When I became pregnant with my third child, I thought I was totally ready to add another person to our family.
After four years of raising two wildly different kids — my son and daughter — I figured there was little this precious third one could do to shock me.
I felt like I was ready to write my own version of What To Expect When You’re Expecting, but the truth was, even with all that parenting under my belt, I was still caught off guard when I had baby #3.
Here’s what I wish I knew before having my third child.
1. You only have two hands.
Yes, technically I was aware that I only had two hands and that another appendage would not magically sprout upon the birth of my third child. However, you really don’t understand how few hands you have until you are trying to wrangle a preschooler, a toddler, and an infant while crossing the Walmart parking lot.
Having fewer hands than children is seriously terrifying sometimes. Thank god for baby carriers while you try to figure out the logistics of herding all these damn kids.
2. The first time they all get sick is basically apocalypse survival training.
I knew how horrible illness could be when both my kids got sick, but the first time all three were throwing up was some next level sh*t. Now, every time one of my kids starts vomiting or even gets the sniffles, I feel a level of dread usually reserved for the climax of Outbreak.
Though, on the bright side, you feel totally prepared to survive the apocalypse after dealing with the nightmare that is triple sickness.
3. The third one will go with the flow.
Seriously, ask any mother who has three children which one was the most easy-going baby. Third babies are notoriously chill because ain’t nobody got time to compete with whatever sh*tshow the older two have conjured up. I wish I had known that my third baby would be so down to hang because it would have saved me a whole lot of anxiety.
4. Nope, you STILL don’t know what birth is going to be like.
I had been through the birthing process twice, so I figured I should totally know what to expect. However, just like every child has been radically different, so has every birth experience. I ended up bracing myself for another 21-hour labor and wound up with a quick few hours in the hospital before my son was born.
You never know what you’re going to get, which is a good lesson to learn right out the gate with baby number three.
5. Watching all three of your children interact is awesome.
I wasn’t sure what the dynamic would be when my older two children met their baby brother for the first time. I figured it would be pretty magical, but my heart was not ready for the lovefest that ensued.
Watching all three of them interact, even when it was the older two laying on the ground and talking about the baby between them, was next-level love. There’s something about having that little herd of three bonding on the living room floor that filled me in a way I’d never experienced before.
6. Pretty much nothing will phase you.
By the time baby number three comes along, you’ve seen your fair share of parenting gore and glory. By this point, I know a little dog food won’t kill them, and forgetting tummy time every now and again will not stop my child from developing like a totally normal-ass kid.
My anxiety levels taking home baby number three were a non-issue compared to the constant dread I felt after giving birth to my first baby.
7. Seriously, you’ve got this.
Yes, having three kids is hard. It’s an adjustment. But you’ve totally got this. You know the ropes. You’ve been practicing a whole two kids for this moment. Parenting three kids isn’t necessarily easier, but you’re a far more skilled parent now. You’ll find your groove before you know it, and you’ll never ever regret it.
Gemma Hartley is a freelance writer whose writing has appeared on Early Mama, Child Mode, MindBodyGreen, Role/Reboot and Mom.me. Visit her website for more.