Hindsight is a funny thing. Whatever stage of parenthood you are currently in feels like the hardest. But when you add a baby to the family, things always get harder and whatever stage you were just in looks like a cakewalk in retrospect. The challenges increase, but so does the joy and love (and sleepless nights). Now that we’re done having kids and my babies aren’t really babies anymore I feel like I can look back and really see what stages were the hardest. For us, going from 0-1 kids was life-changing. Going from 1-2 had its challenges but was mostly pretty smooth. But going from 2 kids to 3 turned our worlds upside down for a while, in ways both good and bad. But to be completely honest, it was brutal on me for a while. Three years later, I’m finally getting my physical and mental health back, my marriage is recovering from the stress that kids and PPD and colic can bring. I think that the hardships lie more with the specific person (baby or grown up) than whether it is your first baby or your fourth. This was my family’s experience in going from one kid to two, and two to three.
Going from One Kid to Two
They (whoever “they” are) say you have your first kid for you, and your second kid for your first kid. And they are sort of right. That first pregnancy, delivery, newborn and baby stages, the milestones — it is all for you. They are all exciting and special firsts for your baby but also for you as the parent. There is nothing quite like those times with your first child. But if you decide to have another baby, all of those firsts are now firsts for your first kid as the sibling. This time ultrasound photos are shared with your first child. They feel your bump and contribute to the baby naming (Charlie wanted to name Calvin “Nico Casa de la Tires” — a combination of a girl he really liked at preschool and an homage to Cars the movie. We went a different direction, obviously…) When the baby is born there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING, more special than when your first child meets your second. That moment will get me through every hard parenting moment for the rest of my life. You can watch Charlie sing the cutest rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody ever to his new baby bro — gets me every time.
Going from one to two kids definitely had it’s challenges for our family. We did a lot of ‘divide and conquer’; splitting up so one of us could take Charlie somewhere fun and give him some one-on-one time while the other tended to the baby. Charlie had had our undivided attention for almost four years and it was important to us that he still got it as much as we could manage to help him transition to a big brother. Calvin was a dream baby, so that definitely helped ease all of us into our new normal and Charlie was in preschool most days so that helped give me time to do all the newborn things, like snuggling and nursing and more snuggling. I had pretty bad postpartum depression and anxiety with my first baby. The second time around I felt really present and able to enjoy those early days and I wanted to soak them up as much as possible. That first month with my second baby was a magical time. Calvin was the sweetest baby and very low maintenance. Breastfeeding was easier, he slept through the night early and completely on his own. He was the exact baby I needed to have second, and he is still that same sweet, laid back, helpful boy. The only complaint I had was that he started biting me when nursing at around 8 months old and I had to abruptly wean. Which then led to a surprise baby number three on the way…
Going from Two Kids to Three
If our transition from one to two kids was smooth and chill (as far as having kids goes) our transition from two to three was the opposite. Quincy was a surprise from the start and he is still keeping me on my toes at three. His labor was tough and had complications. He spent a week in the NICU. By two weeks old he had full blown colic and I had full blown PPD. I couldn’t put Quincy down, he screamed anytime he was in the infant carrier in the car or stroller, and he barely slept. We both did a lot of crying those first couple of months.
On top of the fact that I had three kids and a baby with colic, I also was navigating the new world of having two under two. And I have to say, having two under two is WAY harder than having two with a four year age difference. Calvin was 17 months old and into everything. Breastfeeding a newborn while trying to wrangle a toddler was new and very challenging territory for me. I did a lot of baby wearing. But Calvin stepped into the role of big brother beautifully (of course he did) and Charlie and Quincy had the sweetest relationship, and still do. As hard as those days/weeks/months were nothing could compare to how beautiful they also were. It is easier to say now that colic is two years in my rearview, because that shit is the worst.
Going from two to three kids was definitely the hardest transition for our family. Having two babies back to back, having PPD again, going through colic — it was the most challenging thing I’ve ever done in my life. But that only makes our days now as they grow and get to be brothers and buddies that much sweeter. Don’t get me wrong — they fight and our house is loud and there is a lot of pee that misses the toilet. But it is a beautiful chaos.
Do you have more than one child? More than two? What was your experience going from 0-1 kids, 1-2, 2 to more? I love to hear what other parents’ experiences are like. And now I’m off to read the posts from the other mommas in our Real Moms Real Talk series. Be sure to check their posts out as well. You can find them below:
The Effortless Chic // Parker, Etc. // The Proper Blog // The Sweetest Occasion // A Daily Something // Natalie Borton // Studio DIY // Lovely Indeed // Sugar & Cloth // The Fresh Exchange // The Life Styled // Apartment 34