I don’t usually announce my maternity to the world within the first few weeks, but then, I don’t usually find out I’m pregnant unexpectedly. In the spirit of openness, here are my thoughts on how a third pregnancy can be much different from the first two:
1. “Do you know how it keeps happening?” is fair game now.
A three-child family is not drastically larger than a single or double kid household. But still, become a family of five (assuming your family is a standard two-parent model) and out come the jokes and comments, as if your childbearing/childrearing practices have now reached Duggar-fied proportions.
2. You worry less about the pregnancy, and more about labor and delivery, yet again.
I keep wondering why I hardly feel pregnant, and then it hits me: no, not the nausea, but the realization that last time I was pregnant, I was nursing a toddler at the same time. Some women can pull that off without a hitch, but for me it was draining, literally. This time I’m not really concerned with how big and tired I will be as this pregnancy gets further along. But I’m not so much looking forward to being in labor again, particularly because I’m a homebirther, and my pain relief options during contractions are pretty much limited to back massages and a large tub of water to kneel in. Oh yes, I am one of those huge supporters of drug-free childbirth whenever possible, and unless I’m told I need to be in a hospital for some reason, I’m not going to deliver in one. But back when I thought I was finished making babies, I was secretly glad that I would never need to go into labor again.
I think this feeling of “this again?” must apply equally to c-section scenarios, although I haven’t had one. Basically, regardless of the exit route your baby is expected to take, no one is looking forward to the process. The baby, yes, but not the process.
3. You’re far less concerned with the stuff you’ll need.
A lot of parents feel this way during the second pregnancy, but with my third, the need to procure things feels even less urgent. We have two girls so far, but even if this one is a boy, I figure I’ll pick up some plain white onesies, restock the diapers and wipes, and be good for a while. With baby number two, we had to buy a bigger car to accommodate two carseats. Now we have a kid in a booster, a littler kid in a forward-facing carseat (rear-facing is safer, yes, I know, but I think we’re way past that now), and next summer we’re adding a baby in a bucket. The compact SUV may give out on us, but right now I’m just not worried about it like last time. Maybe my three-year-old will have a monster growth spurt and be ready for the slimmer booster by then.
4. You get a little sad.
Ok, maybe this is just me. And maybe the fact that I’m weaning off an SSRI due to the pregnancy is having an impact on me emotionally. The whole unplanned pregnancy thing may be an issue too. But I think, even if your third baby is very much hoped for and expected, it’s tough when it sinks in that your life is about to get significantly more complicated (especially if you just started feeling like you are getting the hang of things). I was on the fence about a third baby, but a part of me didn’t seriously think it was going to happen anyway. The abstract mix of joy and fear over this possibility has come more sharply into focus, now that it’s fairly safe to deem this possibility a certainty.
This could be true when expanding from one child to two, or from zero to one, for that matter. But three sounds to me like real juggling. I imagine that a juggler starts off by practicing with two balls in the air, but the third one is more like actual juggling.
5. You don’t mind telling everyone, and they don’t mind treating it like NBD (which you in turn don’t mind either).
I am just over five weeks gestational age today, meaning that this kid was conceived about three weeks ago, and I only got a positive test about one week ago. Now that you have entirely too much information about my life, I will characterize that bit of over-sharing as a running theme in this pregnancy: I sort of feel no compelling need to keep the news a secret. Work? Our firm is in massive and rapid expansion mode, we don’t exactly have things like employee policies on this stuff, and because things are sort of crazy, adding this into the mix is sort of not a big deal. In fact, I told our head guy about this once I had the bloodwork back confirming my hCG levels were ok (due to spotting … again, in the spirit of over-sharing), since things ARE changing so rapidly at work that I feel like he needs more time for contingency planning. As for friends and family, I’m sharing the news whenever it seems appropriate to do so. I’m fortunate enough to not have a history of miscarriage, so perhaps that knowledge emboldens me. But even if that were to happen, I think I would be ok with the fact that everyone knew. Not everyone will feel this way, but for me, that fear is even less present than before.
With all of that said, I also realize that the world will keep turning whether I have a third baby or not. Third babies are just not the first baby, because second babies are exciting but even they fall lower in stature than The First Baby. Third baby is exciting for our family, and that’s enough. So when “hey, great, congrats!” is quickly followed up by “so do you want to get a sandwich or not?” I do not stamp my foot and demand fawning attention in prego-style petulance.
Do you have a large family? Say, about 20 kids or so? Please tell me all about it in the comments below, so that my impending doom as a mother of three feels significantly saner in comparison!