Anticipating the birth of your second child is every bit as special as your first. In some ways, I’ve found it even more momentous, because I understand the gravity of what will soon occur. The first time, you know that it will be one of the most profound experiences of your life, but you don’t realize the depth of it until it happens.
OK, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s be real: Having your second baby is also a much different experience. For most, there’s far less pomp. You also know what to expect, so you lower your expectations – of yourself, of your baby, of your husband. You realize you don’t need to bring three bags and two pillows with you to the hospital. And, of course, the biggest change: You have another child who still needs you, and you spend considerable time thinking about how not to crush his little ego by introducing a new sibling to the household.
The differences between Round 1 and Round 2 are too numerous to list. But here are the ones I’ve found the most striking, and/or amusing.
At 38 weeks, I’m calling it. This pregnancy has been easier than my first, with one notable exception – the first trimester fatigue. It brought me to my knees. I’m guessing it’s because I had a toddler to care for, but it felt like a force of nature that would not be quelled. I even told my husband I had to quit my job somewhere around week eight so I could sleep. It is the main reason that the idea of a third baby terrifies me. We’ll see.
If anyone takes note of my bump at work or in a social setting, their face lights up and they ask, “Is this your first?” When I say that it is my second, they return to baseline and say something like, “Oh, well, that’s great, though.” Because they know I know. It’s hard work, and it’s kind of old hat. A bit more curious has been the lack of attention I’ve received from my own family. My mom actually kept forgetting I was pregnant during my second trimester. My sister scheduled a trip abroad during my due date. I get it, people; you have lives. I’ll be folding socks in the nursery if you need me.
Actually, no gifts. To date, I have received no gifts for my unborn child. We might get a few after he or she arrives, especially if it’s a girl, since everyone likes to buy baby girl outfits. But we had a shower before my son was born and we have everything we need. I feel a little sorry for this baby, I will admit. But in general, I view this difference favorably because I don’t have dozens of thank-you notes to write as I’m struggling with pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel syndrome.
The birth plan
What birth plan? The first time, I did what the books told me to do and brought several copies of my birth plan to the hospital so that all the staff would be on the same page regarding my sacred wishes. I’m sure they thought this was hilarious. Having a birth plan is a little silly because you’ll probably change the plan (yeah, I caved and got that epidural somewhere around 8 centimeters), and anyway, you can share your preferences with the nurses and doctor verbally.
Respect for medical advice
It’s not that I have none, and I generally follow the rules for being healthy during pregnancy. But yes, I’ve forgotten to take my prenatal vitamin on numerous occasions (that didn’t happen once the first time), and I’ve upped the frequency of my occasional glass of wine (it’s still only occasional, don’t judge). I’m much more comfortable exercising my own common sense this time around. Look at France! Those women drink wine regularly during pregnancy. I’m expecting my baby will turn out fine.
During my first pregnancy, I was mostly just frightened of the birthing process. I thought little of what would happen afterward. The latching problems, the frayed nerves, the inexplicable crying fits (mine, not the baby’s). These memories have left me wondering how I will ever handle this while also caring for my 3-year-old. And how will he handle it? Will he enjoy the new baby, or will he lash out when he realizes that his new sibling gets to sleep in our room? There’s no telling. But I guess this whole taking-care-of-two-kids thing has been done before, so I’m hopeful things will eventually work out.