My first pregnancy went really well, once the awful first trimester was over. I was working a lot, but then I came home and did everything right: the exercising, supplements, healthy food, readings on natural birth and mental exercises. I was lucky to be one of those annoying pregnant goddesses who glowed maternally and gushed about how amazing it was to have life inside of me.
And it was! And this second time around it is still amazing. And it’s amazingly less goddess-y.
I have a toddler. Really, that should be points 1-5. (I am assuming you can safely multiply whatever I’m experiencing by the number of other children you have.) Obviously it’s not the same, and so continues my progression into understanding reality as an adult and as a parent. I am continually surprised at what I am actually capable of when a small person depends on me for everything– and also how I could never meet my own lofty expectations. Let’s just say parenthood has been a mixed bag of feeling empowered and humbled. And here are my thoughts on the differences between first and second pregnancies.
1. Morning Sickness
The first pregnancy, I would run to the bathroom and daintily close the door behind me, with the fan on for good measure. That lasted about a week. Once I realized how awful it was going to be, I decided some sympathy was in order. I was not prepared for how horrible 24/7 nausea was, and people (=the man responsible) needed to know. So I left that door wide open, and made sure to give a nightly nausea report just in case my suffering was going unnoticed.
This time, suffering alone is not an issue. In fact, I have to remind myself to close the door when not at home, because closing the bathroom door is not a luxury afforded to mothers and I have pretty much lost the habit. My poor 18-month-old may not have understood all that was happening, but he did seem to get that mommy was not feeling so hot. Once or twice I felt a little hand patting my back, and he would grin up at me, trying to make me laugh and feel better. It’s rough to have to just keep going, nausea and all, but at least you have the proof it’s for a good cause.
Constipation with baby number one? Unpleasant, but doable with a very long book.
With baby number two, I just converted the bathroom into a second playroom. I just said I stopped closing the door, but in these cases it was the opposite: lock everybody in with as many toys as possible.
3. Lifting Things
People are so nice to you when you’re pregnant. If you try to lift something in public, they will come rushing to your aid with admonitions to be careful. I was very careful my first pregnancy.
This time around I have a chunk of a toddler who weighs twice as much as stuff I used not to lift. I still have people kindly insisting to carry things for me at work or when I’m out, and I just let them. I have to reserve my strength anyway for heavy objects at home that kick you and try to get away as you wrestle them up the stairs. It’s probably why I am in much more pain this time around, but what are you supposed to do? (You were probably supposed to teach them to obey right away by now, but then you were hugging the toilet for several months and might have missed some of those teachable moments. Mothering is exactly like I thought!)
4. Maternity Clothes
The first time, I made the mistake of trying to make all my normal clothes work as long as possible. I think I was proud of myself. The elastic looped through my pants buttonhole got me through two trimesters, until I finally caved and bought or borrowed maternity clothes. That’s when I discovered that maternity clothes are a gift from heaven: so much elastic! It’s like the only section of women’s fashion that tries to make clothes as comfortable as they are cute. Maternity jeans may not always stay up, but that’s only because they are half sweatpants, too: jeans on the bottom and stretchy goodness on the top. Brilliant.
This time, I pulled out the maternity clothes within weeks of that test. I also started showing within weeks of the test. I realize how inevitably huge I will get at the end, and there is a lot less weighing and belly measuring happening this time around. My stomach is going to get big– because I am carrying a small human inside of me, which is no joke!– and then it will eventually be gone. So I put on the maternity stuff ASAP, because when you are trotting off the bathroom 64 times a day anyway, straight up elastic is infinitely preferable to complicated button-hole contraptions.
5. Yoga and Mindfulness
First time, I was all over this. I did the right moves, got my heart rate up, stretched just so, and was ready for labor. My mind was so full of my baby the first time. It was really quite special, and I practiced concentration techniques to prepare for the birth regularly.
Now… What, I’m pregnant? How many weeks am I? Where are my vitamins? Holy cow, I’m due in two weeks and I haven’t practiced breathing once this time? Yep.The mindfulness just hasn’t been the same. Does chasing and lifting a toddler count? Because I have the aches and pains and varicose veins to show that I am on my feet and moving a lot. I really do try, and yoga is my go-to. It’s just different, because unless I wait until my son is in bed, pelvic tilts just look like the perfect chance to scale mom and wrestle.
Yes, my son is in a saggy diaper, and sitting on my head in it.
And sometimes he just joins in.
So, the second time has not been so… idyllic. But there are good things: I’m a little wiser, and at least baby girl is hearing a lot of Spanish as I teach and as we talk at home. Janio got almost all English until he was born.
I am not sure what my advice is for pregnancy. I would say take care of yourself, eat well, journal about all the little changes, give yourself time to rest, but I am barely keeping my head above water over here. Perhaps it will simply make me a better friend to get off the pregnant goddess ship and really experience the odd mixture of thankfulness at the precious gift of a baby, and then some really hard days that I barely get through.
I will say yoga has been the most helpful thing this pregnancy, just on a different scale. (Here are some good routines on my Pinterest board!) My practice is not what it should be and nothing compared to my first time, and that’s okay. When I do yoga, I pause the multi-tasking for a bit to concentrate, connect to my baby, pray for my baby, and actually do something for myself and my body that is not just my own for nine months. It helps prepare my mind for labor as well. Sometimes the “send loving thoughts to your baby” can seem hokey, but in the midst of this chaotic time I find the idea quite helpful. We have experienced job losses, major unexpected car repairs, a totaled car, and are now both juggling multiple jobs. We thought we’d be in our own house by now, and here we are are, still in my parents’ basement, with a crib in our closet and now a bassinet by our bed.
In the middle of it all, I’m a mother, and my peace affects my children, both born and unborn. I don’t have to be glowing and feeling wonderful, and I don’t have to be doing everything. I can’t! I really, physically cannot. So I do my yoga when I can and gulp down my vitamins as often as I can remember. When the car breaks down again, and I am tempted to just let the anxiety engulf me, I cling to the reminder that my life has never been about storing up treasure on earth. The one inside of me, and the one I’m wrestling up the stairs are gifts. They are eternal, and how I mother their little souls is too.