I got pregnant with my oldest child in May of 2013. I was 27. I had her in February of 2014. I got pregnant with my middle kiddo in April of 2015. I had him in January of 2016. I was 29. I got pregnant with my youngest in January of 2017. I had her in October of 2017. I was 31.
It's been busy.
For four years, between ages 27 and 31, I was either pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding. I wouldn't change it for the world now, but wow, that was a busy stretch of life. And it's not like things have slowed down too much (well, they have in the impregnating department! )—we have an almost 7-year-old, a 5-year-old and a 3-year-old.
It's still busy.
The first five years of your child's life is physical, exhausting, amazing, exhilarating, beautiful, and hard. It's grace and grit, resilience and reassurance. It's doubting yourself and cheering yourself on—often at the same time. It's emotion and inspiration, heart and soul.
It's wild. Especially when you have multiple children close in age running around fighting and playing, playing and fighting, and then fighting and playing again.
So, in case you're wondering, here are 10 things no one tells you about having kids one after the other:
1. You will feel like you live at your providers office.
For five years I felt like I was at my doctors office all the time—getting checked and listening for heartbeats and seeing their little profile on the sonogram screen. I got to know the office staff, got to challenge myself by bringing toddlers with me as I continued to get pregnant (listening to Daniel Tiger while someone checks your cervix is super interesting), and definitely perfected my peeing in a cup game for sure.
2. You will either be pregnant, postpartum, breastfeeding or making bottles for a long time.
Like, a long time. In the span of the four years between my births, I was in five weddings—either super pregnant and squeezing myself into a bridesmaid dress, breastfeeding a baby and trying to get out of a tricky bridesmaid dress (in a church), or freshly postpartum leaking in my bridesmaid dress. I breastfed my first two for 18-months each, and then my littlest kiddo weaned right before she turned three. It was a long journey. My boobies are now free women!
3. You will be very tired.
Like tired, very tired, and then add more tired on top of that. Some days you'll feel like a zombie, some days you'll feel like you ran a marathon—I think it just depends if it's more mental/emotional exhaustion or physical exhaustion that day. If it's all-of-the-above exhaustion, you'll probably leave your phone in the freezer that day, or you'll forget to bring your kid to their wellness appointment. Or maybe you'll stay in sweats from dawn to dusk, declare it a special movie marathon day(!), and go through the McDonald's drive-thru for dinner. (Remember, those days are *just* as memorable to your kiddos as the big-adventure-somewhere-cool days.)
4. Some (most?) days will be blurry.
It all seems to blend together. I literally had to count out years and dates and my ages before I wrote the first paragraph of this essay. It's very tricky for my tired mind.
I didn't do perfect baby books for any of my kids—I mean, there's been a lot going on—but I did take a lot of pictures. They're not very organized and I need to delete so many off my phone so it'll actually work properly, but they're absolute gems. The four years between births was foggy for a while and looking back on that time is emotional for many reasons. But one of them being is the fact that it was hard, yet we got through it—together.
5. You will learn to multitask whether you want to or not.
Someone is always requesting something from you. One kid needs goldfish while the baby needs to nurse and the toddler needs you to wipe them in the bathroom. You'll be cooking dinner while two kids are fighting over a Barbie they haven't seen in a year and the little one is using your good red lipstick to decorate your walls. You'll have an important phone call to take while one kid is asking for you to turn on a show, the other wants to go in the bath, and you've misplaced the little one.
You can do multiple things at one time and you won't always feel like you're doing them well, but those years are survival mode years, mama. No one expects perfection.
6. Your body will change.
I gained about fifty to sixty pounds with each of my three babies. The first time around the weight came off gradually, I wasn't in a rush, and I certainly didn't lose it all. After my second baby, I needed a break from momming all the time so I dedicated any free time to a gym I signed up for. By my second kiddo's first birthday I was in the best shape of my life… right in time to find out I was pregnant with baby number three.
I am now three years postpartum and lost nine pounds that one time, then put it back on (and then some).
My relationship with my body has had its ups and downs. I've been unnecessarily mean to it and it has taken me a long while to appreciate the true and honest beauty of what it has done for me and given to me—but I finally have. While I don't always love the way something fits me or am always jazzed about my reflection, I am working on loving myself no matter what size my tag says—and that's the important work.
7. You will forget their birth year all the time.
I mean, my middle was born in 2016 and then my youngest was born in 2017, yet they're basically two years apart? That feels like some sort of riddle, right? Middle was born at the very start of 2016 and then my youngest was born at the end of 2017. That's how it works, and I get it, but it still trips me up nearly every time someone asks me.
The years are blurry, remember.
8. You will hear weird comments when you go out in public.
You hear these especially when they're so young because seeing three (or more) little kids with one parent looks like A WHOLE LOT to an outsider. And it is—obviously—but it's your normal so it doesn't feel not normal to you. I've gotten, "Are they twins?", "You sure have your hands full!", and random "Wow!" comments which I'm not entirely sure what those imply, tbh.
Two of my personal faves are, "Are they all yours?"—like, nah just felt like borrowing a random kid to add onto my stress pile LOLOLOL. And, "Are you having any more?"—like, I don't know, my husband still needs to book an appointment with a urologist, I canceled my appointment for an IUD because it scares me, and condoms are annoying, so I guess we'll see! Thanks for asking!
9. They will go from fighting to playing quickly.
It's a constant cycle, really. Add in some whining, sprinkle in the occasional biting, and then pepper in some random "I love you!" and "You're my best friend!" comments—that is life with three very close in age. They're the best of friends and each other's fiercest protectors, but they can also throw down like an MMA fight at the sight of a stolen toy or doll or stale piece of Play-Doh.
10. You'll get the physically exhausting years over in one chunk.
It's a roller coaster of emotions and memories and happiness and exhaustion. I feel like I'm on the other end of the wild newborn/baby/toddler years because my littlest is now three. She goes on the potty and sleeps in a big kid bed. We've gotten rid of our crib and no longer use a pack 'n' play. I don't breastfeed anymore and my oldest is in the losing teeth stage now. I'm a big-kid mom now. And while I look back at those years wondering how exactly I did it, I don't really have a solid answer.
But what I do now is that I had a lot of heart, a lot of help, and a lot of love. And I wouldn't change any of it.