The Journey to a Little One to Call Our Own

One gal's experiences dealing with IF, pregnancy, the birth of our first son, parenthood, and doing it all over again with our second son... here is our journey.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Sibling Spacing

The March issue of Par.enting magazine arrived in my mailbox this weekend. I always enjoy flipping through it, but to tell you the truth, it's overwhelming. I always end up reading something that alarms me... should my baby be taking 3 naps a day, like the article suggests? What if I am not feeding my baby a certain fruit by 8 months? Am I doing enough playtime with my child?

So, anyway, I try to read light-heartedly, but one article from this month's issue in particular caught my interest.

The article has to do with recommendations on how far apart to space kids. Now, I know there is a TON of research online and in different sources, but I appreciated the brevity of this article. Basically, I took three nuggets of information away: according to the article, "a new study suggests that two or more years between siblings is optimal, resulting in higher scores in reading and math tests later," " even bigger gap can be best for the older sib," and that "when you have two in diapers, the family's day-to-day life is more about survival than enrichment."

I have so many thoughts about this.

First, I love the idea of choosing spacing for siblings, but after managing through IF, is that really even an option for most of us? I, personally, am choosing to start TTC again 6 months after my little guy was born because I have no idea how long it will take us to have another baby - or if we will ever be blessed with another baby. If we get pregnant right away, awesome. And if not, well, at least I can say we gave it our all. Everyone's decision on this is their own, and I support and respect everyone's decisions for their own family.

Here's why I feel like I need minimal spacing for my own family.

My sister and I are nearly 6 years apart. I am older. And, I can see where this study is coming from... my parents spent SO much one-on-one time with me from age 0-6, and I believe this is why (I promise I am not stuck-up here) I was a good student, applied myself, worked hard, did well in sports, etc., etc. My sister, on the other hand, didn't receive as much attention in her formative years as I did. Why? It's not because they didn't love her as much, but as she was going through the infant/toddler/preschool/school-age years, they were helping me with math problems, reading comprehension, history projects, and essays. If given the choice of helping my sister with her colors and shapes or me with my science project, I think they chose me to focus on. My sister was kind of along-for-the-ride. No offense to my parents at all... they were (and are) wonderful parents to both of us, but they focused so much on helping and developing me that my sister was left to follow in her older sister's footsteps. And she stumbled, to say the least. She had a much harder time in school, didn't apply herself, and still, to this day, has a hard time articulating what she wants to do with her life. As my parents were bringing me to cheerleading practice and supporting me through high school, my sister tagged along and didn't receive as much attention.

Now, I do not mean to apply this same circumstance to everyone. I know not every sibling pair is completely opposite from an upbringing perspective, and who knows if it's because my sister and I are 6 years apart in age with no other siblings (which I view to be a significant amount of time). But I've always known, that based on watching my sister not get as much development and attention as I did in my formative years because my parents were so busy with me, I wanted my kids to be close in age.

The study mentions that "increasing spacing between has a beneficial effect." And I guess I agree... for the older sibling. What about the younger one?

My opinion on spacing is: I want minimal spacing. And I know that I am speaking to a community of fellow IFers who may be thinking, "Mrs. D, you are crazy... be thankful for a baby whenever they come into your life." And I couldn't agree more. I am just thinking, from an optimal perspective, I am praying that I can have kids close in age so that we can get through the baby phase in a faster amount of time, and focus on "phases" around the same time. It would be awesome, if, Max starts to potty-training, and within a couple years, another child (if I am so lucky to have another child) gets potty-trained. Then we are done with that phase and onto the next.

I'd love your thoughts on this... even if they are different than mine. What is optimal spacing? Do you even care how far apart your kids are? Is there a point when, if your first child is a certain age, you would stop trying for more children?


  1. I think if you are able to "plan" your spacing, their article makes sense but I think they forget about women like us who have experienced infertility. I ended up waiting almost 16 months until we started TTC #2 (I would have preferred to start earlier but with a new job I was not able to.) I too lean towards minimal spacing so they can be close in age. My DH is one year apart from his brother (and 2 years from his sister and 3 1/2 from his other brother) and I see how close he is with his brothers. In the end, my age will be more of a factor so I think we would stop for that reason for than how far apart they are.... Hope you are successful very soon so you can have your wish of having another baby close in age to your little guy!

  2. Not everyone can plan when they have babies. My kids are 4 and a half years apart. Not by choice, I struggled with infertility. I would love to have lots of kids closer together but it didn't work out that way. When they are as far apart as mine are it is like raising 2 only children. Although they do not fight much. As a woman with fertility problems it is not always what you want but you take what you get.

  3. Well, I say, go for it! After being blessed with my first miracle child, we decided to start trying when he was only 6 months old. For a lot of the same reasons. I knew I was infertile and I knew that there was no guarantee on how long it would take, or even if it would be possible, to have another one. I didn't want regrets, and you're supposed to be more fertile just after a baby. Well, I'm glad I started when I did, because that first child is almost 5 years old, and I just barely had my second miracle child.

    I think as far as parenting goes, there are good and bad things to all sibling groupings... that's just life. I say you need to do what you know is right for your own family. I would LOVE to have more children, and my clock is super ticking because I'm about to turn 36, and it takes about 5 years of trying to get a baby here... but this time around my health is SO bad that I've decided to NOT try, just to see if I can get a little healthy first. I hope it works, and then I hope I get pregnant right away! But one thing I've learned with IF is that I have no control over anything but what I choose to do. I can't control results, only my own actions. And last of all, I don't think I'll give up on having more kids until the doctor forcibly removes my girly parts. Ha! :)

  4. DH and I are planning on trying for baby #2 this summer, Juneish. Aiden will be roughly 9 months old. Our reasons for trying again so soon are similar to yours. We have no idea how long it will take to conceive #2. So far, my body has not reset and I haven't had a period even though I'm done breastfeeding. I'm assuming my body has gone back to it's previous PCOS evil ways! Lol
    Also, I am staying at home with Aiden so we figure we might as well optimize that and have another baby. I do worry about having another baby though and how that will be to have 2 kids and both in diapers. I do worry about being so overwhelmed that I won't be able to give both kids the attention that I want, etc.
    I think that we IF'ers have to do whatever works best for our families, regardless of what others think is best. I've heard that kids who are close in age tend to be closer playmates. I have seen evidence of this in some friend's children. They are close in age and they seem to be best friends!
    I say do whatever you feel is right for your family. Yes, your life might be crazy for a few years, but kids are totally worth it!

  5. I think that you need to do what best suits you and your circumstances. If you could have planned things out perfectly, you would have a much older child by now.
    In my case Avery would be all most 3, instead of 5 months!
    Good luck!!!!

  6. Found you from PAIL...

    My thoughts are to attempt an FET 7-9 months after my first one's birth. I initially said 6 months, but I want to breastfeed/pump for 6 months. My RE wants me 1-3 months post breast feeding completion before she'll even start testing me again for baseline info. I would have loved to have a couple years between my kids, but at this point, I'm not getting any younger and neither is my husband. We have 5 frozen embryos and plan on making use of all of them rather quickly! There's no guarantee it'll work again right away, so like you I'm not willing to wait.

    I don't think there is an ideal age spacing. My sister's kids are approximately 3 years apart each, but she wonders if that was too close or too far apart. You have to do what's right for you!

    Best of luck!

  7. Hi there! I'm following you from PAIL. My hubby and I are going to start TTC#2 this summer when Emily is 10 months old. I am doing it this way because I don't know how long it will take to conceive and because I would like to have #2 before I am 35. I might be crazy thinking about having babies so close together but I guess if I don't know any other way it will work out just fine!

  8. We started TTC #2 when Piper was 6 months old (I had to wean in order to begin a cycle). We would have loved to have kids 15 months apart (crazy, I know). Piper is now 9 months old and we are headed into IVF for #2. We don't want to "waste" any time because I don't want my kids to be too far apart and we don't know when my fertility will vanish, so if we want more babies, we need to go for it now. We are really crazy (and a bit greedy) and are praying for twins next time so we don't have to rush into IVF again. IF that happened we would have 3 under 2 and I would have to embrace the crazy :).

    I hope you have an easier time getting #2!!