Fourth Child Phenomenon

Something happened to our family upon the birth of our fourth child, Jude.

For starters we didn’t plan him. I make no secret of this and the fact my husband, Rob, had a vasectomy nine months before Jude was born is further proof. I didn’t want any more, we already had three children and I found pregnancy so incredibly stressful after losing twins very late in my pregnancy years earlier. That and the post natal depression that plagued me after each baby. I just didn’t have it in me to have another.

The day Rob had his vasectomy was an emotional day for me. I had all these feelings of ‘wow, the pregnancy part of my life really is over’ .. and I really was surprisingly upset about it. Little did I know he’d left one sperm behind.

Fast forward ten months and I was in the HUGEST pit of chronic sleep deprivation, post natal depression and complete regret that I’d had another child. Obviously that last bit was associated with my PND but I spent a lot of those first few months wishing Rob had timed his vasectomy better.

The reason he hadn’t had it earlier was work related and in the middle of the night when Jude was screaming his head off for hours on end and I was feeling particularly resentful, I used to entertain fantasies of sending his work a ginormous bill for the future cost of my new child that I had because of them. I know, so reasonable. Post natal depression really is a bitch.

Something shifts when you go from three to four children. Obviously going from one to two is hard, and from two to three … but three to four just tipped me over the edge. Everything just seemed so much bigger. The washing pile seemed to triple, getting anywhere took three times longer, feeding them all was a nightmare, the stress levels were higher and quite frankly it just sucked for many, many months.

When I was about eight months pregnant and starting to fret about what life with four kids was going to be like, my very gorgeous friend, Kim at allconsuming who also has four kids, gave me some advice. She said “those first few months just blow you out of the water, the scale of everything is just so insurmountable. Go with it, don’t try and master it and don’t try and achieve some zen like order, just each day. One by one”. 

So I did that. I’m a control freak, a bit of a neat freak and I don’t cope with disorganisation, so four kids to someone like me was nearly always going to go terribly wrong – but I took Kim’s advice and let it all go.

Okay the house didn’t look like it was occupied by someone with OCD anymore, the kids went to school with the wrong clothes on sometimes, they ate fish fingers a lot (and for the record the fish fingers definitely were NOT part of Kim’s advice. Kim would stick pins in her eyes before she dished up Birds Eye for her fam) .. but it was brilliant. I was happier, the kids didn’t care, I got to sleep when I’d normally be ironing (a past time I’ve since ditched and we are a non ironing household these days) and we fell into a routine.

Jude is now 18 months old and life is chaotic, but fabulous. All the kids sleep, we have a routine of school for the older ones, nursery for my three year old and Jude is at home. The house is tidy-ish, we still eat the odd fish finger but I’ll never go back to ironing, EVER.

All it took was some time, patience and some bloody good advice from a good friend. It’s very easy when things are shit to start thinking it will always be like that, but it was just a phase and it (thankfully) passed. 

And look at this little treasure. I can’t imagine my life without him. These days I feel like writing a letter to Rob’s work thanking them for messing up our vasectomy plans.

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