The age difference between my children is 13 months;  I was horrified, now grateful

The age difference between my children is 13 months; I was horrified, now grateful

The author’s first son was 5 months old when she became pregnant again with the second.
Courtesy of the author

  • I gave birth to my second son when my first was only 13 months old.
  • It took me a while to get pregnant with my first child and I soon got pregnant with my second.
  • Now that they are older they are into the same things and want to play together.

There are different opinions about the so-called “perfect” age gap between your children, but I can only speak from the experience of two sons born 13 months apart.

When I tell people, there’s usually a sharp intake of breath and a look of regret, but I would absolutely recommend a small age gap. Yes, it was scary and very challenging at first. It’s now 9 and 10 though, and I wouldn’t change a thing. The age gap went from exhausting to amazing.

I got pregnant again when my son was 5 months old

It took a while to get pregnant with my first son, James, and the birth was traumatic. He latched on, and after an epidural, endless pushing and what felt like days of labor, he was finally delivered by forceps, resulting in an episiotomy and a significant tear.

I wasn’t thinking about having a second child as I was doing birth counseling and focused on being a new mom. However, nature had other ideas and when James was 5 months old, I was pregnant again. I can’t explain the fear when I found out. I think I had known him for a few weeks, but I was in denial until one pregnancy test confirmed it.

My husband was extremely supportive as I went into panic mode. I was petrified of giving birth again, and the prospect of having a newborn again (and, let’s face it, barely sleeping) terrified me.

I had an elective C-section for the birth of my second son, Oliver. James was 13 months old and, even at that young age, he was not impressed. He gave me the cold shoulder and refused to look at his little brother; he had gone from having me full time to sharing me with the newcomer.

At first it was difficult

I will not pretend that the first year having two under 14 months was easy. I became militant in the routine and tried to get them to do as much as possible together. But anyone with children knows that you can’t always force a routine, especially with eating and sleeping.

Sleeping was a monumental achievement. I spent ages trying to get one to sleep and crawled between rooms, trying to soothe each one as the other screamed louder for my attention.

But on the days they slept at the same time, I experienced absolute joy and walked downstairs for a hot coffee and a much-needed hour. Those small victories were so satisfying.

Also, I didn’t know any different. I only knew how to deal with two boys in diapers at the same time, both on pacifiers and unable to speak. I think the ignorance of not knowing any other age gap helped me in those early days.

I am thankful that I had them close in age

I am now extremely grateful to have my children so close and it has been a blessing as they have grown. When we go on holiday they are happy playing together and don’t need other children or expect us to do everything with them. If we have events that seem boring, they always have each other.

My husband and I work a lot during the school holidays and we have had to put them in clubs. Clubs can be scary if a child doesn’t know anyone else, but because they go together and tend to be in the same age group, they always have someone to navigate new situations with.

It also means that they are interested in many of the same things. So it’s easy to find things to do when I’m doing something with them, like a day trip or activity. I think I would be at a loss to know how to handle a large age gap.

Plus, they’re best friends. This may be due to fate and the fact that their personalities are so different that they match up, but I know they always have each other, which is very comforting to a parent.

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