Best spacing between kids? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 07:44 AM - Thread Starter
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My mil mentioned I should just have our second baby already, then my kids can play together. DD gave up napping awhile ago. She naps a few times a week only (otherwise cat naps for 10-20 minutes.) DD is 9 months but is walking almost full time and would basically be considered a toddler in every way.


I know we want a second one, but I'm wondering what the ideal spacing is.


Here are my two thoughts.


1.) I don't want to shortchange DD. I want to bf until she is at least 2. I feel like I should invest as much time as I can in her since my 2nd one will get less time just because they are 2nd. I also want to be able to enjoy my next newborn and rush things.



2.)That is way too idealistic^. The pregnancy, birth and recovery really sucked for me with DD. I bled for 3 months and we didn't dtd for 3.5. I had some minor POP, too and I'm afraid it'll be worse with the second. The first 6 months were HARD with DD. She had colic and required being carried 24/7. She didn't like being on her back. Even if my next baby is easy, it isn't going to be some idyllic scene where I lay in bed gazing at my newborn and DH plays happily in the playroom with DD. I've really enjoyed so many parts of this past 9 months, but it was also very hard. So recognizing this makes me feel like "getting it over with" so I can enjoy the baby years, but not drag them out for 8 years. I feel guilty saying that, though. ;-\ I also want to be done with pregnancy and recovery so I can "get my body back". I just feel really down when I contemplate getting thin again and then gaining so much weight again. Staying in shape isn't easy for me and I gained way too much last pregnancy.

I don't know if we want 2 or 3, either.


Advice / experiences?

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#2 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 08:18 AM
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If you can have the option to decide. I like the gap of 2 1/2-3 1/2  year. I really don't like to be in charge of two babies. It works for us that DD was already very independent in go to the bathroom, pick up fruit from the frigde, walk and get herself inside the car, get her own glass of water, follow directions. Also, I like to give the time for my body to recover and refill with nutrients and energy. My kids play together all the time.

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#3 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 07:25 PM
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Definitely munching the popcorn on this one. I love my 3.5 month old but I did not get into motherhood for the baby stage! And... I have interests that I want to pursue and dragging out the in between only means that much more time. I also thought we wanted three but I'm pretty sure 2 is all I can do. I sometimes feel like I must be worse at this or something... I'm so blown away by the 3 kids under 3 or the mother to 6 crew... MUCH RESPECT. I don't feel like I have it in me!

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#4 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by annaconda View Post

Definitely munching the popcorn on this one. I love my 3.5 month old but I did not get into motherhood for the baby stage! And... I have interests that I want to pursue and dragging out the in between only means that much more time. I also thought we wanted three but I'm pretty sure 2 is all I can do. I sometimes feel like I must be worse at this or something... I'm so blown away by the 3 kids under 3 or the mother to 6 crew... MUCH RESPECT. I don't feel like I have it in me!

I have interests, too. I really want my own business. I have websites right now that I write for... DH gives me some free time to work on them, but I'll have very little of that once we have 2 kids. Also, I want to eventually open a store to sell green products, or maybe do web design for clients. I can not do that with babies and toddlers. I am putting it of for when my kid (s) become more independent so I have a little more time to work. So.. the sooner we get the baby stage over with, then I can do that.


On the other hand, why the heck am I rushing things? I have my life ahead of me to work on a business. It really can wait, though the money it is starting to earn would help us if it increased.


And on a third, imaginary, hand- I had cancer when I was younger, so the promise of a theoretical future where I get all this free time isn't a guarantee in my mind. I have no idea what life is going to bring us. I want to balance everything and enjoy life to the fullest. And that means loving and enjoying my baby(s) but also taking care of my marriage and myself as well...

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#5 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 09:11 PM
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this is a great discussion! my LO is 6.5 months and i'm already asking myself this question. i also don't want to drag out the time between this one and the next one for several reasons:

1. i want them to enjoy a close age

2. i don't want to have lots of years between pregnancies: it's a lot and i feel like if i put it off i won't want to get into it again. 

3. i love it! i mean at first i thought i'd gone insane, then within a couple months i could see why others would have another, then in another couple of months i saw why we'd have another... it's great to see them grow and change, and i just don't want to wait to long before we add another


on the other hand we're waiting at least...

1. until i'm fertile again. :) so much depends on this, we won't be using any preventative (at least that's the plan for now)


and in my thoughts are:

1. i want to continue nursing my LO  (i'm open to tandem, but don't know if i'll feel the same pregnant, etc.)

2. i'd like LO to be eating somewhat steadily because i won't be switching to a bottle/formula.


wow, it was great to write that out! interesting to see what others are saying...


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#6 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 09:31 PM
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I've got 4, I'm DONE! I'm not a fan of close spacings for myself personally, my last two ended up being 2y3m apart, my closest spacing yet, and it bites. DS1 was really a baby still when DS2 was born. Wrangling a screaming, kicking, heavy toddler  who does not understand anything off of DD2's soccer field tonight while wearing the 6 week old where she was trying to play a game was great fun. Oh, but the same toddler managed to open a child resistant pill bottle once we did get home and swallow all of the same sister's asthma meds. Yep, I'm liking that almost 4 year spacing between the first two more and more by the second. 


And maybe I should respond again to this thread tomorrow once I actually got to sleep a couple hours and it is a new (long) day. winky.gif

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#7 of 24 Old 09-08-2011, 11:07 PM
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Mine are 22 months apart (2.5 yrs and 8 months right now).  And I like it.  The newly-mobile baby may be getting into big brother's stuff and annoying him, but it was bound to happen eventually, and at least most of it isn't choking size.  My two are both fairly easygoing, and I like seeing the glimmers of playing together starting to appear.  I figure if I can handle it now when they're this little, it'll only get easier as they age, and it'll be nice to not have to dive back into baby stage again, and to have them able to do the same sorts of activities.  The toddler has definitely not been shortchanged for attention.  If anything, it's the baby who is shortchanged a little. 

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#8 of 24 Old 09-09-2011, 06:20 AM
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There is no one answer for this - it's individual for every person/family. For us, I couldn't fathom a close age gap. I remember looking at DS1 at his 2nd birthday party and thinking "this is about the average time when people start having their 2nd child" and it literally made me nauseous. Not because of DS1 - he was a relatively easy baby/toddler -but because of my own patience/tolerance level. Young toddlers are EXTREMELY high energy and by the end of each day I couldn't have imagined keeping up with a ball of energy all day plus managing a newborn + sleepless nights again. For us, I didn't get pregnant again until he was 5.5 years old. He was very independent, in school part-time, etc. It's just what worked for us. And he is TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY in love with his 7.5 month old brother.

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#9 of 24 Old 09-09-2011, 06:48 AM
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I fret about this issue too. My baby is 6 months old and part of me feels so impressed with myself for surviving pregnancy, unmedicated childbirth,& newborn sleep delrivation madness, that I want to do it again! And baby is so active and agile, I'm nostalgic already for her littler self.

The other thing for me is, I'm 38 and scared of waning fertility and just being an old mom. I had an older mom. She was 40 when I was born. I'm the youngest of 6. Well, she was very wise and loving, but also kind of wiped out. People always thought she was my grandma. Her health was poor and she died at age 58, when I was 18. This always hangs over me. It shouldn't. But it does....

And then there is as op mentioned, the desire to have a nice long nursing relationship with baby 1.

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#10 of 24 Old 09-09-2011, 08:46 AM
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There are so many factors to consider!!

What is the temperament of DC1? High needs? You will also have a high needs toddler on your hands. This favors more spacing.

What is your "ideal" spacing? Do you want them to play together? This will favor less spacing. However, there is NO guarantee that they will like each other -- personality plays a huge role.

Are you limited in by your age in when you can get pregnant and how many kids you want? This may speed up the spacing as well.

Can you handle having two (or three or four) young children entirely dependent on you? It takes so much patience, and wears on you so much even when you are at your best. There will be moments of crisis when you are the only one who can resolve both of their needs, and you will have to prioritize.

Is your first a bad sleeper? Chances are, that won't resolve until at least age 3, if not more. Can you handle having two waking up multiple times in the night (or have partner handle the older one)?


We had a spacing of 2.75 years. I have found it to be very challenging. I can't even imagine if they were closer together! DS1 was high needs, and still is. He was a horrible sleeper, and still is. DS2 is not easy, but he is easier. We chose now because we feared having fertility issues (like the first time) and wanted to leave some time for a possible number 3. At this point, I feel like there is no way I could handle a third for a long time!!


Ultimately, I think you have to ask yourself, what are DC1's needs, and what is best for him/her. Then, temper that with any constraints on your fertility, etc. and make the best choice you can. There is no doubt it will be hard no matter when you do it, but there are probably times when it is a little less so (the older DC1, the easier). I think Naomi Aldort recommends like 7 years or something. That is a little ridiculous if you want several children, but I certainly understand that a 7 year old would be much better equipped to deal with it!

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#11 of 24 Old 09-09-2011, 10:27 AM
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I guess my thing is, you probably want your child to either a) still be a baby or b) have some independence by the time your new one arrives. I hit the exact "sweet" (HA!) spot where neither is true. banghead.gif My kids are 2.5 years apart (currently 3 years 1 month & 7 months old). At 2.5 my DS was no longer a baby. He could not be shushed and cuddled and rocked to pacify him, he insists on walking EVERYWHERE only to find he gets tired, and then wants carried (talk about heavy). Since DD was born, DS has gone through potty learning (maybe he still is?  Every week it's a guess!), gone through a language explosion, tried to figure out where to put all of his feelings about DD being on scene, since he can't quite articulate it, this usually means hitting/throwing random objects. He is just now old enough to retrieve a piece of fruit or some water for himself but this was not the case when DD was a newborn. I have LOVED every moment with DD (sometimes I feel I have gotten more time with her than I did with DS as a baby) .... but trying to walk a not-quite-baby-not-quite-independent-child through this transition is just about more than I can take. DH & I have always believed we wanted 3 or 4.... I was thinking about our next one by the time DS was 4 months. But DD is 7.5 months and I'm sitting here like... ummm... I don't want to do this again! 


We are tempted at this point to "be done with it". I am 22 & DH is 26, and we have 2 amazing kids. DH is 2 years into a 25 year retirement plan. We've got TONS of stuff we want to do - traveling, homestead-type living, natural living activism and such... it's quite tempting to think DD will be in school in a few years and we'll be 20-somethings with both a family AND some time to do "our stuff".  I guess for me if we are going to have another baby it would have to be either very soon ( I can handle juggling two babies - this sort of depends on how 3 yo DS develops in the next 6 months) or much later (when DD is school age). 

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#12 of 24 Old 09-09-2011, 11:10 AM
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I think it really depends on your family situation.  We waited until DD was 3.5 to TTC and then got pregnant right away.  She'll be 4 when our new baby comes.  So far, she's elated about being a sister and even asked us quite a few times before we TTC if we would have another baby.  She sleeps pretty well now, is weaned, has been potty trained for two years, entertains herself with crafts and play, goes to preschool and is really pretty fun to be around most of the time.  She was not a child who slept much until very recently and I do think we would have been shortchanging her if we had introduced another baby to our family before.  That said, maybe we shortchanged her by not giving her a sib earlier- who knows? There's no perfect answer. 


Part of the reason that we waited was also that I finished graduate school and we wanted to make sure that I could be home with the baby for as long as I wanted without feeling pressured.  If you work, there's also the whole issue of paying for childcare.  We also wanted to be able to let her explore her interests and take classes and all of that fun stuff and it's been very easy to do that as well. 


I'm sure someone else will post and say the opposite of what I am and it will make perfect sense for their family.  It really is all about what you and your family can handle and what you want.

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#13 of 24 Old 09-11-2011, 06:36 PM
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My boys are 3.5 yrs apart, and though I didn't plan it that way, I love it.  They are now just 5, and 18 mos.  They ADORE each other, and play together all the time.  Big brother takes lots of pride and ownership in "his" baby, and can always make him laugh.  Baby worships him.  My big boy goes to school, goes on drop-off play dates, gets himself dressed.... just SO much easier than having a toddler.  And I got more time w baby bc his brother was already in school.


In terms of getting your body back, if you first lose the weight and get fit, then you can handle your second pregnancy better.  If you get pregnant the second time while you are still carrying baby weight from the first, it's going to be really hard to get that weight off.


Also, the cost of childcare is a huge factor for us. Childcare gets cheaper as they get older, and next year our big boy will be in kindergarten and hopefully have no tuition at all.  I can't imagine paying childcare costs for two babies/ small kids at once.

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#14 of 24 Old 09-11-2011, 06:51 PM
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I'm not so sure there is a best.  There were almost 6 years between my first two, then there are only 14 months between the next two.  The last will be born about 27  months after the third. 



The big gap is very easy for me- in some ways.  But it was also starting all over again.  Also, DD is a sister, but is also too big to always want to play with the little guys.  My little guys didn't see her as a peer until they crossed into preschool age behavior and they 'got' imaginary play etc.  (One of them is there, the other will be in a couple months- I see it starting already.)


The TEENY gap is, well, intense, but was the best possible spacing for my kids because the older one had a few delays, and his younger brother really pushed him to work on skills he may not have wanted to work on otherwise. Now that the three year old is catching up to himself developmentally,  they are arguing more and are best enemies- there is constant scuffling and grumbling as they are sorting out how to interact.  I suspect that when the younger makes his next developmental leap it will get better. While I did like this spacing in many ways, we chose more space for the next because *I* needed to recover. 


The two-ish year gap is something we'll still need to learn about, but I see it working pretty well- though still pretty intense.  I would not, however, repeat the huge spacing  with my first and second.  i don't think it is best for the kids, though it was certainly the easy path for me. :)

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#15 of 24 Old 09-12-2011, 06:24 PM
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I think 3 hrs is a great age gap

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#16 of 24 Old 09-12-2011, 06:51 PM
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My first two are 22 months apart and I really love the age gap.  I did have to stop nursing my son around 14 months because of the pregnancy though.  I planned on nursing my daughter until I got pregnant again, but I ended up weaning her at 17 months because she kind of stopped nursing.  I plan on getting pregnant again in the next month or two, so the spacing b/w the 2nd and 3rd will be 27 months or so.  I should add that I am perfectly content being a mother of babies and toddlers and preschoolers at the moment.  We want 4 babies and want them all to be right around 2 years apart.

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#17 of 24 Old 09-21-2011, 07:01 PM
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My kids ds and dd are 3.5 years apart.  I think a lot really depends on the kids--some kids play well together with this age gap, mine don't get along particularly well, maybe because they're boy/girl. I sometimes wish they were a little closer in age.  It feels like they are always at different developmental stages and it's hard to find common interests.  Dd is 3, ds is 6.5 and has outgrown the zoo, they don't like the same bedtime stories, ds wants to ride his bike around the park while dd can only scooter slowly.  It was nice when dd was a tiny baby because ds was a little more independent than, say, a 2-yr-old would have been.  And I don't think we could have handled another baby when ds was 2 (we have no family help nearby).  But I do wish they were a little closer--in age, in personality. They do have moments of sweetness, but they seem to be getting on each other's nerves a lot lately.


Now we are expecting #3 and we'll have a 3-year gap between dd and the new baby.  We'll see how it works out this time around.

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#18 of 24 Old 09-23-2011, 11:30 PM
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One thing to consider is how close the children will be when growing up.


Between my mother and her aunt it is a seven year age gap, which meant that they really never was at the same stage growing up. For instance, by the time my mother started truly playing with plastic farm animals my aunt was already at the stage where she was dating her first boyfriends. It was really not until my mother reached her twenties that they caught up to each other, and then...they were not strangers, but definitely not as close as they would have been had they grown up on the same page.


On the other hand...closeness in age is not everything. There's two years between me and my younger sister, and four years between me and my little brother. I am much closer to my little brother than to my little sister, of the reason that me and my brother are much more alike when it comes to likes and dislikes etc. Even when we were small, I would love to play with my dolls and make up stories while she would prefer to watch TV and play with clay...we did play together, sometimes, but we were not and never have been "best friend" kind of sisters.


Personally I think that it must be up to you and how you feel about having another. When the time feels right, then it is right, and there's really not much more to it than that. 

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#19 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 04:13 PM
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I want them close together. My sister and I were 16 months apart and best friends. She and the next sister were 20 months apart and also good friends so we all 3 played together. Our youngest sister is 6.5 years younger than me and none of us really wanted to do things with her because she was so behind us developmentally. Even now (sadly) we barely have similar interests because she is still a teenager and I have a family. I know it will be tough with them so close but I think that they will enjoy each others company and we won't TTC until these 2 our probably school age so that they will be more independent. I also plan on continuing nursing DD through pregnancy and so far it hasn't been an issue and I'm totally ok with tandem nursing.

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#20 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 07:14 PM
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been thinking about this alot this week, we have 9 month old twins and are realizing we want more, im thinking 4 just so that one does have to be the 3rd wheel to a set of older twins.

all the normal timing thoughts take on a slightly different bent when you throw twins in the mix (and of course the thought that i could have another set of twins!) since my babes now already have a playmate, but as a bonus i know i can already triage multiple needs from day one.


i really dont know what to think, but we stopped preventing (though i dont have PPAF yet) so a span of just 18 months is possible i guess, not sure what is "best". we are 37 and 41 so im a bit worried about my fertility waining. and us being really old parents when we have teenagers

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#21 of 24 Old 09-26-2011, 07:44 PM
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I have 3y 11mths & 3y 7mths spacing with my oldest 3. I love it. And my eldest 2 play really well together. Ds1 is very bossy, but he was even before he had a younger sibling. He was the 3yr old herding the 18mth olds back to their parents.


This next spacing will only be 2y 10mths. I already don't like it, it feels way too close. Ds3 still seems so young to me. He still nurses for naps & to sleep & to wake up. He's still not potty trained..he could be, he just won't. He's still very much a mama's boy. I feel like I'm stealing something from him.

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#22 of 24 Old 09-27-2011, 08:30 AM
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Great thread---we've been thinking about this a lot lately and going back and forth. As others have said, there are advantages and disadvantages to both. I want my kiddos to be close enough in age to relate but far enough apart that they both get to be "babies" for as long as they need. My menses still haven't returned (my 16 month old breastfeeds around the clock) so I take that as a sign from my body that I'm not ready for #2 yet. And I also try to remind myself that spacing can only be partially planned. It took me awhile to get pregnant with my son and I had one miscarriage before his pregnancy so I know from experience that I only have so much control over when our next will be born. 

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#23 of 24 Old 09-27-2011, 11:00 AM
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one thing i think about is when they are older, i was in a household with a sister a decade younger, a step brother that was basically my twin and a brother 2 years older and a sister that was 3 years older, i know there was other factors but i certainly related to them all very different in large part because of our ages.


  • my younger sister was a totally different generation to us back then, i changed her diapers and was paid to babysit her, we actually are the closest now, but she is in her late 20's so it very different and unimportant our ages now.


  • my "twin brother" and i had the same friends and he dated girls i knew, this was good and bad, usually just frustrating, but we did feel close at times,  like it was us against the rest of the house, i hope my real twins do at least as good


  • my brother that was 2 years older was the best, he was "older and cool" but not so much older that i could not hang our with him, and he tolerated me tagging along often and with grace, i learned a ton from being around him, we are still very friendly


  • my sister that was 3 years older, she is the one that the age thing hurt us i think, she "parented" me too much and i was in her way since it was not age appropriate for me to do most of the things she was doing, but i of course wanted to anyway. we pretty much stopped hanging out by the time she went to middle school and never got close again.




now im sure there are a lot of personalities and other factors that led to each of these relationships, but i do see the age effect.


So while i think of the needs of my babies and my wishes about juggling infants and diapers and toilet training, i am doing my best to also take in account teenage years, once they get thru that i feel age matters very little, but middle school thru the start of college is such a formative age for the relations that siblings will keep with them for life, it seems smart to keep it in mind.


i used to say i wanted wither twins or them 5 years apart so they never had to endure high school together, well i got my twins (how strange) and now i feel like having them 5 years apart puts a barrier between them that has them miss out out on lots of what is great about siblings. im starting to think 2 years give or take might be my sweet spot (now i just get to tell the universe i have made plans, HAHA)

partners.gif 2twins.gif  So what if I don't fit cleanly into a defined parenting style, my kids don't fit into a personality archetype either!

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#24 of 24 Old 10-01-2011, 04:02 PM
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I've been wondering this, too. I had a hard first 3 months with Jack, but now things are great! He's 8 months and I've been wondering "when." Things will never be right financially, that's for sure...but I do want them to be close in age. The more I think about it, the more I think I'd like to want to TTC until mid-next year, so when he's about 18 months. However, I WILL be taking a preg test next week as I may be pregnant now...sigh...then I guess it will have to be the right time. smile.gif
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