Why Having 3 Kids Feels Easier Than Having My First Child

by Candace Alnaji
A mother wearing jeans watching her three children sitting on a bench while they are playing
romrodinka / Getty

Earlier this year, I became a mom for the second time, and in so doing, tripled the amount of children I have. In case you’re doing the math, I had twins — boy/girl twins to be precise.

When I first learned I was having twins at my eight-week ultrasound last year, I was shocked — and not in an adorable, “Oh boy, we’re in for it now” kind of way. I was a full-on hyperventilating mess. As my husband held my hand, I spun through my Rolodex of fears at breakneck speed.

Would the babies be premature? Would there be complications? Would I need to go on bed rest? Would I be able to adequately care for two newborns? How would our older son be affected? My visions of how our family would look after pregnancy quickly evaporated.

It didn’t help that, at the time, I was suffering from terrible hyperemesis gravidarum. Everything overwhelmed me in that moment.

However, it didn’t take long for me to embrace the idea of twins. Within a couple of hours of receiving the news, I was ordering When You’re Expecting Twins, Triplets, or Quads from Amazon and thinking about the beautiful reality of having two more children to love.

Still, with all the excitement and anticipation that ensued over the next several months, there was still one lingering fear: what would the transition from one to three children actually look like?

I couldn’t imagine it being anything other than hard.

During conversations over the years, experienced mom friends had always told me that the transition from one to two children was more difficult for them than the transition from zero to one. My friends with three or more kids would usually follow that up by saying that the transition from two to three was much easier since, by that point, they were used to juggling multiple kids.

Scouring the Internet resulted in similar answers. Everywhere I looked, there was story after story recounting the difficulties of going from one to two children. Stories about twin additions seemed even more hopeless.

Every search forum result, every blog post, and every published article said the same thing — that you should prepare to be shell-shocked by the arrival of twins. And so, I did.

I hoped for the best, but I prepared for the worst.

Every item purchased, and every choice made during my pregnancy was done with the goal of making our transition as easy as possible. Still, I fully expected to be flung off the deep end with the babies’ arrival.

I assumed that this was it — the end of life as we knew it — and that it was just a reality I had to accept.

In some ways, that turned out to be true. It is no longer just my husband, son, and me, and so our days do look different. However, the heart of our lives feels the same, and our daily lives are much, much more manageable than I imagined.

That really surprised me. It’s not because our babies are super easy or because I had an easier birth and recovery. Our babies are normal babies. They cry. They keep us up at night, and our days right now are devoted entirely to their round-the-clock care.

My recovery this time was harder due to a C-section and the aftermath of a more physically taxing multiples pregnancy that ended in my delivering nearly fifteen pounds of baby.

However, whereas I struggled with the sleep deprivation, feeding issues, and unfamiliar demands of motherhood in the earliest days of my son’s life, I’ve taken it all in stride this time around.

Unlike all the people who said that “one kid feels like one, but two (or more) feel like twenty,” I’ve found that three kids just feels like three kids.

Yes, it’s busier. Yes, it’s harder when everyone (including big brother) is crying at once and trying to get my attention. And, yes, navigating my son’s transition challenged me in new ways, but I haven’t felt overwhelmed in the way I thought I would.

For me, doing the emotional work of becoming a mother was what made the transition from zero to one more challenging. Going from taking care of only myself for thirty years to having a new life completely dependent on me was much harder than adding a couple of more kids to the mix a few years later.

Now, I’m used to navigating the needs of my children. I know what it’s like to deal with health scares and middle-of-the-night crying jags. I multitask like a boss, and my feathers don’t get ruffled by every little thing. Whereas with my first I treated every little decision like our lives depended on it, this time I’ve been much more relaxed.

I thought I was relaxed the first time around, too. So, maybe I’ll look back on these early days and realize they were also harder than I realized. I don’t know. But, I do know that, apples to apples, the immediate transition from one to three children has been light-years smoother than our transition from zero to one child.

So, if you too are preparing for a transition to more children, especially with twins, and especially if you already have a kid, know that your experience might not be as scary as you think.

Perhaps I’d feel differently had I not prepared for the worst, so maybe don’t totally let your guard down, but, don’t be afraid to meet your new normal head-on.

You may find you are tougher than you realize, and that you love your new life even more than you could ever have imagined.