Just before our son was a year old we had the conversation about trying for a second child. I have some health concerns that could potentially complicate getting and staying pregnant, so I wanted some buffer room. I figured that best case scenario – we would have the kids two years apart. Challenging case, like if I lost the pregnancy or we needed to get help to get pregnant in the first place – we still had a few years before the black curtain of 35 hit my ovaries with a machete, or whatever evil shit happens at 35.
I had a few reservations about trying to conceive when our first was only a year old, the most significant was that my little one was still nursing. My period had returned at ten months postpartum and while completely horrifying in its intensity, I didn’t think it was an ovulatory, or fertile cycle. I was afraid I would have to wean my baby to get pregnant.
Aside from the nursing issue the other reservations felt more fluid, sometimes more or less intense but not constant. I hadn’t lost all of the baby weight. Some people get really skinny nursing, but I’m not one of them. My body holds the last five or six pounds in case there’s a famine or something – my baby and I will survive it on my soft fat stores. My moods were just starting to normalize as I was getting more sleep. My relationship with my husband was better as we were more rested and in turn less stressed, not to mention that sex was back as a thing we could do.
We decided to start trying when Round One was a year old. I had been tracking my cycles. They were long, about 35 days, but I was sure that the third one was ovulatory so we went for it.
As it turned out it wasn’t hard for us to get pregnant. I feel bad saying that as I know so many people struggle trying to conceive. We didn’t have that problem. What we did have was a much closer age gap than we had initially considered.
I thought my morning sickness was bad with my first, and it was. I had diarrhea from just before I found out I was pregnant at 5 weeks until about 14 weeks. I didn’t even know that could happen, but that’s what my body did instead of vomiting. It was shitty.
This pregnancy took the sickness it to a different level. I had been able to eat through the nausea the first time, but this time I couldn’t stomach food and was losing weight. I was constipated as well, which didn’t help the lack of appetite. My OB prescribed B6, then Zofran, and then Diclegis. The B6 helped a bit, the Zofran helped a lot but the additional constipation that came with it was unbearable, and by the time I got the Diclegis filled my toddler was waking up again during the night, meaning I couldn’t take something that made me too drowsy and unable to respond.
When I was pregnant with my first I worked at a desk. I had to fight every day to stay awake at that desk, and there were times I crawled underneath it and passed out for a few minutes. I would fight traffic to get home and pass out on the couch. On the weekends nap time became a normal thing.
It’s not like that the second time around.
My newly-walking, barely talking, ever-exploring 13-month old didn’t give a shit about my needs.
My little person didn’t care that I was exhausted and sick trying to grow a playmate for him.
His complete disregard for my hypersensitive, completely frayed pregnant feelings was a very infrequent mental blessing and a physical curse.
Unless I managed to grab a nap when he did, I didn’t get a nap. I was still nursing when I got pregnant, and he didn’t care that I felt like I was going to puke on his sweet head when he wanted the boob. There were days I just wanted to curl up and check out for a few hours. But he still expected me to show up as his mother, no matter how I felt.
The second pregnancy is different from the first. At 14 weeks pregnant I looked as big as I had at about 20 weeks the fist time around. It’s like my body knew what was coming and just made all the room in advance. My body hurt more this time. My back starting acting up much sooner with shooting pain down my legs, my hips ached, my joints stretched and felt like they were breaking while I carried around my son. I never had that amazing second trimester return of energy because I was chasing a toddler.
I had to make adjustments in my relationship with my son, some that were easier than others. When he was 15 months and I was a few weeks into my second trimester, I had to wean him. Nursing had become uncomfortable for me and I was just starting to be able to eat. I felt wiped out and needed to take care of myself. He wasn’t happy about it and neither was I. I was wracked with guilt for the next couple of months thinking I had deprived him of my love by denying him my milk.
As I wasn’t nursing him before bed anymore, Daddy became more involved in the nighttime routine. Our dynamic changed and I felt like I wasn’t as valuable to my son as I had been. It was a mind fuck made worse by raging pregnancy hormones.
When we were out and about my toddler, who really at less than 21-months was still a baby, wanted to be carried. I obliged and had to move him from a front carry in my Tula to a back carry when my bump got too big. I had to stop back carrying him other than when I vacuumed, when it felt like my hips were trying to escape from the rest of my body. I went back to using my Maya Wrap with him on my hip when I would carry him around the neighborhood.
I was so busy parenting the child I already had that I couldn’t focus on the child I was cooking. Other than how terrible I felt, I didn’t give much thought to being pregnant. I signed up for Pregnant Chicken emails because they are way better than that your baby is the size of a random piece of fruit bullshit from Babycenter. While I chuckled over my fetus as the size of a Star Wars figurine or whatever the email said, it was helpful to have a reminder sent about how many weeks along I was. Otherwise, I couldn’t keep track.
There were moments I looked down, saw the bump and thought, “wait, what the fuck? Oh yeah, I’m pregnant!”
I worried so much less about everything that scared me in my first pregnancy. I didn’t call the emergency page line over every random pang or pinch. I didn’t google all of the things that could go wrong at every week pregnant. I didn’t stress kick counts.
My second baby wasn’t breech and he kicked the hell out of me with his giant feet. In the moments when he was pummeling me in the ribs, I was reminded of his unique presence. I tried to quiet myself enough to develop a relationship with the movement. I had to make myself feel excited, instead of just tired, scared, or distracted by the life that was in front of me.
The thing that become more clear as I grew larger and closer to my due date is that I was about to have two babies. My toddler didn’t care that I was pregnant because he was still a baby and couldn’t wrap his mind about what was about to happen. When I became too physically limited, he didn’t understand why I couldn’t carry him as long or as far as before. As I struggled to lift him out of his crib, or sneak him into it over my huge belly, I was still his mother. Just a larger, slower, crankier version.