motherhood

9 Ways That Pregnancy is Different the Second Time Around

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I am really good at being pregnant. During my first pregnancy I was a champion student— I read every book and article, I took every class and I hung on to advice given to me by those mothers who came before me. Just a few of the topics every pregnant woman is sure to find herself Googling include:

When does morning sickness end?

Can I eat _____?

Signs of Labor

What does a real contraction feel like?

On the research front, I had it covered. Then, I had my son and had to learn a whole new skillset: Parenting. These learning moments come in waves and I just recently (after 2.5 years of toddler bliss) started a new one: Parenting While Pregnant. Holy moly things are different this time around. How did I have time to read so much about mucus plugs and pre-eclampsia before? They say every pregnancy is different and that is the truth! Here’s all the ways that pregnancy is different your second time around.

1. You Will Look Pregnant 5 Minutes After Conceiving

Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch. But that bump comes fast when your uterus already knows what to do. During your first pregnancy you stare at yourself in the mirror at 16 weeks pregnant telling yourself that there’s no way it’s gas bloat and that you do have a bump. At 16 weeks your second time around, you look (and may even feel) like you’re 22 weeks.

2. You Will Eat Whatever You Please

Everything in moderation is a good motto to go by, but when you’ve already been through this rodeo you know that obsessing over every single thing you eat doesn’t have to be your norm. For my first pregnancy, my body was a temple that no soft cheese, sushi, coffee, Diet Coke or lunch meat shall enter. This time, the recommended caffeine intake is something I follow religiously (yes, I ration out my small cups of coffee throughout the day to survive), I realized Diet Coke helps my morning sickness, and if I want to eat something, as long as I’m getting it from somewhere that doesn’t have a B Health Grade or from a gas station, I’m good.

3. You Don’t Sweat the Body Changes as Much

With my first pregnancy I gained 40 pounds and stressed about swelling, stretch marks and varicose veins. This time around, ehhhh not a big deal. It took me a while to lose the weight and feel comfortable in my skin again, but it did happen so I’m not going to stress out.

4. You Treasure Sleep More Than Anything

Okay, you treasure your first born and your partner, but if your first-born kid is like mine, then sleep is fickle and far from reliable. I’m with you on missing that much needed sleep at night. Also…

5. You Really Miss Pregnancy Naps

Like, really. I napped A LOT when I was pregnant the first time around. This time, if my husband takes the toddler to play so I can get some mid-day shut eye it’s like my own personal version of a party.

6. Your Symptoms May Be Different

No two pregnancies are cookie cutter, so it only makes sense that your symptoms are different the second time— unless you are like my unicorn friends who manage to “feel great” their whole pregnancy, but that’s another story. For example, I never experienced a migraine in my life until I was pregnant with Baby #2 and HOLY. CRAP. Ouch.

7. You Don’t Worry About the Birth That Much

So, I realize this one is really subjective, if you had a stressful birth experience prior to this pregnancy you may have prenatal anxiety, which is totally normal, but if you are like me, and you had a positive birth experience the first time, you know it’s going to hurt like hell, but it is SO WORTH IT (you also already know how awesome mesh undies and adult diapers are).

8. You Realize the Baby Crap You Don’t Need

First pregnancies are exciting for many reasons and one of them is that you get to buy (or be bought) a ton of baby stuff from toys to swaddles and from things like The Windi or a Pee Pee Tee Pee. Seasoned mamas know what essentials they need, all of the clutter that doesn’t even work and the reality that your kid doesn’t need much but mommy and milk for the first 6 months anyway. *However, if something amazing came out since my baby was a baby, then you’re right that I’m going to definitely buy it

9. You Know Mother’s Love

Having a baby is the craziest experience ever, becoming a mom is one of those surreal, magical things that can’t be put into words. You feel so connected to this little person that you grew inside of you and reciprocally, they love you more than anything in the world right back. I had a lot of anxiety the first time around about being a “good mom” and whether I’d be doing things “right.” I can assure you there have been days where I’m not a good mom, I definitely don’t do everything right and my kiddo still loves me nonetheless. I just can’t wait to share that love with another baby— and watch my first born (hopefully) fall in love, too!

We all have our own parenting experiences, pregnancy experiences, birth stories, battle scars, parenting styles and philosophies, but I think it’s safe to say it’s different for everyone the second time around. Now, I’ll get back to you if we ever decide to do this for a third time.

The "M" Word

It was a Tuesday afternoon. I was counting down the days and finally, I was in the chair in the ultrasound room getting ready to see our second baby for the first time. Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” was playing softly over the speakers, I was cold and definitely uncomfortable with my feet up in the stirrups— why does this have to feel so awkward, I thought. I watched as the ultrasound technician began to show us our baby. She looked and prodded and after what felt like forever, eventually said, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t find a heartbeat.” My face became hot and I squinted my eyes while looking at the screen— willing it to show a heartbeat and begging God that this was an oversight. I couldn’t look at my husband, this would be our second loss in a row and although I know that I did nothing to cause it personally, I felt responsible for the pain we both were feeling in the moment.

30 minutes before I was sitting in that room I was dancing down the hallway to my appointment, I was texting my mom and friends that I was at the office and I was talking to my husband about the type of fruit our baby compared to that week. In an instant, this little soul that was a part of me and a part of our family was gone.

When it comes to women and their bodies people don’t like to talk about these private things that women experience— periods, abortions, miscarriages, the list goes on. Miscarriages are hard to talk about because it’s about the little people who we hoped and prayed for, who we loved with our whole hearts that we never even got to meet. From the moment that we got the positive test it was like we were in preparation mode to bring this new little life into our family— already discussing double strollers, where to buy the nursery furniture and what names we liked. I had trained myself to get used to my one cup of coffee a day and I had already gotten used to passing on the glass of wine at dinner for an iced tea. We discussed how great of a big brother our son would be and all of these ideas on how to announce we were having another child.

The thing that is the most disconcerting about miscarriage is that leading up to it there is nothing but plans for the future and in an instant those plans are just gone and all of a sudden you aren’t really pregnant anymore. You are expected to continue to go about your life like things are normal, go to work and the grocery store, make small talk with strangers about the weather, shower, sleep, and rinse and repeat. People have no idea what you’re going through, they have no idea that you want to just scream or cry, or both.  If you’re like me, you’ve made a well-informed decision with your doctor and set up an appointment to say goodbye. Everyone you come into contact with that has read your file gives you the look of empathy and sorrow— these are not easy procedures for them either. You say a prayer, take the anesthesia and after that you try your damnedest to begin to heal in all ways possible.

I share this story not to receive empathy or sorrow— I share this for two very important reasons: First, I’m not the first woman to have a miscarriage, I definitely won’t be the last and I want to put it out in the universe that even though this is an incredibly isolating experience, if you are going through this you are not alone. If there is one thing that I have learned through this it’s that I am surrounded by so many strong women who have this secret held close to their hearts— that they lost a baby, too. And strangely I found comfort in knowing that I was not alone in my experience. Second, I want to honor this baby that was almost ours. We were so close to announcing to the world that we were having another baby and even though we never made it to that point, I still want people to know that he/she existed.

I’d like to think that my first-born child is my sweet ray of sunshine, my baby that I never got to meet is now a twinkling star in the heavens, and one day, we will get our rainbow.

The Problem With Being Sorry

Toddlers go to the beat of their own drum, they genuinely only care about what is in their best interest and they leave a lot of crumbs behind. Let’s be real here, they have a lot to say “I’m sorry” for, but sometimes I really don’t want my child to be sorry.

Recently we were stuck on a plane due to bad weather. This led to us being up in the air an extra 40 minutes and sitting on the ground for an extra hour due to lightning. In that moment, any parent can empathize what it’s like to fly with a toddler, but a toddler that has been stuck on the same plane for four hours—Lord help us. Somehow my child remained calm, sat on our laps and watched Finding Nemo like it was any old Monday. Then I shuffled and I knocked the iPad on the ground, to which my toddler looked up to me with big eyes and said “I sorry.”

“I’m sorry” is probably one of the most annoying phrases that I have in my everyday vocabulary. My boss tells me about an annoying conversation she had with someone and I say, “I’m sorry!” My husband drops something and I say, “I’m sorry!” Someone in the grocery store bumps into me and I say, “I’m sorry!” That phrase, commonplace and familiar sneaks its way into my every day conversations and has become so routine and involuntary it’s as prevalent in my every day life as saying “Bless you” when someone sneezes.

Toddler’s are sponges. That’s why we spell out cuss words, try not to watch Game of Thrones when our kid is awake and it’s why eating chocolate behind closed doors is a very real thing as a parent. My son plays with my make up brushes, he drags my purse around the house and he pretends to mow the lawn alongside my husband. My child wants to clean when I clean, read when I read and God forbid I’m on my phone, he wants to play on that, too. It should be no surprise that he’s picked up on the monotonous phrase, “I’m sorry” too.

Don’t get me wrong, there are definitely times that I want him to apologize. When he throws a toy at the dog, when he slaps me on the head in the deli line at the grocery store, when he throws a banana on the ground (only after asking for a banana in the first place)— all times that I would LOVE an apology even though let’s be honest, toddlers are never really sorry. It’s those other “Sorrys” the ones that aren’t really merited because it’s not your fault. Maybe this goes far beyond our kids. Maybe this is a little bit of a wake up call for all of us—apologize when you did something wrong and have a little faith that sometimes it’s okay to not be sorry, too.

9 Ways My Sorority Prepared Me for Motherhood

"From the outside looking in, you can never understand it. From the inside looking out, you can never explain it."

As I get older and (I’d like to think) wiser, I can’t help but look back on the road that led me to where I am today. I only graduated with my undergraduate degree four years ago, but being married and a mom makes it feel like it has been three times as long. Instead of drinking wine out of a bag I go for a moderately priced bottle, and my evenings are spent picking up toddler toys and cuddling on the couch with my husband instead of doing whiskey shots and dancing to bad top 40’s music.

I always was designated the “mom” of my friend groups, not in that I always carried the Advil, was the first to show up with ice cream during a break-up, or because I really knew how to rock some high waisted jeans, but because I just always felt that it was a part of who I was. When I was pregnant I took classes, I read books, and I consulted with online mom groups way more than I’d like to admit. Here I am now, the parent of a 14 month old in the trenches of toddlerhood, wondering how I made it through my first year and how I learned to parent. Then I had an unbelievable revelation: my sorority prepared me for motherhood.

You’re probably imagining every awful stereotype that has been perpetuated by the film industry and the news, but that’s what those are, stereotypes. I gained so many valuable life-lessons from being a part of my sorority, and so many of those can be applied to motherhood.

1. I can withstand impressive volumes and decibels of noise

There is no noise level like the noise level of a room of 150 girls before a chapter meeting. Nothing except the noise of a toddler running rampant on a bunch of Fisher Price toys. Not only am I embedded with the ability to handle decibels of that caliber, I can also command a room of loud college girls or toddlers within seconds.

2. I am all about singing songs

I still love the songs we sang in my chapter; I sing them to my child pretty often. Especially a lullaby which (in my most wishful of thinking) would put my child to sleep. Either way, those recruitment songs with their catchy beats and hand motions and clapping trained me perfectly for what I endure on a daily basis. If You’re Happy and You Know It? Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star? Literally any Disney hit from the past 30 years? Get on my level, y’all.

3. I can pull an all nighter and still fully function the following day

All nighters in college and all nighters as a parent are two different worlds. One thing that they do have in common is that every time I’ve done it, I’ve been surprised that I survived. I would like to thank my days as a sorority girl for my ability to withstand functioning on two hours of sleep with a boxed wine hangover all while volunteering at 8 a.m. I now stay away from the boxed wine and drink the good stuff, but this is just as applicable when you're parenting with a hangover. I would also like to thank my days as a sleep deprived sorority girl for teaching me how to utilize dry shampoo and make myself look like a human being. Seriously, I'd be nothing without you. 

Advice for new moms: Invest in dry shampoo before you even make it into the third trimester of pregnancy, you’ll thank me later.

4. I recognize the importance of tradition

Something that I’ve always loved about my organization is that is was built on such foundational traditions. When I was initiated, my organization had been around for 113 years. That’s 113 years of holding up values and sisterhood, 113 years of unconditional love and service to the community. Starting traditions that hold true within my own family is something that is so important to me because when I’m old and senile looking back at the start of our family, I’ll know again just how important those traditions are and how much they help you to grow.

5. Crafting is a necessary skill in life

I’ve always been on the crafty side of things. I’m not an artist by any stretch, but I am pretty damn creative and I can get crafty when I need to. My child is only a toddler, so the crafting only goes so far at the moment with Halloween costumes and homemade decorations for his first birthday party. If my obsessive crafting for twins (twin littles, that is) taught me anything it's that I need to always use a stencil when it comes to lettering, and that crafting is good for the soul. Stay tuned for some future science projects, because they’ll be f*cking epic.

6. Catty Girls are a fact of life

Sigh. Catty girls are everywhere, from sorority rivalries to the playground. Women can be plain mean. Luckily from years of tight-lipped smiles, backhanded compliments, and knowing when and when not to bite back, I’ve carried with me the skills necessary to take on the mean girls, even if those girls are also members of the PTA.

7. There is strength in numbers

Not all women are catty and competitive when it comes to recruitment and not all women are catty and competitive when it comes to motherhood (although I legit do not care that your little angel was walking at 6 months and sleeping through the night since birth). Half the battle of getting through motherhood comes from support from my friends. Friends who are also my sisters, friends who have kids, and even friends who don’t. It’s a hell of a lot easier to get through the B.S. and celebrate the big wins when you have your tribe by your side.

8. Squad Gear

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From the moment I accepted my bid I imagined myself with my letters. I then immediately plastered them on everything: my car, my purse, my outfits, hell I even had a belly button ring with Greek letters on it (not my proudest moment). Little to my surprise, I did the same thing when I found out I was pregnant. I traded in my lavalier in for a necklace with my child's initial on it, and I swear within minutes of seeing those pink lines I was ready to order every “mama bear” product they had on Etsy. Zero shame up in this game.

9. Sorority Wardrobe and Mom Wardrobe Go Hand in Hand

Speaking of mom shirts, let’s talk about how my sorority prepared me for the greatest thing of all: looking cute AND comfy. Am I aware that walking around in a huge t-shirt and running shorts (that I never run in) makes me look like I rolled out of bed? Yes. Do I care? No. I dressed like that in college on campus and it was socially acceptable. Now that I’m a mom I can do the same exact thing and it’s still acceptable. Beautiful. Half the time I think the barista at Starbucks is impressed when she sees that I put on mascara or that I'm wearing a shirt that matches.

My sorority gave me so many amazing memories, incredible friends, and to my amazement, the skill set I needed to take on the craziest sisterhood of all: motherhood. 

9 Skills You Should Add to Your Mom Resume

This past May I graduated with my Masters Degree. My son was eight months old and we both managed to get through my grad school experience unscathed. I’ve done the working mom gig, and since my graduation I have done the stay at home mom gig. There are pros and cons with both, but anyone who tells you that a stay at home mom doesn’t “work” deserves to step on a Lego and have a food pouch squeezed into their hair. Despite what many think, I don’t hang out around the house all day watching Netflix, snacking, and playing with my toddler. I am a one-woman circus whose job is: to entertain my miniature boss, to find something that he will actually like to eat, and to clean my house when he sleeps. I don’t always get a lunch break but I’ve come to find that, on occasion, I can instead combine lunch and dinner. I call it “Linner” and it’s classy…like brunch.

Working moms don’t have it easy either. They have to return to work too early postpartum, shell out hundreds and thousands for child care, miss their kids while they’re at work, and then when they return home from their “day job” they keep working as a mom. Working moms work doubles, and their only breaks come from going to bathroom alone or hiding in the kitchen pantry to eat a piece of cheesecake. Well, maybe all moms do that.

As I continue applying for jobs out in the “real world” I’m often asked about my skills, my strengths, and my weaknesses. Being that my current employer stands 2.5 feet tall and calls me “mama” I’ve come to find that all moms, stay at home, working, work from home, and otherwise have a whole set of skills they develop on the job, and dammit I’m giving mom’s credit where credit is due. From the moment you trudge through the hell of labor and you become a mom you develop these “super powers” that become second nature to you. Here is a list of skills and strengths that every mom should consider adding to their resume for the toughest job out there:

1. Research

Before you even have your little bundle of joy you will read and research as much as possible. By the time I was in labor I felt like I was an expert on pregnancy. I’ll let you know when I feel like I’m an expert on parenting.

2. Active Listening

You not only have the ability to take in large quantities of information and remember every detail, you also have the super human skills to listen to your child in a separate room of the house, and because they have no concept of knowing that sound travels, you know what they are doing without seeing them.

3. Decision Making

Whether it’s choosing your child’s outfit for the day, deciding what to make for lunch, or choosing the best baby carrier, you are a champion at decision making. You know how to analyze a situation and break it down to get a result ASAP. And nothing says efficient decision making quite like a hungry toddler.

4. Time Management

“I don’t know how you do it.” Color coding my calendar and lots of coffee, my friend. Moms take on a whole new form of superhero when it comes to time-management. Whether you are juggling being a working mom, a student mom, or a stay at home mom, we all have done that juggling act that merits a big glass of wine at the end of the day. I don’t care who you are or what you do, NO ONE multitasks like a mom.

5. Critical Thinking

Moms are always using critical thinking when analyzing situations, solutions, and approaches to problems. I might as well have made an entire PowerPoint presentation when considering my son’s sleep situation when he was an infant, and I could have made an entirely new one based on other big parenting decisions like day care, food planning, and even the best methods of getting ready to leave the house for the day.

6. Negotiation

My toddler can only say five or so words, but dammit he is good at negotiation already. As a mother you learn to choose your battles, and when you do go in to battle, you can negotiate bedtime, what’s for dinner, and screen time like a boss.

7. Active Learning

No matter how many books you read, or how many classes you take you can’t learn to be a parent without actually experiencing it. As a parent, you take in all of that information you learned from those who parented before you and books you read, then you just roll with it when you become a parent yourself. Everyday you learn more and more about how to take care of this tiny human, and you do it all by learning hands on.

8. Problem Solving

You forgot a toy when you got into the car with the baby and you are already down the road so you grab an empty water bottle for them to play with. You forgot a breast milk bottle when you went to work so you pump into a cleaned out Diet Coke bottle. You’re out to eat and your child decides they are distracted want to crawl around, you gear up that pre-loaded Disney movie on your phone and let it ride. Moms know how to problem solve like no other.

9.Team Player

No one is a team player like a parent. From the moments my husband started telling me I didn’t look like a whale when I pregnant, to labor, and to gassy baby cries and toddler tantrums, you learn to be part of the parenthood dream team. Picture that scene where Tom Selleck, Steve Guttenberg, and Ted Danson are super dads tossing bottles and changing diapers in Three Men and a Baby. Something like that. Either way, you know how to quickly pick up on other people’s skills and make it work.

Whether you’re a stay at home mom who is thinking about getting back out into the work force, or you are a working mom who wants to elaborate on her resume, you have one of the hardest and most rewarding jobs out there. And let’s face it, no one can do it like a mom can.