When I found out I was pregnant with my first son, I was elated, to say the least. At only 5-weeks pregnant, I walked around cupping my lower abdomen as if I were nine months along and due any day. Truth be told, I was just provoking the public, anyone really, to inquire about the tadpole-shaped fetus I was growing inside me. When the cashier at Target neglected conversing with me regarding my What To Expect When Expecting purchase, I quickly reassured her that I was indeed expecting. (She still did not converse with me.)
However, when my second pregnancy arrived, it brought about feelings far that were from warm and fuzzy. When my son was only seven months old, my body started behaving... oddly. Coupled with the absence of my monthly nuisance, my mind wandering to what I considered forbidden territory at that point: "Could I be pregnant?" I reluctantly asked myself, "No, there's no way. That's impossible. Impossible!" Just... no.
But alas, I soon discovered (during my lunch break while seeking refuge inside a Wal-Mart bathroom stall) that the universe does indeed have a seriously twisted sense of humor. Two pink lines later, my life forever changed. Again.
Unlike the prenatal bliss of my first pregnancy, my second pregnancy brought on feelings of immense terror and a brief stint of what some might consider borderline psychosis (I'm not a doctor, but I was kinda losing it). Still in shock, I refused to believe that my uterus was housing the works of what would eventually be another all-consuming, sleep-depriving, poop-producing human. Any lingering doubts about the truth of the test results were soon squandered when a nurse at the local health department outpost returned to my room with a brown paper bag filled with prenatal vitamins and pamphlets that outline the joys of human-growing. "Congratulations!" she squealed as she plastered a gleaming smile covered in hot pink lipstick, "You're around five weeks."
Now I'm no mathematician, but if I was 5 weeks along at that point, it meant this new fetus-friend would have been conceived when my firstborn was only six months old. Therefore, they would be around 15 months apart. I remember feeling like this day would come to be known as the day my youth officially died. One kid I could do. One pregnancy I could do. But two? Two felt impossible, ill-advised, and generally terrifying. At least, that's how it felt on that first day.
Now, all of this is clearly just my personal experience. Some people, obviously, feel unbridled excitement and elation when they find out they're expecting another baby, whether or not they saw it coming; whether or not they were intentionally trying to get pregnant. Most women probably fall somewhere in between my bleak panic, and someone else's bright, shiny happiness. But no matter what particular cocktail of feels you feel in the wake of the unexpected news, there are a handful of thoughts that I kind of have to believe go through all of our heads in the hours and days after we see those two lines for the second time. Many of these revolve around your pretty standard new-pregnancy fear, but some of the others are a bit, um, irrational.
How? When? How? I began a Carmen Sandiego-esque investigation as soon as I swam out of the puddle of my own tears in Wal-Mart. Word of advice: Taking a pregnancy test during your lunch break at your local Wal-Mart is not a great idea. You will have to pass a lot of other people on the way out, and your face might belie your total, sudden lack of normalcy.
"Do We Have Enough Money For This?"
Kids ain't cheap, y'all. When I found out I was expecting again, I immediately began crafting clever money schemes in my head. I've since become a mental millionaire via various Pinterest projects.
"Do I Want To Stay Pregnant?"
One of my best friends once told me that although she never agreed with or considered abortion a thing she would ever do, when she found out she was unexpectedly pregnant, she found herself thinking about the option in a completely new way. It's not that suddenly she was like, "Yay, abortions!" She just realized — as I think so many of us do when we find out we're pregnant — that if you've never been in the actual position of deciding what action to take about a new pregnancy, you don't really know what you believe.
For many of us, even if we have kids, and love kids, and want more kids, when that test comes back positive — especially if it's unexpected — there's going to be a moment when you have that "OK, what do I want to do about this?" conversation with yourself (and maybe other people).
"I Need A Drink."
Maybe it's all those crazy hormones but the thought of a cold beer caused me to salivate uncontrollably. (Or maybe it's that beer is, you know, delicious and happiness-making.) Unfortunately, I could only get withing sniffing distance of my once-loved Dos Equis.
"Oh Right, I Can't Drink."
Only 8-9 more months to go until the soul-soothing effects of boxed merlot will be of any emotional assistance again. Ugh, how is pregnancy fair to women? All the physical and emotional stress we're under for so long, and we aren't even allowed to drink? It seems like whoever came up with this whole pregnancy thing would've added in a loophole where alcohol is actually beneficial to pregnant women and their babies. Thanks for nothing, biology.
"Wasn't I Just Pregnant? I'm Never Not Going To Be Pregnant Again."
My body had hardly recovered from its first go-round of creating life before it decided it was ready to create another. I was in a constant state of pregnancy, That can turn even the sanest of women into an all-out basket case. Would there every come a day when I wasn't pregnant again? Ever? (Again, I'm aware that this isn't the most logical worry to have, but it's damn sure how I felt.)
"Maybe The Test Was Wrong!"
Maybe the first seven tests were wrong. That's a possibility, right? Right?!
"I Am Never Having Sex Again. Like Ever."
My pregnancy announcement to my husband may or may not have been the lyrics to Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Ever Getting Back Together" and I told him it was a love letter from my genitals to his.
"Wait — I Have To Pay For Childcare For TWO Kids Now?!"
The price of daycare for one child is enough to make most reconsider their baby fever. The price of daycare for two children costs more than most mortgages. Just take a moment and do the math. Come back when you stop crying.
"My Body Will Never Recover."
The capabilities of a woman's body are nothing short of incredible. That said, pregnancy unquestionably takes a toll on a woman. If pregnancy left its mark on your body the first time (like it did mine), it's understandable to fear the new tiger stripes and/or Pam Anderson boobs you'll be sporting the second time around. *Breaks out giant nursing bras*
"My First Born Is Going To Hate Me."
All I could think about was my son not understanding this new, tiny human in the house, and resenting me for bringing another baby into his previously unopposed territory. I felt like I didn't have enough time to savor his sweetness or read him Dr. Seuss. I felt like I reeked of betrayal. I just knew he'd never forgive me. (Update: he forgave me. He actually never resented me at all.)
"I'm The Worst Mom Ever."
First pregnancies are usually so exciting. It's new, uncharted territory and learning what size fruit your baby is monthly is like Christmas morning every time. The second time around, especially if it's by surprise, is a little less thrilling and a little more guilt-inducing. Don't let the guilt consume you — your baby won't judge you for its ill-timed conception.
"I'll Never Fit Into [Beloved Item Of Clothing] Again."
Back-to-back pregnancies can do a number on a woman's body image, even if you know it's a product of sexist, unfair, lame-ass conditioning about what your body is "supposed" to look like. Even if you ~know better~, facing a second pregnancy can feel a little like going back to the starting line of a race to re-conform that you may or may not have still been fighting from the first time around. The really shitty thing about this particular thought is not only does it remind you of the terrible standards imposed on women's bodies, but it reminds you that, despite knowing better, part of you still cares.
"Oh But Wait — I'm Getting A New Baby."
OK, so it's not just the first pregnancy that's exciting. It's just, with the unexpected second pregnancy, the excitement might come after a hell of a lot of shock and doubt and anxiety. But the excitement is there, and it makes sorting through the other thoughts and feelings way more bearable.
Images: Matthew Wiebe/Unsplash; Giphy(14)