When I was pregnant with my first child, if I wasn't at work I was doing one of three things: sitting on my couch half asleep, eating on my couch half asleep, or sleeping (probably on my couch). That was one chill-ass pregnancy, folks. Sure, I had nausea, sciatica, shortness of breath, but no one symptom lasted a terribly long time and life was OK. My second pregnancy I was chasing a two-year-old all over the place, commuting over an hour to my job, vomiting for 24 weeks, and I never rested. Still, somehow, my second pregnancy was way easier than my first. Why? I don't think there's one answer so much a confluence of factors that contribute to an overall feeling.
Now, certainly, no two pregnancies are alike and no two pregnant people are alike. There are certainly reasonable, intelligent women who will tell you the exact opposite of what I'm saying and they're not wrong. Even I'll admit that there are aspects of a second pregnancy that are more challenging than a first. With my first pregnancy, life was a 9-month-long Garfield cartoon. I slept and I enjoyed being grumpy and I ate everything that wasn't nailed down. Second time around did not grant me such indulgences, and yet because (I think) I didn't have all the time in the world to think about how "off" I felt.
Even though none of my symptoms lasted longer than a month or so (and they were never unbearable), the fact is I had a lot of time to sit around and feel them. Way more than I had second time around, anyway. I would say the reasons my second pregnancy was so much more bearable boil down to two main themes: distraction and experience. But, to be specific, here's why I found it way better:
You're Distracted By Your First Child
We love our children, but they are little black holes of time and energy and there are some days we wake up, not realizing we'd fallen asleep and we're like "What year is it?!"
In short: our children take up so much of our time that they will absolutely distract us from growing their sibling. This can, I will concede, make a second pregnancy extremely difficult (definitely exhausting), but I would argue that there's something good to be said about having to keep up at full speed, because it helps you ignore the things that might otherwise occupy a lot of your mental energy.
You're Familiar With Pregnancy, So You Can Sometimes Just Forget About It
When I was 8 months pregnant with my second child, I worked an event and wound up talking with an attendee. After we'd chatted a bit, he said, "So, can I ask the obvious question?"
I stared at him blankly. "Ummm, the bathrooms are down the hall on the left."
"No, not the bathrooms!"
"Ummm, do you need directions to the banquet later?"
"When are you due!"
"Huh?" I looked down. "Oh! Right! About a month, or, something. How many weeks am I? I think I'm 35 weeks."
My first pregnancy, my pregnancy was the only thing on my mind at all times, more or less. At the very least it co-occupied space with more pressing matters. I could tell you how many weeks and days pregnant I was. Second time around I frequently forgot.
You've Been Through Birth, So You Have A More Informed Opinion About The Kind Of Delivery You Want (Or Don't Want)
I'm not one to knock birth plans — I think they're a great idea — but I think many of us can agree that the birth plans of a first time mom, who (through no fault of her own) has no practical idea of what she's in for, can sometimes be pretty unrealistic or even laughable in retrospect.
Again, this isn't anyone's fault: no one really knows how they're going to feel and what they're going to want when they're in labor/giving birth until they are in labor/giving birth. But a second time mom has been there, she knows what's up, she knows what birth is like, and she either has an experience she would like to repeat or to avoid however possible.
You're Less Nervous About Pregnancy Prohibitions
I have a friend who was so nervous about lifting heavy objects that she wouldn't carry throw pillows from one room to the other. Pillows. But she is not the only woman who has been paralyzed in fear of the things she's not supposed to do. I wasn't "don't lift a pillow" nervous, but I definitely wouldn't carry groceries or anything heavier than whatever bag I had with me. Second time around? My 30-something pound toddler was sitting on my bump half the time.
You Don't Have To Read A Mountain Of Pregnancy/Birth/Baby Books
You got that all out of your system first time around. Go ahead and enjoy reading books that actually appeal to your personal interests and stimulate your imagination this time around. You've earned it after sloughing through 10,000 books about childbirth whose illustrations and photographs still make you clench your vagina when you think about them.
You Don't Have To Spend As Much Time Or Money Getting Baby Supplies
Woo hoo! You broke the bank equipping your first little one and now you have those glorious hand-me-downs! Is there a more beautiful phrase in all the parenting world (aside from, maybe "full-scholarship-to-an-Ivy-League?").
It Goes By Much Faster*
You know how when you drive somewhere the first time it feels like it takes forever because you've never been there before and you're always anticipating that the next turn or exist is just around the corner? And then when you go back again you're surprised to find that it wasn't nearly as far as you'd thought. Pregnancy is like that, too. I'd also say this is in part due to the distraction of your eldest, but not being surprised by every new appointment, symptom, or development helps the time pass swiftly.
You Have The Benefit Of Experience When It Comes To Your Priorities
You've got your head on straight, girl (well, straighter). You know what birth is like, what babies are like, and (I'm willing to suggest) you likely have a clearer picture of who you are now, at least as a mom/pregnant woman.
As such, you know the things that are most important to you and the things you can just kind of let go or let slide as necessity dictates. It's truly liberating to know what really matters. What matters, of course, will vary from person to person, but it's great to be secure in that sense of priority.
Showing Sooner = Pregnancy Perks Sooner
Second-time moms often begin to show sooner than they did the first time. This can be annoying if you're trying to hide a pregnancy for whatever reason (work, nosy family members, or the fact that it's no one's damn business but your own).
But if you want to board a plane sooner, or get a seat on public transportation or something, congrats! You can start doing that sooner than in the past. (No promises, every pregnant woman is different, but I'm pretty sure I started getting a belly before the pee stick was dry.)
You're A Mom Already, Which Better Equips You To Do Everything
For real. Not only have you already delivered a child, but you are raising one. And you learn a lot about kids, yourself, and life in general doing that. Moms have powers, dudes. Powerful powers. And so, during your second pregnancy, may you harness this power to help others and yourself.