child spacing for 2nd child

The other day at work, I bought hard-boiled eggs from the cafeteria as per usual. This time, the eggs didn’t taste right so after a couple bites, I couldn’t eat anymore. A co-worker asked me about the eggs and then proclaimed, “maybe your pregnant!” I laughed and assured her that I’m not.

And so it begins. I have a 1 year old and I’m back to work after a year long maternity leave. Both of these = people wondering and asking if I’m pregnant with child #2.

While we think that we’d like a 2nd child (maybe?), I don’t feel ready for another pregnancy at this time. Is it even possible to feel ready for another pregnancy while you have a young child to take care of? And to feel ready for another round of newborn sleep deprivation?

I’ve done a little google searching on the topic of child spacing. Seems that many try to space their children close together in the hope that their children will be lifelong friends (while close spacing is no guarantee of this). There are others who intentionally wait until their child is older (3 or more years) so that they can have more 1:1 time with each child. In the different cases, I’ve noticed the following:

  1. almost everyone is happy with their child spacing (very few say they’d do things differently).
  2. there’s pros and cons to every age gap between siblings

I must acknowledge that we don’t always have a choice in child spacing. With that said, what are your thoughts re: ideal child spacing? For those with two or more children, what are the pros and cons of the age gap between your kids? Would you do things differently if there was a next time?

And if there’s any, “one and done” families reading this, please comment. What do you like about it? I’m loving our family of 3. I think it has many positives.

When Mother’s Day gives Mixed Emotions

I didn’t always want to be a mom. In fact, I thought that I’d live happily childfree for all of my days. Around 5 years of marriage, I started to wonder if I’d regret not having a child. I thought of and pursued the possibility of building our family through adoption. That door closed. Then we tried for a baby and had a miscarriage. Mother’s Day 2014 was dark and sad. I didn’t know if we’d ever have a child.

Here I am now in 2016 with a 13-month old on Mother’s Day. Becoming a mother has changed me in a way that I didn’t imagine. I now feel certain things so deeply in my heart. In particular, my heart aches for all sorts of mothers on Mother’s Day. Especially today, I think of:

The woman who wants to be a mother

The one who has lost a child

The lady struggling with the demands of motherhood

The mother who has an estranged child

Those living without their mom

And this week, I think of all the mothers affected by the Fort McMurray fires. There have been women who’ve given birth during this past week while fleeing from their home.

I am glad to be a mom. It is seriously hard work. Challenging. Tiring. And the lovey-dovey stuff too. But one thing I’m grateful for is the way in which my journey of motherhood has given me a deep love for any struggling momma. I’m feeling both sad and glad this Mother’s Day, and I think that’s okay.

When will my baby sleep through the night?!

When will it happen? When will our girl sleep through the night for a week straight? She’s slept through the night 6 times in the last 9.5 months of her little wee life. But it’s been random/sporadic. When will it be consistent? When will getting up 2 times in the night be something that’s rare vs. regular? I know that we could try cry it out but I can’t bring myself to do that yet…especially because she’s waking because of discomfort due to teething. She’s teething ALL the time.  She has 7 teeth at 9 months old. How would I even know “this is a time to let her cry it out” vs. “she’s teething so go comfort her”?

I feel like our baby’s sleep is “middle of the road” for her age. I’ve talked to people who have better sleepers (mom’s who say their baby has been sleeping through the night since 2 months of age!) and those who are still up every 2-3 hours with their 1 year old.

At 6 months, I felt like I couldn’t do the sleep deprivation anymore. Here I am now and she’s over 9 months old. People say that you get used to not sleeping. I haven’t got used to it yet….I have a pounding headache today from lack of sleep. Clearly my body has not adjusted 🙂

I believe that people with 3 or more children must have good sleepers. They must! I can’t wait until the day that Isabel sleeps through the night almost every night. Wow. Cannot wait. I’ll no longer be in “survival” mode then. But then the thought of going back to the beginning and doing the sleep deprivation all over again with another child is terrifying! For me, the lack of sleep which causes low energy, low mood, and sometimes headaches has been the hardest part of having a baby.

Stop Saying That You Don’t Want A Daughter

It costs more to have a daughter. Girls are more work. And the drama! Those are just a few of the sayings I’ve heard re: having a girl. I’ve had people say that they wouldn’t want to have a girl or wouldn’t want two girls or three girls, etc. As the oldest of 4 girls, I used to have similar thoughts. But that all changed when…when we had a daughter.

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Whether you have a son or a daughter, a child costs a lot to raise. And you can’t put a price tag on the joy it is to have a daughter. Having a daddy’s girl is absolutely priceless.

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Girls are more work they say. Why? Because they like to talk? Work through their feelings? I guess as a social worker, I don’t see this as being a bad thing.

IMG_7411 webDrama? Yes, the teenage years can be rough for girls. It sucks that girls have to get periods and grow breasts and the like. But despite everything (yes, even despite the pain of childbirth!) I’m glad to be a girl. And I wouldn’t trade the experience of having our girl for ANYTHING.

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It’s not the clothing. Or the tea parties. Or pink. Or shopping. None of that really appeals to me. Having a girl is a precious gift that I can’t fully put into words. While it’s a shame that she’ll have to fight for gender equality and will face our culture’s sexualisation of women + warped view of beauty, I think she’ll be okay. For women are strong. Brave. Smart. Caring. And it’s a joy to be part of the club! Periods and all.

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Plus I hear that a daughter is more likely to look after you in your old age 😉 Don’t worry sweetie, that’s not the reason why we had you! We love you, our daughter. And if you had a girl, you’d understand. Please stop saying that you don’t want a daughter. Trust me, you do. Or you would. You’d change your mind as soon as she’s in your arms. And your life would never be the same. For you have a daughter!

** I want to be sensitive to those who really want to have a daughter but aren’t able to for whatever reason. I in no way want to belittle your pain. This is a post for those who say they wouldn’t want a daughter. Or pity those with only girls.

Large or Small Family: Is your reality different than what you imagined?

I recently saw a picture of a family with 4 children. That was the composition of my family growing up: 2 parents + 4 kids. For the longest time, I imagined that I would have at least 4 children, if not 5. Then shortly after marriage, I changed my mind about children and decided that I wanted to live happily childfree. Then after 5 years of marriage, we explored the possibility of building our family through adoption but that door shut. We finally came around to building our family “the old fashioned way” and experienced some set-backs and a devastating miscarriage. Today, we have a 4 month old daughter via birth (ouch!!) and are very glad for her. But seeing that we are 31 & 35 yrs old and having our first child, the likelihood that we will have 4-5 children is very slim.

When I saw the photo of the family of 6, my heart smiled. That was my childhood. I had a good life. Part of me started to picture the possibility of having 4 children again. But soon afterwards, reality hit. Factors such as age, time, money, health and ultimately, preference came to the surface. We won’t be having a large family. And you know what — that’s OK. Really. There’s pros and cons to small or large families.

If we are lucky to have another, we’re pretty confident that we’ll be 2 and done (unless we are surprised by twins, oh my!). I was thinking the other day that if our daughter has a sister that will be perfect. Or if she has a brother, that will be perfect. This gave me peace that 2 and done seems right for our family. (I say all this knowing that it’s never a guarantee that we’ll be able to have another. Secondary infertility is quite common).

http://ydtalk.com/crib/am-i-amish/
http://ydtalk.com/crib/am-i-amish/

Having one or two children is not what I always pictured re: family size. Maybe we tend to picture what we knew, what we experienced. Regardless, people have more or less children than what they grew up with all the time. Sometimes this is due to personal preference. Sometimes it’s due to timing. And sadly, sometimes people don’t end up with the family size they always dreamed of due to fertility problems.

I’m embracing our reality of being a small family. There will always be a soft spot in my heart for large families. But I no longer feel that’s for me. One or two kids sounds great. Not what I originally pictured but just fine with me.

What about you? Is your family size larger or smaller than what you thought it would be?

Bringing Up Baby: Documentary Review

Have you seen the 4 part series entitled, “Bringing Up Baby”? The film follows several couples about to have a baby who chose different coaches with different parenting approaches: some the 50’s parenting style (Truby King Method), some the 60’s (Dr. Benjamin Spock), and others the 70’s (Continuum concept). In a nutshell, the 50’s was about getting your baby on a schedule and showing the baby who is boss. The 60’s saw revolution with Dr. Spock’s book that encouraged women to trust their instinct. And the 70’s embraced attachment parenting (baby wearing, co-sleeping, feeding on demand, etc).

The three mentors used methods from the 1950s, '60s and '70s http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/7126534.stm
The three mentors used methods from the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s

I must warn you that there are certain parts of this film that are hard to watch. I personally felt as if I was watching child neglect with the 50’s parenting style. The fact that several couples picked and stuck with this approach was shocking to me.

Regardless, I’m glad to have watched this documentary. It really shed light on where some baby care opinions came from in the first place. And it helps one to better recognize which approach is their preference. Everything from feeding, sleep deprivation, resuming old activities, how involved dad is, schedule vs. no schedule, and whether or not you can spoil a baby are discussed (and many more topics!).

What astounded me was at the end, every couple felt like their method was the best. I was hoping that those who embraced the 50’s parenting style would express some element of regret. Maybe once their grown children watch the documentary there will be pangs of regret at that time!

Do watch this 4 part series. And I’d love if you came back to leave a comment after you do!

Here’s part 1 on youtube (it should automatically go to the next episode for you):

What’s the best gap between children?

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If you do a google search, you’ll see that I’m not the only one who has attempted to answer this question. The following is the most thorough response you’re ever going to find on the web. It breaks down pros and cons of a 1 year gap, 2 year gap, a 3 year gap, and a 4yrs or greater gap:

The Alpha Parent: What No One Tells You About Child Spacing

As you see, each child spacing option has its major pros and cons. From health benefits for mother or baby to bonding between siblings. While browsing the internet, one thought that has come up over and over again is that the shorter spacing between children is better for the children but the longer spacing between children is better for the parents.

I’m the oldest of 4 girls. The idea that if the children are close in age they will be closer in sibling relationship isn’t true in our family. It just so happened that those closest in age didn’t get along and the siblings 5 years apart were buds.

My husband had a 4 year gap between each sibling. He feels that he and his siblings didn’t become friends until they were adults. He identifies with the photo above.

In my brief research, I’ve noticed that very few admit to not liking the spacing of their children. It seems that once that 2nd or 3rd child is here, what they currently have is considered the best spacing option.

So what is the best gap between children? I like what Dr. Sears has to say on the matter:

“Dr. Sears, What’s your opinion about spacing children?”Child spacing varies from family to family. There is seldom the ideal time for a child. If we always waited for “the perfect time” to have a child, we would probably have two instead of eight. An important factor is the need level of the baby. If you have a very high-need infant who requires a lot of time and energy, it would be wise to space the next one two to three years apart for two reasons: to avoid parent burnout and to fill the needs of your infant before a competitor comes into the family. If you have a somewhat easy infant, spacing even one year apart often works because then you have an in-house playmate. Don’t worry about having enough love to go around for your next child. You’ll be surprised how the love and extra energy for your next child just seems to appear. (askdrsears.com)

This leaves me to wonder: when you’ve only had one child, how do you know if you have a high-need infant or not? All babies require a lot of time and energy do they not?

In real life (not just on the web, ha!), I’ve had a few people tell me that a 3 year gap was their favourite. Historically, women often had children 3+ years apart as they’d breast-feed for 2+ years and then their cycle would resume. Nowadays, a 3 year gap could mean that your 3 year old goes to pre-school some days a week so you have some 1:1 time with your baby.

In this day and age, couples are having children much later in life. Maternal age is a factor for many when deciding child spacing.

So what’s the best spacing of children? I don’t know and I’m not sure there is one. I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts! What did you think of your spacing between siblings growing up? Did you dream of having children a certain gap apart? And what have you observed from others re: child spacing. Hope to hear from you in the comments!