In so many ways, a second pregnancy is just so much less stressful.
Preparation: I plan to mainly just skip it.
For example, a first time prego would look at this room full of junk and think "oh my god, there is so much to do before this is an appropriate nursery for a baby".
However, as a second timer, I can zero in on things that the inexperienced eye may not see. All that needs to be done is move a bunch of crap to the basement and we're golden. (We're leaving the bed in the room since it's on the first floor, so if I have a c-section I won't have to use the stairs.)
See? Good to go.
Learning Things: Not necessary
I don't feel the pressure to take classes or read books like I did the first time. Don't get me wrong, I don't anticipate knowing what I'm doing. I feel like I've kind of figured out how to make a baby happy, but only if that baby is EXACTLY like Dalton. Based on what I've heard from moms of 2+, odds are much more likely that this baby will be his polar opposite. But I know some basic parenting things that I was clueless about during my first pregnancy. How to swaddle, how to change a newborn's diaper, bathing, all sorts of weird terminology - meconium, bumbo, and boppy, for example - all words that got the wavy red line under them, and yet all real baby things. I know how to use a breast pump and how to store milk to ensure that I never waste a single drop.
While I'm sure this baby will bring up all new challenges (aside from the obvious challenge of taking care of it along with a toddler), I feel a lot more confident that we will figure things out.
Labor and Delivery: Maybe not the most terrifying thing on the planet
A healthy dose of denial is necessary for this one. The ace up my sleeve is that last time, I was basically equally frightened of having a needle shoved in my back as I was of birthing a human. Now I know that epidurals exist as proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, women of childbearing age, at least. Aside from that, just having already stayed at the hospital and being aware of the logistics takes some of the mystery out of it, not to mention I got to see first hand how well the staff was able to get things under control in an emergency. While I'm certainly not looking forward to the process of extraction, I'm able to be more excited and less fearful about meeting baby #2.
Bonding: Not necessary. Just like learning.
|No bond whatsoever here.|
It's kind of daunting to be preparing to commit your life to someone you've never even met. I mean, think about how scary it can be just to decide to get married - with a baby, there's no dating period. You birth it, and it's yours. For good. I think it's natural to want to make sure you are bonded with the fetus. My first pregnancy, that dumb commercial where Jennifer Love Hewitt is declaring her undying love for her unborn child would have had me panicking. Because I so did not feel like that. I don't read to fetuses, I don't sing to them, I don't even talk directly to them (although I've been advised to discuss the importance of sleep with it once the third trimester begins, and I am not discounting ANY method that may get me more sleep).
I'm not totally soulless, although I am a ginger. I feel very protective over the baby, I would be devastated if anything happened,I love feeling the movements, and I think all the time about how thrilled I am to meet him or her and add another member to our family. But love is kind of a complex emotion and for me, I need to meet someone face to face before I feel it. I clearly remember staring at the clock after Dalton was born, counting down the minutes until they had told me I might be able to have a drink of water. I hadn't even held my son yet, but my mouth was SO DRY and that was top priority.
All this to say - I didn't feel bonded during pregnancy, I didn't feel bonded immediately after delivery, but obviously I did quickly develop an extremely strong bond with Dalton. So strong, in fact, that the very first thing I did when I saw the second line on the pregnancy test was snap chat a picture of it to a very close friend and mother of two, and ask her if she truly loved her second born as much as her first. (For those people not as cool and in the know as me, snapchat "chats" automatically disappear, so you can admit to things like having a favorite child and it will not be on record.) Of course, she texted her reply (on record) that she loves them both equally and all sorts of great stuff about the joys of two kids. While I truly can't imagine loving another human as much as I love Dalton, I know I will - once the baby is here.
On the other hand, there are a few stressors with a second pregnancy that I didn't have to take into consideration with my first. They are all extremely unoriginal, but I'm going to discuss them anyway.
Leaving my firstborn
Pregnancy brain is real, and I knew I was pregnant for like 3 weeks before it occurred to me I would have to leave Dalton overnight, for several nights actually, to have the new baby. Instant tears. We've both been away from him for the night separately, but he's never once in his life gone to bed without at least one of his parents there. I'm not happy to be forcing that upon him before he can even understand it, but aside from a home birth, there's no alternative.
I'm not concerned whatsoever about his well being. He'll be with my mom and stepfather, in our house. They love him and he'll be in great hands. I'm just concerned that he'll be confused about why his parents are suddenly gone, think we aren't coming back, etc, etc. But there's nothing I can do about it, and most adults I know have siblings and were not traumatized by their birth.
The grandparents are even so devoted to the cause that my stepfather is coming down when I'm 36 weeks to do a trial run. We have my good friend Lily's wedding, so I booked us a hotel room, even though I could clearly be the DD. I figured it would be more fun to try out a night away at a wedding than giving birth, although granted the latter might be more of a distraction. I think knowing that Dalton won't be emotionally scarred by 24 hours without us will really help me relax about labor and delivery.
Life for my firstborn
|I'm afraid he'll hate it.|
Even after we are over the hump of leaving Dalton to go to the hospital, things won't exactly return to normal when we come home. Up until now, we've been able to lavish 100% of our time and attention on him. Clearly, that's about to change in a big way. I have wonderful memories of my childhood with my siblings, and great relationships with them as adults. I'm hoping he experiences the same. But that doesn't mean I'm not worried about how he will react to the initial transition. I've already complained about not getting enough time with him over and over, and now that time will be further reduced. I know I'll feel differently about the reason (spending time with my other child) when it happens (see above), but I still hate it now.
Although he adores his father, Dalton is VERY attached to me - as in, I leave the room for two seconds to pee, and he'll follow me and yell and bang on the door until I come out.
|Example: This is how I wash dishes.|
Although the newborn period is a hazy memory, I'm pretty sure it entailed a LOT of time sitting on the couch nursing, and much less free time that could now be used to play with a toddler. Dalton is also at the age where his routines are very important to him. The obvious solution here would be to transition Eric to doing most of his routines (bathtime, bedtime, naps, etc), since that's likely what will have to happen when the baby is born but...I'm selfish and I want my time with my first baby. It's a problem.
|My boys <3 td="">|
The Selfish Stuff
We got really used to not sleeping, and then we were like we can totally just keep this up! Then I got pregnant again and suddenly Dalton started sleeping, and I was like....hold on, sleep is kind of awesome. I feel like I can barely keep up with him during the day as it is, and after being up all night with a newborn, I really have no idea how I'm going to do it. At least there will be unlimited coffee at that time (don't even try to tell me that I need to limit caffeine while nursing, I know what I'm doing). While I have no basis for comparison, Dalton seemed to be a relatively easy baby and I'm scared that the new one will be colicky/have reflux/have trouble breastfeeding/have some other common normal baby problem that makes life difficult for parents and siblings.
I love being a mom, I love my time with my child, and I can't wait to meet the new baby, the thought of never having a second to myself scares me. I like having naptime to just chill and mess around on the internet, or do whatever I want. While I'm completely expecting daycare to get both kids on the same nap schedule, it will be a looooong time before that happens.
And there you have it. All the complex emotions that come with pregnancy #2, as best as I can explain it in writing.
Thoughts/comments/questions/feelings of solidarity?