I met my husband Robert when we were in the 4th grade. As our friendship progressed, I knew deep down that he was meant to be my person. After we got married I knew I wanted to have children at some point. I knew I was ready for children more than he was. Over the years, we talked about having children and how many we would like to have. Four children seemed like a good number for me and he thought maybe two or three. I have four siblings, one of which is my identical twin and we are the oldest. Robert has two siblings and is the middle child.
After three years of marriage and a little more than coaxing him, Robert and I welcomed a son, Michael. Some of you can relate to the “clueless learning mode” that comes with having your first child. We enjoyed being first time parents and as soon as he was almost 2 years old, we started to entertain the thought of having a second child. It took us about 8 months to get pregnant and we had another son, Benjamin. Our sons were almost three and a half years apart and would end up being four years apart in school. I will never forget how enamored Michael was when he first met Benjamin. He thought he looked just like him! It was adorable.
Raising our sons was quite the adventure, and I enjoyed dressing them alike or similarly. I wonder if that need to “twin” them stemmed from me being a twin. Who knows! Our family went through a few life transitions including Robert’s job relocations across state lines and me returning to school for a career change to nursing. The thought of another baby was tucked away, but not too far away in the archives. When the boys were 8 and 5 years old respectively, we decided to try for what we decided would be our third and last child. I had settled with being comfortable with three children if we were blessed to have them. The gender of the baby did not matter. All we hoped for was to have a healthy third baby.
We started to try for our third child, expecting to wait for a while like the previous one. I got pregnant soon after trying, but ended up miscarrying at 9 weeks of pregnancy. This was a very heartbreaking period of our lives. I discovered that many had been through the same heartache, but even then, it still felt like a lonely time in our lives. We gathered strength and hope and tried again. We were ecstatic after getting pregnant with twins, but then shortly after, I miscarried at 11 weeks of pregnancy. This loss shattered us to the core. We decided to share that journey with our sons who were praying for a baby sister.
Shortly after that second loss of pregnancy, Robert’s job transferred us from Kansas back to Minnesota, our home state. I focused on settling the kids in school and looking for a nursing job. We still continued to try for a baby during all the crazy transitions. I found a job and after a year and a half, we welcomed our daughter, Victoria. Michael and Benjamin were 12 and almost 9 years old when Victoria was born. Raising our last born while having two self-sufficient sons was like starting all over again, but with added experience and less nervousness. They were the best protective brothers any girl could have. The large age gap between our boys and Victoria meant that we had great helpers. Michael was the diaper changer (including the poop ones!) and Benjamin was his assistant. Whatever Michael needed, Benjamin went to get in a heartbeat. They also taught her how to say words, sang to her, and rocked her to sleep.
By the time Victoria celebrated her first birthday, we had a toddler, child and teen in tow. We have had to experience milestones at the same time while the children go through them. Michael is now a young adult, Benjamin an older teen, and Victoria a child. When we drove Michael to college, as sad as I was to let him go, I remember being thankful that I still would have Victoria still at home by the time it would be Benjamin’s turn to leave. There are times when asking my children’s ages, people wonder if our daughter was an “accident.” I kindly tell them that we worked hard for her and that while she “took her time,” she was worth the wait.
Michael is out of the house and almost graduating from college. Benjamin is almost graduating from high school, with one foot out of the house. Victoria is in fourth grade and it is apparent to us how wide the age gap between our last two children is. Victoria is like an only child for the most part and that has oftentimes caused me angst, as I can only imagine what it would be like if she had a sibling closer in age. We went through so much to have her that it never crossed my mind we would be experiencing a sense of loneliness for her.
I am thankful Victoria has made wonderful friendships and that she has cousins close by, who help fill that sibling gap. I have some friends who had close interval pregnancies say they wished they spaced them farther apart. Sometimes the spacing of our children is out of our control. I will never know what it is like to have children closer together, just like they may never know what it is like to spread them farther apart. I have learned to appreciate the age gap between my children and bask in each concurrent milestone they may be going through. It truly has been a blessing that when together or apart, my three gems have a tight and close-knit bond.