Pregnancy Week 26: Looking ahead to delivery day

Today closes out week 26 of my pregnancy with Baby 2, and also wraps up the nesting frenzy that started last week.

First, a quick stats and symptoms rundown:

Baby weighs in at about 2 pounds and measures 14 inches from head to foot, or the size of a butternut squash, a slow loris, a bowling pin or an adult human skull???

Me? Oh, I’m good, thanks. Just rushing through this post on my way to nap-town because I was awake for hours last night with insane heartburn, which was 100% deserved because I celebrated my (presumed) passing of my glucose test by eating the following yesterday:

Breakfast: Homemade apple pie (my husband is amazing) and most of an everything bagel (split with The Toddler) and Neufchatel cheese

Lunch: Homemade apple pie with vanilla ice cream, also half a mango

Afternoon snack: Vanilla ice cream

Dinner: French fries

I am contrite. This college freshman diet will not happen again during this pregnancy–if not for the sake of my unborn child’s health, then for my own sake.

Speaking of my husband is amazing, we plowed through a ton of to-dos over the week he took off work, despite the unrelenting heat wave. Rather than rewrite the list, I’ll direct you to my Instagram post listing off all the stuff he made possible.

Shoutout to @immortaldavis for kicking ass on his weeklong staycation, which was mapped out hour-by-every-waking-hour so we could tackle some long neglected projects, some farm-related and others in preparation for Baby #2. Here he's catching his breath from digging up a grounding rod that got stuck in three feet of drought-hardened clay after we moved the goats. Other things we accomplished this past week: garage clean out, barn clean out, freezing gallons of apples, setting up an office in the basement to make room for the new nursery, rearranging all our closets, and finally tackling a few episodes of Fargo Season 2 after the kid went to sleep on nights we still had any energy left. He also baked me an apple pie last night, and spent lots of quality time with our son, and made sure I got to put my feet up when I got too worn out. I don't say it enough: I'm lucky AF. I couldn't have dreamed of a better partner. ❤️❤️❤️ #farmlife #famgoals #parenting #partnersforlife #luckyme

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What I really want to talk about this post is what’s been weighing on my mind this week aside from prepping our physical space for another baby: Impending labor, and how I hope to approach it this time around.

My first childbirth experience went pretty much how I hoped it would. While we were bound by insurance to deliver in a county hospital with 90 percent+ epidural rates and limited accommodations for anyone pursuing an unmedicated birth, I managed to get through L&D *without an epidural and felt like a goddamned rock star. (Here’s my birth story if you’re interested.)

.*I super don’t care how you gave birth or plan to give birth–alone in the woods, with an epidural in place beginning at 36 weeks, or a scheduled C-section and tummy tuck, so please don’t take my satisfaction at my birth going how I wanted it as judgment about your birth plans or experience.

That said, there were parts of my experience that I hope to improve upon this time around, and now that I’m approaching the third trimester, I’m starting to consider these goals in more concrete terms. I’ll probably tackle this topic from a few directions in the coming weeks, but I thought I’d start with a general list of worries and hopes, and go from there:

  1. I hope my labor is shorter than last time, but not alarmingly so. With Baby 1, it was 12 hours start to finish. I waited as long as The Husband could stand it before we left for the hospital, but back then it was a (very difficult) 10-minute drive. This time, we’re looking at a 40-minute commute, so I’m hoping to balance getting labor off the ground at home and not pushing our luck on the road.
  2. I’m worried my more sedentary second pregnancy is going to make this labor harder. I wasn’t insanely in shape the first time, but I was walking 3-4 miles almost every day, and that’s just not in the cards this time around. I’m trying to work exercise into my days when I can, but I don’t know if it will be enough to give me the strength, stamina and flexibility I had last time
  3. I want pushing to go better this time around. I talked to one of the midwives at my appointment this week about how the directed pushing (the counting, the nurses and doctor telling me when to push and how long) just didn’t feel right, and how it resulted in some moderate (and painful) tearing, along with a lot of popped blood vessels in my face and eyes. She told me she doesn’t ascribe to this method, and generally advises moms to let their bodies tell them when and how to push, so I’m hoping with enough preparation on my end and a more supportive environment at the birthing center will mean a better time of pushing, and less damage control in the aftermath.
  4. I hope my husband feels equipped to help me with birth, without a doula, this time. This birth is costing us more, so we’re not hiring a doula, and while The Husband was a great labor partner last time around, it was also really nice to have a doula to support us both. He’s got some studying up/refreshing to do (hoping to get a hold of this book soon), and I also need to do my own work to figure out what types of affirmations, massage, positions, etc. I remember being helpful last time or that I think I’d like this time so he can be ready to help me get what I need when the time comes.
  5. As I think is extremely common with second-time moms, I’m anxious about how we’ll make sure The Toddler feels included in welcoming his new sibling, how our relationship will evolve, and (of course) how the heck I’m going to survive on 3 hours of sleep a night for a few weeks while also being responsible for a 2-year-old.

Speaking of The Toddler, looks like he’s not going to be napping for awhile, so neither am I. Better wrap this up.

Pregnancy Week 26: Looking ahead to delivery day

Toddler Updates: My perpetual motion machine learns to use the potty

This blog has been almost completely dedicated to pregnancy updates for the past few months, due mostly to my inability to muster the energy to write more than once a week. Despite this, my days are full to the brim with toddler stuff and farm stuff, and my bump (and even the heartburn) are more of an afterthought. Really, this space is the only place pregnancy has taken a front seat. So it’s well past time I made some room for an update on all the other stuff! Today, I’m focusing on The Toddler, if for no other reason than to remind my future self what 21 months looks like.

But because I’m still pretty tired/lazy, I’m going to let my camera roll do most of the talking…

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Never look directly at a toddler’s chubby thigh; you may go blind. (Partial eclipse shadow cast onto The Toddler’s leg last month, during the nap strike. Not the little crescent of light.)

The Toddler is (Thank God!) back to napping pretty regularly after a very trying couple of weeks where he was flirting with the idea of quitting forever. Unfortunately, the solution to his nap reluctance has been rocking him to sleep in a soft-structured carrier. As my belly gets bigger, this becomes more and more difficult, so I’m going to have to find a new fix any day now. Setting him in his crib to fall asleep on his own, or even trying to get him to sit still while I rock him in a chair, are not feasible, as he just never stops moving.

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Putting the, “Oh…” in Cheerios. Thanks, kid.

It could be faulty memory, but I swear there was a period of time in the not too distant past I could keep the house within spitting distance of tidy at least a few days a week. That is absolutely not the case anymore. Whether he’s ransacking our closet to try on his dad’s shirts, dumping snacks everywhere he goes because he’s too busy to sit down and eat a meal, scattering a basket of clean laundry across the living room, or filling his dump truck with dried noodles and dumping them out on my bed, this kid is hell bent on destruction.

While he is sometimes willing to help with the clean-up, I often find it takes less energy for me to just wait until he’s asleep to deal with it myself than to try to battle with him/trick him/reason with him to help me clean up. The only thing that seems to get him excited is the prospect of vacuuming.

The kid has boundless energy these days. We’ve been spending a lot of time on the playground, where he’s either doing full-speed laps up the playground equipment to go down the twisty slide, or yelling, “High! High!” on the swings, tricking people into thinking he’s being friendly when really, he’s just bossing me around.

When we’re outside at home, he’s obsessed with dragging around heavy logs, dragging our garden wagon around, or digging in a dirt pile that happens to also be littered with goat poop. This means he’s been getting an exasperating number of midday showers. I’m hoping my Best Mom award hasn’t gotten lost in the mail, but I have not received it yet.

In other news, it’s been just over two weeks since we embarked on the potty training mission, and while we’re far from perfect at this stage, I thought I’d provide a brief overview of how it’s gone so far. We’re using the book Oh Crap! Potty Training by Jamie Glowacki as our guide, which in very brief advises potty training in phases or “blocks”–from naked (and watched like a hawk), to commando (no underwear, but yes pants) at home, to commando out and about in the world, etc.

We’re still in Block 3, and while prompting and built in potty break times (immediately when he wakes up, before and after getting in his carseat–we take the potty chair with us, etc.) are still very necessary to success, we are going most days without accidents and he is even self-initiating a few times a day.

Our biggest hangup right now, which I think is pretty common for the under-2 crowd, is that he isn’t figuring out the mechanics (or the necessity) behind pushing his pants down before he sits on the potty. Sometimes he’ll just walk over and hover over/sit down on the potty, fully clothed, and let loose. So I need to be there to help him with that, but since I need to be around anyway to help with wiping and emptying the potty chair, it’s not a big deal for now. We’ll get there.

He seems to take a lot of pride in being able to use the potty, and I feel fine about the pace of our progress. My main goal is to have him completely out of diapers (he still wears them for naps/night) by the time Baby 2 arrives.

We went to a new pediatrician last month who scoffed at the idea of potty training at 21 months, telling us we needed to wait until he was 2 1/2 to 3, or we’d just be “training ourselves [his parents],” but all this did was make me want to prove her wrong.

Yes, I know there are possibly risks for potty training too early (though some of these claims seem pretty dubious), and yes, I have the luxury of being the primary person to help my son get to the potty when he needs to go and not needing to rely on day care to do so, but he was enthusiastic at the outset and seems to prefer using the potty to diapers (even going so far as to wake me up a few times in the middle of the night to pee on the potty because he’d prefer not to go in his diaper.) So now felt like the right time for us, and I’m glad we went for it.

In particular, here’s what I like about Oh Crap! Potty Training, for anyone who is looking for potty training resources:

  • The author recommends ages 20-30 months (with some markers–like retreating somewhere to poop, being able to ask for something to drink when they’re thirsty) as the best time to potty train. We were getting some signals that The Toddler was seeming ready, and this book basically says, “Go for it.” There’s no waffling about readiness within that window — you decide to do it (setting a date and getting ready) and go full steam ahead. This is the attitude I find most motivating in the rest of my life decisions (taking a new job, deciding to have kids, moving to the farm), so I knew this was the approach we needed for this particular project.
  • There’s no incentivizing/rewards system. After having pushed through a brief bribery period with getting The Toddler into his carseat that got out of hand very quickly and made me feel like I was very much losing a power struggle, I can see how treats/stickers/etc. would get with potty training, and am happy to avoid it.
  • Glowacki is staunchly anti Pull-Ups, which greatly appeals to my sense of righteous indignation at the commercial exploitation of every possible childhood milestone. It seems clear to me that the point of Pull-Ups is not to help get kids potty trained, but to make them reliant on diapers way longer than they need to be, so diaper companies can sell more diapers.
  • The book is realistic about the variations in timing that each kid will take to fully adapt to using the potty, and doesn’t make you feel like a failure based on a recommended time frame.

Well, there’s a way-too-long post about my SAHM-of-a-toddler life right now! Stay tuned for exciting updates about my ever-expanding belly.

Toddler Updates: My perpetual motion machine learns to use the potty

Pregnancy Week 24: Officially losing count

The Toddler and I stopped by the playground around the corner from our house on the way back from the dry cleaner’s, and I ran into a few library story time friends who asked me how far along I was…and I absolutely could not remember.

It’s that time again, the no man’s land between the earlier part of the second trimester, when you emerge bleary-eyed and excited from first-trimester fatigue, and your belly pops so you can start to feel cute in your maternity shirts, and the mid-to-late third trimester when you once again start to question your ability to survive the fatigue and aches and pains, but you also get to enjoy the building anticipation of meeting your baby.

I’m at the point where I feel like I’ve always been pregnant, and always will be pregnant.

Baby size: Cantaloupe, eggplant, Atlantic puffin, a package of Oreos, or 13 inches long and a pound and a half.

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Sweet little puffin baby.  By Richard Bartz (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Symptoms: Last night marked my first extended insomnia-via-heartburn event, during which I got up and read on the couch for an hour or so after tossing and turning for the same amount of time.

I’ve also started noticing that gross, shifty-bones feeling I suffered the last time around, where if I sit for an extended period of time in a slouched position, or am on my feet with any extra weight (say, a large toddler), I can feel “stuck” because my joints are loose and it hurts to move. Thanks, relaxin.

I don’t have a whole lot else in the way of updates this week, other than I’m psyched to be leaving The Toddler with my parents this weekend to head off to an out-of-town wedding with The Husband. I’m going to do some napping in the minivan on the way down, some dancing, some mocktail-sipping, and probably, yes, testing the limits of those pregnancy spanx. More than anything I’m looking forward to a nice, long sleep.

Pregnancy Week 24: Officially losing count

Pregnancy Week 23: Braxton Hicks, and why I hate the mall

I’m late again for my weekly update, but I have plenty of excuses!

  1. I am in the  middle of potty training The Toddler. I’m not going to talk any more about it until we’re successfully on the other side, so reserve your horror stories, advice, dismay, etc. because it’s not up for discussion, other than for me to mention I have been watching my kid like a hawk.
  2. I have a miserable cold. How I got it is a mystery, because every illness I’ve had since The Toddler was born came directly from his sloppy sneezes into my immune system, but he’s (*knocks on wood*) fine.
  3. I enrolled in an online creative writing course through my local library (you guys, do you have any idea how many free resources are available through your library? It’s miraculous) so my writing time lately has been devoted to trying to stretch my creative muscles and work on avoiding cliches, run-on sentences and passive verbs. (Don’t expect to see this effort here, on my blog, because of #1 and #2 and I just don’t have the energy for it.)

Now that I’ve wasted 200 words on explaining why I’m a day late despite no one caring, let’s talk about Pregnancy Week 23!

Pregnancy Week 23

Baby size: Papaya, large mango, Barbie doll, box of Kraft macaroni & cheese, can of WD-40. Or somewhere around 8″ crown to rump/11″ total and a little over a pound.

Symptoms: Heartburn, of course. Also this week I started noticing periodic tension in my abdomen that must mark the beginning of Braxton-Hicks contractions, which I didn’t experience the first time around (except for one day late in my pregnancy when I had to literally run home from work to make it to our breastfeeding class on time). It seems BH are more common in subsequent pregnancies, and they have become a regular feature in mine. I’ve been trying to chug water when I notice them and give myself a break when I can, but toddler mom, blah blah.

Baby #2 is also kicking more frequently and with more force. I felt a little nostalgic lying in bed one night this week with The Husband’s hand on my belly, catching the feeling of kicks as he drifted off to sleep. I remember him doing that with The Toddler and felt such tenderness thinking about how he’ll fall in love with this baby just like he did before. I wonder if he’s more excited this time around (maybe rather than nervous) since he knows what is to come. I guess I should ask.

Speaking of childbirth, my other main symptom this week has been growing anxiety about having everything (anything?) ready by the time Baby #2 arrives. We haven’t touched our plans to rearrange the bedrooms, we have literally zero boy names that we can agree on (and don’t know the sex of the baby, so we need a shortlist for both), and I can’t help but think I should count how many weekends we have left before the due date. And then maybe sign The Toddler’s grandparents up for a few long-term babysitting gigs so we can get anything done.

Speaking of that, we’re headed to a wedding next weekend sans-Toddler. I’m looking forward to potentially sleeping in (or at least just watching TV in the hotel room). I frantically drove out to the mall yesterday with the realization that I needed to purchase a maternity dress for the occasion, and My. God.

Malls are terrible, I’m glad they’re dying, it’s incomprehensible to me that the one I visited was filled with people, and the whole experience filled me with a judgy, frustrated befuddlement. There were two puppy-mill purveying pet stores and still a place to physically buy CDs, but there were maybe six wedding guest-appropriate dresses for pregnant women in the entirety of that sprawling monument to bougie suburban consumerism.

Only H&M and Motherhood Maternity had any maternity clothes. H&M had a small section, and of the three dresses I tried on, only one came close to working but was too long. I wish I could find the one online that had a floral print with ladybugs and a pair of boob-bisecting ruffles that made me look like I was cosplaying as a pregnant eight-year-old 90’s-era Sunday school student, but you’ll just have to use your imagination.

Motherhood Maternity, as usual, was a laughable combination of headache-inducing prints, unforgivably cheap construction and insulting prices. I walked out with a form-fitting black dress made of the same polyester you’d find if you bought a ballet leotard at Walgreens, and something I never thought I’d own… a pair of what amounts to pregnancy Spanx.

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Meow.

Not feeling great about my MM purchase, I stopped at a nearby Kohl’s, bought two more dresses without trying them on, consoled myself with a Halloween-themed Cadbury egg at the checkout (now that I own pregnancy Spanx, why not?) and went home, feeling defeated.

Obviously, I should have just shopped online. But the three hours to myself were, admittedly, pretty nice.

Pregnancy Week 23: Braxton Hicks, and why I hate the mall

Pregnancy Week 22: Morse code mom-guilt

Pregnancy Week 22 has come and gone. According to people whose job it is to identify things that might be the size of a fetus at any given time, 22-week-old Baby #2 is about the size of a sack of six supermarket bagels (yummmm), an ear of corn (which is not at all the same size as a big bag of bagels, am I right?) a spaghetti squash, or a standard hatchet head (what?). In more literal terms, about 7 inches crown to rump (or a foot long head to toe) and finally hitting the one-pound mark.

Symptoms-wise, I don’t have much to add that I haven’t already said before (or that I’m willing to permanently attach to my Google-able Internet identity… all I will say that certain digestive and circulatory issues have arisen that are less than pleasant and that are quite common among pregnant women, according to What to Expect and the Internet at large. Shall we move on without further comment or speculation?)

The baby is kicking up a storm this week, though it seems to still be more of an internal sensation than one people can feel with a hand on my belly. The Husband felt two or three of the dozen successive kicks I felt as we were going to bed the other night. The Toddler even claimed to have felt a kick at one point this week, though he’ll say “Yes!” to just about anything.

While every kick was a novel thrill the first time around, with this second baby I feel a sense of guilt along with excitement every time I sense movement. Because I am definitely not as focused on this pregnancy as I was before. The Toddler demands so much of my attention, that while I see my belly in the mirror and try to eat well and exercise when I can, I feel like I’m only halfway in tune to this baby. So the kicks feel like a, “Hey! I’m still here! Take a second and think about how crazy and amazing that is!”

Pregnancy Week 22

Other things those kicks seem to be saying to me, with increasing insistence as the pregnancy progresses:

“You don’t have a SINGLE boy’s name picked out that you’d be okay with calling me? What if I’m a boy? Shouldn’t you get on that?”

“Um, where will I be sleeping when I get here?”

“I feel WIRED!!! Are you really drinking coffee? You didn’t drink coffee the first time around. I’m going to come out CRAZY.”

“Remember all those green leafy vegetables you ate with my brother? Idk if a prenatal vitamin is going to make up for the fact you’ve eaten frozen yogurt ice cream sandwiches for lunch every day this week. Also, don’t blame that muffin top on me.”

Is this how it usually is with second babies?

Oh also, I had a really fun pregnancy nightmare that had me crying so loudly in my sleep that my husband had to shake me awake. I dreamed I went for a routine brain scan (as one does when pregnant?) and the doctor told me I have a giant tumor that will kill me within six months, and that it also spread to the baby’s brain, making the baby incapable of surviving outside my womb, so I’d have to terminate. Ugh.

On a lighter note to end, we did end up getting a minivan: It’s a 2014 Honda Odyssey with a ton of miles on it, but it’s also loaded… backup camera, built-in vacuum cleaner, bluetooth, heated seats, remote start… we figured if we were going full dork, we might as well enjoy some luxury. I gotta say, it’s not the worst thing ever.

Pregnancy Week 22: Morse code mom-guilt

Pregnancy Week 21: Losing my cool (in more ways than one)

Week 21, everybody!

Baby is the size of: A baby bok choi, a carrot, a head of endive, a baseball hat, or a “least weasel,” depending on who you ask. Or about 10 1/2 inches long and 12 ounces.

I’ve been feeling plenty of kicks this week. They’re mostly way down in my pelvis because I no longer have any abs to speak of to hold my uterus aloft, so I haven’t been able to offer The Husband quite as many opportunities to feel the kicks as I did the first time around. These low kicks have also been making bathroom trips pretty suspenseful if I ever drink more than a teaspoonful of liquid.

Other symptoms: Heartburn, heartburn, heartburn. You know that feeling when you get water up your nose at the pool? I feel that low-key almost all the time. You’d think it would stop me from eating so much, but nope. I apparently favor being full all the time over sleeping more than six hours a night. My current lazy pregnancy craving that I try to justify as healthy is plain yogurt with mini chocolate chips and whole almonds.

I had an appointment with my midwife this week and forgot all but one question I had. I also went grocery shopping and bought almost nothing we needed, and cannot remember the rest of the things I’ve forgotten this week and hoped to list to illustrate how bad my memory is. Suffice it to say I have a serious case of mom brain.

Quite a bit of this can be attributed, however, not to my fetus but to my 20-month old, who is hellbent on giving up naps and went four days in a row without one.

Four days. In a row.

I came as close as I ever have to a nervous breakdown on Tuesday, and found myself stomping my feet and yelling in the dark of the pantry, having a full-blown tantrum because The Toddler wouldn’t sleep, and I was so, so tired. And of course, there’s nothing more guilt-inducing than completely losing your cool at an angel-faced baby who just wants to “pway!!!” in his words. So I spent a good chunk of Tuesday afternoon wallowing in terrible feelings.

Finally, on Wednesday, I figured out that I could get him calmed down if I put him in the Boba carrier and rocked him to music. He’s just so amped up on playing and reading and talking and exploring that slowing down for a nap feels like torture to him. I get it–I can’t go to sleep just because someone tells me to, but holy shit, I need a break during the day.

Anyway, so for now at least, naps are fixed, and I am working really hard on being patient with my increasingly opinionated toddler.

Tomorrow, The Husband and I are heading out to test drive a minivan and probably buy it. I am not at all pumped about this dorky progression in our lives, but my little Subaru hatchback can barely accommodate one rear-facing carseat and a stroller.

Unfortunately, living on a farm means we can’t walk to anything, so if I ever want to leave the house with both my children, we’re going to need a bigger ride. I know I conceded 99% of any coolness I ever possessed long ago, but this really feels like the end of days for my non-mom identity. Somebody please tell me it will be okay.

I am consoled by the fact that buying a minivan is at least one thing we can check off the seemingly endless list of Things That Must Be Done Before Baby 2 Arrives.

Pregnancy Week 21-

Pregnancy Week 21: Losing my cool (in more ways than one)

Guest post: Erin, mom of two (among other things), shares her story

Hi friends!

It’s been a heck of a week already (more on that later), so I am *super* glad I reached out to an old friend from high school, who just launched her own blog to help people coping with eating disorders (and, oh yeah, NBD, had her second baby) to help me out with a guest post, Q&A style. As the reality of being a mom of two sets in, I am grateful to have her share some wisdom on motherhood.

Without further ado, I am pleased to introduce Erin.

Erin and her family
Erin, her husband and her two little ones, under the Gateway Arch in their current hometown of St. Louis

Erin’s bio:

My family and I recently moved to St. Louis from Georgia for my husband’s job when I was about halfway through my second pregnancy. The Second Kid, a baby boy, is now 4 months old and The First Kid, a girl, turned 2 years old at the end of May.

In Georgia, I owned a private practice as a dietitian specializing in eating disorders and related issues. Right now, I’m staying home with the kids until we’re ready for me to go back to work part-time. Until then, I’ve been enjoying writing my blog at RecoveringWithGod.com.

How were your two pregnancies different? In general, do you like being pregnant or is more of a necessary but miserable means to an end?

I thought I liked being pregnant until The Second Kid! I had more nausea, fatigue, and discomfort with the second pregnancy. I think moving out of state and chasing around a toddler made the experience much different.

What were some things you learned in your first pregnancy, childbirth experience or early parenting days that you wanted to be sure you did differently the second time around? What were some important consistencies you wanted to maintain between the two?

This is a BIG question. The short answer is: get less tests and be choosy about health care professionals. The explanation is long and intense, but worth sharing with you and other parents.

We almost lost my first child based on a diagnosis that was made in utero. We were told by a specialist doctor that our baby would likely not survive to term and if she did there was a 0% chance that we’d have a healthy, normal baby. The doctor insinuated that terminating the pregnancy was the way to go based on a growth he spotted on the back of the baby’s head at 11 weeks. He said that it was an encepholocele, a type of neural tube defect in which brain matter protrudes through an opening of the skull. He left us with very little hope, no follow-up appointments, and no recommendations for other consultations or specialists.

It was the absolute worst day of my life. But our friends and family prayed. After I made the initial call to the abortion clinic (please no judgments), I felt God nudging me to get a second opinion. More prayers.

The second-opinion-doctor made us feel like we were in this together and gave us options. We waited. With every visit thereafter, the growth miraculously shrunk or stayed the same size. By the third trimester, the malformation was no longer detectable and the issue was considered resolved.

Against the odds, our baby was born as healthy as can be.

SOOOOO, how did all this change the second pregnancy? Well, the reason we went in for that 11-week ultrasound with The First Kid was because we were going to test for a genetic disorder that runs in my family that has the potential to be fatal. With The Second Kid, we decided NOT to get that test. We learned that (1) test results don’t always predict outcomes, (2) the test results wouldn’t change our actions during pregnancy—we wouldn’t terminate, and (3) God can heal.

I’m not really sure how to segue from that, but there are plenty of other things I did differently as well. I chose a birthing center instead of the typical hospital setting to give birth. Reasons include the following experiences that I had at the hospital with The First Kid: (1) getting my membranes stripped without consent, (2) my birthing plan was not followed or even saved in my chart to refer to, (3) I had to wait for the doctor to arrive before I could push, even though my body was screaming at me to PUSH! (4) Oh yea, I had to go through the transition stage of labor in the crowded waiting room, like WITH THE FAMILIES (who were staring at me because I was apparently making scary noises). In contrast, I loved the birthing center. Their practices were in line with everything I wanted, so I didn’t have to constantly worry or double check what they were doing. They listened. They didn’t rush. Gosh, I loved them so much. If you don’t like your healthcare team, look for someone else. I say that as a healthcare professional and I would say it to my clients too.

How were your two labor experiences?

I was told the second labor is typically half the length of time as the first. This made me quite nervous because I barely made it to the delivery room with The First Kid, but it was true! I was in labor from about 6pm-midnight for The First Kid and 9pm-midnight for The Second Kid. (To the women who have long labors, I am sorry and you are all amazing warriors).

There were no false alarms with The First Kid—once contractions started, they were regular and the real deal. With The Second Kid, I experienced contractions that didn’t turn into labor, which drove my anticipatory anxiety out the roof!

I labored at home longer for The First Kid because I was only 1 cm earlier that afternoon. With my second labor, the midwives never checked dilation at any appointments, but I knew I had to leave ASAP once contractions were at regular intervals.

Both babies arrived the day after their due date.

Both labors were medication-free. I used some Hypnobabies concepts with both labors even though I personally think it’s a bit cheesy. I really enjoyed the practices in Mindful Birthing by Nancy Bardacke and highly recommend that book. It’s more evidence-based, less judgmental, and the skills can be used throughout the parenting experience. I need to go back and reread some sections!

I keep being reminded to expect my two children to be very different from each other, though it’s hard to imagine my second baby beyond what I know from my first. How are your two babies different so far?

The First Kid came out small and dainty and always falling asleep. The Second Kid came out sturdy and big and eager to eat. The First Kid was laid-back and The Second Kid is usually tense, but both happy. The First Kid was very observant and could entertain herself easily, interested in the smallest of details. The Second Kid (at least in this stage) seems to need a lot more stimulation. Thankfully, he loves watching his older sister as she runs around, dances, and gives him toys.

How did you prepare your first child for the arrival of your second? How has she adjusted to being a big sister? Are there any specific books/philosophies/etc. you relied on to help guide you through getting her prepared?

We talked about baby brother while I was pregnant and read the book “I Am a Big Sister” by Caroline Jayne Church, which I highly recommend. I’m not sure how much she understood, but she does mimic the girl in the book by helping. I also instituted “special time” with her while I was pregnant. We sing a song about special time, set a timer, and I spend 10 devoted and undivided minutes with her. Quality (attentive time) is over quantity (distracted time).

She’s loved and adored her baby brother since she met him. It was an adjustment (aka Tantrum City), of course, but she took her frustrations out on her dad and me for not giving her enough attention. She never acted resentful toward her baby brother. I’d say it took about 3 months for her to adjust. Now that she’s adjusted, she can truly be a big help to me at times even though she’s only two.

Talk about the first few days/weeks of being a mom of two, in general. What was the hardest part? Was there anything that went easier than expected?

The hardest part was definitely not having the ability to be there for my little girl. There are moments when you have to choose which child to attend to first, and the crying baby usually takes priority. Thankfully, The First Kid encourages me to go help The Second Kid when he cries, but she forgets that means she can’t get what she wants right away!

Taking care of a baby in general has been easier this time because I knew what to expect. I’m no longer trying to follow every rule or sift through all the conflicting baby advice on the internet…there’s no time for that!

I had a really rough time getting started with breastfeeding the first time around. If you nursed both times (and are willing to share), what was it like starting again?

It was a cinch! I had some insecurities the first time around, which I think most women do, and a naturally petite baby, which our first pediatrician freaked me out. However, a year’s worth of practice with the first child makes a huge difference for the second. Now the real challenge is breastfeeding while doing other tasks, such as reading a book with The First Kid in my lap, pouring a glass of milk, or putting on a shoe!

How did you and your husband adjust to having two? 

In general, my husband watches the The First Kid and I’m in charge of The Second Kid, especially in the beginning when I was nursing non-stop. We had visitors the first several weeks who we could hand either kid off to, which was loads of help! Then we were forced to figure out how to handle both at the same time when my husband returned to work and I had occasional appointments I needed to attend. We’re still figuring it out!

In general, what advice that I may not have covered that you’d offer to parents expecting their second child?

Go easy on yourself. You won’t be able to do it perfectly, if there is such a thing. It’s okay to plop your toddler down in front of the TV to attend to the baby, or *gasp* get a moment to yourself. (My husband is constantly reminding me of this). Are they smelling a little ripe because you haven’t bathed them in awhile? They won’t remember! Did you just yell at your toddler for a stupid reason? Genuinely tell him you’re sorry and that you feel sad/mad right now, and hey it turns into a teaching moment! Even if you don’t muster up the apology, life goes on and you are a good mom. Some mood swings and bending the rules won’t change that.

Do what’s easiest. Opt for grocery delivery, Amazon Prime, carryout meals, a cleaning service, and any other convenience you can find. If you’re thrifty like me, tell yourself it’s just for this season. You’re in survival mode the first couple months, so only expend energy on the priorities.

And finally, picking your nutritionist/disordered eating expert brain, I wondered if you had any wisdom regarding self acceptance/body positivity for new moms and/or setting a good example of this for your kids.

It’s important for postpartum women to give themselves space to grieve their old bodies. We have constant messages thrown at us to “lose the baby weight fast”, and then we’re also told to “appreciate our stretch marks and mommy tummy” because it’s “so worth it.” We feel guilty if we can’t get back to our pre-baby bodies AND we also feel guilty if we aren’t “positive” about this new body.

It’s okay to feel sad about your body sometimes. It doesn’t mean that you’re vain or shallow. It doesn’t mean that you lack gratitude. Avoiding feelings and pretending you’re fine never ends well. Journal or talk to a trusted fellow mom. Give yourself grace—your body just went through a traumatic experience, you’re healing, your hormones are crazy, you’re tired. Look the way you look and feel the way you feel.

Try to accept both your body and your feelings, and don’t beat yourself up if acceptance is a tough concept right now.

As for setting a good example for your kids, be nice to yourself. Even when we think they may not be looking, kids notice those under-the-breath remarks in the fitting room or self-deprecating comments over second helpings of ice cream. Then they mimic us. Give yourself the love and respect that you give to your kids.

There you have it! Aren’t I lucky to know her? She shared such an incredible story  — I’m stunned at her strength through the terrifying diagnosis in her first pregnancy and utterly appalled at her hospital experience with her first childbirth!!! — and so many good ideas — the “Special Time” idea is getting implemented STAT in our house, and I’ve got some new reading to tackle. (As usual, nothing on this site is sponsored, so the Amazon links are just for your convenience.)

I really needed some encouragement today and was so happy to find Erin’s words in my inbox. I hope you enjoyed it, too.

While her blog is a faith-based resource for people struggling with disordered eating, and not a mom blog, I know that there certainly is overlap between those two groups of people. In addition to selfishly picking Erin’s brain to prepare myself for parenting two, I also hoped that connecting with her would help connect any of my readers who might be struggling. If you are (or know someone who is) dealing with an eating disorder, visit RecoveringwithGod.com for words of encouragement. (And, as Erin points out in her bio, you should also seek treatment with a health care professional.) Take care of yourself, Mama.

P.S. I can’t figure out how to get someone a draft for review on WordPress without it going live, so sorry if you got a blank/password protected email post!

Guest post: Erin, mom of two (among other things), shares her story