Having a second baby is a lot like vacationing at a familiar place. You know where to go, what to avoid, and you know for the most part, what to expect. Pregnancy the second time around can be confusing, however, because even though you've done it before, it can feel different, and it might come with some stops you didn't visit during your last stay at Pregnantville.
Here are some things that no one bothers to tell you about your second pregnancy- the good, the bad, the bloated:
13 You'll Recognize It Sooner
Pregnancy the next time around often the begins the same way that the first did. Running to the bathroom more than usual? Sore breasts out of nowhere? Slightly nauseated for no reason? The first time you felt this way you wondered if you had eaten something wrong, or drank too much iced tea. When you begin to experience these this time, your mind will most likely wonder if you're pregnant again.
With my first baby I had no idea I was pregnant until I took a pregnancy test. I had some symptoms, sure, but I thought they could be explained away by what I ate that day or how I slept the night before. With my second pregnancy, I knew before I even bought the pregnancy test that it would be positive.
Those same symptoms were back, and this time I could feel the difference. I actually felt pregnant, and though it's not easily explainable, if you've felt it before then you'll know what I'm talking about. The combination of slight nausea, sore breasts, and mild cramping with no sign of a period begin to make an undeniable case for being with child once you've done it before.
12 It Can Be Exactly the Same Or the Opposite
Growing a human is a big deal for your body. It's hard work to create a person, and your body can either react the same way it did the first time, or not. For example, with both of my pregnancies I had morning sickness that began exactly at week six and ended at week 18. Even though this was the same, I carried each pregnancy differently (with the first I gained weight only in my stomach, and with the last it was distributed all over my body, including my face- THANK YOU second child!)
Even though the hormonal levels in your body are roughly the same with each pregnancy, how your body reacts to them can vary. With one pregnancy you might have a lot of acne, and with the next your skin might be completely clear with a healthy glow. Each child is a different person, and so it makes sense that your pregnancy would be a reflection of this.
You might notice the differences of the movements of each child in the womb as well. My first son was much more active in the womb, and I could count on feeling his acrobatics at a certain time every evening. My second son was more calm with his movements, and though he moved just as often, he would often stretch instead of kick.
I must warn you however, that this does not really predict much after birth. Both of my boys are very active now, and the younger has more than made up for his lack of activity in utero!
11 Morning Sickness With An Audience
So, the first time around when you had your head hanging over the toilet, it wasn't pleasant, but at least you had your dignity. You could vomit in private, and even lay down after if you needed to, provided you were at home. Morning sickness with a toddler or child, however, is very different.
This time around you'll have a set of little eyes on you, asking you what you're doing, perplexed by your sickness. They'll want to know if you're really sick, or if they can help. They might even imitate you, though let's all hope that they stop short on the follow through.
If your first child is younger, it might be confusing or even scary to see you feeling under the weather. It's best to prepare them ahead of time, but keep it simple. Saying something like "Mommy might feel sick from time to time, but I am ok. It means that Mommy is working hard to grow a baby for you to play with. Don't worry about me, I'm going to be just fine."
You might need to remind your child this each time you're sick, especially if they are younger or more sensitive to others.
10 You Will Be More Tired
Not only are you exhausted from the sheer act of being pregnant and making a human, but now you're creating life AND sustaining the life you've already created. Pregnancy the second time around is exhausting, especially if your first child is three or younger. The needs of a toddler are many, and they still expect you to continue at the pace you have been since, well, they were born.
They won't comprehend what it all truly means for you, and the physical evidence of a sibling is too far off in the distance to make sense to them. So this unfortunately means that you either power through, or call in some reinforcements to help. If the idea of going to the park on a sweltering day is too much to bear, why not delegate this activity to the grandparents?
Have a good girlfriend that has a child yours can play with? Why not host a playdate so that you can visit while the kids play? Now is the time to get creative with keeping your little one entertained while you get the rest you need. Puzzles, coloring, and art activities are all great options for quiet indoor play.
9 No One Is As Excited (As You)
With your first baby, friends and relatives can hardly contain their excitement. You're constantly peppered with questions and the countdown to the due date is all anyone can talk about (or call you about, once it's come and gone). It's a time of anticipation and baby showers with attention centered on you and your new addition.
With the second baby, people are excited, sure--but it's not on the same level. I'm not sure if it's because it is assumed if you have one, then you'll have another (that's a wrong assumption to make for so many reasons), or because people just get their baby fix the first time around.
For whatever reason, the fuss is less for the next baby, and that can be sad for the mom to be, who is probably just as excited this time around as she was with the first. Usually showers are only hosted for first babies (unless it's a different sex the next time around), and over all it can feel as though the second baby is less celebrated in general.
Don't let this stop you from celebrating with your own sweet little family of three though! A small party that celebrates your first child's transition to becoming a sibling is a great way to celebrate the new baby on the way as well as make your little one feel special and important.
8 You Will Forget You're Pregnant
I know, I know, this one seems crazy. It's true though! Some days you'll be so busy with work or taking care of your child that you will completely forget you've got one on the way. For first time moms so much attention is placed on the unborn baby. You pay attention to every little kick and jab and spend time talking to your belly.
There's time to dream of the future, and plan ahead for all of those things you'll want to experience with the baby. First beach trips, vacations to theme parks, it's all ahead of you, and you feel excited just imagining the years ahead of you.
Once you've got a toddler, the time to dream and plan for your next baby's life is significantly less. Suddenly your time is monopolized by a little person who demands that their toast be the perfect shade of brown. Your plans for the future center around how to get two children to sleep around the same time every evening, and how to create an environment where neither of them feel left out.
Don't feel bad, this is all very normal and actually necessary to make sure that the transition to two kids goes smoothly. Once the baby is here and you've got a handle on things, you'll go back to daydreaming about family vacations again, I promise.
7 You're Not As Strict (With Yourself)
With my first pregnancy I followed every rule about pregnancy there was and probably a few I created on my own. I never drank anything but water or decaffeinated coffee (and even that was rare, because I knew there was still caffeine in decaf), and I ate a healthy variety of foods that made up the recommended diet for pregnancy.
I'm not saying that during my second pregnancy I ate poorly, but I was certainly less strict with myself. I still avoided soft cheeses and too much caffeine, but I ate a lot more food that I would have turned my nose up at the first time around (hello chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese).
Time is a factor in this as well, because it is simply more difficult to find the time to carefully prepare every meal when you're responsible for feeding a toddler or child as well. So, sometimes things slide. With the second pregnancy you're more relaxed about some things simply because you know how overboard you went the first time around.
For example, the first time around my doctor told me that soda was ok in small moderation. I wouldn't consider it then- but with a toddler exhausting me in the middle of the day when I just wanted to nap? I looked forward to my early afternoon six ounce can of soda when I needed it, and I didn't allow myself to feel guilty about it.
Always ask your doctor about diet recommendations during pregnancy though, and I'm sure we can all agree that drugs, drinking, and smoking do not ever mix with pregnancy, so avoid those entirely.
6 Doctor Visits Are A Breeze
With baby #1 that first phone call to the OB felt monumental. You waited impatiently for that first visit, and when they told you about the whole internal ultrasound thing you probably freaked out a bit, even if you seemed outwardly calm. Blood tests,measurements, and monthly followed by weekly visits all seem daunting the first time around. Then there's the whole physical exam thing, and feeling like your annual pap smear has become a weekly event.
The second time around none of this is even a worry. You know what that first appointment entails and instead of dreading the internal ultrasound you are excited to see the first picture of your tiny baby. If you have the same doctor, your relationship with him or her has now hopefully grown into a comfortable friendship in which you can have complete trust in their ability to deliver your baby into the world safely.
Routine tests and exams no longer make you nervous, and everything feels much more comfortable. You feel confident, and it's a nice change since the first time around.
5 You'll Worry You Won't Love the New Baby the Same
Your first baby made you a mother. He or she introduced you to motherhood, and expanded your definition of love beyond anything you had ever dreamed. You love this child more than life itself, and your heart belongs to them. How can you love another baby the same? All second time mothers worry about this.
It is hard to imagine another baby- this baby you don't know and haven't met yet, filling your heart with love the same way your first baby did and continues to do.
You will love the new baby exactly the same. It's as if every baby born leaves you with another entirely new heart just for them, which I know sounds a bit corny. I'm not saying the love will be immediate, and perhaps it wasn't for your first born either. They are people that take time to get to know, and it's not worth putting that pressure on yourself to instantly feel all the things within the first days or weeks after birth.
With time, bonding, and allowing yourself permission to feel just as head over heels in love with this baby as your first, you will find that there's always enough love to go around. It's one of those mysteries of motherhood. You think by having more children, that your love will be divided. It isn't. It's multiplied.
4 You Won't Be As Scared Of Birth
With my first born I spent a lot of my pregnancy avoiding thinking about birth. During my final weeks of pregnancy I read many novels and magazines on the couch, anything to keep my mind busy and off of the inevitable labor and birth pain that lay ahead. The funny thing is though, after I went through labor and birth, the fear of it all dissipated.
Once I was pregnant with my second child I no longer worried about the birthing process. I had complete confidence in my doctor, and in my own ability to hand the pain. I didn't create a birth plan, or worry about whether or not to ask for an epidural. I trusted my body and I trusted myself to make the right decision when it was needed.
Even though birth is an unpredictable thing, and can be intimidating no matter how many times you've gone through it, there is comfort in knowing that you've survived it once and you can do it again. This time around you know that you can advocate for yourself and are more confident when asking for what makes you most comfortable during and after birth. This is one of the many perks of the been-there-done-that stage of childbearing. There's less worry and fear, and we can all agree that's a definite benefit.
3 You've Got Mom Confidence Now
Now that you've already had a baby, not much will be new to you. Colic? You've been there and done that, your passport is stamped. Breastfeeding? You've got a brand new tube of nipple cream, and your nursing bras are washed and ready to go.
Formula feeding? You know which brand didn't give your first baby gas and you're going to start with that one first. All of the things that felt like huge decisions the first time around are merely details now. Your mom confidence (momfidence?) is off the charts, you're not a rookie anymore.
When friends of yours announce their first pregnancies, they call you for your advice on products and pediatricians. It is a good and well-earned feeling to know that you are able to handle the challenge of a newborn because you've already succeeded the first time. This benefits your new baby as well, because when a mother is relaxed, so is baby. You've got this!
2 You're Even More Excited To Meet Baby
Once you've met your first child you realize that you didn't just have a baby--you had a person. A person with his or her own personality, and you can't imagine loving them more. Every little brow furrow or tiny squeak is reason to kiss that tiny forehead and snuggle in closer. With the second baby, you know that these sweet moments are on the way. You've got the luxury of looking past the worries that a first time mom has, and focusing on the sweet moments that make motherhood so special.
Will the new baby look like his or her sibling? Will they have the same temperament and hatred for bath time? What will be the secret recipe for getting this one to sleep? All of these questions that can only be answered by the tiny little one you're carrying make it all the more exciting to meet him or her. You'll look forward to your first face to face meeting with your second baby in the same way that you did with your first, with the bonus of knowing how wonderful it will be ahead of time.
1 You'll Be Relaxed (As Much As You Can Be) During Labor
Once you know what labor feels like, it is no longer something unknown to fear. With my first born as soon as I felt that first contraction, I began timing each one with excitement, and headed into the hospital much earlier than I would if I could go back and do it again. And so when I did have to do it again, I let myself labor at home for a long while (almost too long!) before I went in to the hospital.
The second time around, nothing is too surprising to you. The hospital admission process, walking around the maternity wing to speed up dilation- all of it feels delightfully familiar. And this familiarity with this once scary experience allows a mother-to-be the luxury of relaxing.
My husband and I enjoyed joking with one another (in between contractions of course) as we made the rounds of the maternity wing and reminisced about pushing our first son in the plastic bassinet out of the delivery room two years before. I felt relaxed and a sense of excitement that had been overshadowed by fear the first time.
Try and enjoy the moments of labor that you can the second time around- it provides priceless memories that you'll forever cherish when looking back at this special time.
The bottom line is, enjoy each pregnancy for what it is- the only time you will have holding your child in a way that you'll never be able to again. Take the good with the bad, knowing that it is temporary, and soon you will have another beautiful baby in your arms that you cannot imagine life without.