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A toddler + a newborn = recipe for disaster?

(c) Flickr user tea_time, CC Licensed

We've been thinking about child spacing a lot recently. Not because there's anything we can do about it at this point, being 24 weeks pregnant and all, but more just wondering whether we've done the "right" thing or whether we'll regret Poppy and Boo being this close together (or this far apart, depending on your personal view).

When Boo arrives in February, Poppy will be about 2 years and 4 months old. Originally, we were planning for 2.5-3 years between them, but we'll end up being just shy of that. Really, I was hoping for three years, but my husband thought two years more ideal, so it's sort of a happy median in the end.

We've been talking to a lot of people about spacing recently, mostly because I'm terrified of having a toddler + a newborn + no family nearby + a husband with crummy vacation time (and no paternity leave, of course). Opinions predictably fall across the spectrum.

While some people argue that several years between children (say, 3 or more) is easier on the parents initially, those same parents sometimes regret that their children aren't closer in age once those difficult first years pass. On the other side, we know several people with kids close together (2 years or less) and while they seem to struggle mightily the first couple of years and essentially drop from public view altogether, they are often glad they got it done "all at once" and that the kids are close together in age once they reach Big Kid territory (i.e. school-age and beyond).

Obviously we chose to go the "closer" route and most days I think we've made the right choice for our family. But then I go and do dumb things like look back at Poppy's Eat, Sleep, & Poop Journal and nearly have a heart attack.

Two years ago today, just the breastfeeding log alone looked like this: 12:09 a.m., 1:30 a.m., 2:45 a.m., 3:22 a.m., 4:56 a.m., 7:17 a.m., 9:10 a.m., 10:25 a.m., 10:43 a.m., 11:09 a.m., 12:22 p.m., 4:10 p.m., 5:10 p.m., 6:55 p.m., [forgot to take notes, probably due to sleep deprivation]; 10:06 p.m., 11:28 p.m., 11:56 p.m.

Granted, she was just three days old, my mature milk hadn't come in yet, AND several of those feedings have notations next to them that say things like "2 minutes - crap attempt" BUT STILL.

It makes me think we should've waited 10 years to have our next child. Or maybe never.

Fortunately, one comment about child spacing has stuck with me in recent weeks, and although I can't remember who said it to me, I can't get it out of my mind. This parent told me that they were glad they'd had their children close enough together that the oldest child would never remember a time before their younger sibling existed. At first, I thought that was a little sad -- after all, our first two years with Poppy and Poppy alone have been monumental for us and so very special. But then I thought about it again and realized the beauty in it.

Poppy will never know a family that isn't her whole family. She'll never remember a time when it was just her and mom and dad, before Boo showed up and changed things. And even if a third child joins the family down the road, she will have some memories without him or her, but not many if we repeat this spacing again.

This is what I think about now when I get scared about my future as a mother of two and it always makes me feel a little bit better. As far as the kids are concerned, our family's life is going to be cleanly divided into BC (before children) and AC (after children). I can live with that.

If you have more than one child, how are they spaced? Was this your ideal or did you have other plans in mind? If you did it all again, would you change anything about it?

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Follow Jo on Twitter at @outtajo or visit her personal blog, Outta Jo, Onto You.

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