Oops, I did it again
You're busy bonding with baby, then another bump appears. Lizzie Catt found out how four mums coped
Laura, 38, mum to Harry, 10, Ollie, 6 and Lauren, 5
I already had Harry when I became pregnant with Oliver. Ollie was such an easy birth – he came out pretty much as soon as my waters broke. I recovered quickly too, so was back to work (I run my own hairdressing business) within six weeks, while my mum looked after the boys.
I was so busy working that I didn't go for my eight-week check-up with my GP and when I did eventually see the doctor, she felt my tummy and told me I was pregnant. I think I just laughed as I was in complete shock. We were sent for a scan straight away and it turned out I was already five months gone.
My first thought was, 'My mum's going to kill me – I'm not just having another baby, but I'm having it in four months!' To be honest, I was a bit embarrassed – I was breastfeeding and hadn't even had a period.
Lauren was born a couple of weeks early, not long before Ollie's first birthday. She was another easy birth – my waters broke in a car park when we were shopping for curtains, and after Ollie's speedy birth we were in a desperate rush to get to the hospital. It all happened so fast that some of my clients didn't know I'd had another baby – their hair appointments were more spaced out than the arrival of my children!
I was very conscious of the whole 'middle child' thing and although Ollie probably did miss out a bit when Lauren was born, we make sure we spend a lot of time with each of them and they've all got their hobbies – football, rugby and gymnastics. It's probably easier when there's just two of them, although it doesn't matter which ones! Luckily, Ollie and Lauren get on really well, and Harry is a great big brother.
My husband, John, works nine to five, but with the help of my mum we manage to get by. I do find I have to be really organised and get everything ready before bed.
I'd quite like to have another baby but John had a vasectomy after Lauren was born – three's enough for him!
Gennina, 37, mum to Oscar, 4, Max, 3 and Connie, 6 months
All my pregnancies were planned to the month and I was really lucky as I got pregnant easily. Oscar was nine months when I fell pregnant with Max and we'd had the scan done before his first birthday party so my husband Kevin and I were able to make the big announcement then.
I didn't tell the doctor that I was planning on getting pregnant again after Oscar and I was far more nervous about birth the second time – I deliberately didn't go to NCT classes first time around as I didn't really want to know!
I wanted to have them close together as I didn't want one of them to be asking to go to Thorpe Park while the other one wanted to go to Peppa Pig World. And it's really lovely that they appreciate the same things.
I recovered really quickly after having Oscar, and the weight fell off, but it was more of a struggle after Max was born.
I've got no regrets about having the boys so close together as I never wanted a bigger gap. Yes, it was hard sometimes – I had to work out a way of sliding down the stairs on my bum, guiding Oscar and carrying Max. They're best mates, they go to the same parties and they play really well together. And now we have Connie too – they love their baby sister!
Polly, 38, mum to Gabriel, 3 and Jolie, 2
Our son Gabriel was conceived through IVF, so when he was seven months old I was shocked to discover I was pregnant again – just a month after giving up breastfeeding.
My biggest concern was Gabe – he was still so little and I'd been really looking forward to the two of us spending time together and forming that special bond. When I did the test, I actually phoned my husband, Evan, at work and made him come home! Gabe still wasn't sleeping through and I'd worked as a nanny so I knew just how hard things might be.
Because we'd had IVF, I think everyone assumed I'd be over the moon, and while I was pleased, and really happy that we'd managed to conceive naturally, I was also kind of in mourning for the time I thought I'd have alone with Gabe.
There were a lot of positives though – we were lucky to be in a position not to worry about the financial impact, and I knew it was unlikely I'd be able to return to nannying, so I wasn't worried about the impact on my career.
My second pregnancy was very similar to the first. Jolie was born by caesarean and I didn't have any problems recovering – I was able to pick up Gabe and Jolie soon after. I was fit and well, and I believe that's really important.
Evan was able to be off work for six months and it was a huge help having him there, but it did make me feel that I couldn't cope without him when actually, I can – although getting out of the door is still a challenge.
Gabe and Jolie are so close, they absolutely adore each other. The reality of having two so close together was far easier than I'd thought and I do believe that having each other is the best gift I could ever have given them. We'd like another baby and I wish we'd started a bit sooner as this age gap is just so lovely. Despite my initial panic, it was absolutely the best thing that could have happened.
Jo, 40, mum to Polly, 18 months and Verity, 3 months
My fiancé Mick and I had never planned to have two babies in quick succession, so I was very surprised when I found out I was pregnant with Verity, especially as it took a year to fall pregnant with Polly. I also have two grown-up children, Daniel, 19, and Isobel, 16.
When Polly was around six months old, I started feeling really ill. For about two weeks I thought I had a virus, then I was sick one morning and thought, 'Oh dear!' I was stunned when I did the pregnancy test, but very excited, and also relieved to know the reason why I'd been feeling so ill.
It was only afterwards that I started worrying about money and how I was going to cope, which I feel awful about saying now. I think this was because I didn't feel in control – when I went for the scan, I didn't even know how far along I was and I was just getting back to being independent and regaining my figure. I'd also been breastfeeding Polly when I became pregnant with Verity, so treating breastfeeding as a form of contraception certainly can't be guaranteed.
I went back to work just ten weeks before I had to go off on maternity leave again so I felt terrible and had that on my mind – sorting out returning to work and then telling my boss I was pregnant again. Fortunately she was great and found the situation very funny.
My teenage daughter, Isobel, has been really helpful, especially as a lot of my sentences start with, 'Can you just..?' And although Polly gave me the filthiest look when Mick brought her to the hospital to meet Verity, who's three months old now, she's been fantastic and kisses her little sister at every opportunity.
I'd definitely say that coping with two babies is not as tough as I'd expected, although physically it's quite hard when you're pregnant or have a newborn and another baby, because you've got backache and you're trying to carry the other one.
Before Polly was conceived, we did have two miscarriages, so it feels as though maybe Verity turned up because that's the way it's meant to be.