When you’re pregnant the first time, you’re treated like a unicorn.
Creating a new life transforms you into a magical, fascinating being that must be showered with love and attention due to your rarity. You’re told you’re fragile; you should rest or, even better, enjoy some pampering, like a massage or a manicure. Doors are opened for you, smiles and well-wishes are bestowed upon you and gifts are delivered in an endless stream.
When it happens a second time, you can forget the luxuries. Mid-day naps? Nope, your toddler wants to play dinosaurs versus monster trucks. Relaxing soaks in the tub? Not unless you count getting drenched by your kid’s dirty bath water during the nightly struggle of, “It’s time to wash your hair!”
You’re a Mom now, with a capital M, and things are different.
You have more demands on your time, energy and attention than you had the first go round. You’re so preoccupied with meeting the needs of your first child, you barely have time to think about the one on the way. Here are a few examples of how my second pregnancy has been different from my first:
I Forget I’m Pregnant.
Between working full time and trying to make sure my 3-year-old doesn’t drop his Transformers in the toilet, stick his toy screwdriver in his ear or stomp on an ant pile, I barely remember I’m pregnant most days.
This was especially true during my first trimester when I wasn’t even showing. It’s not until I see my prenatal vitamins on the bathroom counter at the end of the day that I remember, “Oh yeah, I’m incubating a tiny human.”
I Don’t Stress About Food.
Deli meat. Blue cheese. Hot dogs. I avoided them like the plague with my first pregnancy. I counted how many servings of fish I’d eaten each week to watch my mercury levels. I kept a little index card in my purse that listed all the forbidden foods during pregnancy and checked it before I ordered at restaurants.
This time, I eat what I want. Well, in the first trimester, I ate whatever didn’t make me queasy. In my third trimester, it’s whatever’s close at hand, easy to make and at least semi-nutritious. Of course, I don’t eat anything raw. But most cheese sold in the US is pasteurized. And cooked sushi is generally safe. Every prenatal test and screening I’ve gone through has come back A-okay. So I’m not going to drive myself bonkers over what I’m putting in my body.
I Get Sick. A Lot.
With my first pregnancy, I barely sneezed. With my second pregnancy, you name it, I’ve had it. And I’m not just talking about morning sickness. I’m talking about green-goober, wheezy-cough, watery-eyed sickness.
Why? Because toddlers are little germ factories. Especially if they’re in daycare or preschool where they’re exposed to the funk of dozens of other kids every day. I’ve had countless colds and sinus infections as well as strep throat. As I write this, I’m on day 5 of a knock-down, drag-out flu that I got from my son, complete with congestion, cough, fever, chills, body aches and the general feeling that I’ve been flattened by a truck. And yes, I got a flu shot. It gave me hives.
I Don’t Consume As Much Information
The first time around I researched everything there was to know about labor, delivery, breastfeeding and infant care. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting, Secrets of The Baby Whisperer, The Wonder Weeks and On Becoming Baby Wise.
I watched multiple episodes of A Baby Story on TLC (first-time moms, just don’t do it, it’s the stuff of nightmares) and read endless Amazon reviews of car seats, strollers, bouncers, high chairs, breast pumps and more.
My husband and I went to all the childbirth classes – hospital preview night, baby care basics, prepared childbirth, breastfeeding and infant CPR.
This time around, I’ve read a few blog posts and sought advice from friends with two children, but that’s about it. The rest, I figure I’ll remember, or I’ll wing it.
I Don’t Fear Every Little Pregnancy Symptom
With baby #1, I kept a notebook of all of my little oddities and voiced them to my OB at every appointment. Things like, “My stomach growls in my back” or “It feels like I pulled my Achilles heel,” or “I’m sweating through my pajamas.” After each admission, I’d ask, “Is there anything that will help?” My OB always answered, “Yes, giving birth.”
A lot of weird stuff happens to pregnant ladies – your organs move around inside your body, the relaxin hormone causes loose joints and ligaments and the progesterone hormone causes night sweats. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s all very unsettling during round 1, but during round 2 you’re like, “Hmm, baby has wedged her foot between my ribs. Let’s just push that back in there.”
I Don’t Know What Fruit My Baby Is
Blueberry. Kumquat. Mango. Last time, I knew exactly how many weeks along I was and exactly what size fruit my baby was, in case anyone asked. To be honest, no one (except maybe another pregnant lady) will ask you what size fruit your baby is, but it’s still fun to know.
This time, I told people I was 5 months pregnant for at least 3 months. When I finally double checked, oops! I was 7 months pregnant. Does that mean my baby’s the size of a coconut or a pineapple? I have no idea. When she gets here, I’m pretty sure she’ll be the size of a baby, okay?
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think my son just jammed a Hot Wheels car down the drain.