The hubby and I have been bickering back and forth over trying for another baby. I think the pressure and concerned questions have finally gotten to him. It’s funny how people still find a way to get in your business! Just when you thought you were done with the incessant “When are you going to have a baby?” questions, along comes the follow-up: “When will you give that precious little one a brother or sister?” *sigh*. I have gotten tons of unsolicited advice about how my body clock is ticking, and how I should start expanding my family quick quick.
Three days ago, I went by my husband’s office and a female colleague of his, whom I am pretty friendly with, touched my belly and said “Hope junior oga has started kicking”. I said “Ha, no Aunty Susan, we are not ready yet abeg!”. She grabbed my hand, rushed to my husband’s table and stated hollering “Aburo, which one is that you are not ready? You are allowing your wife to continue doing sisi instead of trying to get another baby fast”. My husband that I thought was going to have my back, simply smiled and said “She is not ready nah, whenever she is ready, we would start trying”. Aunty Susan ushered me out of his office, leaving hubby with “Shebi you are the man of the house? O ga oh!” In my head, I was like; “What is this woman’s own abeg?” while promising myself that DH would pay for not having my back on this one. Aunty Susan wasn’t done yet; she took me to her office and sat me down for a ‘serious talk’. Ghen Ghen! “So why are you not trying again for another baby? Your husband said he is ready”. I wanted to say; first off, my husband didn’t say he is ready, he just said when I am ready, we would try. Secondly, my first child has barely started school, can I have a bit of spacing ma’am? And while we are at it, can you please get your nose out of my business! But I ended up muttering “I am just not ready for pregnancy wahala yet, I really need a break.”
Aunty Susan went berserk on me. “What do you mean by you are not ready for pregnancy wahala? God gave us that responsibility to bear children and birth them and we have to do it. It is better to have all your children in quick succession and then rest fully. Every month we ovulate, and if you don’t finish giving birth fast, all your good eggs would be gone by the time you are ready”. Chei! There was nothing I didn’t hear in that office and all the way home, I kept wondering if I was the only one having second baby blues, and if Aunty Susan just might be right. Anyways, DH bought the idea that we should start trying for another baby, although I am stalling and trying to buy myself more time; we have been giving each other reasons to wait, and reasons to go for it. I highlighted some of them below:
1. You need a break
Going through pregnancy is a challenge enough, and soldiering through it while having an hyper-active tantrum throwing, needy toddler can totally drive you nuts. Pregnancy for the first time is easier because you get all the attention from DH, and you can focus totally on yourself and the life growing inside you. With the second baby, you already have a baby that definitely still needs attention and care, so you pretty much need a break for your first child to be semi-independent, before you should start trying again. The thought of chasing my hyper toddler around at the mall with a big bump is not attractive at all; I am not ready to lose my sanity yet. Jamie Ratner, of Bethesda, Maryland, founder of CertifiKid.com, learned that fast: “My kids are 19 months apart, and the first year with the two of them was hell,” says the mom of 4-year-old Noah and 2-year-old Lila. “I was barely sleeping and couldn’t take my eyes off them.”
2. Your first needs the time
I am particular about serious child-spacing because I think that every child needs to have that special attention for a bit. My elder sister and I are eighteen months apart, which means my mom got pregnant with me when my elder sister was just nine months. Till date, my sister still jokes about me not allowing her enjoy her infancy. My mum stopped breastfeeding the minute the doctor told her she was expecting. One of my cousins got married in 2009 and by October 2014, she was giving birth to her fourth child, none of which was a multiple birth. Not only was she going crazy and needing many house helps, the babies were always at each other’s throats. One day, the third child was caught covering the three month old baby with a pillow. Whenever I visit, they struggle for attention and compete for who gets carried on the laps, and it is not surprising, as they are all still pretty much babies. Not that I am questioning my cousin’s choices oh, but I wouldn’t want to put myself and my kids through that stress. The kind of stress that Jennifer Spengler, mom of 13-year-old Kyra, 9-year-old Mila, and 3-year-old Evie in La Jolla, California, wanted to avoid. “Having a few years between each pregnancy has made life easier and more enjoyable for all,” she says. “I could spend time individually with each of my kids as an infant and toddler. Plus, I was able to play on a women’s soccer team, take classes at the local university, and work part-time.”
3. You don’t need to play referee
“Kids who are close in age may be fighting over a toy or vying for your attention, and that can be exhausting for the parents,” Dr. Brown says. Just ask Nkiru Okoye, business woman and mama of 8-year-old Ewere, 7-year-old Mekele, and 6-year-old Awele: “We have our share of squabbles. All three often need attention at the same time.” If parents don’t mediate the disputes, the problems could get worse. You can’t turn a blind eye to these fights and squabbles; the damage could last a lifetime. “So many parents today say, ‘I want them to work out their issues themselves’,'” Dr. Walfish, a child psychologist in California says. “You can’t do that when children are closely spaced. You don’t have to resolve the conflict, but you need to teach them how to work it out by modeling cooperation.”
1. You’ll limit diaper days
Sure, it’s Crazy Town, but when you have your kids close together, you can blow through the mayhem in a few years instead of dragging it out for a decade (or more!). If you do choose this team, you have to hold on to the perspective that you’re in the thick of it now and that demands will be extreme for a while, and then they’ll subside and you would be over it for good. The closer your kids are in age, the more interests they’re likely to share, and the more you can do together as a family. “My kids enjoy the same books and movies, Mrs. Mary says. “Also, it’s wonderful to be able to travel as a family now that they’re older without having any toddlers in tow.”
2. You’ll get some savings
If you decide to stay home until your babies are grown, you can do so for a short stint and return fully back to work, instead of having to go on long leaves in between. If you also want to have a nanny or help; one nanny can look after all the kids at the same time and you get to save costs. There are all those two-for-the-price-of-one deals! Being able to buy diaper wipes and other items in bulk can help. When they start school, they can use the same books; for example the second child can use the same books that the first used in primary one, because they are not yet outdated by the time he/she gets to that class.
3. You’ll raise best buds
I admit that this is quite a plus, because my elder sister and I are very close and like real bestos. Once we were able to get past the fighting and quarrels of our teenage years, we fell absolutely in love with each other and have been having a great time since. The camaraderie from having a live-in playmate is more prone to happen the closer in age the kids are. Yes, they would compete and fight, but as long as you moderate, the rewards can be great. Chioma says of her 2- and 4-year-old. “They play together well and my younger one is learning so much from her brother.”
I believe that it is not always the spacing that dictates how close siblings would be, because there are close-aged siblings who don’t see eye to eye as adults, and there are well-gapped siblings who get along really well. I think that if the family you now have feels complete, or your gut tells you another child would stretch even one of you beyond your limits, no need waking the sleeping giant. You can always reevaluate in a year or two. If, on the other hand, you feel confident in your family’s ability to adapt to a new additional; then go for it!!
Join the conversation in any of our TTC and Pregnancy support groups here