I blew into my 20-week OB appointment teeming with questions and concerns — none of them in regards to my unborn child. An hour prior, I had received an email from my son's preschool informing me of some typical-toddler bad behavior, and I was consumed with worry. My doctor spent the better part of the appointment calming me by regaling me with her own child's former preschool antics. And, at some point, she confirmed that everything was progressing smoothly with the baby growing inside my belly.
I'm seeing the same doctor I saw for my first pregnancy and I'm expecting another boy, and yet everything seems different this time around. I no longer plan for doctor's appointments with a notebook of carefully researched questions, I'm too busy to consult apps that tell me what fruit my unborn child most resembles, and to the outside world I'm no longer a precious flower, coddled and admired as I create the miracle of life. I'm now a harried working mom with a busy toddler and the demanding (yet oft overlooked) side gig of growing a human being.
As I struggled through the first trimester, I had to constantly remind my husband that I was pregnant. Now, despite a prominent bump, even my own parents have trouble remembering I'm with child. I'm not kidding — it came up several times this past weekend as I repeatedly explained why I didn't want a cocktail and needed help carrying my son. This just sounds like complaining, and I don't mean to point an accusatory finger — even I have had a hard time remembering that it's not business as usual for me right now. It's as if becoming a mom the first time forced me to be so capable that I have to retrain myself on how to take a step back.
I can't tell you how much it's meant when someone has responded to my pregnancy news with genuine enthusiasm, as I've learned this is mostly reserved for first pregnancies. Throw in that the expected child is of the same gender as the first child, and interest in the pregnancy dwindles even further. The health inquiries, tips, and offers of help that were so generously dispensed all seem to be reserved for first-time moms. The assumption is that since I've already got a child, I have it all figured out. I assure you, I don't. In fact, it startles me how much I've forgotten in the two-plus years since my son was a newborn.
With that said, having a second child is an undeniably less intense experience than the first time around; hence, the dramatic change in the timbre of my OB visits. I've walked this path before, I know where the bumps and sharp turns are, but that doesn't mean I don't need help traversing it. In truth, I've never needed help more. Have you ever run a marathon with the flu? That's what caring for a toddler during the first trimester felt like every single day. Now, rounding the end of my second trimester, I've regained most of my energy, but my burgeoning belly (and subsequent sciatica) makes it a struggle to meet the physical demands of chasing after a small child. Heaving my rounded form off the bathroom floor after a trying potty-training session isn't so easy.
Thinking back on my first pregnancy, the weekends I spent recharging with all-day Netflix binges feel as luxurious as exotic vacations. My Saturdays now are jam-packed with music and swim classes, trips to the park, grocery store runs, and meal prep, with no special accommodations made for pregnancy fatigue. And then there are the thoughtless remarks — such as the recent "Wow, you look bigger this time!" — that I'm supposedly not emotionally vulnerable to. My feelings haven't calcified, and the sensitivity-boosting hormones aren't any less potent the second time around.
In case this rant or the dark circles under my eyes imply otherwise, I want to clarify that I am absolutely thrilled to be expecting my second baby. Despite the challenges of pregnancy, I wouldn't trade anything for the feeling of my baby fluttering around inside of me. I just wish more children meant more help and consideration rather than less. I can guarantee you that the next time a friend tells me she's expecting a second (or third or fourth) child, I'll greet the news with an animated congratulations and be the first one at her doorstep with a casserole after the baby is born, because every child is worthy of celebration — and, while we experienced moms may have more knowledge to draw on, the work only gets harder with each baby.