OK, so being pregnant for the second time?
Nothing like the first.
Not in my case (so far), at least.
I had heard this, of course – that every pregnancy, like every child, is its own entity entirely – but I still figured…you know, nine months of gestation during which the same basic events take place in accordance with the same basic timeframe sounds like it would be pretty consistent from person to person. Turns out that’s not so, and the ways in which our baby-to-be’s individuality has manifested range from the totally superficial to the very real, even heart-wrenching.
In the former category: when I was pregnant the first time, I essentially ate like I did in my non-expecting life. Same stuff, same amounts…just the same. (Except there were lots of strawberries.) This time? Still lots of strawberries, with the added bonus that I am starving. I can’t eat a ton in any one sitting or I feel ill, but if more than a couple of hours go by and I haven’t consumed anything it is a real problem. Like, a stop-the-car problem.
And cravings? Got ’em! I would still appreciate a bizarre one or two to come along (because it sounds like so much fun to want, say, cream cheese-coated Funyuns sprinkled on chocolate bars and then EAT EXACTLY THAT), but I definitely have things that pop into my head and must be eaten right now. Like biscuits. Chocolate milk. Chocolate-chocolate-chip ice cream. Half-sour pickles. Tuna fish salad on warm bread.
And there’s this: I’m more chilled-out. It’s something that I sort of anticipated, because I heard you’re more relaxed with Number Two, but it’s a relief nonetheless. If I want to wear heels or bikinis or minidresses or muumuus or whatever looks good to me on any given day, on it goes, and I don’t really care whether anyone thinks it’s “appropriate” or not. If I’m out at dinner with my girlfriends and feel like a glass of wine, I’m going to have one. If I’m tired in the morning and a cup of coffee doesn’t sound like it’ll make me feel sick, a cup of coffee is what I’m drinking. It’s not that I actually thought that these things (in moderation, obviously) were “bad” the first time I was pregnant – I did my research, I talked to my doctors, and I knew that the DON’T BREATHE AIR THAT A PERSON WHO JUST DRANK BEER HAS BREATHED hysteria is much more about our societal puritanism than about anything else…but the reality is: I was afraid of being judged.
And I guess now I’m just…not. I feel confident in my choices. They’re careful, they’re reasoned, they’re sane, and – most of all – they’re mine. No one else’s.
And those are differences, but those aren’t The Big Difference. The Big Difference is a tougher one to talk about, because while it makes sense, it also makes me feel anxious. Guilty, even.
It rarely even occurs to me that I’m expecting another child. It’s not on my mind at all, and it was a thing that was very much on my mind every second of every day the first time we did this. And that makes me feel terrible, because I don’t want our second child to doubt for one moment how much we love him or her, how much he or she will matter and change our lives in grand and beautiful ways…
But I just can’t think about it right now. I don’t feel The Wonder Of Pregnancy, because my mind is full to exploding with life As It Is, with all the worries and joys and experiences that come along with guiding a toddler through his days, with marriage and work and what to make for dinner and how to get the car over that snow drift.
And I suspect that it’s not just me who feels this way, because a couple of weeks ago I got an email from a friend who’s expecting her second child any day now, and when I asked her how it was going her response was this: “No time to think about being pregnant. We are going to be like, holy shit we’re having a baby when we are in the hospital.”
An email from another friend who just welcomed her second: “When I was [pregnant for the second time], I felt nothing. I loved to feel him kick and move, but in a general ‘this is cool’ way. It wasn’t magical and enchanting like the first time.”
Being pregnant the second time around is cool, definitely. Magical, though?
Not exactly. Certainly not like the first time. I know what’s happening and I know where it’s headed, and that doesn’t make the destination any less exciting…but I’ve already seen the landscape that’s rolling past outside my window, and I don’t have time to sit there and watch the flowers go by. My job right now is to get the car from one place to the next, and those flowers will keep on growing regardless of whether I’m staring at them and reveling in how pretty they are or not.
A whole new compartment will open up in my heart when this baby is born, a compartment so enormous I won’t understand where it came from or how it could fit inside me at all. I know that. But right now, right this minute, it can be hard to remember; it’s hard to find the time or the space or the energy to lay back and breathe along with my baby the way I did the first time, to spend hours reading the books and surfing the websites and just dreaming. And I suppose that might make me sad if I had time to think much more about it, but I don’t, and so what we’re going to do is trust in the future and trust in our family and know that where we are headed is The Great (And Wonderful) Unknown.
And besides, there’s this: last night, I felt a kick. I tried to do a sit-up, and my child reacted to this exceptionally rare event in exactly the way that I would imagine a child of mine should: by protesting with a swift kick to the ribs. Sure, it seems early to feel a kick. And I’m not even positive that’s what it was – it could have been, I don’t know, my stomach gurgling – but…I’m pretty certain.
Because in that moment, laying alone on the floor of my darkened bedroom and feeling my baby move for the very first time?
Magic is exactly what it was.