The perfect age gap

Before I had children, I used to daydream about how one day I’d have two kids, ideally with a couple of years in between them, because that’s the perfect age gap, right?

In reality, there very nearly wasn’t an age gap at all. My husband and I are a ‘one in seven’ couple who didn’t have an easy time, er,  getting one in the oven in the first place. It was an incredibly tough journey at times, but we hung on and eventually we got there.

Of course, our daughter was barely crawling before the ‘are you having any more?’ questions started. None of your effing business, I snapped in my head, while politely churning out a standard response: ‘maybe, we’re not sure yet… if it happens it happens… we’re in no rush’.

Then, WTF – I was pregnant again. Compared to the first time, it had happened quickly. We couldn’t believe it. Even more so because our daughter would still only be two when her sibling was born. We’d actually gone and achieved that perfect age gap.

Unfortunately, this wonderful turn of events swiftly came to an abrupt end. At about eight weeks pregnant I collapsed. Within four hours I was in hospital having surgery to remove a ruptured ectopic pregnancy and save my life.

The year or so that followed is a blur. I know there were bright flashes in the darkness, I’ve got photos to prove it; family day trips, birthday parties, walks on the beach. But it feels a bit like I wasn’t really there. I desperately wanted to get pregnant again straight away, to literally fill the void, to prove that my body could do it, to hold a tiny newborn again, like I was supposed to. It didn’t happen.

As the months passed, I slowly began to realise that my daughter was the reason I needed to get better, to focus on the child that I already had, not the one that I had lost.

Gradually, we started to talk about how having just one child actually might be a good thing. She was almost four and becoming more independent. Perhaps in the not too distant future we’d be able to experience a social life once more, outside of birthday parties and soft play. We wouldn’t have to worry about childcare costs or surviving on maternity pay again. We’d be able to afford more holidays, maybe a new car. We could finally sell all the baby crap in the loft.

Then the most unexpected thing happened. I fell pregnant.

But hang on, what about the age gap? This wasn’t part of the plan. By the time the baby arrived our not-so-little girl would be nearly five years old. She’d be starting school. They’d never be close enough to want to share a room together, play with the same toys, join the same clubs.

I was grateful that throughout my pregnancy she was genuinely excited, always kissing and hugging ‘the bump’ and talking about how her brother or sister was going to be her best friend. However, how would she feel once the baby was actually here? How would she cope, after almost five years as an only child? Sharing the spotlight with someone else, not just anyone but a totally helpless little creature who would require mummy and daddy’s attention 24/7?

In hindsight, I spent far too much time worrying about it. As soon her baby brother arrived it was like she’d never known anything different. She was, she is, a natural ‘big sister’ and she embraced her new role with gusto. From the start she got stuck in with practical stuff – running upstairs to fetch nappies, scrabbling about on the floor for his dummy, dutifully putting his scratch mitts back on after he pulled them off for the umpteenth time.

But, more than that, she just wanted to be with him. She would ask to hold him at any opportunity, she’d gently kiss and stroke his head and she’d lie next to him on his play mat and just gaze at him. In my post-birth emotional haze, just the sight of them snuggled together made me blub on a daily basis. I think these memories will take some beating as the most precious of my life. The weeks passed and the novelty didn’t wear off. He was 10 weeks old when she started school and it was him, not me, she was excited to see when we picked her up at the end of the day.

Now we are 10 months on and their love for each other grows daily. His little eyes light up as soon as she walks into the room, he calls her name, not ‘mama’ or ‘dada’, from his cot every morning. He trundles around after her in his baby walker like a little shadow. She plays with him in the bath, sings to him and reads him stories. She’s adamant that she will be the one to teach him to ride his scooter, help him with his homework and one day take him to Disneyland.

She will turn six in a few months time and he will be barely a year old. When he starts primary school, she will only have three years left. When he’s taking his GCSEs she might be living away at university, embarking on a career or travelling the world. She may have already met the love of her life and be on the path to starting a family of her own.

I’m determined that none of this will affect their relationship. Because we will nurture it. All I want is for them always to be there for each other. To always want to hug each other, to wipe the other one’s tears when hearts are broken and to support each other when we are no longer around. I truly believe the foundation for this starts now.

I guess I’ll remove my rose-tinted spectacles now in preparation for inevitable sibling squabbles, full-blown slanging matches and potential flesh wounds along the way.

These days I’m just incredibly thankful to have two healthy children. The age difference is irrelevant. It wouldn’t matter if they were 10 months or 10 years apart.

We have our perfect age gap. It’s 4 years, 9 months and 25 days.

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Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
Diary of an imperfect mum
This Mum's Life
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43 thoughts on “The perfect age gap

  1. (Mostly) Yummy Mummy says:

    Oh this is so lovely! Between the four of mine, I have small gaps and big gaps and medium gaps in between. And do you know what? I don’t think there is such a thing as the perfect age gap. I think all gaps – big and small – come with positives and negatives but somehow whatever gap you end up with works out just perfectly in the end!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. twotinyhands says:

    beautiful. the perfect age gap is something me and my other half talk about. I say 2 years, he says 4. These are the age gaps between our own siblings. Mother nature does in deed take its course. I have the one 10 month old at the moment, I’d like a sibling for him, but for now I’ll wait and I am just enjoying being Mum. Love the bond. #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jaylan - Diapers at Dawn says:

    This is beautiful, has made me all emotional and broody! I’ve always wanted a slightly larger age gap between my first and second, but like you said you have no idea what will happen or IF it’ll happen the second time round. My reason is that there’s six years between myself and my brother and even though we have such a large gap we’re very close. I think it’s because like you’re little girl I felt like he was my baby and wanted to look after him and we’re still very close. I totally agree though that the foundation for this starts now and by looking at the little picture at the end they are absolutely adorable together x #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  4. occupation:(m)other says:

    Ahh this is so beautiful. I really mean that…your last couple of sentences had me welling up. And what a handful of ups and downs you’ve been dealt, I’m sorry for that. I was having this conversation this morning with a group of friends…it’s something I thought a lot about (as I’m sure all parents who think they’d like two children do)…I really do believe, like you’ve so eloquently expressed, that whatever age gap happens if the family nurture is there it’ll be the ‘right’ age gap. Big and little gaps have their challenges and benefits whatever they are. Thank you for sharing this. I’m over from…just going back to check where I’m from…yes that’s it…the lovely #familyfun!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) says:

    What a beautiful post. I don’t think there really is such a thing as the perfect age gap – there is a big gap between me and my twin and our older siblings and we are all still close. My twin sister’s children are 7 and 5 years old than my eldest and the four cousins have an incredibly close bond. My nieces love to play with my children and look after them and my girls in turn look up to their big cousins and adore them. I’m so glad that your big girl is such a wonderful big sister and that there is such a beautiful bond between her and her little brother. Thank you for linking up to #FamilyFun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. To Arizona......and beyond says:

    This is such a sweet post, I’m not sure there is such a thing as a perfect age gap? It very much depends on temperament of the children and how you handle the situation, I believe? It sounds like you’re doing an amazing job, congratulations! #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  7. madelinelittlejohns says:

    I think no matter what age gap you have, there are good things and bad things about it! Sounds like the gap you’ve got will work out great! x #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  8. justsayingmum says:

    oh this is a beautiful post. I love this sentence too much ‘I slowly began to realise that my daughter was the reason I needed to get better, to focus on the child that I already had, not the one that I had lost.’ So important to focus on what needs focusing on however hard that may be – well done you, you lovely mummy you! Gorgeous that they are so close. My sister has a 6 year age gap between her 2 and the little one idolises her big brother – it’s beautiful to see. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah - To Maternity and Beyond says:

      Oh that’s lovely, I imagine that my little boy will probably idolise his big sister as they get older. I also fully expect him to annoy the sh*t out of her when she’s a teen, and for him to get miffed with having a second ‘mum’ at times, but hopefully the bond will still be there! Than you for reading and commenting x

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Katy - Hot Pink Wellingtons says:

    Thank you for sharing this! I always wanted a small age gap, similar to me and my sister, but my little boy has whizzed past two now and we still don’t quite feel in that place. Add to that the fact that I’m not getting any younger and anticipate potential problems getting pregnant and there’s no way we’ll have a small age gap. But I do think we put far too much emphasis on it and worry about it far too much – whatever age gap you have is the perfect age gap. #KCACOLS

    Liked by 1 person

  10. An imperfect Mum (@animperfectmum) says:

    I am so pleased that you got your happy ending. Yours – not someone else’s ideal. Your age gap is perfect. I know that this is something friends have agonised over but as a mum who experienced two miscarriages between my boys the age gap became less important and just getting my beautiful boy was all I wanted. I can’t imagine how hard it must have been to go through an ectopic pregnancy! It is funny how our priorities change. TY for linking up to #FamilyFun 🎉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. babiesbiscuitsandbooze says:

    What a beautiful post. You have certainly been through some ups and downs but your family sounds perfect, I felt quite emotional reading about how sweet your little girl was with the pregnancy and her newborn brother. I totally agree that age gaps don’t matter, it really just depends on the family. I am the ‘surprise’ 4th child and my brother is 4 years older than me, one sister is 8 years and one is almost 10 years older than me. I played with my brother as kids but my eldest sister was more like a little mum! As adults we are all best friends and I really haven’t felt I missed out even a little bit from not having a sibling any closer in age to me. I have friends whose siblings are within a year or two of them and they’ve never got on: you just can’t predict it! I am so glad you got your happy ending. #familyfun

    Liked by 1 person

  12. A Moment with Franca says:

    Ah I read this post and I felt like you were telling my story in a way lol My girls have a 4 year gap. I always wanted to have a 3 year gap but also things didn’t work out for us as it took us more than 1 year to get pregnant again. It was strange as with my first daughter I got pregnant very quickly. So when I was pregnant for the second time my eldest daughter was ready to start school. There were lots of changes for her that year but it is true that the caring is completely different. She does everything for her little sister: changes her nappies, feeds her, helps with the bath, changes her clothes etc. It is amazing. But at the same time I have to be very careful and need supervision and she is still a child anyway. She turned 6 today and I can’ believe how great big sister she is! 🙂 So yes I agree with you, the age gap is not important at all. Thanks so much for sharing this at #KCACOLS. It is great to have you back this week, I hope to see you again on Sunday, 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah - To Maternity and Beyond says:

      So true, they act so responsibly at times that it’s hard to remember that they are still only young too! Our big girls sound very similar. Mine started school in September and she’s grown up so much in just a few months. I hope your daughter had a lovely birthday. I will definitely be back at #KCACOLS, if not this week then very soon and I’ll try not to be last minute next time! x

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Babies and Balderdash says:

    We deliberated too and it happened they are 3yrs apart. But we’re so thankful to have two healthy children and you’re right it doesn’t matter about the age gap as long as they are healthy and happy what more could you ask for xx

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Tracey @ One Frazzled Mum says:

    It looks like they have an amazing relationship. My sister has an 8 year gap and their relationship so far, now 11 and 3 is amazing it’s so nice to see #kcacols

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah - To Maternity and Beyond says:

      Seems typical for anyone with one child to get asked that constantly! The assumptions people make. Now people say to us ‘one of each, all done now then?’ We are but not because number two is a boy! I’m sure if we’d had a girl we’d be constantly asked if we’re going to try for a boy next. You can’t win! Thanks for taking time to read and comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This Mum's Life says:

    Oh this is just so beautiful… I was crying a little, because the relationship between your children is just incredible. Your son calling for your daughter when he wakes up in the morning, and being so excited to see her all the time, it’s just amazing!! My heart also really went out to you for the troubles you’d experienced between the two children-I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like for you. I’ve got 14 months between my children, and it has actually been less than optimal…! The eldest has never appeared to accept the littlest, and when he was born, I was constantly preventing him from hurting him-it was a real problem. Now all they do is fight, and have no relationship at all-I don’t know if that’s because they’re too close in age, or whether they’re just so different in personality and it would’ve been like that anyway!! I always assumed they’d be the best of friends, but there’s no love lost at all! I’m crossing my fingers for change!!
    #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah - To Maternity and Beyond says:

      Aw. I’m sure they will start to appreciate each other more as they get older. As many commenters have pointed out there are so many positives and negatives to bigger and smaller age gaps but in the end all we can do is try to encourage siblings (whatever the gap) to be close while still respecting their individuality as well. Thank you for reading, and commenting, and of course hosting again! S x

      Like

  16. Siena Says says:

    Aw loved this! It’s funny how plans don’t always turn out how we expect. We started trying for number 2 when Grace was 3.5. Siena finally turned up when Grace was 8.5! It has turned out brilliantly. Siena worships the ground Grace walks on and in turn Grace is like a second mummy. It does seem strange that when Siena starts high school, Grace will hopefully be at uni or working!
    It sounds like your two have a lovely relationship xx

    #bigpinklink

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sophie says:

    Lovely blog. I am currently struggling with secondary infertility and my son is 6yrs old, I’ve been trying to have another for over 3 yrs and have also had an ectopic pregnancy which was so hard! One of the hardest things for me is the age gap and feeling guilty that he is on his own, so it’s so good to read positive things about large age gaps. Thank you xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sarah - To Maternity and Beyond says:

      Hi Sophie – thank you for reading and your lovely comment. It’s tough isn’t it. Stay strong and try to stop feeling guilty about something you can’t control. I know that isn’t easy, I’ve been there! I wish you all the positivity in the world x x

      Like

  18. theirishbabyfairy says:

    Great read Sarah. Your two children sound like they’ll be great pals in years to come. We also struggled to conceive first baby and now we have him and I’m already wondering if we’ll be lucky enough to have another miracle even though no. 1 is only 3 months. Maybe I’m a bit delirious with sleep deprivation!

    Liked by 1 person

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