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Pregnancy, the 2nd Time Around

My mom always told me that she would be willing go through labor 3 or 4 times per baby if it meant that she didn’t have to endure a pregnancy. I thought that I knew what she meant with my first pregnancy. I didn’t whole-heartedly agree with her until my pregnancy with Joshua. So here’s fair warning: if you are thinking about getting pregnant with your second child, you might want to skip today’s blog.

When we told him that we were pregnant with our first child, our friend Bobby, father of three, smiled and said, “Enjoy this time. It is really special.”

It was true. I remember fondly those long, luxurious naps, unencumbered by pressure to accomplish anything. I wallowed in my (substantial) morning sickness. I could take “down” days and spend quality time with the latest videos. There was no pressure to cook dinner or clean the laundry. I did do those things, but in my own time. And in the evening when Paul came home, he could help with the household tasks or lavish me with attention. Before we fell asleep we would lie on our bed and he would talk to my belly. “Hello in there! This is your daddy!” Then he would hum a bit of Mozart and chuckle as he said, “That was a little tune that your daddy wrote.”

We went on dates. We went to the theatre. We imagined what it would be like to be parents and who this new baby would be. I savored every flutter and every kick. I enjoyed the attention of friends and strangers who wanted to know when I was due, and how I was feeling.

It wasn’t all dreamy, of course. I worried about the baby and whether he might lack some crucial organ. I agonized over every twinge or cramp. I worked my way through several economy-sized bottles of mixed berry Tums. (Which, by the way, I have discovered to be the most palatable of the pregnancy-approved antacids.) Still, Bobby was right. It was a special time for us a couple, walking the line between married without kids and married with kids.

As Joshua grew inside of me, I wistfully remembered those days when I could spend as much time as I wanted puking in the bathroom without wondering what my two-year old was up to. When you are pregnant and already have a little one, life continues. In my first trimester, I became adept at knowing how much more of the grocery store I could get through before the gagging that started in the produce section became more than I could suppress. I tried to take the days moment by moment or, at the very least, I broke it up into two parts: the time before Isaiah’s nap and the time after nap and before Paul returned at 6:00 p.m.. Paul would arrive, I would hand off Isaiah, and lay in the dark for as much of the evening as I could. No amount of napping or night-time sleep seemed to keep up with the draw from the pregnancy on my body. During the day, it was all that I could do to get Isaiah to the park and then watch him from the bench with my bottle of water. I discovered that a 40 minute “Elmo’s World” dvd could get me through a rough patch and I tried to use it sparingly.

I counted my blessings that Isaiah at age 2 was mostly easy going, obedient, and preferred books and puzzles to running around. And while I do not live near any family who can help me, I do have a husband whose workplace redefines family-friendly. Paul is able to be home quite a bit and his favorite pastimes include cooking and childcare. How did I get so lucky?

The morning sickness did eventually go away, but the difficulty of caring for a household and a child while my body made another remained. It was harder than caring for newborn Joshua once he finally arrived. (Which, incidentally, was a breeze compared to the learning curve with Isaiah.) Paul, with infinite patience, kept perspective. He bought the book From Conception to Birth: A Life Unfolds by Alexander Tsiaras which Library Journal calls a “visual diary of fetal development via computer imaging.” Most nights before bed, we would look up our baby’s progress and marvel at God’s design. As sleep overtook me, I would hear Paul talking to Joshua.

“Tell him I say ‘hi’. I’m just too tired to talk right now,” I would say.

In my third trimester, I was a part of a conversation with 3 moms who have more than 2 kids. Each mom commented how subsequent pregnancies were harder. One mom wondered if it was just that she was older when she had her second. “Maybe,” my friend, Ruth said, “But I was in my 20’s with all 3 of my pregnancies and they were each progressively more difficult. And it took longer for my body to bounce back.”

Hmmm. And I'm not even going into details about my gall bladder deciding to revolt because of the pregnancy hormones. (It's coming out November 7, after Joshua turns a year old.) I'm not going to go into the low fluid level scares at the end. I will tell you that we'll think long and hard before having a third.

In the grand scheme of things, my pregnancy with Joshua was brief and I would have repeated it three times over and more to have him. As I walked out of the grocery store last week, an acquaintance of mine sat on a bench with a plastic bag, looking green. Her two kids looked on from the stroller. “Are you okay? Can I help you?” I asked.

“Morning sickness. It will pass. I’ll be okay. Thanks.”

I must admit that as I walked to the car I couldn’t help but think, “Thank God that it isn’t me.”


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