According to research, getting pregnant within six months of giving birth can add risks to both the fetus and the mother. This includes low birth weight, preterm labor, congenital disorders, and maternal anemia.
Soon after giving birth to our first son, I felt pressured to go on some type of contraception. Hubby and I opted not to, because due to my age, we wanted the choice to try for another baby a few months after giving birth to our first. If I had more time, we likely would have spaced our babies apart. But we didn’t want to wait – and I’m glad we didn’t!
Our boys are 15 months apart and while there were definitely challenges with having two under two (lots of diapers, for one) none of the risks that “research” told me would happen, came to pass. In fact, our second guy was full term (just like his older brother), weighed more than our first baby, and I was able to give birth to him vaginally, and unmedicated, with absolutely no complications. Moreover, he latched well, and I had an oversupply of milk for him.
This is all to say: none of us are statistics. All of the healthy choices I made for years – daily exercise, forsaking alcohol, supplementing consistently, and managing my stress – I believe paid off in dividends in both of my pregnancies. I am blessed and grateful that I had such healthy, wonderful pregnancies, and that our boys are developing well and are growing in leaps and bounds. I do believe we have a say in how our pregnancies are going to be, whether we are 40 years old or younger.
Here is the truth of my experience having babies so close together:
- Grief for our firstborn. I wrote about this in another post and boy did it hit me hard! I didn’t realize how sad I would feel bringing another baby into our family, and how sad I was that our firstborn was no longer our only child. I spoke to my midwife and friends who said this is a very normal part of the process, but it was still very hard. I was completely overwhelmed by how agonizing this feeling was (there is still a lullaby that we played during that time that will bring me to tears now!)
- Providing breast milk for both. This was one of the greatest benefits of having our babies so close together! My breast milk dried up when our first son was 8 months old (and I was two months pregnant.) I felt guilty that I wasn’t able to provide milk for him for an entire year, but thankfully due to oversupply (I was producing more than 40 ounces daily for our second guy) I was able to give him a whopping 8-ounce bottle of breast milk every day for several months.
- Making sure the older one doesn’t hit the little one. I’ll be honest, this is something we still struggle with. When our second son was newborn, we never left him alone with our then-toddler. Of course we guided our first on how to interact with his baby brother, but you know, brain development and all that. He just doesn’t seem to understand. This is definitely the greatest source of stress for both myself and hubby (and if anyone has any tips, please drop them in the comments below!)
- Sleep stuff. Everyone always makes a big hullabaloo over the lack of sleep that is part and parcel of parenthood. It is true, there were struggles with having a newborn and toddler (who was waking up at 5:30 at one time we had our second!) But in my experience, having a partner who is hands-on and involved, made all of this easier. Shortly before our second guy was born, we moved our older son’s crib to the room adjacent to ours so he would be settled into sleeping in his own room before our other baby arrived. And it worked out great!
What’s been your experience if you’ve had your babies close together? Drop in the comments below!