When I became pregnant with my third child, the thought of going from two to three children filled me with pure panic. I was just coming out the other end of Post-Natal Depression (PND) and even though I had been on the mini pill and was still breastfeeding my second, the two pink lines weren't lying when they revealed themselves to me. I was indeed pregnant. A wave of shock, disbelief, alarm and “How can I do this again?” all went through me.
I had found going from one child to two exceptionally hard. Balancing my attention equally between two children at two different ages and stages in their development and needs didn’t come easily to me. I really struggled with a three and a half-year-old and a newborn with horrendous colic. I had also had an emergency caesarean birth much against my birth plan ideal and while I am now ok with all that happened back then, it was a very tough time physically and emotionally. And one I didn’t ever want to repeat if I am honest.
When my third was born, there were just 21 months between my second and newborn. But, PND didn’t resurface for me this time, I think partially because I was prepared psychologically for a really hard time and got in lots of support. I had a planned caesarean birth third time around and it was so much more peaceful and calm and I felt in control. Of the decisions, I was making, the people I wanted around me and how I was to be treated. I genuinely think these things really helped in getting us off to the best start possible.
So, on a practical level, what’s the difference between two and three? Well, the obvious first. You will need more surveillance eyes, ears and legs on them! With two you can often "divide and conquer" i.e, spilt them up. But with three, well, that’s a whole other ball game. Good luck finding someone who will take all three of them together if you want a break!
"Swimming becomes a high-risk sport. Screaming the words “Where’s so and so?” as you swivel around in the pool looking for a familiar bum or a head becomes the norm"
I have three girls and I find that there can often be one left out. Because people, my three do not “play nicely together” very often. When they do, I get all smug and happy and then a fight over who looked at Baby Annabelle starts WW3 and I sigh and just hope that someday the fights will decrease in frequency. The gangs of New York would have difficulty squaring up to mine on a rainy afternoon in January.
What else? Apart from maybe needing a bigger car, fights over sharing bedrooms, the tv programmes they watch, the price of everything tripling… Family holidays become Ex. Pen. Sive. We do house swaps now (see my article on my blog about travelling with a biggish family and doing house swaps) So far we have managed several house swaps in Ireland, one in Australia and one booked for this Summer in the Netherlands.
Hotel rooms become nightmarishly expensive if you need an extra room and if you opt for one room… Well, everyone squashed into one room is all well and good until it comes to bedtime and morning time. Generally, the night owl keeps everyone up and the early riser wakes everyone at 5.30 so it’s the family of Grumps for breakfast. Swimming becomes a high-risk sport. Screaming the words “Where’s so and so?” as you swivel around in the pool looking for a familiar bum or a head becomes the norm. And after school activities become pricey. Just multiply all activities by three once the youngest hits 5. Because they will probably want what they see the others doing.
And now, the pluses. Yes, there are a few! From a practical point, if you have two of one gender, you get to pass on clothes and uniforms. Bikes and toys and books reused, torn and doggy-eared. My 7-year-old sometimes reads my 5-year-old her bedtime stories now which I find unbelievably cute. I love to see them mind each other if playing on the street or if something happens when they come to me holding hands; one for all and all for one. I love when they “sneak” a midnight feast together at 10pm (led by the 5-year-old, enabled by the 7-year-old and masterminded by the 10-year-old). I love seeing them head to school together singing songs. I love Christmas and the tooth fairy, the rowdy chats, the crazy shows they put on. Three sisters feels very special and very right in our home and I do hope that will maintain their special bond and crazy energy together when they are older.
So, yes it’s expensive in many ways. And noisy. Oh so noisy. And chaotic. And when I hear that families are getting bigger I do wonder how parents are managing. On every level. But for now, before puberty kicks in and I am mowed down by hormones, I am savouring these last years with my babies. And getting my sleep in when I can. Because though I got little sleep with my colic-y baby, I am guessing three teenage co-conspirators will offer me much less.