Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we embarked on one of the most challenging, exhausting, busy, wonderful, and surprising years of my life, and I can definitively say that having baby number three made my family feel complete in so many ways.

Now, I am not saying that I wasn't content with our family before I had my third child. Then again, I really can't remember much about life before baby (thanks, sleep deprivation). My husband and I both brought children into our marriage and kind of threw them together in a bizarre — and wonderful — tossed salad of chaos. It wasn't until I had my third baby, though, that I felt like our family was really a family, and not just two sets of people living in the same house. We now feel like one team, and it's brought my husband and I closer together... and our kids closer to each other.

I'm not saying that third-child parenting is without it's challenges. It's been so surprising that after eight years of parenting two kids, I can still be shocked by something baby related. Between food allergies, and his adventurous spirit and tendency to climb any obstacle in his path, my son surprises me every single day. Sometimes I actually feel like my third baby was sent here by the universe to test my parenting abilities. On the bright side, however, he's a happy, easy-going baby, which is good because I don't know if I could handle things if he was a crier or needed to touch me all day long (like his older brother or sister).

I never planned to have one baby, let alone three, but this kid has totally changed my life, and made my family complete in the following ways:

His Siblings Adore Him

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

Our baby's older brothers and sisters absolutely dote on him. I am pretty sure I wouldn't have survived the first year of his life without their helping hands, and willingness to go with the flow. I have to admit that when my youngest became my middle child, I worried that he would be jealous or feel left out, but that has not been my experience. Instead, he loves his baby brother, and baby number three follows him around like a joyful shadow.

He Challenged Us In New Ways

It's pretty surprising that after being a mom to two vastly different kids, having my third baby would bring new challenges, but this baby has thrown us some curve-balls in the past year. While I love him more than life itself, my third child is proof positive that all babies are different and that parenthood is anything but boring.

He's So Much Easier Than His Older Siblings Were

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In other ways, our third baby is so much more easier to care for than his older siblings. Maybe it's because we are more experienced and less worried about every sniffle or rash. Or maybe it's that he is actually pretty chill. Whatever the reason, I am so glad he's a calm baby because, honestly, I'm exhausted enough.

He Made Me Feel Closer To My Husband

Being pregnant with my third baby was hard. So much harder than my other pregnancies, in fact, both emotionally, and physically. Hell, it was so terrible that I decided never to get pregnant again after my third baby was born. Despite how horrible it was, though, I learned a lot about my husband and my marriage during my pregnancy and the past year of parenthood. While it's definitely been difficult times, it's also been pretty damn wonderful, and having a baby has brought us closer together.

He Wants To Be A Big Kid

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My third baby is bound and determined to grow up way too fast. He learned to crawl, walk, and climb over baby gates in record time, to chase after his older siblings, and to test my nerves on a daily basis. I am pretty sure he's unbreakable, or at least it seems that way, which is good because the minute I avert my gaze he's magically on top of the bookshelf or diving off the couch. Parenting is not for the faint of heart.

He Connected Our Families Together

Having a baby together brought my husband's family and my family closer together. We each brought kids into our marriage — his and mine — but he is our's, and is the glue that binds us all together.

He's Helped Me Relax

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I am so much more relaxed as a mom to three than I ever was when my first two kids were little — maybe a little too relaxed. I seem to have embraced the stereotypical third child parenting style, where I don't stress about the small stuff. I am way happier now than I was when I tried to be perfect all of the time.

He Showed Us We Could Handle Pretty Much Anything

Between a challenging third pregnancy, postpartum depression, sleep deprivation, food allergies, sleep-training, and a risk-taking toddler who will climb — and jump off of — just about anything he can, we've faced more challenges during the past year than most families face together period. We now know that we can handle just about anything, and make it out the other side intact and together.

I Can't Imagine Life Without Him

Courtesy of Steph Montgomery

My son's first year of life has gone by in a blur, but I can't remember what it was like to not have our youngest child in our lives. I definitely don't want to even think about life without him, and I wouldn't have it any other way.