First of all, let me say CONGRATULATIONS!!! This is so exciting!
Maybe you've been trying to have a baby for a while, maybe you're a little scared because you weren't expecting this to happen right now, or perhaps you are just in shock, not knowing how to feel or what to do. Let me say from experience, it's going to be okay. There's a reason pregnancy takes 40 weeks, and it's so Mom and Dad can get ready to greet their bundle of joy. I'm currently pregnant with my sixth bambino, and every.single.time, I still experience all the same emotions associated with pregnancy, labor, and parenthood - excitement, bewilderment, joy, fear, humility and gratitude. People always ask moms of many "How do you do it?" followed up by "I can barely handle my puppy/one baby/two kids". I try to reassure them that we handle it one baby at a time (no multiples so far!) and we get the graces we need when we need them, and not a moment before. Again, it will be okay. And it gets easier, I promise.
The First Baby
This one is The Life Changer in all senses of the word. There you are, just the two of you, all in love and figuring out how to take care of yourselves when BOOM, a baby is coming. A baby is coming???? A baby is coming!!!! Poor Mom's body goes through the wringer, and she may wonder why some people say they enjoy pregnancy ( I wonder that too!). Poor Dad is suddenly feeling helpless that he can't do too much as he watches Mom cooperate in this amazing creation of life. But it's exciting! And then the baby arrives, and suddenly your every decision and every action revolve around this little bundle of joy. You are completely putting someone else's needs before your own. It's overwhelming at times, and those sleepless nights can be so exhausting, but you feel so much love and happiness when your baby coos and smiles at you. You can't imagine life without your child now. What did you used to do with all that free time?
The Second Baby
At some point, you realize the love for your firstborn is so deep that you want to give him a sibling, the greatest gift you can give a child. And voila! Another baby is on it's way. This time, things aren't quite as scary or nerve-wracking, after all you've been down this road before. The pregnancy seems to go by faster, the delivery and recovery is usually easier, and the baby is coming home before you know it. Only thing is, now you have a baby and a toddler to care for. Gone are the days when you could "nap when the baby naps". Now it's "try your hardest to get both kids to nap at the same time so you can eat lunch in peace". Although the second baby can, at times, feel like you have doubled the workload of child rearing, once the two start interacting with each other, you realize you are not the sole supplier of entertainment anymore. Hallelujah, they are friends! This parenting gig is getting easy.
The Third Baby
I like to call this baby The Game Changer. You are feeling pretty good about knowing what to expect, and handling it all well. The difference is that now you and your spouse feel outnumbered. And it's most likely the case that your other children are still pretty young and dependent. So you actually are outnumbered...juggling a baby seat and trying to hold the hands of the older two while crossing Target's parking lot becomes more of an Olympic event than a fun outing. There's always someone that is awake, someone that is hungry, and someone that needs your attention. You feel pulled and stretched and overwhelmed. I think this is the reason that so many families stop having kids after the third child. It's tough. But it is so important to remember that "this too shall pass" and you will get to the point where you now have three musketeers who have tons of fun together. Babies don't stay babies for very long, and older ones go to school and your life will calm down and become normal again. A new normal, but normal indeed.
The Fourth Baby +++
After you've survived the third baby, the rest of the little ones that join your family just feel easy (don't listen to Jim G. up there, he's just being funny). Perhaps this is because it's all a blur, or the house is so loud and busy that it's hard to notice anymore. I think it mostly has to do with the fact that Mom and Dad are professional parents now. You are more patient, more relaxed, and more confident. You realize that every stage will pass, and don't sweat the small stuff. Counting poopy diapers and hours between feedings? Not anymore! The baby eats and poos and sleeps, and you're not about to worry! Life is crazy and chaotic and fun, and the more children you add to the mix from this point on doesn't increase your workload that much, but does increase the joy. Besides, the big kids keep getting older and more independent, and can even help out. Congratulations, you've made it!