When I put on my white maternity shorts in the morning, I didn’t consider that an hour later my two-year-old would have breakfast-taco-bean-hands that would smear my white shorts with black smudges. I bought these shorts when I was pregnant with her and they were comfy and crisp, perfect for the warm Texas months. But now things are different. This entire pregnancy feels different – in some ways easier, but mostly harder and messier.
I have been dead tired. After all, I’m dealing with the sleep schedule of a toddler who has never been a good sleeper while growing a tiny human at the same time. It is exhausting. Then, at 6:30 am when I’m hunched over the toilet with morning sickness, she runs in and starts demanding my attention. “Mama, milk! MAMA! MILK!” I can’t even squeak out words of comfort to her.
These moments are hard.
My husband comes in and tries to console her and take her away but that sets off a round of crying. I feel awful. She doesn’t understand why I’m sick nearly every morning and unable to help her like I always have. She doesn’t comprehend why I’m not getting her milk for her. To her, it is an outrage!
Not only do I feel awful because I’m sick, I feel awful because I realize this is the first of many occasions where I won’t be as available to her as I have been her entire life. Her sister or brother will need my attention also and I’ll be at odds about what to do. Since she is older and more capable of helping herself on occasion, I’ll need to tend to the infant. I know she will be jealous. I know I will be sad. I know I will love them both and that this is part of life but it doesn’t mean that coming to terms with these realizations is easy. And, it is all just speculation until it is reality. I have no idea how any of us will handle this additional baby in our lives.
At the beginning of the year, my husband and I decided that we were ready to start trying to have our second child. For the first time in my life, I was planning to get pregnant. My first child was conceived on our honeymoon. We knew we weren’t being as safe as we should be to not get pregnant but it was Spain and we threw caution to the wind! By the time we were flying home, I had our sweet girl growing in my belly. We love our amazing two-year-old more than we could imagine even though she is a constant challenge to our identities, our marriage, and our sanity.
For me and a lot of the women I know, pregnancy is not the thing that makes lovely rom-com movies or tear-jerker commercials. It is hard, messy, emotional, exhausting, work. Doing it with a two-year old constantly by my side is even tougher. What was I thinking?! Now, my daughter gazes on in confusion when I cry while watching those beautiful tear-jerker commercials or a particularly touching episode of Daniel Tiger.
During my first pregnancy, I spent a lot of time in the bathroom too. But a lot of that time was also spent taking relaxing baths, going to yoga classes, and fidgeting through air-conditioned movies. Now, I sit fidgeting on a toasty park bench while she plays, guiltily hoping she won’t pull me up for a few peaceful minutes. There have been no movies or long baths. I hope to be able to sneak away some evenings to get in a yoga class but even then I know I’ll spend a good portion of the class wondering what my toddler is doing and whether she ate and if her dad is getting her to go to sleep okay. Time for myself is not something that comes easily. In order to see a movie with my husband, we have to plan and sometimes it doesn’t fit into our budget. Also, while this is important to our marriage and our overall happiness, going out also makes me miss my baby girl at home and the precious time I get to spend with her before it is no longer just the three of us.
The good news though, is that I feel much more relaxed about the actual pregnancy, birth, and post-partum period than I did with my first. I remember sitting and pouring over my pregnancy books for hours, reading each line, debating with my husband for weeks over simple choices and registry items.
This time, I’ve hardly cracked open those books once. Sure, I don’t have much time to sit and ponder what kind of parent I’ll be, but I also don’t really need to ponder that anymore. I’m already a parent. I’ve been dealing with that transition for two years now and it is ever-evolving but I’m doing it. I am far from receiving the best mother award but I’m far from the worst too.
I know our home is full of love for both these babies and we are excited to welcome this new little life when the time comes.