Today, I sit typing away on a quiet Sunday morning with gray skies, sprinkles and cooler temperatures. It’s actually been “cooler” (as in, not 90+) in St. Louis for the past few days and it’s a nice reminder that the fall is quickly approaching.
And with the re-emergence of Fall, it’s a gentle reminder that baby Collins, sweet baby number two, is also gearing up for her arrival.
C.D. and I enjoyed a date night last night at the courtesy of Nanie and Pops, who graciously kept Evs overnight for us. At one point during dinner, C.D. asked if I planned to nurse again, exclusively. I paused and thought about it. Yes, my plan IS to nurse again but I do feel differently about it this time. Not “differently” in that I don’t want Collins to have the same experiences I had with Evvie, but different in that I’ve learned so much from my experiences with Evvie that my entire outlook on pregnancy and motherhood has evolved.
So, this brings me to my post. What IS different with your second pregnancy/baby than with the first? I’ll share with you nuances that I’ve noticed have changed and how it’s making me BETTER!
I’ll chalk some of my incessant research up to fear from losing our first baby, “Spike.” But in talking with so many of my mama friends, I’ve learned that it’s pretty much a typical trait of mothers-to-be. You can read all you want and take all of the advice you’re lent, but not much can steer you away from Dr. Google while pregnant.
While pregnant with Evvie, every pain, pull, pinch, “quiet baby day” (when Evvie wasn’t as much of a moving maniac as usual)–I was on “The Google.”
ME: “C.D., I think this is a sign I have pre-eclampsia. It has to be. My feet are swollen.”
C.D.: “No, Kay, you’re not. You just had your blood pressure checked and you’re the epitome of healthy. It’s Houston, it’s over 100-degrees, the humidity is 90% and you’re still trying to wear heels. Of course you’re swollen.”
This charade went round and round before C.D. threatened to take away my phone and have me committed.
With Collins, I think I’ve checked “The Google” only once or twice. HONESTLY. For anything truly unusual, I’ve come to appreciate that it’s okay to message my doctor and to trust his recommendations. Take for example when I spotted a bit in the first trimester. Rather than psych myself out for hours by researching what could be happening, I reached out to the doctor quicker than I would have in the past.
After the ultrasound showed a small subchorionic hemorrhage, the N.P. encouraged me to STAY OFF OF GOOGLE. She assured me most posts regarding SCH were on the extreme end of cases and I’d only make myself nervous. I took her advice, trusted their direction and by next visit the hemorrhage had healed itself. I saved my sanity, I kept my blood pressure down and made it (hopefully) a better experience for C.D., Evvie AND Collins.
I wish this section was a happier one. It’s sadly not what it should be. While pregnant with Evvie, I still had my freedom. I’d do prenatal yoga on days when I wasn’t hitting up the gym and keeping up with my HIIT workout (yes, of course, I heeded my doctor’s advice and kept my blood pressure down). I ate oatmeal and fruit for breakfast every day and ate very clean, lean meats and veggies for lunch/dinner. I tried to limit my caffeine intake to days when I absolutely couldn’t muster without coffee.
This time around? I’m sorry, Collins. While I make a point to run at least three times a week (both for health and accountability to my goals), there have been more weeks than not that I’ve either had to cut my runs short because I’m just pooped after a long week of work/lack of sleep or I skip it altogether (why is it always SO DANG HOT in the summer). With the best of intentions, I purchased free weights in the first trimester to keep up an arms routine. I’ve maybe touched them twice. It’s bad, I know. Coffee? Yeah, it’s an everyday thing.
My job also brings forth many generous coworkers who share packs full of bagels, delicious dessert treats from their weekends or leftover breakfast or snacks from meetings. It’s been a torturous experience and I’ve failed way more times than I should in avoiding what I don’t need. My willpower is weak.
But, there is light at the end of this tunnel. While not running as much as I wish I could, I do still feel it’s helped me avoid many of the aches and pains that pregnancy can bring. My postpartum exercise with Evvie has transitioned into a pact between C.D. and me to get healthy after baby. Now that we know what to expect from a newborn, we pledge to ensure EACH of us has time throughout the week to escape for a health-check. For example, I never knew when it was “safe” to run up to the gym or out for a walk after Evvie would nurse. I was too scared to leave her for fear she’d need to eat again and I’d be gone. Now, with a gym less than 10 minutes from our house, my goal is to run up for a quick 30-minute session a few times a week while C.D. does diaper duty/burp duty.
SNAPPING YOUR PREGNANCY
Were you like me in that you took a selfie each week to watch your bump’s progress? I mean, I liked to say that I took these photos to show my family our progress while we lived thousands of miles apart. But honestly, I personally liked watching my belly transform. My Mom printed off a cute little album for my baby shower with Evvie that featured a flip through of my photos. It was so fun to see the baby girl grow!
Well, I’m sorry, baby CC. I’ve slacked. My phone now consists of 4,000+ photos of Evvie and a few here and there of your bump growth. If I have any pregnancy advice for second, third, fourth+ mamas, it’s to make a calendar reminder each week to take that photo! I popped so much sooner with CC and carry her a bit differently than I did with Evvie. While I don’t LOVE my pregnancy shape this time around (hello, Kardashian booty and major hip situation), it’s still a beautiful experience that I may never do again.
I wish I could go back and compare those photos so that someday I can share with MY girls how each pregnancy truly is different. But, at least I still have twelve more weeks to contribute to this wish.
PLANNING FOR BABY’S ARRIVAL
While pregnant with Evvie, I had a printed copy of the “Birth Plan” for my parents, his parents and the doctors. I had my bags (over)packed weeks in advance. I had all of the baby clothes washed, folded or hung and ready to go.
My birth plan this time? I’ll write down a few “wishes,” but really it’ll be reflective of:
- Labor as long as I can while at home
- Labor as long as I can until the discomfort is too much and then ask quickly for the epidural (without forgetting it usually arrives 30+ minutes AFTER you ask so don’t wait too long…)
- Don’t forget to mention antibiotics (I was positive for Strep with Evvie so likely I will be with Collins)
- Get the baby out any way that is safest for the both of us
My hospital bag?
- 1 set of PJs for Mom
- 1 “Going Home” outfit for Collins
- 1 loungey “Going Home” outfit for Mom
- Nighttime necessities (toothbrush, face wash, glasses/contacts, travel shampoo/soap)
- Baby Book (whoops, I should purchase one…)
- Phone Charger
That’s it. Seriously. I lived in the hospital gown last time with how uncomfortable I was post-birth (TMI won’t be shared in this post). I stayed in my glasses during the whole stay because it was easier and since I’d nap any quiet chance I could get. I had packed five outfits for Evvie. We left her in the hospital shirts because she pooped so often that it was easier on all of us. I packed a blanket for her. We used the hospital blanket. I packed multiple hats for her. We used the hospital hat. I even packed diapers (yep, DEFINITE first-time Mom over here). We (wisely) used the hospital diapers.
I have to say that I’m probably more fortunate than many other friends in that we’re having another little girl. It means I don’t have to run out to buy an entire new wardrobe of clothes, socks and shoes. It means I don’t have to overhaul the nursery and can instead swap out wall art to personalize for Collins. THIS ALONE has made pregnancy easier in that I’m stressing FAR LESS about what we have vs. what we still need.
HELP FOR MAMA
I was a proud Mom after Evvie arrived. I was proud that I was a Mommy and that I had brought our beautiful baby into the world. I labored hard, pushed with all of my might to get her here and upon arrival she was perfect.
But I was also too proud to ask for and accept help.
I had PPD (I’ve chronicled this enough that I don’t need to dig into it). I didn’t realize it at the time, but my anxiety meant I couldn’t accept help holding the baby when she just couldn’t calm down no matter how many tricks I tried. I wouldn’t hear the encouragement to nap when I had slept maybe four hours total in a 24-hour span. She was my baby and I’ll be damned if I wasn’t going to figure it out. I also would be damned if I let someone ELSE be the one to make her comfortable or give her what she needed.
This time around? I’m sure once Collins arrives some of the primal mothering instincts, like protecting the baby, will resurface. But guess what? My parents and C.D.’s parents have been BLESSINGS to us with Evvie. She adores them. She trusts them and I do, too. If they offer to come by and either grab Evvie for the day while Collins and I rest or to hang out here while I nap for an hour, AMEN AND THANK YOU! If they offer to take Collins for a stroller ride (assuming it’s not 30-degrees in November) so she can stop her forever-long crying spells, I’ll let them.
I’ve learned that strained, sad, tense and anxious Mom becomes anxious, tense baby. The old saying is true: a happy Mom is a healthy Mom (or anyone, really). I’m not saying it’s going to be easy–believe me, I know, have seen and believe that going from one to two kiddos is going to be a tornado of an experience. What I’m saying is that I’ll take the help that’s given to ensure we’re all getting by the absolute best way we can.
With the first and second trimester passed and only a few months left before our lives change (again) forever, how will we spend our remaining time as a family of three? I may be more tired this time, but we fully expect to make as many memories as we can.
- Pumpkin Picking: Evvie will be two soon and that girl is equally smart and creative. We have fun plans for the beginning of October to let her pick out her very own pumpkin(s) and paint them for herself and her baby sister.
- Mommy+Me Dates: It’s a tough pill to swallow to know that very soon Evvie won’t have her undivided attention from Mommy and Daddy. A part of me aches painfully knowing she’ll have a bit more “Daddy+Me” time as Mom handles the newborn needs and recovery. So, I’m planning for more Mommy+Me activities while C.D. catches up on golf.
- Baby Sister Prep: I struggle with how I think Evvie will handle having a sibling. She LOVES the babies at school and her favorite toys/activities are caring for her baby dolls. But will that mean she LOVES having a sister? Eh… she’s a gal who likes to be in the spotlight. It’s hard to imagine she’ll be totally gung-ho about this baby taking up so much attention. To help her ease into her new role, we have plans to spend more time helping her prepare for sisterhood. I’ve been given GREAT ideas for how to introduce her to her new sister and we’ll make a Build-A-Bear trip, where she can make her sister her first Teddy Bear (and we’ll surprise her with one of her own “from baby sissy” that she’ll get at the hospital).
So Mommies/Daddies: how was your life different after the first? What did you do to prepare for your second/third/fourth+ baby’s arrival and what did you do to help prep your older children for the addition to the family? Please, do share!