Once we decided that we felt two kids was the right number for us, the next big question we had to face was when. There are so many different schools of thought out there and since I am an inveterate pro/con list maker this proved to be a stumbling block for me/us for a while. Here's how we figured things out:
The first several months of Lorelei's infancy were extremely trying for us physically and emotionally. I know that there are other parents out there who put off - sometimes permanently - having another child because they are still recovering from the difficulty of the first. We decided we had two options: wait until Lorelei was pretty self-sufficient (relatively speaking) until we dealt with babyhood again to try to make it easier on ourselves, or go with the rip-the-bandaid-off method of getting two infancies out of the way sooner rather than later. That would mean a gap of 4-5 years between pregnancies or, based on the timing of our decision-making, getting pregnant again immediately.
Courtney and Lorelei, about two weeks old
On the one hand, waiting a while seemed nice. It would give us time to really enjoy Lorelei's early years, Jason could get through the tenure process at his university so we could breathe a little easier, and it would give us time to settle into our decision to have another child in the first place. Plus, I was a little scared off by the looks on the faces of moms I saw in the grocery store and at library story time who were attempting to wrangle two children under the age of two or three.
On the other hand, we knew that research seems to indicate children who are two or three years apart have a stronger chance of developing a childhood friendship (though siblings with a bigger age gap seem to be just as likely to be friends as adults). Even though things are much easier with Lorelei now than they were in the first few months, we are still "in the trenches" and the thought of sleepless nights again doesn't seem as bad as it might if we were a few years removed from them. Both Jason and I are close in age to our siblings (20 months for him, almost exactly two years for me), and we both liked that growing up.
But it took an offhand comment from someone to make us realize what our decision had to be. In the middle of a conversation about having more than one child, a woman I know said, "If you're planning to go back to work after your children go off to school, you'll be a stay-at-home mom for a pretty long time if you don't space them close together." Lightbulb moment. In that instant, I realized that, while I'm certainly glad to be at home for now, SAHM-hood is not my ultimate destiny, and I needed to keep that as a crucial factor in our decision-making. I don't know why it had never occurred to me before, but both Jason and I agreed that we needed to get the ball rolling for my own sanity - even if it meant temporary insanity with having two kiddos in diapers.
Of course, it's not always possible to control how you space out your children, and we're lucky that both times we tried to get pregnant we were successful relatively quickly. Two to two-and-a-half years apart felt right to us, and I'm looking forward to sharing some of our experiences raising two kids relatively close in age with you. But I also know that, just like with the decision whether or not to have more than one (or any at all!), it's totally a personal decision based on your own lifestyle and preferences. If you're in the middle of making the decision, don't forget to try that visualization technique I mentioned in my other post on this topic; it's been a huge help to us in finally stepping away from the pro/con lists!
I'd love to hear about your own decisions about sibling spacing - whether it's your own siblings, your kids, or your thought process as you plan for the future!