Odd Numbers or Bad Things Come in Threes?

My friends with big families love to help prepare me for this next little munchkin by telling me horror stories about the adjustment going from 2 to 3 children. They’re trying to be helpful but I’m afraid they don’t quite understand the concept of “help.” “Good luck,” doesn’t really count as a well wish if it’s followed by the implied, “You’re sure gonna need it,” and it’s even worse when they come right out and say, “Your life will soon be a raging inferno of chaos and despair.”

Then they give a knowing smile. It’s all quite lovely, really. Word on the street is that although the adjustment from one to two is rough, adding another kid is mind-blowing. I’ve been listening to this for years with half an ear, thinking that it can’t really be as bad as everyone says. Now that I’m in the runaway train car of pregnancy with no turning back, I’ve started to remember some of the horror stories I’ve been told. It’s not hard really because the minute my bump started to grow, so did the cheerful warnings and words of happy consolation. They’re always smiling when they tell me these things, as though happy that I’m finally gonna “get mine.”

The thing is, I am happy that I’m finally gonna get mine. We’ve wanted this baby for a long time and possibly another one to follow shortly thereafter. We both knew our family wasn’t complete and although the age gap between two and three is wider than the gap between one and two, it’s not for lack of desire. My brain and body just weren’t ready yet. I wonder now if they ever will be or if I’ve already used up the prime baby making juice that was in me. My body is not handling things as well as it has in the past. My hips and pelvis have already started separating, thanks to the gigantic Magoo and his 10.5 pounds of girth. I’m having pain very similar to what I experienced after he was born but at a fraction of the intensity. It gets worse every day though and the bones in my pelvis and hips just feel bruised all the time. I hobble way more than a 5 and a half month pregnant woman should.

Then there’s the brain stuff. I’m hanging in there. I’m functioning but I’m definitely not at my peak. I can feel that things are a bit “off” but not enough to warrant major medical intervention or prescription changes. If this goes the same as it did with Magoo, it will be more than two years before I can wean completely off brain meds and feel normal again and what then? Start this whole thing over again?

It scares me.

We’ve always thought we’d have 4 kids but I question that number every day of this pregnancy. I’m still throwing up, though far less frequently. I’m emotional and in pain and it’s hard to think clearly about this decision when I feel this way. Dan keeps reminding me that we have plenty of time before we have to decide but I like my life planned out in neat little rows five to ten to eighty years at a time. I like at least the illusion of being in control.

Magoo and this baby will be four and a half years apart. I kind of want this baby to have a sibling closer in age. I would love for Magoo to get a brother. He’s already crying about the possibility that when the baby’s a little older, he’ll have to move into a room all by himself.

Yesterday I was talking with a friend who often has Laylee and Magoo over to play with his son. We were discussing the fact that the kids generally get along well when they’re playing in twos but when there’s an odd number of children, someone always gets left out or mistreated. Yesterday it was the two boys ganging up on poor Laylee. Just as often Laylee and Rowan gang up on Magoo because he’s the youngest. Am I doomed to live the life of a bouncer or referee if we stop at three kids?

I want the best possible family.

The problem is, I don’t know if it’s best to give my kids one more sibling or to be a more consistently sane and healthy mom for them. We’ll pray about it. We’ll weigh our options. We’ll see if I go as crazy after the birth of this child as I did with Magoo.

Today I’m just going to breathe and appreciate the family I have, Dan, Laylee, Magoo and little Wanda jumping on my pelvis while she swims around in her own urine. It’s not a bad little band of five.

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47 Responses to Odd Numbers or Bad Things Come in Threes?

  1. The Wiz says:

    No! Am I really first? It can’t be.

    Anyway….we have 3. 2 girls and a boy. It’s awesomeness. AWESOME.

    For me, the transition from 1 to 2 rocked my world in such a huge way. The transition from 2 to 3 was a big meh. Not a big issue at all. The first 2 just played otgether while I dealt with the baby. Of course, it helped that the third was the most perfect baby on the planet. 🙂

    So maybe you’ll get a perfect baby, and no brain issues. Hey, you know, it happens. It could happen to you.

  2. The Wiz says:

    I just reallized that looks like I said we have 3.2 girls. Weird. I mean we have three kids. Two are girls. One is a boy. Carry on.

  3. Mary says:

    I too am preggo with #3 (due mid-Sept) and my philosophy is to take things one baby at a time. I just can’t look ahead of the one I’m carrying or I’ll get overwhelmed.

    I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes well and that your (and my) transition from 2 to 3 is easy!

    p.s. You are wonderwoman to have birthed a 10.5 lb baby!!

  4. Lynette says:

    My two boys are 4 1/2 years apart and at 9 and 4 are most of the time best buddies. We didn’t have as much of the sibling rivalry because they were far enough apart that they live in their own developmental worlds, and the older one (who is sweet natured anyway) is willing to give in sometimes just because his brother is littler. I would also like to offer up encouragement from the oldest of three – we all get along very well as adults and genuinely enjoy spending time with each other, even though growing up there were all the usual sibling issues. The good news is, if one brother didn’t want to do something, odds were the other would. I think Wanda is lucky to be joining your family a little farther behind – she’s going to be beyond loved and cherished!

  5. Nancy says:

    Ahhhh….three aint so bad….your parenting style will simply be moving from a Man-to-Man Defense to a Zone Defense! And I agree with Mary above, just take things one baby at a time!

  6. I will have to totally disagree with your friends. I have three daughters and my transition from one to two children took me two years to recover from. But from two to three was (relatively) a breeze. My older two would go play together, or even, *gasp* be of some help. I think it would be different if I had three kids in four years or something, but my first two are 25 months apart and two and three are 32 months apart.

    We always wanted four kids, too, but now that #3 is two, three kids is sounding better and better…

  7. Tiffany says:

    Have you considered adopting #4? This would help to round out your family without the extreme strain on your mental and physical health. Just a thought. . .

    Also, on the transition from 2 to 3, it totally depends on the temperaments of your kids! How does the baby behave? Is it a crier or an easy-breezy baby? How were your other babies? How are they now? I think it is different for everyone, so I wouldn’t stress excessively about it.

  8. Stephanie says:

    I agree with Amy and the Whiz. Going from 2 to 3 is easy peazy. And I haven’t noticed the ganging up in my family.

  9. Carrie says:

    Kathryn, I have a friend who just had her third child, and her oldest is, I think, two? Or maybe three at the most. Anyway… she was talking about her first day at home by herself with all three, and how it was only a week after the baby was born. I said, “Oh, wow, I would’ve been crying ALL DAY.” And she said, “Oh, no, actually I thought I would, but really, as I was sitting on the couch, nursing & watching the boys play, I thought, ‘You know, this isn’t too much different than a normal day – just a baby nursing & sleeping in the corner’. And several other moms with several children nodded their agreement, that it’s really not that much harder with three. So you will be fine. God will give you the strength.

    As far as the mental/emotional difficulties, I had just a tiny taste of the post-partum spectrum with my first son, and now that I’m expecting my 2nd, I am nervous about it – but I have received so much encouragement from other moms who’ve gone through similar things & yet been able to enjoy and cherish their time with a newborn down the road. I’ll be praying that this will be your experience, and also, I hope your pregnancy gets easier soon! 🙁

  10. Carrie says:

    Also, my husband has two brothers – three boys in their family – and they are VERY close. I would have to ask him about the whole ‘ganging up’ thing, but I would venture a guess that it would not have been tolerated in their family – they’re very loving & close. 🙂

  11. Emily says:

    I only have two and think we will possibly move on to three at some point, but I am terrified for all of the same reasons you are. I think though that you just have take each child one at a time and see how it goes. I’ve made a rule for myself. I am giving myself a two year break after the birth of my second before we even think about deciding about a third. I am half way through and am finally at a point where the thought of three doesn’t send me running to my room in tears. We will see where we are next year.

  12. In some ways, going from two to three was easier. Instead of my one little munchkin who was used to having my total attention all the time suddenly having to entertain herself, my two older kids had each other to play with when I was nursing or otherwise occupied with the baby. Certainly, there are times when all THREE kids want my attention at the same time and life is chaos, but that’s going to be true no matter how many kids you have. We have three and are stopping at three, and casting aside any stories about odd-man-out, middle child displacement, and what have you. With my first pregnancy, I was generally happy. With my third, it seemed to get harder each day. I am currently not planning on doing that again. The right number of kids is different for every family, and the mother’s health–physical and mental–has a GREAT deal to do with it.

  13. Andrea says:

    I too always wanted 4, and not an odd number. But 3 is looking better and better.
    #3 was super easy baby, so 2 to 3 was not bad. It’s all in the perspective. When you have 5 or 6 🙂 you’ll look back and think how easy 3 were.

  14. Sue Gir says:

    You have a great family, DYM. It might be true that kids join in pairs. But it’s also true that it’s not always the same pair. In the end of the day, they all will have their own good things. Siblings love each other whatever numbers they come in.
    You are gonna be the proudest mother in just another couple of months. Why, you already are!

  15. Gotta agree with the Wiz and those who spoke likewise. The transition to three was much easier for me than 1 to 2. And it still feels good; good enough that I think I’m done and despite an elderly stranger in a Jiffy Lube waiting room warning me once, “whatever you do, don’t have 3 kids. One will always be left out,” we’re a happy little band of five. And personally, I think it’s good for each child to take turns not being the center of attention.

  16. Carrie says:

    You will do fine! Your kids are at an awesome age for this new baby to come into your family. I have four and of course each new baby is hard but you can do it.

    Also make sure, you are getting enough EFAs (essential fatty acids). The baby tends to deplete us of this while pregnant and being deficient in EFAs can play a big role in PPD, depression in general, and some mood disorders, etc.

    I am not advocating going off any meds or not seeking professional help, if a person needs it, but the fish oil really helped me a ton although my problems have been a bit milder than most. I also found that it helped a lot with my joints after the birth of my fourth child. I have a couple family members that take it in conjunction with their antidepressants and have noticed a bigger difference in their symptoms.

    When taking fish oil while pregnant though, it needs to be fish oil that you know is very purified (mercury free) and not made from the liver of a fish because it can contain too much vitamin A. There are other sources though of EFAs that you can get just from diet.

    Just a thought. You may have already heard all of the above but do some research on it. It is very interesting.

    Once again, don’t listen to the horror stories.:)

  17. Carrie says:

    I said “have noticed a bigger difference in their symptoms.” By this, I meant for the better. Things improved more with a combination of both meds and the EFAs. I kind of left that hangin.:)

  18. Hillary says:

    I also have two girls and a boy. And the transition from two kids to three? Not difficult at all. With three kids, you know what you’re doing. The best way to make the transition easy is to have an established routine. That way the baby just slips into the routine, rather than having the older siblings slip into the baby’s routine. When I was pregnant with #3, we made sure my oldest (who is now 5) was registered for preschool, going to dance, and signed up for soccer. It was so much easier that way! She got to be involved in things outside of the house, and it helped me want to get out of the house after the baby was born. I had to so my daughter could enjoy the things she was used to doing.

    It’s really not that difficult. Don’t fret too much. You guys will do just fine!

  19. Erin says:

    We just went from two kids (had only two for 4 1/2 years) to three. I had heard the horror stories too but so far going from 0 to 1 has been my biggest challenge.

    I don’t have any great advice for you about adding #4 except that in the throes of pregnancy isn’t ever the best time to make a decision. About anything. Even like what to wear. LOL. Hang in there. 🙂

  20. allysha says:

    You will get yours and it will be wonderful. For me, going from 2 to 3 wasn’t bad and then we jumped into 4 so fast my head is still spinning! But I’d do it again.

    My thoughts: don’t stress about the future. You should enjoy things now. I firmly believe that if you are supposed to have more children that you will be able to. Call me and I will tell you faith promoting stories. Also, maybe some commiserating stories. And if you are done after three, you’ll be able to know that, too.

    I really love you, Kathryn. You are an amazing daring young mom!

  21. nik says:

    I have to echo Carrie on the EFA’s for brain power. Being prepared is your best defense against post partum depression. You know what to do this time. 3 is cake. You are a wonderful mom and that is what makes the difference, not how many kids you have. Trust your Heavenly Father. He knows you and he knows your family. If there are 4 kids, they will all make it. (In my case it was 6 which came as a huge surprise to me, but I am grateful everyday for each one of them.) Last bit of unsolicited advice. Try seeing a chiropractor for you hip pain. I waddled way too soon, but I had a great chiropractor recommended by my midwife, and it made a huge difference in my physical comfort during my pregnancy. Good Luck!!! 🙂

  22. Emilee says:

    I’m here to leave my two cents as well…I have three kids in my family and I’m the only girl. That doesn’t mean I was left out a lot, it means I have a much closer relationship with my mom–and I love that. I now have three kids of my own and I think that’s the way it will stay. I have a larger gap between #2 & #3 than I wanted, but it has worked out great so far (2 yrs). My older two are only 16 months apart and are great friends, and they are awesome with the baby. Since there is a bigger gap (3yrs) they seem to understand where she is developmentally and patient with her. I know whatever Heavenly Father has in store for your family will be perfect!
    P.S. You are an awesome mom 🙂

  23. cheetaH says:

    So many decisions hey? I know that it all works out. The Lord doesn’t leave us alone. He’ll guide you in it all…though at times it does feel like it’s all up to us and boy, what if we get it all wrong?? Terrible feeling. But the peace comes. Right? And then the agonizing. But the peace will come after that too. And hopefully in 20 years we’ll know for sure that God knew all along and we had nothing to worry about:-) Thanks for sharing.

  24. californiazenmom says:

    I thought having baby #1 was the biggest transition. The addition of #2 and then #3 were no big deal. There was more running and chasing with #3 (boy), but otherwise I was already in “mom” mode.

    I think you already “did your hard time” with the weeks after Magoo was born — this one should be a cake walk for you. Keeping my fingers crossed for that!!!!

  25. Marian says:

    Will people never give up the idea that there is a standard experience of “having 2”, “having 3”, having them close, having them far, having a boy, etc, etc, etc? Yes, sometimes there are some common threads that many– though very, very far from all– experience with a given circumstance. But we like to speak so authoritatively on such things, as if by our own experience we’ve experienced the totality of an entire demographic! I remember discussing gender differences with one woman back when I had just my 3 boys. She said, “WELL, I have one boy, and one girl, so I know that boys {as in all boys} are THIS, and girls {as in all girls} are THAT.” Period. =)

    The fact is that every family and every experience is unique. There are so many variables in circumstance, resources… Most important of all, of course, is the fact that each child is a unique creation, coming into combination and permutation with an entire family of unique creations, in a a unique family circumstance!

    Though some of it is surely just people looking to connect and identify with other parents, the desire for some sort of bogus standardized scale so often just stems from the insatiable need to compare and feel superior– ugly, but true.

    As a parent who has lived in a sometimes nightmarish alternate world of complex special needs and childhood mental illness starting with my first child, I guess I realized more quickly than others perhaps that this parenting gig is ANYTHING but standardized and there’s no solid basis– or good purpose!– for all of the obsessive comparison.

    As the unique person you are, you’ll love and parent the unique child that God has given you, in the family and circumstances that God has ordained for YOU! At least you’re galvanized for the “worst”, and are more likely to be pleasantly surprised with whatever experience you end up with. 😉

  26. Mir says:

    Sweetie, I know how you like to plan, because I’m a planner, too. But your family will be perfect, however it ends up. As my mother is fond of saying: “Don’t borrow trouble.” Get through this pregnancy. Rejoice in your new baby. Nurture your family. Take care of YOU. And trust that the rest will be made clear.

    Sending you hugs, my friend.

  27. Faith says:

    I’ve heard this from a few people too. Blessing number three is due to arrive about two weeks before our oldest turns four. I’m a little nervous (okay, a lot nervous), but mainly I just try not to think about the likely mayhem that is blindly charging in my general direction 🙂

    Hang in there! These things really don’t need to be figured out TODAY. God has a way of working stuff out like it’s His job.

  28. Awesome Mom says:

    I am on my second day at home with all three kids and I have to say that it is a big meh. I am not freaking out. The older kids are doing pretty much what the did pre baby. The baby is awake but quietly watching what is going on. I think that going from two to three is much easier than one to two went.

    My third pregnancy was a lot harder on my body. I think they do get harder and harder. Number four is a toss up for us too. I think it will depend on how fast I forget how this last pregnancy went.

  29. I have 4. Stop at 3. 🙂 LOL

    Seriously. :oD

    Although I think it all has to do with timing. Ours came a tad bit close together so it was quite overwhelming having a newborn, 1, 2, and 3 year old….But in all honesty I think you just know when you are complete! I never thought I would feel done, but I do. Give it time, and just see how you feel. And I would agree 2-3 wasn’t so bad…..You’ll be fine!!

  30. Allison says:

    I have 3 kids (all girls). The first two are fairly close in age – 21 mos. apart. Then there are 3 years between #2 and #3. When my second was born, I was a wreck. I cried for days and was terrified to be left alone with both girls, which made me feel worse, because I’m their mom, for crying out loud! I’m not supposed to be afraid of my own children. But I didn’t know how I was going to handle being a mom to two kids, especially when I didn’t feel particularly confident with the one I already had. By the time #3 came along, though, the first two were older and I was more experienced and definitely more confident. Everyone told me how hard that transition was supposed to be, but it was such a breeze for me. I suspect you’ll have a similar experience. You seem to have this mommy thing pretty much in hand.

    Besides, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! By the time little Wanda is born, you’ll totally be Superwoman! 🙂

  31. Karen says:

    I grapple with this daily, should we take our family of 5 to 6? I find no peace either way at this point.

    Going from 2 to 3 children was the best, most lovely transition in family growth I had. It was busy and took a little more planning, but I tried to be flexible and place no expectations on myself or others for awhile. Learning to slow down as a result of Jack’s birth was one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned since becoming a mother.

    You will do fine, Laylee and Magoo will do fine. You’re going to love what this precious baby girl will bring to your lives.

  32. Heather says:

    So, we’re in the same boat here. I have always wanted four kids and I really wanted them all close together. After baby #2, I had my own brain stuff going on so we put it on hold. He’s now four and I’m 13 weeks pregnant with #3. This pregnancy has been so much harder so I’m finding myself questioning if we’ll get to the four kids we’ve always wanted.

    Also, I don’t know if this will help but several of my friends here have three and they all tell me that the adjustment to three was easier than the adjustment to two. I’m sticking to their story, even if they are just trying to make me feel better 🙂

  33. cheryl says:

    Every child is an adjustment. Personally? I still think one was harder than 3 (or 4 –ask me again when 5 comes in two months). One was harder because I didn’t know what the crud I was doing! Three? Eh. More people, yes, but also more love.

    I don’t like it when people are all “oh, good luck! It’s so hard! Holy cow!” because frankly? We all do what we have to do when we have to do it. And if it’s not perfect? Hallelujah! What fun is perfection?

    You’ll be fine. And you are wise. Take it one kid at a time –or, one prayer at a time. I have no doubt you’ll rock it with three!

  34. Pam in Utah says:

    Three is going to be very happy for you all! I’m sure of it! Having them not all in diapers at once is big, and having cute little laylee getting so grown up and helpful is a plus, and Magoo is going to love this baby, and being you and DYD is an awsome combination. It’s a little work, but completely doable! It will be so much fun!!!!!!!!!

  35. Diana says:

    My third child was my easiest. He slept the most and by the third child I really knew what I was doing and was able to enjoy him so much. It is so much fun to see the older children interact with the baby…I didn’t even notice any jealousy. No matter how many children you decide to have, that number will be perfect for YOU and you’ll never be sorry that you have that precious child.

  36. Rebekah says:

    Right now, I only have one. We’re hoping to have a few more, as well. I’m not looking forward to pregnancy, birth, and post partum depression again, but darn, a baby sure is worth the pain. Even as I still struggle through the aftermath of my first, I know I want more.

    If it makes you feel any better (about going from 3 to 4 if you decide to), my mother says that after having three kids, you can handle more with ease. She had six.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any advice of my own to offer you, but I do wish you good luck. And they say that the third time’s a charm. Maybe this little on will be your easiest baby yet. 🙂

  37. Elise says:

    My mom says “the real difficulty in going from two to three is if your kids are so young the parent need to hold the childrens’ hands when going from the car into the store… With Laylee in kindergarten and being a well-behaved child, Kathryn should have no problem with three kids. Kathryn will be fine.”

  38. Holly says:

    Do whatever works for you and your family. I was the third and last child in my family, with six years between me and my older brother (we were girl, boy, girl, just like your kids). My husband has a similar story – third and final child, with a five year gap. We both turned out just fine. It’s fun to have older siblings – they play with you but there isn’t any fighting/competition.

    Whatever ends up happening I’m sure you’ll all be fine.

  39. Keryn says:

    Two-to-three wasn’t so bad for me, even though number three has spina bifida and needs a bit more care. But three-to-four? It’s been six months and I’m still not sure I’m going to survive. (Or that I want to. They have naps in heaven, don’t they?)

  40. Heidi says:

    We prefer pairs of sisters, two sets (total of four) at a time. But wait, you’re talking babies, not cats, aren’t you? Okay then, moving on.

  41. Emily C says:

    Can I say that in my family growing up there were four of us. “The bigs” and “the littles”. I was kid number 3, and was designated a “little” until I was nearly 16. More often than not, I wanted to play with my older siblings but couldn’t because then my baby sister would whine and moan and complain.

    I think 3 can work MARVELOUSLY, especially if they’re all loved and cared for.

  42. Heather says:

    I have 4 kids 9,6,2 1/2, and 4 months. I was ready for 3 to kick my butt! Instead it was great!
    now 4 is doing the kicking. I think it’s how you space them! You will be just fine!

  43. I have the same nervousness when contemplating #3. Except my #2 was only 6 pounds. ;o) I hope your transition from 2 to 3 will be wonderful. And, even if it isn’t, your kids are lucky to have such a loving mom who keeps trying.

  44. Jenni says:

    I too have been feeling the same way! I’m 5 1/2 months pregnant with our third girl and have been pretty nervous about the whole going from 2 to 3, but I just keep saying God won’t give me more than I can handle. 😉 I also waddle way too much!!

  45. Amanda says:

    I am right there with you on so many of these things! I’m 6 mos. pregnant with my 3rd, (you recommended your Dr. for me…THANK YOU, once again), and I’m already feeling those stretchings in my pelvis–I don’t remember feeling these so early with the other 2. Not only that, but I have c-sections! Sometimes, I just want to remind my body that it won’t have the opportunity to utilize the loosened cartilage, so it doesn’t really need to relax much in the first place, right? And, I definitely identify with the whole “going from 2 to 3 blows you out of the water” opinions. It can’t be THAT hard. Am I going to eat my words a few months from now? It just can’t be as awful as everyone says. After all, there were a ton of people that told me going from 0 to 1 was a doozy–and it certainly didn’t turn my world upside down. Anyway–I can certainly identify with your thoughts!

  46. Shannon says:

    Yes, two to three is a big jump. But it’s a GOOD jump, and it’ll teach you something about yourself. Embrace it!

    (And for the record? Three to four isn’t even a speed bump.)

  47. Dana says:

    I know how you feel — my body remembers the aches and pains and the emotional lows that is pregnancy. I think a woman can never forget, particularly if she’s had several, and I had 4. Child #4 was hard on my body, and that cemented our decision to stop after that… The labor was long, but, somehow, I was more at peace. I think perhaps because I knew it was my last go-round, and I wanted to remember the experience…such a painful, but precious time.

    I did experience a big change with the addition of the third, but, honestly? It had more to do with having 3 children, 5 and under. I feel it’s all related to how old you other children are! So, be encouraged: it may be easier to adjust to your third than these people say, since your other children are past the toddler years!

    Also, don’t sign off quite yet on #4. I wanted assurance from my husband that he would be happy to stop at #3…but he wisely didn’t want it as an absolute yet…and a couple years later, I wanted #4. My fourth was a breeze to adjust to, because I had a 7-year-old who was eager to help… We all have to allow ourselves the blessing of time — time to heal, and time to decide.

    Keep putting one foot in front of the other, and try not to focus on the future… You have sweet children, and you’re a great mother!

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