So, by now you would have heard that Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to her third baby last week. I just had my third baby recently (a few days prior to Prince Louis’ birth) and what I notice with this pregnancy and birth was how different it was to our first. I finally got how a ‘third time round mum feels. It’ can be almost underwhelming when that “OMG Congratulations, how exciting” become more of a “Oh, You’re pregnant/ having a baby… Again!?!?!” .
I remember when I announced I was pregnant with my first child, Facebook lit up like a Christmas tree and I was swamped with well wishes and congratulations. There were surprise random presents (friends and family would see something in a shop and just buy it), baby shower’s organised in your honour, people fighting to take me to appointments and be at the birth. The nursery was set up weeks before I was due and nothing was left to chance. We had our beautiful baby girl and she was spoilt as any first born baby is. The excitement and anticipation you feel for the whole 9 months is contagious and you do find yourself enthralled in the moment.
Then with my second it was, Oh that’s great, at least you’ve done it before so you know what to expect. And then came the oldie but goodie… “Let’s hope it’s a boy so you have one of each”. It’s like there is an unwritten rule that everyone wants or needs to have a pigeon pair! So what if it’s another girl, is that really a problem? I did find myself a little more pre-occupied through the pregnancy journey. Tending to my daughter to make sure she wasn’t being forgotten or feeling jealous of the baby. I used hand me down baby items (as you do) and only bought some new clothes. The external interest had worn off a little, but there was still an excitement around the birth mainly to see what we had. We did have a boy so to everyone else, our little family was complete.
Fast forward to today where I sit here with baby number 3 in my arms. To say the experience with this one was different is an understatement. For some reason pregnancies after baby number 2 really lose their aura and people are almost surprised you are having more children. I saw it with Kate and people wondering why she was going back again. Especially after having a boy and girl and the sicknesses she suffered each time. For me, I got hit with comments like:
“Was it planned?”, “You’re game”. “Good luck”.
“You know you will now be officially out numbered?!?!?”.
“Do you know if you are having a girl or a boy? I guess it doesn’t really matter you already have one of each”.
I’m not sure if it’s just hormones but I felt a lot more judgment than excitement this pregnancy. I can only imagine what would come with having baby number 4 or 5… (not that that is remotely on the cards right now!)
The thing is, you’re excitement doesn’t drop because you’re not into your pregnancy. It’s dropped because you are tired. Tired of the judgements and tired because you have 2 kids and even more pre-occupied than you were with babies 1 and 2. People unknowingly dismiss the experience or your potential needs because you’re somewhat of an expert at it now. You have experience and have done it twice before. The truth is, as any third time around Mum will tell you, it’s harder than ever before. You need just as much love and support with baby number 3 as your did with baby number 1. Each and every pregnancy is different. You can have 8 children, it doesn’t mean number 9 is going to be easy.
Third Time Mums and Mums-to-be
If there’s one thought I could leave Mums with after becoming a Mum for the third time, it’s this. Don’t feel like you can’t ask for help or that you should be an expert just because you’ve been there before. Every pregnancy and birth is both different and unpredictable. You are doing a great job and although it does get challenging and at times it’s a crazy juggling act, you’ll get through it. Pregnancy number 3 can be just as hard, if not harder than number 1. The thing is, we all need our village whatever number baby we are having.
Friends & Family
To friends and family of third time Mums-to-be, please be there for them. Don’t assume they are fine just because they have learnt the art of juggling kids, cooking, cleaning and working. They need you now more than ever. Remember, the African Proverb:
“It takes a village to raise a child”…
If you were look into birthing cultures and histories you would see there are a lot of similarities amongst countries whereby the new mother is supported by her village (literally). Or be it her family, relatives or group of friends. Did you know:
“Newborns in the Efe Pygmy tribe are passed around from one adult carer to another on average eight times every hour. Babies are cared for by 14 different adults in 8 hours and spend only 40% of their time with their biological mothers.”
– Jared Diamond, author of The World Until Yesterday
I guess my point is, we as women were not designed to birth babies and then raise them on our own. For generations women have supported each other through the motherhood journey, learning from each other or from the older generations. So Mama’s, please ask for help and Family & Friends, please help, love and support her with each and every pregnancy just as much as you would her first.