Calling all with an unplanned 4th or twins as 3rd pregnancy

(23 Posts)
elisio1 Fri 06-Sep-13 22:01:38

Hi,
I've recently been propelled into large family territory by the arrival of twins 2 months ago.

We very much wanted a 3rd, but 4 was never on our radar,and the pregnancy was awful - a bit like a death march - as both dh and myself were so anxious about becoming a family of 6 (and the twins factor was very daunting as well of course).

I really hoped that, once they arrived, I would start adjusting to the situation, but it hasn't really happened. The practicalities of life with two plus twins have actually turned out to be more manageable than I thought. However, I am still struggling mentally with the whole situation. I felt very content with two, and thought I would be with one more. But that feeling of contentment has left me. I honestly worry that life will be a struggle from now on. We will manage, but I want to do so much more than manage.

Four children seems like a horde, a pack, whereas 3 would have been a small, manageable group. It may sound odd, but the children have all lost a little bit of their individuality already. Even my two older (and adored) boys have merged along with their 2 month old brother into "the boys" in my mind. It is as though 3 of one sex is the tipping point between seeing them as individuals and seeing them as one group.

I feel that parenting 4 is way out of my comfort zone, and already dread having 4 teenagers so close together in age!

Ok, I am not getting a huge amount of sleep, and the twins are still so young, but at the moment, I feel trapped in a situation I can do nothing about. I wish we had just stopped at 2.

I would like to hear from anyone who ended up with 4 or more children when they didn't plan things that way (either through unplanned pregnancy or twins as 3rd/4th pregnancy). Did you ever reach a point where you were glad to have 4? Do you still have moments of thinking 'What if we had stuck to .."
Is is possible to train yourself to see a situation you didn't want as a blessing?

My other problem is that I am very envious of all my friends who either stuck at 2 or went for a 3rd and got...a 3rd!

This all sounds very negative - sorry. I do know families with 4 children who love the number 4- but they are the ones who voluntarily went for 4, so have a positive attitude towards it. Will I ever share that attitude? I do hope so.

Loveyouthree Fri 06-Sep-13 22:28:41

I have three, but they're close together and I'm quite young.

Your twins are only 8 weeks, so everything is hard at the minute! You were probably quite organised before and now that's gone out of the window.

Like you said you're v tired and this will be distorting your view, too. I felt awful for a while after my third was born. But I once read that whenever you're worried that your DC is missing out with you, just remember that they're getting so much from their sibling.

Going from 2 to 4 must be hard so hats off to you. You sound like you're doing ok!

SoonToBeSix Sat 07-Sep-13 15:07:53

I have 4 dc tried for just one more am now ten weeks pregnant with twins. Am really scared tbh as my youngest will only be 18 months and 3.2 when they are born.
Four is fine though although must be harder with two at once grin

LongStory Sat 07-Sep-13 23:29:47

Well I got my third like I wanted and then 'was propelled' (love your wording) into similar territory by a surprise 4th pregnancy of twins. I felt like I was marching towards a life of drudgery, career limitation / financial hardship and loss of attention and support for my older children. I too felt like we were a horde and often felt the need to apologise / explain my large family. So yes I understand how you are feeling. When pg I told most people that I expected to be housebound for a few years.

It did take me a few years to accept and adapt to the new situation and adjust my expectations. But lots of us have to do that as life progresses, due to infertility / bereavement / etc, it felt a bit like that to me. Many things are harder than they would have been otherwise. It's ok to say that and still love every hair on the head of each of your children. But many things are also better than they would have been. My friends and extended family have been fantastic supports, and I have been really lucky to keep and progress in my part time job - that has been really important to me.

If it helps:
- the older children are aware that it is unusual to have a large family but I think they are quite proud of this 'special-ness'
- what they lose in direct attention from you they gain in learning from the negotiation and sharing that goes on in a big family
- because we were so daunted by our huge parenting role, and couldn't just do it on auto-pilot, this has perversely brought me and my husband closer together
- we cut a lot of corners practically (baths once a week, one evening meal time for kids+adults with v simple food, no fancy holidays). But we still get nights out and manage swimming lessons with a bit of choreography.

The last few years have been a journey from a life that I had a lot of control over to one that I have to influence much more creatively. But yes I do see each individual in my family as a huge blessing and a delight.

harrygracejessica Mon 09-Sep-13 22:30:57

I went from one child to a twin pregnancy making 3 kids then from 3 to another twin pregnancy to make 5.

To be honest the transition from 3 to 5 has been the hardest / the eldest was only just 4 when I had the 2nd set and now they are 6,5,5,2 and 2 its all falling into place - but one of the younger ones has uncontrolled epilepsy so it adds an extra dynamic to the group.

It will get easier - keep reminding yourself that and don't put too much pressure on yourself x

3andtrio Tue 10-Sep-13 11:26:11

Hi! I went from 3 to 6 with a shock triplet pregnancy my children were 5 10 and13 when the trips were born! It was really hard work, I had to do 2 school runs with triplet babies in tow.the triplets are now 10 years old and I look back and miss the time of them being little and opinion less! lol but I wouldn't change any of it! The older kids adapted really quickly and I tried to give days to them that was just about them! now we are just one big very busy family! good luck xxx

temporary Thu 12-Sep-13 21:05:26

I was like you and went from 2 to 4. What you have written rings so many bells for me, from the death march pregnancy to how you are feeling now. I am afraid that despite a fair few random people in the street saying that they were blessings I didn't feel it, and I could never convince myself of that, even though I did try.

I felt guilt, guilt and then a bit more guilt about the twins being twins and how it was the straw that broke the camels back in terms of my parenting, how little attention the older ones were getting. I hated the fact that it just felt like something I had to get through, a mountain I just had to climb rather than an experience I could enjoy. I really didn't feel like I was up to the job of being there for all four of them and keeping my cool. And this feeling of guilt and regret that we didn't stop at 2 (and then guilt about my sense of regret) lasted for a couple of years I am afraid to say. (Before you swoon that you will feel like this for that long, it is worth saying that I had an extremely anxious baby/toddler and as a result had a much harder time of things than other twin mums that I met).

HOWEVER, now I am getting the payback that everyone talks about and I am really truly happy with them and my lot! Believe me, I was really just coping for so long and now it is a revelation.
My twins are 3 and a 1/2 and my oldest is 9. They play together so fantastically and it is so so cute.
As was said upthread, the older ones enjoy the novelty and attention they get from having a larger family and twins, and they just have a ready made pack for all the make believe games and nonsense they want to get up to, they really have such a laugh! Although they will probably have missed out on attention from their parents, I find it much easier now to make sure they get a bit of a one-to-one every day, and I think they are going to have memories that they wouldn't have had if I had stopped at 2 - of romping and barrelling about shouting and screaming and having an absolute blast.

Hang in there as best you can, try to stay strong with your partner, and some day you will feel positive about your lot, I think it will just happen, and maybe even feel sorry for people without your household setup.

You are very early days, and MAN those early days are tough - for every multiple mum let alone one with two older children! Go easy on yourself and do your best, be strong with your dp and reach out for help wherever you can get it.

xxx

LongStory Thu 12-Sep-13 21:42:47

gosh wise words here, I reckon it took me between four and five years to regain my internal balance. I think it's important to be honest with yourself about what you have lost and take the time you need to readjust expectations. I took that route instead of pretending (and hoping) that I was swept along with the tide of maternal bliss, on the logic that I didn't want to pretend all was ok but build deep resentment. Worked for me - and sounds like you're taking an honest and thoughtful route through. xx

LongStory Thu 12-Sep-13 21:42:53

gosh wise words here, I reckon it took me between four and five years to regain my internal balance. I think it's important to be honest with yourself about what you have lost and take the time you need to readjust expectations. I took that route instead of pretending (and hoping) that I was swept along with the tide of maternal bliss, on the logic that I didn't want to pretend all was ok but build deep resentment. Worked for me - and sounds like you're taking an honest and thoughtful route through. xx

ShesADreamer Thu 12-Sep-13 22:16:27

Went from 2 to 4 via a surprise pregnancy which turned out to be twins. DTs are nearly 7mnths now and I'm surprised by how much of it we're enjoying.
Having a sense of humour is vital and accepting that some standards have to slip.
I love the relationships that are developing between the DCs, the older ones are much more involved in the care of the DTs than they would be with a singleton and are very attached as a result. DD has two real little dollies and DS thinks they're hilarious. They already entertain each other and us. I think it's been good for the older ones. We really pull together as a team to get supper/baths/homework etc sorted on days when DH works late and I'm flying solo. There is a lot less sibling rivalry and bickering the rest of the time.
It's hard work and some days I feel like I'm flying by the seat of my pants but these are my last babies and I know I'll regret not making the most of it if I get stressed by the small stuff.

I did have the odd hankering for a third child so not too horrified once I got my head around the surprise preg. Twins was a real shock though as no history in either family.

I try not to think too far ahead ( terrible twos, 4 teens etc) and trust that, by the time we get there, we'll be ready.

Both are starting to crawl now though so I might feel differently in a fortnight's time!

We were trying for a third and last child, and discovered I was expecting twins when my first & second were three and one respectively. It was a bit of a shock, and occasionally I get frustrated that we ended up with 33% more children than we planned for, but I try to count my blessings. Individually they are all lovely, and of course I couldn't love them more, but sometimes it is challenging to have four children so close together in age.

beachesandbuckets Thu 12-Sep-13 22:41:03

Yes Eliso, having a very tough time of it here too. Dts are 6 wks now, having problems wirh ds1 who is very out of sorts since babies came (he was crying at school yesterday apparently), constant guilt, surviving not enjoying, constant shouting, no evening, need I go on. In fact, so tired cannot write more, will re-read this thread during one of my night feeds and hope there is hope somewhere.

beachesandbuckets Thu 12-Sep-13 22:49:49

I know it sounds silly but at the moment I feel like I am grieving for the life we would have had / were planning to have as a family of 4 or 5. I feel very much out of control which is uncomfortable for me. I see other kids at my ds's school who are doing after school clubs, have been on foreign hols during the summer, go out for dinner as a family etc and this all seems so way beyond what we could ever hope to do now.

elisio1: I remember the PMs we exchanged during your pregnancy. Hang on in there. Although it never gets easy, it does get easier.

beachesandbuckets Fri 13-Sep-13 08:50:43

Eliso - despite being desperate for a third, I have also admitted to my dh this week that I wished I had stopped at 2. As you know from previous exchanges, dh really really didn't want a 3rd (or indeed a 4th...) so it was tough to admit that to him. He is actually being quite understanding about it all amazingly.

Maybe pm me, as you know, I have found it difficult to send mn emails from my phone, but maybe we cld find an easier way to support each other through our exactly the same scenario.

On the bright side, I always feel that things are a bit better in the morning than in the evening after another long day.

beachesandbuckets Fri 13-Sep-13 09:04:22

Eliso, don't want to hijack your post but...

Temporary: your post is really reassuring. My ds (5) is also very anxious, and is a main source of my guilt, guilt and then some (dc2 absolutely fine and just getting on with it). As I mentioned, since the twins arrived, I have found out that he has been crying at school as he 'misses me' (has always loved school before) and cries at bedtime because he wants me (takes us an hour to calm him down, v stressful as co-incides with twins' witching hour and feeding and dh trying to do some work - which he HAS to do).

How did you reassure your anxious dc, what did you do to make things better? Any tips?

StitchingMoss Fri 13-Sep-13 09:16:00

I'm not a mum of 4 but I'm one of 4 in the exact scenario you're describing. My mum had a 3 yr old and a 22 month old (me) when my twin brothers came along and while it must have been exhausting for her (my dad worked away from home Mon-Fri) we absolutely loved being a family of four so close together. When we were older we played constantly together and never craved friends round all the time as we had a ready made playgroup!

We never went on foreign holidays, drove a battered old car, lived in a tiny house where we shared bedrooms - but I have memories of a wonderful childhood smile. We only have two children due to infertility but I would have loved 4.

I hope you all find things easier as they get older and that your children enjoy their big families as much as I did smile.

elisio1 Sun 15-Sep-13 21:34:17

Hi all, and thank you so much for your helpful and supportive replies. It's great to hear from others in my situation. In RL, I know of quite a few 1 plus twins families but only one other 2 plus twins.

Everyone seems to feel really sorry for us, and I've heard countless "I don't envy you"; "I was terrified I'd have twins for number 3"; "my mum had two plus twins and had a nervous breakdown" type comments- which really reinforce my negativity about the whole situation. Other people, grrr.....

As several of you have said, it is a major life change and we'll need a lot of time to adjust to our new situation. I shouldn't expect to adapt to it 12 weeks in. I suppose I must take the time to (as beachesandbuckets said) "grieve for" the life I thought we would have with three.

It is nice to hear that most of you reached a point of acceptance (even enjoyment) even if several years down the line. At the moment, I swing between wanting to walk out on the whole family and adopting the twins out (only half joking!) so it is nice to have some reasons to hang in there.

Good luck to everyone

kronenborg Wed 18-Sep-13 11:51:02

we had 2 young kids when we had a surprise 3rd pregnancy - which turned out to be twins.

at the time the twins (boys) were born, our two daughters were 3 and 2 years old, so we had 4 children of 3 and under. i wont lie, it was bloody hard work!

thankfully, we have always been blessed with good sleepers. in preparation for the arrival of the twins, we moved the girls into the same bedroom (about 6 months before the twins were born), and bought white noise machines to drown out the inevitable baby crying - and mercifully their sleep wasnt really impacted when the twins came. equally mercifully, the twins have also been good sleepers...life is so much more bearable when everyone (children and parents alike) are getting a decent nights rest.

our twin boys are now 27 months old, the girls are 6 and 5. as you can imagine, our house is total chaos. we also have a dog the size of a small horse, just for good measure. but it is a wonderful, happy place to be, and i sometimes feel a little sorry for some of the children from smaller families, or only children, when they come over for playdates - i think to them it seems like a non-stop kids party at our house!

of course, it isnt - it can be challenging, and requires work and patience, and tempers do sometimes wear thin. the kids dont always get on, and we have more than our fair share of bickering and bad behaviour. but on the whole, there are definitely more ups than downs...and things have DEFINITELY got easier as the twins have got older.

so be positive. life will get better. try not to mourn for the loss of a life that could have been - and try to be grateful for the one you have...there are many terrific times around the corner that you will have the privilege to experience that most/many others will not. and your children will hopefully have the advantage and security of always having their own "gang".

planned or unplanned, there is, in my opinion, nothing better in this world than having a big, happy, loving family. i think this can be hard to see in the first few months (or even year or so) of addition of twins to an existing family, but trust me, you will see it.

oh, and one other piece of advice - as insanely busy as your life has now become, try as hard as you can to make time for you and your partner - call in favours, use family, get an aupair/nanny, WHATEVER you need to do, but find time to be with your other half, talk, share and laugh...and have some regular time without kids, even if its only a short time...i think we both would have gone insane without doing so.

beachesandbuckets Fri 20-Sep-13 13:53:06

What a lovely post Kroenburg, brought a tear to my eye. Brilliant perspective, will save it for when I am feeling moany x

EverythingIsSoThrowback Mon 23-Sep-13 21:32:38

I like having 4, it's crazy hectic at time, but I love it.

We'd most likely have had a DD4 anyway, but not at the time we did. Had DD3 in September and then ended up with DD4 in the following August, so they're in the same year at school!

DigestivesAndPhiladelphia Fri 27-Sep-13 14:18:08

Hi Elisio,

I have arrived a bit late as I just saw this thread!

We also have 4DC with the 3 & 4th being surprise twins (I think I remember you being on the multiples board when you first found out).

My twins are now 9 months and I can say that it is honestly getting easier. I still have times where I think "I could have coped with three" and then feel guilty for even thinking that... But, I've started having days where I actually think: "I'm glad I had twins, it's brilliant" smile

The good days only arrived after about 7 months, even the twins started to sit up & could be left to play with toys on their own. I haven't got time to add anything else, as there is a clingy baby hanging off my leg & I need to pick her up, I just wanted to add that quickly.

kronenborg Tue 01-Oct-13 11:04:31

there will be lots of ups and downs even after the first 7 months - my wife and i were totally floored by our twins as they entered the "terrible twos" (something we never experienced with either of our first two children, who are both girls) - not only did the twin boys very definitely hit it hard, but simultaneously - causing utter pandemonium!

that said, the "ups" get more and more frequent, and the "downs" get fewer and further between.

lets face it, if you can deal with four young kids of whom the last are twins, see them through infancy with all the required adjustment, sleep deprivation, multitasking, stress and anxiety, then you have proven yourself to be more or less invincible - everything else will be a piece of cake ;)

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now