Please mind the gap – The truth about having two babies close together

Sasha May 12 12 112 IMG_1772

Even when I was pregnant with Freddie, Adam and I knew we wanted a fairly close age gap between our kids, maybe about 2 years. I certainly didn’t want a big gap like I had between my brothers (who are 8 and 10 years older), but even so, we both admit to being a little horrified to discover I was pregnant again when F was 5 1/2 months (I cried, lots!). Our new baby would be due 14 1/2 months after Freddie was born.

However, as time went on and my pregnancy progressed, we didn’t actually have that much time to be worried, as we were in the middle of renovating our new house, moving out of our flat, then moving into Adam’s parents in the meantime. I guess I was slightly nervous, as people (including strangers) kept telling me such a close gap was harder than twins, as one of your babies can already move and knows it’s own mind!

The big thing about being pregnant when you still have a non-walking baby to look after is the fact it really does put a huge strain on your already weary body. Big time. I had assumed (I have no idea why) that Freddie would be walking by 12 months, and when that milestone came and went, and my bump got bigger and bigger, lugging him around everywhere became a literal pain. Indeed lifting him into the car seat felt like I was on-par with a World’s Strongest Man contestant, about to lift a 2-ton barrel. My back was knackered, and still is to be honest from the constant lifting and carrying. He finally deciding to get toddling at 14 months, when I was nearly 9 months pregnant, so that gave a little bit of respite, albeit not much. Parking was a bloody nightmare space-wise, what with trying to squeeze my bump AND lift a baby into the car- not the most elegant of maneuvers!

When d-day came and Sasha made an appearance, it didn’t turn out to be quite as bad as I thought, although I do admit having a little weep to myself the day before Adam went back to work after his two weeks paternity leave- I was this close to rugby-tackling him to the floor and wailing “please don’t leeeeave me!”. I had no idea how I would cope on my own with the two of them, let alone get out of the house. Routine, was, and still is, my saviour. I know it doesn’t work for everyone and not everyone agrees with it, but I would’ve got nuts without a rough idea of when to put Sasha down for a sleep, and when she would feed. I also admire anyone who can get going with breastfeeding newborn offspring no 2, when an older baby/tiny toddler has no patience and no concept of the words “wait a minute please” and tries to clamber on your lap the moment your boob breathes air.

On the plus-side, having such a small age gap has meant that we have had no jealously issues with Freddie, as as far as he can remember Sasha has always been there. We also bought a soft doll from Ikea in the run up to Sasha’a arrival and I spent time clutching this to me when we read stories or I was sitting on the floor playing with F, so he was used to ‘baby’ being around. Since newborn Sasha slept most of the time and did sweet FA when she first born, the doll and her were fairly interchangeable!

Now, nearly two years on, they both have very strong personalities, but are very different characters, which has meant that things are certainly interesting. 50% of the time they get on really well, play nicely together, and rolling around the floor together giggling, in a happy, yet slightly deranged way. The other 50% of the time is spent wailing at each other, arguing over toys, and rolling around the floor together in an angry and slightly deranged way.

The biggest change for me as a person is that I am so, SO much more tired. Not in a sleep-deprivation way (they are both fairly good sleepers, praise the lord), but in a physical way. As I mentioned earlier, my back is still struggling from all that earlier humping around. (Note to self: do not walk the longish walk to the shops with toddler on reins and baby in sling, and expect toddler to be happy to walk all the way back without having a meltdown and wailing “Caaaaaarrrry!”. Having to carry two any sort of distance will do your back in. Bring buggy ALWAYS).  Things are better now, but in the early days, in the evening ,all I wanted to do was collapse in front of the telly. On the plus side I sleep like a baby. NOTHING can keep me awake at night these days!

I also never believed celebs who said that they lost their baby weight from “running around after my baby”, but I can verify that this is true. Not a stealth boast, but I am a stone lighter now after popping out these two cherubs than I was before, as I literally. don’t. stop. That takes it’s toll mentally too. Apart from that tiny lunchtime nap window, I always have someone small demanding something- carrying, feeding, cuddling (good), bum wiping (bad), dressing, playing and “Down mummy, PLEASE now!”. It is exhausting. Adam is very hands-on, but the odd day when I have only one of them it feels like a breeze and the logistics of going somewhere are so much easier. With two you pack so much stuff that i’m sure soldiers heading off for a 6 month tour of Afghanistan pack less than I do for a day out!

Anyway, I digress, I am moaning too much. When I see them make each other laugh and start to interact with each other, it is worth all the hard work.

There are no guarantees but I really hope they grow up to be really close and look out for each other.

It is hard work, but looking at these two, we feel like the luckiest people in the world.

Cons of a small age gap:

  • No time to yourself. Like, none.
  • Not being able to do anything in peace, eat lunch, wee/poo etc. Someone always wants a piece of you.
  • Two words: YOUR BACK. Screwed. Aim to make looking after it a priority, otherwise you’ll end up like me.
  • The tiredness, oh the tiredness.
  • Expense- the cost of nappies was crippling, Have tried cheaper brands but none are as good as Pampers as all seem to leak, especially at night.
  • The amount of washing that mounts up, what with a messy toddler, puking baby, bibs, muslins, is UNREAL.
  • They might hate each other/fight all the time/argue over toys. Not much anyone can do about that for now though.
  • Going anywhere is a military operation. Being organised is CRUCIAL to the successful outcome of any given day.
  • Bye bye sex life!

Pros of a small age gap:

  • You’re both still in the ‘baby’ zone – used to sleepless nights, nappies, being vommed on. Hey, what’s another one thrown into the mix?
  • They will hopefully both want to play with the same things as they get bigger/play the same games. This is also a con (see toy sharing/snatching).
  • You can go on a far flung holiday and only have to pay for you and your partner/husband as BOTH your kids travel free AKA Dream on (our window for this expired 31st Jan 2013, that trip to St Lucia never happened!)
  • They will keep each other amused as they get bigger (this is starting to happen, hurrah!).
  • You get daily kudos from friends/strangers who say “wow, how do you manage?!” and lots of confidence boosting pats on the back.
  • Baby weight (see above post). Lots of people saying “wow, you look great for having two kids so close together!”. Again, great confidence boost, but you fail to add that you don’t always get a chance to eat lunch, or sit down (see cons).
  • That heartwarming feeling when they smile at each other and make each other laugh, and when Freddie goes in for a Sasha-squashing cuddle. Best.thing.ever.

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