My first two boys were born fairly close at 19 months apart, but my third arrived quite recently after a gap of over four years. Lots of pros and a few cons! Here’s what I’ve found about the experience.
Third time’s a charm
I always knew I wanted three children and originally wanted them pretty close together – the main motivator being that they could all then be good mates like I was with my sisters. So after my second boy was getting a bit older I started to feel anxious that I wasn’t pregnant yet. At the time I remember someone telling me that children come into your life at just the right moment, whether you realise it or not. And how right this person was, because I ended up having a largish gap between my last two boys (not as big as some people I know) and it turned out to be a lot better than I ever imagined. Here are just some of the things I’ve experienced having another baby in the house after a gap.
Pregnancy and birth was easier
Third time around I had one child already in school and another in daycare three days a week, so even though I was still doing some work from home, I had a bit of time to myself to get to appointments and organise the household. Not having to run around all day after two other small children whilst heavily pregnant and feeling iffy was a huge bonus as well.
Giving birth and the recovery afterwards was also a breeze (I had an elective c-section). With the older two quite self-sufficient and happy to be looked after by their dad and family members, I didn’t need to worry about them so much while I was in hospital so I could focus almost entirely on my new bub (and myself for once!).
The other children can get involved
When I was pregnant with my second son, my eldest didn’t really understand what was happening – he could only say a few words himself. And after the birth, he wasn’t that keen on this small new noisy thing taking his mummy away from him either. What a different experience this latest time around! In the lead up to the birth, both boys were so excited about the baby coming they helped think up names and asked lots of questions. Then when we brought him home, to my delight the excitement continued. From day one they’ve been a constant source of help whether it’s passing me the wipes, singing songs to stop their little brother crying, watching him on the floor or helping distract him from clinging on to me so I can get the dinner cooked.
My baby gets a lot of dedicated attention
My older two are both now at school (we sent the four year-old early as he was super-ready and keen) and so my baby now gets a lot of dedicated one-on-one time with me and my husband, something the other two didn’t really have as much. It’s so nice to be able to enjoy those special moments together and really be present, even if they’re just small windows of time between school drop-off and pick-up. You forget how magical babies can be and so the appreciation levels are somewhat higher when there’s been a bit of a time lapse between bubs.
It’s less chaotic
When you have children so close together it can be hectic, even if you’re super-organised or have help. It’s like having two babies at once because they’re both in nappies, can’t communicate properly, dress or feed themselves. And then the older one starts toilet training and having toddler tantrums, and so you’re dealing with quite a number of challenging child phases on top of looking after a baby (challenging in itself!). Of course kids can still have their moments and issues once they go to school, but at least you don’t need to worry about poo disasters and thrice daily meltdowns so much among the new one’s colic, teething and reflux keeping you up at night. My husband regularly takes the other two off to sports or other activities as well, and so there is this nice contrast of hustle bustle whole-family action and then quieter baby time when the others are elsewhere.
The cons – just a few!
I don’t worry about an age gap anymore being an issue for my boys, because already they all love each other (even though they still fight!) so I know they will all get along fine. There are a few negatives of having another baby after a number of years though and the main one is this – learning how to survive on little sleep again. Some babies are a dream of course, but this time I literally had on average two hours sleep a night for the first three months due to my son having shocking reflux. It was a bit of a shock to the system given my other children don’t wake up in the night at all anymore.
What am I doing again?
The other hard bit was learning what to do all over again. Of course breastfeeding and burping and swaddling all does come back to you but for a little while it’s a bit hazy, as you try and recall what on earth you’re doing! Getting all the baby seats, highchairs, play equipment and never ending stuff back out is a bit annoying too (babies need so much stuff!) and then there are new challenges of making sure the baby doesn’t choke on small things the older ones have left out.
But in the grand scheme of things, these are minor compared to the joy of having a small baby in the house again and feeling that your family is complete. Plus soon it won’t be long before they’re all kicking the footy out in the garden and I’ll be inside reading a book!