So baby number two is on the way, and while it’s not that long since I was pregnant with my first, there is much of pregnancy that is feeling new or like a long-forgotten dream.
What is strange for me is just how different this pregnancy is. A lot is the same, on a basic level, but it is just so completely new to be pregnant with a baby around already!
I’d been told by several people who have three or more children that the first and second are the new and most life-changing baby experiences – for many it seems that by the third time, they are used to it, as they have done the new baby thing before, as well as the new baby and older child thing! I’m finding this easier to believe (or perhaps just hoping it is for next time) now that I am dealing with the next ‘new’ scenario.
So exactly how is pregnancy different this time round? Well…
1. It goes insanely fast. With my first, the fact that I was pregnant was inescapable – it was constantly on my mind. I prayed for the baby growing within me everyday, and spent long periods reading pregnancy and parenting books, contemplating all the changes that were happening all the time. This time round, I find myself suddenly thinking: “Oh yes, I’m pregnant!”, and realizing that I am yet another week closer to the birth!
2. Preparation doesn’t quite go the same way. As I said, I did a lot of preparation for my first, reading everything I could and talking through everything with my husband. I spent ages researching and buying the best baby things and doing up the nursery, and just generally getting very excited about it all. This time round, while tending to the constant needs of my one-year-old, I have yet to read an NHS update email telling me the size and features of my baby (I think they’re somewhere between an avocado and a pepper…), and regularly forget how many weeks I am actually pregnant, while with my daughter I could have told you to the day!
3. Early pregnancy was very different. With my first, I was not working, so when the nausea hit around 7 weeks in, I got into bed, grabbed my laptop and a bunch of DVDs, and put my feet up, usually remaining in my pyjamas the majority of the day and eating what I could when I could, keeping myself near the toilet just in case. This time, well, I didn’t have that luxury. I had to drag myself out of bed early in the morning to deal with my daughter, and pray that I would make it through the day without feeling so sick I had to quickly ensure she was in a safe position so I could run to the nearest sink or toilet. I’m blessed that we have a good sleeper in our firstborn, so I would just try to get through the day and then collapse into bed at 9pm completely exhausted in order to recharge for the next day. With my first, although I struggled with
morning all-day sickness (seriously, who named it that?!), I was otherwise ok, whereas this time round, the fatigue…Oh God the fatigue. Thank God I’m well into the second trimester now!
4. The announcements and ultrasound are not quite the event they were the first time round! Although it is still magical to see our baby on an ultrasound screen and be able to see them moving and their little heart beating, you know a little more what to expect, and showing the photos to friends and family is not quite as much of an event. People are a little less excited the second time round (which is completely understandable!), and the crazy busyness of our life with an almost-toddler means that we often forget to update people and have spent less time planning announcements and so on.
5. The bump. I was warned that I would probably ‘look pregnant’ much more quickly this time round, but although I got more ‘bloated’ much quicker at the start, my bump is actually quite a bit smaller this time! I was worried at first, but it turns out a lot of women have this – every pregnancy is different, and the bump is often very different if it is a different gender baby, a smaller baby, or simply from the fact that you have less time to eat and you exercise more naturally running around after an older child! At 16 weeks with my first I was wearing maternity wear and people who didn’t know I was pregnant asked when I was due, whereas my maternity shorts are still a little big at 21 weeks now, and most people I tell I’m expecting in November give me a big-eyed, shocked “no way”!
(photos from the first pregnancy because who has time in the second?!)
6. The sensations. It’s funny how so much comes back to you, and yet other stuff just catches you by surprise! The baby’s kicks are a very similar feeling to last time round, but the Braxton Hicks are very different! I got worried when I started feeling them, as they were actually painful for me, whereas with my daughter it was simply a painless tightening of my belly. It was uncomfortable, but never felt crampy or anything like actual labour. This time round, they have been a little more like very early labour contractions – quite painful and crampy.
7. My daughter. Even though she is still too young to really understand what is going on, there is something quite beautiful about being able to share this experience with her. It is very tough needing to care for her while pregnant, but I love watching her face when we go for ultrasounds as she stares, waves and chats at her baby sibling on the screen. She sometimes points or pokes at my belly and chats away, and the baby already kicks extra hard when they hear her voice. There is something very special about it that wasn’t there last time, and I cannot wait to see what she will be like as a big sister. At the same time, I am suddenly very aware of how quickly she is growing up and how we will soon no longer have time just us two, so I am trying to enjoy her more and spend quality time with her as much as possible while it is just the two of us during the day. Neither she nor I will have this time again in quite the same way!
For those of you who are mums to more than one, did you find pregnancy very different each time?