5 Things to Expect When You Have Babies 10 Years Apart
If you had asked me when I was younger how I thought my family would look, I probably would have given you an answer along the lines of hoping that all of my children would be born close together, I would be done having kids at a relatively young age, and I would enjoy the chaos of close children and an empty nest with my husband. But what I probably would not have told you was that I really, really wanted to have kids over 10 years apart. Because honestly, where's the fun in that?
And yet, dear reader, that's exactly where I'm at today.
I am, in fact, looking at not just a decade between children, but over 10 years — a full 11 years apart between what will be my youngest child and my oldest. In a lot of ways, I'm terrified of all that could go wrong with that scenario: Will my oldest feel left out? Will my older children feel like I ditched them to take care of a new baby? Will I be able to handle the needs of older kids learning to navigate middle school and junior high and a newborn? And on no sleep? And OMG — nothing is going to fit me for another year or so after I pop this kid out, so what on earth will I wear to all those soccer games I'm going to have to attend?
The truth is, I could focus on all of the hundreds of ways this feels like a disaster, or I could simply accept the reality of what it is: that when you have kids a decade apart, somethings are going to be different. And that's OK. It doesn't necessarily mean it's all bad, or it's all sunshine and roses, but just that it is different. I still have a few months to go before I officially become a mother to kids spanning a decade, but so far, here's what I've come to realize to expect when having a large age gap in pregnancies:
You don't always get a choice
Here's the thing: Would I have chosen to have such a large age gap between my kids? Probably not. But we don't always get a choice into what our families look like and that's a reality. Maybe Instagram or social media have influenced our views of what the perfect family looks like, but the reality of getting those families is a lot messier. I had two miscarriages, chemical pregnancies, and many months of unsuccessful tries before this pregnancy and that's just the way it worked out. In my original “plan,” all of my kids were spaced two years apart and that was that. But this is what the plan actually worked out to be.
You will be scared
Instead of wishing my emotions away, or trying to pretend that everything is hunky-dory, I've learned to just accept that having pregnancies this far apart will come with a lot of new-to-me emotions. And I'm being open and honest about them. Yup, I'm scared. Yup, I don't know if this was the right thing to do, and yup, I have no idea how I'll juggle it all. That's my truth.
Your “big” kids will be a huge part of your pregnancy
One of the things I missed out on before, having pregnancies back-to-back, was really having any sibling involvement in my pregnancies. I had my first four kids in six years, so the next oldest child up was only turning 2 when the new baby came, which meant that sure, the kid was excited and wanted to hold the baby and kiss the baby, but that was about it. They were all much too young to really get excited during my pregnancy or be a big part of preparing.
This time around though? It's completely different. My big kids are absolutely thrilled. They ask me how the baby is doing every day, they have created elaborate name lists, they want to bring cupcakes to school when we find out the gender, and they have even started making room preparations for when the baby comes. They are 100% in it this time and it's almost so surprising to me how fun it can be to have big kids be a part of all the preparations.
You will actually get some help
I mean, what is this world? In my first trimester, when I could, quite literally, barely move my head without puking, my kids were rock stars. They entertained themselves, fixed their own snacks, and learned to chip in around the house more. And now, they know when I'm feeling nauseous and regularly ask to help me do things like the laundry and dishes. What is even happening?? It's hitting me that with some big helpers around, I might actually get to pee or shower once this baby comes!
You will be fine
On the days that I am doubting everything and wondering if I have possibly ruined all of my kids' lives by adding one more to our family, all it takes is one quick look at the fridge, where my oldest child has pinned up a family portrait–complete with a new baby in my arms–and I realize that love, however messy, exhausting, and complicated it is, is always worth it.
Anyone else have big age gaps between their kids? Tell me what else I should expect!