There are so many lists out there on valuable lessons learned as first time moms, from enduring that first pregnancy, birth to recovery and beyond. But I haven’t found anything sharing wisdom specifically for second-time moms. We are kind of the forgotten ones in some ways because we are supposed to be experts or something by now.
Well, I call bullshit. None of us are experts on motherhood. I’m learning things every day, still. So, here’s my list of valuable lessons for all my fellow second-time moms: the expecting edition.
1. You can get pregnant before your monthly cycle even has a chance to return postpartum.
I don’t need to link an article to this because I’m proof. Imagine the panic on my face when trying to figure out my due date, having to fill out my last known menstrual cycle at my first appointment as “some time back in 2015.” It turns out, if you suspect you’re getting baby bloat and you’re not sure if it’s just from too many pancakes or not, always pee on a stick. Always. It could just be pancakes, or it could be a baby.
2. The learning curve is never ending despite any wisdom you have gained from your first.
It’s hardly that I’m a second-time mom more than I am a new-again mom. This pregnancy is throwing all kinds of new symptoms my way that I didn’t experience last time. I am still very much in new-mom mode, asking my midwife regularly if what my body is doing is normal or if I’m going to die, like when I wake up 4x a night with excruciating leg cramps even though I eat bananas every morning. What the hell is that? I’ll let take the pregnancy-induced carpal tunnel from my first pregnancy over these leg cramps any day!
3. Wait, how do I do pregnancy again?
Ontop of the learning curve that is always there, there is also a lot of studying of old material that needs to happen. It’s amazing how much you forget. It’s fine, just ask all the questions – even if the answer is on the tip of your tongue, we still need reassurance along the way too. Yes, I can eat soft cheese as long as it is pasteurized.
4. If you didn’t remember kegels before, you do now.
Remember when your bladder troubles during your first pregnancy were just having to pee more than you ever wanted to? Well multiply that problem x3 for subsequent pregnancies. Now that childbirth has wreaked havoc on your pelvic floor, it’s no longer a matter of just needing to pee all the time. It’s a matter of you actually peeing all the time, even at the slightest sneeze or cough.
5. Rest is comical.
It always was. The first pregnancy you were tired because you were uncomfortable, and there was no easy way to get past this unless you were a pregnant unicorn. But now, you are tired because you are once again uncomfortable WITH a tiny human demanding every ounce of your being. You would do anything to be just uncomfortable again.
6. You don’t need a pregnancy pillow the size of a dinosaur.
Lesser discussed are the smaller versions that are less threatening to your marriage. I only wish I had discovered these sooner.
7. Your pregnancy will feel surreal.
Your first pregnancy was almost always on your mind. Now that you’re juggling pregnancy while actively momming the kid on the outside, it’s totally possible to forget you’re pregnant until you see your bump in the reflection of the mirror. Oh yes, there’s another one in there. Did I take my prenatals today?
8. You still worry.
I falsely assumed that the first pregnancy would be the worst because the fear of the unknown is so overwhelming. Turns out, this simply translates into fear of the I-know-too-much-now. I had finally gotten to a place where I blocked out what those contractions felt like, and now I’m prepping for it all over again with much more of a vivid image in my head. I kind of liked the abstract image better.
9. You care less about the wrong things, more about the right things.
We’ve been through the circus of navigating too much conflicting advice, our confidence has grown, we’ve cut toxic relationships and uncovered our true support system, and so we know how to direct what little energy we have towards worthy things. For example, I’m fully prepared for the old man at the grocery store to ask if I swallowed a watermelon as soon as I hit 29 weeks again. So instead of exhausting energy being annoyed, I went ahead and bought a “watermelon smuggler” maternity shirt that I plan to wear when I hit the final trimester. Also, my birth plan was a piece of cake to draw up this time, with special note to how I’ll need apple juice, reggae music and pain meds upon my fifth time asking for them. That’s really all that matters.
10. You will nest again, just in different ways.
Nesting your first pregnancy is like scrubbing the walls, hanging curtains, furnishing an entirely new, themed nursery, and power washing the windows. Second-time moms always joke about how guilty they feel for not really feeling the need to do these things for the arrival of number two. But, it’s not because we’ve gotten lazy or care any less, it’s just that we are now masters of being practical and frugal. Baby number two isn’t getting a nursery not because we don’t love them any less, but because we just know that babies really don’t give a shit about our interior decorating capabilities.