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.