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On Not Really Being Ready for Baby #3

young pregnant loving mother reading book to toddler daughter at home, casual lifestyle in real life interior

“So, are you ready?” is the question du jour—or however you say “of the month” in French. After eight months of being largely distracted by my daily routine with daughters #1 and #2, my due date’s fast approach is forcing me to focus on the reality of daughter #3 in a new way.

Feeling like the live version of a shrugging emoji, I regularly reply, “Are you ever really ready?”

I mean, really, is anyone?

Yes, on the one hand, I feel quite ready for this baby to join the fam. This isn’t my first rodeo. I’ve been through labor, the newborn phase, and choosing early childhood education options twice over now. We have plenty of clothes and already tested baby gear. And I know much better what to expect at each developmental stage than I did the first go-round. So, in that sense, I feel rather relaxed about the whole thing, like I could do it all sleepwalking—which I expect I will be, at least early on.

When a nurse recently asked if I had a birth plan, I nearly laughed. I told her that if they needed one for my file, I could certainly dig up the one I’d written the first time around. All things considered, my birth plan has aged well because of its simplicity: 1. I’d like to labor naturally. 2. If the pain becomes too much, send the attending anesthesiologist ASAP.

The nurse declined my offer, so my file remains plan-less, which is A-OK with me. When the OB asked if I was taking a birthing class, I said no, having taken it twice, I figured I’d pass this time. She completely understood.

Truth be told, I expect to go with the flow this time in labor and delivery. Not too long ago, I watched a brief birthing video online as a refresher and freaked out momentarily. My sizable belly quickly reminded me of the reality, though: There’s only one way out at this point, and that’s through. The good news is I’ve already made it through delivery twice, and my gut knows I can do it again.

To get my head in the zone, I’ve been rereading Ina May Gaskin’s collection of positive birth stories. Of course, the real challenge this time hasn’t been preparing for my leading role in labor and delivery, but preparing the big sister posse. We’ve checked Baby Center’s weekly updates about the baby’s size and development, read books about becoming a big sister, taken a big siblings’ class, and selected some very special big sister t-shirts to wear after the baby’s arrival. Hands down, the most challenging part has been arranging for on-call childcare—which simply wasn’t an issue the first time.

Physically speaking, I am absolutely ready to regain control of my body. While I giggle watching my 2-year-old mimic my late-pregnancy waddling, tipping hugely from side to side as she moves around our apartment, I can’t wait to walk normally again. I miss being able to stand without pain and stroll through the supermarket without becoming winded. And sleep! I can’t wait to be able to move in bed without feeling like every shift is tantamount to turning around the Titanic.

Now, how am I not ready? I’ve never been a mother to three little people before. So, yes, I’ve already mastered the basic parenting life course (aka, managing one child). However, I anticipate a steep learning curve as I learn to juggle three daughters with varying needs and abilities. I’m also quite cognizant that daughter #3, who’s been highly active in utero—and quite the character during sonograms!—is shaping up to be another big personality, just like her sisters.

Adding a third feels like a leap into the unknown and may prove to be quite a challenge, at least in the short-run. Over time, I hope to master the Three Kid Juggle as thoroughly as I have the Two Kid Juggle, and if nothing else, perhaps I can teach them all to run in the same direction?

Wish me luck!

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