The Difference Between the First and Third Pregnancies

Guess what? I’m pregnant with our third baby.

Seven years ago, I was pregnant for the first time. A lot has changed since then. As a couple, our entire universe has shifted. We live in a different state, have different jobs, different friends, and we’re six years into this wild ride of parenting.

So much has changed, yet I can’t help but compare this pregnancy to my first.

All three times, I neither love nor hate pregnancy. It’s fine. Overall, pregnancy is a marathon of annoying. Odd bodily changes, depressing wardrobe choices, and lack of wine make for a long ten months.

But some parts are cool, like ultrasound sneak peeks, or talking with our daughters excitedly about a new brother or sister. Having kids old enough to understand gives this one a new spin.

Back in 2010, I’d pore over my labor and delivery book (complementary with our birth class) over breakfast. I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” front to back. I consumed these to learn about the crazy physical feat I was about to endure. Not only was I afraid of childbirth (which, honestly, who isn’t?), I was scared of the afterbirth, pooping on the delivery table, breastfeeding, caring for an umbilical cord, and postpartum depression. Reading all the books made me feel slightly empowered.

Pregnant in 2010, probably pondering how the hell I was going to go through childbirth.

I got weekly updates that informed me the baby was the size of a kiwi, a carrot, or a melon.

At night, I’d geek out our baby name book. I loved making name combinations and obsessing over them. I made Dave listen to my ongoing list revisions.

I no longer read about labor and delivery. I read fiction, books to my kids, or Real Simple. I recently gave “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” to the consignment shop. I find it painfully boring and unhelpful (What You May Be Feeling This Month – Exhaustion, Gas, Bloating, Nausea, Constipation, yeah yeah yeah).

I don’t know what size this baby is compared to produce. I just know if I can wear these pants one more day.

At four months along, I still love thinking about names, and I leaf through the book, although now with my older daughter. Our conversation goes like this:

Me: “What about Cael?”
Edie: “Kale is a vegetable.”
Me: “Fair enough. What about Jed?”
Edie: “Not fancy.”
Me: “True.”

I appreciate the kid perspective. I jot a few names down in my iPhone. Sometimes I’ll text Dave an idea. We have a few we generally agree on, and we’ll choose when it’s time. I don’t feel the need, or have the brain space, to obsess.

I recently came across my birth plan from 2010. I nearly spit out my coffee (which I drink with pleasure) as I read my wishes outlined. Specifying how dim I wanted the lights, what soundtrack to play, when to get the epidural (early!), and that my husband might not be able to handle blood – I can’t read that nonsense without laughing. Nothing went down the way I expected or planned, and it was crazy, but it was all fine.

I drafted that plan because I wanted to feel a sense of control. Although now I feel more relaxed about the previous stuff I fretted over, I completely sympathize with the stress and anxiety of an expectant mother. I don’t know any woman who isn’t intimidated by the crazy physical and emotional challenges we must confront in order to have and care for a baby (not to mention all the child-rearing that follows, but that’s another post).

Of course we are hoping for a healthy, happy child, but this time I worry about different things. I worry about how the dynamic of our family will shift, or how my career will be impacted, or how much more laundry I’ll have to scale to reach my bed, or what being “advanced maternal age” really means, or how much harder it’ll be to find time for myself and each kid, or what our bank account will look like.

But just like in 2010, it’ll all be crazy, but it’ll all be fine.

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