A question I’ve been getting a lot lately is whether this pregnancy has been different than my first.
On the surface, the answer is no. I had a little more nausea in the beginning of this pregnancy, but otherwise it’s progressed pretty much like my pregnancy with Kaspar did. Yet somehow the experience has felt totally different this time, which has taken me by surprise. Having been pregnant before, and being a mom already, I’ve approached the pre-game with a new perspective, and been able to enjoy certain things I didn’t fully the first time around (like not worrying about endless ‘what if’s’), although I do miss some of those first-pregnancy perks, like sleeping in on Saturdays.
So I guess my answer really is yes. This pregnancy has been different so far. Very. Here’s how:
My definitions of both “busy,” and “tired” have been completely revised. The first time I was pregnant, I could arrive home from work and collapse, then and there, on our bed, lifting a finger only to press the “Watch Next Episode” button on Netflix -- I blew through the entire Friday Night Lights series in, like, two weeks – or to call in for Thai food delivery. Brunch at noon with friends in a neighboring Brooklyn neighborhood, followed by grocery shopping, constituted a busy Saturday.
Now, I’m a working mama to an active three-year-old, I consider a 7:30 start to a Saturday “sleeping in,” and, pregnant once again, I’ve been collapsing into bed ‘early’ at 11:30 at night. I marvel that I ever believed I was busy before I was a mom, but I did think so. And while I’m way more busy – and, these days, a bit more tired – than I ever was before, I don’t feel overwhelmed. On-the-ground motherhood has made me more efficient, but also more present, and – put simply – more tough. Pregnant or not, I’m on the job 24/7. If my kiddo’s barfing in my hair at 3 AM – as he was last Monday night – I’m rocking him on one hip while throwing our bedding into the washer; I’m not thinking about rest (or my hair).
Kaspar’s birth itself taught me what a bad-ass I am, deep down, but that was only the beginning. I’m in the big leagues now, and pregnancy itself – even with a toddler in the mix – feels like a piece of cake.
Pregnancy’s physical changes – the good good (belly!), the bad (heartburn) and the ugly (varicose veins) – feel familiar instead of totally foreign. I’m less freaked out than I was the first time around by the rapid pace at which my body is changing, and I don’t ever feel like I’m host to an alien parasite; I really ‘get it’ that it’s a Real Live Baby in there. But I’m just as excited as I go through these changes again. I’m aware that this pregnancy will be over before I know it -- I soon won’t feel these little kicks inside of me any more (sniff!) -- and my body will bounce back.
No fear. The first time I was pregnant, I was a little scared about giving birth. I had no idea what to expect. As apt as many women's descriptions of giving birth really are, they remain kind of abstract, no matter how many you hear or read, until you’ve actually done it. Same goes for caring for a newborn. This time, I know what’s ahead and I’m not scared at all; I can’t wait to give birth, and I know exactly how I want to go about it.
As for caring for a newborn? Well, I’ve been spending some time with a few of my close friends and their new babies lately – all of them second babies, mind you – and have realized how much easier brand new littles are than their toddler siblings, most of the time. Newborns are simply way less work. Feed, burp, change, nuzzle? I got this. I am a little scared for the early sleep deprivation this time around, however. Last time I hadn’t yet met with the sleep dep monster, and thus didn’t know to fear it. But I also know we’ll survive it, so it’s all good.
At first, I decided to take this fear-free approach deliberately, but it’s turned out that I’m just naturally more laid back about the whole process this time around. Last time, I thought something might go wrong at any moment; I was acutely aware of all of the (miniscule, but potential) horrific possibilities pregnancy brings. Yet Kaspar grew just perfectly in my belly; his development had a life of its own. Needless to say, I’m more relaxed about this pregnancy in general.
The other day, for example, Kaspar was jumping around and climbing on me – we were playing in the living room – when he accidentally kicked me (kind of hard) in my abdomen. I would have freaked if something like this had happened with pregnancy #1, but this time I just gave my doula a quick call, drank some cold water and lay on my side for a minute. I felt the baby kick around and said, “Way to go, little trooper,” patting my belly and moving on. I’m eating well, taking my vitamins, and certainly reminding Kaspar that we need to be careful of his little bro-in-utero, but I’m not worrying about the baby like I did during my first pregnancy. Sometimes I forget I’m even pregnant at all.
That said, I’m trying to savor every moment of this pregnancy, since I suspect it will be my last. The familiarity and comfort I feel also make me nostalgic; every baby kick reminds me of my pregnancy with Kaspar, and I’m reminded of how quickly pregnancy turns into motherhood, and babies into little boys or girls. I’m acutely aware of the fact that this person inside of me will be a most-important-person in my life, for the rest of my life. He already is. So I’m soaking it all in and enjoying this special time in my family’s journey – early mornings, busy days, the chaos, the calm – for all it’s worth.
Have your pregnancies felt different from each other? How so? (Physically? Emotionally? Circumstantially?) What made each special? What did you learn in your first pregnancy that changed your experience the next time? Or, what do you think will be different next time, now that you’ve done it once? Let's discuss.