When you have your first baby, you follow every little thing you read in every pregnancy book, big and small. If you get the hiccups, you’re on the phone with your doctor’s office panicking. That’s because every little thing is new, and no matter what you read or how extensively you research this whole pregnancy/becoming a mom thing, you look back and laugh.
That point of laughter usually comes between you and your husband; reminisce about the quiet days before you had one child running amok around the house as you frantically set up the second child’s room days, maybe hours before he or she is born.
Oh, the naivety!
As a mom of two daughters, now ages 7 and 4, it’s funny to think back to those days when they were just bumps in my belly. With my eldest, I had no idea I was pregnant. I was only a few days late on my period, something not odd at this point because I’d recently moved abroad to teach English, and my body was still adjusting to the whirlwind chaos of it all. My clue came from the tomato on my sandwich at a café on a busy street in Seoul.
I hated tomatoes, and suddenly there I was, gobbling one up on my sandwich like it was my favorite food. A happy smoker, I was suddenly gagging when I walked by smokers. I even threw out my own pack. After taking a pregnancy test and popping by a clinic, I discovered I was 7 weeks pregnant!
I think I started showing not much after, partly because I happily stuck out my bump and partly because I was eating everything in sight. I look at pictures of me at 20 weeks with my first child, and I look like I did when I was 6 months pregnant with my second one.
This brings me to my next point: the second pregnancy was very different, for me at least.
How my second one was different
The first key difference I can tell you is that my first one was not planned. She was a pleasant surprise.
For the second one, my husband and I had just returned from a trip to Shanghai and decided we were ready. We were very lucky too. I got pregnant on the first attempt at creating her.
Even before my period was late, I felt funny. I remarked to a coworker that maybe I was dying. He laughed and laughed. As a dad of two, he said he would bet anything I was pregnant and stop by the pharmacy on my way home. Needless to say, he won that bet.
During my second pregnancy, I gained less weight than the first one. I wasn’t rigidly controlling my weight. I was simply more aware of eating the right things and not taking in as many sweets as I did with my first child.
So my symptoms began far sooner, or at least I was keener to noticing something felt different. My second pregnancy also felt longer than the first, though that was likely because I was aware of it earlier.
Here are some differences regarding symptoms between the first and second pregnancies.
They were very similar too
I had the same pregnancy cravings with both pregnancies. I somehow continued my newfound love of tomatoes after a lifetime of cringing at their existence. I ordered anchovies on my pizzas. And I wouldn’t let my husband back into the house without a palate of mangos.
While I experienced morning sickness with both pregnancies, I never once threw up. I often felt my worst in the afternoons and evenings. I never had Braxton Hicks with either pregnancy, but I heard stories from my friends, including my best friend whose husband rushed her to the hospital only to find out it was false labor.
Learn here the difference between real and false labor.
Similar yet different deliveries
Now, this is where all those books I’d read didn’t mean a thing when it came down to it for my first child. I was 38 weeks pregnant and writing on my blog when my water suddenly burst. I thought I’d peed in my pants, but when I stood up, and water kept coming, I knew it was go-time.
I was one of the 15% that experience that movie-like scenario, and I’m so grateful I was inside my house when it happened. My husband rushed home from work and got me to the hospital, yet I wasn’t dilated enough to try anything until the morning. After nearly 24 hours of labor, she turned around inside me, and we couldn’t get her to turn back the right way. I was sent for an emergency c-section.
Everything I planned for my birth went out the window, which is why I tell new moms always to be prepared with a plan but also be prepared to have to chuck that plan. All the reading and preparation you do can’t stop life from happening. Things are going to happen, and the best thing you can do is try your best to roll with it and get that baby out of there.
For my second one,
I firmly decided against a VBAC (vaginal birth after c-section) and told my doctor I wanted a planned c-section. I picked the date I wanted but was flexible enough to know that I may have to go in sooner.
It’s less scary the second time around…for some
I may not have had the experience of going through vaginal birth, but from my friends who have done so to them, it was less scary. Not less painful, just less scary. I was a bit terrified of going under the knife again.
I worried I’d die and that my in-laws would raise my eldest like wolves. I worried I wouldn’t love my second one as much as my first one. I just worried. Unlike my first thought, I remember trying to calm my toddler one evening, and I bent over and heard a faint pop. I didn’t think anything of it until much later on, while I was on bed rest at the hospital, but that was my cork popping, so to speak.
In the night, I woke up and knew I was in labor. I timed my contractions and tried to sleep the best I could, snuggling my toddler with me for the last time that it would be just us. When my husband got up to use the bathroom in the morning, I told him to call his parents because I was in labor. We were very calm about it once the time came, unlike the first one.
And despite getting stuck in rush hour traffic, we made it. They tried to send me for testing but seeing how far into labor I was, they carted me off to surgery. Soon after, I was holding another delicious baby girl.
Not to worry…
Just in case you’re wondering, because I kept wondering my whole second pregnancy too, yes, you WILL love that child as much as your first one. I promise you this. It will hit you like a tidal wave and knock you to your knees when you realize the love you feel in your heart is like having a new chamber open up previously unused.
Whatever your first pregnancy was like, get ready for it to be different in some ways than the first. Some of my friends felt sicker, some felt the same. Some got bigger with the second pregnancy. Some showed sooner, some didn’t. We’re all different, and we all go through pregnancies the same, even when we have more than one of them.
Did I tell you what it means to be a mother?
So instead of worrying, just embrace this beautiful time for those big belly kicks, the oddball cravings, and the sweet baby you’ll be holding in a few more months.
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.