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Outnumbered by Kids & Loving It

Outnumbered & Loving It

By Amalah

Hi Amy,

First of all, let me just say that I can’t believe I’m writing this email. You would think this wouldn’t be so much of a THING that I actually have to reach out to one of the most brilliant bloggers and advice-smack-downers ever for advice… but here I am. And I hope you can help.

A bit of background for you- I’m 34, live in England (but I’m from the States) with my amazing husband who is an amazing father to our two amazing daughters: Anna – a 5 year old super laid-back sweetie, and Ingrid- a 1 year old little firecracker (literally, she ZINGs past your face and you can be pretty certain she is going to destroy something). Love them all like crazy. ALSO, there is a little one on the way. I’m just crawling out of the first trimester, this baby was a HUGE surprise, we never really envisaged three kids, but we are thrilled.

And then I googled. And spoke to a couple friends with three (or more) children. Now I am… still thrilled, but also very worried.

First, lets address The Google. Type ‘three kids’ in the search bar, and you are pretty much met with links to various horror stories about how horrible/hard/traumatic it is to have three children (One article actually said “DON’T DO IT”. Seriously). There is even a website dedicated to having three kids, and it ain’t that positive. Some of these articles make it sound like making it through the day with three kids is practically an impossibility (which, I get it. Even with only two, I do know the feeling that some days are BAD. Really, really, BAD). Reading all this negativity made me a little anxious. I mean, maybe they are just exaggerating for effect…. sure, that must be it, right? So then I asked a friend, a VERY close, personal, like-having-my-own-advice-smackdown-anytime-I-need-it kind of friend who has four children of her own, for the truth: Is three kids really that bad? Her answer included phrases like “That’s why my children are so loud. They know it’s the only way to get my attention”, and “Four is actually easier than three”, and my favorite: “I just remember crying at bedtimes, for so long”.

So… that went well.

I cried that night. My husband had gone out after putting the girls to bed (I was serious about him being amazing, he really is). I was alone with my fears…and *maybe* a few pregnancy hormones… and I cried. I cried because, oh my GOD, it really must be that bad. All these people can’t be lying! And I cried because I thought of our eldest, sweet, laid-back Anna who actually had said to me a week before that she would love to have another little sister (which actually did surprise me a bit, because do you not remember that little person who woke you up this morning by playing toddler godzilla to your barbie dreamhouse??)… and now I find out that I AM pregnant, and that apparently means that she will have to fight for our attention, and she just isn’t a fighter (unless it comes to meltdowns, then all bets are off). My heart broke thinking that she could be sidelined indefinitely because of a new sibling. And don’t even get me started about the MIDDLE child. Poor Ing. As of the moment baby 3 was conceived, I pretty much wrote off Ing’s chances of being a recognized individual, and my parenting will be deemed a success if she doesn’t end up a complete sociopath- best case scenario. Middle Child Syndrome. There is an actual SYNDROME. Wait. What?? Shit.

But then I remembered. And a flickeriest bit of hope flickered. YOU!! Amy has three boys! And they are also amazing, and she SEES them individually, they are a normal family (which as a wife and mom, I know doesn’t equal perfect, but means pretty fucking great)! I remembered your blog posts about individual achievements of Noah, Ezra and Ike. You celebrate (and also pull your hair out over) each of your boys, and no one seems to be completely glossed over or ignored, or left to compete like some sort of toddler version of Gladiator for your time and affection. Maybe there is a chance that three is GREAT? That three is… oh my god… EVEN BETTER THAN TWO??

So Amy, no pressure. But please, please tell me that it’s possible. I just want to know that everything is going to be better than okay. That having a family of five is going to rock, and that I am not somehow unintentionally throwing off the balance of our family by having this baby. Because I really think that he/she is going to be amazing too.

Much love and thanks for all your awesome smack-downs and blogs.

*pats head*

It’s going to be okay. It really, really is. It’s also totally okay that you don’t believe that right now, and can’t possibly visualize a world in which it’s going to be okay, because ANXIETYELEVENTY and GOOGLE and FRIENDS EITHER MAKING DUMB JOKES OR OVERLOADING THE SCARED PREGNANT LADY WITH BRUTAL REALITY INSTEAD OF JUST GIVING HER SOME DAMN REASSURANCE. IS THAT REALLY SO HARD, PEOPLE? DO YOU LIKE SCARING FIRST-TIMERS WITH YOUR EPISIOTOMY SCARS TOO? JESUS CHRIST.

Then again, on the other hand, if everybody you talked to went on and on about having three kids or more is completely awesome and every moment is full of life and magic and #soblessed, you’d probably assume they’re all just big liars blowing smoke up your ass.

I am not a big liar — though I am quite fond of the occasional hyperbole for dramatic effect — and I’ve been where you are. (Our third was planned-not-planned, in that we decided to go for number three, but assumed it would take us our usual year or longer to conceive so we’d have some extra time/space. But then I realized I was already pregnant. Oh. Okay then.) So I will do my best to convince you that it’s going to be okay and I want you to do your best to believe me.

Personally, I found the transition from one kid to two much, MUCH more difficult than going from two to three. My husband always gives me the side-eye when I tell people that, but it’s completely true. There were moments early on with two where I worried we’d fundamentally screwed something up, because it just felt HARD. It had nothing to do with Ezra and my love and bond with him, but more the realization that having one kid is just plain easier than having two kids. Duh, right? But true. And you’ve already done that part and made that transition. You’re never going to go back to just having one kid, so you might as well just forge ahead and roll with it.

Naturally, I worried about having three during my entire pregnancy. What had we done? What were we thinking? Having two was crazy and now I was going to look back on THAT as being “easier?” Oh my God.

The minute I met Ike, I was completely filled with a (probably painkillers-and-hormones induced) sense of zen, of mastery, of total “I GOT THIS.” This was very much balanced out with a sense of acceptance that things would be crazy and loud and occasionally chaotic and that I would make mistakes. I would not be perfect. My kids would not be perfect either, and there would be nights when, after bedtime, I would probably reflect back on the day and relive moments that could have been handled better.

And I was okay with that. I’m still okay with that. The idea of NOT having all three of my boys is…well, I mean. I don’t even contemplate that idea. The idea of not having any particular one of them is like thinking about whether or not I should have someone come and suck all the oxygen out of my house. Ridiculous.

I do my best to give everybody individual attention. I do my best to create fun times and memories of all of us together. I do my best to take care of myself, too, and recognize when I’m losing my temper or cool and need a break from their neediness. I try to cut myself some slack, to not put EVERYTHING about their development and personalities on MY SHOULDERS ALONE. I don’t helicopter or micromanage. They have my attention when they need it, they are also being raised to be independent, confident kids for whom constant motherly attention is not some be-all, end-all life force, where I am their only source of emotional support and guidance. They have their dad, their friends and teachers, each other.

There is a LOT of hugging and kissing and tickling and piling. Sometimes there is yelling and fighting and a very grumpy mom, but hopefully not as much as the hugging and kissing and tickling and piling. I do my best to keep that ratio in check every day.

Even if there wasn’t a “publish” button at the end of my blog posts, I think that I would still write about them. I would still work to come up with words to describe and celebrate their completely unique, separate personalities and selves. I would still want to remember their accomplishments — both big and small, monumental and subtle. It’s always a challenge to feel like I’ve gotten it right and truly captured who they are and what a particular moment felt like, but much like the day-to-day challenges of raising three children, it’s worth it. Other moms do this with scrapbooks, journals, baby books, photography.

I love having three. I really, really do. They are good kids and I think I am mostly doing a good job with them. I think your current feelings are very, very normal — your number three still feels like a stranger, a hypothetical, an incoming missile about to detonate. Stop Googling and quizzing people, I’d suggest. Your three will not be like anybody else’s three, anyway. Maybe try yoga or meditation, or write letters to your girls or try to photograph them every day, in whatever non-blurry-zinging moment you can get. Shop around for a really good hands-free baby carrier and promise yourself you won’t feel guilty about having a swing or a bouncy seat in every room for awhile and strapping older kids into strollers, because it’s all about containment at first, until you find your footing and/or the ability to grow extra arms.

This past weekend we went to a kiddie farm/petting zoo place with some friends of ours who just recently had their second baby, so they were in that now-enviable-to-me stage of having a baby in a carrier and only one actual mobile child to chase after. They watched us try to keep track of all three of ours (who of course are now long past any stroller/carrier business and prefer to ping-pong around on their own in three different directions) and were like, “Yep, we’re done. Two is enough.”

I totally understood. And yet you know? IT WAS FINE. IT WAS FUN. You get used to focusing on one kid while keeping another in your peripheral vision and sort of hoping/assuming that Dad has a visual with the third. Ike wanted to see the horses. Noah wanted to find the boats. Ike had to go potty. Noah wanted a juice box. Ezra took off for a maze in the woods that I mostly had to hope had some kind of…wall? Ending? That wasn’t out in the parking lot? (There was a fence. I caught up to him eventually.) And at the end of the day we had all three boys back in the minivan (with juice boxes and snacks — ALWAYS PACK SNACKS. THEY WILL STAY WITH YOU IF THEY SMELL SNACKS.) and we all took turns talking about our favorite thing we saw or did that day. It was great. Highly successful outing.

That story would have sounded like a ring of hell to me at some point pre-Ike, though that is not at all my intention in telling it to you. It’s how it will be someday for you — a little chaotic, a little sloppy, a little boring because yes Ike, horse horse horse horse HORSE — and you will hopefully, similarly come to love and appreciate it, because you just can’t imagine life any other way.

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to [email protected].

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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Jodie
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Jodie

“There is a LOT of hugging and kissing and tickling and piling. Sometimes there is yelling and fighting and a very grumpy mom, but hopefully not as much as the hugging and kissing and tickling and piling. I do my best to keep that ratio in check every day.” As a newish mom to three, want to echo I also LOVE, love love having all my girls.  My transition wasn’t as easy as 1-2, but our age difference was probably why (8,3,7 mos) though from the beginning it just felt like Ana was *right*. Chiming in first to say thank… Read more »

Kacie
Guest
Kacie

Yes! There is an order to getting in and out lol! So for us, I park near cart corrals. I started by grabbing a cart, coming over and putting 3yo in it. Then I unsnapped 5yo and told him to sit still. Then I put baby in carrier. off we went.

Elizabeth_K
Guest
Elizabeth_K

We are a family of five, just a bit behind Amalah (6, 4 1/2, 2 1/2) and we are just like Amalah said (although she said it better than I could have, and also I fear I don’t always keep the ‘snuggly’ mommy and ‘angry’ mommy in as good a balance as Amalah does. But oh! Oh how we love each child, and how different they are, and how they love EACH OTHER — the two bigs are just best friends (when not fighting to the death, of course) and they both encourage the baby in almost everything. It’s fun… Read more »

Sarah
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Sarah

I’m a middle child (a brother on each side) and always prided myself on being “well-adjusted.” There are lots of narratives about people: “Wednesday’s child is full of woe”; “youngest children are hams and crowd-pleasers”; etc. (…What if your youngest is born on a Wednesday? WHAT THEN?) Pick one you like and try not to worry about it.

Kate
Guest
Kate

I have one child now and (most likely) want three, if I can convince the husband of the awesome fun times that await. As a middle child of three myself, I can tell you I would not have wanted it any other way. I love my brothers, and they are my best friends. My father confesses he loved almost every minute of being a parent of three (hindsight may be a bit rosy there), and my mother often asserts that the hardest transition is one to two kids–after that you might as well keep going! 

Elizabeth
Guest
Elizabeth

I have three (7.5, 4.5, 1 year old) and I vastly overestimated how hard the logistics would be.  I can take three to Target, we can now do bike rides and picnic at the park.  We can fit everyone in our car (via some very pricey car seats, but less than a minivan!) and the big kids play really nicely together while the baby nurses or naps, for the most part.  I often do the thing where they’re all strapped in the car and we’re about to get out and I turn around and look each one in the eye… Read more »

Mary
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Mary

Now the transition from 1 to 2 sounds scary!! Good luck OP, I’m sure regardless of the amount of effort that little bundle will be worth it.

MR
Guest
MR

There were only two things about going from 1-2 that were hard for me. 1) There is always one awake. When you have one baby, you sleep when baby sleeps, even if it is the middle of the day. When you have 2, your oldest is awake while your baby is sleeping. 2) You sometimes have to choose between kids, which feels awful. But you have to prioritize and pay attention to whichever kid needs it more during that time. It all evens out in the end, but the first few times your focus is split can feel pretty awful,… Read more »

MJH
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MJH

You already went from zero to 1, and that is the most world-changing, schedule-screwing-up, life-unbalancing transition of all. You got this!

MJH
Guest
MJH

I always screw up the replying! That was for Mary.

Claire
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Claire

I was happy with 2. Then 3 thoughts started creeping in. They days like today with 4hrs broken sleep make me want to shove them back from whence they came. Then there’s this which just about makes my ovaries explode with now now now baby now-ness. Which would be insane. This will be your family, your family is unique to you. You will rise to the challenges and you will love your baby, and your kids will love said baby. You’re gonna do great. Good luck to you.

Sally
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Sally

3 IS so much better than 2. For me- 3 boys (9, 7, 4) We are loud and fun and never bored. I only had one sibling, my childhood seemed much quieter and separate from my brother. My boys are into the same things, always wrestling, always talking about legos, always hugging me- it is just one big roving party. I would never ever ever want just 2- 3 really is the perfect bridge (for US) between should we have had one more and mass chaos. 🙂 Also my middle boy is SO very well adjusted, he always sees both… Read more »

Jessie
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Jessie

We’re still new-ish to having three (our baby is 8 months old), and while there are days that are definitely hectic, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I get what we call the weekend morning happies – when I look at my three kids and my husband and we’re all hanging out together, and I can’t imagine anything better in the whole world than this amazing family we’ve created. It’s not always easy, but it’s mostly amazing and good and there’s so much love in our house.

Nicholle
Guest
Nicholle

Having the third child made me want another. Number 3 is like the gateway kid…if you can handle 3, you can handle 4, 5, etc. Once you get over the initial shock of being outnumbered, it really is fine.  Now we have 5 kids, and I can’t imagine life any other way. With the addition of each child, I saw our family flourish and the hearts of our children open to love his or her newest sibling. It’s an amazing thing to witness the birth of a big brother or sister and the loyal and protective bond that follows. Amazing,… Read more »

Jodie
Guest
Jodie

Yes – the weekend morning happies.  I agree!

J
Guest
J

We were three siblings when I grew up (another one made its way into the family when I was 14). You could say that we were the typical family with three kids. Me, the sensible one, the second one was just like Ingrid, bursting with energy and the youngest, just happy and sweet and never making a fuss. We all got plenty of attention and each one of us thinks we had the best childhood there is because of the others. It wouldn’t have been that much fun if we had been only two kids. And even now that we… Read more »

Beth
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Beth

Also a new-ish mom of three here! I have an 11 month old, 10 year old and 12 year old. Grocery shopping will never be the same, quiet moments with the husband a fewer, but far more precious and the love that the three of my children share makes me speechless sometimes. I see my 11 month old sharing giggles with his brother and sister and the look of adoration he already has for them makes any ANY of the chaos throughout the day totally worth it.  I get how three seems scary. “Zone defense” blahdy blah blah. But after… Read more »

Sara
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Sara

Every freaking word Amy said I totally agree with. Mine are 6.5, almost 5 and 2.5. My middle child had middle child syndrome when he was the baby. It’s just his personality. Also spot on about going from 1 to 2 being harder than 2 to 3. The older boys are so so great with each other and both together and individually with my daughter. We actually wanted 4 kids, but my last pregnancy was so bad that we decided we were good with 3.

Emily
Guest

I have three (Ages 7.5, 5, and 2.5). We had always planned on three, but I had planned to wait until #2 was older before a third and then, “oops!”, baby #3 was on the way. The way I describe three is that it is much more chaotic and happier than having two. The spacing between my youngest and oldest is 5 years and it is AWESOME. Oldest and youngest have a fantastic dynamic. He literally never gets mad at her. He is old enough and mature enough to be understanding (and even helpful) with her and their relationship is… Read more »

Mary
Guest
Mary

We have an semi-accidental third on the way and are equally jazzed and freaked out about it. Not sure about England, but I think part of the problem is that our culture in the U.S. doesn’t really value three kids. We joke that we are violating the two-child limit law. It’s bad for the environment, no one gets enough attention, you can’t save enough for college, etc. It’s so negative. Since finding out I’m pregnant, I’ve surrounded myself with people who value children, versus thinking they are troublesome or whatever. (Note, people with and without kids are capable of filling… Read more »

June
Guest
June

THIS!!! THIS WAS ME!!! I have a 6 year old, two year old and a four month old. Our third was a “hmm maybe someday whoops right now!” baby. Our second baby turned out to be very VERY spirited and the idea of adding a third right away was so overwhelming. There were many pregnant and hormonal tears and worries. I bent over backwards to prepare for this third one (babysitter! freezer meals! all the help I can get!) and was prepared for sheer insanity and then….it really wasn’t bad. Seriously, I made sure I had help available, and there… Read more »

lh
Guest
lh

This was me! We were using two (2!) kinds of birth control after our second. We had one boy and one girl and I was *very happy* about that. Our oldest was 5 and our daughter was 2 and then I was pregnant with a third baby with no expectations of any such thing happening. But, there you go. And you know what? I would echo Amalah’s sense of zen. (Which might have been reinforced by only having a 3.5 hour labor that go-round. THAT WILL BRING ON THE ZEN.) There is so much more confidence with your third. The… Read more »

Sarah
Guest
Sarah

I also have three (10,8,6) with another on the way. To be honest the first year of my third is a bit of a blur, but it is awesome now,. they are three completely different people. My middle child is the one who gets along with everyone. He is so social and loves to be around people. I would not worry about it – It will be awesome.

Kacie
Guest

This was me, before I even got pregnant with #3! I WAS TERRIFIED of having a third kid. My first was a terrible sleeper and super high-needs. My second was a firecracker — born with a “cigar in her mouth and telling the nurses they are doing their job wrong and the room temp is too cold.”  So I felt really unsure about the third. But … my firstborn prayed so earnestly for another sibling and my husband and I were on the fence and that pushed us over the edge. Baby #3 is now 8 months old. And it… Read more »

Kacie
Guest

Oh. And babywear. Because you have 3 kids and 2 arms. So yah babywear. There are some AMAZING baby carriers out there that didn’t even exist 5 years ago. I am having so much fun trying new and pretty carriers! Especially since I have had to buy basically nothing new for this kid.

So yah babywear and even put the 1yo on your back if you need to. Wheeeeeee!

Lydia
Guest
Lydia

I am the youngest of 3, and it rocks.  My sister totally has middle child syndrome, but it’s sort of hilarious and we all make fun of her about it.  She also has a PhD (totally did it for attention, jk).  My mother always claims we were “such easy” children, but I think the 30+ years has destroyed her memory.  I had an incredibly happy childhood, didn’t feel competition from my siblings and I don’t really remember that much one on one time with my parents.  We’re all fine!  Lots of love is all it takes. The one thing my… Read more »

Celina
Guest
Celina

Hi Everyone – OP here. Just wanted to say to Amy, and every single person who took the time to comment, thank you so much! First of all I am really, really encouraged and touched you took the time to read and respond. AND I promise I am staying away from The Google and I promise to stop quizzing people…especially well-meaning friends who have a tendency to be blunt. 🙂 Reading all of these amazing comments made me cry a little- but in a good way! I hope that my three have the great bond that a lot of you… Read more »

Lucia Frohling
Guest
Lucia Frohling

Three is awesome! Triple the laughs, triple the fun, triple the love. Yes our life is crazy, yes it is messy, yes it is (sometimes barely) controlled chaos and I LOVE it! We have a 4 year old son and 14 month old boy/girl twins. They play together and have such a great time! The beginning was crazy and it took some adjustments, however, it was never less than awesome. I was sleep deprived and usually in yoga pants with something on them from my kids. The cuddles, the playing… three is wonderful and you’ve got this! Just expect it’ll… Read more »

JESS
Guest
JESS

OH MY GOODNESS, I COULD NOT AGREE MORE. Going from one to two was WAAAAAY harder than going from two to three. One to two almost killed me dead. Two to three, no biggie. You gots this lady! And I think your friend perhaps needs a bit of spa time with a side of xanax. As a momma who does both of these things regularly, I can attest to the benefits of both. Hugs! Things are going to be great!

Caroline
Guest
Caroline

Hello! I am a mother to 3 little boys… and number 3 was, shall we a say, a surprise… and I too cried and cried. My eldest boy was 6, my little guy was 3 and we were DONE WITH NAPPIES, everyone was reasonably independent, at school, awesome!! And then… so I get your worries and your concerns, they are valid. HOWEVER… my number 3 boy has been the easiest BY FAR. The older two were easy, placid babies, but this little guy just fits in beautifully. The older two love him to pieces, he always has someone to talk… Read more »

Kim too
Guest
Kim too

Totally happy mom of 2 over here, chiming in to say that I get how the 2-3 transition would be smoother – you have two kids to keep each other occupied, as opposed to one relatively young former attention magnet. And my 3 closest mama friends all have three kids, and they are all doing just fine.

Marnie
Guest
Marnie

Fellow mom of 3 here (7, 4.5, almost 2) and life is busy for sure. The transition wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought. I think the confidence level of having had previous babies and knowing the good and the bad of what babies entail made the biggest difference. The second item was a baby carrier, my motto was ‘just strap her to me and I’m good!’. There are hard moments but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! In fact, we are in the gateway point, may even go for #4! Relax, deep breath…. You’ve got this!

DontBlameTheKids
Guest

I don’t have three, I have two, but I am also outnumbered. When the 100 percent planned second pregnancy became a real thing, he decided he wanted out. I was really, really scared of the 2:1 ratio, but it’s working out. There will be tough times, and you can’t always devote the one-on-one time you would like to for each kid, but oh well. I know plenty moms of three, and they love it–not always, because there are ups and downs, but the balance seems to be up. If that makes sense.

Jill
Guest
Jill

We have four (5, 2, and 1 year old twins) and the day I found out I was expecting a third I was excited but nervous for all the same reasons as you.  The day I found out that ‘third’ was actually ‘third and fourth’ I cried on the table while the tech was still doing the sonogram.  And then continued to be simultaneously excited and freaked out for the rest of my pregnancy.   My take on it is 3 is not easy, it’s definitely harder than 2 but it is definitely manageable with some practice.  As others said,… Read more »