Pregnant mothers of more than one: You know how when you get the rare chance to go somewhere sans your offspring outside the womb, you get all those sweet, knowing looks from people who think this is your first pregnancy? I’ve been getting those a lot lately. It’s almost a look of reverence, but not without a hint of “Oh, sweetie. You have no idea what’s coming!” But we know, sunshine. Boy, do we know.
The sharper belly observers will very quickly realize that this ain’t my first rodeo. Here are five surefire ways to know, without a quiver of doubt in your heart, that this mama has done it before.
1. The way she waddles.
Oh, the waddling. OK, so most of us waddle eventually, whether it’s your first or fifth pregnancy. At some point, one must surrender to the laws of physics and simply accept that our steps will get shorter, slower, with our feet that little bit farther apart. Don’t fight it. It’s gonna happen, and that’s OK. The seasoned preggers amongst us, however, will gladly take the opportunity to waddle from as early as possible, usually at some point in the late first trimester, because you know what, turns out that walking around with heavy steps, legs askew, and zero grace is actually pretty damn comfortable. So yes, I’m going to take the opportunity to unabashedly waddle as soon as I can get away with it.
2. What she eats (or rather, doesn’t not eat).
Sorry for the double negative here, but another telltale sign that this little fetus is occupying a secondhand uterus is that this mama is queued up at IKEA waiting for her order of three hot dogs to be fulfilled. She won’t be asking anyone to reheat it once more for good measure, and listeria poisoning is probably the furthest thing from her mind. She just wants to eat, stat. And you know what? She was up with a vomiting 2-year-old all last night so hold the decaf and bring on the triple-shot, and very much caffeinated, latte. When you go out for Mexican, she’ll indulge in a little ceviche, because guess what, the lime juice basically cooks the stuff. She’ll ignore the fact that her eggs at brunch are a little “under” easy and be reassured enough by the fact that they were probably free range so it’s probably all just fine. Isn’t a little gut bacteria all the rage right now?
3. Her clothes are a little…well, sloppy.
Frankly, I’m irritated that no one told me that although the adorable maternity clothes I purchased the first time around would “grow with me,” they most certainly do not shrink back to the cute-maternity-size phase. When you hit that point in your second pregnancy where you can’t fit into your regular clothes anymore (and let’s all admit it, we’re all extremely impatient to get back into those super stretchy waistbands ASAP), it’s usually when you aren’t really showing that much.
So you put on your maternity clothes, which you had dutifully packed away for precisely this occasion, only to realize that the bellies of all of these clothes have been stretched to their absolute limit due to your 9 lbs. 14oz. baby that was two weeks overdue. Thanks for that, firstborn. But you know what? We will rock those sloppy, stretched-out maternity clothes any day because 1) they’re comfortable and our fashion motto at this point is very, very much “comfort first, everything else irrelevant and not considered”; 2) ain’t nobody got time to take out another mortgage to afford those overpriced stretchy garments; and most importantly, 3) the cute-maternity-size Phase lasts about four minutes in a subsequent pregnancy and you’ll feel like a bumbling walrus in no time.
4. She complains—a lot.
Maybe it’s just me, but with my first pregnancy, I tried so hard not to complain about the aches and pains because I treated the whole thing as so beautifully sacred that it was just plain rude to complain to the universe about the bounty it had bestowed upon my body. Second time around? The grunts, groans, exasperated sighs, and audible exertions of physical effort reared their hideous heads nice and early. You’ve done this already. Yes, it’s beautiful and sacred, yadda yadda yadda, but man, that first kid did not do me or my pelvic floor muscles any favors. My back is completely shot, and I’m pretty sure these Braxton Hicks contractions are similar, if not greater, in strength to when I was in active labor with my first. For the veteran preggers, it doesn’t help that if you’re running after one (or more) older kids, you’re exerting about 52,869 times more physical effort than you did during your first pregnancy. Nature can be cruel sometimes.
5. She is totally unprepared for the actual birth.
But she’s OK with it. Subsequent pregnancies go by so much faster that she’ll forget to do her weekly bump shots à la Pinterest, her Kegels, and her play-by-play, all-scenarios-covered birth plan. Before she knows it, the baby is coming in two weeks and she realizes she’d better get a move on. But the upside is that most things are covered since she’s already bought the basics thanks to child No. 1. So what if your newborn son only has frilly lace tutu onesies to wear for his first month of life? Sharing is caring, and second children are meant to be more flexible in character anyway, am I right?
One only wonders how the whole taking care of a newborn thing will be different second time around.