*Please note that what I'm going to share below is purely a personal viewpoint and decision that my husband and I have made for our family. I am in no way saying that what other families choose to do is wrong. Many things need to be taken into account in family planning decisions, like dynamics and personalities.
Now that Ethan is around 2 years old, the questions have started coming again. "So when is the next one coming?", "When are you going to give Ethan a sibling?". And when they hear my answer I'm mostly met with a disapproving "oh."
"No but that's silly, he will be lonely" or "Ethan is going to turn out to be a spoiled brat" and "Oh but the children occupy themselves, when you have them closer together", is often what I'm met with.
Why must every family fit into the stereotypical box of 2 kids, 2-3 years apart, one boy and one girl? And so what if we want to wait 4 years in between our children.
And yes, I do have my broody moments, but the decision I have made is based on more that just how I 'feel'. We are a family of three now, the decision to add to the family should be made in respect of all the members.
I have memories of when Ethan was a newborn and I used to hold him in my arms while he slept. I would not rush through a feed and carry him all the time. I hardly ever put him down, he was always in my arms. I also took the liberty to sleep when he slept (as most moms should) and cuddled him through the night (I still do). I want to be able to give my second one the benefit of getting the same amount of time and attention from me. I want to fall in love with him the same way that I did with Ethan. And I know that is not a reality when you have a newborn and a toddler. You are always split into two directions. Telling the toddler to keep quiet because the baby is sleeping. Nursing the baby and reading to the toddler using one arm. Or shouting at him while you nurse because you cant get to him drawing on the wall, with a baby attached to your boob.
And what about the implications it has on the firstborn? Most toddlers find it very difficult to share anything, let alone their mothers! Why doesn't mommy pick me up much that anymore? Why is she so tired all the time? Why doesn't she want to play? And a little two year old cant understand complex things like that. All they know is that things aren't the same, and he's on the losing end. And when the 2nd gets a bit older he has to share his toys and watch them be chewed on and drooled all over. We all sacrifice when a new baby comes, but I have the feeling that the oldest child has to sacrifice the most.
I've also come to the opinion that a toddler needs his mom almost as much as a newborn does. Yes he doesn't need to nurse, and nap as often. But he needs validation and attention. This is a very fragile time when his self-esteem is being set in place. He is grasping the concept of Independence and separateness from his mother, amongst other big things. Mix this all together with the inability to communicate his feelings adequately (or at all!) and you're in for something tricky. I am determined to get through this stage when he needs his mommy, but in a different way, and come out on the other end with a self-secure child who's love bank and self-esteem is full enough to give to another.
Running and playing (and everything that goes with day-to-day toddler hood) is exhausting. Throw into that mix pregnancy tiredness (which can be delapidating) or a sleep deprived new mom. All I can say is how? I want to be able to get on the floor with Ethan and build puzzles, run around the couch and tickle race for the 20th time because it makes him so happy. I want to be able to get on all fours with him and act like a lion (lol don't ask)! Imagine doing all this with a 34 week belly? Not likely! But who's that not fair to?
The other thing I have heard from my mom friends is that they have the second child sooner, is to be a playmate for the 1st. That is often not the case! I have heard from a few moms that their picture of sibling bliss often turned out to be two children who fought a lot! Compatibility should come more down to personality that age difference. And one cant determine personality. Yes of course siblings will learn some important lessons from each other, but don't expect them to be best friends.
Finances. Imagine putting two kids through university at the same time? Enough said!
Ideally I would like Ethan to be happily in pre-school when I have the second. So that I can have some time in the mornings to devote to the new baby, and catch an extra nap perhaps. By that stage Ethan should hopefully be more independent, and be able to discuss and understand any issues better. I can explain exactly what is happening or going to happen, and he will have the emotional reserves to handle the sacrifices needed. He will happily spend more time with the grandparents, even stay overnight without stress. He will be able to pick the baby up easier. I wont have to worry about him hitting the child by baby, or rolling over onto him in bed. He will WANT to follow Dad around everywhere, as most little boys do. And financially possibly earn more household income that I can leave work totally.
This is my dream, and my thoughts on the issue. No judgement.