Age gaps

We went to friends for dinner the other night and got into a discussion about age gaps between children. Our gap is 2 years and 3 months. One of the other couples have a 2 year 5 month age gap, another couple have an almost 2 year old and don’t seem too keen on having another and the hosting couple are 22 weeks pregnant with a little boy. The wife is a year older than me (36) and the husband turned 38 that day. He is an architect (our architect) and she is a doctor. The thing is that she first did a B.Sc and was a Maths and Science teacher and then went to Stellenbosch to study medicine. She is currently in her second year of internship and will then have a year of Community service before she can do her own thing. They are planning to start trying again immediatly. They did take a little while to conceive #1 but there are many people that I know who’ve taken a while with the 1st and then the 2nd one arrives without any trouble at all. We all tried to politely tell them that they are crazy but you know how it is before you’ve had kids, you’re full of ideas on what it’s going to be like when nothing on earth can actually prepare you for it. It is also very hard to try and imagine just how big the jump from 1 to 2 is and I strongly believe that the closer the 2 are together the harder that jump is. The more independent the older child is (which naturally comes with age), the easier it is to cope with 2 because there are always going to be times when they both need you at the same time and if the older one can at least understand that they need to wait, then it makes one’s life a whole lot easier.

On Friday I visited the friend with the 2 year 5 month gap and we got chatting about it again. We both know someone that is about to have her second and the first one is not even a year old. That poor girl is struggling (emotionally) and the 2nd one hasn’t even arrived yet. At the end of the day while a newborn is a bit tricky for the first few weeks, once they start stretching their nights and get into a bit of a routine, they’re actually quite easy (in my opinion) and sleep quite a lot, which is why it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea to try for another one when they’re 2/3 months old. As they get older though, they sleep less, get busier, a whole lot cuter (in my opinion), but also more demanding. The fact of the matter is that as soon as another baby arrives you need to divide your attention and one does feel guilty towards the older one. What about twins? Well obviously I don’t know as I don’t have twins but at least they are always at the same stage and you can do the same activities with them and that’s all they’ve ever known. I’m not saying that having a close age gap has any detrimental effect on anyone (mom, new baby or older child) I just feel that it’s an unnecessary stress to put everyone through. Pregnancy is tough on your body and to do that in such close succession can’t be ideal. I can understand that they’re a little concerned about how long it will take to conceive again and while 36 is by no means old it is at the age when female fertility does start to decline. If it were me I would just give myself 6 months at least. An 18 month gap is still okay but around a year or less isn’t going to be easy, especially considering their jobs. As an intern she has to do calls – that can be up to 24 hours or longer on duty at a time. The husband has a busy private practice. Imagine having 2 children under a year and then going to work for 24 hours straight. You can’t just come home and sleep as your children haven’t seen you for a day, never mind how you’ll actually function at work if you haven’t had a good night the night before. I’m getting nervous for them just thinking about it. I’m not trying to tell them how to live their life but I do think if both parents have busy full-tme jobs then to still go and have your children very close together you’re putting an awful lot of pressure on yourselves and your marriage. Once she’s finished with her community service she could easily get a half-time job for a while (if she wanted) or at least a job where she could dictate her hours a bit more.

We have 2 lots of friends with a 1 year age gap. Both couples struggled a little to have #1 and #2 came sooner than they would’ve planned. Both had planned more than 2 children and both are still to have the elusive 3rd and 4th. Makes me think. Funnily enough I am 14 months older than my younger brother. I think I’ve turned out okay and I think he’s turned out okay – I think he may read this so I have to be nice!!! We both have quite strong personalities so I think we made sure we each got enough attention. Obviously, I think he was spoilt and he probably thinks I was spoilt, being the only girl. We get along really well and are probably a very good advert for small gaps. My older brother is 2 years and a half years older than me so my poor mom had 3 under 3 at one stage. Having had 2 children myself though, I wouldn’t do it to myself and I had 2 “easy” babies. Well, one extremely easy baby and one slightly less easy baby but neither had colic, reflux or any other issues and both were sleeping from 7-7 consistently from 5 and 7 months of age and both started only waking once between 7pm and 7am from 6 weeks of age. My younger brother had colic for 9 months and din’t sleep through till he was over 3!! No wonder my mom doesn’t mind looking after our 2.

I really hope these friends of ours have an easy baby and that they don’t struggle to have another one but I also hope that they will at least wait a few months before TTC again.

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2 Responses to “Age gaps”

  1. Sharon Says:

    I guess its all a matter of opinion based on personal experience. Who really know what is better or worse?
    Personally I’d like a smallish age gap (2 years) and while I realize that will be very difficult in the first couple of years, I think the rewards are greater later on.
    Having said that, its all really just a matter or personal opinion.

  2. zamom Says:

    2 years is a very nice gap (if one can plan things!!) With that sort of gap the tough bit really only lasts about 3 months, although much does depend on the personality of the older child, whether the baby is easy and also on how much help/support one has. The friends that I mentioned with the 1 year gap are currently living temporarily in the UK (and only moved just before #2 arrived) so she had 2 under a year, with a husband working long hours and absolutely no regular help. Not fun.

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