I remember when we found out that we were expecting a baby boy just 9 months after our daughter was born. we were excited, we felt contented, grateful and a sense that our family was now complete. No need for another child we thought. I’m done I said. How was I wrong!
Fast forward four years later, our last born started primary school and I felt like ‘now I can focus on my career’. spend quality doing what I always wanted to do, then the yarning for a another child began. I suddenly became all broody again. I was getting older and I felt it was either now or never. I guess it was easier to say never initially because, firstly it wasn’t happening anyway, I mean I was able to get pregnant straight away after the first time but not this time. Secondly, my husband got reassign to a different country – continent, so we hardly saw one another and I am not Mary so no hope of an immaculate conception there! Lastly and most importantly, because the older two kids were so close in age, I struggled in those first two year. I had two under two, working full time, schooling full time. Saying it was difficult would be an understatement. So I was not going to give much thought to adding another baby. But as soon as they were both in full time education, I felt free and could think rationally. I’ve always loved and wanted a big family and if judging from my mom and grandma who gets to menopause early , it was now or never.
Its always nice to plan and do things with logic and analyse every decision however what we failed to realise is that while we were debating weather to have more children or not, time was going. our last born was nearly six years old. meaning it was six years ago since I last had a baby. I had gotten ride of all our baby things, I have forgotten what it was like to be pregnant or have a little baby. I am now at a different stage of parenting.
Some people told me that it would comes back to me, that it was just like riding a bicycle, although that is somewhat true. maybe it isn’t so much as coming back to you but your mama instinct does immediately kick in. you begin to know and remember what to do. what you don’t know however is that each pregnancy is different, each baby is different so what you already know or read may not be applicable anymore.
The age gap has its disadvantages and its advantages. having a big gap between kids isn’t all bad. I have come to appreciate it and thought it was a situation that turned out to be favourable to us. the kids are older and wiser. I could explain things to them and they would understand it. like why mommy was always so tired when I was pregnant. why mommy keeps forgetting things and sending the wrong things to school or signing the wrong school trip letter. they know about mommy having baby brain. We could involve them in the family decisions like what would we hope the new baby would be, a girl or boy? how about names? and so on.
Being older also meant I didn’t have to buy and wrap gifts from baby which they would have figured out because they know a new born baby can’t go to the shops and buy them gifts. one major worry I had was coping with the demands of the older kids versus the demand of the newborn. with the older kids, I have to take them to school, attend PTA meetings, help them with school projects and homework unlike when I was last pregnant, where I didn’t have to do any of those, they were a year apart. after the birth of my second child, three of us stayed at home together, went out together, they are just one academic year apart which means most of everything relating to school was done at the same time.
My favourite part about having an age gap is that the older kids are now very helpful. I have told them time and again that I do not know how I would have coped this few months with a new baby, new apartment, new city and new continent without their help. from helping to change the baby’s diaper to holding her while I take a quick shower. they sing to her, talk to her, read to her. they can see when I’m over whelmed and either give me a back rob or offer to hold her while I close my eyes for 5 minutes – quite literarily.
Its not just the benefits to you, its what it does to them too. my first born daughter was not as excited about having another sibling as she did with this new baby. it was simply because she is older and more mature. not only that, it has led to wonderful conversations like exploring other means of having a family such as adoption and fostering a child because they saw all the pains I went through and instead of it to discourage them from having kids, we looked at other means of having a family. they are more caring, gentle, kinder, compassionate and considerate. they have learnt and matured so much over the last few months.
Personally, the benefit of spacing kids out weighs the negatives. Yes it would be nice to have them all at the same time and get it done with but that maybe too much for some of us. Spacing them out gives you a few moment to catch your breath while you dive in again. If you already have kids and you are thinking about having more kids but are worried about the age gap, don’t worry. so far your doctor has cleared you, go for it. it won’t be easy but having and raising humans isn’t easy anyway, but it would be fun! I always say ” don’t let fear stops you from your dreams”. Go for it!
How to cope with the age gap
- Make the most of the situation, see it as a blessing. Having the age gap means you have had a breather, you are wiser, more confident. the things that gave you anxiety as a new mom does not bother you anymore. who needs a changing stating?
- Your older kids are your helper. They do love helping and it is a good character building to allow them to help with the new baby. I try not to take advantages though, I watch them to see if they are tired, not in the mood to hold a baby, or if they simply rather play at that moment. They do not help much during week days because of homework and wind down time.
- Although you may have to start buying the baby thing all over again, I see it as a positive. I love shopping, both in person or online. New baby things come into the market all the time so it would be fun to see whats currently trending. You don’t actually need much things, except if you are going to have even more kids.
- Remember that your life does not stop once you have a new baby, especially for the older kids. do what you normally do with them, go out for family meals, do home work together. when the baby is crying and the older kids needs you, attend to the older kid first, that will show him that he is as important. that the baby has not come to take over or take their parents away.
- give yourself time to heal. regardless of how you had your baby, you are not as you were when you had your first baby, it may take longer to heal or for things to fall back to where they were. don’t rush it. give it time. do what you can, when you can and how you can.
- it maybe harder to make new ‘new mom friends’ but then you realise you don’t need one as much as you thought you did when you first had a baby several years ago. keep the old friends you have and be open to new friendship but remember you are not the expert, don’t tell them what to do simply because you have been there already. if you have an opinion, write a blog : )
- unless it is literarily a matter of life and death, nothing else is as important as your kids and family. put everything else aside for now. focus your energy and resources on them.
- have an outlet. blog, instagram, take photos of nature, write a book, something that is yours and it is for you.
- know that you will feel guilty. the older kids will tell you that you don’t love them, that all you care about is the baby. they don’t mean it, you may know that, they may come around and say sorry they didn’t mean it but you will still feel guilty. Communicate, explain to them why you need to attend to the baby more. babies are fragile and helpless. you did exactly the same for them when they were younger.
- Stock the house of everything you use and need. not just food, stock the house with light bulbs, memory cards, batteries, etc.
- Keep some money aside. you will find Uber eats and deliveroo to be your best friend. the age gap means different routine and schedule for kids so there will be very little time to be cooking from scratch. Eating out/takeaway/delivery cost a lot more than making your own food.