28th April 2017

How has life changed with a third baby?

18190916_10158637440150607_875274830_n1) I’m winging it like never before…

I still felt fairly organised when I had one baby. After baby two, I was clearly beginning to lose my touch – but things weren’t yet crashing down around me. But with baby three, I threw the rule book on everything I knew out of the window and started winging it. I honestly think you could throw another few babies at me now and life would remain pretty much as it is.  I have gone to make a bottle several times in the last few months, for example, only to discover we don’t have enough formula left in the jar. This would’ve horrified me with my first and even probably my second baby, but somehow didn’t shock me with my third. I basically just wing it to get through the day in one piece. And thankfully we somehow always get through the day in one piece. That’s something, at least.

2) I ache physically…

A friend with three children told me a few years ago that it was her third baby that put her body under the most strain – and knowing I’d quite like a third myself one day, that conversation always stuck with me. And she was right. My third was a big baby, which I don’t think helped, but my back is damaged, my stomach muscles still haven’t come back together (quite a bad case of diastasis recti, I am told by the experts, which I need to fix) and I still feel like I am pregnant sometimes with my lack of core strength. I’ll get it back to some extent, I’m sure – but I can’t imagine ever feeling or looking like I used to. She’s all worth it, of course.

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3) It’s so noisy at home – but it’s usually laughter…

Having a baby in the house with two older brothers has filled our house with squeals of laughter throughout the day. They like to play the clown, while their little sister laughs and squeals in agreement. She’s an incredibly quiet baby compared to her brothers at the same age, but that third baby joining the gang still seems to have tipped the balance. The adults are outnumbered now i guess. In fact, I truly understand the meaning of the phrase ‘I CAN’T HEAR MYSELF THINK!” since Mabel has arrived on the scene. And I can’t – until they are all in bed in the evening, at least.

4) I barely sleep…

It was kind of OK in the beginning. Mabel was a good sleeper and I guess I was surviving on adrenaline. But then she went through a bad case of sleep regression at 6 months and has woken several times a night since. I can cope with the middle of the night stuff, funnily enough – but it’s the early starts that kill me. She wakes anywhere between 4.30am and 5.45am to start her day –  averaging at around 5.15am. And when she wakes, she makes these loud squeals and immediately wakes up her eldest brother, who bounds into the room like a puppy on a sugar high – and the silence is well and truly broken until they all head to bed again that evening. I am drinking way too much coffee at the moment…

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5) It takes us hours to get out the door…

I am surprised by what a gigantic difference having a third baby has made to our ability to get out of the door in the morning – but that small human has stumped us. And it’s not just physically getting them into the car in their respective car seats – but it’s everything that comes before it. Packing the bags, dealing with last minute wees and poos, making sure we have everything we need for each different age (from bottles of milk for Mabel, to snacks for the boys). Sometimes I really can’t be bothered and we make no plans at the weekend – but by 9am, the boys are running up the walls and we do something anyway. And I’m guessing we’ll get better at this with time.

6) Travelling takes on a new spin…

Being an expat, I have travelled on a pretty regular basis with all of my babies. In fact, I’ve just added it up and Stanley has now travelled on 29 long-haul flights in his just-turned-5 years, while Wilfred has flown on 15 in 3 years, and Mabel on 4 in her 7 months. That’s not to mention the regular weekends away to hotels – and the dashing around and staying in so many different places when we are back in the UK. And whilst I know we will keep doing it (as we are expats and we really don’t have much choice if we want to visit the homeland) it now exhausts me to even think about it… I’ve cancelled weekends away recently, as even the packing is too much at the end of a long week (let alone having three excited kids refusing to sleep in hotel beds). And whilst we are still planning to head home in the summer, I wouldn’t be devastated if it didn’t happen (for the first time ever). Home, our own things, our own car, and our own routine is more important than ever.

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7) It feels like she has been here forever…

As one of three children myself, I always dreamt about having three children of my own. It was always my magic number.  But if I’m honest, there was a time a few years ago when I had the two boys and was more than happy with my lot – and I wondered for a while whether we were ‘done’ after all. Life was getting easier and the two boys together just felt ‘right’. So when I was pregnant with Mabel, worries constantly flitted through my mind about whether we were destroying this precious  family unit unnecessarily. But I realised that I had no need to worry from the very first night that Mabel was born. Within hours, she felt like she fitted in. Now I feel like I have known this beautiful little soul forever – and that her brothers have always been alongside her.

8) But it’s really hard getting rid of the baby things…

Having had the three babies I always dreamt about, I really thought that I’d feel ‘done’. I wrote blog posts about it, listed maternity clothes for sale, and promised cots and buggies to friends when Mabel had grown too big for them. But whilst I am still 99% sure we are done, the other 1% wants to hoard baby clothes, keep my maternity clothes hanging up in the wardrobe, and cling onto cots, toys, and buggies for dear life. I expected to feel relieved to be done with them and totally ready to pass them on – but the truth is that I still feel pangs of sadness about the newborn days being over. I am hoping that time will convince that 1% of me that I am utterly bonkers. After all, I may eventually get to sleep again as they all start growing up. Hopefully, at least…