Everyone’s experience with having children no matter what your age gap, is going to be totally different. This is what I went through, what my experience was and what I learnt from it..
When my first daughter turned one I really thought things were going well, I was in good health and my husband and I felt ready for another baby. After all there is no turning back we had adjusted and embraced our new family life.
My daughter had been prone to early rising on and off but right around the time I fell pregnant she decided to commit to early rising and it was go time at 5am every morning. For me the hardest part of the entire experience of having a child up till the age of two is the first trimester (and last two weeks is pretty great too 😬). I felt a deep deep sense of exhaustion and desperation in general. Knowing I needed to care for my one year old and I couldn’t properly rest and recover was mentally part of the challenge. I was also suffering from chronic migraine throughout the whole pregnancy. With the early rising and my health I found the pregnancy extremely difficult with a one year old. I did manage to resolve the early rising by second trimester however problems later arose in my third trimester. In fact it gets worse yet, when three weeks prior to the delivery date my daughter was waking at 2, 3 ,4am every night. She hadn’t done that really since she was three months old. I became so anxious about it that I would wake regardless of whether she woke early or not. I’d wake at 1am and wait for her to wait up. I had insomnia for the last three weeks of my pregnancy and on the night before the C-Section I had 3 hours sleep, like all the nights before that. You can imagine how I coped during the surgery, my body was not in the best shape to start with! I was just in survival mode to get through it. I now fear any future pregnancy after this last experience but I did learn from it and therefore next time if there is a next time, I should be able to manage better. The good news is the pregnancy was the worst part and from then on things have got better and better.
Siblings meeting and their adjustment
My daughter was 20 months when the baby arrived. She was really a bit too young to be interested in babies yet and I wasn’t really able to tell her, “mummy has a baby in her belly” and for her to fully understand that. Or that’s what I thought. In fact, now my toddler is 2, when she gets a full belly of milk and she sticks it out all fat, she says, “mumma” and points to her belly. She has also said, “baby” and pointed to my belly a couple of times. Now that she can talk more she is communicating that she understood what was going on. That amazes me I honestly thought she had no clue and that she thought mums just had huge bellies and thought nothing more of it! When she came in to meet the baby she was a bit sheepish and shy. She had a look and seemed happy enough. I made sure I wasn’t holding the baby when she got to the hospital and I gave her a little cuddle before she went of with dad. When we got home I let her see me with the baby gradually and built up to me breastfeeding in front of her after a few days.. It was fine. I actually found that my toddler was happier and more relaxed with the baby in the house. I put this down to the fact that I was sitting on the ground, or on the bed, or the couch breastfeeding endlessly… and she enjoyed me just sitting with her. She would play around me or read a book next to me. I can be a bit of a manic and I usually would be dashing around the house cleaning or cooking instead so I think she enjoyed the calm.
Sleeping arrangements and will the baby wake the toddler
Yes. Period. Sigh… Some of you probably have heavier sleeping toddlers than I do. It really was only several nights that my toddler woke before I found a solution. I had always played baby lullaby music in my toddlers room similar to relaxing piano music but it wasn’t enough to mask the sound of the babies cries. I switched to rain sounds on pretty much the loudest volume and she since hasn’t woken. So easily resolved really. The girls have their bedrooms right next to each other. I put my babies in their own rooms from 4-6 weeks old because I just can’t sleep with their constant little noises. A baby monitor with video and volume by the bed is fine for me and that way i wont get up unnecessarily and interrupt their sleep for a feed, when they would have gone back to sleep otherwise. The rain sounds on load have been good for baby too to prevent the toddler waking baby during the day.
As mentioned above, my toddler enjoyed having me sit around a lot more than usual. She would laugh when seeing the baby latch on at first thinking what the hell is going on here! Then she would come up and kiss babies head while she fed and pat her back. Occassionally I would need to have the toddler on my knee and feed at the same time but it was usually manageable. It’s good to give the toddler a baby doll so she can feed her baby at the same time too.
The first few weeks when baby i found it easiest to have the toddler help you bath baby, or have her bath her own baby next to you. After the first month or so you can upgrade to this lifesaving Angelcare Bath Support. It is so good. I wish I had it for my first child actually. What it allows you to do is safely bath both children at the same time. Which is going to make life a lot easier if you can do that.
You can find the link for the bath support here: https://www.babybunting.com.au/anglecare-bath-support-pink.html
Getting out in the first three months sucks. It’s incredibly hard to find a time that your not feeding or toddler isn’t sleeping. I had to keep reattaching my baby onto my breast so because of that I wouldn’t feed in public. Which gave me a window of 1 hour to go out in the mornings. Getting out with two little ones is probably the most difficult part but it’s not that bad. Invest in a pram that is good for walking and running an has a big carry basket so you can get around on foot and skip the car altogether where possible. After the first three months feedings begin to space out a bit more and it becomes easier. Now my baby is four months and I have no problem going out I manage it quite well. Having the bag ready to go the night before is a big help. Get the drinks, snacks and whatever else ready so you can just grab and go.
I was lucky in that I had help with house keeping for the first month or so. My Mum and Nan would come and help each afternoon. Some people don’t have this luxury and that makes life harder. We do however run a business and my husband works over 70 hours every week. So I do everything within the house myself. Once baby turned three months things got easier and I make sure I do all the jobs whilst the kids are up, that way I have their lunch nap time to myself. Including the toddler in the jobs keeps her occupied and she will gradually learn how to do the jobs. The main thing is to do the floor and put a load of washing on whilst your toddler is having breakfast, and in the evening have the dishwasher run its cycle and try and have it emptied with a clean kitchen to wake up to ready to start your day. I always struggled to keep my house clean and tidy even when I was childless. I asked my Nanna whom is completely spotless in every way how she does it and she explained, “You see something that needs doing, you do it when you see it.” Never have the mind set I’ll do that later. It’s so much easier if you think like this. Of course you can’t do everything and lowering your expectations in some areas is essential when you have small children. Like keeping the main living room tidy but not worrying to much about rooms like the office or outdoor living spaces.
What I learnt and was the age gap a good idea
Sometimes you have to let things go and accept things the way they are and go with the flow of it, knowing that it will change. I definitely freak out less when going though a bad patch with a baby now, after having experienced it enough times you realise that its temporary, just get through it and move on.
Being a mother of one I think I was struggling to find the new me as a mother and I was extremely anxious about everything. Becoming a mother of two has made me feel happier with the new me. I feel it has defined me more as a mother and I am more confident in who I am. I also feel more fulfilled and there is a greater sense of family and the importance of my role in our family. There are certainly really hard days but I love what I do now. Mind you it helps to have something for yourself. I’d encourage anyoneooking after their young kids to start an Instagram account and upload photos of the activities you do with your kids etc. because it gives a greater satisfaction and feeling of achieving something when it is documented and seen and appreciated by other people. It’s an outlet and prevents you from feeling lonely in the work your doing as a mother, which includes often being stuck indoors by yourself with grumpy little people. It can be a very emotionally and physically hard job. Finding something like Instagram to connect with other likeminded mums does help.
As for the age gap, 20 months, I think it’s perfect. Any age gap is gong to have pros an cons.. Would I do anything different? No I’d do it all again because it has been worth it. Now I have two beautiful girls close in age and already my baby being four months I know it’s perfect for us. However I would do one thing different and that is to train the first baby to sleep in before getting pregnant. I learnt how to do this and will share in next post!
That’s my speech over. I hope it wasn’t too much rambling. Love to you all.