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The Guilt of Taking Too Long to Have a Second Baby

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Image source: Heather Neal

While I laughed when my midwife asked me what form of birth control I wanted to use merely hours after giving birth, it didn’t take long for me to fully and wholeheartedly appreciate it.

A child would be welcomed and wanted any time in our life, but was it part of the plan immediately after having our first baby? Certainly not. I loved my baby fully and completely but the thought of another one anytime soon wasn’t even an idea I could begin to swallow. As the sleepless newborn weeks turned into months, it only solidified my belief that I was in no way ready to continue adding to our family. I was happy with my one child. I was in no rush to begin the cycle all over again. I was still so tired. I knew my mind would change in time, but in the meantime I was perfectly content with my one little boy.

It wasn’t until he was 2-and-a-half years old that I began seeing the light at the end of the tunnel — the tunnel of only-childhood. It wasn’t because I was suddenly well-rested or had learned the secret to making parenthood easy. In fact, it was almost the opposite. While I’d started getting enough sleep to no longer be a walking zombie, my toddler still woke frequently at night.

Somewhere along the way, my frame of thought shifted from absolutely needing more sleep before having another baby to the idea that if I wasn’t sleeping anyway, we might as well have a newborn again. Gradually, getting pregnant again went from being a terrible idea, to not such a bad one, to actually a good one.

We’d always planned to have a little bit more space between our kids, three or four years perhaps. It’s not so much time in the grand scheme of things, but with plenty of friends popping out kids less than two years apart, it felt like an eternity in comparison. Our intentional spacing between kids magically started to line up with our actual desire and preparedness for number two.

With our son’s third birthday nearing, the math was working out nicely, but then having another baby when my son was 3-and-a-half felt too soon. We decided we’d wait just a little bit longer, to just inch past that three-and-a-half year gap. Then suddenly that three-and-a-half year gap came and went. The four year gap was rapidly approaching.

That’s when the panic set in. The guilt. Did we wait too long? Will my kids be too far apart to be friends, playmates, buddies? Will they simply just be siblings who tolerate each other? Will that four year gap turn into five, or more? There are too many questions, too many unknowns, and too many things that could be or not be. Deciding that it feels right to have another kid is one thing; the reality of it is entirely overwhelming. To try to plan something that really can’t be planned is laughable, yet you can’t help but run the scenarios and what-ifs over and over in your head.

In no situation, regardless of the timing, do you know if your kids will get along, but I can’t help feeling like I’ve already failed my son in the sibling department.

They’re never going to be super close in age. They won’t be going through anything similar at the same times, and they likely won’t ever even be in the same school. At this point we may be sending one to kindergarten before number two comes along. Will it be like starting all over again? Going through the loneliness of being home alone with a baby without the distraction of an older sibling? Will my son be old enough to know that he’s not getting all the attention anymore, that he’s not our only priority?

These are questions I can’t answer and shouldn’t be worrying about, yet I can’t help but let them tumble through my head.

Is this what everybody goes through when they’re deciding whether or not to add to their family, or is it just because of the age gap that I’ve already cemented into our plans?

Did you experience guilt for not having a second baby soon enough?

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Article Posted 5 years Ago

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