Monday, April 16, 2012

Having 3 Under 3

Before having kids I wasn't around them much. My firstborn was so interesting and enthralling and consumed my every thought and glance even from the moment we learned I was pregnant. Then before he was even a year and a half old we had a second baby. By the time she was a year and a half, we had a third. And two months later the firstborn turned 3. So I'm going to write a little about what it has been like having three children under the age of three. There is so much to say...

I often wonder what it might be like having multiples (twins, triplets, etc). Then I just imagine having two of any one of mine. It's not the same obviously, when the two, or in my case three, are all different ages and stages! But i hold my friends with twins in very high regard! Tonight I re-met a lady with four kids, the younger two being close in age to our 3 and 2 year olds. It was like watching myself in the mirror as she hushed and corralled her young ones in between broken conversation. It's like a friend of ours related to us, "after having the third baby it's like you might as well have had six." Wait. Did I say that already? Of course I did, right here. Oops! Just kept that in there so you know I happen to repeat myself. It's what I do all day so why not here too? :) So here is a little taste of what it's like baby bunching for us. P.S. I'm writing this for a friend who wanted to know. I figured someone else out there might too. Feel free to share your own experience in the comments below. I'd love to hear some similarities and\or differences!

Having one.
In general the firstborn is in a word, fun. Now, I say that not because the subsequent babies are not fun or not as fun, but when you have had more than one and you get through the rough part adjustment period, you look back at just having one and think, 'that was just fun!' Or to explain it in a different way, like a friend told me, you see mom's struggling with one kid and you think, they have no idea. But don't stop reading just yet if you're thinking of having more. :)
So with just one kid, as much as I can imagine since I only had one child for 16 months, the day can get almost boring. Not that I ever got bored but a mom once asked for some advice on some activities to do with her little one once because she was going crazy and was actually bored. I can see how that could happen. Although I actually enjoyed all the daily in and out activities and still do. I guess instead of feeling like I'm entertaining a child all day, I'm more involving them in my day and I in theirs. In her defense, I can see how having just one could feel boring when you're trying to fill it up with a bunch of 15 minute activities. When I take one on a Mommy Time Outing, it can seem rather quiet. But back to what I was sharing, daily routine things with one child. Bathing! Lots of toys, long time in the bath, very thorough cleaning. As far as feeding, I breastfeed through the second birthday, and exclusively up until about 8 months depending on the baby. But when I had just one baby I was so nervous about if he was gaining enough if he was getting enough nutrition, iron, vitamins, etc etc nonsense that I tried feeding him rice meal, oatmeal, all home made with vitamins added and went on to other things I found in baby food books. Not knowing that when babies grow teeth, they start to want to use them to chew food. And do so when they are ready. I made a lot and bought a lot of baby foods to try out with the first baby, but rarely used them and gave it up. Still have some frozen pear cubes in the freezer I made from a neighbor's pear tree! Also, when I cooked for everyone else I did a lot of organic, home made, from scratch, ethnic to southern cooking. Another thing we've done is co-sleeping. This is a post all in it's own and an interestingly touchy subject for some. So all opinions aside, we all slept through the night right from the beginning and had our ups and downs like anyone else but it worked for us. Our nap time and bed time schedule was flexible depending on when the baby was tired and his cycle of sleep. During the day we played and had lots of adventures both at home and anywhere we wanted to go. We did some cloth diapers and some EC and some organic disposables. We even flew on some planes! Three times in the first year! All in all it was such a great experience that we left caution to the wind and wound up expecting again by the time the first born was just starting to taste solids. Can't get pregnant while breastfeeding? I'm living proof debunking that old wives tale.

Having two.
two months were the most challenging. I describe having two as a balancing act. And it still is in a lot of ways. Learning to share your time, your attention, and respond to them at their level and their developmental stage while still being nurturing and meeting their base needs. This is when self care starts to slip ladies. ;) When you bathe one in a sink while the other plays in the tub after having been washed, dressing the littlest and then getting the other out, you can easily feel like you've had a bath yourself! But once they can bathe together it helps out a lot. For me this was at about 4-5 months. We still did baths every day because this little girl loved to get dirty! Still does. Dirt, food, whatever. Girl needs a bath. We didn't do purees with her because I just didn't want to clean it up, and thankfully she didn't want to eat it. She went straight to table food from my plate once she got some teeth. And for a while we all slept together, somehow. The older would rock and pat his toy cat while I did the same to the younger in the middle of the night at the beginning. It was very cute, and a very special memory of mine that I'll never have anywhere else but in my mind. Treasure. Then the two slept side by side and made even more fond memories for us. So cute to see them snuggle. In fact some of my most precious memories are when they are sleeping, and those are the moments when I just can not take pictures or videos. They wouldn't capture it anyway. And when we were not sleeping, of course I wasn't taking nearly the amount of photos and videos as I did with the first, but we played in between naps and sometimes had to put one down to soothe the other and so on. Key word here, balance. Changing two in diapers was less than appealing. At first I felt like that's all I did all day. This is when I have to take a step back and truly tip my hat to mamas of multiples. I don't know how you do it but good job Mama! Thinking about Octomom helped me gain perspective. Having to change bottoms so much ended the attempt at cloth and even the fancy organic disposables were looking bleak. The 20 minute drive to the special grocery store to get them wasn't too high on the priority list anymore. But we did manage to get out and do things, and even flew. Once. Cross country. Haven't flown since. It wasn't terrible though thank goodness. I can't imagine flying overseas like some friends of ours have. Again, hats off. Oh and if you have two little ones and you're planning a trip on a plane with them, just know that unless you buy a seat for one of them, you and whoever you're flying with to help you hold those precious babies, will have to be split up. They only have one extra oxygen mask per row. But if you're like me and you enjoy striking up conversation with perfect strangers, you're good. Someone may even offer to hold or pass your baby and help make the experience more enjoyable like ours was. Our outings weren't as frequent because now someone was always sleeping. But by the time this one was nine months, they were both taking one nap at the same time during the day. Which was a good thing too because not too long after that started I found out again that I was pregnant. So I needed that nap time too!

Having three.
Well, we're still adjusting. I thought it might take three months this go 'round. It took just a couple weeks for Darryl and I to get used to having another baby, but when you add just one person to a group, it changes the dynamic. So the littles are still adjusting, which in turn, means we're adjusting as a whole still. I believe this might take more time. Like I said having two requires a lot of balancing, having three requires a lot of juggling. Something is either getting thrown up in the air, not being held, or dropped. Not the babies though! Just situations. But we're also juggling affection and nurturing and so on. Maybe I should have mentioned in the Having Two section that part of balancing was learning to tandem breastfeed. Well thankfully the third is weaned and so I'm not having to juggle that too for goodness sakes. We dont' take as many baths as we did before and the ones we do have are not as thorough but we're thankful warm weather is coming and we plan to have lots of water play outside. :) And we do manage to get good and clean if we're going out in public. Our diet has suffered a bit, mostly on the quality side. I'm not cooking from scratch except on Saturday mornings when I make biscuits. We've been enjoying some doctored up frozen and dried foods though! And surprisingly our grocery bill has been going down. Everyone is sleeping nicely and in their own beds with the exception of the new addition. He sleeps really well, although it is a bit of a challenge to get him down for a nap when there are two other littles playing nearby. And by nearby I mean, on the bed. We don't leave the house as much but when we do I've noticed lately we get really dressed up. That's kind of funny to me. Or to the extreme opposite I found myself at a mall in my pajamas. You can get away with that in our small town, but when you go to a larger town to go shopping you need to get dressed. Note to self. Oh and forget the fancy disposable diapers. Even forget the hefty generic brands. I get our diapers online in bulk and save a ton. There are no traveling plans in our future. And we have made only a couple small trips within a 2 hour radius. Nothing more than an hour away without help though. So with all that said, if you know where we are.... you're welcome to visit! Looking back I think all this has made me prioritize better and become more laid back about things that don't matter. I wouldn't have it any other way, as tough as it is. And before having the third, I got some crazy good advice I'll have to share on another post, but that generally consisted of this: minimalize everything. Clothes, toys, meals, chores, instructions, corrections, outings, etc. And a routine is crucial. I thought I had one, until I needed one.

Well there you have it. A super dooper long post about mommy stuff. I'm always curious about other moms with lots of kids. How they do things, what their day is like, what are their struggles and victories. What they eat, how often they bathe, and what their routine is like. I never thought this would be something that would interest me, much less something I'd be sharing with the whole world via the interwebs. But here it is. If you have something to share, please do in the comments below. I'd love to hear from you.

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