The Baby Bunch
We are baby bunchers. Yes, that's a real thing, and we are it.
Believe it or not, baby bunching is trademarked term, and there is an entire website dedicated to it (damn it! why must everyone else come up with these ideas before me?): www.babybunching.com. According to this site,
"Baby Bunching™ is two years of pregnancy and back-to-back infants and toddlers with nary a break for you. Baby Bunching means chaos for you, and your little twiblings. No worries, they become good friends as a result of your bunching strategy. You will become strong, creative, organized, calm and at peace with your new lifestyle without even realizing it. "
So I guess I am a champion baby buncher strategist, having done the "two under two" thing twice. But really? "Organized, calm and at peace"? Who are these people, and are they living the same life as I am? I mean, whenever I talk to parents of triplets (triplets!), they always say the same thing: "you have it so much worse than we do!"
No, they aren't really living the life that I am living because only one of them has three children (for the record: yes, having three kids is infinitely more difficult than two). And as far as I can tell, they were not working full-time outside of the house during the crunch time when all of their children were little toddlers or babies. I did some quick research and found several blogs of fellow "bunchers" with three - and none of them are working! Scratch that - one or more are "professional bloggers" if that counts as work. All of them have war stories to share but somehow I cannot relate to them at all.
My concern about these blogs and sites is that somehow they feel like they are glorifying baby bunching without considering the real and negative impact it can have on our lives and families. Having three children may be a tipping point when many women choose (or are forced) to leave the workforce. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/12/women-three-children_n_895517.html. For some, it is a financial decision since they cannot afford to pay for full-time daycare on their salary. Others lose momentum in their careers. But what I really think happens is that many women simply lose their minds. Or maybe they are too embarrassed to tell their employer that they are pregnant, yet again. Or some decide to take time off so that they can have multiple children and then go back to work. Unfortunately, this article states that "of the 89 percent of mothers who took a break to raise children and said that they wanted to return to work, only 40 percent actually did."
There's also evidence that suggests that baby bunching may negatively impact your children's intelligence and future success. http://healthland.time.com/2011/11/21/spacing-kids-at-least-two-years-apart-makes-for-smarter-siblings/. The idea makes sense, since parents are less likely to focus on the older child most of the time. The article also suggests that older siblings in families where children are spaced less than two years apart are less likely to be read to and watch more TV. This article sums up our life nicely:
"With two in diapers, parenting is more about damage control than enrichment."
The good news for me is that the article also says that parents who can afford to send their children to quality daycare may be able to compensate for their lack of doting. Yay! I was unable to find any statistics on divorce rates of baby bunchers, but imagine there has to be some correlation. Or maybe those parents are simply too overwhelmed to think about divorce. In all seriousness, as robbed as E has been of undivided attention, I predict that she is highly intelligent. As much as she would love to watch movies all day, she would also pick up book after book on her own and "read" to herself or her siblings.
So instead of relating to a cutesy term and meme meant to describe my life, my experience with "baby bunching" recalls mind numbingly painful days and nights, worry over the impact being a mom of three babies has on my career, and the constant panic that I am forgetting something while knowing at the same time I'll never remember what I forgot. Those parents of triplets say that we have it so much worse than they do because the hardest part, the baby years, continue on for six continuous years whereas they get it done in one swoop. Every day is just surviving. At least one of the kids is always up at least once a night, there are nine times as many doctor appointments and sick days to juggle, constant loads of laundry that never seem to get caught up, hundreds of "lonely" socks and mittens, hours of "toileting" and brushing and cleaning.
I love my children and have no doubt that we will all grow up just fine. I hope that someday we will look back at this time on our lives and laugh if we haven't blocked it out entirely. But I also hope that baby bunching doesn't become a fad and that parents seriously consider the spacing between children before jumping in.