Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Benefits of Larger Child Spacing

Lots of people in Catholic circles seem to have kids spaced really close together.    People tend to drop things like 4 kids in 5 years or 8 kids in 12 years as a badge of honor. 

Which in in a way it is, I suppose. 

But not all faithful Catholics will have those large families with a child every 2 years or less. 

And I feel that those of us with smaller families and bigger spacing tend to get lost in all the praise and exaltation bestowed upon larger families with closely spaced children. 

So, I'm here to tell you what it's like to have bigger spacing between children. 

My 4 kids range in spacing from 32 months to 4.5 years.   There are 10.5 years between my oldest and youngest. 

Did you know that this week is Infertility Awareness Week?  Lots of families end up with larger spacing than they had intended due to infertility or lower fertility. 

Many people worry about what that larger spacing will mean for their children and families. 

Well...I've never had closely spaced children.  Thanks to a long period of breastfeeding infertility and generally lower level of fertility all around, I just don't get pregnant easily.     

So I've ended up with these larger age gaps.

And that's okay.   There are a lot of benefits to having a larger spacing.  

Even when that larger spacing is not intentional.  Even when you wanted to get pregnant sooner than you did.   It's still okay to enjoy the benefits of larger spacing. 

  • It's just plain easier.  It's easier to just have 1 baby or toddler at a time.  Because babies and toddlers are HARD.   
  • The baby is the baby longer.  All my children have had a full 2 years of breastfeeding without me getting pregnant.  And pregnancy does disrupt the breastfeeding relationship . Which is okay.   But, it's just easier to nurse longer if you aren't pregnant.  Of course, then you run into the issue I currently have with my 2.5 year old...who will probably never wean. Never, ever, ever.    (kidding...I know she will...someday)
  • Pregnancy announcements are more fun, because no one expects it.  It's a total surprise. When you have a baby every 2 years or so...people just start to expect when the next one is coming along.   But not when they are spaced far apart...you get to keep everyone guessing.
  • Your body can REALLY recover in between pregnancies.  Because pregnancy and breastfeeding is HARD on your body.  So, it's nice to really and truly fully recover before doing it again. 
  • Studies have shown that there are risks involved with closer spacing. 
  • It's fun having bigger kids with a baby.  You have someone to laugh with when the baby smears peanut butter in her hair, or can't pronounce her own name or does silly stuff.  Of course you can get that even with closely spaced kids as long as you have enough of them.   But there is a special kind of fun that comes from having babies with older kids. Plus older kids are a big help. 
  • You get to sleep before doing it all over again.    Which is nice.  Having a few months or years of normal sleep can do wonders for your health.
  • Fewer diapers.   It's just plain easier to only have 1 child in diapers and to have diaper free time before having another baby.
  • Siblings can still be friends, even if there are large age gaps between them.  Yes, yes, they can!  They really, really can. A lot of moms worry that because their children are further apart, they won't be friends.   Really, friendship between siblings probably has more to do with their individual personalities, and less to do with how many years are between them. 
Ultimately, birth spacing is a personal thing. 

However, a lot of times, it's really beyond our control.  Whether you get pregnant very easily and have babies close together, or are lower on the fertility scale or even struggle with infertility, it's beyond our control. 

Part of surviving in this crazy world called Catholic family life and being open to life, is realizing that we we all fall in different places on the fertility scale.    So, if you have closely spaced children...well I hear that can be fun too. 

However, if you don't have closely spaced children.....if you have large age gaps, whether intentional or not, I hope you still feel welcomed in Catholic communities.  And I hope this list helps you celebrate, some of the benefits of that...even when that spacing is not intentional.  

**(It should go without spacing, but the title of this blog is One Catholic Mama.  That means we're Catholic.  It also means that we don't use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy.  Therefore, it also goes without saying that nothing in this blog should be construed as support or encouragement for anyone to use artificial contraception to prevent pregnancy.  Although I said it anyway.)
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