… because I learned more about being pregnant
during my 2nd pregnancy!
Now that there are only [gasp] 45 days left until my little girl is born, I wanted to start wrapping up my feelings about being pregnant. This just might be the last time I am pregnant, which I am VERY bittersweet in dealing with at this moment. I am hoping there isn’t a breakdown in February when it all comes full-circle and I realize I will NEVER again have a belly, or will I accept it without any regrets? No, I am not tying my tubes, but my husband and I have always said that we only wanted two children. I refuse to tie my tubes for personal reasons as I am a true believer of "never say never" and "you never know", so I won’t say this IS my last pregnancy, but chances are very high.
One thing that I can say is the experts are dead on when they say that not one pregnancy will be identical (or even similar) to another. I have seen two VERY different pregnancies and cannot believe the extreme differences in symptoms and overall experiences. It’s amazing. Truly!
#1 Each pregnancy is unique and expect nothing to be the same.
Whatever you knew about your previous pregnancy(s) – throw it out the window and forget all about it. If you have been keeping track of my pregnancy updates over the past few months, you should know that my first pregnancy was a landslide compared to the last few months. I have experienced horrible 1st trimester symptoms, which of course continued on through my 2nd trimester.
Walk into your next pregnancy pretending to know nothing about how marvelous round one turned out to be, or how lucky you were to avoid morning sickness. Don’t think for one second that THIS pregnancy is going to be just like your girlfriends or neighbors told you it would be. It’s cool to watch shows like "A Baby Story" on TLC, but don’t assume that your pregnancy, labor, or delivery will assume the same patterns or similarities to those women.
This is YOUR body, YOUR baby, and YOUR reaction to pregnancy.
This is your time to create your own baby story, so start off with pregnancy on a clean slate. Both of my pregnancies have been complete opposites, which I have summarized below. Whatever I knew about my pregnancy with my son 4-years ago has not happened this time around. Honestly, I wish I had believed ‘them’ when they said that each pregnancy would be vastly different from the next. I didn’t think it would be dramatically different, but I was very wrong.
#2 It’s OKAY to lose control and expect less of yourself.
I say this as I bite my tongue (very hard) because I fought myself a lot during the first two trimesters of this pregnancy. As someone that relies on her work (MamaNYC and other various projects) to keep my mind and sanity in a ‘happy place’, I wasn’t able to do the work that I wanted — and it pissed me off. I was VERY sick during the first 4-5 months and didn’t care about what I would have to go through to make sure the work was done.
I don’t like to use the ‘pregnancy excuse’ as many (MANY) pregnant women LOVE to do. I’ve always been independent, reliable, and hardworking. Having to turn down work killed me and I never said NO. Things became very difficult for me to do and I had to teach myself that there’s always tomorrow and there’s always going to be someone that understands this isn’t easy. On the same note, I also had plenty of fantastic folks that didn’t care too much. Deadlines had to be met and there was no excuse for turning work in late.
Anyone that knows me well can tell you I will wake up at 5am just to make sure I can meet a noon deadline. My schedule was insane and consisted of VERY late nights and VERY early mornings prior to this pregnancy. I would wake up around 5am and work until my son rolled out of bed around 10/11am. Thereafter, I would stop in to check emails and put together posts quickly if my son was playing alone, watching a movie, or enjoying your basic downtime midday. Otherwise, I would wait until bedtime and work well into the wee morning hours, which meant less than 4-5 hours of sleep. I did this without thinking twice — but of course a few cups of coffee!
Now I am barely able to stay awake without a nap every 3-4 hours, which is no easy feat for a stay-at-home pregnant mom! I discovered that my priorities and scheduling had to be changed up a bit in order to better accomodate my body. If the blog and other projects had to be put on hold – so be it.
Letting go and realizing that you can’t do it all is very difficult, but we are lucky enough to do what we can – when we can – and how we can. Don’t push too hard when your body says STOP. Listen to your body and don’t ignore when it tells you to relax. People will (hopefully) understand and the work will be there for you to complete when you are ready.
#3 You will never be comfortable. Delete that word from your vocabulary!
You can buy pillows for your body and belly. They’ll help, but don’t expect to ever feel 110% comfortable and relaxed. The best thing you will feel is ‘okay’. There is always going to be something irritating, bothering, twitching, rubbing, and sucking the life out of your bones. Do your best to feel comfortable, but don’t think that you can ever achieve extreme relaxation until delivery has come, gone, and your body has healed.
#4 You ARE crazy – it isn’t "them"!
Do you know how everyone else is wrong, inconsiderate, and WRONG (Did I say that twice?) while you are PMS’ing? Imagine all of that going on for 9-months. I realized that I just have to start saying, "I know I am likely wrong because I am pregnant, but…". It has saved me a lot of fights and bickering with the husband since I can provide a prelude to my insanity as a pre-apology and excuse for sounding like an idiot!
#5 You are going to forget your name, basic math, and how to spell.
This was a big issue for me during my first pregnancy since I was a full-time college student. I am now thanking my LUCKY stars that I decided to take a Graduate school hiatus for 2012 because my grades would have been terrible. I’ve forgotten how to add (BASIC MATH!), percentages, spell, and structure a proper grammatically correct sentence (I can only imagine how many errors are in this blog post!). My memory is shot. As someone that is usually a stickler for grammar, spelling, and calculating in my mind — I gave up on trying to sound like I know what I am talking about. I’ll sharpen up again as soon as my little girl is born, but until then – I am glad to know that my name is on my New York State Photo Identification Card!
#6 There is NO such thing as a pregnancy "glow", so don’t bother looking for it…
I tried to find this thing that they call the "pregnancy glow" during my first pregnancy, but it never came. I thought that it just forgot to stop by, so I kept an eye out for it this time around. Nothing… weird, huh? Everyone will say that you look beautiful.
#7 There will ALWAYS be something to worry about.
If I told you that you wouldn’t worry every single moment throughout your pregnancy, I would be lying. Not a minute goes by during the 9-months of pregnancy when I don’t feel anxiety over what I am eating, drinking, whether or not the baby is moving, etc. The motherhood worrying and panicing begins now, so use this time to prepare yourself for many more years of anxiety. This is only the beginning!
#8 Some pregnancies will last forever, but others will happen in a heartbeat.
My first pregnancy lasted for 9-years and I am not exaggerating (maybe a little!). It seemed to go on, and on, and on, and on. There was NO end in sight and I also couldn’t look back in time and remember a time when I wasn’t pregnant. This second pregnancy has flown by and I cannot believe it is almost over! I think that my second pregnancy has gone by very quickly because I have experienced pregnancy (and learned that it DOES come to an end!) and also have a 3-year-old boy to keep me VERY busy.
I’ve always said that my 9-months of pregnancy went by very slowly, but the first 9-months of my sons life FLEW by. How did he turn 9-months old overnight when I had previously spent 9-months, which felt like an eternity, while I was pregnant with him? It was amazing to see how fast 9-months would go by with my son HERE versus pregnancy. Ever since I discovered that time goes by much faster with a child around, I realized it is important to enjoy every waking moment creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Now if I could only figure out how to slow down my second pregnancy… (No! I am NOT ready for this!)
#9 No one else can feel or see the baby kicking and moving, so don’t waste your time.
I dealt with this during my first pregnancy and it made me crazy! Every single time I would feel my son kick or see him move left to right inside of my belly, I would grab my husbands hand and.. NOTHING. He would look at me like I was insane. My son did a LOT of moving and it was very visible from the outside of my belly, but my husband was never able to feel for himself (and so he thought that I was nuts, clearly).
I haven’t asked him to feel fetal movements in my belly at all during this second pregnancy. It’s just something I have grown to accept! He DID feel her kick a few weeks ago and jumped in surprise. It was his first time feeling a baby inside of my belly and he was glad to feel a kick, but said it was creepy (as a man would!!!). He has listened to her heartbeat with our at-home fetal monitor, but movements – it has literally come down to accepting the fact that she will kick like CRAZY when my hands are on my belly, but the SECOND she ‘knows’ dad has his hands on my belly – all movement STOPS.
On the contrary, I cannot keep my son away from my belly. He’s been laying on my stomach, holding, kissing, and talking to his sister ever since we told him that mommy was having a baby. She goes WILD when he is near and it is the cutest thing ever! She definitely knows when her big brother is around or touching my stomach. He SHOULD have felt her moving thousands of times, but I don’t think he understands that it is a baby kicking when my stomach moves. You win some; you lose some!
#10 Read all of the books that you want to read. Clean all of the counters that you want to clean. You will STILL be miles away from ‘Ready’ when baby arrives!
I say this with the utmost respect for my fellow nesters and all of the baby books published in the world, but nothing will prepare you for what is about to happen. Of course it helps – absolutely! However, I realized when my son was born that everything that I thought I knew about infants and parenting wasn’t going to help on this motherhood mission that I was about to embark on for the rest of my life. It did provide a great deal of support and assistance so that I could know what to do in certain situations, but motherly instincts are all that matter at the end of the day.
It’s a crazy concept to swallow for anyone that hasn’t had a chance to experience motherhood yet, but it is real! Just as they say you will love this baby (unconditionally) from the moment you lay your eyes on his, I learned that even though I had NO experience as a mother and my baby resume included mild babysitting for neighbors and two younger brothers (which were babies in very early-90’s), I suddenly knew exactly what to do and how to do it.
On the other hand, I also realized that everything that the books had told me about what to expect wasn’t exactly how it would play out at all. Just as every pregnancy is unique, so are infants and each child will provide a brand new slew of expectations and issues. Our first night home was a nightmare (I may or may not have considered returning him to wherever he came from) and I couldn’t believe THIS was something that we ‘asked for’. Did people seriously have kids just so they could pull all-nighters with a crying baby on their shoulder? Luckily, I was able to get my son on an amazing schedule his 2nd night home and he’s been a fantastic sleeper ever since!
We also did a lot of preparing and cleaning prior to my sons arrival, which didn’t help at all. The moment my son was home – the messes began and haven’t stopped ever since. You can (and should) clean before baby arrives, but don’t think it’s "ready" for ‘life’. You are going to wakeup in the morning to find bottles strewn all over your kitchen and powdered formula covering your stovetop and counters. There will always be a mess when baby is around. You will always need to buy more, clean more, organize more, dust more, sanitize more, sterilize more…
Prepare yourself, but your job will never be done. Stock up on as many diapers, wipes, cleaning supplies, and other goodies that you will need for baby. Always keep an eye on your inventory and restock when it is halfway through to empty. Read your parenting books and enjoy parenting articles online, but always try and read a chapter ahead, or a milestone into the future. Know what your baby is going to do next before it happens. Don’t sit around and wait for your baby to start teething to learn about pain remedies. Do your research before it happens — and you’ll be happy you did when she starts teething at 4am on a Friday night!
Pregnancy #1 (2008-2009):
Conception took approximately 6-7 months, but very inconsistent and ‘no pressure’ attitude. We weren’t TRYING, but we weren’t AVOIDING. We both wanted a baby, but figured it would happen if it was supposed to happen — and it did. Found out we were pregnant in September 2008 only due to a missed period. I did have ONE day of nausea throughout this entire pregnancy, which actually occurred 3-days prior to a positive pregnancy test, so I didn’t even know it was a pregnancy symptom. I blamed the poor Chinese restaurant in our area!
Symptoms were light and easy. I wondered why I didn’t have that "morning sickness" that they talked about. Was I seriously pregnant? Why wasn’t I sick? The biggest worries that I had during my first pregnancy were…
extreme lethargy (mostly because I also have a severe form of anemia);
hunger (I had to eat constantly – no exaggeration!);
fweight gain because of the hunger (I packed on a LOT of weight. You wouldn’t recognize me at all!);
heartburn (only during the last 5-6 weeks; this was the worst part as it kept me up all hours of the night crying);
bone pressure & pain (very severe since my son was very low in my belly; pressure in the private areas can be extreme!).
Looking back, I had a VERY easy pregnancy. I was home all by myself from months 6-9 due to being forced out of my employment because of pregnancy discrimination. All I did was sleep, relax, and watch television from February until the very end of April when my son was [finally] born 10-days late.
I grew antsy and frustrated towards the end as the heartburn flared up into a severe case of "OH-MY-GOD-HELP-ME-NOW" (yep) and the pressure down ‘below’ became difficult to cope with, but that was nothing. All of those symptoms were a blessing and simply a fact of pregnancy. I had it very easy and took it all for granted.
Pregnancy #2 (2012-2013):
Where do I begin…?
Conception took just about the same amount of time as our first pregnancy. Although we were actually trying to conceive this time around, I knew it would take just as long (if not longer) since.. well, it wasn’t so easy for us to have alone time since we are no longer alone. Having a (then) 2-year-old boy running around isn’t a simple task when you are trying to conceive. Oh, you’re ovulating? Too bad! Your toddler wants to finger paint and go to the park. We started trying around August/September 2011 and officially became pregnant around late-April/early-May 2012, so it was maybe 2-months longer than our first time around with our son.
We found out we were pregnant when I had a VERY unusually tired tired with absolutely NO energy at all. Even though I have severe anemia, I am normally awake around 6am and can go until 2am with less than 4-5 hours of sleep. Suddenly I wanted to sleep ALL DAY — and I did. My husband went straight to the pharmacy for a pregnancy test and voila!
Symptoms have been severe and horrific. Everything that I knew and learned about pregnancy from past experiences went straight out the window. I’ve had the same symptoms as last time – tenfold. I’ve been sick, nauseas, and tired nearly every single day since week 8 and good days are few and far between. The symptoms during this second pregnancy include all of those that were faced back in my first pregnancy and more:
extreme lethargy (except this time around I can’t sleep 18-hours a day because I am also a SAHM watching a 3-year-old boy);
heartburn (since very early on 2nd trimester; not as severe – yet, but consistent);
bone pressure & pain (severe pain since mid-2nd trimester; growing in severity, but more lower back & sciatic pain);
nausea (very extreme and consistent since conception – basically!);
high blood pressure (1st trimester-early 2nd; adding to feelings of stress, anxiety, etc.);
severe migraines (weeks 8-25; likely due to high BP earlier on, but extreme and killing my ability to function);