Secondary infertility sucks. It sucks for a lot of reasons but among the suckiest is that it’s not just about you having a baby. It’s also about your child having a sibling. The years just keep passing and not only are you getting older but so is your existing child. For a long time it ate me up alive that my kids would miss out on a so-called “ideal age gap”. So if you are someone fighting your way through secondary infertility and this is something you worry about, here’s what I would say to you. I have come to embrace the six-year age difference between my girls. It may not be something you ever would have wanted. But I hope you will consider these five reasons to embrace an unplanned age gap between your kids.
1. Your older child will remember this time.
My daughter got watch her sister be born. Like, she literally saw the doctor pull her sister out into the world. And she is going to remember that. She’s going to remember the sweet smell of her sister’s baby skin. She’ll remember what it was like to hold her. She will remember that she was the first person in the world who ever made her sister laugh. She’s going to remember all of this joy. I know that it’s hard knowing you weren’t able to give your first child that built-in playmate for life. But try to embrace what a large age gap does give her. Beautiful forever memories.
2. You have a more time alone with your new baby.
My oldest was in kindergarten for half of the day for the first four months of my baby’s life. As if this baby was my first child rather than my second, we had our quiet, peaceful house to ourselves. Having an older child in school allowed me to have precious, uninterrupted one-on-one bonding time with my newborn. Sure, this age gap was never our plan. But the truth is that I wouldn’t have had this kind of undivided time with my baby if my children were closer in age. That’s an opportunity worth celebrating.
3. Your older child is (mostly) independent.
I know you probably always envisioned a “typical” two- to three-year gap between your children. That’s what people do, right? That’s how it’s done. But let’s be real. Two under two? Three under four? That’s the spacing I always wanted for our family. But think about what that’s like for a minute. Multiple butts to wipe. Multiple naps to manage. Tandem tantrums. A chorus of crying…from what I can see that situation looks pretty difficult sometimes. Worth it? OF COURSE! But that spacing, well, it’s hard. So if you end up having a second child years after you plan to, please embrace how AMAAAAZING it is that your oldest child can dress herself. Go to the bathroom by herself. Retrieve rudimentary snacks by herself. Head out to the backyard by herself. Please embrace that your older child can help you! I don’t advocate for child labor or anything but I can’t say it’s not fabulous having myself a happy little assistant.
4. It makes financial sense.
If ANYONE would have pointed this out to me while we were enduring infertility I would have wanted to punt that person into outer space. Because I’m not exactly motivated or comforted by cold, mathematical logic. However…it’s true. It does make financial sense to have a big age gap between your kids. There are major financial advantages. Unless we are miraculously blessed with a third baby any time soon, we will likely never be scrambling to pay for more than one child in college at the same time. It’s not insignificant. I’m always going to be sad that my children probably won’t get play together the same way that siblings who are closer in age so joyfully do. But being able to better navigate the financial future for your children? That’s a good thing, people.
5. This is the child you were meant to have.
It took me a very long time to accept the reality of our infertility. But I can tell you now, as excruciating as it was, I wouldn’t wish it away. Because at the end of it I was given THIS child. And she was meant to be here. I encourage you to embrace the long, painful road that gave you this baby.
There is no such thing as an “ideal age gap” between siblings. Two years. Three years. Six years or ten years. Let it go, sister. There are pros and cons to any age gap. Truly. If you’ve had a baby after secondary infertility or if you’re still praying for that baby to come and watching the calendar pages flip, I want you to know that there is good to be found in a unplanned age gap. I am living that. There’s no one way for a family to look. There’s no formula. All that matters is love and stability. That’ it.
It’s okay, mama. It’s okay.