The first time I went in to meet with my OB/GYN for this pregnancy I started off saying things like, “well last time I wasn’t this tired… and last time the sickness was not this intense” and right there, right in the middle of my “well last time speech,” she stopped me in my tracks. She said this is the last time we are going to relate this pregnancy to “last time.” So inevitably I became somewhat fixated. Fixated on not comparing the two pregnancies even though they are so close together, even though I can’t help but think about how things are the same or different and even though one of the questions I’m often asked is “are you carrying the same as last time?”
To be perfectly honest, I have the worst memory in the world and pregnancy does not help, so maybe this might be a good thing. I won’t force myself to reach into the foggy recesses of my mind and try to imagine what things were like last time. Maybe, I might even enjoy this for what it is; a new experience where I sometimes forget that there is a human in my belly, that is until I try to put on my shoes, do something remotely strenuous or fall asleep at 7:00pm, and just be pregnant. Not pregnant for the second time around, just pregnant.
So this time around, I am going to try not to compare my first 40 weeks to these 40 weeks and hope that the fixation goes away. Instead, I’m going to share my experiences being pregnant with a toddler. The ups and downs, the joys and frustrations and of course, everything in between.
When you are pregnant for the very first time there is so much excitement that seems, or so you think, to be about you. You are sometimes doted on because pregnancy is “intense” so you need to be taken care of, there are many afternoon and evening naps because you’re tired and you obviously deserve to sleep whenever you need it, you have time to go through a “nesting phase” (decorate and prep your home for the future), you are sometimes showered with gifts (even multiple times) because you need a lot of “things” to have a baby, and as overwhelming as this attention may seem, looking back it can be kind of nice.
When we shared our news of the second pregnancy, it being so close to the first one, many people seemed alarmed and even worried about our wellbeing. As if having children so close in age would be an economic, physical and psychological drain on our family. Instead of excitement, there were looks and expressions of fear. There was a sense that we failed at following through with any “logical” five-year-plan which obviously included leaving “a reasonable (based on day-care and sanity) gap between our children. After pushing through the initial judgement, I began to find my footing and look forward to what was ahead, planned or not, this was something we were excited about and I was determined to find joy in what appeared to be a “bad life choice”.
When you are pregnant with a toddler, there’s a lot less nesting or decorating nurseries, a lot less dotting, napping and showers (the parties and the hygiene included) and a whole lot more mess; but I would venture to call this a beautiful mess. Being pregnant with a toddler has taught me that I can’t control everything around me, so I’ve begun to just love what’s in front of me. To enjoy my time at home with my family without focusing on the warzone of toys and toddler snacks, to enjoy life even if it’s a bit of a mess. Being pregnant with a toddler has allowed me to let go of my need to maintain and control the way a morning, afternoon or entire day goes and to see past the plans and embrace the chaos because when you are pregnant with a toddler you can’t force things to go the way you planned them. Babies and toddlers, like life, are unpredictable and refuse to fit into your perfectly mapped-out morning, day, week, or five-year-plan. Being pregnant with a toddler means your little one might fall asleep on your belly listening to the sounds of their little brother or sister to be and giving you a glimpse of the love that these two already share.
So when people ask me what it’s like being pregnant this time around I can honestly say; it’s very different. It’s messy, it’s crazy, it’s beautiful and I have no idea what the future holds, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Photo Credit: My “insta-husband” Scott.