My Space

My sister and I are 19 months apart. Growing up, this seemed like too small a gap between us, as everything I was allowed to do, she was also. My mom told us we had to be 10 before we could get our ears pierced. Guess who was able to get hers pierced at 9? My sister also shared my bedtime, my tv-watching privileges, and my look, because my mom dressed us as if we were twins for years.



There were benefits to the relatively small gap. We "shared" toys and interests, and we had a playmate whenever we wanted one. We banded together easily against my mom when I wasn't busy hacking off her long, flowing, waist-length blond locks in a fit of jealousy when I was four (my own hair was as it is now: thin, scraggly, and pin-straight), and she wasn't bent on avenging her hair loss by stabbing me in the forehead with a fork several years later.

But I spent a lot of time at my grandma's when I was a child, and I did so because she lavished me with undivided attention. She took me out to lunch. She took me shopping and bought me whatever I wanted. She took me to the arcade and handed me fistfuls of quarters so I could dominate the Ms. Pac Man machine. I was treated like a queen at her house. My every wish was fulfilled, while my little sister stayed home with my mom, receiving her own undivided attention.

I've been thinking a lot about the age gap between my children: 2 years and 2 months. I know many of you commented that Isabella would be behaving the way she is with or without the twins, and I know you're probably right. But I often think that if I had waited to try and have a second child until she was three (or older), things right now might be a whole lot better.

A few weeks ago, my dad gave me two books about dealing with the "Terrible Twos." I was thumbing through one the other day and I came across an interesting study. According to a group of child behavioral specialists, the ideal spacing between children is 3.5 years. The first child has ample time to be the "sitting king or queen," and is secure enough to share her world and her parents' attention with a sibling. The first child might be starting preschool at this age too, which helps add another valuable and exciting dimension to the child's life, which until that point was centered mainly around her parents.

Perhaps there's something to this. Isabella craves my attention and when she can't get it because I'm occupied with the twins, I know she's upset and acts out. She plays by herself a lot now, which is great, but she still asks for me to involve myself in her play too, and more often than not, I can't. Friday was a particularly bad day here, and when the hubs got home from work, I started to get my jacket on to go for a quick walk, and Isabella lost it and begged me not to leave. That's something she's never done before. She also dragged me away in tears from a photo the hubs was taking of me and the twins. She couldn't articulate why she was doing this, but I knew why all the same.

The twins didn't arrive my accident. Fertility treatments, especially IVF and FET, grant you the unique ability to choose the month of your child (or children's) birth, assuming the cycle is successful. I wanted my children close in age, but I think I didn't give enough consideration to just how this would affect Isabella before I jumped into the FET.

Would waiting another year or two have mattered? These days, I tend to think it would have.

11 Responses to “My Space”

  1. # Blogger Thalia

    I dunno kristi, I've seen it work all kinds of different ways with age gaps. I had a horrible time when my brother was born, with a 2yr 9mth age gap, and I started preschool around that time and all it made me feel is that they were gettign rid of me to spend more time with this extra baby. My father has 6 siblings, all 3-3.5 yrs apart, and they have very patchy relationships. Both my goddaughters have 19mth gaps to their siblings, and they are mostly great together and great friends.

    I understand that this is really troubling you right now, but I'm unconvinced that waiting would have made it much easier. And it will get better than this.  

  2. # Blogger My Wombinations

    I am with Thalia on this, although I sympathize. I really do. My own kids' age gap (18 months) is also small and I often find myself wondering whether it was a mistake (although mostly because of its effect on us).

    I was 8.5 years older than my sister, though, and it was awful to be "dethroned" at that age. I felt scooted aside and lacking in love. I hit my sister, even cut off her hair (she also had flowing blong girls) when she was 2. I know kids spaced 3.5 years and 5 and 10 months and most all of them have had varying degrees of sibling rivalry. That is how it goes. With my own kids, I tend to think we will stop at two because each kid has their own sex, a fact I am hoping will lead to less overlap and rivalry.

    My aunt is half the reason my children are spaced as they are. When Sam was 6 months old, she told us that she regretted her own spacing (3.5 years b/n #1 and #2 and 4 years between #2 and #3) because someone was in diapers for almost 12 years and the kids did not become playmates until they were well into the double digits. She urged us to space as closely as possible. My point? We can always second guess and wonder how it might have been. Isabella will benefit more than be hurt by her siblings. I am sure of it.  

  3. # Blogger In Due Time

    ((((Kristi)))))

    What if you didn't have to do treatments and you got pregnant and had the same results? You wouldn't be beating yourself up so much. It's hard on Isabella right now, sure, but a year from now it won't matter as much. And two years from now it will matter even less. Especially when they are all able to play together and not one-on-one taking up so much of your time.

    I wish I lived closer, I'd come over and help you out. I know it's hard on you right now. It'll get better. Hang in there honey.  

  4. # Blogger kenju

    Kristi, there is exactly 3.6 years between my first and second children - and it did not make any difference. He was still devastated to have a sibling and he did everything he could to take my attention away from her. He even tried to smother her with a pillow when she was 3 mos. old.

    When the third one was born, the second one was 2.6 years old, and we had nearly the same scenario with those two. The older kid was six then, and he took it in stride, but the middle one got her nose knocked out of socket when her sister was born and she has never gotten over it.

    I wouldn't worry too much about all that if I were you. Eventually it will get better. I know that's scant help for you now - but it will - and they will be fast friends someday.  

  5. # Blogger Tracey

    Hindsight is fabulous, isn't it? But it is what it is. Would the twins have been possible in another year though? Who knows. They're here now and you WILL figure out how to work through the problems that may arise from children close together.

    My kids are 3 and 3.5 years apart. Apparently, I'm a genius. J/K! Actually, I just don't have the patience or stamina required to have them any closer than that. You are a better woman than I.
    :)  

  6. # Blogger Diet Cokehead

    I agree with the other posts. I think it all depends on the kids, not the age gap. As my sister commented earlier, she and I are 8.5 years apart, and while I love my sister I wish we were closer in age. She went to college when I was 9, and I basically became an only child, I would have loved to have had a sibling closer in age.

    Btw I am so glad you are reading my blog, I have been reading yours for a while now, and I love it!  

  7. # Blogger Jesser

    My sis and I are 23 months apart and according to my mom she and I never really had any issues and I didn't have much of a hard time adjusting when she arrived. Perhaps this is revisionist history, but I tend to believe her. We've always been pretty close and very good friends. That was what led me to want my kiddos about 2 years apart and my hubby agreed, citing his sibilings who are two years apart as being very friendly and he and his siblings (4 and 6 years apart) being ... well not. But here are other factors of course ... he was surrogate father after their parents divorced.

    I guess my point is that it seems to me that it matters more about circumstances and how the parents deal than a theoretical perfect space. Not that I think you're doing anything wrong ... I'm sure you're not. It's going to be a hard adjustment with twins no matter what. I do think it will get better when things calm down and she realizes there's enough of you to go around again.

    I hope you don't worry yourself too much over this. You are doing amazingly with these huge changes and I think Isabella will adjust too. But everything seems worse when you're low on sleep and high on hormones. Don't beat yourself up whatever you do!! Hang in there ... as always, I'm terribly impressed by your ability to just hold it together!!!  

  8. # Blogger Pregnantly Plump

    I'm an only child, so I can't offer too much wisdom on this subject. But I would think that the adjustment would be hard at any age.
    I was talking to my cousin the other day about this exact thing. Her son is about 2 1/2 years younger than her daughter. She said for the first half of her pregnancy with her son she cried because of what she doing to her daughter. They are now 6 and 3 1/2 and have a wonderful brother/sister relationship.
    I think it's just another part of the guilt that seems to be part of this whole parenting thing.  

  9. # Blogger Damselfly

    I love the cute pictures of you and your sister!

    I wanted children close in age, too. Maybe three and a half is the best age difference, but I think kids adjust. And it makes them part of who they are. All my siblings are five and a half years older or younger or more, and we almost never got along. We were just too far apart in age. Even today, we aren't close.

    Aye-aye-aye, though, I can see a bit of what I'm in for when baby #2comes along!  

  10. # Blogger Sugar and Ice

    Look at it this way, she'll never really remember this jealousy she's feeling right now. I was 2 and a half when my brother was born, and if I was ever jealous of him, then I really don't remember. If anything, I wish my brother and I had been closer in age. We were just far enough apart that it seemed like a big difference at the time (when I was a senior in high school, he was a freshman).  

  11. # Blogger MIP

    My brother and I were 16 months apart and my mom said it never really would have made a difference, sooner or later, for the two of us. I knew that I wanted more space between mine, but I think regardless it works on a case by case basis. I am sure as the twins get older the difference will seem less... and certainly as Isabella gets older. We are just entering the terrible two's in our household, I can only imagine what will occur when number two shows up.  

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    born in August 2006 following
    IVF and girl/boy twins born in October 2008 following FET. Come along as I document the search for my lost intellect. It's a bumpy ride. Consider yourself warned.

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