Recently our family welcomed Baby #3 into our ranks and life has never been the same. It has been a crazy, but beautiful ride and I’ve learned quite a few things in the process. Let’s say there have definitely been surprises — the things no one tells you about having a third baby. Here are just a few.
1. Your pregnancy will fly by.
With two other little ones, you will be so busy running around at the park and making snacks and taking tiny people to ballet classes that you’ll probably forget you’re pregnant half the time. There will be times when you’ll long for the peaceful enjoyment of that first pregnancy, but the upside is that won’t have as much time to dwell on every ache and pain as you did with your first (or even your second!) pregnancy.
2. The after birth pains are much more intense.
After having a first baby, you may experience some cramping pains after birth, but they probably won’t be particularly notable (I actually can’t even remember having them at all!). With my second, they were a little bit worse. And with #3? Well, let’s just say after having a super fast labor (less than two hours), the after birth pains that lingered for days seemed more unpleasant than my drug-free delivery. Who knew?
3. You will become that “big family.”
Having one or two kids is typical for most families, but those with three or more are on a different level. Once you have your third little one, you instantly enter into unchartered “big family” territory. Simple outings involve more planning and you’ll probably need a bigger vehicle… even just loading and unloading tiny people into car seats will require extra effort. You’ll have to wait longer for tables at restaurants, because a table for five isn’t as easy to come by as one for four. Everything becomes just a little bit trickier.
4. It will be louder than you ever imagined.
This may be slightly less true if you space your children a bit further apart, but having had three children in four years, I can say that our house has one volume and it’s LOUD. With a 4-year-old, a 2-year-old and a 6-month-old, everyone is making their own unique noises at all times — a dull roar is what we like to call it.
5. You will laugh a lot more.
Even though life with more children than you have hands can be overwhelming and exhausting at times, you will definitely laugh a whole lot more. Sometimes you’ll laugh, because the situations are just so ridiculous that you have to laugh or you might cry. But most of the time the laughter comes from the joy of connecting with your children — hearing their funny stories and seeing them try new things. It’s pretty magical.
6. You may become more emotional as milestones pass.
I suppose some parents get emotional even with their first little one, but for a lot of us, it’s pure survival mode as we step into the steep learning curve of being a first-time parent. By the time you get to #3 though, you realize how quickly it all goes by and you may find yourself mourning the end of some stages as they sprint onto the next.
7. You’ll do many of the “wrong” things and you’ll be OK with it.
As a first-time parent, you read all the books and try to do everything as perfectly as you possibly can. You introduce foods perfectly on schedule, you avoid “bad sleep habits,” and the like. By the time you have third baby, you realize that there isn’t really one “right way” to do this parenting thing. The only “right way” is yours.
8. You’ll finally trust your instincts.
When you have your third baby, you’ll know that even though you don’t have it all figured out, you definitely know what you’re doing. You finally trust your parenting instincts, realizing that no one knows your baby quite like you.
9. You will have so much grace for other parents.
Where you once may have silently judged the choices of other parents in the past, you now know that every child and every situation is different and parenting isn’t one-size-fits-all. You know that some kids are more challenging than others and that when you see the toddler throwing a tantrum in the middle of the grocery store, you’re only seeing one small piece of the puzzle–which isn’t necessarily a reflection of that person’s parenting.
10. Your heart will be so full.
Despite the hustle and bustle that is life with three kids and the constant state of controlled chaos, your heart will be so full. The love you have when you see all three of your kids interacting with one another will be overwhelmingly wonderful and will make it all so very worth it.