We are eight months in living a life with 3 children ages 4 and under. I write this coming off of a week and a half of all 3 being sick at once. They’ve been sick a lot this fall/winter, but it’s been in shifts.
This time all 3 had colds at the same time. Lucy’s turned into an ear infection which required a doctor’s visit. Peter was up 2-3 times a night wanting to nurse, after being on a string of sleeping through the night. They all had/still have coughs. Big Zach was also sick. And just when I thought I was the super immune that dodged it all, I ended the week with an infected milk duct which caused a fever/flu like symptoms for a day and then a very unpleasant 24hr stomach virus the following day. AWESOME way to spend a weekend.
While this particular week has left me wanting to scream into my pillow, my overall opinion of life with 3 is “10/10, would highly recommend.”
Let’s go back to June 30th. Peter and I were given the go ahead to go home. Zach went out to pull the car around, while I sat with Peter.
“Here we go,” I said to Peter. “We’re going to go home and start our life with you.”
Zach called me and I told the nurse I was ready to go.
“Do you want to walk?” She asked.
Walk? I thought it was a requirement to be wheeled out in a wheelchair, but I guess it’s at the patient’s discretion.
My crazy, hyper hormonal brain said, “Sure. I can walk.”
The nurse took the car seat and I wobbled behind.
Walking out of the hospital after having a baby….if that doesn’t say I’ve done this before, then I don’t know what does. I kind of felt bad ass. Walking out two days after I popped a baby out.
When I got in the car, Zach said, “They let you walk out?!”
“Yeah,” I laughed. “Guess they figured, it’s her 3rd time, she’s got it. But now that I’m sitting again, I’m feeling like that was probably a bad idea.”
“Ya think?!” Zach said.
I came home to my Mom and my in-laws waiting for us in the driveway. Lucy and Zach were excited to see us and were super welcoming to our newest human. Especially, Lucy. She is a caretaker for sure. Each of our immediate families were able to stop by in those first few days. It was refreshing. I had forgotten how much fun it was to be able to welcome people into our home to celebrate a new baby. It made us feel secure and content.
Zach had two weeks paternity leave. He was with the big two night and day those two weeks. I had a lot of time with Peter and a lot of time to sit with my feet up. I needed it.
The first night home, my parents and in-laws helped us settle the kids. When it was time for bedtime, I insisted on doing my routine with Zachary. Zach told me to relax, but I wanted it to be normal for Zachary.
Zach lifted him and put him in my lap. My little boy felt so big. I winced in pain but held it together and sang You Are My Sunshine to him. He nuzzled his face into my neck. His little arms draped over me. He had a long, busy day of getting acquainted with his new role of “big brother.”
When it came time to put him in his crib, Zach came in. I knew I should not lift him, but I wanted to so badly. I began to cry.
“I’m so sorry Zachy. Daddy has to put you in your crib.”
“I want Mommy!” He shouted multiple times. He fought Zach’s embrace and reached for me.
“I’m sorry, buddy. Good night.” I left the room in tears.
Zach took him and calmed him pretty quick. But, man, when I say I felt crushed. It was rough. It was the same thing for a few nights in a row. I cried so much about that. Reflecting back, it didn’t take him long to adjust because he had Lucy to pal around with.
The days felt really long those first two weeks. It was summer, so Zach had the big two outside every day. I spent a lot of time on the sofa with Peter or in the yard in a lounge chair.
Physically I felt pretty good. Zach had to keep telling me to take it easy as always. I am notorious for trying to do too much. It’s hard when your brain is ready to get back into the routine but your body is still healing. Zach went above and beyond for us. He was exhausted at the end of every day. He kept saying, “How do you do this every day/all day with them?!”
Because that’s what ladies do. We beast mode it, all day every day.
Week two was rough physically. The pain from my stitches set in. This whole “forgetting the pain” is a weird side effect of childbirth.
I called my doctor thinking something was wrong because I was having shooting pains from my groin up into my abdomen. Like, take my breath away type stings. It was awful!
All normal. Of course, how silly of me. Extreme pain is most likely normal. The doctor told me it was my nerve endings regenerating. I was like, oh right that makes sense. I should know this by now, but like I said we forget.
I tore twice this time. Same spots I tore with Zachary’s birth. The pain lingered longer this time for sure. I used a sitz bath every day for the first few months, which helped a ton. No idea why I never used it before! Fifteen minutes a day on that thing, what a savior.
But I can’t go on without acknowledging my support, other than the sitz bath. That’s why I could find fifteen minutes a day to sit my rear end on a heated seat, because I have support. Immediate family on both sides, in-laws, aunts, and cousins.
My Mom and my Aunt Clare were there a lot and still are. For the first few weeks, one of them or both would come and sit with all three, while I went upstairs to grab a nap. The transition into spending my days alone with 3 would have been a million times harder without their help and their company. The naps I got helped so much with the sleep deprivation of those first couple months and my healing. And the conversations with adults (funny ones at that) rather than just with toddlers kept my head from slipping into insanity. I was also more pleasant by the end of the day when Zach was done work so I could enjoy my time with him and Peter.
As many things as I can list to complain about postpartum (painful urination, constipation, bleeding, sleep deprivation, rollercoaster of emotions), I shouldn’t complain much because of the help and the emotional support I received.
Emotionally I think I’ve handled everything well. Only occasional bouts of crying at the start, but since then, I haven’t felt the need to cry. Or I haven’t had the time. Either way, no tears!
Adding a new human to your family is a thrill unlike any other. Meeting this little person that you don’t know and have no idea what they will be like. But you sort of feel like you know them because they grew inside of you and even after they leave you, you still have cells of theirs in your body so they are literally always a part of you. Now I have THREE people that will always be a part of me. That’s a lot going on inside. Story of a woman’s life I guess…a lot going on underneath the hood. Nevertheless, you throw your inhibitions to the wind and hope it will work out. And for some reason, I’m not afraid. Even when all 3 are crying and I can’t find the right solution to make it stop.
I’ve waited for the fear to hit me. Sure, I worry (too much), but there’s no actual fear. I’ve let fear stop me in life endeavors before, but with this I’m just not afraid. And I’ve experienced a couple things that should instill fear.
But there’s something in my heart and mind that tells me, this is what is supposed to be. This is what you were supposed to do. I guess it’s similar to a calling to a certain career. I never really had that, a calling for a career. I’ve often said I still don’t know what I want to “do” with my life, but I’m doing it. This is it. And that’s a pretty neat feeling to know.
I knew it before I had Peter that he was meant to be. I knew it before I had each one. This individual was meant to be here. I keep saying Peter is such an easy baby. I think it’s that I’m more relaxed and confident than I was when the first two were infants. I take things in stride and I have learned to trust my instincts. I’m still amazed I have instincts. I always saw myself as an instinct-less human, but you never know what you’ll learn about yourself when you become a Mom.
A New Routine
We were able to get to the shore a couple times through the summer, which went smoothly and made life feel normal. The big two love the beach and Peter was still sleeping a lot, so we were able to get some beach time with everyone. It was a nice and tiring summer.
The sleep deprivation is the hardest thing in the beginning for me….and for Zach. If parents could get proper sleep, parenting would be a thousand times easier. When you are well rested, you can accomplish anything.
We love our sleep too. When we were first married, we slept till noon every weekend and anytime we had a day off. I’m shocked at how well I have adjusted considering my love for sleep.
In the fall, we made the big trip up to Massachusetts. Our first long car ride as a family of five and it went very well. Peter slept a lot and the big two kept each other busy. It gave us the confidence boost we needed to take more big trips in the future.
Peter got to meet his great-grandparents on that trip. He made quite the first impression when he projectile spit up all over their kitchen floor. I was mortified but also hiding laughter. When I say projectile, I mean projectile. It was so much that it made a splashing sound on the floor. What a story to tell him when he’s older.
Adding a third has meant another adjustment for our relationship. We’ve taken on a new person, a new personality, a new set of needs. Okay, so how do we now accommodate the needs of 3 different little people and the needs of each other?
In the beginning, we were operating like coworkers. I would be with them all day, Zach would come down from work and take over. I would go upstairs to take a break, then we’d do bath and bedtime together with the big two, then we’d both sit with Peter until he was ready. I’d nurse him to sleep and then I’d go to sleep before Zach. We weren’t seeing much of each other. For a period of time, we would start out sleeping together and I’d end up downstairs with Peter on the sofa.
From like 2-3months, Peter would wake up between 3-5 in the morning. He would eat a ton and then be wide awake like he was ready to party. He also was a big spitter. Like I had to burp him for a while to ensure he wouldn’t spew all over himself. I had tendonitis in my left wrist so bad for months just from the motion of burping him.
Anyway, so as not to wake Zach, I would bring Peter downstairs and fall asleep with him on the sofa for a little bit. The big two would wake up. I would put Peter down if he was still asleep and start my day with them. Sometimes Zach would switch in and I’d get a nap before he went to work. This went on for about a month or two? It’s insane I can’t fully remember. All of this literally just happened. The kid isn’t even 8 months old yet. So it couldn’t have been that long of a stretch because he moved into his crib at 5 months.
I also asked Zach the timeline of things and he said he doesn’t really remember either. But he does remember the rules I broke. He reminded me there were numerous times I fell asleep sitting up in our bed while burping Peter after feeding him. And many times that I let Peter sleep in our bed and we couldn’t move while we slept. Always so quick to point out what I’m doing wrong. Classic husband. The kids are alive and happy and so are you, right Zach?? Hmm??
But back to my love for my husband. I find that our time alone together is even more important now that we are outnumbered. Having three kids aged 4 and under is busy. It’s nonstop actually. Especially since all of them are home all of the time (or at least with me all the time anywhere I go), and Lucy and Zachary don’t nap much. Even if they did, it probably wouldn’t line up with Peter’s naps. So it’s just going, going, going all day until they’re all down. And then it’s like okay what do you want to do, sleep. But let’s be a married couple now! Okay, we’ll sleep side by side.
I think personally the transition from 1-2 was harder than from 2-3 in terms of the day to day. In my day to day during the week, I was already outnumbered with 2, so adding another didn’t feel as big of a deal for me. Zach has said he thinks going from 2-3 was harder. When we had two, I could have one and he could have one. Now, if I have Peter, Zach is alone with two more than he ever was when we only had two. That is something he needed to get more used to. And at times it’s been quite hilarious to watch. I would say there are challenges with both transitions. But 1-2 definitely more of a shock than 2-3. It’s all how you approach things really.
It all seems like a crazy routine to start out with, a circus act if you will, but we have muddled our way through and have reached a sustainable routine. And though it felt like an eternity in the early moments, it was only a few months out of our life. That’s a perspective we have learned from the first two. The real insane times are fleeting. They feel long in the moment. Oh God do they feel long. One night can feel like a week when the animals are awake. But when the tough times are over, you realize how short lived it is.
We have also learned to not keep count of who has gotten up how many times or who has changed how many diapers. It’s not a competition. It’s a partnership. Although, if it were a competition, I mean I would win. I pushed them out, I feed them from my body. There’s no contest, but we’ll let Zach think he has a chance.
Once Peter moved into his crib at 5 months, nightlife became more settled. Zachary moved in with Lucy without any problem. They have bunkbeds and he sleeps on the bottom bunk. The only problem we have with them now is they like to play before they fall asleep. Zach and I both agree, as long as they’re not crying, let them do their thing and they’ll go to bed. And they do! In their own beds too!
The night Zachary moved into Lucy’s room, Zach said, “Okay, let’s put Peter in the crib.”
I said, “Are you trying to kill me? I can’t deal with TWO of my babies making big transitions in ONE night!”
I waited a few more nights and then moved Peter into the crib. That was a tough one. I didn’t want to let him go. But he was ready. Such is motherhood!
We have our evenings back now and can start hanging out by 8:30/9 at the latest which gives us time to binge a show or watch a movie before I become a zombie. It feels good to have survived the crazy early times and Zach and I are back to being partners now, not acquaintances doing shift work.
It all seems crazy but it is a lot of fun. Seeing them interact and getting to join in the innocence and the fun of childhood again through your own kids is inspirational. Seeing life through their eyes makes everything seem possible.
First Solo Outing
I took the three of them to the mall nearby when Peter was four months. Our first big outing to a place by ourselves. My plan was to walk them around and then get lunch. Easy.
We stopped at this play area thing that was like fenced in and $12/kid to play in. I was going to keep walking but Lucy started yelling CAN WE GO, CAN WE GO. There was one other mother and a child and a grandmother and a child there. I had no idea it was there. If I did, I would have gone in a different direction.
So I pay. We have to remove our socks and shoes. I put everything aside and let the big two run. I figured we’d be there 40 minutes.
Within ten minutes, Peter had a blow out diaper. It was a very audible poop. Very strong scent too. Definitely some leakage. No changing table or restroom in sight, other than the public one that we passed on the way in.
Lucy then began crying she had to go potty. I knew I should have made her go before we left home.
Zachary started screaming because he didn’t want to leave. I had to pick him up under my arm and carry him across the room to the entrance where our socks and shoes were, while holding Peter under my other arm. While also trying to calmly say through my clenched teeth, “Lucy let’s go! Let’s go now!”
I grabbed Peter’s blanket and laid him on the floor. He started wailing and I whispered I’m really sorry buddy. I put Lucy and Zachary’s socks and shoes on faster than I ever have all while these other women stared at me. I cursed myself for wearing the pair of Uggs that take long to pull over my damn heel.
I put the boys in the stroller. I grabbed Lucy’s hand and said let’s get to the potty.
We started to run and about halfway there she stops and says, “Mommy, I peed!” Pants soaked.
So, I spent more time changing a shit covered Peter and a pee covered Lucy in the back of the car than I did in the mall with them, but the moral of the story is I did it!
And every outing since has gone way smoother than that first one.
Peter will be 8 months in a few days. After summarizing his life thus far and reminding myself of what has happened, although Zach and I have proven those memories are shaky so I’m not the most reliable narrator, I still don’t know how I got here as successfully as I have so I guess I’ve learned nothing?
My conclusion is life with three is as scattered and chaotic as this post. But there’s happiness throughout. My babies are happy and healthy. My husband and I can find slivers of time to enjoy each other. Life’s good and messy.
I’ll let you know what happens next…
4 responses to “Life with Three”
Crazy, yet very beautiful, happy family. Another great post, Kate! We are looking forward to joining in on some of the craziness soon. It has been too long!!
Sooooo enjoyable to read; thank you Kate.
You are doing a super job!
I love reading your posts. Sure brings back memories.
Great job Kate! Thanks for sharing your precious moments