Well, we had 1 HN child, then 1 "regular" child. We gambled on a third and got the highest-needs yet. He still takes more energy and time than the other two combined. Little guy was even BORN high-stress: water broke at 33 weeks and he came out breech, then had an unrelated stomach condition that required sugery at 7 weeks, then had really bad GERD for a year, then developed seizures and was diagnosed with epilepsy. And those aren't the high needs things about him. He is high needs day-to-day in personality.
And here we are with #4 due any day.
It was a VERY difficult decision to have a fourth child. Our second child has suffered for the needs of her younger brother, more than I can bear sometimes
We also have very little help. Never grandparents or aunts and uncles to hang out with the kids. We reserve what limited child care we can muster from friends (who have their own kids and grandparents around so don't need to swap) for emergencies like trips to the hospital.
However, it is because we have very little family around ourselves that we decided to have another child. We want our children to have each other. Even though we do have a harder time than many families in terms of energy expenditure caring for our kids (did I mention this third child rarely sleeps past 5:00am, even going to bed at 10:00pm many nights?), I'm finding the kids really benefiting from the existence of one another. In particular, I find my first HN child and my second HN child (our 3rd child) really click together and help each other in positive ways. Perhaps they understand each other better. The older is very protective of the younger.
I imagine I was a very HN child myself, as I am still very sensitive and sensory-seeking, though I've learned to 'adapt to the real world'. Having been this way myself, I am able to see the positive sides too. There are many. And someday, my HN kids will thrive too.
This all said, we really hope the fourth baby is a regular kind of kid
. We're getting old, LOL.
Oh more to add:
The comment about the early years going by so quickly...
Our experience is that our high-needs babies became high-needs toddlers and preschoolers and now our oldest is almost 9 and as high-needs as ever. This isn't something that goes away, IME.
Also, I wanted to mention that we did agree on a 'contingency plan' in the case that this baby is also high-needs. We had several discussions about our parenting standards, and agreed that we were comfortable with the necessary changes this might mean for our family. For instance, this might mean: less cooked-at-home fresh food, setting the baby down into containers like a swing more often than we'd like, using disposable diapers to cut down a bit on laundry if we need to, and yes even using formula if I have breastfeeding problems that require pumping after every feed like I have done in the past.
We've also discussed that we can only do so much as parents and we need to let go of guilt. We have AP ideals, and we will work with these as much as possible. People will have to wait when they need us. People will have to deal with some of their own issues without our help sometimes. People will have to wait for food. People will have to wait because we can't be everywhere all the time. We tell ourselves that these will be important lessons about what it means to be part of a family.