Now whoever says that having a 3rd child is no different than having a 2nd is clearly delusional as I was when I entered this pregnancy with that mindset. I observed blissful friends who handled 3rd and 4th babies with a cheerful attitude while flexing stronger biceps. I believed the adage of adding one more potato to the pot was all that was required for one more child to the family (in addition to a new college savings fund that cost more than a whole field of potatoes). Like most parents of multiple kids, we generally felt we were prepared and experienced for this third time around the block. We had the gear – strollers, cribs, car seats, clothes, blankets, sippy cups. We knew the drill – schedules, naptimes, feeding and diapering.
What we forgot was that we were 6 years older than when we had our first and approaching middle age. I was pushing 40 at the time of my 3rd child’s birth and those extra years did make a difference in my energy and ability to bounce back after my pregnancy compared to my earlier pregnancies. Not to mention I had two younger kids to take care of and I didn’t have a nanny or housekeeper to help with everything. So, maybe there was more than age at stake in that extra wave of fatigue this final round.
The biggest surprise was that nursing did not come easily. For some reason I just assumed it would be easy as I nursed my other two kids for almost a year each. Although I had problems in the beginning with each in terms of milk supply and every kind of lactation difficultly from painful latches to mastitis, I did eventually work through it with the help of a lactation consultant and my OBGYN for a fulfilling and successful nursing experience with both of my children. So to find I had the same exact array of problems with my 3rd was shocking. Once again I found myself at the mercy of baby scales and schedules and trips to the pediatrician’s office to check the baby’s weight gain. In all of my years of school, college and graduate school I never experienced the same degree of test anxiety as that of getting my baby weighed and awaiting my pass/ fail results from my pediatrician. I felt like I was always just barely getting by but working like crazy and pulling all-nighters preparing for the weighing in exam.
Finally after the help of a lactation consultant once again, a Medela hospital grade nursing pump to help with milk supply stimulation, my husband’s unwavering support with all the other baby responsibilities, and the help of herbal supplements and Reglan to promote milk supply and sheer persistence, we made it through to the other side of nursing the way it’s supposed to be, painless and brainless. You know the side, where you can nurse anytime, anywhere and everyone is happy and dinner is always warm and on time. I used to be paranoid and modest with my nursing with my first baby, very worried that any bit of skin might peek out or I might offend someone with the sheer act of nursing my baby. Not so with my third baby. I would nurse in open air at a park, in an airport, on an airplane next to any stranger, at a restaurant and not feel the need to retreat to the tiny bathroom stall for privacy and modesty. Armed with a good nursing bra and sometimes a stylish nursing top, I was good to go anywhere with my baby and feed on demand. Now at last I could enjoy my baby and the perks of not having to pack a bottle