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Bunching Up Babies

Welcome to On Parenting's occasional guest blog feature, where we welcome parenting bloggers from around the Web. If you'd like to join the guest blogging party here at On Parenting, please e-mail parenting@washingtonpost.com.

By Linda Kerr

A friend -- who recently had her second baby just 19 months after her first -- called to ask for advice on having kids close together since mine are 16 months apart. She was having a difficult time adjusting, not just to life with two children but life with two babies. She is part of a growing trend I call "Baby Bunching." You may have noticed the explosion of double strollers on the street, at the mall or at the park lately. Even celebrities are getting on the Baby Bunching bandwagon - Heidi Klum, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Denise Richards, and, most recently, Tori Spelling, have had or are having babies less than two years apart.

There are a million reasons why Baby Bunching makes sense. Moms are waiting until later to start their families and ticking biological clocks may necessitate cranking out babies in rapid succession. Some moms love the idea of children close in age as future potential best buddies Still others approach the situation from an economic standpoint - double day-care bills make it easier to justify staying home and you get more "bang for your buck" by jumping off the career track to stay home with everyone at once. But make no mistake that having children close in age has its own set of challenges beyond just adding another baby to the mix.

Sure it means rationalizing another stroller purchase when the first is still in use, but it also brings about a whole change in a family's dynamics. Bringing home a new baby while the oldest can barely walk, talk or eat with a spoon can make everyday life an exhausting and nonstop whirlwind of activity -- at least until both kids learn to play happily together in their rooms.

Baby Bunching isn't for the faint of heart. This lifestyle has its own hurdles-- like getting everyone on a nap schedule that actually allows mom some time for herself (to do exotic, self-fulfilling things like take a shower), getting everyone fed (baby and toddler; forget about mom) or even managing to get everyone into the car to run an errand or (gasp) even two. Day-to-day life as a Baby Buncher is rough.

When my youngest child was about eight months old, I found myself missing out on subtle milestones, even though I was with the children all day long. My son's toddlerhood was a blur -- all the new words and tricks he did -- I barely could pay attention while attending to my newborn. And my daughter's babyhood just whizzed by. I recall late-night feedings with her, sitting in the dark trying to savor her precious little sounds because I couldn't enjoy them during the day. I remember lying in bed with my older son in the early morning or at bedtime and trying to enjoy him since we couldn't do that during the day. The pictures and videos certainly helped, but day-to-day was so much about survival that I didn't really enjoy it.

Eventually, through trial and error, the kids and I fell into routines that worked for us. With the support of other moms forging the same path, I learned to laugh at the ridiculous circus that had become my new life. When my youngest turned two, I realized what a wonderful gift I had been given. Long before my friends had kids playing together, I had two children who were friends and looked out for each other, even if there was hitting involved. Two kids who like to spend time together, usually. Two kids who will forever, I hope, have each other to lean on, even if it is just to gang up on mom and dad.

Linda Kerr is writing a book on 'Baby Bunching' with coauthor Cara Fox. She blogs at Monkey Business and DC Metro Moms.

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 21, 2008; 7:15 AM ET  | Category:  Babies , Guest Blogs , Preschoolers
Previous: Sorry, Firstborns | Next: Recyclable Art

Comments


Our daughter had a sleep disorder. So there is no way we could have handled baby bunching. But she is four and half and I am two months shy of giving birth to her brother. In a lot of ways, I would have liked them closer. Not exactly 16 months apart. But more like 2 1/2-3 years apart. I think they would have had more fun together if they were closer in age. But the up side of it is, we only double up on day care for one year. We won't have to double up on college tuition at the same time. We really loved the time we spent with our daughter by herself.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 21, 2008 7:22 AM | Report abuse

My two children are 14 months apart. We didn't really plan it that way, it just happened. It is very hard to have two so close together, especially since both my husband and I work. But on the plus side, I think both of them are ready to potty train together. So all at once I can get rid of diapers! On a serious note, my oldest does look out for his younger sister. And I think the lines of who is the leader and follower are blurred, because my son will sometimes do what his younger sister does. It is a challenge, but I wouldn't change it for anything.

Posted by: Momof2MD | April 21, 2008 7:51 AM | Report abuse

"at least until both kids learn to play happily together in their rooms."

So when, exactly, does this happen? My oldest is about to turn 7, and I'm STILL waiting. :-)

Like foamgnome, ours are 4 1/2 yrs apart. Ideally, I would have had them closer together -- but not THAT close! My girl (a/k/a "Queen of the Universe") was seriously the best birth control we could have had for her first couple of years; she was three before it even occurred to me that I might survive a second child. And in the end, it probably turned out best this way, because she was old enough to "help," and had enough words to be able to talk about the jealousy when it cropped up.

Posted by: Laura | April 21, 2008 8:17 AM | Report abuse

I think it makes sense and hope to have my next ones closer together. I do wonder when this became a "new" thing. Haven't people always been having babies close together? Especially before women began working full time out of the home. I wonder when it became "not normal". I know my grandmother's children are all less then 2 years apart (all 6). My husband's grandparents had 11 children, all less than 2 years apart. My moms first 3 children are all less than 2 years apart. When did this become something "different"? Just wondering.

Posted by: mom22 | April 21, 2008 8:19 AM | Report abuse

It's all about age for me. We're going to try to sneak our second in before the dreaded AMA (advanced maternal age). That means they will be 2 years and a couple months apart. That seems pretty darn close! Fortunately, in the last few weeks, our daughter has become a real toddler, so the thought of having a second isn't nearly as daunting, since her baby days are all but over. Here's to hoping that conceiving the second goes smoothly.

Posted by: atb | April 21, 2008 8:20 AM | Report abuse

I'm 37 and my son is almost 3 and we're just starting to think about a second - so no baby bunching here. I think it makes sense as a strategy. The thing for us was that after seven miscarriages, losing my first, and having a rough pregnancy with my second, I just could not see entering the ttc/pregnancy world when my son was so young.

I'm not worrying too much about maternal age yet. If it's hard to get pregnant, we'll enjoy what we have.

Posted by: Shandra | April 21, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

"Even celebrities are getting on the Baby Bunching bandwagon - Heidi Klum, Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow, Denise Richards, and, most recently, Tori Spelling, have had or are having babies less than two years apart. "

So did Britney Spears...

Why do you give a rat's a$s what celebrities do?

Posted by: Hu? | April 21, 2008 8:25 AM | Report abuse

mom22

"I do wonder when this became a "new" thing. Haven't people always been having babies close together?"

Yes. It's another phony excuse to write a book.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 8:28 AM | Report abuse

We had 3 kids in 3.5 years. Seemed like a good idea at the time. It was complete chaos for many years -- we have a couple of home videos from that time period where I appear to be on drugs, just kind of babbling incoherently, extremely sleep deprived. On the other hand, aside from having had two in diapers for something like a year and a half, it's nice to be "done" quickly with the sticky years. You just kind of give up on furniture during that time and give large parts of your house over to big hunks of molded plastic.

It's efficient because they all eat the same thing, play with the same toys, can take the same toddler classes, enjoy the same books and so forth.

I don't recommend "bunching" unless you have an extremely solid marriage. It was extremely difficult for us.

Now that our kids are entering middle school, I have the following perspective to offer:
1. With VA's curriculum, you will be completely numb after having learned about the kingdom of Mali, Virginia's geography and the Powhatan Indians every year for three years in a row (complete with the same darned projects!) Having to teach three little kids to read in quick succession was brutal, as was coaching them with multiplication facts year after year after year with no break in sight.
2. our house is like some kind of teenage hormone freak show at the moment. (And the fact that I'm having "woman of a certain age" issues probably isn't helping). I'm terrified at the thought of driver education every year for three successive years as well as dating!

Finally, I would have liked to hold our middle child back in kindergarten, but with the bunching she would have ended up in her sister's class, which would have been really humiliating for her. The closeness of the kids actually complicated this issue -- and probably should have been considered from the beginning.

On the other hand, I've recently begun exploring going back to work full-time, transitioning out of my current flexible arrangement. I never had huge chunks of time when I was out of the workforce with little ones -- which was my original motivation for wanting to bunch them up. This part of the equation worked for us.

Ask me again when I'm simultaneously paying 3 college tuitions. Yikes!

Posted by: Just Lurking | April 21, 2008 8:34 AM | Report abuse

"When did this become something "different"?"

When women finally got access to birth control and could actually plan their families! It must have been such a novel concept back in the 60s, having children when you wanted to and the number you wanted, rather than when and where nature gave you.

Posted by: To mom22 | April 21, 2008 8:37 AM | Report abuse

when and where = when and what

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 8:38 AM | Report abuse

Kids are 37 months apart. I saw others in my son's playgroup having kids really close together and didn't think I could handle it. I don't know how people do it (but they do - and my friend just had number six, with number five to be 2 in Sept and number 4 just turned four). Have another friend who had 3 under three. I don't think that was very planned.

Of course, I agree with the above - it's not really a 'new' thing.

Anyway, it seems tough, but from what I understand, when they're older, it does get easier. It's getting thru the younger years....

Posted by: atlmom | April 21, 2008 8:50 AM | Report abuse

My kids are 14 months apart. Many days I am grateful to come to work, as work is much easier than chasing 2 (mobile) kids under the age of 3. I didn't plan for the kids to be quite so close together (2 years was my "goal" -- oops), and I think in another 6 months I'll be glad they're this close together. One of the current difficulties is that my kids aren't yet at the same developmental stage, so I can't just treat them both the same and engage them both in the same activity. I know this will be much improved in a few months when little guy turns 2 (thanks Linda for reinforcing this belief), so I'm hanging on for dear life. I do fully expect that they will be good buddies eventually -- probably once little guy stops beating on older sister or at least when she figures out she can beat him back.

Like any other choice, "bunching" has its pros and cons. I do think it's a little more difficult initially having 2 very close together, but I suspect it's easier in the long run because the kids will play together once they get to a certain age (again, hopefully when younger one is 2). I have a close friend who has 3 kids spread over 13 years, and I think she has a far greater challenge, as each of her kids is interested in something completely different from the others due to the age differences. This is going to sound stupid -- but it will be nice to take my kids to see the same Disney movie together.

There's all sorts of considerations for any couple thinking about timing babies. First and foremost, we're lucky to have 2 healthy kids. But if I had to do it all over again, I probably would have been a little more careful and made sure my kids were closer to 2 years apart...

Posted by: Jen | April 21, 2008 8:59 AM | Report abuse

DS was born 20 months after first DD, because I had an assignment that allowed DW, then a Fed, to take a year off on spousal leave and accompany me on my assignment. She was off for a year anyway, and her job was guaranteed when she returned, so it made sense to have #2 then.

DD #2 was born 14 months after DS because no BC method is 100% effective.

So we had three kids under three. DW was working part time (30 hours per week). They were in daycare. It was chaos - we got through it. I still remember lots, because the three of them were so different from each other that we almost never repeated anything.

DD#3 is 5 years younger than her next sibling, and it's a big challenge. Honestly, I'd rather have them closer together. It's easier to go through Maryland History 3 out of 4 years than to try to pick it up again five years later.

Now they're teens. Want to know the worst fear of them all? In a couple of years, I'm going to have three kids in college AT THE SAME TIME! That'll be me by the side of the road begging for spare change. :-(

(A book on "baby bunching?" Seriously? What'll they think of next, a book on breathing?)

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 21, 2008 9:05 AM | Report abuse

ArmyBrat

(A book on "baby bunching?" Seriously? What'll they think of next, a book on breathing?)"

Is that any worse than you taking 6 paragraphs instead of one to convey the same information?

Posted by: Wah? | April 21, 2008 9:24 AM | Report abuse

"kids are 37 months apart".
Is there a reason you can't just say THREE YEARS??? Why do parents count in months????

Posted by: Me | April 21, 2008 9:29 AM | Report abuse

Boy, it didn't take long for the nastiness.

Posted by: Mean people s..k | April 21, 2008 9:32 AM | Report abuse

Wow, my wife's parents were really cutting edge. They had three babies within three years about 40 years ago.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 9:35 AM | Report abuse

Oh, I only wish I could have "baby bunched." I thought (and still think) that an ideal age spread between kids is 18-24 months apart. That way, you're still in the groove of life with a young child. You're already not sleeping, and diapers are still your norm. And if, like me, you want to stay at home for a while but then go back to work, you can minimize your time out of the workforce.

We started trying for a second when DD was 8 months old. We figured it would be hard for a few years, but then the kids would be close enough to be really good friends. Alas, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy and infertility have reared their ugly heads. DD is coming up on 2.5, and no baby in sight. I'm left wondering at what point a sibling becomes less of blessing for the elder child and more of a curse.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 21, 2008 9:37 AM | Report abuse

NewSAHM


"I'm left wondering at what point a sibling becomes less of blessing for the elder child and more of a curse. "

You have too much free time.

Posted by: ???? | April 21, 2008 9:41 AM | Report abuse

My sister and I are 15 months apart. My kids are 2 1/2 years apart. I was hoping for 18 months, but that didn't happen. In some ways it is easier for me than I know it was for my mother, but I still wish they were closer together in age.

But for the one wondering when they will play together in their rooms: at 9 and almost 7, they play together for hours in their room, when they are not fighting. And after they finish the fight, they go back to playing together.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Hoo boy. I have two boys, 17 months apart. Not planned that way. At the moment they're 9 and 10. - Frankly, the baby years were my golden years. Yeah, it was crazy, and it was all baby all the time, but I loved it (and knew it was temporary.) But while they are close, and do get along well in certain situations, there's a lot of rivalry and too much fighting, which I imagine would be less intense if there were a bigger age gap. Pluses and minuses to everything.

Posted by: katydid | April 21, 2008 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Off topic here, but over the weekend a situation on my street has gotten past the point of annoyance, and I want to get some other perspectives on it. One family has a newborn, a 6 year old, and a 3 year old. Since the new baby, they've been sending the 6 year old and 3 year old boys out "to play," which means roaming the street and playing at different houses/yards. The other parents, who never let their under 4 year old kids out unsupervised, feel a responsibility to watch the 3 year old (who, maybe not surprisingly, can be a real PIA), but are getting more annoyed with it by the day. My view is that I guess I can see the 6 year old roaming a bit, but there's no way a 3 year old should be out playing unsupervised by a parent. Thoughts?

Posted by: boston | April 21, 2008 10:04 AM | Report abuse

boston

"My view is that I guess I can see the 6 year old roaming a bit, but there's no way a 3 year old should be out playing unsupervised by a parent. Thoughts?"

Ask altmom.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 10:10 AM | Report abuse

OT to boston- That's way off base. There is no way a 3yo should be out without adult supervision, and they certainly can't count on the 6yo to watch the 3yo! I can't even FATHOM thinking that's OK to do. Someone is going to have to say something, and assume you're going to be accused of not being a good enough, supportive enough community. Or to MYOB. I'm not sure when the police should be called, but it may be in the best interest of the a 3yo left to wander the streets sooner rather than later.

Posted by: atb | April 21, 2008 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I think you're right. I think it's a current trend. I know friends and relatives who "bunch" their kids together on purpose so that each can have a sibling (and mom can be a, well...MOM).

The difference between now and in the past is that moms and dads are making a choice to bunch. In the past, with our parents' generation, it just happened when it happened.

Great post! :)

Posted by: Cheryl Wenzel | April 21, 2008 10:34 AM | Report abuse

"In the past, with our parents' generation, it just happened when it happened."

Sheesh, more of the "we're smarter and better than anybody who has ever come before us" mentality.

Were your parents really that naive? My weren't. They knew what caused pregnancy and how to make sure they didn't have kids when they didn't want them. Of course, they were lower middle class and definitely looking to escape that environment, so family planning was important.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Linda, my friends who have kids close(r) in age than ours tell me that they took it in the teeth for those blurry first months but that now the huge benefit is that they have little playmates. I can't comment on that bz, like NewSAHM, altho I wanted initially to have kids closer together it didn't pan out for us (extended nursing, miscarriages, 2ndary infertility). Interestingly, some of our friend who 'bunched' their kids did so through no plan of their own either. ;) Life isn't always about making choices -- parenthood for me has been about giving up much control. Anyways, to answer NewSAHM's question - valid and tough to ask - our kids are almost 4 years apart and it's been amazing how much the 2 kids appreciate each other. I have other friends who have 5 year spacing (death of newborn) and their kids also adore each other. Come to think of it, my kid's first babysitter had a sister 7 years older than her and they were also super close. I think sociologically speaking, more than 4 years and you're in a different cohort. But my mom's 16 years older than her little bro and we all benefited from having an uncle who was more like another brother to us. Good luck NewSAHM and I can't wait to read your book, Linda.

Posted by: MamaBird/SurelyYouNest | April 21, 2008 10:44 AM | Report abuse


MamaBird/SurelyYouNest

"Life isn't always about making choices -- parenthood for me has been about giving up much control"

Parenthood IS a choice.

Posted by: Huh? | April 21, 2008 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Oh, can all you trolls go find something better to do. It's getting just a little bit old.

Thanks for all the on topic posts today, it's helpful to hear peoples' experiences and the pros and cons of it.

Posted by: tsp 2007 | April 21, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

tsp2007

"Oh, can all you trolls go find something better to do. It's getting just a little bit old."

What are you doing that is an better?

Posted by: ??? | April 21, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Huh? is either intentionally or unintentionally dense. Rather than read between the lines, everything is taken as literally as possible, or focus is placed on information irrelevant to the poster's point. Apparently, Huh? has no ability to infer meaning. All in all, it makes Huh? predictable and boring.

Posted by: atb | April 21, 2008 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Baby bunching is nothing new - my mom had 5 of us in six years, not including a miscarriage and a preemie that didn't make it the year and a half before I came along as the oldest.

Perhaps it seems novel since BCPs have been more readily available the past 30 years.

Posted by: NC in VA | April 21, 2008 11:24 AM | Report abuse

Wow! I am so happy to know that i am part of a trend!. I have 2 boys who are 11 months apart. The older one is 2.5 and the younger one is 1.5. We moved two times since they were born, and now that they are sleeping through the night, I can definitely see it getting better.

Posted by: lifelong | April 21, 2008 11:31 AM | Report abuse

We did the ultimate bunching: 2 minutes! [Twins.] It's rough early on, but rewarding to see them interacting. My younger brother and I were separated by about a year and grew up quite close.

I agree that bunching is nothing new. Many of my friends from college have decided to have 2 kids within fairly quick succession. Bunching sometimes happens unintentionally. One couple I knew took a long time to conceive the first-born. Assuming it would be the case the second time, they started trying fairly soon after the first was born and wound up with 2 kids about 12 months apart.

BB

Posted by: Fairlington Blade | April 21, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Just Lurking:

I'm about to have #3, which will be 3 in 3.5 years. On average, the kids are 20 months apart. I appreciate your experiences and hope to hear more from you about what to expect (I loved the comment about your home being a hormonal freak show right now!).

I wouldn't say that "baby bunching" is a new trend, but something that has come back after the "new" trend of career moms spacing kids out to balance work and home life died down.

For me, it is a factor of age: I graduated, worked for 10 years in my field, and then my husband and I decided it was time for a family. I am now 37 (the dreaded AMA started with the middle child), and this is the last child. We were very fortunate that we did not experience any fertility issues; my husband and I thank the powers that be for our family and our children. I will return to work when the youngest hits kindergarten.

Posted by: e2h | April 21, 2008 11:45 AM | Report abuse

please let me clarify that, "I will return to work when the youngest hits kindergarten" if I have any of my brain left! ha!

Posted by: e2h | April 21, 2008 11:48 AM | Report abuse

"When women finally got access to birth control and could actually plan their families!"

When half the babies born today are considered unplanned and another stat that shows that about one third of all pregnancies are aborted by choice, I can only conclude:
1. using birth control (contraception) to plan families is not very effective at all.
2. If contraception was an effective tool for family planning, the United States would have a very serious problem due to a rapid decline in population.

Posted by: American Babymaker | April 21, 2008 12:06 PM | Report abuse

I know everyone is different, but I think the ideal age difference between siblings is about 4-5 years. To me the issue of whether or not the two will be "friends" or play together is irrelevant. You could have them less than 2 years apart and they still might not ever be interested in hanging out with one another (as is the case w/ my DH and his 2 younger brothers). I have a 2 1/2 year old daughter and if we decide to have another child that decision is going to be more about what works for me and my husband-- based on economic factors as well as other considerations. I'd really like to be able to just focus on my daughter during her toddler years. I think kids need a lot of attention at this age (of course I also don't want her to end up thinking the world revolves around her) and I don't want to short-change her. I guess I also just enjoy little things like sleep, sanity, "me" time, etc. I'd rather get her into preschool and then start thinking about adding to the family... just my 2 cents.

Posted by: Florida Mom | April 21, 2008 12:36 PM | Report abuse

"When half the babies born today are considered unplanned and another stat that shows that about one third of all pregnancies are aborted by choice, I can only conclude:
1. using birth control (contraception) to plan families is not very effective at all."

Um... birth control (contraception) IS effective if you USE it and USE IT correctly!

Posted by: what? | April 21, 2008 12:40 PM | Report abuse

My sister and I are 13 months apart. She claims that she spent more time in the playpen as I learned to crawl out of it at a young age, and was thus impaired psychologically. I don't know about that, don't ask me why she didn't just follow my example and climb out of it as well!

My children are almost 4 years apart.

I will say that children close together save energy in some respects. I spend 6 full years going to middle school band concerts. Had my two been closer together I could have had some overlap and been spared that.

I think either way has ups and downs.

Posted by: RoseG | April 21, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/ss5511a1.htm#fig1
http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr54/nvsr54_02.pdf

According the CDC, in 2003 there were 4,089,950 live births in the US. There were 839,713 legal abortions. Assuming all legal abortions were by "choice" that still leaves only 17% of all conceptions are eventually aborted by choice. Where are you getting 33%?

That stat doesn't even include still borns who would NOT have been aborted by choice. I am hoping that number is relatively small. But would have no idea if that is true or not.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 21, 2008 12:47 PM | Report abuse

"kids are 37 months apart".
Is there a reason you can't just say THREE YEARS??? Why do parents count in months????

Posted by: Me | April 21, 2008 9:29 AM

Thank you for pointing this out. It is a pet peeve of mine.

Adults do this with each other too, if I am within a couple years of someone's age I consider them "my age." Not so with other people, if there is a 6 months difference, ex. 41.5 and 42, they have to point out the "age difference." It is asinine.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 12:52 PM | Report abuse

"When half the babies born today are considered unplanned and another stat that shows that about one third of all pregnancies are aborted by choice,"

Slight correction - according to Guttmacher (a pretty strongly pro-choice organization by any measure), the actual stats are

"• Nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended, and four in 10 of these are terminated by abortion.[1] Twenty-two percent of all pregnancies (excluding miscarriages) end in abortion.[2]" (from http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html)

Still big numbers, but substantially different from what American Babymaker posted.

Posted by: ArmyBrat | April 21, 2008 12:54 PM | Report abuse

Great topic for a book! I've become more aware of this phenomenon too, and haven't seen much in the press about it. Looking forward to seeing what you have to say!

Posted by: A reader | April 21, 2008 2:05 PM | Report abuse

I'm left wondering at what point a sibling becomes less of blessing for the elder child and more of a curse.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 21, 2008 9:37 AM

wow. That's an odd comment. I am delighted that our children are 6 years apart, and am taken aback that you are so wedded to the concept that there's only one right way to be a family.

Posted by: Huh?s Sister | April 21, 2008 2:13 PM | Report abuse

The summer my aunt had her last kid, she had 5 under school age. Yes -- the oldest wasn't in school when #5 arrived. She had two boys, then twin girls, then a boy. I was in high school and stayed with the family that summer as a mother's helper. That experience determined my fate in life -- never would I marry and have kids. No thank you. Not me, buddy. No, sir. No way.

If you haven't figured out where babies come from and how to prevent them, then you deserve what you get.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 3:36 PM | Report abuse

We have a woman here at work who is the only woman in the entire history of the universe to ever have twins. And she'll tell you about it if you're ever within 20 feet of her. That's why everybody tries to avoid eye contact with her and are 'very busy' when she heads in our direction.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 21, 2008 3:46 PM | Report abuse

WTF are you talking about and what do your nasty comments have to do with the topic at hand?

You and the other nasty-gram writers . . . why are you even here? If the rest of us are so dumb, immoral, etc., etc., exercise those fingers and click elsewhere.

Posted by: To 3:36 | April 21, 2008 4:06 PM | Report abuse

My parents had their forth kid five years and three months after their wedding. The maximum age difference (between number 3 and 4) is 20 months. Mother is/was a very devout pre-Vatican-II Catholic, and my understand is that Dad was always willing to "take a chance" even during the fertile times.

Mother's older and younger sisters (also very devout!) had 8 and 11 kids - but spaced about 2-3 years apart mostly, so the rhythm method seemed to work better for them.

Neither aunt has ever been a patient in a mental institution, and Mother's first hospitalization was when baby brother was 14 months old. She's been back every couple of years since 1964. She couldn't handle the stresses of that many kids that young, among her other problems.

My two boys are almost exactly five years apart. Younger son's birthday is three days before older son's, and I was very concerned that they *not* share the same birthdate! I would have preferred 2-3 year spacing, like my aunts families, not just for my mental health, but because my cousins seemed to get along better and compete less than my siblings. But infertility was a huge issue for me, and I'm mostly really grateful that I was able to have kids at all.

And it turned out that our spacing is just about perfect for our family. When younger son came along, we were finally getting somewhere with identifying older son's problem - his autism diagnosis was at age 6 1/2. All those things that neurotypical kids do, and that he didn't do at the normal time, well, he picked them up from his little brother at the age when he was ready. We couldn't have found a better socialization treatment for him.

Younger son has enough distance to have his own friends and social life, so he's not always forced to share friends, school, etc. with his disabled older brother.

If I could go back and relive my life, I'd want my parents to have had more time between their kids. I think we'd get along better. But I wouldn't change my sons' age difference, even though it wasn't what I thought would be best before I experienced it.

And yes, our ancestors could figure out spacing their kids. At least, my great-grandparents did it. Grandma was the middle of five children. Her older sister was born in 1901, her oldest brother in 1905, she in 1909, and the younger brothers in 1913 and 1917. All of them four years apart.

Posted by: Sue | April 21, 2008 4:42 PM | Report abuse

"you are so wedded to the concept that there's only one right way to be a family."

I don't think that, actually. It's just really important to me that any kids I have will be close. Both DH and I are from "bunched" families (I'm a twin with a brother 15 months older, he has two sibs, 2.5 and 5 years older than him), and we cherish the close relationships we have. I worry that wiely-spaced kids wouldn't have as much in common and thus wouldn't be as close.

It wasn't my intention to slight people whose kids are more widely spaced; it's just something I've had a lot of time to worry about as each month ticks by...

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 21, 2008 5:44 PM | Report abuse

I had always planned on having my children 2 years apart. My brothers are 5 and 12 years older than me, my husband's brother is 3.5 years younger than him and neither of our families are really close. I do allow that in both our situations our families are far flung - living states apart. However, my girls were born only 17 months apart and they are wonderfully close. The older one who is in college has had her sister come visit multiple times over the 2 years away. I hope that they continue to be close.

Posted by: Barbara | April 21, 2008 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I have 3 kids. 2 yrs 7 mo between #1 and #2. Then 21 months btw #2 and #3. But should we decide to have a #4, we'd probably try to plan it so that there was about 3 yrs btw #3 and #4. That would largely be for logistical purposes. I'd want #2 to be in school because having 3 in daycare at the same time would be challenging.

Posted by: 3 Mom | April 21, 2008 9:09 PM | Report abuse

In theory, "baby bunching" is a fabulous idea -- lots and lots of benefits as noted above. Biggest bonus: ready made playgroup! My older two girls are 16 months apart. They play hard together and fight equally hard. It's quite heart warming the way they watch out for each other.

MY downside to baby bunching: completely missing out on my second girl's infancy and toddlerhood. If not for photos and videos, I could almost think she'd been beamed down at the grand age of 18 months and I'd had a labotomy in the interim.

I loved, LOVED the first 16 months w/ my oldest -- that period was our exclusive "mommy and me" club. Sheer bliss. But the first 16 months w/ my second ... hm, what is the absolute opposite of "sheer bliss"?

But now, seeing how happy those two are together -- like two peas in a pod -- it was TRULY worth the sheer crazy insanity.

Oh, did I mention that we added a third into the mix? She's exactly 2 yrs. (minus 2 days) younger than our second. Yes, it'll definitely be a "freak show" of teenie hormones in 10+ yrs. (my poor husband may have to hibernate) but when the girls are off to college en masse (ouch!) and the house is too quiet, I may be wishing I hadn't had three so close together. May be ... I'll be begging for grandchildren bunching.

Posted by: Susan | April 21, 2008 10:41 PM | Report abuse

I have a student I call Spazzy McGee (he calls himself SuperSpaz) who has a brother who is 10 years younger than him. I asked him why one time, when I thought about how huge that age gap was (he and I have a fairly communicative relationship), and his simple, wide-eyed answer was, "because I was so much trouble!"

This is hilarious, but also sad. On one hand, this kid knows he's a spaz and relishes it. On the other hand, he was born with congenital issues and has been having surgery since he was 6 mo.s old, and only in the last couple years has been able to stop having yearly surgeries.

My sister and I were 5.5 years apart and fought viciously for about 10 years, since she was 5 or so. But I think my mom wanted to give each of us all of the mothering she could individually. Also, she had something like 5 miscarriages between myself and my sister.

On the other hand, my husband and his sister are also 5.5 years apart, and they get along amazingly well, and in many ways are best friends.

Posted by: Kat | April 22, 2008 4:20 AM | Report abuse

4:06-- So what is nasty about that post? That person is just stating facts, like this is April and today is Wednesday. Obviously having to take care of 5 kids under 5 (isn't 'bunching' the topic of the day) is not a great way to spend your life. You're either terribly thick or extremely touchy. Touched a nerve, did she?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 9:36 AM | Report abuse

Great topic, Linda! Can't wait to read your book. I had my 2 boys 15 months apart. (Accident. And yes, we were using birth control. It's not foolproof.) In hindsight, I guess it was hard - kind of like having twins where one of them can run around and get into stuff - but it's really not bad at all now that they're 3 1/2 and 2. They play together and share a room together. Oh and make lots and lots and lots of NOISE together! We still do things with each of the boys individually every now & then too.
I was absolutely panicked when I discovered I was pregnant and my first was only 6 months old, but now I wouldn't change a thing. We are, however, planning to have a 3rd in about 2 years so I can actually *enjoy* a child's babyhood! LOL!

Posted by: Lawyer Mama | April 22, 2008 9:56 AM | Report abuse

Just curious - do those moms who intend to "bunch" forgo breastfeeding, or stop before one year, in order to restart ovulation? Or did you just hit the fertility jackpot?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 22, 2008 5:42 PM | Report abuse

"do those moms who intend to "bunch" forgo breastfeeding, or stop before one year, in order to restart ovulation?"

I can speak only for myself, but I didn't stop nursing when we started trying. I managed to get pregnant twice while nursing, though neither one was viable. I've also had a few friends who got pregnant and carried to term, all while still nursing the older kid.

Once a child is eating mostly solid foods, nursing should not (theoretically) prevent ovulation.

Posted by: NewSAHM | April 22, 2008 8:25 PM | Report abuse

From what I've read, breastfeeding doesn't inhibit ovulation for any great period of time unless you're breastfeeding exclusively around the clock every 3 hours and sleep with the baby. And basically, if a woman is menstruating (even if she's still nursing), then in all likelihood, she's ovulating.

Posted by: 3 Mom | April 23, 2008 11:57 AM | Report abuse

It doesn't seem like there is much discussion here on the kids point of view... I was "bunched" and so was my husband. We were one grade apart from our siblings in school - it was way too close. Neither of us liked the comparisons, rivalry and competition. So we will not be "bunching" if we can help it. 2 grades apart in school seems better - might be harder on parents but I feel like each kid needs a chance to have his/her own identity without automatically being compared to a sibling.

Posted by: bcw | April 23, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

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