This Ain’t My First Rodeo: How My Second Pregnancy Is Different from My First

I am a little more than halfway through my second pregnancy, and throughout this entire journey, I constantly find myself in shock over just how different it is from the first.

Now, before I go into how this pregnancy has been different, I should warn you: I am not a happy, glowing, “look how strong and empowered my body is—I’ve never felt more beautiful” type of pregnant lady. I’m just not. I hate being pregnant. I’m sweaty and swollen, develop teenage bacne, and vomit for approximately 39 weeks straight. (Shout-out to the world’s best OB for not making me suffer to 40. You know who you are, and you are the real MVP.)

Related: if you see me in public, please don’t touch me.

Also, I should note that when I say I hate being pregnant, I don’t mean I hate that I am pregnant. It’s actually the opposite. My husband and I had a hard time getting this second peanut to stick. Shoot—we had a hard time getting the first one to stick. I’ve taken hormones that made me crazy, and we’ve suffered loss (and it’s really scary to divulge that I’m even pregnant, because the fear never really goes away). Trust me—this baby is very much wanted, and I am eternally grateful that we are having another one. (Side note/rant: please stop asking parents of one child when they are going to have another baby. Maybe they aren’t. Maybe they’re trying. But by the time we found out about this bean, that question made me ugly cry. So please stop that.)

Circling back, I am holding my breath until this little peanut is earthside and healthy. I’m also crossing my fingers and toes that this little potato and I get through this pregnancy and delivery without any hiccups, and I’m looking forward to seeing our family change and grow, and insert the rest of the sappy stuff here.

Still, I’ve decided that the whole “first-time mom” experience is truly limited to first-time moms, and not something you get per baby. The second pregnancy is a whole new ballgame, and I was not prepared for it.

Here’s how my second pregnancy has differed from my first:

1. I ask better questions. During my first pregnancy, I’m pretty sure I felt like the sky was falling the entire time, which only got worse the further along I got. Surprise! I have really bad anxiety. Also, my skin reacted horribly the first time around. So, I suffered in silence. I just assumed there was nothing anyone could do for me or give me to put me out of my misery. (This mindset also put me back in the emergency room two weeks after my first was born. I do not recommend this.) I even waited weeks with what I thought was routine morning sickness until I reached out to my OB for medication. Why? Because I had never done it before and had no idea whether what I was experiencing was normal or not. Side note: Google’s answers are usually wrong. So are the responses you get on your pregnancy app. Just go talk to your doctor.

This time, I can see outside of myself. I know when my hormones aren’t quite right and I should check in with my doctor. (Guess what? She can do things to help!) We even have a plan for postpartum support. I know how far to push myself before asking friends and family to give me some space, and I’m overall a lot better about advocating for what I need. I even see a dermatologist monthly so we can prevent the ugly skin reactions I had last time, and even though I’ve been even sicker this time around, we have had all hands on deck to keep me functional. Knowing what questions to ask and keeping an open dialogue with my family and my doctor have made this pregnancy a much smoother experience overall.

2. “Every pregnancy is different” also means future ones might be worse.

OK, so this pregnancy has been smoother-ish. I was so sick with my first pregnancy—or so I thought. I vomited, or had severe nausea, from about week #8 to 45 minutes before my C-section, and it was not ideal. I’ll spare you the details of other things I encountered, but it took me years to warm up to the idea of another baby (and then another year because I apparently don’t get pregnant easily). If I had a dollar for every time someone told me, “But every pregnancy is different!” alluding to the fact that if I did it again it might be a much better or easier experience, I would at least be able to pay for a month of my daughter’s preschool tuition. Maybe even a month of dance class tuition as well.

It’s true that every pregnancy is different and that subsequent pregnancies might be much better than your first. But you know what? That phrase works both ways. Your second pregnancy can, in fact, be worse than your first.

I was sick with my first—all-day sick, for months and months and months—but this time? This second little nugget pushed me to take a staycation at North Central Baptist, she made me so sick. No more of this “I’ll drop by for some fluids” like with my first; this second kid is ready for COMMITMENT (er, hospital admission?). I guess the silver lining here is that I met my insurance deductible ahead of schedule.

3. Everything I need for baby I can get from a Target Drive Up order on the way home from the hospital.

I remember spending days—maybe even weeks (months?)—looking up sample baby registry lists and trying to decipher what in the heck I needed for this tiny human being who was coming to live with us. I remember comparing multiple types of basically the same thing, and reading countless reviews until I was 100% sure I’d picked the best product for my little. The thing is, my kid hated most of what I picked. Hated. Like, wouldn’t use any of it. In fact, there was a direct correlation to the amount of money I spent on something and how little she used it. I even switched car seat brands because I was exhausted of having to have another mom help me strong-arm my kid into the car seat at preschool pickup. Desperate times, people.

My mom texted me the other day and asked if I planned to have a baby shower for this baby. What? Oh, I didn’t really think about it. I have all the big stuff: a crib, changing table/dresser, etc. My mom is getting me a new car seat, as an unknown animal gave birth in Kate’s old car seat while we had it stored in the garage. Other than that, the hospital supplies I plan to take (you pay for them anyway) will get me through the first few days, and then I think I just need some diapers and wipes. I’m pretty sure we have burp cloths around here somewhere, but I can take some extras from the hospital. What do newborns need, again? I could probably grab some extra onesies and sleepers.

I think I’ll ask for Target and Amazon gift cards for Christmas. That should do it.

You know that picture floating around the internet with “first child” in the beautifully decorated nursery, and “second child” on a mattress in the middle of an empty room? I’m learning that might be true.

4. I forget that I’m pregnant.

As soon as I found out I was pregnant again I went and downloaded the same apps that I used with my first: What to Expect, Pregnancy +, Ovia, etc. Except, I forget to check them.  One night I remembered I downloaded them and felt like I should see what people were posting and quickly decided it was a waste of time. How do all these women already have their nurseries done? Who has time for this?

Now, I mostly remember I have the apps once a week when they tell me what animal or fruit this little nugget is sizing up to. When the notifications don’t come through, I forget. I’ve been out at various events with my husband when someone asks me when I’m due and I just look at them like, “Wait, when am I due?” Gone are the days of just gazing at the app and dreaming up what this new little nugget is going to be like, probably because of my last reason below…

5. I have an entire other kid I’m supposed to keep track of.

Oh yeah, that!

With my first pregnancy, I would come home, nap, snuggle the dogs, and take it easy. I definitely took that for granted.

This time, I have a whole entire three-year-old to whom I’m really trying to be a good mom. I try to engage her, play with her, make her feel special—you know, all the things.

But, real talk: my threenager is eating my lunch. The terrible twos were not terrible for us, but holy mother of whatever offends the least amount of people, three is the. worst. Also, I can’t have wine to suffer through this. What was I thinking?!

Not only that, but my three-year-old is now a fully formed person with her own friends and activities that require shuffling from school to dance to her friend’s house and, oh my gosh, I am so tired. I just want to lie down for a minute, but she now expects me to feed her, bathe her, read her books, and put her to bed? And what time does that party start on Saturday? No.

I can sense all you moms of two or more giggling over what I’m in for once this second peanut arrives. I know. Let me live in my ignorance for a little bit longer.

Until then, please say a couple happy prayers or send some positive vibes my way for a happy, healthy pregnancy. I promise to update you once I’ve got two on the outside.