Your first pregnancy is a magical thing, isn’t it? You’re experiencing the miracle of creating life for the very first time, and that’s nothing short of amazing. But you want to know what makes it really special?
You can do whatever the fuck you want.
Feeling sick? Spend the afternoon on the couch with a big blanket and some Netflix. Feeling tired? Go take a long-ass nap, or just go to bed at 6pm. You get a pass! You’re pregnant and exhausted, you poor thing! Craving ice cream? Sit anywhere in your house and brazenly eat it right from the carton, at any time of day.
(I realize these things become more complicated when you have to show up for work.)
Yes, these are the things that make a first pregnancy beautiful. Unfortunately, you don’t realize that fact until your second pregnancy, when it dawns on you that being pregnant and mothering at the very same time is not for the delicate.
When you’re pregnant with small children in tow, you suddenly find yourself juggling not only their needs and yours (which is hard enough), but the physical demands of a fetus you haven’t even met yet.
You may be literally falling asleep standing up, or struggling to keep your face out of the porcelain throne, but none of that matters — you’ve got butts to wipe and grapes to cut into teeny pieces, damn it. It might be cumbersome for you to move and it feels like your pelvis is one step away from cracking in half, but somebody’s gotta clean up the crumbs and bend over the bathtub.
Bathroom trips, always a group event when you’ve got small children, become even more of a spectacle: “Mommy? Are you throwing up? Can I watch?” You plead with the universe for just a little bit of time to sit on the sofa and close your eyes, but no. Because kids have a knack for knowing when you need rest the most, and taking that opportunity to kick it into high gear by making an epic mess or having a tantrum.
It’s impossible to sit and rest when your dog leaves a pile on the bedroom floor, inspiring your toddler to stuff a turd through the hole in a Blu-Ray disc. Ask me how I know this. It’s like running a marathon, only when you get tired someone chases you with a club.
If your cravings are anything but tofu and salad, you can’t indulge them right out in the open. Cracking open that carton of ice cream or eating a cookie in the middle of the kitchen is tantamount to turning on a neon sign that screams “MOMMY IS HAVING A TREAT!” and invites every small child within a three-mile radius to come ask for bites. And everybody knows that a pregnant woman doesn’t like to share food. Everybody, that is, except for toddlers, who don’t give two shits what pregnant women don’t like.
You may not be able to heave yourself up out of a seat without sounding like you’ve just completed a round of CrossFit, but you damn well still have to lug around a little kid … unless you have the time and patience to wait while they dawdle behind, examining every speck they pass. Lifting and buckling them into a car seat is a challenge on regular days, but these are pregnant days and now you’ve got a belly to haul and maneuver around – not to mention protect from flailing arms and legs when your already-born offspring suddenly turns into a spider monkey with the strength of a power lifter.
You’d think since you gave them life, it wouldn’t be too much to ask of your little kids to give you a break so you can just be pregnant in peace. But no. The laundry pile just keeps piling, people keep needing to be fed and cleaned, and the world – the one that, during your first pregnancy, would practically stop turning so you could put yourself first – keeps going on. You’ve got to soldier ahead with your swollen, bloated, exhausted self, growing an actual human while keeping the other tiny humans alive and dodging judgments about how much screen time they’re getting.
At least you can recuperate with a good night’s sleep. Until your hips start aching, that is. Or until you have to pee. Or until someone else pees … in their bed. Or has a nightmare, or makes a weird noise, or needs a drink, or comes crawling into your bed to bombard you with knee and elbow jabs (not unlike the ones you are also receiving internally). So basically, you get to nod off a few times between events, recuperation be damned. You can handle starting tomorrow on empty, right? Like, for the next few years?
You’ll get through it, because you’re a mom, and moms are just naturally badass. You may even do it again, because all this will conveniently fade from your memory over time, which is why people have more than one baby to begin with.
Besides, they’ll need a sibling to torture while you’re tethered to the toilet the next time around.