Married to Medicine

Married to Medicine

Friday, August 5, 2011

Two Year or Three Year Spacing? Always On My Mind...

Time sure does fly when you have a baby.

At this time last year I was 8 months pregnant and could barely imagine what it would be like just to have one.  Now here I sit with an 11-month old, and it's T-4 months if we want to stick to plan A and space our kids two years apart.

I've heard a little from both sides - I've been warned not to do it, and I've been told that it ends up better in the end because they can play together sooner.  We're totally torn and you know what that means, folks:  We're easy prey for that insidious Baby Bug. 

Making this pro and con list, I know in my heart that what I want most is to be convinced that it's okay, and 2 year spacing will work out.  However, living in Boston with very little money, a lot of educational debt, no family in the area to help, and a husband with crazy work hours ... I'm worried I'd be biting off more than I can comfortably chew, and I really believe good parenting comes from parents who are in a happy place.

Pros of 2-year Spacing:
  1. Kids play together sooner (in theory...)
  2. Kids may be closer as teens and young adults, due to being closer in age (key word:  "may")
  3. If we have boy-girl-boy, the two boys would only be 4 years apart instead of 6.
  4. Easier to do family activities (ex: the afternoon-nap years are over when #1 is 7 instead of 9... woot, way more fun on vacations).
  5. Physically way easier to be pregnant when younger.  Not to mention way easier to lift 30 lbs forty times a day, easier to clean the floor under the high chair after each meal, easier to give a bath while on your knees... parenting is SO physical.
  6. Have baby #3 at age 34 instead of age 36.  Statistically most risks (infertility, miscarriage, health of baby) start going up exponentially at age 35.  And what if we end up wanting more than 3?
  7. More financial aid for college, if we qualify.  They consider whether you have another kid in college that same year, but they don't consider your own educational debt.
  8. Get rid of baby gear and get furniture we care about up to 3 years earlier, depending on how many kids we have.
Cons of 2-year Spacing:
  1. Another year of squeezing a family of 4 into a 2-bedroom apartment... and possibly a family of 5 if we have a 3rd and do 2 year spacing.
  2. Soooooo much harder to travel with two kids than one, especially a toddler and a baby... and my parents only visit us once a year, and my in-laws visit even less, so everybody expects us to go to them.
  3. Along those lines, we'll be buying 4 plane tickets whenever we go home a whole year earlier, which means a whole year poorer... YIKES.  Would we only go home once a year ever?  Good thing our families live driving distance from each other.
  4. I've heard it's really hard to keep the toddler entertained when you're stuck at home for the baby's morning nap.  I've heard that you should wait until your oldest can do a few mornings a week of preschool.
  5. My husband will be super busy the year we'd have #2.  I've heard the adjustment from 0-1 is hardest on the primary care giver and 1-2 is hardest on the secondary caregiver.  But if I'm BOTH of those people... would I lose my mind that year?
  6. The walk-up to our second floor apartment is hard enough with just a baby, and hard to imagine with a baby and a 2-year-old who may not follow direction.  Add groceries to that...
  7. Speaking of groceries, imagining doing them with a baby in the baby carrier and a 2 year old who might try to run off at any time is somewhat unfathomable...
  8. As is being sick as a dog when Matthew is just 16 months old.  Do they watch TV by then?  We currently don't even have television service.  
  9. And what about being hugely pregnant when M is a year and a half?  How will I lift him?  How will I wrestle him for diaper changes?  My husband will already be in his busy year at this point, so dinner and bath time will be all on me.
  10. Last, generally:  The time with just one baby is sort of blissful and sweet.  I have time to blog, time to make photobooks, time to keep up with friends on Facebook, time for a book club.  But two is supposed to be more than twice the work.  If we space them two years will I regret giving up a whole year of what has so far been one of the very best times of my life?
Eegads.  I want so badly to do the 2 year spacing but I'm terrified.  If anyone has any additional pros, cons, advice, or encouragement, I'm all ears.

UPDATE:  Overall the feedback I received from several friends has been very encouraging in terms of two year spacing.  But I also noticed that both of the friends who cautioned me strongly against two-year spacing are at home, or were at the time, and all but one of the friends who loved two-year spacing worked outside of the home.  It got me thinking... 7 of the 10 things on my "con" list really relate to the 1 on 1 ratio during pregnancy or the 1 on 2 ratio post-baby#2.  If I knew my husband would pretty much always be home whenever I was, I don't think I'd be as worried.   So... what now?


  1. 17 months apart for my two, and while it was challenging when they were younger, now at 3 and 4, I LOVE it!

  2. S and E are 17.5 months apart. It was terrifying . . . but when I see how much they love and depend on each other, I can't imagine it any other way. The unknown is always scary. I worried whether I would have enough . . . enough love, enough energy, enough money. But when I turnaround in the car and see that my kids have fallen asleep holding hands with each other across their ridiculously expensive car seats, I thank God that His plan trumped my plan :)

    I know it's different for every pair of siblings but my two little ones really do love each other and keep each other company so well. The work, as a mom, is not at all twice as much. Being a mom is, as you well know, very challenging. But as the challenge increases, so does the reward.

    Personally, I think that as gorgeous as your Matthew is, you owe it to the world to have at least 10 more :)