I am the first to admit that I did not enjoy my first pregnancy. Like, at all. I did not glow, I did not feel earthly, I just felt really angry the whole time. And nine months is a long time to suffer from rage. To be honest, the thought of going through pregnancy again was slightly off-putting. Could I really be bothered with the aching hips, the day-long sickness and all the crying in the bath?
I fully expected a second pregnancy to be more difficult. After all, how can you rest or nap when you are busy looking after a child? The mamas with short age gaps out there are nothing short of amazing to me (amazing, but mental). There is absolutely no way I could juggle a toddler and a pregnancy. Not with my prenatal rage.
Anyway, what I’ve actually discovered, much to my surprise, is that this second pregnancy is a lot easier. I think this all boils down to the fact that I know it’s worth it. When I was pregnant for the first time, I had no idea that I would be able to handle motherhood. But now I know how strong that swell of love can be, how amazing a tiny person can be and what an honour it is to be a mama. So, because of all that, it’s easier this time round. But, and it’s a big but, it’s also way more difficult, for example:
1. I’m only allowed one extra pillow
With my first pregnancy, I spent my nights cocooned by the man pillow I created from about five spare pillows. The man pillow was everywhere I needed him to be. He supported my bump, he kept my hips spaced out and he applied gentle pressure to my lower back. He was everything I needed him to be and I loved him. Even though he was entirely made out of pillow and having him meant there was little room for my actual man man (not man pillow) in my bed. I can’t do that this time. There is already a four year old hogging the man pillow-sized hole in the bed. She’s not there all the time, but she is there a lot. She sneaks in at 2am, climbs over me in my sleep and nestles down in the middle. There is no room for man pillow. Now I can only have one pillow. One solitary pillow that lies between my knees. I am very grateful for that pillow, but I wish he was man-sized.
2. I know I make massive babies now
During my last pregnancy, I thought I was big. I would look at the happy naked woman in my pregnancy book and wonder why my own bump always looked about a trimester ahead of hers. Laurie, being ever so polite, did not let on that I was huge. He told me I was imagining it - you’re always more critical of your own body. It made sense. Even when I was stood at an antenatal class of women half my size, Laurie still insisted that I was just the same size as everybody else. Then I gave birth to a giant baby. Seriously, this baby could have given my man pillow a run for his money. Nine whole pounds of absolutely perfect baby. So, this time round, I know I’m big. I know that this baby could be another nine pounds. Or worse. And Laurie isn’t even trying to lie to me this time.
3. I have to do shit now
I was so pampered during my first pregnancy. Laurie made me a healthy dinner every night, my mum brought me fresh fruit every time she came to visit and they all cleaned around my whilst telling me to relax. I spent most of my energy crying in the bath and moaning on the sofa. In fact, that was basically all I did during my third trimester. A physiotherapist told me not to hoover so I didn’t. I actually didn’t hoover for MONTHS. And, I can tell you, hoovering is not like riding a bike, once that skill is gone, it’s gone. Don’t look at my carpets!
This time, I’m not so lucky. I’m a mum now and that means I have a lot of shit to do. I am physically unable to put my own needs first, it’s something to do with oxytocin probably. Ebony comes first. The other day I blew up a paddling pool for her. I am six and a half months pregnant, there is no way I have the lung capacity to blow up a paddling pool. It took me 25 minutes. I thought I was going to die. When I’d finally finished, the sky had filled with clouds and after jumping up and down in the water for ten minutes, Ebony announced it was too cold and went inside to play. I hadn’t even got my breath back yet. Then I had to spend fifteen minutes lying my ginormous pregnant whale body on top of an awkwardly folded paddling pool trying to get the air out. There is absolutely no way I would have done this shit in my first pregnancy. I didn’t even hoover.
4. I keep having to wake up
When I was working for a charity, I had a very lovely boss. If I was tired, I could go in to work late and make up the time later. This is why people work for charities because they are filled with nice people (warning: not always). My new boss is not quite so kind. She’s four and a bit of a tyrant. Some days I beg her for extra sleep and though she says she agrees, she keeps me awake regardless either by sitting on my head or loudly singing the grand old duke of york outside my room. She really doesn’t care if I’m short on sleep.
5. There is a lot of admin to do
There are lots of things you need to do when you have a baby. You have to fill forms in and write in baby books and knit blankets. And it’s all very lovely and exciting with the first one, but with the second, it feels a lot like admin. And, in fact, for me it is double the admin because, despite my good intentions, I actually never got round to doing any of that stuff for Ebony. So, I can’t start filling in the new baby’s book (which I haven’t bought yet) because I haven’t finished (started) Ebony’s yet. I can’t knit a blanket for the new baby because my knitting needles are entangled in the baby blanket I’m knitting for when Ebony’s born (spoiler alert: I think I might have missed my deadline there).
6. There are no exciting shopping trips
I spent half of my first pregnancy walking around Mothercare and John Lewis in a constant state of excitement. I looked at bunting, I spent a long time choosing paint colours and I wanted everything to be perfect for the baby’s arrival. And it was. But then the baby never slept in the damn nursery because she was in our room. And we couldn’t have friends to stay because we’d changed our spare room with sofa bed into a weirdly baby-free nursery. I’m not making that mistake again. So this time, there will be no nursery. This baby will get a room when he or she needs one and not a moment sooner. And that means there are no paint colours to pick out, no wall prints to choose and no shelves to put up. And we don’t really need to buy any clothes either because the loft is full of them. So we haven’t been on any exciting shopping trips. And, even if we did, we’d be the stressed parents with the rampaging four year old wanting to know why she couldn’t have all of the toys in the shop, not the excited wide-eyed expectant parents with all this to come.
7. People aren’t really interested
When it’s your first pregnancy, people want to know all the details. Especially if, like me, you were one of the first of your friends to have a baby. They want to know the gory details. You’re a walking freak show and everybody wants a piece of you. The second time around, not so much. For a start, all my friends have learnt their lesson not to ask me too many questions about the pregnancy in case I whinge and moan for nine months like I did last time. And, quite frankly, pregnancy isn’t as interesting the second time around. If I can’t even get enthused about it, I can hardly expect everybody else to, can I?
8. It’s going too fast
My first pregnancy was really slow. It’s meant to be about nine months, but I’m pretty sure my first pregnancy was seven years long. It just would not end. Every single hour stretched out into an eternity. There was absolutely no risk of me not completing my to-do list, I had all the time in the world to get those jobs done. This time around, I haven’t even found the time to write a to-do list. The past couple of months have flown by and I can tell the baby will be here before I know it. This poor baby will have to born in the kitchen sink (I haven’t quite gotten around to sorting out that birthing pool just yet), sleep in a drawer and wear an envelope (because I’m giving birth to Sarah from Jack and Sarah).
9. The baths are rubbish
We were living in a different house when I was pregnant with Ebony. We had a huge bath that was big enough for me even when I was at my most pregnant (seven years pregnant, remember). It was huge. Every evening, I would get home from work and go straight for a bath. I would listen to Woman’s Hour and sob loudly at all the baby-related discussions. I would lie there for hours, crying and turning into a prune. These days, our bath is about the size of a thimble. It is not big enough for normal me, nevermind pregnant me. And, of course, I rarely get to bath alone. If I so much as think about having a bath, Ebony is already diving into the minuscule tub. She takes up a lot of space for a small child. And (brace yourself), she makes me play with her. I have to play doctors or some weird game about umbrellas, half the time I don’t even know what we’re playing because they’re games she has invented with Laurie. And, worst of all, she won’t even let me listen to Woman’s Hour. She talks over it.
10. I can’t enjoy my pregnancy rage
Pregnancy rage is a terrible affliction. But, also, it’s sort of fun. You’re allowed to be irrational for nine months (longer, really, because new mums are allowed to be unpredictable too). You can cry, laugh and scream all in one sentence and nobody is allowed to question it. It’s wonderful. Or it was when it was just Laurie experiencing the full force of my emotional turmoil. This pregnancy is harder because there is a four year old witness to my unraveling. I can see in her facial expressions that I have gone crazy and that’s not fun. My pregnancy rage is no longer something to be enjoyed, instead, it is something I have to try and quash. And that makes me sad. I used to love my pregnancy rage, it was so much more rewarding than regular rage.
What do you think? Was your second pregnancy better or worse than the first?