Carina has been typing on the internets before there was a www in front of everything. This is why she’s cranky and wants to know when you’ll get off her lawn. She resides in a hopelessly outdated home in the Mountain West with a mathematician and three children hell-bent on destruction. Her laundry is not done, but her Twitter is totally up to date. Carina does not have a Tumblr, because get serious.

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A Third Child? Time to Step it Up!

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I had my third baby, our first girl, three weeks ago.

I’d heard from so many people that the third baby is when things really start to go nuts around the house. You know the stories: man-on-man defense to zone; rubber meeting road; three is the hardest. I tried to mentally prepare myself for how it would be with a newborn, a 4-year-old, and a 7-year-old. I told plenty of people that I hoped that because my older kids were older (as opposed to 3 or under,) they’d take it better.

On the morning that we came home from the hospital there was a moment when I realized that you are never prepared for this kind of upheaval. Don’t get me wrong, the boys seemed to handle their new baby sister wonderfully. They truly like her: holding her, kissing her, showing her their artistic creations. But they still were the same loud, active, needy kids they were before.

Just because you have a newborn who nursed every hour of the wee small hours, doesn’t mean your 4-year-old can pour the new milk gallon himself at breakfast. Just because the 7-year-old wants to hold his sister constantly doesn’t mean that he’s not prone to new, overly-dramatic fits, lying, and general emotional distress. And just because you have a baby doesn’t mean that the older kids will fight, run, or yell less. They try to keep it down, and are good when you remind them, but sheesh, I am reminding a lot. A LOT.

It’s rare to have such a clear opportunity in your life to stretch and grow. You do not have a choice–you have obligations to your children to be a good mother even when it’s hard. It’s time to grow more. I could and can feel myself stretching to meet their needs and push past my own limitations. Is the transition from two to three kids hard? Absolutely. This may be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but there isn’t an acceptable alternative. I have to figure out how to juggle their every day needs with the demands of a new human. I have to remember to not be mean in the mornings when I’m a wreck. I have to remember to feed them, clean their faces, recall when they last bathed, recall when I last bathed.

We’re still in the thick of things, so I would love to hear your words of advice. How did those of you with three plus manage the transition? Do you have your system all worked out? It gets better soon, right?

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Comments (15)

  1. number 3 in the oven 02/04/2013 at 6:36 pm

    i have a 1yr and a 3yr and i have just found out that i am 7weeks pregnant with our 3rd we weren’t sure if we wanted 3 but i guess my body made that decision for us our only main problem is our house is 2 small so imagine trying to prepare my self for a huge change in our lives

  2. Considering #3 07/20/2011 at 12:01 am

    Wow, It is so nice to hear of so many moms with 3 or more kids, as it seems like most of my mom friends are stopping with either 1 or 2 kids. When I tell my friends that I want to have #3, some of them tell me that I must be crazy, that 2 is enough for a mama to handle. So my hubby and I are on the fence trying to decide if we want to take the plunge and try for #3, I am in my late 30’s so I can’t wait much longer. I currently have a 1 1/2 year old and a 3 year old, so if I got pregnant now, I would have a newborn, a 2 year old and an almost 4 year old. How did you all decide to have 3 or more, was it a tough decision, was it an accident or was it planned? Did you have trouble talking your hubby into trying for #3. Having 2 is definetly harder than just 1, but I love my 2 kiddos so much, I wouldn’t trade the hard work of 2 close in age for the world. Do you feel that with 3 or more, that there is not enough of you to go around. I am afraid that maybe at my age late 30’s I won’t have the energy for 3, and that some how the older two will not get enough of my attention if I have 3. Please let me know any advice you have. Sorry for changing the subject a bit..

    • Carina Wytiaz 07/20/2011 at 2:30 am

      Dear Considering,

      It’s already easier than it was a month ago.

      I won’t lie, it will be hard at first, but once they’re all a little older and can play together, it’s worth it. I’m not a spring chicken, and neither was my mom when she had #3 and #4 at the end of her 30s. We had plenty of attention from her. Just because you’re older doesn’t mean you won’t have the energy. You’re a different parent when you’re older, and I think that’s totally cool.

      It’s good for kids to have siblings, puts them in their place. I informed my husband we were going to have 3, so I can’t give you advice on talking yours into anything. I’d originally wanted 4, but compromised on 3 with him.

      In short, go on, have another.

  3. Corrina 07/18/2011 at 10:25 pm

    My 3rd is 2.5yrs old now…and it doesn’t necessarily get easier…just different! My husband and I have had to give ourselves permission to let other things slide in life. We both work, so that impacts life as well. Laundry may go unfolded on the couch for a few days, we may feed the kids less than balanced meals more often then we care to admit. But we try to have fun. And usually when the kids are acting out, it means they need more attention. We also adhere to strict bedtime schedules so that we have a few hours of kid-free time. When my youngest was an infant, she was usually up with us after the older girls went to bed…but at that point, cuddling a nursing baby on the couch was a piece of cake.

    I admit, it is crazy…but I love the crazy!

  4. Jessica 07/18/2011 at 2:59 pm

    I just had my second baby almost three months ago and she is a dream baby!! Because of that I think sometimes I could handle a third, and then I am reminded practically daily this summer that two is enough when I see the moms of three or more running around with their heads cut off at the store, or my duaghters swim lessons, or just out in public. To each their own. My friends who have three say that it gets easier, but no less chaotic

  5. Rachel 07/16/2011 at 2:03 am

    Our twin boys were four years old when our youngest son was born. The twins were a lot of work, but life was somewhat organized and predictable until the baby was born. He WAS a very easy baby, thank goodness, but the sleep deprivation almost did me in…not to mention I was 39 years old! Our baby is two now and the twins are six…although life is CRAZY, our baby spends much of his time playing with his brothers. It is getting easier, but I had NO idea how much work three busy boys can be. They fight constantly! The level of testosterone in this house is ridiculous but I love them all to pieces and wouldn’t have it any other way.

  6. Raejean Roberts 07/14/2011 at 7:00 pm

    My third child was a dream baby, so the adjustment was manageable. Going from three kids to five kids – that did me in for a couple of years!

    People made the comment after I had my twins that they couldn’t handle twins, but we as moms do handle what life throws at us. We might not handle the best way all the time, and we rarely handle life the way we thought we would, but we do the best we can in the moment. I love that I can reflect every day on what went well and what I can improve tomorrow.

  7. jennie w. 07/14/2011 at 10:04 am

    Keep in mind that you need to do what’s best for the family, not just the baby. Sometimes the baby needs to scream a little bit longer while you read a book to an older child.

    I ended up breastfeeding for less time than I had planned because it just was making everyone in the family miserable. I simply couldn’t juggle five children while I sat on the sofa all day feeding their baby brother. I was at peace with that decision once I realized that everything doesn’t need to rotate around the baby. Sometimes the baby gets the short end of the stick and that’s completely OK. The baby won’t remember it, after all, but the four year-old probably will.

  8. Becca 07/14/2011 at 12:00 am

    Every new baby adds a new element to the system, changes the “culture” of the home. New babies feel the same to me as culture shock when I move to a new place–and it takes me the same amount of time to acclimatize myself and my other kids (3 months usually).

    Number six has wiped me out, though. You said it so well. Demanding baby doesn’t make demanding kids any less demanding.

    You definitely learn what you can give on and what you can’t (and what you thought you couldn’t that, really, you can).

  9. Stepper 07/13/2011 at 11:40 pm

    I brought my third home to a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old. It was a rough transition – feeling a lot of the same things you are feeling. That there was not enough of me to go around. That the basic things were now impossible. That the chaos would win.

    Now my third is four months old (holy guac!), and things have DEFINITELY gotten easier. And the thing that I marvel at the most is how much my older two have grown since Hank came home. It seems that when a new dynamic enters the family, *everyone* grows to fill out the spaces.

    Eventually it stops feeling like a puzzle, and begins to feel like your now more-complete family.

    With – admittedly – a more exhausted Mommy.

  10. Anne-Marie 07/13/2011 at 10:50 pm

    Three was a huge transition and probably my most difficult. But even though number four was (and is) quite possibly the world’s most perfect baby, it rocked my world too. Four are hungry. Four are crying. Four seatbelts. Four sets of clothes to layout. Four fighting over toys…get the drift?

    And it DOES get easier. I promise. You are in the newborn fog…brushing your teeth is a victory. Being able to form such perfect sentences to write this post is unthinkable to me.

  11. Bridget 07/13/2011 at 10:48 pm

    I’m 14 wks pregnant with my 3rd (I still have the first trimester lack of energy) and I am starting to panic a little. I am barely handling the 2 that I’ve got, what with the way I’m feeling. How in the world am I going to handle 3!

  12. vanessa 07/13/2011 at 2:50 pm

    #3 has been ok for me, I think its going to be #4 that is going to make me lose it. ahh so maybe I should just stop now. lulu is beautiful. sorry that is not much advice or tips is it? wait I know why #3 hasn’t been that bad anymore…I quite doing anything else but kid stuff. One day I’ll go back but for now its all I can handle.

  13. Michelle 07/13/2011 at 1:20 pm

    This writing brings back vivd memories. I think you captured the essence – tired and overwhelmed. But, yes! It does get better. You learn the dance. Sometimes toes get stepped on and the beat gets missed, but overall you get your groove.