The first time I found out I was pregnant, I was excited. The second time I found out I was pregnant, I was excited, but that excitement felt different.
Even though I have more knowledge about the world of parenthood and what it entails than I did before, I realize that there are still so many things I don’t know, because being a mom of two just isn’t the same. I’ve heard from a few people that the transition into parenting two or more isn’t as drastic as becoming a parent for the first time, since you’ve got some experience to draw from, which I am thankful for. But even so, I feel like for everything I know, there are at least two (hundred) things that I don’t.
The first time around, I had no real expectation of what pregnancy and motherhood would look like. The phrase, “I’m going to be fine, women have been having babies for thousands of years. I was made for this!” was my mantra. I had a bulleted list of reasons why I would not be getting an epidural and firmly believed that “mind over matter” would be all I was going to need when I went into labour. I knew that there were important things to take care of before our baby arrived, such as coming up with a birth plan, attending doctors appointments, and reading a blog or two about the do’s and don’ts of breastfeeding, but was way more interested in planning the perfect pregnancy announcement, gender reveal party, and theme for our nursery. I diligently wrote in my pregnancy journal prior to our son’s birth, and spent hours filling out his baby book after his arrival. I compiled photos from his first year and put them into albums in chronological order and was ready and waiting at my computer for the moment registration for “Mommy and Me” classes at the library opened to ensure we got our coveted spot. It was a crazy transition, but it was exciting and new and, despite the lack of sleep, it worked.
The second time around, I have a better idea of what I’m getting myself into, but there is still a lot of mystery involved.
This time, I know that childbirth is going to suck, even if I was made for it, but I don’t know exactly what the experience will be like the second time around. Because I had a c-section last time, I’ll probably be opting to have one again, which means I’ll bypass the entire waiting game and labour experience. Will it be weird to choose the day my baby will be born and to not have to wonder if my water might break any moment while standing in line at the grocery store in the final weeks of pregnancy? This time, I know that I’ll be getting an epidural, c-section or not. Does getting the needle hurt a ton? Last time, I was so focused on the feeling of the contractions, I didn’t feel a thing. What will my recovery be like? Again, I know that getting major surgery is definitely not a party, but now I have to factor in the reality that there will be a thirty-pound two year-old wanting to be entertained in addition to the new little babe I’ll have in my arms.
This time, I’ll know how to pick up and hold a baby in order to breastfeed without feeling totally awkward (the first time I did this the nurse actually burst out laughing when she walked into the room…thanks for the confidence boost, lady), but what if the baby doesn’t latch? Our son was hungry the minute he arrived, and feeding was never an issue, but I know that there is no guarantee that our next baby will be a good eater. B was always easygoing and didn’t need a ton of rocking or bouncing or shushing or singing or…well, you get the idea. Because of this, I wonder if I’ll be a good comforter if our next baby has a drastically different temperament. This time, although I know I’ll be exhausted, I don’t actually know how exhausted I’m going to be, because I won’t be just adjusting to life with a baby – I’ll be learning how to be a mom of a newborn who may or may not sleep and a toddler who never sits still for more than three minutes. This time, I’ll know how to deal with poo explosions, which B was a master of, but don’t know how I’ll handle projectile vomiting, which he never did. I’ll be able to change a diaper like a pro, but I have no idea what it’ll be like to potty train my toddler at the same time.
The first time around, I had no idea what maternity leave would look like. If I’m being honest, I have no idea what maternity leave will look like this time either. I have a guess that it’ll be busy and crazy and lonely and tiring and wonderful and exciting and memorable all rolled into one, just like it was last time, but the specific details that make it so are likely to be completely different than they were before. Last time, I was constantly in search of things to keep us busy. I have a feeling that this time, I’ll be looking for ways for us to relax. Once again, though, this is all speculative. Maybe Beckett will enjoy having FRIENDS marathons at age two as much as he did when he was a newborn baby, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.
And then there’s the whole issue of what happens if we have a daughter. I think I’ve got this boy mom thing figured out fairly well (so far, anyway), even though the prospect was pretty daunting at first. I love how easy it is to throw on an outfit, run my fingers through my son’s hair, and call it a day when it comes to getting ready in the morning. If we have a girl (which I’ll be ecstatic, but, once again, a little intimidated by), I have to figure out things like how to attach bows to a bald head and, even more frightening, how to create cute hairstyles once her locks actually come in. If B’s hatred for having his hair brushed is any indication of what our next one will be like, this should be interesting. Should we end up having a girl, I’m excited for all of the cute outfits she can wear, but I have no idea how I’m going to resist buying them.
This time, I already know how much my heart can expand to love a person I’ve only just met, but I don’t know what it will feel like to accommodate two. I’ve heard your love when you have more children doesn’t get divided – it multiplies, and I’m excited to discover what that looks and feels like. I know how amazing it is to watch my husband father our son, but can’t wait to see what this looks like with two of our children. I love the way our parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends interact with B and look forward to seeing them with our toddler and our baby. I can’t wait to see our son as he learns what it means to be part of a family of four. I know that it will be challenging and new for him, but it will also be exciting and beautiful, just as it will be for me.