I expected to have more time to prep for a second pregnancy before I actually got pregnant. Our first child was unplanned, so we didn't know exactly what it would take once we willfully attempted the whole conception thing. Apparently, my partner and I are among those very lucky couples who didn't have to wait too long. On our second attempt to get pregnant with Baby Two, I got pregnant. I did not see that coming.
While I was delighted, I had a lot of the thoughts every mom has when pregnant with her second baby kind of suddenly and all at once. I hadn't had a particularly good chance to process some of them before they were all staring me in the face. The fact is, however, chances are pretty good all of these issues will come up no matter how long you have to think about getting pregnant. It's OK: it's normal and we're all here to sort through this together.
Some people think (and/or feel) pregnancy is harder the second time around. Others feel it's actually a little bit easier. However, I don't think I know too many people who feel it's exactly the same, physically or especially emotionally. I feel like there should potentially be different words for first and subsequent pregnancies. First time around you're making the leap from non-parent to parent, which is a huge transition. Second time around you're already a parent, and while that clears up some of the thoughts and existential crises you had the first time around, it complicates and creates others. For example:
"What Do I Want To Do Differently?"
Second time around moms have the benefit of experience. So, did your birth go the way you'd planned? Breastfeeding? Sleep training? Daycare? If so, how can you ensure a duplication of that process? If not, why, and how can you help to achieve a better outcome in the future? It's helpful to have a better idea of what you want, what you don't want, and have some insight on how you can approach that.
"I Forgot What This Felt Like"
Good, bad, or good and bad, everyone vividly remembers the overall feelings of pregnancy, but at the same time no one really remembers the nitty gritty until they're back in the thick of it. In my case, the thick of it sucks for, like, three quarters of the time. Many a time I wondered what the hell I was thinking diving right back into all the nausea, sciatica, swollen feet and ankles, and general discomfort for nine months. Of course, second time around you have a much better idea of how awesome it will be when it's all done, so at least a second-timer can take comfort in that.
"Money Money Money Money Money Money"
One child is expensive AF (especially in the New York-metro area, where I live), so it's totally reasonable to have a freak out (even a daily freak out) on how this new child is going to make an impact on your bank account. Fortunately, there are things you can do to prepare.
"I Am So Tired, But I Can't Nap Because I Have A Kid"
During my first pregnancy I was exhausted all the time, but I was under no obligation to really do too much other than go to work and bathe myself. But second pregnancy I had an active, attention craving toddler on my hands (and in my lap, and running around my legs). Weekend naps, and relaxing on the couch as soon as I got home from work was no longer an option. I imagine it's what truckers must feel like 12 hours into a late night delivery, only I couldn't drink gallons of coffee or take caffeine pills to stay awake.
"How Am I Going To Go Nine Months Without Picking Up My Child?!"
Just about every second-time mom I talk to has this worry. Because, first time around, many of us are paranoid about the whole "no heavy lifting" advice. We really take it to heart to the point where we fret about lifting anything. Like "OMG! This paperweight is pretty heavy! Should I call my OB-GYN?!" So it stands to reason that we would be nervous about lifting another child while pregnant with our second.
"F*ck It, I'm Definitely Picking Up My Child"
Ultimately, you do what you have to do and most moms I know wind up with a toddler on their bump for a good chunk of their pregnancy with no problems.
"How Will This Affect My Relationship With My Partner?"
Chances are, one child affected your relationship. What is two going to do? Like... you're evenly matched now. Tag-teaming isn't going to be as easy anymore. My advice would be to talk about expectations and make plans ahead of time so you're at least on the same page once your second arrives. That's not to say you won't have to adjust the plan (let's be honest here: we always need to adjust the plan) but least you'll be in a mode where you know there's a plan that can serve as a starting point.
"I Don't Want To Go Through Birth Again!"
Even if you appreciate and enjoyed your birth experience, it's work and it hurts and it's basically human nature to go out of your way to avoid painful experiences. So as your body is beginning to remember all the pregnancy feelings — morning sickness, baby kicks, etc — it's also starting to recall giving birth a little more clearly, which can send your brain into a bit of a panic.
"OMG They Have New Stuff Since I've Given Birth! I Must Buy All The Stuff!"
I feel like no matter how far apart your children are, there's always some new gadget, book, or whatever that turns out to be a must-have. Then, of course, there's the basics that are just fun to have: adorable baby clothes, toys, carriers, etc. Yes, one of the good things about a second baby is that you likely have all the big ticket items (stroller, car seat, crib, etc.) but that doesn't mean you're off the hook for more stuff.
"That doesn't mean your off the hook for more stuff," by the way, should basically be parenting's motto, don't you think?
"My Poor First Baby Won't Get All The Attention Now; How Could I Do This To Them?"
Granted, I'm a pretty emotional person under normal circumstances and even more emotional when I'm flooded with bajillions of pregnancy hormones, but through much of my pregnancy I would just hold my son and silently cry. Or go into his room while he was sleeping and cry. Or curl up next to my husband and cry. Because our son was so happy and I was ruining his life! How could I take away from any of the attention I was giving him that was so rightfully his?! Who does that to such a wonderful, perfect little boy.
Turns out it really wasn't a big deal, you guys, but I worried about it constantly.
"What Are We Going To Name This One?"
A lot of people I know went through a whole rigmarole naming their first child. Now you have to go through all that again? Here's the thing: there are millions and millions of names to choose from. And what's more? You don't actually have to choose any of those names. You can make up whatever the hell you want. (Including their last names, by the way! There's no law that says your child has to have your last name and to this day I feel like we missed an opportunity in not giving our children last names from Game of Thrones.)
"I Must Have Been Insufferably Annoying The Last Time I Was Pregnant"
Once you've gone through one pregnancy and spent some time raising a child, you learn a lot, and you look back on all the things you didn't know and wonder how the hell you could ever be so clueless. The truth is, that cluelessness you once experienced is totally normal, basically unavoidable, and certainly nothing to be ashamed of. Still, you can't help but listen to first-time pregnant women from your place of knowledge and not sometimes think "OMG, you guys do not know what you're talking about and you're freaking out about stupid things."
Just remember to be kind. Compassion is a virtue and no one likes a know-it-all.
"How Will I Ever Love This Baby Like I Love My First?"
Here's something people won't tell you but I will: you won't. You will never love anyone or anything like you love your first child. But that's not the same as loving them as much, which you absolutely will, every bit as much as your first. Because here's something else they don't tell you: you will never love your first baby like you love your second.
Your first child is the person who makes you realize just how deeply and completely you can love another human. They will always and forever be the one who taught you that and that will color your relationship with them (and everyone else, really) for the rest of your life. But, just as powerful and just as wonderful, your second child shows you the infinite capacity you have within you to love. That wonderful emotion you learned from your first is not limited to one person — it's deeper and more powerful than you ever could have known.