The Pregnancy Progression: Lessons from One to Three

My kids don’t even wear Luvs diapers, and I promise you I am not on the company’s payroll, but if you haven’t seen the series of “First Kid, Second Kid” commercials, and you have at least two children, please look them up. You will not be disappointed. From our labor plans to breastfeeding to the foods we allow them to eat and things we allow them to play with, our attitudes change significantly from the first child to the second, and, from what I’ve heard, to any subsequent children after that.

The same, it seems, is true of pregnancy. Let’s do a quick recap:

Pregnancy #1
After waiting the requisite 12-13 weeks, I announced my pregnancy in person to as many people as possible in order to up the “specialness” factor. I read What to Expect When You’re Expecting. (I tried to get my husband to read it too, but I’m pretty sure that was a fail.) Each week I looked up my growing child’s milestones to find out if he or she was the size of a grape, a kiwi, or an eggplant. I did my best to follow all of the typical pregnancy rules: no soft cheeses, deli meat, sushi, etc. I went so far as to scour the grocery store for pasteurized blue cheese dressing which, by the way, exists, and is disgusting. A glass of wine was a rare treat; I think I snuck a glass of champagne at a wedding.

The focus of pregnancy #1 was mainly on taking care of myself and, by extension, our baby. I recall with extreme nostalgia coming home from work and napping on the couch while Matt made dinner. I slept in on Saturdays and then got up and went to the gym. If I were to find a picture of what my arms looked like when I was pregnant with Maggie, I would probably cry. Chin-ups and dips… two words that have not been in my vocabulary since 2010.

And oh, the fearful anticipation of labor, of actually welcoming baby and bringing him or her home to keep. Maggie was due on October 2nd, a Sunday, and I had taken off of work for the entire previous week because I was so afraid of going into labor while teaching. So, for nearly two weeks I spent an hour or more each day walking, hoping it would speed up the process, and much of the rest of the day either napping or watching episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer on Netflix.

When labor finally did kick in I went to the hospital hilariously early and was sent home with instructions to wait “until the pain became MUCH more intense”. I spent the next day and a half feeling humiliated and willing myself to last until my next doctor’s appointment so as to avoid another dread encounter with the labor and delivery night shift. After about a total of 48 hours in labor, it was a girl! and we began the difficult transition between a family of two and a family of three, a change for which not even nine months can prepare you.

Pregnancy #2
After Maggie we went through a crisis of “Do we or don’t we?” Both my husband and I had always envisioned ourselves with more than one child, but we had started to feel pretty comfortable with the ease of finding a babysitter for one, which left us able to enjoy some of the experiences of our pre-baby existence. On top of that, Maggie was a willful child, and the thought of having to tend to the needs of an infant while supervising timeouts and tantrums was incredibly overwhelming.

Still, we decided to go for it, thinking that it would be better in the long run for Maggie to have a sibling. The feeling, upon learning of my second pregnancy, was more hesitant than jubilant, but when I started to bleed heavily around six weeks, all I wanted was for my new little not-quite-a-person-yet to pull through. I called my parents and tearfully told them the news, wishing I could have waited but needing their prayers and support. We did the same with Matt’s family, saying something along the lines of, “There are complications, but we want you to know.” It was a terrifying ten days or so until the bleeding stopped, but with continued observation and frequent ultrasounds my doctor finally coaxed me into believing that everything was going to be okay and, miraculously, it was.

After our initial scare, the second pregnancy very much revolved around reassuring Maggie of our love for her and preparing her for sisterhood. We spent a great deal of quality time together in the months leading up to Ceci’s birth, eating ridiculous amounts of ice cream (my craving of choice for #2), getting Maggie situated in her new “big girl” room, working on potty training, and cuddling on the couch while I napped and Maggie watched back-to-back episodes of Sesame Street.

Did I feel 100% read for Ceci to arrive? Not really. Was I nervous about having to do the whole labor thing again? Yes. Did I feel confident that we would seamlessly incorporate the new baby into our lives? Absolutely not. But a planned induction (for the sake of convenience, which I probably would not do again) took some of the anxiety out of the equation, and in the end everything ended up entirely hunky-dory. Yup, I said it: Hunky-dory.

Pregnancy #3
It snuck up on me, it really did. Two kids seemed to be going well, and hey, why not? Let’s have another! So, shortly after Ceci’s first birthday, there was the plus sign on the stick yet again. When I found out, Matt was on an overnight concert trip with some friends, and it’s a testament to the third pregnancy and the state of my brain that I honestly can’t remember if I texted him or called him to share the news. Either way, he was in great spirits, and so was I, and we kind of just figured, “Hey, why not?- Can you tell this has been kind of the theme of this whole pregnancy? –  Let’s spread the joy!” We wasted no time in telling whoever we felt like telling.

There have been a host of other differences between this pregnancy and the others. As I said before, this has been the “Hey, why not?” time around. While my life with a four-year-old and a one-year-old is certainly NOT relaxing, my attitude toward the child I’m carrying has had to be. For example: Pregnancy rules? Seriously? If there is food in front of me, I am going to eat it. I like goat cheese. I like to lick the bowl after I make cupcakes, regardless of the presence of raw eggs. I mean, I’m not going to go out and eat ten cans of tuna and OD on mercury, but I am also not going to be made to feel guilty for eating a turkey sandwich.

Mostly (and I hope my unborn child won’t take this the wrong way), I have just not had the luxury of being able to focus much on this pregnancy. I have two kids who demand a lot of my time and attention, and I know that with number three, this is the easiest part. She’s contained. She doesn’t talk back or stand on tables or cry inconsolably because I place the wrong cup in front of her. I don’t have to chase her or worry that I will lose my patience with her.

At this point, I’m six-ish weeks from meeting my newest little girl, and do I feel 100% ready? Not really. Am I nervous about having to do the whole labor thing again? Yes. Do I feel confident that we will seamlessly incorporate the new baby into our lives? Absolutely not. But what I’ve learned by this point is that part of what makes being a mom so amazing is the ability to adapt and accept and make each child feel as special and loved as the next, and I do feel 100% ready to do that.

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