When I was pregnant with David, every time I had a doctor’s appointment I’d wear a polyester-blend sundress, preferably sleeveless, with teeny tiny flip flops so that when they weighed me my number wouldn’t include any superflous clothing weight.
This time, even though I’m having another summertime baby, it’s been too cold to wear any of the maternity dresses or shorts I already owned, so I have no choice but to wear pants to my appointments. Once they weighed me wearing boots. Imagine how much more accurate my weight would be without these ridiculous long-sleeved cotton t-shirts.
That’s actually just one of the many differences between this pregnancy and my first one.
I didn’t really expect these differences. Even though I’m hoping labor is different and this baby won’t be quite so opinionated so early on, I didn’t think pregnancy would be different. I can blame some of this on David — either because he exhausts me throughout the day or because of the time he spent in the womb wrecking havoc on my innards — but other things are just my body and hormones responding differently.
My sister and I have pretty similar pregnancies. (Oddly enough, while my pregnancies are like my sister’s but my labor was almost identical to my sister-in-law’s.) My sister’s been pregnant four times, so usually when I’m shocked by something, she nods her head and tells me how she deals with it. My mom always knows we’re pregnant before we tell her because we just look so awful. That happened to me last time, and it happened again.
Speaking of awful, my face broke out terribly when I was pregnant with David. I’ve never had super-clear skin, but it got 13-year old bad in my first trimester. That didn’t happen this time, my skin remained it’s usual 17-year old bad.
I also had a lot of headaches in my first trimester this time, which never happened with David. They were pretty bad, sending me to bed with the covers over my head and taking Tylenol almost every day. The pill-popping trend continued because I’ve been sick several times. Not pregnancy nausea, but cold, and a flu, etc. I didn’t take any medicine in my first pregnancy, and this time I marched into a doctor’s office and threatened to burn the place down unless they gave me an antibiotic.
When I was pregnant with David I was starving nonstop and I craved all things salty, especially chips. Once I left work to go to the grocery store for chips. This time I haven’t been quite as hungry, and haven’t had a lot of specific cravings. But I’m not saying that I’ll turn down a mint chocolate chip milkshake if you’re offering.
My number one, huge pregnancy symptom is exhaustion — especially in the first trimester. I’m exhausted from day one until around the time the baby starts sleeping through the night. Pregnancy exhaustion is different than any exhaustion I’ve ever experienced. Growing a baby with your body is hard; it takes energy. And milkshakes. When I’m pregnant I need at least 10 hours of sleep a night and a 2-hour nap during the day.
Because of that, most of my first trimester pregnancy photos look like this.
January 2, 2011, 9 weeks pregnant
February 27, 2011, 17 weeks pregnant. (And technically no longer in the first trimester…) Can someone smack that happy fool holding her belly and posing sideways as if she actually has a belly? She has no idea what’s coming.
The second trimester is supposed to be the honeymoon period of pregnancy. You’re not beluga huge yet and you’re past the doldrums of the first trimester. The second trimester is when your energy returns and all the glowing happens.
But not for me, not for either pregnancy. I never get my energy back, I’m always tired.
This is also when the Braxton Hicks start for me. I’ve had them both times. Tom thinks they’re creepy. He sort of has a point.
Everyone says it — and it’s true — your belly gets bigger, faster with subsequent pregnancies. It took about as long for my belly to “pop” this time, but once it popped it didn’t stop. I try to wear normal clothes as long as possible because I think maternity clothes are horrible and they make you look bigger than you really are. At 20 weeks I was still wearing my jeans this time, but by 24 weeks people started thinking I was past my due date. Even though I’ve actually gained less weight this time around, the size of my belly reached water buffalo status a while ago.
The biggest second trimester difference is that I’ve been worrying about this pregnancy, and I didn’t worry when I was pregnant with David; I just assumed everything was ok. After David was born I worried plenty, I imagined worst-case scenarios, I hated letting him out of my sight.
The worrying started when the doctor called me in for a second 8-week ultrasound. They told me that everything was fine, they just needed a few more photos. Everything was fine, but I laid awake at night worrying. Then came the screening offered at doctor’s offices that will tell you if your baby has chromosomal abnormalities. Huge deformities or problems will show up on an ultrasound, but this test shows things ultrasounds can’t see — specifically, Down’s syndrome. We opted out of the screening for both pregnancies, but for some reason this time it made me worry. And it hasn’t stopped there. I’ve worried about getting in a car accident, loud noises (after reading an article about hearing loss in fetuses), and being around my cat (Brigham was an indoor-only cat when I was pregnant with David, now he goes outside, which makes him a more likely carrier of toxoplasmosis).
But there are things I don’t worry about. I haven’t been monitoring my caffeine as closely, I’ve taken Tylenol and cold medicine, and I use my belly to prop up my 30-lb toddler. When I was pregnant with David I limited myself to one Diet Coke a day and didn’t carry anything heavier than a pair of sunglasses. Unless it was a can of Diet Coke.
March 29, 2011, 20 weeks; the “I’m pregnant, not fat” stage.
April 24, 2011, 24 weeks. This is me at 24 weeks this time. It’s hard to compare so just take my word for it: I’m bigger this time.
This? This is when pregnancy gets real. This is when you stop recognizing yourself because 1) you’re so huge 2) there are parts of your body you can’t see and actually stop recognizing. When my water broke, even though I was a week late, I thought I’d peed on myself because by that time I’d lost control of the rest of my body, why should I expect to maintain bladder control?
This baby is moving a lot more than David, and a lot more…violently. David would get in uncomfortable positions, but this baby will move its leg or arm or unicorn horn in a way that makes me wonder if it’s trying to dig its way out. And it likes when I lay on my left side. If I roll on my right side I can almost hear “Mo-oo-oo-m!? I was sleeping!” from my belly…and then the thrashing starts. When I roll back to the left side, the thrashing stops and the baby lets out a deep sigh.
For a pregnant lady, I felt pretty good physically when I was pregnant with David. Sure, I had to take breaks, I got tired, but I could sleep it off and run wind sprints the next morning. No, really. Last time I ran sprints with the Track Club stars in July at 30-something weeks.
This time has been different. My back, my hips, my face hurts. I stopped running three weeks earlier, and I spend more evenings on the couch asking Tom if he can please place the straw of my milkshake in my mouth because oh my gosh the effort.
It’s hard to tell if the difference is that my days are more physical. When I was pregnant with David I ran a track program for kids, so it’s not like I was sedentary, but it was still different than caring for a toddler. Actually, can anything be compared to caring for a toddler? Your car could break down on the highway and you have to push it 5 miles home. You know, up hill in the rain. And, still, that takes less energy than explaining to a toddler that the choo choo doesn’t attach to the dump truck but could you please eat your sandwich? from 6 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.
So physically I’m ready for this pregnancy to be over, but I think I might be doing better mentally. My belly is so huge it seems impossible that I have a month left, but I do. In fact, I could have more than a month left. Well-meaning people say that the second comes sooner, but that didn’t happen for my sister, who went early with her first two and late with her second two. The truth is: anything can happen, the baby will come when it’s ready.
That last sentence? Tom said something similar to that when I was pregnant with David and I gave him the silent treatment for two hours. When I finally spoke to him, I think my exact words were, “How dare you?” and “Whose side are you on anyway?”
The funny thing is that he was right. I was a week late. And in the grand scheme of things it was ok. David obviously needed more time and when I look back, what’s one more week?
I am trying to prepare myself for going past my due date. I’m trying to think of it as more of an estimate than a deadline. (And did you know you’re not technically “over due” until you’re 42 weeks? I know. Let that sink in.) I hope that mindset helps me enjoy the final weeks of pregnancy, not just wish them away.
That’s something I hope to do with this baby when it comes, too. With David, I wished away the newborn stage and this time I hope to savor it more.
The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far about watching babies grow is that everything’s a stage. There are good stages, bad stages, hard stages, and stages you wish would last forever. But everything comes and goes, including pregnancy.
And no matter how different each pregnancy is, they’ll all have one thing in common: they’re all temporary, special, unique, fleeting…so why not enjoy it while it lasts?
July 24, 2011, 37 weeks pregnant (compared with this photo, at 34 weeks).