Saturday, January 10, 2015

How to Thrive When the Third Child is Born

A number of friends are expecting or have recently had their third child, and it got me thinking about exactly why the birth of our own third child felt so incredibly...easy. This is not meant to be boastful in any way. It is more a testament to the family, friends, stars, and gods that aligned to make the sweetest year of my (our?) life possible. So forget surviving. Here's how to thrive when your third child is born:

1. Accidentally have the first two way too close together. Preferably of the same gender. Then wait long enough that they play (and fight) really well together. When baby comes, it will be almost like having an only child again, without the obsessive worrying/urge to constantly entertain that came with baby #1's territory. Plus periodic conflict resolution.

2. Especially at the beginning, but for as long as you can manage, let your agenda consist of nothing. Not even food. Let other people do that. I would do anything, ANYTHING, to wake up again and have no other thought besides, 'I'm alive! I LOVE being alive! And I love my babies!' For the rest of my life, I will be on a mission to be as fully present as I was those first months.

3. Speaking of food, make sure a friend has organized meals for your family using MealBaby or Meal Train. If they haven't, make your mom do it. Graciously accept the food at the door and kindly tell them you will let them know when the family is ready for company. Unless you're one of those folks that prefers to be surrounded by a constant stream of visitors the moment the baby pops out. I have met this mother. She does exist. For the rest of you, I give you full permission to hibernate. 

3. Have a husband who takes a month off from work and wakes up every morning to cook pancakes for the big kids. And then have the presence of mind to realize how awesome he is and tell him so.

4. Realize that you've had a partner all along who has been helping and who is happy to help even more. Now that you don't have a choice, let him, you control freak. Who cares if he uses too many dryer sheets and he does the girls' hair funny.

5. Don't ever for a second feel guilty that the other two are in any way deprived. If they are acting like hellions, act appropriately (ie. tickle torture them.) But if they are fine, be fine too. Actually, they're way better off because you're less helicoptery and they have each other.

6. Don't bathe them too often. That's what wipes are for. I can't tell you exactly how often I bathe the baby because Child Protective Services might pay me a visit.

7. Forget trying to get the baby on a schedule. I'm going to let you in on the best kept secret in the business: Babies sleep when they're tired. Despite quite a few (one might even say 'many') people actually having had a baby, this is a little known fact. I tend to believe this is because the American Academy of Pediatrics, hundreds of baby sleep books, and thousands of articles, blog posts, and parenting forums brainwash parents before they even have a chance to hold a real live baby and come to their own conclusions. The sheer number of voices on the subject drown out the only two voices that really matter: the baby's and yours. It is true that if your goal is to produce a baby that sleeps through the night in her own private nursery flat on her back as dictated by said books/articles/AAP, you will most certainly have your work cut out for you. It will not be pleasant. And depending on the method, many believe it is potentially damaging. Even if you succeed, your baby will start teething a week later and you will be back at square one. And then she will get sick. And then you will go on vacation. Just don't. It's not worth it. Listen to your baby and yourself. Maybe you have a baby that loves being snuggled in a wrap for daytime naps. Maybe you have a baby that prefers to sleep in her own space. Maybe you have a baby that hates being on his back but loves being on his belly. Maybe she just needs to know you're right there next to her all night. Maybe she's in agony because of whatever you're eating. Maybe he thinks he should have a nipple in his mouth at all times because every time he so much as squeaked when he was a newborn, you put one in his mouth. Pay attention. They'll let you know if you're willing to listen. If your baby barely naps one day and insists on taking a nap at 5 PM another day, roll with it.* You don't have to understand. You just have to accept that they have some say in the matter too. So relax, perfect the nursing-while-sleeping, and stay out past their bedtime occasionally. There won't be any schedule to ruin.

8. Figure out which standards you're willing to compromise on, and lower them all. This applies to screen time, food choices, cleanliness, housekeeping, and the number of pinterest activites you organize for older children each week.

9. Take that newborn and go on a babymoon. To your bed. Stay there for a week straight doing nothing but gazing into each others' eyes. Potty breaks are allowed.

10. Finally, live upstairs from the grandparents. Ok, ok. Now I'm boasting.

*Do not EVER let your toddler nap at 5 PM. In this case, you would not be respecting the child. You would simply be stupid.


  1. the breakthrough I had with sleeping was realizing Taraz is such a noisy sleeper. After the first few weeks, half of the times I picked him up were unnecessary. oh, and learning to love sleeping in.

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