Managing babies that are spaced close together doesn’t start when the second (or third, or whatever) is born. It begins at conception. It starts at the very moment that child is first thought of, or as realisation hits that indeed you are pregnant and another is on the way.
For me, no matter how planned or excited we were about the pregnancy, this hit in the form of a moment of pure panic. A moment of all at once “what have I got myself into? How am I going to manage this? How will I get anywhere, do anything? I’ll never be able to do xxx again. How am I going to juggle all this?” Purely selfish of course. And then I thought about the beautiful little soul that had been created, and didn’t want any negativity put on that baby (despite my panic). God equipped me for everything in this journey so far and so will equip me for one more. Not that I haven’t had that moment of panic since. I realistically have it quite regularly when I actually have a moment to think about all that is going on. But that also doesn’t stop me being excited about it all.
I think if we didn’t worry in pregnancy (whether it is our first or tenth child) we wouldn’t prepare ourselves properly because we wouldn’t come up with a plan of action for our worst case scenario. Then there are two options. Either the worst case scenario doesn’t eventuate and we breathe a sigh of relief that it isn’t as bad as we thought. Or the worst case scenario happens (or alas it is worse!) but we are ok because we kind of prepared ourselves for it.
Pregnancy while caring for a baby I think is also good preparation for having more. My first pregnancy was definitely my worst – I had bad morning sickness, had severe hypothyroidism, gained lots of weight and got bad water retention. Since then both my pregnancies have got easier in succession – something I put down to three things. Firstly, being able to look after myself better (you have to with being pregnant for so long consecutively and with having to care for others). But unlike my first pregnancy, I knew what medications and vitamins would help, what to eat, to rest when I could etc. Secondly, being busier I am less able to feel sorry for myself or dwell on ill feelings. Thirdly, just pure luck.
I think the thing to overcome with having more than one close together is the tiredness. Looking after a 24 month old and a 13 month old, one of whom doesn’t tend to have a day sleep, means I don’t have very many moments to myself all day. And they definitely take a lot of energy. And that’s just them, not managing a house as well. So when the end of the day comes and they are both in bed I’m often totally exhausted beyond thinking straight. It’s important to take a few moments during the day when you can, even if that “luxury” of sitting is folding the washing and sitting on the swiss ball, reading a story to the kids or lying on the couch watching ‘The Wiggles’. Lately, I’ve taken to sitting on the floor with the kids moving progressively around the room putting away toys. They get cuddles and playtime with mum, and the lounge gets cleaned. Multitasking is vital!
Nesting and getting organised for baby is relatively easy, since you have already been through a newborn and baby recently (if not currently). I had pretty much everything I needed, particularly having two girls. And I knew what I needed or wanted that would make things easier. Like a pram that fitted another baby in. Babies close together definitely make things cheaper in terms of hand-me-downs and sharing everything amongst the children. My girls share clothes, toys and all baby things were in great condition having only used them 11 months before hand. The same should hopefully apply to baby #3 soon.
Time out and time to bond and think about the new baby is also essential I think. My second pregnancy what got me through was an hour long pregnancy massage every fortnight throughout pregnancy. This pregnancy, pilates is what has ‘balanced me out’ . Both give me time to get away on my own and connect with my body and baby (which is easy to neglect when you are busy with small children). For this I am fitter now than I probably was before having any children. Also for me, prayer. Without God’s grace who knows where I would be. I trust that by keeping in touch with Jesus I will be ‘moulded’ and given the gifts I need at the right time to be a good wife and parent in the right situations. Each child is gifted to us and God obviously trusts us with these precious souls, so he will prepare us for what skills and things we need to raise them.
So hopefully that covers the topic of pregnancy. Any questions feel free to ask.