I am one of those crazy women who has 3 kids. I would previously look at women with 3 kids and wonder what sort of self-torture these women enjoyed. I thought having 3 kids was top-level crazy. Well, here I am. In all honesty, having 3 kids can be challenging, but I have learned to let go of so many expectations, that it really makes my life so much happier when I just let go a little.
Here are some observations that I have had that compare the first few weeks home with my 1st child vs. my 3rd child. These could totally apply to your 1st vs. 2nd child too. I just took a little longer to let go that much until #3.
My Experience with Newborns: 1st Child vs. 2nd/3rd Child
|1st Baby||2nd/3rd Baby|
|Birth||My baby is amazing. He has changed the world as I see it.||My baby is amazing. He has changed the world as I see it.|
|Hospital Newborn Photos||Sure, I’ll take them and buy them. He will never be this little ever again.||The photographer came in to our room this time. She handed me her brochure. I smiled politely and told her I didn’t want to waste her time. I wasn’t going to buy those overpriced pictures they stage to look like a beautiful studio that they literally set up at the end of your hospital bed.|
|First Car Ride Home from the Hospital||I fastened my seat belt into my permanent position for the next 9-12 months, right next to that rear-facing car seat. I gazed lovingly into the closed eyes of my newborn baby. He looked so small in that big car seat that had been sitting, unused, in the back of the car since I was 28 weeks pregnant. I made my husband go 5 mph below the speed limit. Any bump he made was met with a deadly eye glare. My newborn was the perfect baby. He slept the whole 15 minutes home. Not a peep.||I strapped my tired, sore body into my permanent front passenger seat. It’s the furthest position in our minivan away from the cries and screams of my older two children. My 3rd baby cried almost the entire way home from the hospital. I was sad to hear him cry. I peeked back to make sure he was ok. Took a video of him on my iPhone because both his brothers have a recorded history of their first car trip home. I told my husband to go 5 mph below the speed limit. Not because I was worried of turbulence damage to the newborn. I knew he would be ok. I wanted to buy us 5 more extra minutes of only 1 child crying, instead of all 3.|
|First Family Picture Coming Home||Baby is in his meticulously picked out “coming home” outfit. We pose, smile, take 50 shots until the baby is positioned perfectly “looking” at the camera.||The older brothers immediately trample mommy and baby as we get out of the car. They try to grab and touch and hold the baby for the picture. The one brother is pulling a leg in the picture. The other brother is pouting because he was told not to pull the other leg of the baby. I am postpartum hormonal and sweating buckets of water. We take 5 shots because I can’t take it any longer. One of the five shots has got to have at least one of us looking at the camera. Baby is wearing the same coming home outfit his brother wore home. It is totally a sentimental gesture and not a lack of planning on my part at all.|
|Diaper Changes||The baby is changed on the $300 changing table I researched from 18 weeks – 28 weeks pregnant. There is a changing pad that perfectly matches his nursery theme. The diapers, wipes (in the wipe warmer), and baby cream are neatly placed in a cute basket on the table. There are black and white photos of our family members hanging above the table. Babies enjoy the sharp contrast of B/W images and it’s helping him learn the faces of his family members. Win-win.||The baby is changed on the bed, on the couch, or laying on my lap in the back of the car. I sometimes put a changing pad down. I usually can see the diapers on my way to said location, but the wipes are more elusive. Wipes have now become multi-functional as face wipes, floor wipes, table wipes, toddler butt wipes, sticky hand wipes, yogurt-spilled-on-top-of-dog’s-back wipes. The baby cries because the wipes are room temperature. I figure why give the baby a false sense of hope that all wipes touching his behind will be warm. The sooner he learns disappointment, the better he will be at handling disappointment in the toddler years….HAHAHAHA…RIGHT…..|
|Visitors||We got no less than 10 visitors in the hospital, while I was literally still bleeding uncomfortably into the blue hospital bed pad. Then the visitors rolled in for weeks after we got home with baby #1. The newborn slept in my arms. The visitors held my angelic baby. The adult visitor and I talked quietly about the joys of new parenthood, discussed how the baby is sleeping, and stared at the cute little faces the baby is making.||My mom and sister and in-laws visited us at the hospital. I am not complaining on this one. I cherished and yearned for my alone and quiet time in the hospital. I wanted to hang a Do Not Disturb Sign on my hospital door. At home, all our friends now have kids of their own, so they are wheeling in their own circus and it’s hard to find time to visit. Visitors who come over to our house are able to catch a glimpse of our beautiful newborn baby, while the other time is spent watching his older brother stand on the furniture, guarding the baby while he jumps from couch to couch, and showing you how fast he can run from room to room while showcasing his mature vocal cords.|
|Work Emails||I would check my work email daily. I liked to remain in the loop of the work happenings. I would respond to emails when the baby was sleeping. I felt slightly bad that I was not there, forging ahead in my career.||I check my work email daily but only so that I can have the slightly satisfying feeling of deleting emails that will not pertain to me for the next 60 FMLA days. It gives me a tangible accomplishment for the day. I deleted 23 emails yesterday, can I beat that number today? I feel bad that I am not at work only because I’m not getting a paycheck.
|Maternity and Newborn Pictures||The photo session had been arranged for weeks. I searched Pinterest for the perfect outfits. I looked happy and filled with naivety as I showcased my cute baby bump. As soon as we were home from the hospital, I contacted the photographer to get the newborn shots done. I didn’t want baby to get too old!||I question whether I can afford maternity and newborn pictures. The answer is no, but mommy guilt sets in and I do it anyway to treat both pregnancies equal. I am glowing with sweat and the fear in my eye of what is to come can be craftily edited in Photoshop. When the baby is born, I again wonder if $400 is worth the investment. Damnit yes, they are only this small for so long, except I waited 2 weeks to make my decision so my newborn is almost practically in size 1 diapers already.|
|Sleep||I tried to sleep when the baby slept. The “old me” wanted to get stuff done around the house while the baby was sleeping. The initial shock of sleep deprivation only lasts a few decades.||I tried to sleep when the baby slept, but it is so hard when my other kids need my attention and I feel guilty because the only quality time I can offer them is when the baby is sleeping. So continues the ongoing struggle to find the elusive sleep of motherhood. The shock of living off of 2.5-3 hour stretches is not new to me anymore, but it does not make it any easier to function. In fact, it causes me to be extra snappy with my other kids until the baby finally starts to give me some longer stretches of sleep. I, of course, still do not sleep during those golden hours when the baby is sleeping because…life. Life does not stop. So, I charge through it and the neural connections in my brain actually reconfigure somehow to allow me to learn to adapt to the very little sleep, yet impossibly high expectations I put on myself on a daily basis.|
|Visitor Meals||For my first child, we had enough freezer meals to last us a month, no joke. After the baby was born, church ladies and visitors would drop off meals, almost daily for about a week.||This is when my small village, consisting of my mom and sister, would come over daily and cook dinner for us for a week. One wonderful church lady brought over a meal. The rest were gift cards and good lucks!|
|Leaving the House||We have an appointment at 10:00 am. At 8:30 am, I would begin to gather up the required materials. I could go back and forth between attending to my baby’s needs and packing the diaper bag. We leave the house feeling relatively prepared.||We have an appointment at 10:00 am. At 9:15 am, I remember said appointment. I begin to get myself dressed because if I don’t have a reason to get out of my pajamas, they are not coming off. I am interrupted no less than 6 times before I am fully ready. I get baby dressed while I scream to his siblings to get their socks and shoes on. It appears that his brothers have developed a hearing problem. I repeat myself no less than 6 times. Then it’s time to be ignored 6 more times while I tell them to brush their teeth. I am carrying baby out to the car, with the diaper bag over my shoulder (I finally had to use his brother’s old preschool backpack as a diaper bag), then one brother asks me to carry his shoes and backpack out to the car for him. No one remembers how to get into the car properly or which side their seat is on. They use the time of mom strapping in baby as an opportunity to explore the entire minivan from to back. It is now 9:55 am.|
|Public Places||The baby will not go out in public until he is at least 6 weeks old. He will be covered with a blanket. I will have hand sanitizer strapped to the car seat handle. We absolutely cannot leave the house before or during naptimes as that will mess the baby’s schedule up.||I kept the baby in our house for a good 2 weeks before I took him out in public with a cover. There is really no choice when life moves on around you and you have older siblings in school. I tried to talk to the principals of their schools to see if they could possibly move the bell schedule around to accommodate my 3rd baby’s sleeping schedule, but it turns out that the world really does not revolve around my baby’s sleep schedule, nor can our family of 5 do so all of the time either. Go figure. Baby #3 sleeps when he can and that is all there is to it.|
|Love for Your Child||When my first child was born, a love so consuming overcame my blindsided body. I really had never felt a love like this until the moment I heard my baby cry. Those condescending, know-it-all, veteran moms were right on this one. Your whole world changes because now a piece of your vulnerable heart lives outside of your body, and you do not realize until that moment that you would give your entire life to keep that baby protected.||Expectant mothers always question if they could possibly love their 2nd or 3rd child as much as their 1st child. When my 2nd and 3rd children were born, it was like a space in my heart I did not know existed opened and let in the overpowering love for each new child. My heart felt full and heavy at the same time, now that I would have to fight my entire life to protect all three of these babies. There are many days and nights when I want to scream and pull my hair out. I doubt my parenting. I doubt if I can handle all of this. And then there are those sprinkled moments of pure bliss, where I look around at my 3 beautiful, healthy children, and everyone is clicking and getting along. And I am humbled at the fact that God sent me these children to teach me things that I never knew my heart needed. And despite all the hard work having 3 kids has been so far, I think of what an honor it is to be given the responsibility to lead the way for them.|
Please note: These observations are from my personal experience. Some statements are exaggerated for humorous purposes.