After 5 weeks of visiting family, shuffling through airports with a toddler and an infant, and trying to keep my business alive, our little family of four packed up and squeezed into the van for a “do-nothing” trip to the White Mountains.
For about a week or two before I had been having headaches and wasn’t feeling well. I had intense low back pains and at one point told my husband that I felt like something was seriously wrong with me to which he joked, “maybe I knocked you up again.”
“Haha, very funny. Not possible.” I curtly replied.
And then there I was, sitting in the loft of the condo working when vertigo and the “you haven’t eaten enough protein”nauseous growl came roaring from my stomach.
You know how I know what that sounds and feels like? Pregnancy.
I had only ever felt it in two other seasons of my life. The two other 9-month-stints of growing a baby inside of me. And I knew. I knew before the words even left my mouth, before I did anything. “I’ve… gotta go.” I told my husband as I grabbed the keys and ran to the closest store to pick up a test just to try to prove myself wrong. And after that 3-minute wait, the line was darker than the night sky.
Don’t get me wrong. We both wanted more kids. In fact, I was working in that condo loft when I got dizzy. I’m kind of a birth junky in a way, pseudo-doula to friends, and tend to get a high just thinking about new life.
I just didn’t expect it. Thought it wasn’t possible.
But it was. And despite all the research, all the love of labor stories, or even tall tales of horrible birthing experiences, no one told me how hard growing a third fetus inside of me would ever be.
But even not finding out I was pregnant until I was almost 10 weeks pregnant, I can still honestly say I was miserable from day one with baby number three.
I expressed this misery with my midwife. She laughed, “Number three is really hard. It is for most women.”
“WHAT?!” I screamed inside my own head. “No one told me this. No one warned me!”
“It’s like planting tomatoes,” she continued. “The first year, you can plant tomatoes anywhere. They will grow and they are hardy. The next year, you feel good about growing them, but it takes a little more work. But the third year, if you don’t feed them and nourish them, and give them lots of attention, you’ll get squishy tomatoes.”
Wait. Squishy tomatoes? Was she talking about me or the baby, maybe both?
Either way, I got it. I completely understood. I would have to be healthy, I would have to stay active, and even so I would still have to work hard for the third baby.
Don’t forget to create a registry. Yes, even for your third. Create an Amazon Baby Registry to add items even your older kids might need.
Why the third pregnancy is the hardest
It is true that not a single person prepared me for how hard the 3rd pregnancy is both physically and mentally. Now I feel like it is my duty to inform every person I could possibly meet that has two kids that number three is no cake walk. It’s not the rainbows and sunshine like expecting your first with giddiness and eager anticipation. My second child was a difficult pregnancy. But nothing like the third.
And now that I am spreading the word, I feel like other moms are coming clean too. It’s hard!
But let me first say… I haven’t experienced a fourth pregnancy yet. But from what I have heard when chatting with women who have at least four or more kids, their third was the hardest. Their expectations and realities changed with three.
Boiling it down, basically the third pregnancy is the hardest because you have two kids and only two hands. They need you and you need you. But there’s not any rest in sight.
Small things become monumental tasks… like having to cook for everyone while already not feeling up to par.
And finally, your body just isn’t the same. I personally didn’t get stretch marks or flabby parts until baby three. (Getting back in shape after baby I know will be harder too). All those babies will suck the nutrients right out of you so prenatal vitamins become even more important make sure both mom and baby are well cared for.
How to manage during the 3rd pregnancy
Get help in whatever way you can
This means outsource laundry, house cleaning, and even dish washing. Buy paper plates if you must. Hire a babysitter or mother’s helper to watch the kids so you can take a nap in the next room or clean and nest. Whatever helps maintain some sanity is what needs to be done.
Temper your expectations
Life doesn’t get easier once the third baby is born. So learn to recognize your high energy days and utilize them for prepping freezer meals and getting the kids outside to play at a park. But know that there are many days you may not feel like doing anything but what is absolutely necessary.
Ultimately use your time wisely while letting go of the little things if you can.
Cry with them if you have to
Hormones, man. They get the best of us. So go ahead and have a temper tantrum next to your toddler. Cry with your preschooler. And have a fit with your five year old. It’s ok. This too shall pass.
Let me repeat.
This too shall pass.
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Kara is an author and advocate for positive, grace-filled parenting. She is homeschooler to her 4 children living in Boston, MA and believes in creative educational approaches to help kids dive deeper into a rich learning experience. She has her degree in Secondary Education & Adolescent Childhood Development and is passionate about connecting with and helping other parents on their journey to raise awesome kids!