A bicycle built for six

I had four kids in four years. No twins. No joke.

Why does someone have four kids in four years? I hadn’t really even planned on having one. Then one day, in my 30’s, my body had a different idea and there I was, pregnant with my first and in big-time panic.

What would happen to Me? My life as I knew it? My freedom? My friends? I went through mourning (yes, this is a bit over the top but it seemed to help me) of my old life, cried a lot, didn’t buy one baby thing, yet deep down, I really did want this baby.

He was 18 days overdue. I should explain that I am a Canadian and was living in Amsterdam at the time with my Dutch husband. Here, a baby can be up to three weeks late before inducing. I had no idea. I had a plan; my sister had come for the birth and there was no baby. It was during these 18 days, however, that I began to really accept that I was having a baby, enjoying his crazy kicking, melting into a slow daily ritual of bike rides (it’s Holland after all), hammock naps, buying food for the day, reading books and talking on the phone with my family who were all so far away. Then on day 18, the doctors decided it was time to induce. Eight hours later he was born and I, in turn, became a Mother.

Then again, again and again.

I was hooked. I’m the oldest of six and was in for the all. My natural instincts kicked in after my first; I had trouble leaving for work during the day and raced home at night, and never mind using a baby sitter — that was out of the question. I breastfed, made his food, let him fall asleep beside me because that was what “he” wanted. Put my pajama shirt in his bed so he could “smell” me if I wasn’t there.

Fast forward to number four.

I couldn’t live without babysitters, falling asleep in her own bed was a pre-requisite, naptime happened from 1-3pm every day, for all of us, no exceptions. Cooking for five while breastfeeding and talking on the phone had become a no-brainer.

But slowly slowly I started to drown in the exhaustion that had become inexplicable to all but a few.

It took a couple of years but I’ve managed to get out of the water. I get out regularly with friends, exercise, leave the kids behind with little, ok — still a lot of guilt, and am starting to understand that a balanced happy mom is a better mom. I have put my high heel shoes back on.

With my high heels came getting back to work. I decided to pick up an idea I had while expecting #3, which was to write a series of booklets for the Busy Woman (all of us) and started with Babies 0-6 months. I had forgotten what those first weeks were like when I was alone at home with my newborn.

I think what surprised me the most was that those weeks weren’t all “roses”. In fact, they weren’t really that great. Yes, I was happy to have a healthy boy and loved him more than I thought possible. But somehow, despite all of the research I had done, I hadn’t expected the “after pains”, the tears, the incredible unexplainable exhaustion, the struggle I would have with breastfeeding, the 24/7 care that my son “demanded” from me. I remember looking outside, watching the world get on with their life, while mine had done a complete 180 and I had no idea what to do.

But I figured it out, as we all do, step by step, with the help of friends, my mom, babycenter.com and some trial and error. My youngest just integrated into the flow of daily life, which was the opposite of what had happened with my first.

Julia has just turned four, which means that I’m entering a new phase and leaving the baby years behind. I’m excited and sad but as I sit here reminiscing about those first weeks, I can’t help but feel a smile spread out across my face. Guess they weren’t that bad after all…

  • Chantel

    Welcome to the site! I have 8 children and at one point 4 kiddies under the age of 4 – but never 4 in 4 yrs no wonder you were exhausted! I look forward to reading about the next phase in your journey!

    • Lianne

      I love your blog Chantal and can’t Imagine having 8. I constantly struggle with giving each child enough individual attention so I don’t know how you do it… – but i love that they have each other – great friends (right now).  

  • http://mamapsmusings.blogspot.com/ Mama P

    Welcome! I look forward to reading your blog. I am currently the fray myself! My oldest is 4 and my youngest is 5 months (no twins either) so I know the chaos you’re talking about.

    • Lianne

      Though I’d love to have a newborn again, I am happy to be out of the exhaustion phase… Hope your youngest is a good sleeper!!! If not have a look at the latest post by Mom of 8 Crazy Monkeys!

      • http://mamapsmusings.blogspot.com/ Mama P

        Lianne they’re all great sleepers. If they weren’t I doubt we would have had 2. ;)

  • Chris

    Wow…I hear you….my oldest son is 19 years old and my youngest son is 7 months old!  Everyone asks me if I’m nuts?  My first 3 kids…19 yrs, 16yrs, and 11yrs old and then my two little guys one just turned 2 this past week and the other just turned 7 months!!!  First 4 …natural (the 4th I had a retaining placenta after delivery and ended up in OR with 4 blood transfusions and the last one was a surprise while on MAT leave…but such a beautiful baby boy!  I had my first and last C-section (crash/classical section)…a placenta abruption while at 10 cm…so baby and mommy were rushed to the OR!   We were fighters…he was born 7 minutes non responsive and is quite healthy now…I had RACE/ICU and another 4 blood transfusions!  We had met with every specialists and I have to say my last 2 pregnancies I felt great (except for the fact  they were breach and had to be turned…ouch)!  Now my family is complete at 45 years old and day by day you never know what will happen but isn’t that what family life is all about?  I really enjoyed reading your life story…4 babies in 4 years…WOW :)

    • Lianne

      Wow Chris – those are some crazy birth stories… I also had the placenta thing 2x which wasn’t much fun…  Glad to hear that everyone is good and healthy!

  • Kam

    I had 4 kids in 5 years, with my oldest being a special needs child so I remember those difficult early years vividly. But my youngest (and only girl) turned 5 and entered kindergarten last fall and life has slowly gotten a little easier. Other parents of children in their middle years (age 5-12) all say these are the somewhat easier times…that is until they hit their teens.
    But despite the worry and stress, we have a good time and go on numerous camping trips every year (ever since each was an infant). But I must admit, after wearing heels for a bit, I can’t wait to get back into my trusty sneakers. :-)

    • Chris

       My youngest and last baby is Cam :)  He’s the 4th boy and 5th child.  I hear you about difficult years….my 11year old is special needs too…life challenges makes us stronger! :) 

    • http://twitter.com/liannesguide Lianne’s Quick Guide

      Nice to hear your story Kam. I am enjoying the “extra” time I have now that my youngest is in school and love that we can all travel together at the moment without a baby in tow. Last summer we hiked in Maine and everyone made it up using their own legs! Special years these are… 

  • Denise

    Loved the blog.  I totally found myself in this story.

    • LiannesGuide

      Thanks Denise! 

  • Hmrcarlson

    I have 4 kids as well – 6 year-old twin girls and 19 month-old boys. As I am 40 and a full-time doctor, I am not crazy enough to try for anymore but I do mourn a little bit the fact that I didn’t have a regular, uncomplicated singelton pregnancy. I am happy with the age difference of my children however as the girls are in school and capable of doing a lot of things on their own as well as helping with their brothers.

    • LiannesGuide

      Wow! 2x twins… I can’t imagine. You must have a good support system! I understand the “mourning” feeling… I’m 42 this year and moving forward but hard to understand that this is it. I am, however, enjoying the extra time I have to work now and having the kids less dependent on me. 

  • Sharlene N

    I can relate! I have 4 kids – 3 girls, 1 boy..no twins..lots of work, but lots of love as well..

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