Parent Diaries

"Looking back we had made a lot of changes that didn’t seem a big deal but must have been pretty big for her.”

Priorities change when you have three kids

Priorities change when you have three kids

Vanessa, Melbourne, Australia

Being pregnant with Abi was super exciting. We spent ages planning and buying stuff, and when she arrived everyone came to visit and there were lots of pressies. When it’s your first baby, you spend a fortune on things you don’t need, and they become your absolute focus.

With your second baby it’s not the same, but they still take up most of your time and attention to start with. So when Seb arrived, we didn’t notice how stressful it was for Abi. She was 2½ and, although we could have good chats with her, they were about things she wanted to do or eat, not about complex things like feelings. She’s always been pretty content and well-behaved, so we didn’t notice any changes. But one day I was out with friends and one of them remarked how much Abi’s hair was thinning. When I looked properly it was obvious, I can’t believe we hadn’t noticed it.

In the months after having Seb, Abi lost pretty much all her hair and the doctors said it was stress. We felt horrible. Looking back, we had made a lot of changes that didn’t seem a big deal but must have been pretty big for her. We moved house, changed childcare, moved her from a cot to a bed (she really wanted to), took away her dummy, and then brought a new baby brother home. We thought we were doing everything step by step, but it must have all been too much for her. There wasn’t a quick fix, we just had to slow things down and spend more time with her, but it’s taken years for her hair to grow back fully.

When we found out we were pregnant again, we were really worried - for Abi and Seb. Abi bottles things up, so we chatted lots, getting her ready to deal with the changes, making sure she wasn’t getting stressed. Pregnancy wasn’t anything new this time, so it was easier to focus on the whole family, not just the new baby. And ‘things’ just weren’t as important. We hardly bought anything new for Roman - we decorated the study and got most things second or third hand. I guess you lose some of the buzz in the build up, as there’s less planning and buying lovely things, but it’s exciting for different reasons. Better reasons.

It’s only been a week since he arrived, but so far so good. Abi and Seb genuinely love their new baby brother. They can’t stop hugging him and want to help all the time. It’s such a relief, and it totally changes what you value as a family. You know what’s important, and that’s spending time together, not buying stuff. That feels better, healthier for everyone.