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.
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:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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 launchedher 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.
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 atRecoveringWithGod.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!
I’ve been dreading its inevitable arrival this pregnancy, and there’s no denying it: Week 16 has been the official debut of full-fledged heartburn.
When I was pregnant with The Toddler, it started off as a light burning sensation in the back of my throat after some meals that I tamped back down with a handful of Tums, and gradually it evolved into a perpetual feeling my back teeth were dissolving and the shocking wake from a dead sleep a few times a week because I was suddenly choking on acid.
My OB ended up prescribing me some legit heartburn medication (I think it was Prilosec?) that I felt reallllly nervous about taking because it was a Class C drug and I hadn’t so much as used scented laundry detergent up until that point because I was paranoid about causing a loss or birth defect or irredeemable personality flaw in my unborn baby. But after a week or so of not being able to eat, I caved, and never looked back. (So far, any of The Toddler’s personality flaws are still redeemable and connect quite clearly back to his progenitors.)
I don’t know how else to make heartburn sound entertaining, so let’s move along.
I had an appointment with my midwife on Monday this week. I got to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler, which was nice because at the last appointment they weren’t able to find it and ended up doing a “quick ultrasound just to double-check” that sent me into a brief but genuine tailspin of worry.
I discussed with her our decision to forego a doula this time around, which she supported. If you read my first birth story, you’ll know I strongly encourage everyone to bring a doula on board your birth team for a myriad of reasons, but considering the very different environment of a birth center, the speed with which my first birth progressed, the added expense of this birth (plus the fact I’m working EXTREMELY part-time now), we’ve decided to save the money and commit to some serious husband-wife bonding to prepare for this birth.
So far on my list are: Buy paper fan for fanning me, make laminated flashcard deck with supportive phrases other than, “Good job. You are doing a good job,” which became The Husband’s mantra during The Toddler’s birth and eventually made me want to rip his throat out (I love you), and…that’s it. We have plenty of time to figure out the rest.
I ordered some new maternity T-shirts and tanks because my belly really just looks like a gut if I’m in regular clothes, and almost all my maternity shirts from last time around are long-sleeved. Because I wasn’t this big this early last time around. I’ve been trying to keep up with some degree of exercise despite the 85+ heat this week, and every time I try to eat a fudgesicle the Toddler steals it from me, so my plan for sensible weight gain this time around is going great.
So that’s it for Week 16: Heartburn, being sweaty, and having a blessedly uneventful midwife appointment. I’ll take it!
Guess what, Internet! Choose your favorite euphemism. I’m once again with child, expecting, knocked up, got a bun in the oven, in the family way, eating for two, etc.
I am pregnant with Baby No. 2!!!
I am beginning this post right around the 7 weeks mark, though I won’t publish it for a few more weeks unless I get an itchy trigger finger. But I thought it might be helpful for any early-pregnancy readers who are Googling their brains out to consume real life accounts of other women’s early pregnancies.
Before I proceed, let me revive the caveat that pregnancy is something that happens to a human body, so if you don’t feel like learning the details of mine, steer clear. I’m not going to post pictures of my bathroom trips or anything like that, but I also won’t mince words much about the joy and agony of the next nine months.
Here’s a quick highlights reel of the weeks that have transpired since that second line turned pink.
Four weeks: A six pack and a two pack
I was on my way to a meeting of the Ladies Craft Beer Society (which it seems I’ll forever allude to and never actually explain), stopping off at a grocery store to pick up some beer. I had felt a little funny for the past week–a weird dizzy spell, some very strange cramping, and light spotting nowhere near when my period was due that quickly ended. My cycles had been irregular leaning toward long (like 35 days) since they returned in December, and I was hesitant to test at just 28 days (as I had recently enjoyed the one-two punch of a chemical pregnancy, boo), but it had been a long week and I wanted to knock back a couple of beers without hesitation.
So I impulsively threw a two-pack of early detection pregnancy tests in my basket next to the beer and then dared the woman at the checkout to say something. I detected a small eyebrow raise but was impressed with her professionalism.
When I got to my friend’s house, I asked to use her bathroom and took the test, fully expecting it to be negative so I could carry on and have a good time. Practically before I could get the cap back on the test, the test line turned a dark, dark pink and I shoved it in my purse with shaking hands.
The walk back to the deck to join my friends was a frenzied and disorganized attempt to develop a strategy. “Just pretend to drink a beer and don’t tell anyone!” I said to myself. But to my horror, I found my eyes welling up with tears I could not suppress. This didn’t go unnoticed. A silence fell across the table.
“I…I just took a pregnancy test… and…it’s positive.” I stammered. The reaction was a lot of, “What?!” and laughing at the absurdity of my impulse-testing, followed by cheers and congrats.
Oops. Definitely should have told The Husband first. I was determined to have an hour or two to myself, though, so I sat down, made a dreamcatcher, caught up with my friends and then drove home to break the good news.
Five weeks: Take it queasy (or, so metal)
I had maybe one day of real nausea when I was pregnant with The Baby. This week, actual, full-blown nausea hit me and settled in. I also had some dizzy spells.
Maybe more intolerable than the nausea, which could be quelled by eating the right amount of buttery toast, was the constant taste of metal in my mouth. Sources vaguely suggest “hormones” cause this bad, bad taste (you don’t say, pregnancy books…) but for a couple of weeks I couldn’t shake the sensation I had been perpetually sucking on tarnished green pennies out of a mall fountain. Interestingly, the one food that seemed to overpower it temporarily was pickles. Perhaps, indeed, this is where the stereotype of pregnant women craving pickles comes from. We’re just trying to exorcise the penny-demons from our mouths.
Six weeks: Painted into a corner
My gift-giving tactic lately has been action-based instead of stuff-based (because it’s really hard to shop with a toddler, and any minor skill I used to possess at buying good gifts has long since been lost to the brain-frying of early motherhood).
So for one recent gift I told my parents I’d help paint their bedroom in addition to installing new floors. They called the painting favor in during the weekend of Week 6, forcing my hand at the probably baby announcement. So I called them over and wrote “Big Brother in Training” on The Toddler’s chalkboard and had him help with the big reveal. The Husband simultaneously texted his family so we’d all be on the same page.
As someone whose first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage and who guarded the secret of her second pregnancy with a fierce and dwelling worry that it wouldn’t stick, it felt very strange, but also pretty liberating, to not care that people knew even before I’d had a confirmatory doctor’s appointment. This pregnancy feels sticky, and even if it ends, that’s what happens sometimes. It will suck, but I’ve decided at this point that I would rather have people know than carry that wound in secret again.
Seven weeks: Eating for four
Oh, boy. The nausea this time around, while not debilitating, has been pretty consistent and demands my near-constant consumption of carbs. And I’m still nursing The Toddler twice a day. This, coupled with the fact that my digestive system has come to a screeching halt, means that I’m constantly walking a tightrope between nausea, bloating and feeling wildly overfull. It reminds me of how I felt in late pregnancy when The Baby occupied my entire abdomen and I could eat neither enough or little enough to ever feel comfortable. So this week it felt like I was eating for four: myself, The nursing Toddler, Baby No. 2 (better nickname coming soon), and the myself who makes bad decisions like buying a donut at the grocery store.
I have already gained about 5 lbs, not at all a good track record, but it’s been raining incessantly and the daily walks I started a few weeks ago have been impossible to maintain. I’m hoping to pick it back up when the rain lets up, and also hoping my nausea wears off soon so I don’t have to eat every waking second.
Eight weeks: Snooze fest
Just like my pregnancy with The Baby, fatigue has hit me hard. This time around, instead of sitting at my desk at work fighting to stay awake, I’m wrestling The Toddler into his high chair for lunch and praying he’ll take a nap so I can empty the dishwasher and then fall into bed for a drooling 40 minutes of rest.
You’d think it would be easier to rest as a SAHM with a napping toddler, but there’s a sick paradox to the whole thing: The mounting laundry and dishes and unplanned dinner give me too much anxiety to sleep, but the bone-penetrating fatigue keeps me from slogging through much of this to ease the anxiety so I can sleep. Pair that with The Toddler’s threats this week to quit napping and I’m basically a whining couch potato by the time The Husband gets home from work. In addition to the unchecked anxiety, I enjoy a heaping mound of self-inflicted guilt that The Husband has worked 11 hours only to come home to deal with The Toddler, sometimes dinner, and always chores while I lay listlessly on the couch until bedtime.
In other symptoms’ news: Nausea remains a daily part of life. I told The Husband I might die of gas yesterday (Happy birthday, dear), and I simultaneously crave and hate the same foods. (Internal monologue: “You know what sounds good? A frosted cookie. Barf, no! That would be the worst!” Repeat.)
Also this week, we made the decision to visit a midwifery practice instead of my beloved (but restricted to the county hospital) OB/GYN. I want another unmedicated birth, and this gives me the opportunity to try water birth (and just as importantly, go home wayyyyyy before the agonizingly long 48 hours I spent in the postpartum ward before). The appointment went as smoothly as it can when you bring a 17-month-old along, and we got to see the ultrasound and hear the heartbeat. So this is real.
Oh, also, I’m not sure what the odds are on this (one in 365, I guess?) but Baby No. 2’s due date is the exact same day as The Toddler’s was–New Year’s Eve. So, guess we’re having another Christmas baby. Oops.
Here we are, week nine.
Today marks the first day of my ninth week. From here on out I’ll try to update weekly or so (no promises). Today we’re leaving for an overnight trip (without The Toddler, for the first time!) to a bed & breakfast for The Husband’s birthday. I’m looking forward to a nice, loooong night of sleep.