Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Fools Rush In (or, Why Our Kids Will Be Born So Close In Age)

A friend online asked the following question:
Do you think it will be ok to have two very small ones? Do you worry at all about your newborn getting enough attention, etc, given there will be a very small big sister in the picture?

To preface, this answer is theoretical since the second kid is still in utero. I have, however, in my usual thorough (obsessive) style, read a great deal, talked to many friends w/ 2 kids, some with twins, to paint the most accurate picture of what we are likely going to experience. It would be interesting to hear from others with kids close in age about their experiences. (If it is really awful, don't comment, ok?)

Having 2 small kids close in age will be challenging. You skip or minimize some conflicts (initial jealousy of elder kid, kids not playing well together) and exacerbate other problems (how do you feed/ soothe/ diaper/ etc. TWO at ONE TIME?) For me, the key issues boiled down to one main and 6 sub issues.

My main concern: it took us about 4 years and around $20k out of pocket to get a live baby with Homestead Mama delivering. I am a little older now than she was when she started – if we wait until Pequita is 18 months or so before I start trying, and I have trouble… I was unwilling to let my eggs get older. I wanted lots of time to keep trying, if time is what it took.

Secondary issues:
1. How do we feel about having all our family at once? Will there be enough time for each kid separately?
2. Do we physically have room/ resources for 2 at once?
3. Can one of us be a SAHM / can we afford daycare for 2 at once?
4. How strong is the relationship between partners – can we manage high stress situations, emergencies on little to no sleep?
5. Do we have a local support system in place for the help we WILL need?
6. Is there a cute and well-designed stroller for 2 very young kids so we are excited to leave the house en famille?

Below will surely be TMI, but I have a few minutes, so here goes. For us, the answers were as follows:

1. We have always planned on each having one kid, for a total of two. (Here’s where you laugh at the concept of planning anything to do with fertility.) Since I want the option of staying home with them when they are young, clumping them together means I am out of the work force for less time. It means that home life will be crazy for a while. The house will be messy until the kids are old enough to be put to work. The pets might get a bit less attention (see post below). Saving for college would take on a different structure.
The kids would be really close developmentally, socially and emotionally (hopefully). They’d share a bedroom until they hit pre-puberty and hated each other (or a little younger, maybe, if they aren’t the same sex). We’d get through stages a bit faster. We already have a pack mentality in our house (with 3 dogs, 2 cats, 4 parrots) and fly by the seat of our pants a lot. We are comfortable with minimal scheduling & winging it a lot. Homestead Mama and I have very different strengths, and feel like we’ll balance out well for the kids. We’ll need to make sure that each kid gets regular time alone w/ each mom, and with both moms together, but have the support system to manage that.

2. We’re mostly all set w/ space & resources. We never turn down an offer of hand-me-down clothing or equipment. Anything we can’t use (or refuse to dress our kid in - there’s some UGLY stuff out there) we gave away to others who might use it or we trade it in for store credit at the local kids used clothing/supplies store.

3. I have always wanted to be a SAHM / WAHM while my kids were young. We bought a house that we could afford on one paycheck with this in mind. Homestead Mama makes more than I do, and wants to keep working = perfect. We could also afford, in our small town, to put them both in daycare if we need to. Both of our jobs allow for the other partner to be added to a family health insurance plan, no small feat in this country.

4. In our short 7 years together, Homestead Mama and I have gutted & renovated a house together, bought a rental house & found tenants, and made it through 3+ years of (in)fertility appointments, treatments and surgeries during which our lives, vacation schedules, and finances were hijacked. We use therapy as a tool when we need it, and generally just get along well & compliment each other’s personalities. We haven’t crashed yet, and one of us always manages to offer fresh hands for the baby (dog, cordless drill) when the other is ready to explode.

5. We are very lucky & live in a very gay-friendly town. While we have no family in town, we have a great couple across the street who are itching to get their hands on the kid anytime we are willing to hand her over. (They gave us the felted strawberry hat seen in earlier posts.) We have a friend* with a flexible student schedule and no kids of her own who comes over 2 – 3 times per week to love on Pequita while we clean, sleep, or have a date. We have a large enough group of friends w/ young kids who are available for playgroups, babysitting, pediatrician advice, 3am calls about odd rashes, etc. Also, my parents are retired, and want to come for a week-long visit every 6 weeks but are also able to come for emergencies (like if (when) my back goes out again and we have 2 young babies). All this has taken work to create/maintain, but is worth it on so many levels.

6. Why yes, there is! Phil & Ted’s E3 with doubles seat. And it comes in orange!
And so here we are. Pequita is 4 months old and I'm 21w1d, due June 14th. We've made our bed and are now just trying to find time to have a nap in it.

*This friend pointed out that she is much more than I described. She will heretofore be referred to as "Hottie Friend, a.k.a. Pequita's Fairy Godmother".

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