Now that I’m well and truly past the half-way mark and consequently displaying early symptoms of baby brains, I wanted to get my thoughts down onto a page before this all fades behind those rose-coloured glasses I’ll no doubt be wearing while in the newborn bubble. So here’s 10 truths I’ve learned in my second pregnancy (so far)!
Truth #1. You’ll start showing earlier
I announced my first pregnancy when I was 20 weeks. That’s how long it took for my belly to show. Or so I thought! In hindsight, I could’ve passed it off as a bloated tummy or a food baby! See evidence below.
This was my bump at 26 weeks… still barely a bump by comparison to this second pregnancy!
And here I was, in the third trimester…
And guess how many weeks pregnant I am in the shots below? 16, going onto 17 weeks!!! Definitely comparable to my third trimester bump in the first pregnancy!
My body definitely remembered how to be pregnant and it took next to no time for my bump to show this second time!
Truth #2. Each pregnancy will feel completely different, stop comparing them
There was a lot of joy during my first pregnancy; I remember lovingly rubbing Bio-Oil on my belly from the moment I found out that I was expecting. I’d walk past a mirror and admire my pregnant body. I loved the feeling of being pregnant. Having a growing baby inside of me felt like I had a secret language and connection that only my baby and I were privy to. My hair was glossy, my skin had that tell-tale pregnancy glow, and I just adored being pregnant.
While I suffered from morning sickness during the daytime in the first pregnancy, it disappeared by night and allowed me to feel human again on a daily basis. This time round, my nausea and first trimester fatigue was so much tougher on the body than the first pregnancy. Feeling queasy and so revolted by food all day and night made me tremendously miserable. The permanent metallic taste in my mouth turned me off even drinking water. My belly popped from week 5 and due to other digestive issues, I was bloated and uncomfortable all the time.
Placenta position can also play a huge part in how you experience the pregnancy. Most commonly, the placenta is located at the top of the uterus (fundus) which was the case for my first pregnancy. This time, I have an anterior (front wall) placenta so it hasn’t been possible to feel kicks or punches as strongly because the placenta acts as a cushion between the front of my stomach and the baby.
It is difficult to not compare pregnancies because they inadvertently set your expectations but Teddy Roosevelt’s famous assertion that “comparison is the thief of joy” is a great reminder here that comparing pregnancies will only leave you feeling deflated and inadequate.
Truth #3. If you ever feel guilty for taking a nap or resting, remind yourself that you’re creating a human
When you’re pregnant for the first time, you don’t have the responsibilities of taking care of any other humans, you get to leisurely nap at any time of day. You don’t have to abide by anybody else’s schedule but your own.
When you’re pregnant for the second time, there’s a never-ending list of things to do for the first child. They need love, support, and mostly, attention.
Combatting first trimester fatigue and nausea with a toddler definitely left me feeling so disheartened and even guilty that I needed to lie down. My inability to be completely present for my toddler weighed on me like a tonne of bricks. So it was helpful to remind myself that at any given moment, my body was in fact working miraculously hard. My body could have been making an eye ball, creating an arm, or a million other things, all from scratch. Give yourself the compassion and space to rest. You deserve it.
Truth #4. Self-care needs to be a priority that gets scheduled in
This leads me onto self-care. With the first pregnancy, I tried to do all the thing—juggle the intensity of running of a marketing agency and a food media & events company, whilst squeezing in all the usual demands and mental load of being a mindful boss, wife, friend, sister, auntie, daughter, and granddaughter, all while growing a child. Then there was the pressure I put on myself to exclusively breastfeed and freshly prepare organic food for baby-led weaning. Needless to say, even three years post-partum, I was left so run down and depleted.
This time round, my self-care was top of the list. I signed up to pre-natal yoga, which thanks to COVID, had to be online. I sought the support of a naturopath and a clinical psychologist to ensure my body and mind was prepared for the upcoming changes, and I’ve been treating myself to monthly pre-natal massages.
I’ve learnt that the hormone Relaxin starts to circulate throughout the blood stream just after ovulation, peaks after the first trimester and continues until 6 months after giving birth. Relaxin functions to relax and loosen joints and ligaments and the cervix to prepare for birth. As hips widen, the gluteus muscles are stretched and become weak and sore. Pelvic and lower back pain often also occurs as a result of increase in weight and stretching of ligaments. So when your muscles feel tight or sore, book yourself into a massage; even better yet, schedule it in as a monthly commitment and you’ll definitely be thanking your past-self!
Self-care is one of the easiest things to drop off the list when things get too busy so I’ve been scheduling all my self-care appointments into the calendar to ensure it happens.
Truth #5. You may not be on top of taking your supplements every single day
As someone who diligently takes all her supplements without fail every single day, the first trimester nausea really threw me off. I was somewhat caught off-guard but my naturopath reminded me that it was OK if I wasn’t on top of taking my supplements every single day.
The best strategy I have surrounding this mindset shift is to“never miss twice.” This is a concept I got from James Clear on building good habits.
I think the pressure we put on ourselves can steal a lot of the joy from pregnancy so this truth is a reminder to be kind to yourself.
Truth #6. You won’t have to buy much
With the first pregnancy, there was a sentimental novelty about getting to buy everything for the first time—the first size 00000 onesie, the first pair of shoes, the first high chair, the first car seat… I often sought the best of the best, which actually worked out quite well as it means now, four years later, most things are still in a great condition to be passed down!
Tip: We accidentally discovered that a four year age gap is actually very ideal because the firstborn will have transitioned from the baby car seat to a booster seat, and they’ll have moved on from using things like the high chair and pram!
I’ve also embraced pay-it-forward groups on Facebook, having gifted appliances, pre-loved toys and clothes that we don’t need, and on the flip side, received some gorgeous pre-loved clothes. Owning pre-loved clothing helps the environment and ultimately, reduce the amount of fashion/toys waste that goes to landfill! My sister and I have also been swapping kids clothes which means we’ll have a complete wardrobe ready for the baby, without needing to buy anything—her three-year old son’s boy clothes are being saved for our baby boy, and Clara’s girly clothes are being passed down to her two-year old daughter! (For the first two years of Clara’s life, I only bought her gender-neutral clothing but since becoming a toddler, she’s decided that she loves pink, tutus and all the girly things so I’m glad it’s all going to a good home!)
Truth #7. You’ll embrace maternity wear as early as you need
This is somewhat related to the first truth about showing earlier. As a result, I invested in my first two pairs of maternity tights when I was only 4 weeks pregnant. By week 5, I knew I’d made the right decision as it was pure comfort.
Tip: Check out the Active Truth maternity tights with pockets. Having pockets make all the difference!
In the first pregnancy, I was too self-conscious about how pregnant or not pregnant I looked, but during the second pregnancy, I’ve learned to silence out the world. You really don’t care as much, and it’s great!
Truth #8. Trust that the firstborn will be more resilient and adaptable than we give them credit for
It’s natural to be worried about the upcoming changes and how that will affect your firstborn, your one-and-only. I’m particularly sensitive to this as it triggers my inner-child and fears of emotional abandonment and rejection. It’s something I’ve been working through with my psychologist.
It’s been a great relief, just how much my almost four-year old understands. When I was experiencing the first trimester nausea and fatigue, she knew to give me space and would turn to Daddy to play. She quickly adapted to seeing me hover over the toilet and would gently rub my back while asking if I was feeling OK. Whenever she saw me laying down in defeat, she’d fetch me a glass of coconut water or my Kindle. Often, I’d wake up from a nap with a small bouquet of wild flowers she’d hand-picked during an outing to the park with Daddy, or a new artwork piece she’d created for me with Daddy’s help. My favourite part has been hearing her loudly and proudly declare: “I’m going to be a big sister!” while she lovingly puts aside a collection of hand-me-down baby toys and clothes that she’s outgrown, for her baby brother.
We had to stop showering together when I was around 20 weeks pregnant because it became too difficult to constantly bend over. I dreaded the day I’d have to tell her I couldn’t do it anymore, so I persisted just a few weeks more until my back couldn’t take it anymore. Then I explained the situation to her, emphasising just how much I love her, and that we could resume showering together once her baby brother was born. And that was that. There was no tantrum, no outburst, no whinging; never once has she asked to join me again. I was surprised by the uneventfulness, but mostly, it was a reminder of just how resilient and adaptable toddlers/pre-schoolers can be.
Truth #9. You won’t keep track of the pregnancy week-by-week and that’s OK… Sometimes you’ll even forget that you’re pregnant!
I was able to track my first pregnancy by the day and at any given point, I could’ve even told you what fruit the baby was the size of. But this time round, the days have blurred into weeks, and the only time I check the pregnancy apps is when my firstborn asks how big the baby is!
You wouldn’t have thought it possible but many times, I’ve even been surprised to see my protruding belly in the bathroom! So yes, it is possible that sometimes, you’ll forget that you’re pregnant because your sole attention, is probably on your firstborn!
Furthermore, if you took daily photos of your pregnant belly during the first pregnancy, don’t be alarmed if you only manage to take weekly photos during the second pregnancy. In fact, I started my daily photos from around week 4 during the first pregnancy to create this time-lapse video in the CineMama app:
And I didn’t even start taking a weekly photo until week 15 this time, because most mornings, my only goal is to get my pre-schooler to daycare before morning tea is served!
Truth #10. There’s only so much you can do to prepare the firstborn for a sibling; accept that the rest is out of your control
So here are some things we’ve done with our firstborn to prepare for the arrival of a second baby:
Hint to the firstborn that they might have a baby sister/brother one day and sift through old baby clothes together
While we didn’t reveal that we were expecting a second child to Clara until I was past the first trimester, what we did do, was hint that one day, she’ll become a big sister. We did this at every opportunity whenever it seemed appropriate. If she was changing and I noticed that a piece of clothing was too small for her (it’s a struggle keeping up with all her recent growth spurts!), I’d say, “This looks too small/short/tight on you now, you must be growing bigger and bigger! If you have a baby brother or a baby sister one day, they can wear it!”. It’s even worked well when discussing the purpose of the redundant baby gate we still have up in the kitchen. For some time now, Clara has been able to manoeuvre the baby gate lock and lets herself in and out of the kitchen freely. But now, she knows to repeat back to me that “we need the baby gate here for when baby brother is born; he might touch sharp things”.
And while we’re on the topic of baby announcements, below is a moment I’ll cherish forever!
Shop for a gift for the baby together and get a big sibling gift
Gift-giving and receiving is always fun for kids and choosing a gift for the baby together is no different! This is a great way to engage the older sibling in their newfound role. We ended up choosing Noah the dog, as a gift from Clara to the baby. Noah will be brother to Clara’s much loved Mia!
Having a big sibling gift from the baby is equally, if not more important as the joy of a new toy can help to soothe the firstborn’s mood and unease about the baby. It’s also extra special for the firstborn because nobody else will be getting a gift from the baby! The baby will be gifting Claire the ‘big sister’ koala and Quinn the ‘little brother’ koala!
These gorgeous ethically produced hand-knit dolls are from Cuddle+Kind, a social enterprise that helps feed children. For every doll sold, they give 10 meals to children in need. If you’re a first-time customer, you can get 20% off Cuddle+Kind dolls.
Read to the firstborn about becoming a big sister or brother
There are so many books about siblings and welcoming a new baby. My biggest tip here is to make sure you find an age-appropriate one. After trawling through what feels like hundreds of book, the one we’ve settled on reading every night is: What’s In There? All About Before You Were Born. I love how inclusive this book is (it covers caesarean birth, multiple births, adoption, etc) and gives basic explanation of human anatomy. It’s been a great conversation starter for Clara (aged 3 years and 8 months). Tap the ‘Books’ section on my Instagram Stories Highlights for a preview!
A growing family can be an overwhelming time for not only the firstborn, but also for yourself. As cliché as it is, I like to remind myself that the days are long but the years are short. I hope we can all look back at this period and think, we got through it with unconditional love and patience; we always tried our best to know what’s on their minds and in their hearts; we were always there to comfort, encourage, and love, and we raised them well.
And this concludes my pearls of wisdom from the half-way point of my second pregnancy. Can you relate to any of the above, or how has your second pregnancy been different? If you’re a parent to more than one, what truths have you learned?
Photography by LoveSariena
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