Being pregnant with your second child is a much different experience than the first time around. Instead of obsessing over baby books and apps, you're so busy with child number one that you often forget you're carrying number two. You worry less, and you try not to repeat the same mistakes you made with your first pregnancy (making cheeseburgers and milkshakes your main diet maybe isn't the best idea). You're lucky if you have time to stock up on diapers and wipes before delivery; forget about the beautifully designed nursery you obsessed over with your first baby.
Partners of second-time-around pregnant women should also expect a different experience. You're no longer there just to rub feet and go on ice cream runs. You have a whole new set of responsibilities, expectations, and emotional weights to bear. I vividly remember being pregnant with my son when my husband decided he wanted to make an elaborate dinner for us (i.e. himself). The meat smells were more than I could bear; I headed upstairs to our room, shoved a towel under the door to block the nausea-inducing stench, and left him downstairs with a 30-step recipe and our ultrademanding 2-year-old. Good luck, buddy!
It was in that moment that he realized that his support-staff parenting role was getting an upgrade, whether he liked it or not. Luckily for both of us, he knew better than to complain to a pregnant woman, one of the many rules partners of women pregnant with baby number two should follow. If you're dealing with a second pregnancy in your family, here's a complete list of rules you need to know and abide by — or else!
- When you're home, take over kid duty. Think your partner was tired during her first pregnancy? This time around she's dealing with the same physical exhaustion and a baby/toddler/big kid who could care less that she's pregnant. So when you're home, take the lead on child care, and give her a break.
- Remember that nausea is real. If your partner is dealing with nausea, please take over cooking duties for yourself and your child, but first, get her input on what smells she can and cannot deal with (hot dogs, no; grilled cheese, yes). Even better, take your kid out to dinner and bring her back takeout.
- Ask when her doctor's appointments are, and help with your firstborn. Nothing's worse than having to take your small child to your prenatal checkups, so help your partner out while she goes to the doctor alone.
- Take over diaper duty whenever possible. See nausea rule above.
- Take her mood swings like a champ. Pregnant women are notoriously moody (the hormones are real, people!), so remember that when she's acting like a lunatic, it's the pregnancy talking, not her, and just nod your head and agree with whatever she's saying. Delivery is the remedy, and you want to get to that finish line as a strong team.
- Hire a babysitter. Surprise her with an afternoon or early evening (Mom needs her sleep!) out. Just because she's pregnant doesn't mean she wants to sit at home for nine months, and she's way too overwhelmed to organize a sitter herself.
- Help with baby prep. Sure, she's realized with baby two that you don't need to spend the money on a perfectly decorated nursery, a closet full of baby clothes, or every single baby gadget out there, but you do need some stuff (diapers, a crib, a clean car seat and stroller, onesies, etc.), and she doesn't have nearly as much time, energy, or desire to organize it all like she did during the first pregnancy. So help her out, buy a few things, do a few loads of baby laundry, or just take your first child out for a few hours so she has the time to focus on baby number two.
- Plan a babymoon. It's a lot harder to find a family member or close friend to watch two kids so you can go on a long weekend trip than it is one, so now's the time to fly. Go somewhere super relaxing and give her the time to just focus on her pregnancy and herself, not the child at home.
- Don't expect her to be superwoman. Pregnancy takes a lot out of a woman, and so does parenting a small child, so be understanding when the house is a mess, she hasn't showered all day, and the fridge is empty. Now's the time to prove to her just how heroic you can be — even if that just means bringing home the fried chicken she's craving with a side of tenders for your little one.