My husband and I were blessed to have three kids in three years. Yes, it was planned. By planned, I mean the first two were very well thought out, taking many things into consideration, and the third was a result of being jacked up on chocolate and wine one snowy, Valentine’s night and making poor decisions about birth control. With each pregnancy, I noticed how fast things started to change, and by fast changes, I am not talking about fast undie changes, but thanks to my weakened bladder, that did become a thing for me. I am now an expert.
The Pregnancy Announcement
When we announced our first pregnancy, we gathered everyone into a dimly lit room. I held a flickering candle. There was harp music in the background. I was aglow. There were tears of joy and long embraces. The newborn babe could not arrive fast enough. Everyone counted down the days on their calendar and called often to see how I was doing. I was showered with gifts, read all of the baby books, and listened to all the advice.
For the second child, we called some of our relatives and closest friends in between catching our fumbling son, who was learning how to walk. Everyone was happy for us, and my mother and sisters threw me a nice sprinkle, which included a mani-pedi. It was delicious, from what I can remember anyway. I guess I fell asleep.
For the third child, we decided we would tell our family and friends as we saw them, if we remembered. Everyone smiled sweetly, but the smiles were usually followed by, “Oh, again?” Nobody gave us any advice. There were no showers or sprinkles. Not even a drop. We already had all the things.
The Maternity Clothes
The first time around, I could not wait to wear my stylish maternity clothes. I had time to shop for all the items my heart desired and brought along a few girlfriends to give me fashion advice. I was going to look like Sarah Jessica Fucking Parker, with a basketball-size belly. There were accessories, including sassy heels and supple handbags.
During my second pregnancy, I still wanted to be stylish, when I had the energy, which was next to never. It was around the five-month mark when my old pregnancy clothes did not even fit me anymore. I ordered some online, in larger sizes, that were much more practical for a stay-at-home mom. It was the year of the velour tracksuit. There were no supple handbags, no heels, just me and my velour.
When I got the two lines telling me I was pregnant with my third, I was still in my (larger-sized) maternity clothes from my second pregnancy. The elastic in my velour suits had given out. I didn’t give a fuck about looking stylish. I cared about eating cake over the kitchen sink and getting my 2-year-old and my 8-month-old to nap at the same time.
The Belly Grab
The first time someone rubbed my belly when I was expecting my first, it was magical—a spiritual experience that involved an old wise man. He told me it would be a boy, an old soul who would accomplish great things. I would be the best mother that ever lived, and all would be right in the world. I loved the belly touches and ate them all up.
During my second pregnancy, every once in a while I was OK with the belly touch, but mostly no. Just no. I would use my 1-year-old as a shield if he was perched on my hip. If I was not carrying him, I could bend over his stroller and pretend like he needed my immediate attention and avoid the belly-stroking.
With the third, my resting bitch face was a blessing. Sometimes I would practice it in the mirror before going out in public. It worked. Nobody dared attempt to feel my enlarged uterus. This helped me avoid a lot of bad decisions. To this day, I cannot truthfully say if I would have been able to resist punching anyone who came within two feet of my bulging belly with an outstretched arm. At the very least, I am sure I would have said, “Hands off, bitch,” even if I were to meet up with the magical wise man again.
For my first pregnancy, I was quite hungry after the first trimester. I started indulging a bit more than usual but was careful not to overdo it. I gained a fair amount of weight that—with a little work—seemed to be gone after nine weeks.
During my second pregnancy, I tried to keep things under control, but would occasionally find myself drinking bags of chips while sitting on the kitchen floor playing cars with my son. Velveeta mac and cheese became my lunch of choice, and I was able to drink a container of chocolate milk in two swallows.
By my third, I didn’t give a flying fuck and gave into every food fantasy that I ever had. If I went to a burger joint that did not offer meat toppings, there were tears. Not my tears, but tears of the sorry soul who said there were no meat toppings. I made a batch of frosting and ate the whole thing. I was a food whore. I dipped foods that were not dippable. I got my fist stuck in the peanut butter jar more than once. I am pretty sure the “12 years old and younger only” sign by the free cookies in our local grocery store is my fault.
Halfway through my first pregnancy, I felt the gentle butterfly kiss of the first kick. I loved it and wanted more. The flutters always felt calm, never invasive. The first time I felt the steady rhythm of hiccups, I cried.
With my second pregnancy, I felt the kicks sooner, and they were stronger. In those last weeks, I got a good swift kick on the ribs every time I sat down to dinner. There were times I could see the outline of a foot or hand. It was fascinating, yet painful.
During my third pregnancy, my bladder was used as a slip and slide. My ribs were monkey bars, and I was sure I had been bitten on the inside more than once.
While things changed with every pregnancy, the one thing that stayed the same was the joy I felt when they were over. The squishy love fest that I couldn’t wait to have with each baby would begin. Our growing family was worth all the kicks, changes of undies, and unwanted belly grabs. Sometimes, after I have dropped all three of my kids off at school, I come home, put on my velour jumpsuit, and make myself some frosting. No pregnancy needed.