Having kids is hard. In fact, having kids is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. After three kids, I am done-diggity-done-done having children, which I’ve ensured by physically having my tubes removed from my body following my third C-section in May of last year. With my youngest child now eight months old, I’m gaining a real sense of peace back in my life, not only because I have fulfilled a personal dream of having three kids, but also because I am so relieved never to go through the transition of having another one again.
Here’s how I felt about each of the transitions from zero to three kids:
Zero to One –The Biggest Shish-Kebab Show of All Time
In my experience, there is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for your first child. I could have bought every single baby product on the market and read every baby book ever written, yet there was no way to be truly “ready,” because the way I thought I might feel about being a mom for the first time was vastly different from the way I actually felt.
When my son arrived, I was happy and relieved he was born healthy, but I was scared a lot, too. I had anxious and weepy evenings, and I worried constantly about whether or not I was doing things right. It was all so overwhelming: the sleep deprivation, the C-section recovery after more than 30 hours of labor, the cracked and bleeding nipples that, despite the fact that my baby was putting on weight and getting his milk, felt like someone was stabbing me with every latch for the first month or so. The beginning was so tough, and each day I was just surviving. Leading up to my due date, I thought being home from work for three months with my new baby would be so restful and magical, but in reality, by the time my 12 week maternity leave ended, I had pretty much just surfaced for air.
Part of what shocked me most was finding out how typical this was. As it turns out, a lot of new moms have a really tough time, yet very few people admitted that to me until after I started to be honest about my own challenges. Even at the doctor, I felt if I’d been more honest about my struggles, I would have been met with a diagnosis rather than an empathetic ear, despite the fact that I knew I was not experiencing true postpartum depression. Maybe it’s better to be left in the dark, who knows, but I think if I had been told to prepare for the “100 Day War” as I like to call it, I would have had an easier time accepting the massive changes that go along with being a first-time mother.
One to Two – The Welcomed Chaos
Honestly, the arrival of my daughter was like throwing a deck chair off of the Titanic — it barely rocked the boat. The things I found to be so grueling the first time around were still difficult but, this time, without the earth shattering jolt of being a new mom. I knew what to expect; the cluster feeds, the spitting out of the pacifier, the blocked tear ducts, the gassiness, the baby’s gassiness, the breastfeeding, the constant diaper changes — I had been trained and readied for battle, and my husband or someone else was there to help with my two-year-old son for the first few weeks, so only dealing with a baby almost seemed easy.
When I was ready to take back over again with both kids, it was certainly more chaotic, but it was a welcomed kind of chaos. Being at home with just one child, at times, was very boring. The pressure on me to entertain one tiny person all day was lifted because now, at least for some of the day, they could entertain each other. In the early evenings when the sun would set, and I would have been alone with a baby worrying about the sleepless night ahead, there was a toddler there to distract me from those thoughts. I simply had less time to worry. Becoming a mom for the second time filled a lot of voids in the day and brought me deeper into my role as a mother, which I really enjoyed.
Two to Three – The Real Chaos
As I mentioned, I always wanted three kids. I came from a family of two and wondered all the time what life with a third sibling would have been like and, I suppose, the only way I was going to be able see it for myself was to have three kids of my own. The decision to have a third child was a giant one for us. We had a son and a daughter, one of each, and we have been through quite a huge challenge with my first son having been diagnosed with Leukemia at age three, when my daughter was just a year old. After enduring that, having a third was something I wasn’t totally sure I had the strength to do. After much consideration, with my son’s health now being in a stable place, we did it. We were right there, we could have coasted, but I knew I’d have always regretted it if we didn’t try for three.
When the baby arrived, it was hard. I was so tired and sore, not to mention older, and trying to keep up with a three-year-old and a five-year-old was a whole different ball game. The first few months were nothing short of treacherous. I was treading water just keeping everyone fed and groomed and taking them back and forth to school and activities. There was no time for me to enjoy it and, truly, I was too exhausted to extract any real enjoyment out of it anyway. Slowly but surely, however, I have begun to emerge from the fog. I am sleeping regularly and that transition to three children that nearly put me into the ground is starting to fade to a memory. In the last week, I have had some of my happiest times as a mother and this genuine feeling of completion is so incredibly satisfying.
My sweet firstborn son is almost finished with his treatment for leukemia and is thriving in kindergarten. My daughter is absolutely wild and gifts me with at least one full-blown belly laugh every, single day. This third baby, if I do say so myself, is absolute bliss. I don’t know if he really is the jolliest little bugger in the world, or if I am just fully enthralled with my last experience with a baby, but it’s wonderful.
I’m a mother of three, and I couldn’t picture it any other way.