Child Spacing and Large Families - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 10:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm interested in input from moms of many and those with large families.

As a short background, when we got married, I said I didn't even want to talk about kids until we'd been married 2.5 years. Shortly after the wedding, I changed my tune, but only wanted one child. By the time I got pg 1.5 years into our marriage, I decided I probably wanted two, definitely two if the first was a boy. In the weeks before and after my son's birth, I decided that pg and birth was so great that I'd like three. A few months later, I started toying with the idea of a large family and after talking to DH, we settled on six.

While I won't use hormonal bc, we don't have any religious convictions that prevent us from using FAM/NFP, don't feel called to be "quiverfull," and would like to choose the spacing between our children.

My issue is that I am very tied to 3 year spacing. I think 2-3 years is a good amount of time to give my body to replenish nutrients and re-balance hormone levels between pregnancies. I would also like the youngest child to be independently mobile, verbal, pottying independently (we're EC dropouts ), weaned (or only bfing at night/naps), and done getting their baby teeth before having another.

With six children all three years apart (and assuming we continue to get pg as easily as we get older), that means I'll be 40 for #6. DH and I are fine with this plan, but I would like to hear from other moms who have this spacing and either have large families or plan on having large families. A lot of my friends are planning much closer spacing for much smaller families and I'm second-guessing myself. Maybe we shouldn't shoot for so many or maybe we should compromise on the spacing as I get older.

Mama to DS1 (12/07), DS2 (4/11), and DD (6/22/14)
Finally diagnosed with APS after 3 s (11/09, 3/10, 7/13)
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#2 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 10:35 AM
 
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If that's your plan - hey! Great for you! I personally cannot IMAGINE being in the "baby phase" for nearly two decades... that would be SO exhausting, especially as you get older. And if finances are any concern, you would also have to replace a lot of your items as they possibly become obsolete (car seats, etc). On the other hand, the older kids would be able to help out with the younger, and you'd "never run out of cute babies." Those are just the things that come to mind off the top of my head. But I'm not in your situation so obviously I haven't really thought it through as such!
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#3 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 10:50 AM
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I had my 4th at 40. That pg was much harder physically (and in some ways emotionally) to recover from. My first 3 were much closer together, 2 yrs apart. Yes, 1 was in diapers when another would come along-- although not for long (other than night time). You could try a 2 year spacing between the first two and then wait 3 yrs for #3 and do a 2 yr gap w/ 3 & 4... that way you'd work in a break, and have pairs.

Having been pg and nursing straight for over 7 years, I was pure body tired and glad for the break between children 3 and 4.

Truthfully, I'd say slow down and see how life progresses. Have 2 and see how life changes and how you deal with it. I'm not much of a planner though, so I tend to react to life and make choices based on what is before me.
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#4 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 11:01 AM
 
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Well, we're expecting #5 next spring. Where I live, 5 kids is a huge family. Not that I worry about social pressures, but it is something to think about. Once you have more than 5 kids you have less choice about family vehicle (most vans are 7 pass). Kids get expensive even if you use public schools and choose mostly low cost activities. Once they're past a certain age (around 6 or 7) it's harder to find 2nd hand clothing. They will want to do sports, music, art, other activities, and there are uniforms, formal clothes, whatever that go with their activities. So there are financial aspects that I didn't even think about when I had 1.

Another thing is what about twins? A baby with special needs? A needy baby? What we decided is to be driven by inspiration and/or be accepting if NFP "failed" for us. It's impossible to plan for these. We were always open to a large family. When people asked (they do! Even though it's not their business) we said "more than 2". We always knew we wanted more than 2.

I have children between 2 and 3 1/2 years apart, and I really like the longer interval. I wouldn't choose the short interval again. But I also have 2 children that didn't potty until they were 3 1/2. It's impossible to predict that too (my boy pottied the earliest--2 y 1 mo). SO, my opinion is, be open to the vagaries of life, the dynamics of children choosing your family, meeting your needs and your children's needs, but don't have 6 "set in stone"--it just isn't possible to predict what things will or won't happen.

OTOH, I love all my kiddos. We enjoy lots of things in our family. We can afford a large-ish house (4 bedrooms, basement) which is actually small SFH in this area (McMansionville USA). This house is at least 400 SF larger than the house I grew up in, with 7 younger siblings. So large families don't have to live in a huge house. The children love each other and often play with sibs only. There's always something fun going on, and the olders play with the youngers surprisingly well, even the "baby" (2 yo).
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#5 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 04:58 PM
 
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Go for it Mama! Your plan sounds great...but of course, plans can change too. Children are always and only a blessing, imo and welcoming and preparing for a big family is awesome. While there are challenges to lots of children, I can not imagine that holding a sweet little one is not worth the inconvenience of buying a new carseat or a bigger car, kwim?

Though, we've (so far) got the smallest family of all of our friends...the biggest family just had their 11th baby I wonder if we'll be blessed enough to catch up...
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#6 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 05:16 PM
 
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Maybe you could space the first two 3 years apart and see how you feel after that? I also like the idea of two years apart and then waiting 3 years and then having another set two years apart. Who knows, like other's said your plans may change. Just as you originally wanted one then changed your mind. I think that's common, sometimes people plan on say three kids, then have two and are overwhelmed and change their mind. Or like me, I thought two would be nice, had them and wanted a third, then wanted a fourth and now am hopeing for #5 and possibly #6.

Mine are all spaced 2 years (23-25 months) on purpose and it has worked well for our family. We started having babies at age 21 so I just turned 29 and have four kids so far. I could end up with 6 and be 32-33 years old, or if we spaced them further a bit older.

That all said, I do see the advantages to 3-4 year spacings. I could just never wait long enough, the desire to have another baby hits me hard when they turn a year old

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#7 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 05:30 PM
 
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You can have a "plan" right now and then change it later. Maybe you'll want them closer together when "your biological clock starts ticking". Maybey you'll feel "done" after 3,4, or 5 kids.

Things might not even really be in your control. You might find yourself pg sooner than expected, or have difficulty conceiving when you want to (or both at different times!)

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#8 of 21 Old 10-26-2008, 10:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all of your input! It's given me a lot to think about. I also checked out Table for Eight from the library to get more food for thought.

Considering how many of you advised me that plans can change and to see what happens after we have two, I think my first post came across differently than I meant it to. Of course if we have twins or a special needs child or our family circumstances change in some other way we would reconsider our family size and spacing as needed. Of course we could have oopsies (DS was "supposed" to be conceived three months after he was ) or trouble conceiving as easily as we'd hoped. I just thought those things were givens.

I am the type of person that needs a goal to shoot for and plan around, but it is never set in stone (if it were, I'd probably be childless with tied tubes by now!). It is much easier for me to adjust to a change if I have had it rolling around in my head for a while than if it comes out of left field. Although DH is ecstatic that I am now open to having as many as six children, his "plan" has never changed. He has always said we should just take it one baby at a time, and we will.

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Originally Posted by AlpineMama View Post
If that's your plan - hey! Great for you! I personally cannot IMAGINE being in the "baby phase" for nearly two decades... that would be SO exhausting, especially as you get older.
I started considering having six children when DS was a tiny newborn because I absolutely loved everything about pregnancy, birth, and the early baby days and want to go through it again as many times as possible. Now, at 10 months postpartum after dealing with some tough breastfeeding issues on top of all the normal challenges of babyhood, I still feel that way. My mom said she felt the same way and could have had twice as many children as she did (she stopped at 28 after having four of us).

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Originally Posted by Ok View Post
You could try a 2 year spacing between the first two and then wait 3 yrs for #3 and do a 2 yr gap w/ 3 & 4... that way you'd work in a break, and have pairs.
I think I feel strongly enough about a three year break for my own physical recovery that we probably wouldn't do it this way, but it is a great suggestion that I will keep in mind. Thanks!

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Originally Posted by Bekka View Post
Once you have more than 5 kids you have less choice about family vehicle (most vans are 7 pass). Kids get expensive even if you use public schools and choose mostly low cost activities. Once they're past a certain age (around 6 or 7) it's harder to find 2nd hand clothing. They will want to do sports, music, art, other activities, and there are uniforms, formal clothes, whatever that go with their activities. So there are financial aspects that I didn't even think about when I had 1.
Thanks for making these valid points about finances!

Vehicle - If/when we get a van, it will be a 12 or 15 passenger. I always say, if you're gonna get a vehicle to cart around the whole neighborhood, you might as well be able to cart around the whole neighborhood! Anyway, a stylish/fancy car isn't important to me or DH, so that isn't really a problem here. Cost will be an issue, but isn't that true with any vehicle?

Schools/Activities - We will be homeschooling, so our monetary concerns will still be there, but look differently than if we were sending them to school. I was never allowed to do any school activities precisely because we couldn't afford the uniforms or equipment. I'm still alive and well today, so there's that. This is one area where I am more than willing to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Clothes - Perhaps I'm naive, but I plan on getting gifts and hand-me-downs from friends/family and handing them down as long as we can. Also, since they won't be going to school outside of our home, it won't be as pressing to have "school" clothes or the latest greatest trend.

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Originally Posted by Bekka View Post
We can afford a large-ish house (4 bedrooms, basement) which is actually small SFH in this area (McMansionville USA). This house is at least 400 SF larger than the house I grew up in, with 7 younger siblings. So large families don't have to live in a huge house.
Another great point! We just bought a 1000sf 1-bedroom house that we plan to live in forever basically. Fortunately, the house has a full 1000sf walk-out basement we can finish into bedrooms and more living space and also has room for a sleeping loft over the living room. We have 3 acres and 7 outbuildings that could be finished into living spaces for teenagers/young adults too.

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Originally Posted by ktog29 View Post
Go for it Mama! Your plan sounds great...but of course, plans can change too. Children are always and only a blessing, imo and welcoming and preparing for a big family is awesome. While there are challenges to lots of children, I can not imagine that holding a sweet little one is not worth the inconvenience of buying a new carseat or a bigger car, kwim?

Though, we've (so far) got the smallest family of all of our friends...the biggest family just had their 11th baby I wonder if we'll be blessed enough to catch up...
Your post made me want to hug you! Thank you!

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Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife View Post
That all said, I do see the advantages to 3-4 year spacings. I could just never wait long enough, the desire to have another baby hits me hard when they turn a year old
A whole year without baby fever - I'm jealous! I have had a strong urge to get pg again since DS was just a week or two old and it gets stronger every day, it seems!

I guess the question I was trying to get at was "If you had approx. 3 years between kids and have a large family, what are the pros and cons? If you don't but are planning to, why did you choose this spacing? If you have a large family but different spacing, why and what are the pros and cons?" Just trying to get some input to add to our own thoughts/feeling/intuitions/opinions on the subject. Thanks again for all of the posts!

Mama to DS1 (12/07), DS2 (4/11), and DD (6/22/14)
Finally diagnosed with APS after 3 s (11/09, 3/10, 7/13)
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#9 of 21 Old 10-27-2008, 09:49 AM
 
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I haven't done it yet, but that's what our plan is. When I realized what the end date would be (ie. that I would be in my 40's when I had the last one) I realized that for me, it would be better to shoot for 4 children and see what happens when I get there.

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#10 of 21 Old 10-27-2008, 07:05 PM
 
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I have 4 and want 6. I am 25. Had #1 at 17, #2 at 18, #3 at 21, #4 at 24.

Honestly, any age gap is fine. #3 was hard because you are therafter outnumbered, #4 is a breeze. I come from a big family and used to work in Reproductive Endocrinology, and can tell you that you can't plan everything!

I do have to say good luck and I'm glad I'm not the only one out there who still enjoys big families! A lot of people will insult your choice, but it's YOUR choice.

Things will work out one way or another, especially for such a great woman as yourself. I say go with the flow and see what happens.

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#11 of 21 Old 10-27-2008, 07:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Twinklefae View Post
I haven't done it yet, but that's what our plan is. When I realized what the end date would be (ie. that I would be in my 40's when I had the last one) I realized that for me, it would be better to shoot for 4 children and see what happens when I get there.
Glad to hear I'm not the only one who wants a big family with a little more space between each child! I would be fine with 4-8 if that's what we end up with, but six is my ideal from where I am right now.

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Originally Posted by kittywitty View Post
I have 4 and want 6. I am 25. Had #1 at 17, #2 at 18, #3 at 21, #4 at 24.

Honestly, any age gap is fine. #3 was hard because you are therafter outnumbered, #4 is a breeze. I come from a big family and used to work in Reproductive Endocrinology, and can tell you that you can't plan everything!

I do have to say good luck and I'm glad I'm not the only one out there who still enjoys big families! A lot of people will insult your choice, but it's YOUR choice.
Now that we've decided on 6, I'm a little sad we weren't able to start earlier, but the timing has worked great for us so far. I've heard elsewhere that anything after #3 is easy. And we're so used to people insulting our other choices, that this will just be one more thing, not a big deal

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Things will work out one way or another, especially for such a great woman as yourself. I say go with the flow and see what happens.
Aw, shucks! I just hope that whenever we have the next one, that you're in my DDC again

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Finally diagnosed with APS after 3 s (11/09, 3/10, 7/13)
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#12 of 21 Old 10-27-2008, 07:54 PM
 
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If that's your plan - hey! Great for you! I personally cannot IMAGINE being in the "baby phase" for nearly two decades... that would be SO exhausting, especially as you get older. And if finances are any concern, you would also have to replace a lot of your items as they possibly become obsolete (car seats, etc).
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#13 of 21 Old 10-28-2008, 12:38 PM
 
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We have four boys, and are planning to either adopt a little girl or have my DH get his vasectomy reversed and try for #5 within the next two to three years. DS1, DS2, and DS3 are all 3 to 3 1/2 years apart, and while this spacing is great for easing through the baby years, I have found that they are not interested in each others' activities and thus it is not easy for them to play together. DS3 and DS4 are only 20 months apart (due to an "oops" rather than planning!), and while this first year has been tough with regard to caring for two young children, I anticipate that DS3 and 4 will be close friends and share common interests. Our situation is somewhat different from the OP in that we are a military family and thus will be moving fairly frequently; however, the military lifestyle does have some great financial benefits for the large family, the most notable being 100% free healthcare (including behavioral health and pharmacy benefits), and reduced cost grocery shopping at the commissary.

As far as pregnancy age is concerned, I was 26 when I had my first, and 34 when I had #4. Pregnancies got somewhat tougher on me physically and emotionally over the years, but not so much so that I decided never to become pregnant again! I don't think I'd go past 40 for initiating a pregnancy, but that is a personal choice IMO.

Good luck, OP. I love my big family and would not have planned it any other way .

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#14 of 21 Old 10-28-2008, 12:40 PM
 
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my kids are 5 and 7 and we are planning our third and final kiddo now. We would like to get pregnant soon, the kids will be almost 6 and 8 when the baby is born... assuming I get pregnant right away. While two years spacing was tough, they mostly get along really wonderful. My first was out of diapers by the time my second was 5 months old, so that wasnt bad. He was young enough to not really remember being an only, so all he knows is having a sibling. I would have liked to have a 3rd sooner, but finances scared us into waiting until we bought a house. We bought our house last fall, and pushed back having a baby again so we could have time to adjust. I did not want 6 years spacing between our second and 3rd, but at the same time, it will give me some extra helping hands. Also my second was very head strong and a huge tantrum thrower, so it made me want to wait longer and give her time to grow up a little.... also until now she has always been very attached... so I think it worked out better for her that we have waited.

I worry about starting all over again with a baby, but I also worry about regretting the decision to not have more....

I go around it and around it and I always come back to have one more.......
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#15 of 21 Old 10-28-2008, 01:41 PM
 
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Hi!!

I have 4 dc. #1 and #2 are 14mo apart. #2 and #3 are 18mo apart and so are #3 and #4. Personally, I can't imagine waiting 3 years between children. The oldest 2 are absolutely inseparable, you'd think they were in womb together. At first it was a little tough. but now I wouldn't change a thing. They all play really well together and honestly...I would rather get the whole diaper stage out of the way all together. I did have 3 in diapers at once!!! Now I only have 1!! I would love more right now...but DH isn't on the same page as me as far as that's concerned. Well, good luck to you!!! I'm sure whatever you choose your family will be great. You sound like such wonderful people!!!
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#16 of 21 Old 10-29-2008, 12:43 AM
 
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[QUOTE=Sihaya;12472750]
Schools/Activities - We will be homeschooling, so our monetary concerns will still be there, but look differently than if we were sending them to school. I was never allowed to do any school activities precisely because we couldn't afford the uniforms or equipment. I'm still alive and well today, so there's that. This is one area where I am more than willing to cross that bridge when we come to it.

Clothes - Perhaps I'm naive, but I plan on getting gifts and hand-me-downs from friends/family and handing them down as long as we can. Also, since they won't be going to school outside of our home, it won't be as pressing to have "school" clothes or the latest greatest trend.

Another great point! We just bought a 1000sf 1-bedroom house that we plan to live in forever basically. Fortunately, the house has a full 1000sf walk-out basement we can finish into bedrooms and more living space and also has room for a sleeping loft over the living room. We have 3 acres and 7 outbuildings that could be finished into living spaces for teenagers/young adults too.
[QUOTE]

I hope my post didn't seem to be "down" on large families! We have always been open to several children (or we wouldn't be expecting #5). I just tend to like to have "the whole picture", whatever is available. So some of my post was "realistic". I didn't realize a lot of things when I had 1 and pictured a tribe, but in a lot of ways you just have to have faith (in whatever you have faith in) that it will all work out.

One thing there is NO shortage on is love. Every child enriches your life in an individual way, and there is no missing out on that.:
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#17 of 21 Old 11-01-2008, 01:15 AM
 
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our plan is three years for the first, then two the next two... ir eally wanted and needed these two with ds and it has been fantastic... we are trying for number two and it seems like perfect timing to have another...go with what you feel u can handle
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#18 of 21 Old 11-01-2008, 01:33 AM
 
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We have 4 children, all 3 years apart. I had my first at 18 and last at 28. They are now ages 13, 10, 7 and 4. I love the age difference

As for monetary issues that someone mentioned, 99% of my dc (and mine for that matter) clothes come from thrift stores. None of them care about trends but my oldest and I have been able to get them very nice name brand (for the one who cares about that ) clothes for super cheap. Just got 2 South Pole shirts for my 13 yo and she was thrilled.

Outside activites, none of mine are involved in anything outside the home but church, they would rather play outside at the park after school lol. Fine by me.

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#19 of 21 Old 11-05-2008, 05:44 AM
 
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We have two bio boys, about 2.3 years apart. Then we received custody of a foster/adopt baby girl who was 4 weeks old while my baby was only 8 mos old. The babies are now 4.5 mos and 12.5 mos. I'm starting to get the itch....I want a bigger family of 4-5 kids, so I'm not feeling prepared to be done. I feel sexy when I'm pregnant, and I shudder to think about being done just yet...

But I won't space any closer than 18 mos after my last delivery. There've been some recent studies that suggest your body needs 18 mos after a delivery to bounce back for both you and the baby.

See here.

 

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#20 of 21 Old 11-10-2008, 01:07 AM
 
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I have four which when I read the title I didn't even think I'd qualify for this discussion

Mine are spaced 8 years, 33 months and 44 months.
Honestly I love the 44 months the best.
If we were to have #5...I'd probably go for 3-4 years apart.
Mind you my pregnancies aren't the easiest so a three year old is a good age
as they can amuse themselves a little more here and there IMO.

If I did that though I'd be 38 for the 5th pregnancy....
dh says we are done.....and to me four is ENOUGH...but then again it isn't.
Mind you the more I get the larger meals I got to learn to cook, the more laundry....and the uglier vehicle...soon I'll be in the John&Kate sprinter..

8 might be enough
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#21 of 21 Old 11-15-2008, 02:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sihaya View Post
I'm interested in input from moms of many and those with large families.

As a short background, when we got married, I said I didn't even want to talk about kids until we'd been married 2.5 years. Shortly after the wedding, I changed my tune, but only wanted one child. By the time I got pg 1.5 years into our marriage, I decided I probably wanted two, definitely two if the first was a boy. In the weeks before and after my son's birth, I decided that pg and birth was so great that I'd like three. A few months later, I started toying with the idea of a large family and after talking to DH, we settled on six.

While I won't use hormonal bc, we don't have any religious convictions that prevent us from using FAM/NFP, don't feel called to be "quiverfull," and would like to choose the spacing between our children.

My issue is that I am very tied to 3 year spacing. I think 2-3 years is a good amount of time to give my body to replenish nutrients and re-balance hormone levels between pregnancies. I would also like the youngest child to be independently mobile, verbal, pottying independently (we're EC dropouts ), weaned (or only bfing at night/naps), and done getting their baby teeth before having another.

With six children all three years apart (and assuming we continue to get pg as easily as we get older), that means I'll be 40 for #6. DH and I are fine with this plan, but I would like to hear from other moms who have this spacing and either have large families or plan on having large families. A lot of my friends are planning much closer spacing for much smaller families and I'm second-guessing myself. Maybe we shouldn't shoot for so many or maybe we should compromise on the spacing as I get older.
I'm the oldest of 11 kids, and there are two sets spaced a year apart, one set spaced 3 years apart and the rest are 2 years apart.

So the two oldest are 1 year (me and my sis) and the 2nd and 3rd youngest are 1 year. Two kids in the middle are 3 years (but I think this was due to a m/c).

My take from the experience of growing up with a big family is that spacing is important for the mommy's health and not so much for the convenience of who is in diapers or of having to take care of two small babies. It seems after 3 or 4 kids that another one in the bunch was just more fun and logistics and as long as mommy could keep up with them, everything was merry.

I'm hoping to space my kids out so that I get pregnant when the last babe is no less than a 1yr old.

Mama to expecting Babe 2
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