Thursday, December 15, 2005

On Hating My Second Pregnancy

On Hating My Second Pregnancy
Stephanie Chockley

For many reasons, I felt it was important to have a second child. I don’t have any quarrels with those who choose to have only one, but the idea of raising an only child isn’t very appealing to me personally. (Watching my only-child best friend deal with her chronically ill mother is but one of the reasons.) I haven’t come across many articles talking about the second pregnancy (a term I’m using to represent the second child—actually my fourth pregnancy) so I figured it would be a lot like the first. I know, every pregnancy is different, but I mean the general idea of it. I think I was wrong. And I think more women should write about it! So for your reading pleasure, here’s my list of what sucks about my second pregnancy.

1. I have always compared the first trimester to a hangover—you’ve got a headache and you feel vaguely nauseous. Sometimes you puke, sometimes you don’t. But you’re sure a big plate of carbs and a nap would make everything better. If that’s the case, my first pregnancy was like the morning after opening an extra bottle of wine during dinner with my husband, when I still had the glow of drunken sex on me and didn’t really regret it. This second pregnancy has been more like the morning after my bachelorette party, only with indigestion and constipation. And hemorrhoids.

2. For some reason I can’t stand the weight gain this time. To be fair, I’ve gained too much weight in the first trimester. That’s my own fault. But I guess losing the weight from the first baby was a bigger accomplishment than I realized, and I didn’t predict how personally I would take it when I started gaining again. The first time I couldn’t wait to show and get into maternity clothes—this time I am embarrassed that I look pregnant so early (as you may know, the stomach pops right out the second time) and can’t figure out how to dress. Plus I am the fifth woman in my office of twenty people to be pregnant this year, so all the maternity fashion surrounding me makes me feel extra pressure in this area. I just feel frumpy.

3. It seems like this second baby is much more expensive. I guess we had room for one baby in our budget, but our jobs and bills haven’t changed since then so two really seems like a stretch. More than half of my take-home pay will go to childcare, but I’m the spouse with insurance so it would be too expensive for me to quit. And with the second one, the cost of raising a child is no longer an abstract notion. I’ve lived with the reality of it for two years, so it seems a little more imposing this time around.

4. The first time, I loved being pregnant. It was a magical experience, and every change and discomfort was greeted with awe. “I feel a little sick today!” I’d happily exclaim to my husband, thrilled by each new symptom. This time the magic is gone. I’m just as excited to be having another baby—I can’t wait to meet this miracle growing inside of me, and to spend the rest of my life loving him—I just don’t have a lot of patience for the journey this time. Now when I feel sick, I think ahead to the pressure the growing baby will put on my stomach and bladder, and when I burp I remember how much worse the indigestion will get. No one warned me that I might feel this way—I had no idea! I thought that looking forward to the baby was what made the pregnancy fun, but apparently for me it was the novelty of it.

5. The one I was most unprepared for is the fact that I feel horribly guilty. I mean, I know plenty of people who have siblings, plenty of people with two children—it seems perfectly normal to me. So I was caught off guard the day I looked at my son and thought, What am I doing to him? How can I deprive him of any of my time or attention? How can I tell him I’m too tired to play with him? And (cue the tears) what am I going to do when my belly is too big for him to sit in my lap!?

That one was the kicker. I had never before considered that he wouldn’t fit on my lap. How could I not have? Do other women not have these feelings? Why didn’t any of them tell me about this?

I know that not all women feel this way during their second pregnancy. I’m sure there are many who enjoyed it more than the first, many who hated or loved them both. Hell, I only have one trimester under my belt. Sure I’ve spent the first three months bitterly replying “Horrible!” to anyone who dared ask me how I feel, but who knows what my mindset will be a few months down the road! The point is that no one even alerted me to the possibility of these wild feelings. I’ve read hundreds of different takes on pregnancy from first-time moms, but not many from veteran moms. I’ve read stories from moms with two kids who share the joys of their second births, or discuss how their children get along, but not how being pregnant might be different the second time. So here is one mom’s take on it. Wish me luck. . .

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