Family

I had a 21 year age gap between babies

Two women share their stories about parenting with a large age gap between children with Danielle Colley.

DEB
I had a 21-year age gap between my first two children and my last child. After I had my first two children, a boy and a girl, it never even crossed my mind to have another baby and the sudden, late maternal surge took me quite by surprise.
I was 40 years old, my two kids had left home and I had a very empty nest. I started to pine for another baby.
My husband and I enjoyed a fantastic relationship throughout our child-rearing years so one day when we were driving along a country road I suggested we have another baby. He nearly ran off the road. He was sure I’d lost my mind!
I finally convinced him, and I fell pregnant quite easily but I miscarried twice before I was diagnosed with secondary infertility. I was working in an IVF clinic at the time, so I put myself on the list with no success. When I was 42 they told me I was too old to continue.
My husband was so wonderfully supportive and I just felt like this baby would happen for me if I just remained persistent. I went to a Chinese herbalist and fell pregnant naturally within three months.
My whole attitude to parenting is very different this time. I was really guided by others when I was younger but I had the confidence to trust my instincts more this time. I practice gentle parenting techniques now, which I didn’t know existed before. I home school my son, who is now eight years old, whereas my other children went to regular school.
This child has changed my life. He has created a career change for me. He was a terrible sleeper, and would only fall asleep in my arms. On one hand, I loved it, because I had wanted this baby for five years but I needed a strategy because it wasn’t sustainable.
I learned music and composed a music based sleeping system called Nigh’ Nigh’ Sleepyhead, which helped my family and went on to help others.
The first time around there was limited parenting resources. The maternal health nurse was your only source apart from a few books but now there is the whole internet which really influences parents. In many ways that’s great, but in some ways I think it’s bad too. People trust their instincts less.
Everyone assumed my son was an accident, but I set them straight that he was the most wanted baby in the world. Many older women would tell me how lucky I was to have another chance at motherhood, maybe their husband said no, or they tried and couldn’t, so I know that they are right. I’m the luckiest woman around.
KYLIE
I had two children, 15 years apart, with the same man. We were very young when we got together and we split up for 10 years and we got back together when we were a bit older and wiser.
I met my partner when I was about 18, and we travelled around the world together and I knew that I wanted to have a child with him while I was still young. We had our eldest son, Jakota, when we were 25.
When our son was almost three, my partner and I split up because life had become a bit crazy. I was having issues with anxiety and panic attacks, then a traumatic miscarriage ripped us further apart. My man had his own issues also, and we decided we should just let each other go.
We stayed close for our son. We were very much still a family and we spent time together but we were both in other relationships for years. I got found yoga and counseling helped me to calm my anxiety and he also worked on himself in that time.
After 10 years separated, we were both suddenly single and something shifted between us and things got romantic again. We went very slowly and didn’t tell anyone for eight months. Not even our son. We wanted to be sure we were really doing this before we told anyone, but our family’s suspected, even hoped we were back together.
Once we were firmly back together we realised we wanted another baby. Our son was 14 at the time and we were both approaching 40. I fell pregnant easily, and 14 days after my 40th birthday our son, Finnlay, was born.
I feel the difference in having babies so far apart, I feel more tired now, but my two boys are also very different kids. Jakota slept much better, so I feel like I had more rest the first time around, but maybe I just feel more tired because I’m that bit older. I notice my patience gets frayed, but it’s just tiredness.
Parenting trends have definitely changed but I feel confident enough in myself and my parenting that I don’t follow the trends, I just do what works for us and I don’t really care about what the books say. You just have to go with the flow because every kid is so different.
Technology is one big difference I feel this time around. There was no such thing as an iPad before and although we’re still a very outdoorsy, active family, I need to monitor technology, which was not such an issue 10-15 years ago.
We co-sleep a lot this time around, and I did not put Finnlay into kindy as early or as many days. Even when he’s at kindy he does really short days because I love to spend time with him. I feel like I’m really savouring everything this time around.