Pregnant Again and Only 20 Months Apart

Re: Second pregnancy, preparing toddler for new baby's arrival,
parenting 2 kids under 3 years old

From one soon-to-be 2nd time parent to another, it's okay to be like, "WTF did I get myself into?!" again.

Let’s just get right into it, shall we? During Pregnancy Round II:

Whatever I DID NOT feel during my first pregnancy, the second pregnancy made up for it: Morning sickness (“oh, so that’s how it feels to be revolted by the sight of [insert random food you normally would have liked]”), back pain, pelvic floor pains, Lightning Crotch!

Now that I’m aware of what could go wrong - as opposed to being “blissfully unaware” the first time - boy was I anxious:

  1. This is too soon! The recommended spacing between kids is 3 years apart (Melinda Gates put a lot of thought into this), what if my body is not back in shape for child-bearing yet? Well, then f-ing get in shape! Now I have more motivation to eat right, exercise more (swim + yoga mainly), strengthen my pelvic floor, drink water, and start supplementing w/ prenatals, Vitamin C, D & B12.
  2. I’m going to get fired at work! No, they can’t legally do that, but what if they want to? There are many ways a company can make their employee feel so miserable that they consider quitting. There are too many stories out there, so I’m not even going to go there..yet. Fortunately, the company I work for became very accommodating once they found out.
  3. How am I going to balance the time between kids and career and baby? Turns out, “one day at a time” has worked out quite nicely. My work is now my sanctuary for peace, quiet, and order. SAHMs, I don’t know how you do it. Obviously, I’m not as resilient.
  4. Double the childcare cost!? Sibling discount, if any, is just 10% off the cheaper rate…that’s lame. After doing the math - and I have a spreadsheet comparing the various options around town - a Chinese-speaking Au Pair was going to be the answer to all of our problems. (If you’d like me to elaborate, please leave a comment). Also, turns out having kids closer together in age is more economical - and better for a woman’s career - than having them further apart. Namely, because we can reuse a bunch of stuff.

When my belly was big enough to constantly remind me that there’s no backing out now:

My mentality shifted from “#2 you are stressing me out already” to “Bring it baby!”: Whatever he’s got, I’ll roll with the punches. I’ve lived all over the world and have learned to adapt to new situations many times before. This is just another shift that I’ve been training my whole life to adjust to. I’ve got this. (Or more like, I’ve got maternal instincts now. Eat my dust, transition monster!)

In order to stay calm and keep the anxiety minimal, I started rallying the Momma troops, seeking advice from Mom friends near and far. That’s when Facebook groups, group chats, phone calls during walks became really handy. What else was I going to do now that I’ve slowed down, but my mind is still racing? It helped A LOT! The best part was, reaching out for help (a fear that was overcome by pregnancy) gave me the excuse to reconnect with some old friends who would’ve otherwise fallen by the wayside.

I started wearing even tighter (NOT skimpier) clothes to show off my belly this time, because looking back at the “loosely draped look” the first time around - especially for somebody my height - was not a pleasant experience. Also, random short reads like "Hot Mama” was, unexpectedly, a great pick-me-up for the tougher moments.

Now what to do to prepare Big Sister for Baby Brother?

As soon as our pediatrician heard the news, he added a “Sibling Rivalry” section to our After Visit Summary for us to read. It became clear we shouldn’t just spring a new baby on her, but rather get her excited to have one:

  1. Big Sister kissed my belly every morning after I wake up, and before getting tucked in every night. Dad took over the wake up and sleep time routine most days, to get her used to the idea that Mom wasn’t going to be around as much. That sucked more for me than it did for her.
  2. We started reading the “I’m a Big Sister” book and treating her baby doll as if he were a real baby. We were very gentle with the baby, we gave the baby a bottle, we protected the baby, we swaddled the baby, rocked the baby to sleep, and we changed baby’s diaper. We do not swing the baby, or toss the baby, or sit on baby. “We,” the adults, were especially dramatic if baby doll was harmed or hurt.
  3. In the third trimester, we started nesting together. The baby gear that was packed away gradually reappeared: Her old rocker came back one week, that Teepee Tent the next week, a rocking chair showed up the week after, etc. Of course she played with them or put her baby/stuffed animals in them, but by the time baby arrived, she had either gotten bored with them or realized she’s too big to be comfortable in them.
  4. The best advice I got was from a second-time Mom friend I made at SB PEP. Anne warned, “If you’re going to make any changes, do them BEFORE the baby arrives, NOT AFTER.” The baby’s presence is already a big enough change for kid #1, the last thing we want is for #1 to blame all the changes on #2. So, when it came to her bedroom, we deliberately kept it the same throughout, no new bed, no new decor, just more books. She noticed a crib showed up in ours, but after climbing in it a few times, she got over it pretty quickly.
  5. Second best advice was from my neighbor, Kathy: Prepare a gift to Big Sister from Baby Brother for their first meeting, and DO NOT HOLD BABY when #1 enters the room. Baby should be in the bassinet, especially the first time he is introduced to her, so Big Sister doesn’t feel replaced. It worked! When they finally met, she was curious, interested, and appreciated the gift, but not jealous.

When I was ready for #2 to GET OUT:

I continued to go into work, so I could stay distracted…well, also because I’m a workaholic. Walking, messaging/calling friends, HANGING OUT WITH KID #1 (even though she found me totally boring and preferred Dad by then), anything to stay distracted.

I started doing more squats, which eventually turned into lots of duck walks (see image under “Squatting,” and waddle in that pose).

The evening before baby #2 arrived, I joined a few Mom friends for a pedicure, and was pleasantly surprised that it came with a remote-controlled massage chair service. We then we walked over to Kyle’s Kitchen, where I had 2 giant scoops of ice cream, and found out there were 3 of us who were pregnant that night! Not sure if it’s the pedicure, the much-needed massage, the ice cream, or the exciting news that induced the labor, but the happy moments allowed me to forget the discomforts…and then the contractions kicked in.

So far, I have not found anything more challenging than raising two kids under two. Scoff away, parents of 3+, you’ve earned it! And thank goodness for Grandparents! Yet, there’s nothing that makes me feel more accomplished than knowing I CAN juggle two under two, and still make time to write about it. Seeing their happy, mostly excited, faces when I enter the room makes life easier too. Oh, and they are so damn cute you forget all the bad stuff. Also, they are my cure for any mental health problems. Let’s be honest: There are definitely days when I need the hugs and cuddles more than they do, and they always deliver - for now. That said, I’m done. Two is enough.

Clearly there’s a lot to unpack, and I’ve only scratched the surface on many of the topics mentioned. Please feel free to get in touch with topics you’d like me to prioritize. Otherwise, the full picture will come over time. Lessons learned:

  1. Minimize anxiety and stress no matter what…stressing out is never good for the baby.
  2. Believe that things will always have a way of working itself out.
  3. And again, especially for the second+ time around, sleep while you can!

Written: 2020-05-20...exactly 1 year after learning I was pregnant again.

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