We are happy to announce the arrival of our new little girl, Hannah Clare, on October 24th! She is another good-natured, observant (this time a "listener" whereas her sister was a "watcher") little sweetheart who surprised us with plenty of adorable reddish-blond hair. Along with her arrival, we also welcomed a new norm - being officially outnumbered with three kiddos. Since I shared some of the surprises (and non-surprises) after our second-born Harper came, I thought I'd check in with the same in the World of Three. SURPRISES! It's a Girl...Again! We didn't find out the gender in advance for any of our children, so needless to say this is ALWAYS a big surprise. And no matter how many people may insist which gender they think you'll have or how the needle/wedding ring tests BOTH tell you you're having a girl, or how much you prep yourself for either result...it's still always an exuberant shock. My first thoughts were that our son was going to be SO disappointed (he was, then he gathered himself together and made a picture of his new family - sisters and all - that made my heart burst when he gave it to me) and my concern about how our daughter would react to another little girl in the house. "Red Hair? Is that right??" One of the doctors or nurses present for the C-section uttered this and I found it HILARIOUS. My husband and I both have dark brown hair and, funny enough, our 5-year-old and almost 2-year-old are both blond. "Well, I had that color hair when I was born...and I'm Irish, so..." But, needless to say, the fact that she wasn't a cue ball like the other two AND the strawberry blondness of it make me wonder what she'll look like in a few more months. The Pain...Again?! Okay, I mentioned the pain (most likely from overdoing it) last time following my C-section and while I didn't forget about it this time around (I was actually expecting a possibility of more since I also had my tubes tied), I had an additional wrench thrown into the works. Due to an oversight by my doctor, a script for my "heavier" pain medication wasn't left the first night, so I had to make do with Motrin and ice packs. I dealt okay but was in tears by the morning. I'm by nature not one to make waves or complain so when I did complain and was overlooked, it threw my hormonal self into a tailspin until I had a tear-filled meltdown that put an entire shift of workers on eggshells. (Y'know those moments when a ton of people are coming on shift and coming in to get info on completely irrelevant things - like, say, baby pictures in the nursery or filling out paperwork that can totally wait - but you're in so much pain you can't see straight?) So, the additional fact that I was hormonal, lacking sleep (particularly from the pain), and behind on meds (I've since read that C-section pain management is one of those things you can't just take one med for and expect it to fix everything; once you're "behind" it's hard to "catch up" and, legit, it did take several days to get on top of) made for a not fun situation all around. Harumph. Luckily, although I'm probably overdoing it still more than I did the second time, I'm finally feeling closer to normal and trying to get past the guilt and negativity of the not-great hospital stay. Some Easier Transitions. This could be a surprise, or not. I went into this pregnancy overall expecting tough transitions for both of our older children but *hoping* for the best. Like I mentioned, our son was disappointed by the fact that she was, well, a she, but overall he has handled this transition phenomenally. When our second was born, he had a VERY difficult time with it, but this time around he's matured a lot and has a daily routine of school to focus on, so he's done great. And, surprisingly, our daughter has handled things well, although she's not super verbal or able to tell us that she may not be cool with it. The only noticeable issue she's having (aside from normal "terrible twos" stuff) is that she's suddenly having a difficult time going to bed, calling out and crying more than she EVER has. Otherwise, she refers to Hannah as "mine" and will randomly interrupt her playtime to come give her a kiss or pat her hand. So stinkin' sweet! A Tougher Maternity/Paternity Leave. I'm at a new district and position and my husband's job has changed dramatically over the last couple of years, so while I won't get into this aspect of things too much, there are ways that we've felt less supported by our jobs this time around. We're, of course, super lucky to have certain work friends checking in on us and sending their love, but otherwise he's received emails hoping he's "well rested" (paternity leave is NOT a vacation, folks) and I've had a web of financial/insurance inaccuracies that I still don't know whether are fixed. There's a bit of a cloud hanging, but in general I still count myself super lucky to be able to take any time at all. And, man, are we looking forward to this holiday season together as a family of five! NON-SURPRISES It's Equal Parts Surreal/Like Riding a Bike. How is it that there are moments that my husband and I will say, "doesn't it feel strange to be holding such a tiny baby again?!" or "can you BELIEVE we have another girl??" and we're clearly living in a surreal alternate reality. Then there are times that it feels like this is the way it's always been and things fall into place just as they did before. Sleep deprivation doesn't really help with those surreal moments, but the repetitive routine of nursing and changing diapers helps...as does, for some reason, late-night QVC viewing. (I literally buy nothing; it just calms me. Weird, I know!) Advice Keeps Dwindling. It's AWESOME to be at the hospital and have people say, "Oh, this is your THIRD? This is old hat for you, then." Pretty much, thanks. Not that every child doesn't pose their own unique set of rewards and challenges, but we've at least learned that everything's a phase and we can handle things or find a way to. I think our respective parents may finally understand that we parent the best that we can and they leave us the breathing room now to do just that. Plus, this is our third to be nursed and I'm the only one in my family to successfully do this with one let alone (knock on wood) three, so my mother's to the point where she seems simply fascinated by it. The Love Just Grows. I knew there'd be "enough love" to pass on to all three and as hard as it may be to give out the attention they may each crave at any given moment, my husband and I juggle and try to prioritize on a minute-to-minute basis. While there's an awful lot of juggling going on, I find myself softening in some things I used to be ridiculously (and unnecessarily) strict about, finding time to tell each child how much we love them and why, and just generally doling out the support and care more frequently. I'm also trying to do the same for my husband since our "team" status has only strengthened now that we have three littles (and three cats, BTW...a whole other nighttime issue) and I do truly find myself appreciating him a hundred times a day. Our readers and I would LOVE to hear your perspective! Were there any huge surprises (or "non-surprises" that you just KNEW would happen) for your second, third, fourth...? Anything that you found yourself not prepared for (or better prepared than you thought you were)? Let us know in the comments!