It has been said, time and time again, by many wise women across different time zones and generations, that there are fundamental and common differences between first and second pregnancies.
Being most of the way through my second, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on this sage wisdom of the mothers who have walked this road before me and I can confirm, that they were onto something...
You’re 10.9 seconds late starting your period, so you grab your pre-bought pregnancy test and your most accurate timer and pee on the stick. You stare at the clock for the entire two minutes...which feels like a lifetime. When you see the positive result, your heart leaps...it actually dances a little inside your chest. You feel elated and nervous all at once and even when nausea strikes, you suffer gracefully ― gratified in the knowledge that your body is miraculous and beautiful, even when it’s rejecting 90 percent of your diet.
You realize that you haven’t had a period for a while so you force yourself to remember something ― anything ― about your last menstrual cycle. Other than cramps and detailed bathroom conversations with your firstborn, you remember a hellish play date that confirms your dates. Win. Now to buy and take a test: “Pregnant.” You don’t really feel much or have time to process the news, since there’s a Lego emergency going on downstairs. Back to mom duties until daddy arrives home...at which point you and he can process the news together; him with wine (the lucky sod.)
You enter a level of exhaustion that exceeds all previously known sleep deprivation levels. Your firstborn begs for park trips. You beg for naps. There is no common ground. And then the sickness strikes. So much sickness, which is made worse by the exhaustion...did I mention the exhaustion already??
When you’re not working, you are resting. You need a lot of rest, more than you expected, but you accept that and honor it. You diligently plan your “gender reveal” with the finesse of the world’s top event planners. You embrace your changing body, your growing bump, your increased appetite. The sickness even seems more manageable now. You have a carefully chosen list of 10 baby names, complete with history, meaning and spelling variations, stuck to your fridge for daily musings. You consider using all 10 on several occasions, because they are all so completely beautiful.
When you’re not working, you’re still working. Because motherhood doesn’t allow sick days, did nobody tell you? Your gender reveal is a text message at best. Your changing body opens many conversations with well-meaning acquaintances, all of which make you want to buy a shirt that says “Don’t Touch My F*cking Bump.” You hate all names, without exception. Your firstborn has become immune to your sickness by now, but has developed the unfortunate habit of texting daddy with a running commentary of live puking incidents:
You feel as if you will miss being pregnant once your baby is born. You try to savor every second of these last few months and every ache, pain and swelling is breathed in and breathed out with the conviction of a goddess who has found true inner peace with the world. Your birth plan is laminated and color-coded and your hospital bag has been packed for weeks. You are looking forward to labour...sure there are nerves, but you get to meet your baby!
Ah, the months of dread. You remember. You remember B-Day and everything you endured. You resent your brain for remembering, your husband for producing sperm and yourself for being so crazy as to actually put yourself through childbirth again. You eat too much cake. Your hospital bag was half packed, until your firstborn used all of your cosmetics on her favorite doll and played dress up with your ENORMOUS post-birth pants. Physically, you are tired and achy. You realize, too late, that you haven’t written your birth plan down, or really know what you even want to plan. And your brain ― your intelligent, experienced brain ― actually goes insane. Literally insane. You cry over everything. Guilt consumes you. You lose all social filters. Oh happy days...
But (I’m told there is supposed to be a but here) ― apparently things get better. I’ve been told by Those Who Know. I’ve listened to those who have journeyed this road before, multiple times (they are clearly crazy, but I am choosing to believe them anyway.)
I have been reassured ― on countless occasions ― that This Too Shall Pass. That these feelings of insane guilt and pelvic pressure are no reflection of Real Life...that they are essentially pregnancy-induced tricks of the mind.
So I’ll be over here, eating my cake. And crying about nothing and everything. And attempting to plan for the uncontrollable...all the while keeping the motherhood wheels turning for my firstborn and reminiscing about the days where pregnancy felt just a little more magically do-able.
“But you’re doing it, Lou. You’re just doing it while eating cake.”
My wise friend has a knack of cutting through the bull...
So who’s for another slice?
Hold Me With Both Arms: Going From One Child To Two
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This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.