I had a complicated relationship with my body before I had kids. I have just never felt proud of it. Then I got pregnant, and I finally felt like my body was in its element. I had spent so long trying not to get pregnant, that when my husband and I decided to start a family, and it happened without much effort (which I guess has both its good and bad points), I finally felt like my body was cooperating with me. My second pregnancy was way harder than my first, though. While, again, it didn’t take long to conceive, it didn’t feel as rewarding as it did with my older child. Honestly, it felt mostly like work.
I was fortunate that neither of my pregnancies were what some might consider "eventful." Still, every small discomfort I experienced the first time I was pregnant seemed to be amplified when I was pregnant for a second time. Sure my body had been pregnant before, but my previously pregnant body wasn't also trying to raise a toddler. Having a small child in the mix while you’re gestating a new baby is some next level sh*t; a next level you really have to experience for yourself in order to truly understand.
So while this may not have been the case for all women getting to work on subsequent children, here are some reason why my second pregnancy was way harder than my first:
You Have Less Support
Nobody is as excited for you to have your second kid as they were for you to have your first. It’s kind of a bummer. Honestly, I would have liked and definitely appreciated a little more attention the second time around. But a second-time mom is not as awe-inspiring, apparently.
Morning Sickness Is Worse
It’s not like I actually felt sicker the second time around, I just couldn’t tend to my illness with a toddler bouncing around our apartment. (And toddlers are gross.) So when you’re already nauseous, and your two-year-old needs her butt wiped after an epic potty situation, it’s the worst.
You Sleep Less...
Once you have a child, you will never sleep as much as you did when you were child-free. Less sleep made me more cranky, and my crankiness was exacerbated by my morning sickness and so, there I was; stuck in this cycle of chasing after my toddler, while operating on a sleep deficit, trying not to puke. Good times.
…So You’re More Tired
Having a kid while expecting a kid is exhausting. I was so tired in the first trimester with my first baby, but I had the freedom to take a nap and sleep in on the weekends. However, I had a two-year-old when I was pregnant the second time and my toddler was not sympathetic to my lack of energy.
Self-Care Is A Real Challenge
When I was pregnant with my son, taking care of myself was practically an afterthought. I grew my hair out, not because I wanted to but because I just didn’t have time to get it trimmed. I had a strong-willed little girl, a full-time job and I was entering my third trimester just as summer started to hit the city. I managed to keep up with my regular OB check-ups during my second pregnancy, and that was enough to feel like I was winning at self-care.
There Is Less Time To Enjoy It
When I was pregnant with my first, I daydreamed a lot. The majority of my pregnant days were spent pondering questions like, what gender would our baby be (we didn’t find out until the birth), what names I liked, and how we’d spend our days as a family. With my second, I didn’t have the brain space to accommodate all that rumination. I was too busy figuring out what to pack my toddler for lunch at daycare, when we had to schedule our flu shots, who was taking off to cover childcare over the holidays, and what baby crap did we need to pull out of storage for the new arrival.
You Expect To Be More In Control, But You’re Not
I really thought “I got this,” when I became pregnant the second time. I had been through it once, without incident, and had a healthy child as a result. But no two pregnancies are identical, even with the same mother. It was one thing to go along with the unexpected the first time, but it was frustrating to have the same lack of control during a subsequent pregnancy. Maybe this only applies to moms like me, with Type A personalities, but I was aggravated that my second pregnancy didn’t mimic my first and I had to figure it out all over again.
You Have More Logistics To Figure Out
Who’s going to watch the toddler when you go into labor? What if it’s in the middle of the night? Should you have your mom sleep over starting at 39 weeks? Who’s going to take the toddler to daycare when your partner goes back to work, and the baby’s nap time coincides with school pick-up?
You’re More Susceptible To Self-Doubt
When I started to feel overwhelmed, as I did once I became a mom with a full-time job, a marriage I wanted to sustain, and a mortgage we needed to keep paying, I began doubting my ability to keep up with everything. This became particularly pronounced during my second pregnancy. Not only was I trying to stay on top of everything at home — and with my kid, and at work — but I was tired and hormonal and that all took its toll on my confidence.
The one upside to this was that I became a big believer of the “good enough” standard. I was never going to excel at everything all the time. I needed to stop setting the bar that high. My sanity and my health needed to be the priorities, because if I was feeling miserable, it would affect all aspects of my life. I wanted to be a good mom to my daughter, and to my soon-to-be new baby. So that meant I had to let some other things go. Meals just needed to be nutritious and tasty, and if that meant relying on canned soup and frozen veggies, so be it.
You Start Panicking About The Laundry
Good thing little kids’ clothes are cute, because it’s the only thing that kept me sane in dealing with double the amount of laundry once I had a second kid. The panic crept in before my second kid was born, as I started to pull his older sister’s newborn outfits out and I realized; I’m going to be changing this baby’s clothes at least three times a day, on top of keeping his sister’s clothes clean. This is why I wore the same shirt for a month after the birth of my son.
With two growing kids, the laundry is only increasing. But I see the light at the end of the tunnel; teaching them to do it themselves. I can’t wait.