The Transition From 2 to 3 Kids
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was sure I was done having babies. Pregnancy wasn’t my favorite, and I didn’t really love the newborn stage with my first. I felt overwhelmed as a working mom – my anxiety wasn’t great. It was all a lot. Then my …
When I was pregnant with my second daughter, I was sure I was done having babies. Pregnancy wasn’t my favorite, and I didn’t really love the newborn stage with my first. I felt overwhelmed as a working mom – my anxiety wasn’t great. It was all a lot. Then my first daughter got sick and everything changed. I needed one more baby. My husband took some convincing, and I must have really blocked how much I hated pregnancy, because that wasn’t fun. But our baby boy arrived in April 2023 and it all felt so right. I feel this sense of peace amidst the chaos. It is so different (in the best way) this time around. So let’s talk about my experience going from 2 to 3 kids.
The Transition From 2 to 3 Kids
Keep in mind I’ve only had 5 weeks of experience as a mom of 3. But I will tell you that this transition has without question rocked my world the least. It’s been the most seamless and feels the most right. I wouldn’t call it easy, but I’d say that I’ve grown as a mom and have adjusted to the craziness. When you go from 0-1, everything changes. Your time is not your own and you’re navigating so much that’s new. I was in love with my baby but so anxious and in a constant state of overwhelm. I knew nothing about motherhood – it was just a lot.
Going from 1-2
My experience going from 1-2 was anything but normal. The pandemic made things impossible for all parents, and we had a cancer diagnosis on top of that. Having zero help and going through something so scary and complex felt impossible at the time. Kate was a dream baby, but everything that surrounded her arrival was a nightmare. I was in a really dark place mentally – my anxiety was understandably through the roof. I was broken and did not really get to enjoy that period of time the way I wanted to.
Going from 2-3
Circumstances around Jack’s arrival have been wildly different in the best way. First, we’re not isolated. We can see family and friends (as long as they’re healthy of course – he is a newborn, after all). Not being alone and not getting a toddler through cancer treatment has been…wonderful. Then there’s the fact that we have our nanny 3 days a week, Margot in school, and both girls are about to start summer camp a few days a week. But the real game-changer has been our night nurse. We were both hesitant because it’s a big expense, but will both tell you that is worth every penny. It’s amazing how good you feel after sleeping through the night!
I am (a lot) less anxious this time
I am hardly an expert and there’s a lot I’ve forgotten, but for the most part, I know what I’m doing. I’m way (way!) less anxious. Never in a million years would I have handed Margot to a night nurse. I was barely ready to hand her to a nanny after 4 months and struggled with that for a while. With Jack I was like “I love you bye” and I was off to bed. I’m also used to having less time and to things feeling nonstop, so it’s just more of that. And that, I can handle.
I’ve learned a lot
As a third time mom, I know how short-lived the baby stage is. My last baby is about to turn 3 and my oldest is about to turn 5. I have been cherishing the newborn stage in a different way this time. My perspective has changed so much after going through treatment with Margot, and the little things (like witching hour) just don’t phase me the way they used to. I did not expect that I’d be as calm as I have been when Jack fusses.
The hardest part: we are outnumbered
The biggest challenge has been that it’s no longer easy for one of us to do something because there are now three of them. So we just need to plan ahead. And one of us doing something solo when we don’t have our nanny here means the other being alone with 3. It’s really not that hard being with all 3. but it’s exhausting. Life is definitely easier when our nanny is here, but if all kids are home, I’m usually with someone too. Because again, there are 3 of them. We. Are. Outnumbered. But again, you’ve done this before, and while it’s a lot, you know you can handle it.
And the best part: our other kids are older
Margot and Kate are exactly 2 years apart, but the girls are almost 3 and 5 years older than Jack. What a difference that’s made. I prefer the 3 year age gap to the 2 year age during this stage, but love the 2 year age gap for Margot and Kate now. They definitely bug each other (you know, for fun), but they’re friends, too. At almost 5, Margot is pretty independent, is a great traveler, loves playing on her own, and is so helpful. She’s so much easier than she was two years ago! The transition for a 3 year old vs. 2 year old has been easier for us, too. Kate also has a big sister to play with so that’s very helpful. The girls can play together or watch a show – that part feels so much easier.
And now, to answer some of your questions on the transition from 2 to 3 kids. I hope these answers are helpful! If you have any other questions, feel free to email me or message me on instagram.
Q&A: Going from 2 to 3 Kids
What worries did you set aside when you decided to go for it? I’m in the decision process right now.
Not long after Kate was born and Margot got sick, I knew I needed one more. We made it through our toddler’s cancer treatment with a newborn during a pandemic. It was just us and the girls during the worst months of our life with zero help for the first 10 months and we survived.
In my mind, there was no way a third could not be harder than what we went through with 2. I’ve talked a lot about this but my perspective is just so wildly different now.
If it had been up to me, we would have done this a year ago, but Conor was not on board. I am so glad we waited, because the girls are a little older, I’m in a really good place with my mental health (anxiety, treatment, pandemic stuff). We are really living normally, and needed that before having another baby without an immune system. I think it would have been way too triggering. Jack came at the perfect time.
Which is the hardest? Going from 0-1, 1-2, or 2-3?
If you take our circumstances out of it, 0-1 was by far the hardest. It rocked my world. I was really stressed out and felt so lonely, and it was a real shock to the system. I’m actually going to say 2-3 seems easiest only because I’m not anxious about crying or naps. I am used to the craziness, and this is a lot more craziness, but it’s…ok? I also know how short of a season this is. My last baby will be THREE next month!
It’s hardest in the sense that there are no breaks and it’s nonstop. It was so much easier for one of us to take two kids. As confident as I feel, taking all 3 out alone sounds insane. I am not ready for that.
Advice for those of us on the fence?
I talked about this with my therapist weeks before having Jack. I was starting to worry about how hard it would be and was dreading going back to the baby stage. Keep in mind at this point I had made the decision – there was no turning back. But we talked through what I wanted. And ultimately, I wanted a bigger family. Long term, it felt like someone was missing, and that someone was Jack. So I would say to think about your why. As a now mom to 3 I can tell you that you likely won’t sweat the small stuff the way you maybe did with your first. It’s crazy but you’re also used to crazy.
I would really weigh the pros and cons and the why for you. Think about your resources, too. Do you already feel overwhelmed (don’t we all?) and will you have help?
How is the 2nd child taking it? And how are you juggling?
Kate adores Jack. She is always sweet to him and gives him lots of hugs and kisses. When she needs me, she lets me know. Sure, she has some big toddler feelings but that’s expected. She will tell me she needs me to give the baby to dad or Jessica (our nanny) and I do usually oblige if I am able. I will tell Jack (in front of Kate so she can hear me) that Kate needs me and hand him off. She can get pretty worked up and it’s hard for me to deal with, but I’ve been trying to really play with her and be silly when she has those moments, and it helps so so much.
How did you and your husband get on the same page?
We didn’t. He did not “want” a third but agreed to it. It was really the baby stage which he was dreading and I get it. Babies are hard! A lot of work and very little reward outside of being cute and snuggly which only gets you so far.
We talked a lot about it because I was not ok with us moving forward unless he was really ok with it. He was hesitant but I laid out a plan and made my case. When Conor first held Jack he looked at me and said “ok, you were right. He’s pretty great.” and I was like yeah I know you’re welcome.
Are you ever on your own with all 3? If so, can the other 2 stay busy while you care for Jack?
I have been as has Conor, and it’s not my favorite. Conor is pretty flexible with work and our nanny came twice on the weekend when he had showings. I also asked a friend to come over the last time he had a showing. It’s just nice to have someone else there. They are at great ages where they can really play and interact with one another, although M loves playing on her own (which is amazing). TV is your friend with a new baby – no guilt!
How do you handle bedtime?
Conor usually takes the girls while I have Jack since we are in that witching hour phase with Jack. I’m a lot better at handling that, but we trade off. I have not done bedtime alone with 3 and don’t really want to. Know it’s inevitable but sounds scary.
How do you feel about 3 in general. I have 1 but would love 3.
Keep in mind I have been at this for 5 weeks now, but it feels so good. Here’s the thing. No part of me was like “you know what sounds great? Let’s make things even more hectic and go back to diapers and naps and less sleep right now” – this is a moment in time. I am in this for the bigger picture.
My family is very small and my parents are not in my life, so this is really it for me. And when I think about the long-term, I wanted family around. It was ultimately what we went through with Margot that made me want one more, and it’s crazy, but one of the best things I ever did.
Is it best to wait until #2 is pretty independent?
This really depends on your family dynamic and each child. And I only know what it’s like to have a new baby with my almost 3 and almost 5 year old. Some might argue that the transition is easier for younger toddlers but I would tell you that I find it extremely helpful that the girls are people. I only need to bring stuff for Jack when we go out. It would actually be easier a year from now since Kate would be even better at playing independently. I love that Margot loves her solo time and will play with dolls in her room for an hour. That’s a game changer.
Is breastfeeding as hard, emotional, and wild as with the first two?
I have to assume it would have been, but I wouldn’t know. I went straight to formula feeding this time around. There is no reason any parent needs to give to validate this decision, which is why I haven’t said anything about it yet, and people can be so judgmental. Not wanting to breastfeed is a good reason not to – we all have to do what’s best for us and our families. I will share more soon because I think it might help others.
Ultimately, I had a really awful time breastfeeding both girls. My supply was horrible and it was so stressful. And the last time I pumped was on the pediatric oncology floor – I had these awful flashbacks even thinking about it, so decided not to. I won’t say it was an easy decision, but it was by far the best one for my mental health. And I get to sleep through the night when our night nurse is here, too.
I know this question was asked with the intention of knowing about my experience, and I take no offense to it. But – I really wish we wouldn’t automatically assume that moms choose to are are able to breastfeed. There is already so much pressure on us and motherhood is already so much work. I do believe that making this choice had helped make this experience that much better for our family.
Curious about the Volvo setup. I am pregnant with my third.
I have to write more about this too. We have 3 across right now and it technically works, but is not ideal. After looking at a few cars and weighing all our options, we decided on larger 3 row SUV with easier access to the third row, and car seat latch and tether in the second and third rows. We’re keeping the Volvo (I love it) and I think it’ll be great when Margot is no longer in a car seat and Kate isn’t rear facing, but it’s just not great with our current car seat setup. This is on my list of posts to write. I’ll share our current setup, the car we chose, and why.
Do you really need a new car for 3? I’m debating a third.
I don’t know what kind of car you have or what your car seat setup is. And “need” is a tricky word – we could make this work but it doesn’t feel great. I would have just dealt with it but a few things.
A few weeks before having Jack, I scheduled a consult with the car seat lady. I wanted help figuring out the best way to put 3 car seats in my car and 2 in Conor’s car. We also knew we’d need a new car next year when Conor’s lease was up. But in a fun turn of events, it turns out that Conor’s car (Jeep Wrangler) had just gotten a poor crash test rating for the back seat days before our call. So that was the end of the girls ever going in the back seat of his car.
Margot is finally forward facing but Kate is still rear facing. And she will likely be rear-facing for at least another year and-a-half or so. I recommend reading this if you’re debating turning your child around before they max out on height or weight. Margot is just at the right height to forward face but if it were solely up to me, she’d still be rear facing right now. It is safest.
So long story short, Kate is rear facing in the middle and it’s a pain getting her in the seat. Jack’s car seat doesn’t fit exactly how I’d like it to, and you cannot install a forward facing foonf in the center seat of the XC90. So I’d always have a rear-facing kid (either Kate or eventually Jack) in the middle. I love our XC90 and we plan on keeping it, but needed a second car that made more sense for our family.