Our first daughter was just 6 months old when we found out we were pregnant again. We were so excited! My husband and I had discussed wanting to have children close in age, and really liked the idea of going through phases in big heaps, instead of having to start over. (ie. Once we're done with the diaper phase, I don't ever need to see one again!) I get that this family planning strategy may not work or be ideal for everyone, but it was for us. We were finally in a groove and had designed the rest of our lives around our newborn baby, and set ourselves up to be able to easily bring other children into the mix. After a very traumatic first birth experience, my OB was shocked during my 6-week post-op visit when I inquired about safely timing the second pregnancy. He gave me the typical shpiel about waiting at least one year for my body to recover, yada yada... but I explained where my head was at, how I'm not exactly a spring chicken over here in my 30s, and I am honestly more afraid of the consequences of waiting too long and having trouble getting pregnant again than I am about not waiting long enough and having a more challenging recovery. "Off the record" he then told me he and his wife had all their 4 kids closer in age than is recommended too, and to just please wait at least 6 months. I obliged.
I waited the standard 3 months before announcing that we were expecting again publicly, and was met with somewhat of a mixed response from family and friends. To my surprise, most people thought it was an accident. An accident? Have you met me or my husband? We are some of the most assertive, "Type A" humans on planet Earth. You really think I would allow myself to be "surprised" by a pregnancy? That's a hard no, people. I couldn't figure out whether I was offended by the response because it was being made out of an incorrect judgement about us, or if it was really more of a display of the insecurity of others projecting on our situation. Maybe a mix of the two. Even my own grandmother's initial reaction was that it was too soon, babies are hard, and "why didn't I get my tubes tied." It was BIZARRE. Anyway, all that to say, don't let anyone tell you how to feel. People will always have their own questions and concerns as it relates to what they personally could or couldn't handle, but it's not their life, it's yours. I tried to keep this frame of mind for the next 6 months while the babe finished cooking. And 14 months later, our second daughter was born.
If you've had a child before, you know the first 4-6 weeks are GNARLY. We definitely had our fair share of "what have we dones" followed by the cries of "how does anyone do this" at 3am; the second go around isn't quite easier, outside of the fact that you have some sort of system down from the first. And we still had a baby that was barely walking, and needed us for everything. We have a lot of loving family and friends nearby, but are not the types of people that like to call on others for help, so we seldom did. That may be the only thing I would change if I could do it again. There's no reason to carry such a heavy load on your own, if you have people around you that can and want to contribute to making that first month a little bit easier.
But the newborn period came and went like a flash, and the bond I witnessed between my two kids was so special. My oldest being so young, still understood that this was a new little member of our family and adored her. A literal baby trying to help care for a baby... it was equal parts hysterical and heartwarming. And forget about us, we didn't exist when big sister was around. It was the beginning of a sibling bond that I hope lasts them forever.
During the seasons that followed, things seemed to get easier every day. And that's around the time my husband and I realized that we may have cracked a bit of a cheat code over here. Everything we did with our first daughter, we weren't needing to do all over again. We both spent so much time playing and entertaining, but now they were doing that with each other. Literal built-in playmates as babies. It was so cool! It also gave us a little more time back to do things we needed to do. My youngest learns so much about life and how things work from admiring her big sister, and my oldest is constantly learning and taking on more responsibility, helping with everything from feeding, to bringing her toys, and soothing her when she cries.
The other unexpected development was regarding sleep. Everyone fear-mongered me about having them sleep in the same room... until I realized that all of the people doing so never actually went through this themselves. In fact, all of the people all along that offered pessimistic (and often unsolicited) feedback about having kids so close in age never even experienced the same thing with their own kids, that were either many, many years apart, or didn't even have more than one at all! So why was I even listening to them or letting it worry me? A physical therapist I was working with at the time offered really sound advice, as someone with 3 kids and two the same spacing as mine. She said bunking her kids together early was the best thing she did and encouraged me to do the same. As soon as my youngest was sleeping through the night, I moved her into the same nursery with two cribs across the room from each other. They slept like angels from night one, and to my surprise, my oldest actually started sleeping better and more calmly than she ever had before. Looking back, I wonder if she maybe just felt lonely in the room by herself. All of the crying and fussiness subsided once her sister moved in. To this day, they are the best buddies in there, sleeping soundly every single night (I have literally not had to go in there a single time in almost a year now) and when awake, talking to each other, singing, and playing. I can't believe I almost let people talk me out of what has been the greatest choice we made in that regard.
So here I am writing this to you with a now 2-year-old and almost 1-year-old, and I wouldn't change a thing about having babies back to back. We have saved so much money on baby equipment, clothes, toys, supplies... even food! My girls are already the best of friends and enjoy experiencing life together, as do we as their parents. I also have found I've become a much more calm and flexible person as a mom of two under two. From being someone pretty admittedly high-strung at times, it really forces you to always keep things in perspective and become comfortable going with the flow. It's been really good for me, and for my husband, too. I was surprised to find that two isn't actually "double" the work as I was afraid it might be; it's sort of like you just get your life adjusted for kids and then "what's another one?" At least that's how I feel today. It's comforting to know as they grow up, they will always have each other. They'll be able to participate in activities together, and all aspects of learning throughout life, as they are so close in age.
There's certainly no "right way" to space out children's ages, as it's so subjective to the specific conditions and needs of the household and family, but for us, this works. And it works great. If having a big family feels right for you, and having them closer than "everyone else thinks" you should is something you instinctively feel makes sense, then I think you should follow your heart and do just that. I have no regrets and only wonderful things to share on this journey so far, with more to report as time goes on I'm sure! And sorry Grandma, these tubes aren't getting tied just yet. ;)
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[If you have any questions about life with two-under-two, feel free to DM me on IG anytime @XtineElise! I'm an open book, so any way I can help a fellow parent or parent-to-be, it's my pleasure! xo]