10 Reasons Having the 4th Baby Is Easier Than Having the 1st

4thbaby

Before I had kids and even when I had just my first baby, I glorified mothers of multiple children. “Oh my gosh, how on earth do they do it?” Well friends, now I’m living it and the good news is that it doesn’t get exponentially harder with each addition to the family. There are for sure transition periods, but like most parents who have more than one baby, I’ve seen a big change in the way I parent now then when I did with my first. And it’s actually gotten easier (not less busy) because of the systems in place and the difference in approach. I feel more relaxed, more confident and could honestly say the addition of our sweet 4th child 7 weeks ago has been the most natural and unobtrusive transition yet.

As I thought about why that was, several things came to mind; there are 10 reasons having the 4th baby is easier than having the first for me.

1. I didn’t have to step into a Babies ‘R Us before the baby was born (so happy). It was all in my basement. Bjorns, Bumbos, Boppies, bouncers, and the car seat that had been used with my three other kids. Just wipe it all off and bring it back into the rotation. No registries, scanners, baby showers, or shopping. The start up cost on #4 was practically free.

With each kid, I actually need less and less “stuff” to take care of my baby. I used to carry a diaper bag with every possible product I’d need. Now, a list of five things about covers it. Who needs a changing table when flat surfaces abound? Wipe warmers?…they just dry the wipes out. Diaper Genies create some pretty stinky trash duty. A shopping cart cover? Ain’t nobody got time for that. Essentially I need my body, diapers and an Ergo baby carrier to make my baby happy. (see #2) But it took a kid or two to figure that simplicity out.

2. I discovered that baby-wearing prevents and solves a multitude of problems. Strap the baby in the Ergo and make dinner. Strap the baby in the Ergo and clean the house. Strap the baby in the Ergo, put two in the double stroller and have one of the kids use their feet…and bam, we’re all on a walk. Strap the baby in the Ergo and make sweet love to my husband…oh wait, that one doesn’t work.

3. I’m no longer intimidated by the sounds of kids crying. It is so frequent at my house, it’s become commonplace and non-concerning (for better or worse). If it’s really bad, they’ll come get me. This stoicism works super well for the “crying it out” part of newborn sleep training.

4. It took me all of 30 seconds to set up the “nursery.” And by nursery I mean putting the pack and play in my room. A color scheme, new paint and matching artwork are awesome, but totally not necessary. I’m still not sure which of my other kids’ rooms our latest little guy is going into when he’s ready. And the best part?  I’m not stressed about it. I know he could sleep with any of them and it’d be fine.

5. I now have no problem nursing in public or nursing in general. Gone are the days of slipping out of the room for a private spot to carefully prop myself up with a boppy and six pillows to achieve that oh-so-perfect latch. Breastfeeding in public is second nature now because my body is a MACHINE. It has grown, birthed and fed three other babies and it does not feel intimidating to feed my child anywhere (and prop-free) anymore. Be careful if you come to my door. I may answer it while nursing.

6. I’ve embraced that Mt. Laundry is a landmark that I can give directions by.To get to the bathroom, you just turn right from the pile of clothes on the floor.” I’m pretty sure this will the case from now until my children leave home.

7. It’s totally cool with me to buy nearly all my clothes at garage sales or Carter’s clearance events. In fact, if I pay more than a few dollars for an item, it better be something that is going to become a family heirloom. With my first baby, it was all about the outfits. I’d change her a couple times a day like a little doll. I found precious little things at children’s boutiques. Now it’s all about practicality. Is it clean? Does it fit? Is it one piece with a zipper? If it meets two out of the three concerns, it’s wearable.

8. I’ve got 6 sitters numbers on speed dial. It’s truly a commitment to find “your people.” Those you can trust to watch your little people. But finding them opens a whole host of possibilities. Like leaving the house. For a date. What a concept.

9. The voice of mother guilt has gotten a wee bit softer. I know that I’m not my kids’ everything and they aren’t mine. I know it’s ok to say no to some of the requests for my time in life; this is my season of young kids. My husband needs me and it’s ok to leave my kids for a few days so we can reconnect. Even on days when I’ve been not the kind of mother I want to be, there is grace. Grace from God and grace from my family…such a gift on both accounts.

10. We have built-in “helpers.” Toddlers and young children really can be helpful. They can put some of their laundry away, put the silverware in the drawer, be “gophers” for things I need, and entertain the baby. Many hands make light work…(and also more work!)

First babies get the most books read to them, the most robust photo documentation of their early lives, the cutest clothes and the most forethought. I loved being the all-attentive and joyous mother that I was with my first child. Even though I can’t keep up that pace with each baby after the first one, it’s wonderful being an experienced mother, for all in all the reasons I’ve just outlined.

It still is harder to load four kids in and out of the mini-van I never wanted. I have so many chores that will never end any time soon. But I know it’ll all work out, perfection won’t raise my kids any better than a more relaxed approach. And I love the fact that my heart is four times bigger than it was five years ago when I started this adventure of parenting.

Blessings,

Heidi