parenting

9 Ways That Pregnancy is Different the Second Time Around

AdobeStock_104443188-1.jpg

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.

The 5 Stages of Sleepless Nights & Holiday Traveling with Your Children

It seems that every time my family travels somewhere my child loses his ability to sleep. Usually by the end of a trip he kind of begins to grasp the concept, but even then toddlers are unpredictable creatures, when you think they’re going to zig they zag, and when you think they’re going to zag they just throw their sippy cup on the ground and do their best banshee impression. The holidays bring out the inevitable, the decorations, the festive sweaters, all the carbs, being forced to listen to your Trump loving uncle’s tirade about the election, and of course, the travel. Many travel to see their loved ones around the holidays and if your child is anything like mine, he or she may not do so well sleeping away from home two doors down from Aunt Betty who snores loud enough to wake the dead. And because sleep is necessary for parents to function here are some stages to help you cope with the inevitability that your kid will not sleep during your holiday trip home to see your folks:

Denial

“This year it will be different.” It’s sweet really, but it’s naïve. Right off the bat you may be optimistic that your little ray of sunshine will have no sleep problems while your away— this is something that I swear children feed off of. The moment you have this twinkle of positive thinking in your eye is when they strike. And by strike I mean quite literally they go on strike and stop sleeping. Denial is all part of the process, but just ride it out because you have a rollercoaster of emotions ahead of you.

Anger

Usually by night two or three this hits. “WHY WON’T HE JUST SLEEP?!” I know you don’t mean to feel this insurmountable anger, but sleep deprivation will do that to a person. The worst part? Junior will not accept a bedtime routine from anyone else but you, so while your family and friends are downstairs playing games, drinking some of grandpa’s homemade wine, and sharing stories, you’re stuck in a bedroom singing “Let it Snow” for the 13th time because you literally can’t think of any other song to sing.

Bargaining

My child is still too young to understand the concept of Santa, but I’m putting this in my back pocket for the future. “Santa will go on Amazon Prime right now and make sure you have _____ on Christmas morning if you just go to the f to sleep.” I’m not above bribing with cookies and Daniel Tiger, and I’m certainly not above bringing Santa Clause into this, too. But no Elves on the Shelf, I simply refuse to do that one.

Depression

This is more of a nightly occurrence after the 3rd wake up, usually due to someone in the house who is not used to living with a small human. Get that baby down, mama. And the minute you do so grab yourself a glass (bottle) of wine and sip (chug) it. After all, who knows how much time you have? 15 minutes? 3 hours?

Acceptance

By night four or five you realize that there really is no hope for a decent nights sleep until you get home, so you might as well ride it out. The sooner accept that you will have no sleep on your trip to visit your family, the sooner you can accept that there is literally nothing you can do about it. Well, actually there is one thing. Store this pain, suffering, and memory of sleepless nights in the back of your mind and remember them fondly when you wake your kid up before 9 a.m. on this same trip when they are a teenager. Then have them fetch you a coffee while they’re at it. Hell, you certainly deserve it.

Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas and hoping that Santa brings you some sleepy dust. If he doesn’t bring that then I hope he at least drops off some espresso and some wine.

I Tried Out 11 Baby Sleep Solutions So You Don’t Have To

My child is funny, kind, smart, and adorable. He shares his toys, he tries (most) of the food I put in front of him, he’s only peed on me twice! My child’s biggest downfall: He sucks at sleeping. It pains me to admit this because sleep is something that my husband and I hold very near and dear to our hearts. A kid who is bad at math? Or a mouth breather? Or a kid who only eats chicken nuggets? That I could handle. A mini insomniac who likes to party at 2:00am is something I figured we would reserve for his college years.

Parents are constantly trying to make excuses for their children and I think it starts with this whole sleep debacle.

“Oh, it’s a growth spurt!”
“Did you check the Wonder Weeks app? Maybe he’s in the middle of a Leap”
“She’s gotta be teething”
“Maybe he’s hungry!”
“Are her pajamas too small?
“He’s probably too warm at night”

I have been making excuses ever since the damn 4-month sleep regression hit our household like a hurricane. If you are expecting a child, or if you have been so lucky as to spawn a child that doesn’t sleep longer than two hours, then strap in! Here is list of sleep solutions I have purchased, tested, and reviewed from the past year (so you don’t have to):

1.    A Crib

This is a common mistake that parents make. You will optimistically purchase this expensive piece of furniture when you are still pregnant, wide-eyed and sleeping at night (even if you get up to pee 20 times). Your child won’t actually sleep in it, it will end up being a hamper for clean baby clothes and a convenient spot to keep baby toys.

2.    A HALO Bassinet

I got this sleek and high tech side-car sleeper in hopes that my little sweet pea would sleep in it next to me when I brought him home from the hospital. He hated it.

3.    Sleepsacks/Swaddles

I honestly wish these worked because I like the concept. My kid not only hates being warm, he also hates not being able to kick his legs, and when I put him in it I’m pretty sure he hated me, too.

4.    Humidifier

I got this partially because my son had a perpetually stuffy nose his first 6 months of life and partially because he liked the sound. This worked pretty great until it became Summer in North Carolina.

5.    Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit

I was so doe eyed when I ordered this mini sumo wrestler costume. I thought that this would for sure be our ticket to sleeping through the night. I bought two sizes- neither one worked.

6.    Angel Dear Lovey

I purchased a lovey when my son was 5 months old in hopes that the attachment he has to me and my mammary glands would transfer to a lovey instead. 7 months later and he throws the lovey on the ground while he nurses to sleep. Moving on…

7.    Pacifiers

I introduced pacifiers to my child pretty much every week up until he was 11 months old. Same result as the aforementioned lovey.

8.    The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep Book

This ~magical~ book is supposed to basically hypnotize your child into sleeping. It works until he tries to rip the pages while he fights sleep.

9.    A Memory Foam Crib Mattress Topper

This actually kind of worked. It just hurts to recognize that I paid an absurd amount of money for a piece of foam.

10.  A Dohm White Noise Sound Machine

I tried the white noise apps. I tried soothing sounds of rain, oceans and the great outdoors. This bad boy cost me $50 and I will never look back. It muffles the dog barking, the Friends theme song, and popcorn popping.

11.  DockATot

The DockATot is pretty awesome. These baby nests are all the rage in Europe and the reviews on it gave me the hope that my child would stop flipping himself sideways in his crib. I felt so optimistic about this purchase that I bought both sizes and different points in my sleep deprived first year of parenthood.

Since I have begun this journey into parenthood I realized something: I chose the wrong profession in life. I should have gone into the baby sleep business because I have contributed enough money that I could already pay for part of my kid’s college tuition. I know I’m not alone in this. I can’t be the only once who orders a sleep solution for my little sleepless wonder at 4:00am off of Amazon and I know I’m sure as hell not alone when it comes to missing sleeping a full 8 hours a night. Parenting is a lot easier when you have a village to give you a shoulder to cry on, a glass of wine to drink, and a list of sleep solutions that have been tested out. I’m pretty sure the only thing that makes your kid better at sleeping is time.

Hang in there, I’ll be right there with you when it’s 3:00am and you are wondering who else is awake in the world.