It was quite difficult when Eleanor was only nine months old and I found out that I was pregnant with Theodore. I thought I might collapse under the intense physical stress of having a giant belly, a baby, and a special needs preschooler. I get so sick when pregnant and my kids are so high maintenance. But unless I'm romanticizing the past, once he was born, their closeness in age was never again a burden.
Eleanor is careening wildly toward independence - feeding herself all of her meals, going potty by herself, fetching toys, shooing the cat off the table, following vague, multistep commands ("Can you find Bro Bro's shoes and get your princess sneaks and bring them all to Mommy? And can you get my Mommy shoes? The sparkly ones?") She has completely surpassed Abigail in all areas outside of academics. So many times throughout the day, I can't believe she's only two years old. She's usually polite and understands turn-taking. Of course she has her moments, but largely, I can take her anywhere in any weather without worry. And while the physical demands of being pregnant and giving birth every year are not sustainable, from a daily living perspective, 18-month spacing is not nearly the challenge I thought it would be when that pregnancy test first read positive.
Eleanor is actually developing quite an enjoyable little personality. It's so fun to watch her make connections that I've never initiated. "Mommy, see those clouds? They're in the sky like the moon and sun!" She remembers places we've gone months before, things I've promised we'll do soon, which direction we should go in order to drive by the cows. It's hard to believe she was born only one year before her brother, still a baby learning to walk. If a person was so inclined as to desire a large family, from my perspective, 18 months is very manageable on a daily basis.
All this, of course, begs the question of Abigail. She changes things for me, and sometimes I really don't like to admit it because I don't want to give Down syndrome "a bad name." But if I'm being honest with myself, she really does make daily life more challenging. It's hard to go places with all three of them by myself. Abigail can't ever be trusted to wait a moment while I unbuckle Theodore. She can't walk along side the grocery cart to pick up a few things. Even at 5 years old, I don't trust her not to touch the oven when the door is open, she tries to pull hot pans off the stove, she intentionally leaves the water running on the Brita pitcher that sits on the counter, mesmerized by the water splashing on the floor. She requires more physical parenting than Eleanor, it makes juggling a baby more difficult. Some days it feels impossibly difficult. Those are the days we watch a lot of Curious George or Sofia the First. "Here, television, give me a break for a moment. I need to get dinner started."
The value of a life is not determined by the daily work they require, though. Which is good news for Roxy because puppy needs to stop woofing during naptime. Abigail is worth all the extra work and the difficult days. I don't hold a grudge against her and I certainly don't love her less than the other two because she is still in diapers and broke my glass butter dish. In fact, each kid I have just makes me want more kids even more. I just want to wait until I get my body back to healthy and I'd like for Theodore to be where Eleanor is. I have no idea where Abigail will be, so I usually think of the future with her as she is now. I need a little bit more time before I can keep everyone plus a baby safe and clean and fed and clothed, so I keep the NFP chart on my nightstand, next to the thermometer and ovulation tests. But it is good to know that 18 months is very manageable.