Until about seven months ago, I was a smug asshole about my first pregnancy. I did not understand why women complained so much about being pregnant and was sure I was either especially good at being pregnant, or everyone else was just especially bad. Prolonged nausea? Stretch marks? Excessive weight gain? Heartburn? Aches and pains? Clearly these ladies just needed something to complain about. And obviously I knew something they didn’t.
Smug asshole, I tell you.
This time, it’s been one thing after another. And another. I am huge, uncomfortable, and achy and have been in and out of the doctor’s office with more concerns in the last week than I had my entire first pregnancy. No one needs to warn me: I know this baby is already a very, very different soul from his brother. Here’s what’s different this time around:
During my first pregnancy, I walked daily and ate an abundance of salmon and spinach. I kept an extensive log of my protein intake and a daily checklist of birth-preparation exercises.
I was pretty obnoxious.
My diet during this pregnancy has been made up primarily of two food groups: foods that won’t make me vomit and leftovers from my 3-year-old’s plate. Exercise has consisted of chasing after said 3-year-old and walking from my bed to the bathroom no less than five times per night.
Body Changes/Weight Gain
I hate to brag (no, I don’t), but the damage was pretty minimal in round one. I gained 25 pounds and was back at my pre-pregnancy weight by my six-week checkup. I believed I had escaped stretch marks through a combination of superior genetics and an overpriced oil I rubbed on my abdomen twice a day.
This time? Ha! I stopped looking at the scale when I hit my delivery weight the first time around—sometime in the second trimester. And I can’t talk about stretch marks with you right now without having an emotional breakdown, so, let’s leave it at that.
I’ve always felt lucky that I had a great birth experience with my first. I never really had that “get this baby out of me” feeling, possibly because I was in hard labor right on my due date. However, despite zealous preparation for a natural birth, complete with 12 weeks of childbirth education, I ended up getting an epidural and was certainly humbled by the whole multiday saga.
I have no idea how this birth will go; I am simultaneously terrified of having a premature baby and having to be induced for going weeks over. I have a humility now that comes from experience—from knowing women who weren’t as lucky as I was to deliver a perfectly healthy baby and from witnessing firsthand that the birthing process should be respected rather than controlled. My plan this time is to check my ego at the door, surrender to whatever the cards have in store, and do what needs to be done to get us both through it as safely as possible.
My mom told me ages ago, “You get one free pass. It’s easy to recover from the first one. After that, you have to work your ass off.” And this ass? Let’s just say I’ll have my work cut out for me. I’ve already been told I’ll need pelvic floor therapy (Google it—basically physical therapy for your vag, super sexy), and I have a feeling I’ll be carrying around other badges of honor (*cough* hemorrhoids *cough*) as souvenirs for quite some time.
Growing, birthing and nurturing babies is hard work. I am so grateful and humbled by the experiences I’ve had doing it. Having one healthy baby is a miracle in itself, and I find myself on my knees praying for that miracle again, one more time.
This is my plea. This is my apology. And this is my warning to anyone who may relate: Be grateful if you had an easy first pregnancy but know that it was probably a wonderful stroke of luck, or a conspiracy by the universe to convince you to procreate a second time. Or, in my case, both.