Six-and-a-half years ago is not even a decade, and yet it feels like a lifetime.
Why six-and-a-half years, you may be asking? Well, back then, I had one beautiful bundle of joy. I was a new mom with absolutely no experience in caring for a baby, since I grew up as an only child. I had no idea what to expect when I first discovered that I was pregnant.
But what I had were amazing parenting standards that were way up there, together with ideals for raising my child perfectly.
But that was then.
Now I have three kids. I still have certain standards that I try to live up to, and have managed to stand firm with some non-negotiable items. But in general, I’ve mellowed down and learned not to sweat the small stuff.
Looking back at the last few years, I’ve noticed quite a lot of differences between the days when my world revolved around only one child, and now that there are three suns in my sky.
Initially, I thought I was alone with these thoughts, until I came across a hilarious article written by a woman who has three kids. In it, she listed her “deteriorating parenting standards” with each child, and divided them into categories.
Taking a page from Molly Defrank, I decided to make my own list of Baby No. 1 vs. Baby No. 3. If, like me, you’ve got more kids than you can hold with your two hands, read on and enjoy.
Baby No. 1: When I was pregnant with my first child, every day was filled with anticipation, and I could tell you down to the minute (four months, two weeks, six days and 18 hours) how far along I was.
My obstetrician was on my speed dial, and I took advantage of every reason I could think of to visit her, just so I could see my baby in the ultrasound and bring out my never-ending list of questions.
Baby No. 3: The secretary of my obstetrician was my phone pal, as we discussed when to reschedule the monthly appointment that I missed. Again.
Baby No. 1: From prenatal photos to newborn shots, every moment had to be documented. Every change in expression merited a picture, which resulted in thousands of photos on my hard drive, causing it to slow down and almost crash.
Of course when I look at those photos now, I can’t even tell the difference between one picture that supposedly shows my daughter smiling and another that doesn’t.
Baby No. 3: While my standards on many things have seriously dropped, surprisingly, my standards for photography have gone up. Now, with the thought of not overburdening my hard drive and using up all the memory space on my phone, plus the work that goes into editing and choosing which photos to print out, I am more discerning on what shot to take.
I no longer fear pressing delete, when, face it, the photo is not worth keeping. Yes, I find this baby as adorable as his older siblings, but I realize that I no longer have to take pictures every hour of the day.
Baby No. 1: Nothing was ever too clean. If I could, I would have sterilized the whole house. I was never without a large clean blanket to put the baby down on, and another one for carrying the baby on my shoulder with. And don’t even think about touching anything that already fell to the floor!
Baby No. 3: Pacifier fell to the ground? Well, as long as it hasn’t been five minutes… Just kidding. I haven’t gone completely over to the dark side. Yet.
Baby No. 1: Everything had to be perfect… three months before the baby was due. All the items in the room had to be matching or within the same color scheme. When I could not find the armoire I wanted, I went off to Home Depot and shopped for the materials I needed to recreate something I fell in love with online. I even purchased a beautiful children’s room chandelier online, only to discover it was 110 volts when it arrived in Manila.
Baby No. 3: I put my older children’s crib back in my son’s room the week before I gave birth, then checked off “Nursery” from my “To do” list.
Baby No. 1: With military precision, I pumped every three hours every day for a year. Regardless of where I was, I would excuse myself as soon as my alarm went off and find a private room where I could express milk for my baby. In fact, I can still remember my schedule: 2 a.m., 5 a.m., 8 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. For my diligence, I was rewarded with a freezer full of milk that never seemed to run out.
Baby No. 3: While I am still as determined as ever to make sure that my son is breastfed for a full year just as his two older siblings were, I have to say it is one thing to pump/nurse when you have only one or even two children, but quite another with three. With two other children around, it’s not as easy to drop everything each time the alarm goes off.
For a while, I actually kept missing my schedule, which made me realize I was better off nursing Santi directly so that at least, I would be doing so every two to three hours, no matter what. The downside to this is, I am always just a few ounces ahead of my son. But almost five months later, he is healthy and everyone is happy, so it is really all about doing what works best for you.
Carrying the baby
Baby No. 1: Despite what everyone said about the baby getting too used to being carried (“masasanay”), I persevered and refused to put my baby girl down. True to form, she got used to it. So did my second. It did make bedtime more challenging, as I had to rock them to sleep even when they weren’t babies anymore. Looking back, though, I loved every minute of it, just as I do now that I put them to sleep by lying down beside them. And when I could no longer carry them, my kids got over it and moved on.
Baby No. 3: Yes, my third baby will also get used to being carried. It’s been a long time since I had a sweet-smelling little angel in my arms. Now that I have one again, I realize how much I missed that soft, tiny body asleep on my chest and those gentle hands reaching up, still unsure of what they are trying to do.
Who knows when I will have a delicious bundle of joy again? So, excuse me while I savor this and make it last for as long as I can.
Baby No. 1: Every milestone was eagerly anticipated, and therefore, seemed to take far too long to happen. Everything was recorded in photographs and video for posterity.
Baby No. 3: Whoa, did you see that? Baby just rolled over! Wow, how did he do that so soon and so quickly? Oh, wait, how many months is he already? Oh, right.
Baby No. 1: How many onesies, pajamas and clothes can a baby possibly have? Judging from how many baby clothing brands and stores are opening here and abroad, never too many! And who better to sell these to than a first-time mom like myself?
Baby No. 3: Oh, look, here’s the box of your older siblings’, uhm, pre-loved clothes.
Baby No. 1: Hmmm. I’m not sure I remember the sound of my daughter crying, since before she could open her mouth, we would always scoop her up in our arms. I remember how rattled I would get when my firstborn would cry. I imagined she was in such horrible pain from hunger or exhaustion, so I would drop whatever I was doing and rush to her at the first cry.
Baby No. 3: Crying is good for strengthening the lungs (or so my father-in-law says), so I’m actually still taking care of my baby when I don’t immediately come running at the sound of every whimper.
Baby No. 1: Everything is a medical emergency.
Baby No. 3: He’ll be fine.
Does having three kids make you an expert in child-rearing? Absolutely not. It gives you a little more experience, and if you’re lucky, that experience may translate into wisdom.
And those standards for perfection? Throw them away and go easy on yourself and your baby.