Baby on Board: It's a Girl! (And Very Different the Second Time)

Five biggest differences between my pregnancies—for better or worse.

Megan Isennock - June 06, 2017

Baby on Board: It's a Girl! (And Very Different the Second Time)

Five biggest differences between my pregnancies—for better or worse.

Megan Isennock - June 06, 2017

Me and Lou, who doesn't realize his only-child status is about to change. -Jonathan Zwi

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Greetings from me and the tiny human I’m currently growing in my uterus! Rob, Lou, and I are very excited to welcome a lady baby to our family in September. We don’t know a lot about her yet except that she’s healthy, looks exactly like her brother in her sonogram, and might be part hummingbird because I can’t stop eating sugar. 

I expected this pregnancy to be easier since I’ve done this before, and have been very surprised to learn that being two years older and having a toddler aren’t two factors that lead to a calm, enjoyable pregnancy. If you live in my house or work in close proximity to me, you're well aware of my near-constant whining. If you don't number among these unfortunate people, here's a look at how different my experiences have been, for better or worse. 

I am tired all the time.
When I am pregnant, I don’t sleep. I spend my days in a yawn-filled fog, trudge through my evenings, get an ice cream-related second wind right after Lou’s bedtime, sleep for a few hours, and then find myself awake from 1-5 a.m. Rinse, repeat.

This was frustrating during my first pregnancy, but I wasn’t working a full 9-5 then, nor did I have a toddler, so I was able to rest or nap some mornings. This round, I am accountable as an employee all day and a mama all of the time—and I’m pretty damn tired. I’ve taken to sleeping on the couch a lot because the stress of waking up Rob and Lou compounded with my eventual desire to stare at something on Netflix has led me there.

In the mornings, I wake up to Rob and Lou making breakfast, which is lovely, but I secretly resent their cheerfulness from my nest on the couch. The only saving grace of this new sleep situation is that I am in repose at exactly at Lou-height, so each morning I’m greeting with a new offering. Last week I received an open mouth kiss, a dinosaur toy, and "MAMA!" screamed an inch from my face. This week he stepped things up and brought an open bag of coffee beans and held it near my nose to smell, which was so dear that I had tears in my eyes and felt momentarily grateful that months of insomnia had led to this moment. I might have Stockholm Syndrome.

Deflated interest from strangers.
During both pregnancies, the question most asked was, "Awwww, is this your first?" When it was my first pregnancy, I would blush in the glow of impending motherhood and unknowingly give the people what they wanted: a brand new mama. Now when people ask (after I get over being flattered that they think I could possibly look rested enough to not currently have a toddler at home), I tell them it’s my second and the conversation ends and I feel like I’ve let them down. Are subsequent babies less exciting? I mean I'm pretty excited about it. 

There is less stuff to buy.
We sat down to make a list of what we need for this kid, and it turns out we already have most of it. We’re buying a bassinet because not having one during my C-Section recovery was brutal; we’re looking into whether or not a double stroller is a sound investment for our city kids; we need to fill in a few gaps in her wardrobe of Lou hand-me-downs—and that’s kind of it. A far cry from the frenzied shopping spree we went on after months of research during my first pregnancy.  

I'm a little worried about having so little to do or buy in the final weeks of my pregnancy when nesting kicks in, but once this kid is out and snuggled up in her brother's arsenal of long-ago paid for infant-ware, I think I'll be okay.

I have more anxiety about the birth.
Lou’s birth was not pleasant. I was induced a week after my due date, labored for well over 30 hours, and ended up with a C-Section. His heart rate was decelerating after contractions, which meant I needed an oxygen mask the entire time leading up to the surgery. And, after breaking my water some time in the middle of the night, we discovered Lou had been floating in meconium (Google it if you’re unaware), which added a lot more stress to the situation. 

This time, unless I go into labor on my own, my doctors are planning for a scheduled C-Section, which is terrifying me. I agree that it’s probably the best course of action given what went down the first time, but it’s giving me anxiety to kind of know already that I’ll be having major surgery—while awake—some time in September. I very much liked the not-knowing of Lou’s birth. We made each decision as the situation unfolded and I didn’t have time to panic—we just made a call with the doctors and then did that thing.

Having long-lead information about the impending birth is not very suitable for my personality. A very badass friend of mine is finishing the nurse anesthetist program at Georgetown and every time I see her I ruin her precious free time with questions about work. I ask for specific, step-by-step details on epidurals and spinals. With absolutely no medical knowledge backing me up whatsoever, I throw out doomsday scenarios and she patiently explains why what I just asked is impossible. I have even suggested she swing by while I’m getting my spinal just to talk me through it (and keep an eye on the doctor), which is beyond crazy.

Despite my unrelenting whining, I constantly forget I'm pregnant.
Multiple times a day, I'll be in a meeting or in my sofa nest and think, "Oh no, one of my organs is twitching." And it doesn't always occur to me right away that the "twitch" is the miracle of life forming just behind my belly button. Or I'll find myself totally winded after storming up a hill on my walk home from work and wonder why I'm gasping for air. Or I'll wake up flat on my back and not be sure why I feel panicked and nauseous until I remember a human is crushing an artery in my body and I need to roll over immediately. Or I'll get dressed in the morning and genuinely wonder when I put on so much weight.  

I'm going to assume this unbelievable aloofness is related to my lack of sleep. But if you see me perusing crop tops at Forever 21 at the Gallery some time this summer, please gently lead me out of the store while explaining the physics of baby bumps.

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