Pregnancy is full of worries and happiness. It’s a perfect mix of joy and fear no matter how many times you have been pregnant.
But, if you are about to have your second child (or third or fourth…), having the experience of the first pregnancy and delivery give you a little more knowledge to lean on to alleviate your worries.
The first time I had a child, I had no clue (not a single one!) about what it would be like. I’d barely held a child, was an abysmal babysitter as a teenager and had never even changed a diaper.
I knew from the endless onslaught of unsolicited advice that my life would change in ways I couldn’t imagine (both good and bad). I just had no frame of reference on which bits of advice to listen to.
My first pregnancy was not easy. The experience was full of discomfort ranging from endless sickness (9 months worth), exhaustion, headaches, terrible heartburn and a child kicking and pressing on my ribs so hard I could barely breathe.
We jokingly called him a parasite, though technically that’s not far from the truth. I’d smile when I could outline his foot protruding in my belly or when he’d roll around like an acrobat. The experience wasn’t all bad – it’s just so easy to remember and dwell on the negative. But as my due date came and went, I swore I would never do it again.
Fast forward a bit and I’m a week past due and after 22 hours of unmedicated labor, a child was suddenly on my chest. 24 hours past that, we were home, thrown into life together without any real training or support system (both my husband and my families live at least 3 hours away).
Through endless trial and error (which I think will be a constant as a parent), we made it through and my son is now 2.5-years-old. Trust me when I say there are many stories to be told in that timeframe, but I will save those for another time. And, in spite of my vow to never go through pregnancy again, I’m due in 4 months with our second (and final) son.
The differences between the pregnancies are immense, but the largest changes are the differing worries about having a child – because: hurray, we’ve done it before! I know at least the baseline of what to expect, if not the personality and tendencies of our second child.
When I had heartburn, it wasn’t a surprise. When I was kicked and pummeled from the inside, I had actually been expecting them to hurt more. And, I was not surprised (especially with a toddler running around) at how tired I was throughout the entire pregnancy.
My biggest, looming fear was for the delivery with my first child. It was such a mystery to me what happened behind closed doors of the maternity ward. I didn’t even let myself watch too many birth videos and never even took a birthing class. After an unmedicated birth, I knew how much pain I was about to be in and what a challenge recovery can be.
This time around, I’m less worried about what to eat, what not to eat, how much sleep I need (because I have another child – what IS sleep?), and all the other nagging questions and concerns that kept me up at night with my first pregnancy.
Now, I worry about making sure my oldest knows he is still just as loved, just as special, just as amazing when he has a baby brother. I worry that even if our bond remains unchanged for me, he will feel neglected as I care for a needy newborn.
It’s funny to look back over the years and know that although my sanity, marriage and ability to feel like a good mother have all been put through the ringer, I have a beautiful family, and it’s about to get bigger.
If there is one thing I would suggest new mothers take to heart (yes my own unsolicited advice), I would say that the love you feel for your child is the greatest and most powerful thing you will ever experience. Everything else will work itself out, both the bad and the good.