When should I have my first/next/last kid? That’s a question every future or current parent worries about at some point. There are many things to consider when spacing children, and there’s not a right or wrong answer. Every family is different!
My Original Plan
I always thought I’d have 5 or 6 kids kids neatly spaced with 2 year gaps. I could have chosen their spacing, but I forgot to include the two other parties involved in those decisions: my husband, and God.
Things seemed like they were going according to my “plan” when I had my first 2 babies 22 months apart. It was great! I fully expected to wait to try for a third when my second was a year old.
The First Surprise
Something shocking happened when our second baby reached 4 months of age. My husband and I both felt that it was time for another baby already. Needless to say, the idea terrified us. It seemed way too soon, and I had no idea how we were going to make it through. At the time, my husband had just started his first year of teaching and wasn’t making tons of money. We also lived in a cheap, run-down apartment.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was breastfeeding, so I didn’t get pregnant until #2 was 9 months old. I have my smallest gap, 18 1/2 months, here. I burned myself out a little during that first year. I felt that I’d never finish changing all the diapers or buckling little people into carseats. But then, all of a sudden, they all grew a little older and more independent. Their close ages are really fun now even though at first I felt completely overwhelmed.
Taking a Break
After my third, I knew I was going to need a break. Though I figured maybe spacing #3 and #4 by 2 1/2 years, I ended up waiting a little longer. I am glad for God’s timing here too. #4’s birth ended traumatically, and I also had to endure a surgery and recovery from an injured finger. Though I dealt with my first 2 pregnancies pretty well, by #3, I felt like I started falling apart both inside and out. I ended up with my largest age gap here, 3 years and 3 months.
The Second Surprise
Because of #4’s awful birth experience, I really wanted another 3 year gap so I could properly recover. I should have known better that that might not happen. #4 was 2 months old when my husband and I got that feeling to try again. This time, I was just as scared, even though I was reasonably sure that I wouldn’t get pregnant for a while. One thing that really gave me comfort was knowing that it’d probably be my last time being pregnant.
Sure enough, I got pregnant when #4 was 10 months old, which gave me a 19 month gap. It has worked out, but it was a really grueling pregnancy. I experienced nightmares all through the first trimester because of my last traumatic birth and never felt happy until I reached the second trimester. I suffered every minute of that pregnancy, but I survived one day at a time and tried my best to take care of myself and my family. When I had my 5th and last baby, I felt a great sense of peace, knowing that I’d never have to go through it again.
Not Only My Plan
I didn’t get my perfect 2-year gaps. I also didn’t get to have 6 kids. However, for my family, this was the right configuration. I can’t really complain about things “not working out” because they did come really close to what I expected. It was just 1,000X harder than I thought it’d be. I never knew how much I needed to rely on God when it came to bringing our children into the world.
It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about my family size or spacing. At some point, someone will be nosy and ask questions about it. My policy is to try not to react negatively to the comments. I don’t always feel like I have things under control, but I know I am following God’s plan for my family. I also know that for those who have experienced loss or other challenges along the way, families are forever!
2 thoughts on “Spacing Children: Whose Plan?”
Thank you for this brilliant, vulnerable testimony! We have an unplanned 8.5 yet have between our two children and I’m so glad to know God’s hand was in the timing and that He sustains me daily as a wife and mother, even and especially when I don’t have it together.
Thanks, Dani! And congratulations! I too am grateful for all the times God sustains me in my daily life. I definitely don’t have it all together either. 🙂