When I was pregnant with my first child, I was in that blissful pregnancy bubble: in constant awe of the wonder of creating life and delighted at every milestone. I devoured pregnancy magazines and blogs and downloaded every pregnancy app I could find.
I was diligent about getting ample sleep, eating well and exercising, taking my prenatal vitamins, and cutting out caffeine, cold cuts, and sushi. My world revolved around that bun in my oven.
Pregnancy number two is nothing like that.
Here are striking differences that signify it’s not your first rodeo:
1. You forget you’re pregnant…for days at a time.
Now that Baby #2 is kicking, I am reminded of her presence, but in the beginning I would forget about my pregnancy for days. I’m just too busy with my other child to bask in the warm pregnancy glow. And in fact…
You know how genteel Southern ladies claim they glisten or glow rather than sweat? Real moms sweat. And develop varicose veins…in all sort of places. Just sayin.’
3. Your high heels are hermetically sealed.
During pregnancy #1 I attempted to look my best for work and for going out. (Going out…sigh.) I pinned cute maternity looks on Pinterest and wore strappy sandals and dresses. This time around it’s all about a pair of jeans, t-shirts, oversized sweaters, and any shoes that slip on so I don’t have to bend over.
4. What To Expect When You’re Expecting is gathering dust in a box somewhere.
My plan is to locate my birthing books and cram for birth #2 a week before my due date, the same way I crammed for exams during my second year of university when I majored in “Partying” and “My Boyfriend 101”.
5. You’re never seen after dark.
When I see a pregnant woman out after dark I know that she is either (a) expecting her first child or (b) being forced to attend an event for work or by a friend without children who does not understand that 8 pm is the new 1 am.
6. Mo’ pregnancies, mo’ problems.
Every woman I know who is on her second or third pregnancy has new and not-so-fun side effects that didn’t happen the first time around: much stronger morning sickness (let’s just start calling this what it is: all-day, every day sickness), varicose veins, excruciating ligament pain, and more.
So no, we aren’t feeling the glow.
7. Your partner forgets you’re pregnant, too.
Remember those backrubs and “no, you rest—I’ll make dinner” moments during pregnancy #1? That is over. Your partner is also too busy to remember that you are with child half of the time, and too tired to do much about it the rest of the time.
8. Weekly “bump” photos aren’t happening.
They’re just not. I have no idea what fruit my baby resembles this week. I am not even sure what week I’m on.
9. The sonogram pictures are…somewhere.
The first time, you framed them/blogged them/e-mailed them. Now you’re not sure where they are. I managed to text my family a photo of the first one before it disappeared into the Narnia of my life. That’s pretty good, right?
10. You own zero mama-to-be products.
During my first pregnancy I diligently oiled my bulging abdomen with belly butter for nine months, drank pregnancy teas, and spritzed myself with something called Morning Wellness Spray.
This time around, it’s a good week if I remember to use some drugstore-brand moisturizer on my belly once or twice. Stretch marks are badges of honour, people. That’s what I’m telling myself anyway.
11. No baby shower.
I get it. It’s like a second marriage—we’re all like, “Do I really have to buy this person another kitchen appliance?” But it’s too bad that now that you know the stuff you should have asked for the first time around, you’ve got to buy it yourself—and yet you probably won’t because you know now how expensive everything is going to be in the coming years and you can just make do. Unless you’ve got a big gap between kids or weren’t expecting another (surprise!)—and then you may be facing buying everything again. Cha-ching!
If you have some really awesome friends or family you might get a baby “sprinkle” (hint, hint) or at least some great secondhand stuff.
12. Nursery schmersury.
You may have designed a nursery down to the pinstriped drawer liners and monogrammed pillows for Baby #1. But Baby #2 is likely getting the hand-me-down nursery, now with more stains and significantly less organization and a healthy dose of “Where in the world are all our newborn onesies???”
Or if your baby is sharing a room with your older child, that designer nursery has now become an explosion of toys, games and books that will absolutely not be baby-proofed in time. Sorry, Baby #2. We still love you.
13. You are significantly less worried.
This is the best thing about second pregnancies. You know you can do the birthing thing. It’s not gonna be fun, but you can do it.
Plus, you have less time to worry about or Google every symptom. And if you’re like me, you have given up worrying about about lots of things you were concerned with the first time (in moderation, of course), like drinking coffee, eating soft cheese, wearing nail polish, the potential dangers of jogging, using sunscreen, and taking baths.
And let me tell you, pregnancy is so much better with a cappuccino.
Here’s what else is great about having done it already: One, if your child is old enough, s/he can get in on the excitement too. Sharing in the excitement with my very excited three-year-old daughter is something I am so happy to experience. (And yes, we’ve prepped her to know that a newborn isn’t an instant playmate and no, her baby sibling won’t be tobogganning with her any time soon.)
Two, second-time (and third- or fourth-time) moms know something first-time moms don’t: pregnancy and birth are built up into a huge deal but in the end, that nine months is gone in a flash. What remains is a child—in your life every day for the foreseeable future. That’s what matters. And that’s where the real challenges and joys begin.
Shannon Kelly is the Managing Editor at Help! We’ve Got Kids.