To be honest, I don’t think I know. I know that I overdid it, but because they’re so close in age. Would I change what I did? No, because then I wouldn’t have Antonio. Would I suggest following in my footsteps? No, because then you’d be going insane too.
Becoming a parent changes everything. Literally nothing is the same. All people who are expecting their first child believe that they’ll be the exception to the rule. You know, your kid won’t act that way, you won’t react that way—that’s everyone else but not you! But guess what? Everyone is that way because parenting is hard AF.
Parents all posses different qualities, and no two children are the same (even siblings) so really there is no rule book. My experience going from happily married couple to mom of one and BOOM, mom of three is simply that—my experience. It doesn’t mean that yours will be the same but maybe you can use my life as an example of what to expect.
Going from zero kids to one for me was a big adjustment. I thought I knew what being a parent was but in reality I didn’t. People told me it would change everything but I wasn’t prepared. It changes the obvious things: the way you look, the way you sleep, the available time you have for non-baby things. But it also changes the way you think. No matter how much you don’t want to let go of your old self, you’re no longer that exact person. Your life, while yours, is dedicated to making sure this human that you love more than anything not only survives, but is happy. Every decision you make for the rest of time, whether unconscious or not, will be made with their well-being in mind. Literally even going to the supermarket, you’re going to pick one that’s closest to you in case you need to run back home.
I was not mentally prepared for this shift. This shift is something I longed for but, damn, it’s overwhelming. Knowing that everything I do is for someone else is hard. Knowing that every day that passes I love them more is hard. Having anxiety about things I can’t control is hard. So becoming a mom was by far the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done but also the hardest. It also changed my relationship so much. Luckily Santiago and I are a unit, but there are times where you are both pushed to your limit. Lack of sleep, trying to decide what’s best for the baby, parenting styles—all of that play a huge toll on your relationship and knowing to nurture that aspect of my life was a hard pill to swallow because I wanted to always put my baby first. It was tough to realize that sometimes putting me and my marriage first is beneficial for my baby.
So we decided to have another baby. Big deal, everyone does it! Santi needed a sibling and Santiago and I are apparently insane. We decided to start trying a little after Santi turned 1. I figured it took me 7ish months to get pregnant with Santi so it would take me the same amount of time with baby #2. They’d be 2 1/2 years apart—it was going to be perfect. But guess what? I got pregnant within 2 months. YEP. I was ecstatic! 23 month age difference. When I found out Joaquín was in fact a boy, the puzzle pieces started to feel like they were fitting together perfectly. Santi was sleeping the night, he was a good, happy baby and a baby brother was going to be perfect. Everyone told me the shift from 1-2 was tough but I thought I had it under control because Santi was such a good baby and I had already done it before.
I did not consider, however, that Santi and Joaquín are different humans and that Joaquín was his own breed of needy. Breastfed from day 1, a little colic-y and demanding. My brain was not prepared for a different type of child. I mean this kid slept in my bed (in a dock-a-tot) for 5 months. When he slept I needed to be “on” and available for my other baby (because Santi was still totally a baby). I didn’t have enough hours in the day. They were on different schedules and into different activities (obviously, one child was 2 the other was 5 seconds old). I felt like the newborn stage lasted forever.
And finally, I decided to move him out of my bed and into a crib. It was bliss. We felt like ourselves again. We were making plans, thinking of Santi and Joaquín as teenagers making us laugh. And then I got pregnant. Unexpectedly and quickly. Our plans combusted in our face and we had to come to terms with having three babies in 3 years. Somewhat like having triplets except I had to go through three different pregnancies.
By the time Antonio arrived, the world had changed so drastically that I was happily exhausted at home as long as everyone was safe. Yes there was lots of yelling and lost of inconsistencies, but I felt like I had control. We were always home, everyone had their routine and we were all together getting to know our latest member. For the first time, having another baby wasn’t so daunting. It just worked.
But now that Santi is 4, Joaquín is 2 and Antonio is 9 months (and mobile), I feel it. I feel the anxiety coming at me again. The difficulties are arising because Santi needs independence, Joaquín needs constant supervision and Antonio is constantly on the move. Now I look at Santi and Joaquín playing and screaming and the only thing I can think is “holy crap—falta Antonio!” Like the thought of having another child running around any day now makes my stomach hurt.
Nothing is easy. And when it seems like it’s getting better, life throws another curveball. And while it’s not easy, it’s also so beautiful and amazing. It really does flash by (like Santi is 4!! When the hell did that happen?). I don’t think I have an answer for which is more difficult, (0 to 1, 1 to 2 or 2 to 3) but I do know this—you will survive. I’m a good mom, you’ll be a good mom. Everyone will be ok and you will survive—I promise.