Adjusting to Life with Three
I am so grateful to a couple of my close girlfriends who had a third baby before me who gave me the “real deal” on postpartum life with three kids. Every single one of them told me that the crazy kicks up a million notches and that things can just get really, really hard. Ryan and I talked about setting realistic expectations before Rhett’s arrival and I think this was so key to how we adjusted to life with a baby, a toddler and a big kid. I knew we’d need to truly be a team and we have been and that has saved me.
When sleep was so horrific in the beginning, Ryan would frequently take Rhett from 4 – 7 a.m. so I could sleep in and that was so incredibly crucial to my overall wellbeing so I didn’t start the day feeling like a complete zombie. He was also instrumental in handling the big kids’ bedtime and often took Chase and Ryder away for a few hours on the weekend so I could have one-on-one time with Rhett in the first few months and get some work done to keep my business afloat.
In the beginning, I often joked that the big kids were still harder than the baby (with the MAJOR caveat being Rhett’s sleep) because my tolerance for brother battles and whiney kids was at an all-time low when I was so exhausted. I also felt like I couldn’t intervene during a fight over toy or discipline Chase and Ryder exactly the way I wanted to when Rhett needed me. I often felt (and can still feel) incredibly defeated. Yelling out for Chase and Ryder to stop or give each other space became the normal for a while there but now that Rhett is getting easier to put down for more than a second without crying, I feel like I’m getting back to a place where I can discipline from a place of learning and explain what/why what they’ve done is not okay or hurtful in the moment versus waiting to have that talk until after I’ve settled Rhett.
One thing that helps me a lot is shifting “no” or “don’t do that” statements to a statement that looks like, “I can’t let you ____ because ___.” (i.e. I can’t let you knock down your brother’s tower because he worked hard to build it and he decides when it comes down.”) That has been really helpful and generally gets a much better response from our boys than just yelling at them to stop doing something without any reasoning other than Mom seeming upset. They learn and I feel better. Win, win. Taking a deep breath and keeping this phrase in my back pocket has helped me a lot during this transitional time.
I feel like a lot of what I wrote above focused on the overwhelming aspects of life with three but please hear me when I say life with three kids is actually really, really awesome. Chase and Ryder are BFFs and despite normal sibling squabbles, they get along very well. I’ve never felt more grateful for their close bond than I have in this phase of life. They love each other fiercely and I’m so, so glad that love has extended to their littlest brother, too. They have such genuine interest in Rhett and seem to want to help, hold and include him in their games and antics. Already they say they want “brother private time” with just the three of them and celebrate any little baby milestone (first tooth! trying new food!) with the sweetest big brother enthusiasm. Three boys = Three times the the chaos and a million times the love!
Asking for Help
For months after Rhett was born, I kept waiting for naps to normalize, the pandemic to get better or some free time to just magically appear. Spoiler alert: That never happened. I felt like every spare second I had needed to be dedicated to work just to keep this blog and my business afloat. To be honest, I still feel like that and, aside from reading before bed at night, I use almost every moment of any time I might have to myself to work and I still often feel like I’m barely squeaking by.
But there has been one huge shining light to make this phase of life feel more manageable. Madison! Ryan has always encouraged me to get help if I needed it to free up time to work but I just never wanted to because I love being a mom so much and somehow felt like I could manage both mom life and blog work without any help. I feel like this blog allows me the best of both worlds — I can work and support my family but also be home with my kids — but eventually I realized that working in random 30 minute increments was and is incredibly inefficient.
I still do that every single day but a few weeks ago, we hired Madison, the boys’ pre-pandemic favorite babysitter to watch Rhett and Ryder for three hours on Monday mornings while Chase is at preschool. The three hour block I now have to crush work without any interruptions is AMAZING. I look forward to Mondays so much now which shows me how much I genuinely love this blog and what I do, even if mom life always takes priority. Thank goodness for Madison! (And yes, I realize one three-hour block for work isn’t much, but it feels great to at least have something and Madison has another job we’re working around, too.)
I’ve worked out less than ever in this postpartum phase of life for two main reasons:
1. I wanted to be incredibly intentional with my pelvic floor recovery. Looking back, I did way too much too soon after I had Chase. I did plyometric exercises and ran sprints at Burn Boot Camp when I was 8 weeks postpartum and I’m convinced I experienced some serious incontinence because of it. I was smarter about my recovery after Ryder and even more cautious about my recovery after Rhett.
I bought @TrainerPaige‘s 12 week postpartum fitness program when I was about 2 months postpartum this time around and loved the way it gently eased me back into exercise and focused on TVA and pelvic floor recovery in a smart and safe way.
Note: I HIGHLY recommend any new or expectant mamas out there listen to this podcast episode from The Fitnessista’s podcast with Jessica Valant where they discuss safe postpartum recovery. It is incredibly informative.
2. The pandemic was in full swing and since I wasn’t willing to go to a gym with childcare, in order for me to work out with three kids in the mix , I had to work out at 5 a.m. and I wasn’t willing to sacrifice sleep when sleep was so incredibly awful for months and months. At seven months postpartum, I am just now beginning to slowly find a rhythm to my workouts and this looks like three to four 30-45 minute workouts a week with an emphasis on strength training. Once I hit six months postpartum, I began slowly incorporating plyometric exercises and a little bit of running back into my workouts and it feels good! My best workouts typically happen on the weekends now when I have Ryan to help watch the boys and I can still work out without waking up at 5 a.m.!
Physical Changes + Postpartum Weight Loss
Ya know postpartum hair loss you read about? I experienced it after all of our babies but started losing massive amounts of hair way earlier this time! Every shower I found myself with clumps of hair in my hands and brushing through knots after a shower took some serious elbow grease. I am still losing a lot of hair but I’m thinking it may be on the verge of slowing down since the volume of hair I’m losing seems to be ever so slightly decreasing.
I also experienced intense postpartum night sweats soon after Rhett’s arrival but they went away within a few weeks.
Now let’s chat about postpartum weight loss since that seems to be a focus for moms after baby. With every baby I’ve had, I’ve found myself feeling less and less concerned with losing the baby weight and the overall appearance of my body. Does that mean I haven’t found myself feeling frustrated with my body or envious of the first-time moms I see on Instagram whose bodies bounced back in a month? Heck no! But it does mean that those feelings are fleeting.
Honestly, a big part of this shift can be attributed to getting older, realizing how much of what we see online is fake/unrealistic, shifting my priorities and being too darn busy to really focus as much on my physical appearance. I am more comfortable with myself and my body because I’ve come to a place where I realize that if someone is judging me for my body and the way I look, that is 1,000 percent their problem and not mine.
My body birthed three babies so thinking it will look the same as it did when I was 25 or even the same as it did after my first baby is crazy. I have love handles that think it’s cool to spill out over anything that’s not high-waisted, more cellulite in my hips and butt than ever and I look softer all over but it is what it is and I’m okay with it. I also know that after the birth of Chase and Ryder it took me a solid 9 months to a year to lose the weight I gained during pregnancy and I have a feeling my body may be following a similar timeline this time around as well. I do not weigh myself regularly but the last time I stepped on the scale a few weeks ago, I was about 8 pounds over my pre-pregnancy weight.
Food + Nutrition
Man oh man eating well-rounded meals has been a rollercoaster in this postpartum phase of life. Throw sleepless nights, exhaustion and three kids in the mix and my desire to do any real cooking or meal planning was at an all-time low for months. Some things that helped: Doubling recipes and freezing half. Easy crock pot or Instant Pot recipes. Ignoring recipes all together and sticking with the basics (protein + veggie + starch). Daily Harvest deliveries. Breakfast for dinner. Instacart deliveries!
At seven months postpartum, I’m finding my cooking groove again and since I’ve always been one to genuinely enjoy cooking, baking and meal planning when I have the time, it feels good! I almost always do dinner prep during Rhett and/or Ryder’s naptime and then we re-heat the meal for dinner because trying to cook at 5 p.m. when everyone is awake is just mayhem.
I also have go-tos I reach for at certain mealtimes and that helps me a lot. For breakfast, this typically looks like oatmeal, oat bran or overnight oats of some sort. Lunch is often leftovers, a Daily Harvest bowl with some protein/beans added in or a big smoothie. Dinner is up in the air but as you can see from my March roundup of weeknight dinners, I’m keeping things simple and just try to buy a bunch of produce, grains and proteins at the grocery store each week so I can whip up something tasty in 30 minutes or less. We’re in a better place with food right now which feels really good.
How am I doing emotionally? I’m doing well. I’ve had pretty good postpartum recoveries from an emotional standpoint but feel deeply for mothers who struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety and hope that if that is you, you feel no shame in this and are able to find help and support during this intense phase of life.
While I wouldn’t say I struggle with postpartum anxiety, I absolutely do feel more anxious and worry more than ever as a mom. Worrying about my kids and their health and safety is at the top of my mind every day. Worrying about silly things, overanalyzing things related to my kids and their health and development… yep, I feel that, too.
On a lighter note, if you feel like you can never stay on top of cleaning your house with kids in the mix, ooooh boy do I feel that as well! Like I mentioned in my post about the transition from 2 to 3 kids, my motto as a mom of three was and continues to be “let it go!”
As for how I feel day-to-day, I can confidently say that on any given day I feel all of these feelings: Overwhelmed. Loved. Exhausted. Grateful. Frustrated. Joyful. Fully aware that I’m in the middle of living a time in my life I’ll long to live again.
The joy I find in motherhood every single day is rooted deeply in gratitude. In my bones and in my soul, I feel so lucky to have three kids I love with the most pure, vulnerable, intense and overwhelming love imaginable. I thank God every single day for our boys, for my husband and for the life we have because I know we’re so fortunate. Some days are easier than others and some days are downright hard but every day there is joy and every day I feel it when I look at my boys.
So that’s a not-so-brief look into postpartum life with three kids now that we’re seven months in. It’s chaotic, wonderful, hard and overwhelming and filled with cuddles, kisses, diapers and messes and that’s mom life in a nutshell for ya!