @ Tenth To The Fraser March 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm

        It’s not as hard the second time around, because you know what to expect so it doesn’t catch you by surprise when your baby won’t sleep or goes on a nursing strike, etc., etc. The older child can also be a help, and is a lot more fun to play with than an infant, so it’s not as dull as when you’re at home with only one. That said, the juggling act does get a lot more complicated with two!

  3. Pingback: ControverSunday: Child Spacing. « Accidents will happen.

  4. Ellen M March 30, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I think you nailed it when you said there’s really only so much you can plan and control with these children creatures anyway. Like so many things baby-related, whatever ends up happening will probably turn out to feel so inevitable that you wondered why you ever thought another way was preferable.

  5. Ginger March 30, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    I think it’s all an illusion of control. Babies throw your entire world upside down, but if you feel like you’ve “planned” for them correctly there’s an idea that you can manage that topsy turvy world a little better. Which, you know, isn’t always the case.
    I think in the case of the spacing issue, if you DO manage to have control over it, it all really just comes down to what is best for each family (now there’s one of the more obvious things I’ve ever written). This is one of those things where I’m reading all the posts and every single one makes perfect sense–but maybe not for me.

  6. Sophie April 16, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    Good questions and good arguments, as always!

    I used to panic a lot about when to have a second child – we kinda always wanted to to avoid the single child situation – but I realize now that every family is different and that some children close in age hate each other while some have a huge gap and get along great. It depends on the personality of the children as much as anything else. I also used to think that it would take a while for me to get pregnant – hence wanting to try earlier than later. Turns out the first one was unplanned (while actively trying to prevent, but being a bit too lax about it) and the second one was conceived on the first month we stopped preventing (without real special efforts for trying). So here you go for planning!

    I was of the idea that we may as well get it over with so we can get rid of all the baby stuff that we are storing – and God knows in Vancouver there is no room to store anything in an apartment. Turns out our boy potty-trained himself this winter, but I was willing to have two in diapers at a time if need be. The big question was more, does Zak want to get it over with, stay home for the next five years and then be done, or go back to work, which meant we had to wait because we couldn’t afford two in daycare at the same time.

    The financial aspect is really scary. When I think of feeding two teenage boys (I don’t know if I’m having a boy or a girl, but I’m planning for the worst), it makes me really hope that our financial situation improves before that. True, I have a very good and stable job, but you never know what will happen, and on a single salary, the budget is always tight. Especially in Vancouver. And the mere thought of twins used to make me freak out. That was the first question I asked at the ultrasound – there’s only one, right? The answer was yes, and I breathed a sigh of relief.

    Anyway, just my two cents. I would love to swap babysitting with you, whether you have one or two children, if you ever come back to our neck of the woods. I think we will be able to do it with our friends and neighbors, but having family nearby sure would be nice!

%d bloggers like this: