People keep telling me I’m brave when they hear I’m expecting baby Number Two. The more I hear the word, the less brave I feel. When a friend with twins said I was brave, I thought she was joking. Me, the brave one when she’s been raising two babies side by side for the past 18 months?
We really did think this through before springing to action stations in the marital bed. And yes, we considered the possible age gap between our babies and felt it was fine. As it happens, toddler Eliza will be 21 months when Number 2 makes an appearance in March – so just shy of two years old.
So am I missing something? Have I really thought this thing through properly? Should we maybe have waited until there was a more ‘reasonable’ age gap between our babies?
It seems there’s something ‘acceptable’ about waiting two years between having children. Anything earlier and a subsequent pregnancy can be regarded as a bit of a mistake – a nice mistake, but an error nonetheless. I’ve even had a handful of people give sympathetic looks and whistle 'sheeesh' noises when they hear my news. At least I have a bravery badge to hang on their pity!
I appreciate other factors are at play for parents as they family plan – work, money, relationships, age etc. I’m lucky we’re in a position I can be home with Eliza full time and hope to be for the first year of Number 2’s life too. So do these credentials stand up to the bravery test? What makes me any more courageous than a mum who waits five years for a second baby? Or is brave really just code for stupid?
Here’s the thing. We just didn’t know what Nature would throw at us. Husband N and I had been so incredibly – and unusually - lucky with our first pregnancy. I didn’t even know what an ovulation chart was, never had the pleasure of examining my cervical mucus and thought basal temperature was part of the heated balsamic vinegar family.
When I fell pregnant with Eliza, it just mercifully happened while we were on honeymoon. I couldn’t have dreamt it would happen again that easily for us second time around and things were of course different. I got a glimpse into another world then - one of calculators, red dots on calendars, browsing the internet for clues to symptoms and a sinking feeling at the end of a month. I say a glimpse because compared to what others go through, I know it was just that – a very brief glance at dashed hopes.
Then it happened. That stick said ‘pregnant’. Husband N being from non-excitable Scotsman stock refused to celebrate. As he was throughout my pregnancy with Eliza and into her birth, he remained quietly terrified of something going wrong. But something gave eventually with Number Two and I now have a husband who strokes my belly, chats to his growing baby and is possibly more excited about the arrival of his second child than I am.
For me, that’s the biggest change from Pregnancy One to Pregnancy Two and in plans for our second baby. Husband N and I are confident – we know we can do this. We take nothing for granted and know the risks, especially with the pregnancy, but we have an idea how it will run and have realistic expectations of child birth. I guess this has allowed Husband N to enjoy the pregnancy more this time around.
But most importantly of course, we know we can look after a vulnerable, newborn baby and nurture it into a happy, contented (for the most part...) little person. This is a seismic leap for a couple who didn’t bath their newborn in the first three weeks of her life because we were so terrified she’d drown.
So that knowledge gives us confidence and although it probably wasn’t the first thing on our minds as we got busy on the marital bed, it certainly layered the foundations for deciding to have a second baby in the first place.
It’s hard raising children of any age, for all kinds of different reasons. Maybe my view is rose-tinted but I can’t see having two, under two is going to throw up any greater challenges than siblings with wider age gaps. They’ll all be teenagers one day bringing a whole new meaning to the word ‘brave.’
So by all means call me brave - being the only person under 60 at a Kenny Rogers’ concert does deserve a badge of courage. Especially when your friends hear about it...
But brave for having two children under two? I think I’ve just been really lucky.