Tigerlilly Quinn: The age old age gap conundrum

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

The age old age gap conundrum


Almost as soon as I gave birth people started asking me if/when I would have another child. That may be an exaggeration but I swear the questions started pretty much from 12 weeks on. For a while I would say 'I've only just had a baby!' but from Wilf's first birthday I had to stop using that answer. I almost wrote 'excuse' there, which is just odd and also why I wanted to write this post.

You go through your life no one ever asking you if you are going to procreate and then as soon as you have done you get asked when you are going to do it again. I'm not against having another child (if we are lucky enough one day) but Tom and I have both agreed we are not ready to go down that route anytime soon.

Here's the thing, I have always wanted to be a mum. I've known with absolute certainty that I wanted children in my life since I was about 15 years old. I'm really glad I had Wilf in my mid twenties, Tom and I had discussed children around six months into our relationship, we both wanted them and thought late twenties would be the 'ideal' time. As it happened we changed our mind and I became a mum two weeks after my 26th birthday and Tom was 29. For us this was the perfect time, I don't think I would have been ready any younger but I don't think having Wilf any older would have made a difference either.

One of the benefits for us of having children in your twenties is that 'hopefully' we will be able to space having children out with an age gap that suits us. For us that is having a larger gap. I have friends who had their first child in their late thirties or early forties and so I understand the need for very small age gap in regards to having another when they 'can'. In fact I understand having a small age gap if that's what you feel like but I don't understand why its so odd to people to find out we don't want that.

There are pros and cons for any kind of age gap of course. We have been told that having children with a larger age gap means they won't be friends but Tom is very close to his sisters with a 7 & 9 year gap and my siblings and I are 5, 10 and fifteen years apart! Although I understand the logic of having two children who are into the same things at the same time and can play at the same ability.

Some of the things we have been told when asked 'when are you going to have another baby??'

1, 'you'll want to get it all out the way at one time' - This one still baffles me, get what out the way? I enjoy my child.

2, 'If you leave it too long they won't be friends' - mentioned above

3, 'You'll have got your figure back then have to loose it again' and then a repeat of number 1. I loved getting big in pregnancy, I put on three stone and I felt amazing and womanly. I lost three stone in 9months, the exact amount of time it took me to gain it. I didn't diet or go crazy on exercise. I breastfed, don't drive and am a vegetarian.

'You never know, you might leave it five years and find you can't have kids' - ...thanks for that. If that's the case, it will be sad but I will be more than blessed with my one amazing child.

'What if something happened to Wilf' - .. so I need a replacment child??

(my friends with older single child families have been asked if they had fertility problems..)

'Do you think Wilf will always be an only child?' - He's one years old, give me a break

'Is reason you are not trying for another because Wilf doesn't sleep?' - well I guess yes in a way!

I'm also really aware that the way Tom and I want to parent can also feel like the 'long route' so to speak. We practise gentle parenting and in doing so he still wakes up three times a night, gets up for the day at 5am and is still breastfeeding. I'm pretty sure we would have had a much easier time if we had sleep trained him at 6months and I even have my suspicions that breastfeeding is one of the reasons for his sleep problems. My friends who have babies that sleep have mostly all gone on to already have another child or are now pregnant with their second. There was even my friend from NCT who got pregnant again at 7 months, her first having slept through from four months, she ended up having twins!

Tom and I talk about the things we would like to do with Wilf, we want to save up and visit Cuba or New York when he is a bit older and can appreciate such things, having another baby in the near future would mean it wouldn't be practical or affordable. We talk about 4 or 5 being a good time to bring another child into our family but if we don't feel ready then then I'm happy with that too.

I guess I sound like I'm bashing the idea of larger families, I'm not! I'm one of five and I love having siblings. I also don't have any issue with the spacing arrangements of other people's families, just of being made to feel that should be the norm. Also if you are that person who has asked me if we will have another this post isn't aimed at you, it's merely aimed at the ten billions times I've been asked the question ;)

What about you? Have you experienced that same thing?

47 comments:

Hayley said...

I could have written this post myself a couple of years ago. Mine are 4 years apart and people reacted so oddly to my second pregnancy. I had a lot of "Oh, we thought you weren't having/couldn't have anymore". He was THREE!!


I think different gaps work for different people. My friend's 4 children are 18 months - 2 years apart and that does not appeal to me at all! I'd love more but not for a couple more years (youngest is 2 in November, I'm thinking when she's 5?). I LOVE the age gap we have and after a 4 year break, it was so so wonderful to do the baby thing again.

Wild & Grizzly said...

A good thought provoking post. I always thought a 2.5 year gap would be great and happily fell pregnant again but sadly we lost the baby. Then the pressure was on! I put myself under pressure seeing the gap widen beyond three years and would often be asked how trying to concieve was going, 'Are you trying?' which really just equates to somebody asking you whether you're having sex. It's taking time, but for now i've stopped worrying about it and started focusing on enjoying the boy I do have instead. I've always wanted a large family but i'm not going to stress about and we'll do it our way... and you should most definitely do it yours x

Anna said...

mine are all pretty close together and I fancy a bigger break now for the next one.. well it will be as my youngest is already 2+ so by the time I get round to having another one, will be a fair gap. There's positives and minus to everything and really its a personal decision and noone's business!

Julie said...

I have 19 years between my two. Was this what I wanted? Well no, I would have liked a dozen more babies in between. But this is what happened and I am happy. My two adore each other. I loved being pregnant and I love my babies. But I hate when people ask if you are having more, another, or even one. What they do not know is the back story. Your story. For me it was years of trying and four miscarriages. Am I meant to tell everyone this when they say "Oh Jarvis is gorgeous why won't you have another?" One day, not long after I had just lost another baby I scream at a woman who asked why didn't I have another... I scream well I just fucking lost a baby, do you have a miracle to help me fall pregnant and to stop me miscarrying. She went pale and did not answer. Family functions she now avoids me.

Kelly Rae said...

Great post. We are planning to talk about a second child when our daughter is 2. I've read that waiting 18 months is ideal for the health of the mother and baby. I think as breastfeeding mamas it can be hard to think about the drop in breastmilk when pregnant again. I really worry about that because I don't want to early wean our daughter at all. Oh and I was thinking maybe people ask because they are trying to figure out what they want to do themselves?

Helen Wright said...

any age gap is fine, you just have to play it right, make them involved. every gap brings its beauties and problems.The only gap that may cause issues if not handled carefully is the mummy has a baby when oldest one goes to school, thus oldest feels pushed out. i have heard that one south american tribe thinks we are mad because they think you should leave 3 years between babies for the sake of the mothers body (she needs that time to recover/look after baby shes had). don't be pushed, go for whats right for you. x

Megan Wade said...

Ah, I hated this! My kids are 5 years apart almost to the day (the boy came 6 weeks early...I'd rather not have to plan two birthdays in a week!) and while there are times I wish I could have 'knocked it out' or wish they would be closer, I wouldn't want it any other way. I loved sending my girl off to school and having that one on one time with the boy. Also, getting your figure back? Id totally rather lose the weight and start over than pile on two pregnancies worth of weight (I got biiiiig) and have to lose it ALL when I was done. Bleck!

Polly Davies said...

Lola was 3 1/2 when Kiki was born, Kiki was 2/ 1/2 when Baya was born... Baya is now 4 and I'd love another but we'll see..... I lost one last year, so am just being grateful for what we have. I think that any age gap is fine - do what works for you, there is no right or wrong. I wouldn't have wanted less than the 2 /12 years as having two littlies is hard going, plus it's nice to be able to spend time with each child instead of being busy with a newborn. We constantly get asked when we're going to try for a boy as we have three girls :/ people!!

Hurrah for gin said...

Great post - i can't believe some people are so rude! It's no one else's business and you should just do what suits you as a family. 'What if something happened to Wilf?' - unbelievable?!

Alice said...

I find it so odd the way people suddenly see these things as their business to talk about! I've had it since getting married, I am 33 and Tim is 32 - it's all 'when are you having kids, you aren't getting any younger you know'. Yes, thanks for that. I mean I'd like to, but the more people do this, the less inclined I am as I find it so damn annoying! Also, we met in our early 30's and we've wanted to enjoy each other for a while before starting family life - apparently thats a very selfish thing to do, according to some friends. Personally I think it would be more selfish and unfair to the child to jump into something because we've bullied into it. You can't win either way!

TeaCaroline said...

Gorgeous photo of Wilf. I had my two 2 and a half years apart which was perfect for me. I got to enjoy my son for a long time on his own which he thrived on. He was our first though and the first grandchild and got a lot of attention. I was completely shocked when his sister arrived and he was so delighted to have her here. They've been each other's shadows since then and I'm so glad we had them closeish together - although who knows, they might have been best buds anyway? My point is no one knows when is best only you and even then we can make 'plans' but how much control do we truly have over these things. I do think a sibling is a tremendous thing whenever, however they arrive.

Katherine said...

Argh, hate it when people ask me this as we are sticking with one and people don't believe us. I had hyperemesis and hated pregnancy, I don't particularly want to go through all the newborn stuff again. Love my boy to bits, but that's it for us. My parents divorced when I was very young, all my siblings are between 6 and 19 years younger than me, there's no right age gap, just what's right for you.

Oh, and I only breasted for 4 weeks and my child rarely sleeps through!

Lindsey said...

Great post! I also hate this, my little girl is 2 and I get asked all the time. What's worse is if I ever put on a few pounds on holiday etc I get accused of being pregnant, people are just rude. The reality is I would like another one in the not to distant future but isn't that mine and my husbands choice? Shouldn't we be free to chose what we feel works best for our family be it 9months or 9years without judgment?

P.S. re the sleep / breastfeeding thing I think its just down to luck and the child. I'm still breastfeeding and thankfully I'm blessed with a child who's slept 8pm till 7am from 6months. I have a friend who never breastfed and her almost 3 year old still doesn't sleep through. I keep saying my luck this time is natures way of tricking me into having more and next time he or she won't sleep a wink.

Jen Walshaw said...

I had my two very close together (there is a 15 month age gap), but it wasn't planned that way. We had m/c before Maxi and then I was only going to have one as had such a horrible pregnancy and birth, plus he was a challenging baby (srnt they all)! Then found out number two was on the way.


A very wise lady once told me that you all cry the same amount of tears over a child's lifetime, just some people do it at different time. It is all about different strokes for different folks

3yearsandhome said...

My boys were very close together but that was a necessity really. Age and illness played the deciding factor for us. It feels right for us but I really, really miss spending time alone with my toddler. He's so sweet and so funny and I feel like I tell him to 'wait a minute' all the time. But yes, I hope they will be friends and play together as they grow up.

On the other hand, my brothers are eight and ten years younger than me and while the oldest of the two is very much my little brother, the younger one is one of my best friends. Despite the age gap, we chat pretty much every day.

There's no right or wrong time. I can work anyway you want it to.

Amy said...

I love your children's names!

Amy said...

Me and my brother are close in age - almost exactly eighteen months! - and that was super awesome for me growing up as I loved him from the get go and still think he's one of the best people I've ever met. That wasn't exactly planned for my mum, though, and he was a very difficult pregnancy that she was hostage in bed for much of. I know she missed taking care of me, then so that was hard for her. I don't think there is an ideal age gap, though. It doesn't exist!


It's your family: you raise them the way you see fit. Definitely nobody else's business!

stillawake said...

I've been thinking similar things, Fritha, but as a single parent no one ever asks me if I'm trying and there's little chance for another baby anyway. Ultimately, of course, you just never know what's going to happen in the future. xx

mummydaddyme said...

When LL was less than a week old someone asked me if I was going to try for a boy next. Outrageous! I think age gaps really depend on the family. We fell pregnant straight away with LL and at first I was a bit worried that 26 months was a bit soon, but actually it has worked out perfectly and now they are here I love the gap between them, and I can see them growing up to be best friends. BUT, I have a sister, she is 10 years younger than me and the amount of people who used to ask if she was a step or half sister is ridiculous. They still do. She is a full sister and she is also my best friend. Thus proving that it doesn't matter about the large age gap. Just do what is right for you and your family. x

Allison Clementine said...

So much of this post is how I'm feeling! My daughter is 8 months old and I'm just not sure if we'll have another baby so the "when" questions can really drive me batty. I almost feel embarrassed when I mention that we're considering not having another baby. My daughter doesn't sleep through the night either though, I think it's because of breastfeeding too and I think I'd be more open to having another one if I'd slept more than a few hours in a stretch since she was born!


We also love traveling and want to include our daughter as we trot the globe. Some might think it's selfish to not want another child for that reason but we aren't ready to slow down and think it's pretty cool our daughter gets to see so much of the World. I'm really torn but I know we have some time before a decision really has to be made!

Helen said...

Yes I've totally been experiencing this too, it's really starting to grate especially as my daughter is only six months old. No-one used to really ask when we were going to have children, it seems most people realise its a bit impolite/none of their business to ask, but once you've had one it seems its fair game to comment. I've pretty much always thought I'd only have one child, and the response that I hate when I tell people that is"oh that's not fair on her to be an only child". Just because you have a sibling, close in age or not, doesn't always mean you'll be friends or even actually like each other.

Erica Price said...

We've had lots of that over the last few years, but seems to have dried up now that my son is 6, so I guess you have a way to go yet!

fritha strickland said...

oh gosh, yes four more years!

fritha strickland said...

ha! totally! We are not married and as soon as we bought a house it was like 'soooo when are you getting married??' we might not ever get married, when I pregnant I think people were like 'so what ARE you going to do about getting married??'. Like you say, you really can't win sometimes! x

fritha strickland said...

exactly this! I'm not friends with one of my siblings, and she's the one closest to me in age! And yep its mad, your baby is 6months old! x

fritha strickland said...

I hear ya! Sounds like your daughter and Wilf are very similar and I felt the same way, in fact until recently I've been pretty happy with just having Wilf. Now I can entertain the idea of another maybe but a long time away and also maybe not! I hate that you should be made to feel embarrassed like one isn't good enough. Like you I really want to travel with Wilf and another child anytime soon would mean that would never be a possibility. x

fritha strickland said...

Oh Katie don't get me started on the 'are you going to try for (insert opposite sex) thing. It makes me see red! People can be so silly! I think it's lovely you and your sister are such good friends with the large age gap, sometimes Tom and I think that we would also like this (I would be 35 by then so still a possibility). Your girls are so lovely together and clearly so close xx

fritha strickland said...

That's very true Jo! You just never know what the future holds. My friend had a first at 43, she wasn't expecting that! x

fritha strickland said...

Thanks Amy, and yes I agree there is no perfect number, there are pro's and cons for everything! I guess like we spoke about on Twitter its just the assumption that you are a bit odd if you either don't want another soon or maybe even (shock horror) only want one! xx

fritha strickland said...

thank you, I totally agree, it's as much about personalities as anything else. If you think about you don't just be friends with people close in age to you so why would it be the same with siblings? Funny enough most of my close friends are 5 years older than me! x

fritha strickland said...

ha love that, I can see that being true. I guess sometimes life is unplanned and you realise it works (this is where I find out I'm actually pregnant isnt it ;)) xx

fritha strickland said...

Lindsey exactly! totally agree. Thanks for the sleep/breastfeeding thing too, I think I drive myself mad wondering why he doesn't sleep but ultimately I guess it's just the way he is! xx

fritha strickland said...

oh gosh I can't even imagine going through hyperemsesis. I was sick twice-ish a day for 4 months and the horror of that still scares me a little so anything worse, gosh I just don't know how you coped and TOTALLY get not wanting to go through that again!! I also didn't enjoy the newborn bit. And thanks for the sleep thing too, I guess it's just how he is! xx

fritha strickland said...

thanks! Thats so lovely they got on so well straight away! (and yes I realise I could find myself accidentally pregnant and of course I would embrace that but if we can plan these things then a longer gap is ideal for us) xx

fritha strickland said...

right?? some people! x

fritha strickland said...

they are amazing aren't they!

fritha strickland said...

Oh gosh Polly the gender thing it makes me so mad! 'so what do you think you would do if you had another boy, just keep trying??' I have to bite my tongue, I am just to grateful to have a healthy amazing loving child, I couldnt care a bit about the sex *sigh*. Your girls are all so sweet together xx

fritha strickland said...

haha! me and my brother (5 years apart) have birthdays two weeks apart too! That's kind of exactly what I am hoping for x

fritha strickland said...

I've also heard waiting until 18 months is best for the mothers health, I guess it makes sense if you think of breastfeeding and natural child spacing. Good point, they prob are! I think being like to validate their choices xx

fritha strickland said...

That's really interesting about the american tribe thing, I know that breastfeeding is a natural child spacer so larger gaps were probably more of the norm perhaps. I'm not sure, I quite like the idea of one being in school to spend time with the other one, although perhaps I just feel that way as it is how it was with me and my siblings and it felt like a good method for us..although saying that, I don't get on with my closest in age sibling so maybe it wasn't! ha! x

fritha strickland said...

well tbh I don't blame you! I have only had one m/c but I know how awful it is and how awful it is to want a baby so badly and to be grieving a lost one. It's also very hard to see other people pregnant during these times so if anyone had asked my this during this time, gosh I would have just cried on them I think! xx

fritha strickland said...

your so right Anna, just personal preference and pros and cons either way! x

fritha strickland said...

I'm so sorry about your m/c I've been though the same things (before Wilf) and its awful. It's so awful to be asked these questions especially if you are going through such a hard time! Thanks lovely x

fritha strickland said...

haha its mad! three! oh gosh people are bonkers sometimes! I'm so glad you say that, I think we would like to do it a similar way 4/5ish x

Jo said...

We too are sticking at one. Everybody tells me I'll change my mind but having had hyperemesis & a a rough birth I'm quite happy as we are. My husband is 41 & doesn't want to be too old to have fun & financially we just about do ok, another baby might change that (don't get me started on the cost of childcare!). We want to be able to do nice things with our daughter not think we're too skint. I always thought I'd like 4 kids but things change, newborns are hard work!! To each their own xx

Polly Davies said...

Thank you :D

Sarah Lauder said...

I'm married two years and at 31 CONSTANTLY get asked when I'm going to have a child/ Can I not have children and being told how selfish I am when I reply motherhood isn't something I want at present or might not ever want. Like you having one child, surely that is the opposite of selfish? You are caring enough to focus on the one little person in your life and giving tons of energy into them. As for me, I think it would be selfish to have a baby just because it's expected and people will view me as better for doing it.

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