Jeff and I always knew we wanted two kids. When I became pregnant with Jelly, Moe was only about 14 months old. We had only the slightest inkling that something wasn’t going according to plan with him. He wasn’t walking or doing much talking yet, but was still within the normal ranges. We imagined him as a two year old, much more independent by the time his sister would be born. I wondered whether a double stroller would even be necessary, imagining him traveling on the back of a sit & stand, or walking beside me.
Had we known then what we know now, we probably would have waited to have a second child. I would have wanted to devote all of my available energy to Moe and his therapies. It was stressful having to take him to doctor’s appointments and assessments, making important decisions about his care, while caring for a newborn. I didn’t feel comfortable nursing Jelly while the therapists were coming and going, so I stopped breastfeeding earlier than I had intended to. The first year, and especially the first 6 months of her life was a very stressful time for our family.
There are still days when I wish we had waited. I’m sure every parent with kids less than two years apart feels that way sometimes. But having Jelly around has given us a new perspective as well. It is a relief to see her developing so “normally.” Every time she points to something (which is about every ten seconds), my heart leaps with joy. It doesn’t get old. Her vocabulary is growing and growing and I’m amazed at what she knows. I send Jeff texts throughout the day with messages like “she said Elmo!” It is nice to be able to experience these wonders with Jelly that we didn’t get with Moe. And though I try not to get too ahead of myself, I’m looking forward to experiencing with her all of the things I don’t get to experience with Moe: pretend play, dressing up, those first hilarious two year old conversations.
Of course, Jelly isn’t always easy. In many ways she is a more challenging baby than Moe was. She always wants someone (usually me) to pay attention to her. She has some separation anxiety. She’s generally needier than Moe was. Looking back, I think that many of the things that made Moe an easy baby may have been early autism warning signs. He played on his own for a long time, he didn’t need me to be watching him every second, and he never had a problem if I left him with someone else. But his laid-back personality was also one of the reasons we felt ready to have another child, and on balance, we’re glad we did. Life is funny that way.