Monday, April 1, 2013

The Third Child Effect

When you have your first child you are awestruck and wholly consumed by your baby.  You spend your pregnancy reading up on what to eat, what not to eat, wondering if it is safe to color your hair.  You pour over nursery options and pick out just the right paint colors, bedding, and wall murals.  You give great consideration to car seats, breast pumps, ergo carriers, bottles, diapers, diaper bags and on and on and on.  Once the wee babe is home you spend your days holding them, cuddling them, feeding them, changing diapers, taking pictures and documenting all their milestones.  You can't wait for them to roll over, sit up, take their first bites of solid food, crawl, walk, etc.  You look back at your life before the baby and wonder how in the world you filled your time.

Then, you get pregnant with your second and you wonder if you'll ever be able to love another child as much as you love your first.  Will you be cheating your first out of your time and attention?  But, the baby arrives and your love expands and somehow you find the time to hold, feed, play with and love this little human.  Despite that though, you find yourself taking fewer pictures, you forget to document the baby's weight and length from each doctor's visit, you delay solid feeding a few weeks because it's harder to find the time to bottle feed and feed solids.  You're still overjoyed at the smiles and giggles but a little less interested in having the baby quickly become mobile.

And then you get pregnant with your third and you're practically in labor before you even give a moment's pause to think about where the baby is going to sleep.  Wait, what? You're not supposed to use crib bumpers anymore?  Kids are supposed to stay rear facing in a car seat until they are 12?  When did all that happen?  Oh right, it happened while you were busy with your two kids. The baby comes home and the sleep deprivation is magnified by the fact that you can no longer "sleep when the baby sleeps" because you have two older children who may or may not still be napping and even when they do nap it doesn't necessarily sync up with the time the baby naps.  You "forget" the recommendation of no tv for children under age two in exchange for 15 minutes of relative peace and quiet.  You find yourself only taking pictures on major holidays and birthdays and hoping your third won't notice the 5,223 pictures of your firstborns first year vs the 223 of theirs.  It's your babies first birthday before you even start filling out the baby book.  At what age did he sit up again?  Was it at five months or six.......oh, what does it matter anyway?  He'll never know you got it wrong.

By the time you have a fourth, they just fall right into the family, almost like they were always there.  It's six months before it even occurs to you to start feeding solids (can I delay solids until she can feed herself?) and you find yourself actually dreading the idea of any sort of mobility.  You realize babies are easier when they can't run away from you!  Things that bothered you with your first, like grandparents taking your child for pictures with Santa or outfitting an entire Easter Basket become the very things you're praying the grandparents will do with and for your kids because it takes some of the pressure off you, saves you time, energy and money.  And, things that you thought were so important with your first, like the perfect nursery, a coming home outfit and obsessing about them hitting milestones at just the right time, give way to the things you now know are the most important - making the most of the time you have with them. 

Yesterday, in between cleaning up for company, making dinner and hiding Easter eggs, I made sure to take a little time to just sit with Maren.  They grow up too fast.

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