I didn’t expect to find myself here so quickly this time around. This pregnancy has both dragged on and flown by. Those days of overwhelming nausea and food aversions, feeling unable to move from the couch and unbearably guilty for turning on ANOTHER movie while my daughter exclaimed, “Mama come play with me…pleeeease!” Yeah, I could have done with less of those.
But also, this time as a family of three, with our one baby who’s grown into a little girl who is really a joy to take most places. With the challenges of infancy, breastfeeding, and even toddlerhood fading into memory. With our parental roles finally feeling settled and peace finding it’s way into our home again. With our restful nights. With the ability to pick up and leave on adventures more easily, four adult hands to support two tiny ones, a three musketeers situation where we’re all in it together… I could use a few more of these days.
So how does this pregnancy compare to my last one? What am I feeling in general? Read on to find out!
Let’s face it, gals: pregnancy is not kind to all of us! Of course, I am grateful to be able to carry a child at all, but pregnant is not my favorite state to be in. For both of my pregnancies, I have had pretty severe nausea and vomiting. I was out of work for five weeks with L, and probably would have been with this little bean, too, had I not already known a certain OTC medication concoction that relieves my symptoms so I can at least go to work and keep my current offspring alive. I can now laugh at the terrible/wonderful New Year’s Eve we had this year, where I suffered from a severe eye virus and almost immediately threw up our luxurious lobster and steak dinner. Or the day I spent at Disneyland vomiting in at least 5 different bathrooms, which prompted me to finally decided to start taking medicine more regularly.
(NOTE: I am not a doctor who is qualified to give out medical advice, but if you’d like to know what has worked for me, please feel free to email!)
For both pregnancies, when I’ve gotten my appetite back, my main craving has been fruit fruit and MORE FRUIT. With Lu it was primarily oranges and orange juice. This time around, I have especially enjoyed plates of fruit covered in the Mexican seasoning Tajin (a salty and spicy magical concoction of wonder). Let me tell you, pregnant friends, this combo is a pregnant ladies DREAM.
Physically, I feel so. Damn. Tired.
While I was sick with Lu, I don’t recall feeling so physically exhausted. Maybe that’s having a full-time toddler around. I already feel a little, well, disabled, though I have just started to really show. My joints seem loose, which I don’t remember happening til much later last time, and it already feels so hard to get up from sitting! I’m trying to show my body grace and give it the rest it asks for.
As far as how I am looking, I definitely think there is credence to the idea that you show faster with your second. I remember waiting for that little lump to appear for weeks and then months with L, and in my memory it seems like it was far into the second trimester that a little pouch finally emerged. This pregnancy, I seemed to have had that definitive “pop” moment that some women talk about. I also feel like I’m carrying lower than I did with L. Finally, with L that old wives’ tale about a baby girl stealing her mother’s beauty seemed to be true: I had acne and just felt pretty unflattering all around. This time around I actually feel prettier, like I can almost see that elusive pregnancy glow. Is it my improved skincare routine to blame…or possibly the opposite sex? We’ll find out soon enough!
Overall, and surprisingly to me, I can actually say I feel more comfortable in my skin this time around. I don’t feel nearly as self-conscience or distraught about my changing body. I find myself regarding the changes I see with a greater sense of curiosity and wonder than last time, and relaxing a bit more about things like weight gain. Perhaps it is because I have learned there are much more important things than appearances. Or perhaps I am comforted by the knowledge that things won’t always be or look this way. I’ll find myself, physically and mentally, again one day.
Most likely, I have come to terms with the fact that bodies do what bodies will during pregnancy, and there may be no fighting against it unless I want to wear myself out further with extreme exercise programs and watching what I eat while pregnant. I mean, I’m happy to watch what I eat. I’ll watch that California burrito go straight from the plate to my mouth instead of insisting on a salad for a few months of my life.
If I’m being honest, I was on the fence about adding to our family for a long time, and it mostly had to do with my fear of how it will affect the baby I already have. Will she feel abandoned when I can’t cuddle her when she cries because a newborn occupies my arms? How will our dynamic change…will she be angry? Hurt? Will my love really swell like I’ve heard happens, or will it be stretched so thin that it tears under the weight of what I wish I had to give to two little souls but don’t?
I think that peace piece I mentioned above is also a part of the fear that’s crept into this journey. Becoming parents, becoming a family instead of a couple, was a HUGE adjustment for my husband and I. Which, in hindsight, I think to myself, of course it was. OF COURSE IT WAS.
I’m not sure there is enough talk about how completely having a child rocks your world. Of course we all know about the sleepless nights and interrupted bathroom breaks. But the pictures of parenthood that are painted for us these days are still washed in that rosy hue of “I’m exhausted but my heart is so full” and “I haven’t showered in two days but this little one is worth all the dry shampoo in the world.” Which, if you are already a parent, you know are all true things.
We rarely talk about the real nitty gritty of becoming a parent. The loneliness and mourning for your previous life and the previous you. The seeds of bitterness that may begin to take root between you and your partner. The regret, yes I said it, you may feel for venturing into this new territory without fully knowing what you were getting into. It’s ok to feel all of these things, and more. It’s ok to not love every part of parenthood. I wish someone had told me that.
Well, in my household the butterfly that is a result of this parenthood metamorphosis has finally, FINALLY emerged after what seemed like an endless winter of 2.5 years. We have a groove, established roles. We have wings.
And now we’re about to shed our skin once more for a completely new set. Which, if I’m honest (can I say that enough here?) terrifies the crap out of me.
For some, perhaps having been through pregnancy and early parenthood once is a comfort. You know what to expect, you can predict a bit more. For me, I am nostalgic for the days of blissful ignorance from my last pregnancy. The knowledge that I can likely expect a gigantic upset to the way my life is now is a little daunting to me. When will we find our footing again?
Some things I’ve found comfort in when fear creeps up on me:
The knowledge that my husband and I are a bit more knowledgeable this time around and that we have fought hard for our current understanding of one another and much more equitable partnership.
Lu’s natural nurturer tendencies, kissing her babies and endless feedings and diaper changes.
Her inquisitiveness about baby (“Is baby sleeping in there?”).
The power I can garner knowing that I’ve done so many hard things as a mother that I never thought I could do. Things I would have told you before that I couldn’t.
The village I’ve created. It may be my friends and family nearby who can physically help us, or those who support from a distance with words. I know I won’t be nearly as alone as I allowed myself to be last time.
Thoughts of those tiny toes and fingers and belly buttons. Of watching a newborn flip and then crawl and then walk on shaky, chubby thighs. Of getting to know this brand new human!
So there you have it, folks. A brief overview of my experience with pregnancy so far. Some musing of a second-time mom. Despite the challenges of pregnancy and the fear I have regarding the big changes coming for my family, I know, in the end and if you choose it, joy wins out, every time. So I focus my attention on making this short time special for me and my girl, and looking forward to coming out the other side of this new transition in an even stronger, more blissful place!
Tell me about your pregnancy experience, whether it’s been once, twice, or more!