With every baby that comes along, there are the inevitable challenges of adjustment that the whole family goes through. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, "Oh the third just slots in with the rest of the family," I'd be a rich woman. It's also an absolute myth for many.
So when Carrie Bickmore took to Instagram asking, "Who said the third child was easiest?!" after detailing the challenges of the past nine weeks with her third child Adelaide, I understood exactly what she meant.
Baby Adelaide was born on December 9 last year to Carrie and her partner Chris Walker. The pair are also parents to 11-year-old Ollie from Carrie's first marriage to Greg Lange - who died of brain cancer in 2010 - and three-year-old Evie.
Captioning a photo of Adelaide that would make even the most baby-resistant hearts melt, Carrie wrote, "I think it's fair to say the past 9 weeks have been some of the trickiest of our parenting life."
It's a heartfelt admission underpinned by the realities of juggling the demands of three children vastly different in age, temperament and needs.
She continued, "Reflux, feeding challenges, little people dealing with the new world order, school holidays, did I mention school holidays, sleep deprivation, the list goes on but we are getting there. Dad's been amazing, kids have been incredible, and mum's been a bloody rockstar. Who said the third child was easiest?!"
2 months old 💕💕 I think it’s fair to say the past 9 weeks have been some of the trickiest of our parenting life. Reflux, feeding challenges, little people dealing with the new world order, school holidays, did I mention school holidays, sleep deprivation, the list goes on but we are getting there. Dad’s been amazing, kids have been incredible, and mum’s been a bloody rockstar 🤣 Who said the third child was easiest!!😩Thankyou to all the people who reached out on insta and reminded me to stop and sniff her little head, stare into her eyes, cuddle her and enjoy the middle of the night feeds because it goes so fast. It really does. If you are in the middle of it all yourself, you are not alone ❤️
I had my third baby when my older two were eight and nearly six. A month after a c-section I struggled to recover from, my middle child started school. It had been a scorchingly hot summer trying to deal with being heavily pregnant with two very active children to entertain over the holidays and my new baby was unsettled, refluxy and grizzly a lot of the time. The baby developed eczema, which ended up being a precursor to more serious conditions, which we are dealing with to this day.
We were often stuck at home with two kids who wanted to be out and about as we had been the past few years since the middle grew past toddlerhood. We were back to square one, basically.
Carrie's followers commented with their own take on the third baby situation. Some persisted in saying the third child still slots in... at some point.
"The 3rd kid is the most easy going once they get a little bit older as they just have to fit into your busy world."
Mine is six now and they are well and truly still the most challenging, so I'd argue this isn't true for all.
Others simply showed solidarity with Carrie.
"Oh the third child.... sent to test us on many levels."
"Omg third child is not easy!!! Hubby and I laugh so hard when people with two say 'it couldn't be harder going to three!'"
"I really needed to read this at the moment - currently 5 weeks with my third child and by golly we are 'just' surviving! What a challenging time this is.... thanks for writing this post!"
There are times that being reminded to enjoy the small moments is helpful, with Carrie thanking those who took the time to make contact with her.
"Thankyou to all the people who reached out on Insta and reminded me to stop and sniff her little head, stare into her eyes, cuddle her and enjoy the middle of the night feeds because it goes so fast. It really does. If you are in the middle of it all yourself, you are not alone ❤️"
The third child is not easier for all, just because some people have a smoother time of it than others. I figure it's like the tropes about ideal age gaps - people's ideas about them are mostly just anecdotal with no real one truth for the majority.
The things that have far more sway over people's parenting experiences are things like temperament, physical and mental health of each family member, and for many families, financial situation and relationship strength.
So how about we think first before rolling out these myths as though they're truth. For many, including Carrie, the third baby is a massive adjustment.