Reflections of a third time mom…..
As a new mother to baby number three, I have noticed that this last baby has been by far the “easiest” baby. She is good natured, sleeps well, plays independently, rarely cries and is just overall a pleasure to be around. This was not the case with my first child, Hailey or even my second child, Mary Kathryn. Hailey was clingy, fussy and often times hard to console. Mary Kathryn was a little easier but still was not what you would call an “easy“ baby. I remember when I was pregnant with Hailey, I was under the mistaken idea that parenthood is something that comes naturally. After all, look at all the mothers who do it everyday. I also naively thought that having a sibling and babysitting had prepared me for having my own baby. The first night my husband and I brought her home, I realized how very wrong I was.
Once reality set in, I found myself thinking, “Why is this so much harder than it looks?”. I was breastfeeding around the clock and could hardly sleep for checking to make sure she was breathing. Getting a shower without a crying baby was impossible and the days of hopping in the car to run to the grocery store were long gone. As a first time mom, the first few months of my baby’s life had me feeling as if I were barely keeping my head above water. Life with a baby is something no one can really prepare you for. Though it is one of the greatest of life’s experiences, it is also, by far, one of the most challenging. Now, looking back, I can see that once little Hailey came home with us, our lives immediately began revolving around her. Instead of integrating her into our lives; we allowed our lives to be controlled by baby. After many comments on how well adjusted this third baby is, I have to wonder. How much of this is her natural disposition and how much has having a more experienced mother contributed? If only I had known then what I know as a new mom now.
At my third child, Bella’s, two month checkup my pediatrician was amazed at what a good baby she was. She smiled happily at him, did not fuss throughout the checkup, and was easily consoled after getting her shots. After I thanked him for his compliment, he went on to say that as a third time mom I had “figured it out”. On my way home I thought about this and decided that ,yes, I have finally started to figure this mom thing out.
For starters, with my third child Bella, I knew to expect a complete change in lifestyle once we brought her home from the hospital. I knew that I would no longer be able to come and go as I had once again become accustomed to. Knowing this took away some of the shock we had after our firstborn and then again when adding another baby to the mix. As a third time mom, I have learned through experience that by doing a few important things, I can set my baby up to be a “good natured” baby.
Here are some of the most helpful things I have learned from my journey through motherhood:
Start as you mean to go on….
It was so tempting to hold my firstborn constantly. After nine months of carrying her inside me, I was hesitant to let go of her for long. By baby number three, I realized that if I didn’t allow my baby to become accustomed to sleeping without being held, I would have a very clingy older baby on my hands. So while I hold, play and cuddle with Bella, I also allow her times during the day where she plays independently in a bouncy, saucer or play mat. Naptimes are spent in a bassinet or crib so that she does not always associate sleep with being held. Naptime is also a time when I know I will be able to do chores, rest, or spend time with my older children. I have found that by starting these practices from the beginning, Bella has become a less clingy baby than my first two babies were.
Put baby on a schedule…..
This has been the biggest factor in integrating baby number three into our family. My first child ate, slept and played with little routine or schedule. This left my husband and I often trying to figure out why our baby was crying. Was she tired? Hungry? Sick?. During my third pregnancy, I worried about how I could best integrate the new baby into our already busy life. With two school aged children I would need to know when I could do homework, give baths and cook dinner without a crying baby. Eventually I found that the feed, wake, sleep schedule would work best for our family. For example, by following a schedule, I know that if baby is fussing, and she has already eaten and played, then she is probably ready for her nap. Of course, I always take into account any cues she may be giving me. A change in her normal cry always warrants further investigation. Having a schedule has allowed me to plan my errands, lunch dates or doctors appointments during a time I know she will be at her best. By being able to better anticipate my babies’ needs, I am often able to avoid a fussy, inconsolable baby. Hence, the many compliments on a good natured baby.
Don’t expect too much…..
One thing that was especially difficult for me after the birth of my first baby was keeping a clean, organized house, cooking dinner and getting the laundry done. Maintaining the standard I had set for myself prebaby became almost impossible. Accomplishing the smallest of household chores is so much harder with a baby to care for. This time around, I am no longer sweating the small stuff. My priority is being the best mom I can be. And if some days I am able to get the house spotless and all the laundry done, well, that’s just icing on the cake.~