I became pregnant with my second child days after my firstborn turned 1. While there wasn't all that much time (relatively speaking) between the two pregnancies, they were completely different experiences in so many ways, including ways I absolutely didn't expect. First off, every pregnancy is, by its very nature, unique. Sure, the general mechanics are pretty much the same, but bodies are weird AF and you never quite know how they're going to react to a new flood or hormones and fetus. But mentally and logistically, being pregnant with your first kid versus your second is a whole new ball game. To the point that your first pregnancy can't necessarily prepare you for where this second pregnancy is going to take you. It makes sense, really, because you're approaching this whole thing from an entirely new perspective.
On the one hand, your life isn't changing as drastically as it did went you went from child-free to being a parent. On the other hand, having a little one wandering around outside of you ups the stakes for literally every single decision you make in life, since you have to take this beloved little person into account. Then, of course, second pregnancies bring with them the benefit of experience, which lends itself to being able to see a bigger picture than may have been possible the first time around. You don't get as mired down in the details of the every day because you know firsthand what's ultimately really important. Of course there are smaller, quirkier differences, too. For example:
First Pregnancy: All The Naps
Because you're so damn tired, and it's not that you have nothing going on before you have a kid. However, the fact of the matter is that your non-working time belongs to you, which means you can spend all that time sleeping if you want.
Ladies and gentlemen, I did. Pregnancy was basically hibernation for a while there. I am someone who usually requires very little sleep, but when I was pregnant with my first I would go to bed at 8 p.m. and wake up at 8 a.m. with no compunctions or regrets. It was glorious.
Second Pregnancy: All The Sobbing Because All You Want Is Just One Nap But Your Kid Won't Let You
Because when I got home from work I had a 2 year old waiting for me and he DGAF that I was tired or that my body was working really hard growing his little sister. He wanted to play. He wanted to be cuddled in the middle of the night. He wanted to wake up at 5:30 a.m. My tears of fatigue were like sweet, sweet candy to him (at least that's what it felt like through the blurry haze of exhaustion).
First Pregnancy: Every Food Is Frantically Googled Before It Is Consumed
When you're new to the pregnancy game, it feels like there are a million and five dietary restrictions and you are familiar with none of them. Or, perhaps, you're familiar with just enough of them to be wary of absolutely everything, because you're not really sure.
So it's like, "OK, I know there are some kinds of fish I'm not supposed to eat, wait, does that mean, all fish? What if they're cooked thoroughly? Or is it the mercury content that's the problem? Let me just Google: Eat. Shrimp. Pregnant."
Second Pregnancy: "I Never Knew Soft Cheeses Went So Well With Sushi!"
And don't forget to wash it down with coffee!
At least this was the case for me. All the paranoia about what was and wasn't allowed sort of melted away when I realized that some of the restrictions don't necessarily make a ton of sense or, at the very least, there's room for debate among reasonable people on different sides of the issue.
First Pregnancy: Every Minute Is Preoccupied With Pregnancy Thoughts
Because all of this is very, very new, and each new sensation is something that requires reading up on. Of course there's also the issue that you may be uncomfortable AF and there's no really great way to distract yourself from that. Then, of course, there's the mental enormity of knowing that in a few short* months you're going to be a parent, and that is a massive, permanent change. It's basically like getting a tattoo, only the tattoo can walk and talk and you're responsible for its actions for at least 18 years, but emotionally for forever.
*in the grand scheme of things they're short, but more on that later.
Second Pregnancy: You Forget You're Pregnant Half The Time
Don't get it twisted: you're still usually abundantly aware you're pregnant. (When she was in utero, my darling daughter kept me nauseous for 24 weeks and then diabetic thereafter. THANKS SO MUCH BABY, NO, REALLY, YOU'RE AWESOME.)
However, unlike the first time around you're responsible for another small creature who actively seeks your attention and demands a great deal of your time and energy. It's very easy to get swept up in the vortex that is your "outside baby" and temporarily forget that you're growing a second.
First Pregnancy: You Feel Like You're Pregnant For Eternity
Honestly, my son is 5 right now and I feel like the years I have spent actually in his company have taken only slightly more time than actually carrying him to term did. 2011 was a long-ass year.
Second Pregnancy: You Feel Like You're Pregnant For Half Of Eternity
It still felt like it took forever, but compared to my first pregnancy (and this is corroborated by friends of mine who have also had more than one child) my second pregnancy flew by. It was a welcome change of pace.
First Pregnancy: You Act Like You're Made Of Porceline
Much like with being terrified of every morsel you put in your mouth, you're also scared that you're going to do something that will hurt your baby or yourself. Like... can you pick up that pillow over there? Is it too heavy? Can you exercise? I just bumped into someone on the subway: should I go to my OB. Is it paranoid and sort of ridiculous? Absolutely. Is it understandable? Of course! Not only are you new to this, but you've hauling some precious cargo in there.
Second Pregnancy: You Act Like You're A Bull In A China Shop
I'm pretty sure my 30 pound toddler spent half of my pregnancy sitting aloft my bump, gently kicking me (I was getting it from the inside and the outside, folks). I feel like once someone goes through birth, you realize how resilient your body is and that your pregnant self can handle way more than you gave yourself credit for the first time around.
Oh sure, you don't want to do anything crazy like ride roller coasters or sky dive, but you're less terrified that every little bump is going to do irrevocable damage to your darling little passenger.
First Pregnancy: You're Freaking Out Because You Don't Know What's Coming
HOW DO I CHANGE A DIAPER!? HOW MUCH DO BABIES EAT?! HOW WILL I KNOW THEY'VE EATEN ENOUGH?! HOW DO I PUT A BABY TO SLEEP?! WHAT IF THE BABY DOESN'T LIKE ME?! HOW DO YOU PUSH?! WHAT IF I FORGET TO TEACH THE BABY HOW TO TALK AND THEN THEY WON'T KNOW HOW TO COMMUNICATE AND OH MY GOD I'VE RUIN THE BABY'S LIFE ALREADY?! WHAT HAVE I DONE!?
(Yes, your pre-baby inner monologues are always in all caps because a part of you is always going to be panicking.)
Second Pregnancy: You're Freaking Out Because You Know Exactly What You're In For
It's not the unknown that worries you: it's being acutely aware of just how much work and energy will be required of you. It's like the difference between The Hunger Games and Catching Fire, when Katniss knew exactly how hard she would have to fight to survive.
May the odds be ever in your favor, friends.