After Major was born, I was sure I was done having babies. A few things factored into that decision, but mostly I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. Moving across the country and adding a child to our family within a year knocked me on my butt big time. The first year of Major’s life was a total blur, and I felt like I was barely treading water most of the time. I was also dealing with some mental health struggles that made me feel anxious and vulnerable. Overall, the idea of ever being able to handle three kids (on top of my growing business) seemed like an impossibility.
When Kyle and I decided to go for baby number three last year, I was a little nervous. My experience going from one to two kids was SO insane– it had really taken us an ENTIRE year to feel like we were leveling out as a family. Even if we wanted to go for a third child, would we be able to handle it? Would I be able to handle it? I got pregnant with Mateo immediately, and my days wondering if it was the right decision were thus immediately over. The train had left the station, ladies, and gentlemen! LOL. I was really excited to add to my brood, and I always love being pregnant, but the nervousness about what going from two to three kids would be like lingered with me the entire pregnancy. Once I knew I’d be doing it as a single Mama, I was even more nervous!
My experience going from two to three kids has been so far from what I had feared, though. I feel, hands down, that going from two to three has been easier than going from one to two, and I wanted to share my takeaways about why! I’m under two months into the experience, of course, but since the newborn phase is always the hardest, I feel pretty good about writing this blog post. I guess I’ll have to give you another update a year or so from now when Mateo starts scooting around the house and giving me heart attacks daily. Ha! Here are my takeaways:
One of the biggest reasons that I can identify for why this time around has been WAY easier is all of the work I’ve done on myself. While I had been to therapy on and off for a couple of years by the time Major was born, it was really in the wake of my Postpartum Depression and Anxiety, and the PTSD from his accident, that I started to do really focused work on myself. I have learned so much about myself in the last few years, and I’ve become so much stronger as a person. Coming into third-time-motherhood from this newly empowered place has helped me be a calmer, stronger, and better Mother to all three of my kids– not just my newborn!
This Isn’t My First (or second!) Rodeo
Never underestimate good old fashioned EXPERIENCE. As a first time Mama, everything was nerve-wracking and a novelty. It improved slightly the second time around, but I found myself second-guessing myself a lot of times and not feeling very settled into my identity as a Mom. This time around, I know how I like to do things, the products I like, and what works for me and for my kids. For example, I know I like my kids sleeping in their own cribs, I know I like to swaddle them a certain way, I know I want to sleep train and have my babies on schedules, and I know my limits when it comes to breastfeeding. I don’t impose my “way” on other Moms, and I don’t let others’ opinions impact me. And, most importantly, I don’t judge myself for the parts of all of it that go wrong or not according to plan. I feel I’ve truly and finally become “seasoned” in my motherhood journey and I’m so thankful for the peace and grace that has given me this time around!
The Age Gap Is Bigger
Ok, so I’ve decided something: it’s not about the number of kids you have, its about THE SPACING. I look back on when Major was a baby…and Marlowe was a baby too! They are 26 months apart, and I didn’t even realize at the time how bananas that made the whole experience. I obviously know that people have kids way more close in age than that, but for me, it was a huge challenge. Marlowe wasn’t at all independent when Major was a newborn, and as a result, I had to bring her along with me every time I did anything with him around the house. Wrangling both babies at once was so hard, and being on a double diaper schedule was even harder. Plus, Marlowe wasn’t able to fully communicate her needs to me, which resulted in a lot of frustration and tantrums on her end as she adjusted to a new normal. This time around, the age gap between Major and Mateo is 3.5 years, and it is GREAT. Both Marlowe and Major are super independent, in a fantastic groove with each other, and on a schedule that works great for them. As a result, they have adjusted so well to the chaos that can come with a newborn in the home and are able to do their own thing while I feed him, change a diaper, or get him to sleep. Plus, THEY sleep. Which is not to be underestimated at all.
My Big Kids Help Me
If I had a dollar for every time I’ve asked Marlowe or Major to grab me a diaper, wipes, a burp cloth, or my phone, I’d have…oh, wait. Maybe I should be giving them that dollar. LOL. Please nobody tell my kids about allowance yet! But seriously, I’m so grateful to my sweet helpers for being so mature and recognizing that as a family we all need to work together right now. They are also both so EXCITED to help! It’s been really amazing to notice the difference there is when my kids are a bit older and able to really understand the magic of adding a new sibling to the mix. They both rush to come into his room with me when he wakes up from a nap, and snuggle him all day long when I’m breastfeeding or if he’s hanging out. They can’t wait until he can actually play with them, of course, but for now, I’ve been surprised by how connected they feel to him just as their baby brother who needs a great deal of love and attention.
Third Babies Are Chill
When I was pregnant with Mateo, anyone and everyone with three kids would reach out to me and tell me not to worry, that third babies “know their place in the family” and that their job is to basically be the chill little sidekick who gives Mama an easy time. I didn’t believe this, of course, since how could it be possible for a newborn to sense their birth order? But Mateo came out SUPER chill, with just the vibe we needed during these crazy times. He’s the sweetest soul and the easiest baby. And he loves to be held and snuggled. Of course, this makes for some trickier times at bedtime, since his dream is to just sleep nuzzled in my neck every night (LOL. Boys.) but overall he’s been so cut and dry about his needs and just going with the flow when we need him to. I’ve ALSO heard that third babies, and boys, in particular, get a little wild and crazy as toddlers….so stay tuned for my post about pulling my hair out during that phase! Ha!
Overall, this experience has proven yet again that sometimes the things and dynamics that we are most worried about turn out to be the very thing we don’t have to worry about. It’s taught me to live in the moment more, and that being concerned about the future is really a pointless endeavor. I know that having three kids instead of two will have many, many sets of challenges through the years– but easing in to this dynamic with a lot less stress than I was expecting has helped me face it with courage and grace. At least for now. I would love to hear from any other Mamas with three kids: did you find that adding a third child was easier than adding a second?
Please share in the comments below!
Photos by Julia Dags