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Jul 14 / Caro

Age Gap Obsession

Yes, I’m writing about this topic again. I’m acutely aware of the fact that I must be getting boring now. I’ll be honest that this text-only post has partly come about because my seven year old MacBook has (finally!) suffered a fatal head crash, taking all my photo editing capabilities with it. But I’ve chosen to write about it again because it is something that is so front-of-mind. Mentioning it so frequently here reflects just how often the thoughts of a sibling for Thomas enter my mind. Pregnancy, or rather the lack of it, and the potential age gap between children is something that pops unbidden in to my head countless times each day. Obsession is certainly not too strong a word.Try as I might, I can’t shut it off.

I thought a holiday might help. Break from routine. Take your mind off it. That sort of thing. But then our week away started with disappointment in the shape of a negative pregnancy test, followed fairly swiftly by the arrival of my period. (Come on, you’re used to the TMI in the “trying to conceive” posts by now!) Having taken the so-called “relaxed approach” last month – not tracking ovulation or temperatures, no supplements beyond my standard high dose folic acid – I think I carried it on pretty well and handled it better than the month before. I didn’t cry, so that’s progress.

And then came the news in the middle of the week that an NCT friend, whose son is just days younger than Thomas, is twelve weeks pregnant due on, of all days, my birthday. And then, I did cry. It’s nothing against her, or anyone else who achieves the pregnancy I so desire, because as I’ve pointed out before, it’s impossible to know what struggles others have already faced in order to get there. But I can’t help, or easily suppress, the envy I feel at the situation. Especially the lovely two year age gap.

That’s the bottom line: It’s the age gap that’s really getting me. I don’t feel envious of pregnancy per se, but more the families that those pregnancies will create. I can’t clearly articulate exactly why I feel the way I do about the age gap. Ian thinks I’m simply trying to recreate my own childhood (21 month gap) and perhaps that is true. I can’t help but feel a larger gap is less desirable because they will be less likely to have any common ground at each stage of childhood. Less likely to enjoy shared activities. To be friends. I know that you can’t know how things will turn out or how the personalities of the children will work out, but I want to give the best opportunity I can for my children to be good friends. I look at how much common ground Thomas shares with his cousin, who is older by two years and two months, and then look at the common ground the same cousin has with her sister who is younger by two years and ten months. Those eight months make a massive difference.

It seems at the moment that everywhere I look, there are women with young babies or toddlers who are pregnant again. Or families with children who are clearly close in age. And all this does is fuel my obsession. I can’t help my childish reaction that “it isn’t fair”. I think that each time someone who has been trying for less time gets pregnant. Or each time someone with a child younger than Thomas gets pregnant. And each month that passes I think I’m mourning just a little bit the passing of the dream for my family.

It’s something I cannot, of course, control. I can’t pause time, or Thomas. The longer it takes to fall pregnant, the older he will be when a sibling arrives and I have to accept that what will be, will be.

None of this means I will love Thomas’s eventual sibling, or our whole family any less. I’m sure that I won’t. But it’s hard not to dwell on it. Not to wonder how it will work out. Not to fear that a sibling arriving when Thomas is older will be harder and more disruptive for him that if they were arriving this month or next, as I would most have liked.

I don’t think I’m capable of not obsessing about it or thinking about it each and every day. I don’t think I’m capable of not getting upset by friends’ new pregnancies, no matter how irrational my feelings may be. In the meantime, unless anyone has any magical solutions for dealing with my envy and age gap anxiety, all we can do is keep trying, and hope that it happens soon.

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4 Comments

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  1. Carie / Jul 15 2013

    I’ve no magical anti-envy formula I’m afraid, just the feeling that in days gone by I could have written this – it’s scant consolation I know. For me I don’t think it was looking for a particular age gap, so much as the classic eldest child compulsive overachiever need to do everything bigger/better/faster and a desperate need to ‘catch up’ (I’ve been pregnant four times but only given birth twice), and prove that my body wasn’t utterly flawed. It’s funny, I never thought I was a jealous person, but it turned out I just hadn’t found something I wanted desperately enough.

    And on a side note, the hormone hit combined with a negative test is a quite ridiculous kick in the teeth from Mother Nature – no wonder we cry.

    In the nicest possible way I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll be groaning with morning sickness soon.

    • Caro / Jul 15 2013

      I’m always glad to know that I’m not the only person to have felt this way. I’m also a bit of an over-achiever, and being the younger child suffered from a terrible case of the “me-firsts”! It’s a family joke now, but it still lingers in some ways, and doesn’t help in this situation. I also hate how out of my control it all feels. I’ve not suffered much from envy before because usually if I want something someone else has, I look for the way to work to get it. If I’ve wanted to pass an exam with a good mark, for example, it was in my power to make sure I did it. But I feel like I’m doing everything I can to get pregnant – doing everything right if you will – and still not getting the pay off, and for my personality that is hard to take! I also understand exactly the wanting to prove I’m not flawed.

      I never thought that I’d wish so strongly to go through morning sickness again, but I’m very grateful for those wishes!

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