Mind the gap – a 16 month age difference

Well, this is an interesting way to bookend the last 16 months or so. I am sitting in my local coffee house at a table next to the one where I started this blog. Rewind and you would have seen a more-than-slightly tired new mummy, relishing fully caffeinated coffee again with a sleeping baby in the carseat next to her. Now, skip to this moment in time and you have a slightly-tired still-inexperienced mummy, slurping decaf one again with a 40 week + 4 day bump made up mainly of baby but also of sugar free treats thanks to the perils of gestational diabetes.

“You’re going to have your hands full” is without doubt the phrase I have heard most over the last couple of weeks. Last time it was all cooing and asking whether I knew the gender, the name and sharing my due date. This time there is a three-way split of reactions – the parents who are in the throes of currently having a baby within a similar age gap (sharp inhale of breath followed by smiles through gritted teeth), the parents who have been there done that (really positive and affirming) and those who would not consider having two close together (alarmed and relieved it is not them).

I’d always wanted to be a Mum to two children close together. My brother and I have a 5 and bit years age gap and I adore him to bits and relish that I can remember a few fleeting memories before he came along but ultimately we grew up in slightly different times. My husband is an only child and having only one child for him wasn’t an option; I’m sure he would have pushed for other avenues if it had not been possible to have another naturally. From the day I saw that “pregnant 2-3weeks” flash up on the stick, I have been subconsciously listing reasons why this is the best age gap. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect to get pregnant again so quickly and I am aware of just how lucky we are so the idea took a bit of adjusting to.

Reasons to celebrate the small gap:

  • when the two boys are old enough, they will always have a play mate with each other;
  • days out with two boys of similar ages should be easier to cater for;
  • I’d like to think I am not ‘rusty’ at the newborn thing yet;
  • I can use everything again before a) it breaks or stops working b) it goes out of pregnancy ‘fashion’ c) The Daily Mail deem it as something that will break my child;
  • we both wanted a small age gap between our children;
  • my husband believes that a brother is the best present we could ever get for our eldest.

Reason to feel the menagerie of feelings I have about the gap:

  • our eldest is still so young and needs us so much. He has just figured out walking (a bum shuffler for many a month) and we need eyes everywhere at the moment. I am unsure how this is going to work when I am tethered to a breast pump!

Six versus one…surely a no brainer? It’s just that only reason to fear the gap seems loaded. I am sure that any child of any age needs their parents but obviously the younger ones need the parents to be a bit of a lookout as they figure out risk assessment!

One of the lovely NCT mummies is also pregnant with a relatively imminent due date and when we met up the other week, she floored me with a question of “so, have you thought how you are going to cope?”. And I must admit, I spluttered my way through an answer. I hadn’t. You can’t plan for how you are going to cope, can you? You just hope they sync up as best they can? I remembered a key comment from the Mums who were working through the gap with a baby currently who had said that at least the eldest still has nap time so you can plan it so they are both asleep at the same time in the day. I must admit, I had heard this tip and hinged a lot of the survival on that. When I thought about the answer I had given her afterwards, it really unnerved me that I hadn’t mentally prepared for the second baby possibly as well as I did for the first. I returned to work as a Headteacher after 6 months of having my first, had had a pretty gruelling Ofsted with the outcome we hoped for, professionally I felt a bit invincible and when I thought about putting that persona on the back burner for a bit, I suddenly realised that I needed to devote time to gearing up Mummy mental strength before the new one is here. Physical strength will come when I tag team in my husband, accept support from loved ones and get respite from the childminder when the eldest has his social buddy time for a few hours weekly.

Where am I at now? Well, I think often of those six reasons why this will be the best age gap possible. I started nesting earlier with this one compared to my first born and something I did last week has really really helped and it might seem strange. I wrote a letter to my eldest. I wrote him a letter detailing everything that I have loved about the last 16 months, my hopes for his future, my hopes for us a family as we are older, recounting some of our favourite moments together so far and at the end of the 10 page letter, I exhaled deeply like I had been holding my breath for an inordinate amount of time. I needed to write that letter. I don’t know when I will give it to him but that ‘mind dump’ prepared me more than organising any nursery, washing clothes, starting maternity leave. Anything.

Time for player 2 to enter the arena.

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