A few months ago, I had my third baby. And since then, I often find myself thankful that I am not a first-time mom anymore. Although life with three kids has its own challenges, adjusting to life with one was much harder for me than adjusting to life with three. Our new baby isn’t easygoing, but I’m not nearly as overwhelmed or anxious as I was with my first. My first baby was very difficult, and while his temperament would never have allowed him to be an easy baby, I wish I had known then what I know now:
Breastfeeding is eventually easy and comfortable…but not right away!
For all three of my babies, we really had to work hard to get a good, comfortable latch. With my first baby, it was tough to see past the painful hour-long feeding sessions. But the third time around, I knew that as painful as nursing was in those first few weeks, it would likely improve.
Mastitis is the worst. Do not get mastitis.
My second baby had a horrible cold when she was nine months old and didn’t have much of an appetite. I, stupidly, assumed my supply would regulate itself so I didn’t pump at all to compensate for her diminished appetite. And since I wasn’t sure if I had mastitis or just an uncomfortable plugged duct, I stayed in bed all day—feverish, vomiting, dehydrated, and crying every time she nursed—hoping it would improve on its own. Hours later, I finally gave in and went to urgent care to get treatment. But this time, when I first started experiencing the symptoms of mastitis, I called my doctor right away and asked for antibiotics.
Baby carriers are awesome. Make that baby like them!
Babies love to be held, and fussy babies love it even more. Now I use my baby carrier, and I use it often. But with my first, I wasn’t sure how to use them. He also cried when I first tried it, so I gave up and ended up holding him instead. All day. And all night. While my arms got much stronger lugging him around, I really wish I had trained him to ride in the carrier sooner.
Some crying really is okay.
With all three of our babies, I eventually had to do some sleep training. And the point where I needed to do it was earlier and earlier each time. After my first, I learned that letting the baby cry a bit to learn to fall asleep wouldn’t hurt them. And getting uninterrupted sleep was good for her, but more importantly, good for me. I knew I couldn’t be a good mom to the baby or her older siblings if I was running on empty.
It doesn’t get easier, but you can still enjoy it once you come to peace with how your life has changed.
I still remember wondering with my first baby how people could possibly take care of their kid (or KIDS!) for years without a break. This tiny being needed me 24 hours a day. It was exhausting, and a little scary. Our life had changed drastically with the addition of a baby, and it took some mental adjustment for me to picture our new future. But now that I know what life with children is really like, having my third wasn’t a shock—it was familiar.
You still don’t know what you’re doing, but you are okay with that.
I was so uncertain with my first baby. Was I doing it wrong? Why was he crying? Did he think I abandoned him at day care? Would he hate me for sleep training? Was I giving him allergies by introducing food when I did? Should I let him nap in the swing even though the books say I shouldn’t? I questioned every single decision I made. And now, I’m still not sure I’m doing it right, but I know that I’m probably not doing it completely wrong. And I know that the fact that I worry about it means that I am doing something right. Because it means I care about my kids, and that’s really the only thing I need to do.