A bit of back-story for anyone not 'in the know' - when we realised Vivienne was on her way it was a huge surprise (AKA it was unplanned and we were shitting it). I was 20, David was 21, we were both in Liverpool at uni and it was *not* something we were expecting, to say the least. I guess the full extent of that chaos is best saved for another day, but in short we became parents long before we expected to.
Nevertheless, it only took for Vivienne to become a young toddler before some people started asking when we were going to have another, even though I was only 22/23.. and it never really stopped since. For all the women out there (who probably aren't reading this family-centric blog) who don't want children and are sick of being asked about it - even women who *have* kids are constantly asked about whether they're planning on getting pregnant soon.. even, on one occasion, with one woman in Sainsbury's telling me I was a cruel mother for not planning on 'giving' Vivienne a sibling. Nice.
Anyway, fast forward six and a half years and batting off hundreds of questions about our plans (we didn't even *have* plans about more kids up until this point), we decided to go for it and try for another.
When I fell pregnant Vivienne was a few months off seven years old and when Sylvie was born she was seven and a half. She was old enough to be patient and understanding when I was feeling crap and irritable during pregnancy, and also old enough that if I wanted a break or a nap for half an hour on my own then she was responsible enough to be completely safe in that time.
When Sylvie was born she was old enough to understand that, although we loved them both equally, Sylvie often had priority and her needs had to be seen to before Vivienne's. She knew how to get herself ready for school and could (most of the time) pack and check her own bag, do homework on her own, and help a bit around the house. There was never a hint of jealousy or feeling a bit pushed out when Sylvie arrived; we thought the novelty of having a baby at home might wear off a little and she would want to spend some time doing her more grown up child things when at home but it hasn't been the case at all.
As it stands the girls adore each other, they gravitate towards each other in the house and only have eyes for each other when they're reunited after school at the end of the day. Vivienne is an amazing help, we don't push her when she's not feeling like it but most of the time she loves little responsibilities like getting Sylvie ready for the day or watching her for me while I sort things out. Life consists of a *lot* more juggling with two little ones but with Vivienne being older it makes the baby stage so much less intense - they really do entertain each other every day.
There were many reasons that we had a big age gap, and we never really 'pined' as such for baby number two - we were often close to deciding to only even have Vivienne as she got older and things became easier. We were young, working on careers, moving house and moving house (we moved about six times in as many years..) and there was too much going on without throwing more chaos into the mix. We could easily have stuck at one baby but Sylvie seemed to arrive at exactly the right time for us - even being born out of wedding season exactly as we'd hoped for.
Any baby books I read seemed to list negatives for big age gaps, "they won't bond as well", "you'll have to rebuy all your baby equipment", "the eldest will be jealous after being an only child so long".. but forgot some amazing positives such as "childcare costs a fortune and you'll only ever have one in pre-school care at a time", "you can comfortably get a shower or have 15 minutes to yourself because there's someone to responsibly watch the baby", "your eldest is more independent and can get ready/eat/wash so you're only wrestling with one little person each day" and "only one bloody massive car seat to wrestle with at a time".
Maybe everything just happens for a reason? (Maybe that reason is that in seven years we'll have one that can babysit the other..?) Whatever led to this point and whatever made us take a little longer than average, it's worked well and I can't imagine it any other way.
Big age gaps are the way forward - and we have these two to prove it.