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Professionals, friends, family, fellow parents and even non-parents all have their opinions on when is the best time to have 'The Second Child', but really it all depends on you and your life. Every couple, every eldest child—every family is different.
Some women might decide that pregnancy, labour, birth and the postpartum period were such a breeze that they'll jump right back in and do it all over again within the first year of their first child's life. Other women might wait a little longer, some will wait even longer than that. Some women will wait a decade or more and some women will swear off sex altogether just to avoid ever having another child.
I am the first of my friends to become a mother—doing so for the first time at just seventeen. My daughter, Ellis, turned my whole world upside down. I'd lived in the same house all of my life, both of my parents right there whenever I wanted, and/or needed them. I didn't work, since I'd fallen pregnant in my gap-year after high school, and basically I had no responsibility other than feeding and cleaning myself. In the blink of an eye, I had my own home, I was living with a man I'd only ever had "sleepovers" with, and there was this tiny, fragile human being relying on me for every single thing. Sure, we experienced the usual hiccups that tend to come with so many firsts all at once, but we made it through and life couldn't really have been much more perfect. Then, friends and family started to ask the dreaded question; "So, when's the next one?"
The Next One, was a lot to think about once the idea was planted in our heads to grow during day dreams and conversations about the future for our family. We decided that it would be nice for Ellis to have a Forever Friend, and hey, maybe we'd have a boy this time around and we could name him after my brother and my partner's father - both of whom had passed. In December of 2016, I stopped my birth control and we fell into bed with the thought 'if it happens, it happens'. and eventually, it happened.
Summer 2017, three days late and a positive pregnancy test. Well, my own reaction wasn't what either of us had been expecting. While my partner scooped me up in a giant bear hug and exclaimed how happy he was so loudly that half of our neighbours in the street heard him, I was in shock. I felt panic setting in after just a few minutes because the sheer excitement and happiness hadn't hit me. Why not? What was wrong with me?
What had I done?
All of a sudden, I felt like I'd made a huge mistake. We couldn't afford another child, I couldn't cope with another baby, I couldn't keep on wiping butts for another two years. Alas, my anxiety and panic did nothing to change the situation. The Second Child was definitely coming, and it seemed that everyone—except me—was happy about it.
At eighteen weeks and three days pregnant, we found out that I was carrying another baby girl, and we decided that we would name her Ivy. Ellis and Ivy. It sounded so sweet, I actually started to feel excited about it despite knowing in the back of my head that we should have waited longer.
Professionals suggest that 2.5 years is a perfect age gap between siblings. Well, one website that I visited did. Another recommended waiting 5, and another suggested just eighteen months was enough time between births. So, how was I supposed to know if I'd 'technically' done the right thing? There was no way.
Exactly two years, five months and twenty-three days (or 907 days total) after I became a mother for the first time, I became a mother for the second time. Everything had gone smoothly. I'd gone overdue by a few days, so reduced movement called for induction which took 48 hours to start labour, but once it was going it was gone. Ivy was born at 0033 hours on March 23, 2018 weighing nine lbs, 1oz and she was perfect. The very next day, we were sent off home as a family of four to figure out how things were going to work.
Six months later, we're still trying to figure it out, but I have realised one thing. Every mother is different and every father is different... but every baby is also different and you never get two with the same temperament and personality. So, you can't really tell when you're ready to have that second baby. You just have to think about it, and then, as with every other aspect of parenting, you just have to work it out as you go along.