Posted by: thelocaldialect | October 14, 2008

How Futile is Resistance, Really?

It seems everywhere I go (at least on the internets) people are giving their children that gift that never stops giving — siblings. I frequent an online forum for women with children the same age as my son, and every day someone new seems to announce either a pregnancy or the intention to become pregnant. In fact, one of the members actually gave birth just a few weeks ago to a son that is almost a year to the day younger than her daughter born last October. And that’s just the beginning. With all of these babies in the air, actual babies and conceptual babies, a girl can’t help but think about her own theoretical-next-child.

I hear that “baby fever” is common once the first baby starts to “grow up” a bit, starting from around 8 months onward. While Dylan isn’t exactly asking for the car keys (in fact, he isn’t even wiping his own ass), he’s become undeniably more and more like a little boy each day, and less and less like a baby. The transformation is a gradual one, it sneaks up on us as parents, takes us by surprise. The first step is walking (Dylan is not quite there yet, but on the way), which offically heralds, I think, the beginning of the end of babyhood. But even before they start walking we see in our babies glimpses of the people they will become. And while it is a joy to see, this metamorphosis, it is also bittersweet. Where did my baby go, we ask. It is very difficult, when seeing a friend’s brand new baby, or walking past the newborn section at the clothing store, or coming up on your son’s first birthday and all the memories that come with it, not to feel a keen longing for another one.

And so we start discussing.The pros and the cons. How long to wait? Close together or far apart? How we answer these questions usually has a lot to do with our own families, the brothers and sisters and the relationships we had or wished we had. I have a brother who is younger than me by three years. Our relationship is very close, but I think our age gap is just barely close enough to have allowed for that. We had loads of fun together as teenagers, when I was about nineteen and he was about sixteen and between us it seemed there was no end to the trouble we could get into. My husband on the other hand, is the youngest of three, his two brothers being twelve and six years older than he is, and the age gap is simply too large to bridge. As adults they now have perfectly civil adult relationships, but my husband is closer to his 22 year old nephew, his oldest brother’s son, than he is to his brother himself. So based on our own experiences, my husband and I have decided that for our own families we’d like our children to be no more than five years apart, and as for the lower limit, we think a two year gap sounds reasonable.

Does this mean we’ll be going down that road again soon? Afterall, a two year age gap would mean getting pregnant sometime this winter, and with Dylan growing so quickly, I’d be lying if I claimed no temptation to start sooner rather than later. Still, there are also considerations like work (if we have another will my husband still be a stay at home dad?), where to live (when will we be moving back to Kunming and would it be wise to have another before then?), and the dreaded financial questions (how much can we save before having another?). In the end, it is as much a matter of willpower as it is anything else. Even with so many good reasons not to have another baby right now, it is easy in the heat of the moment to throw caution to the wind (so to speak) and say “you know what, consequences? To Hell with you!”

So we’re holding out for now. But later? Next year? Next month even? Like I said, we’re holding out . . . for now.


  1. Hey Jess- I agree that a 2-5 year gap is ideal. My sister is 11 years younger than me and we have more of a parent-child kind of relationship (although it was great for my mum to have me as built in babysitter!)

    One ignorant question – are there any repurcussions for having more than one child these days in China? Or is the ‘one child policy’ ancient history these days?

    My friend just found out that she’s pregnant and her daughter is only 7 months. This was not planned and she’s in complete shock. 😦 I think it would be very hard particularly as her husband is unemployed, they have big financial and marital problems and her family is back in the US.

  2. Wow, very timely post for me too! Same decisions and factors to consider. For the record, I am 12 years older than my sister and 14 years older than my brother (I’m from a first marriage). Despite the age gap and geographical distance between us (except the two years she was here on the jet program) my sister and I are super close! It’s wonderful. That being said I won’t be able to wait twelve more years for another baby, (nor would I want to!) I’m thinking to time it for when Jonah is about ready for preschool- which will be when he’s two and a half. But I guess the next baby will come when he or she is meant to and if he or she is meant to. In the meantime, I’m sooooo enjoying my son and am thankful everyday for him!

  3. It is hard for me to put myself in your shoes since I am not even thinking about my hypothetical second child since we do not yet have a “first” child.

    That said, based on my personal experience, your 2-5 years sounds good- There is exactley 2 years and 7 months between me and my brother and it is a good age difference.

    I would like to try for a similar age difference between our future children. I want to be a stay at home mum for the first couple of years (if we can make it work financially) until the second child (we want two) goes to kindergarten (at about aged 2.5) and then I would like to return to work, preferrably part time.

    But you never know where life will take you or lead- If we ended up back in Australia then I would be the one working at Shun would be a stay at home dad doing some freelance work from home but we really don`t know.

    I must admit though, like you said, everyone on the internet seems to be getting pregnant!!!!

  4. As the mum of two two years apart (2 years and 23 days to be exact) I can say that it is so much fun NOW. At 5 and 3 they jut love each other to bits and can spend the entire day just playing together. That said those first 6 months with a newborn and a two year old? whoa….. Does your husband work long hours? Would you be living near/ with your inlaws? Some on hand support would have made my life a lot easier back then.

    A very popular age gap around me is 3 years. Pack the first kid off to kinder just in time to have the second. Great for the baby years BUT you end up with two kids studying for exams at the same time. @_@

    I’m not much to talk though as neither of mine were planned in anymore than your to hell with consequences way anyway. πŸ˜‰

    FWIW I am 18 months older than my brother and 5 1/2 yrs older than my sister. They get along great. I live half way across the world…

  5. Thanks all! It sounds like 2-5 years is the consensus. We’ll probably start really trying again once we move back to Kunming, hopefully next June (*crosses fingers*).

    fukahef — my husband is actually a stay at home dad, so that takes care of the childcare aspect of things for the time being, but really that’s a whole nother post, the whole stay at home dad thing and whether or not he’ll stay one. Unfortunately my inlaws both have passed away — FIL last year and MIL before I met DH, so we’re kind of on our own. My husband has, as I mentioned, 2 older brothers and while they’re decent people their lives are just soooo different from ours that when they, and their wives, try to help us it usually just creates more stress. But that too is a whole nother post!

  6. I figure that, with how difficult it is to predict when one will actually get pregnant, I’m just going to see what happens. I could plan exactly what I want, and then it might take one month or twelve months or two years to get pregnant again. So I’m saving myself the disappointment and trying to ignore my slightly controlling/plan-a-holic tendencies.

    A three year window is pretty big, though, so I think that’s probably safe to plan around πŸ™‚ Two to five years seems reasonable to me.

  7. You knew I would comment on this right? Just took my sweeeet time ;_;

    My brothers and I are a little less that two and a half years apart and that was a pretty good difference although I’m not sure how my mom did with 3 under 2.5 (they were twins) for a few months.

    In a perfect world DH and I want 3… and I am sorely tempted to have the first two relatively close together… and the third a couple years after that. We’ll see though! Still have to work on the timing for number 1!

    It was crazy how fast they grow thought… my good friend here had a baby around the same time as Dylan was born and I’ve seen him grow throughout the last year, and then just last weekend I met another friend with a one month old… wow… the difference is AMAZING… I was just like.. wow… so small!! Hard to imagine my friends baby was that small… and I guess my future one will be too! (scary!) Good luck with trying and hope everything comes smoothly…

    To be honest all those baby message boards have me terrified that trying to concieve will take 5 gajillion years… and hubs and I are both 25 with no (known) fertility issues… lol

    Sorry to have rambled so much… I’ve got quite a bit of that internet baby fever.. sadly I’ve been living with it for over a year now and FINALLY we are in the place to start thinking about it FOR REALS>

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