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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Every second pregnancy stereotype is true

We've all heard the jokes about first-time-moms versus experienced moms, and how the experienced moms don't care about germs or letting their kid put worms in their ears or leaving them with an 8-year-old babysitter or whatever. While I can't speak to that yet, what I can tell you is that those same attitude changes absolutely apply to pregnancy.

I am living proof that every single stereotype about first vs. second pregnancies is completely true.

The "big reveal" isn't really that big a deal

Announcing your first pregnancy is HUGE. It is huge for you, as it means you've made the decision to go public and let everyone in on your business. And it is huge for all the people you're close to, as it means your life is going to completely change and so your relationships with them might completely change as well. With close friends, a first pregnancy means no more going out drinking until 4AM. It means you might have to start tolerating the presence of my kid at dinner parties from now on if you want me in attendance. It means you and your boyfriend problems won't be my Priority #1 anymore. 

And with family, it means get ready to babysit and buy a lot more Christmas presents than you have been up til now.

"These aren't ALL for me, but ... like 65% of them are for me."

With a second kid, though, the big reveal is more just like "oh, neat!" You already have one at home. You already don't go out drinking til 4AM. People care, but they care only about a quarter as much as they did the first time.

And the same goes for the pregnant person. My life isn't going to completely change; it's just going to be the same shit but on Hard mode. I've already seen my body carry a child all the way through to birth, so I know my uterus has that ability. This means that the fear of miscarriage, while still present to a degree, is not hanging over me like a shroud at all times. If something happens to this pregnancy, I know it's probably because the baby had a hoof growing out of its forehead or something. Audrey will vouch for the hospitality of my womb.

"It was A-OK in there! The only reason I'm not giving it five stars is because they wouldn't let me check out late, which wasn't really their fault but I don't understand how reviews work so I'm docking them one star for not letting me break policy."
Ugh, they let f***ing anybody post on Yelp, don't they.

But embracing this terror of miscarriage is a crucial part of the Big Reveal the first time around. You know that if you announce your pregnancy and then the unthinkable happens, you'll have to announce that as well. And that can be a very frightening prospect.

This time around, the only reason I didn't just tell everyone the second I found out was because the earlier you tell people, the longer your pregnancy lasts (for them). It was bad enough when people knew I was pregnant for 6 months. If I had them up my ass for 8 months, I'd probably jump off a cliff.

At least once a day from ~6 months onward.

I assume everything is fine until proven otherwise

My first pregnancy, I took every opportunity to assume that the baby would not survive. I ordered a high-quality fetal Doppler to rent for a few months, and when I couldn't find the heartbeat at 6 weeks, I resigned myself to the idea that there was nothing inside me but a tumor or perhaps an old forgotten tampon. (sidenote: men, it is impossible for a tampon to "get lost inside" a woman. The cervix is closed. Like, all the way closed, with multiple padlocks on the door. The vagina is a dead end road with only one entry and exit. So just in case you never knew that ... now you do.)

When I had a dating ultrasound at 8 weeks, which was my first time getting any confirmation that I had a viable pregnancy, I assumed that the ultrasound would show nothing but a photo of some prankster's middle finger. I couldn't believe how nonchalant the ultrasound tech was -- "here's your uterus ... there's your bladder ... ah, and that right there is your pregnancy." UMM, HELLO? HOW ABOUT A LITTLE ENTHUSIASM! I would have happily settled for something like "WOW HOT DAMN, YOU ARE ACTUALLY LEGITIMATELY PREGNANT! I ASSUMED THERE WOULD BE NOTHING BUT AN OLD BOOT IN THERE, BUT IT'S A REAL HUMAN EMBRYO! INCREDIBLE!!!"

"Ugh, this happens more often than you'd think."

I obsessively googled miscarriage rates at various points in pregnancy -- what is the rate at 5 weeks? 5.2 weeks? At 6 weeks? How about at 6.5 weeks?

This time around, I also ordered a rental Doppler, since it was inexpensive last time and I really enjoyed having it. I didn't even look for the heartbeat until 8.5 weeks; found it at 9 weeks; nodded my head calmly and then put it away. Jesse was in the bathroom at the time and didn't hear it. Ehh.

I then found the heartbeat again at 9.5 weeks, as I wanted confirmation of living creature before telling my boss etc. When I finally went to my first OB appointment at 10 weeks, I was as nonchalant as that ultrasound tech was the first time round. Doc shows me the little bub on an ultrasound, and I was like "ah." Then I put my pants back on and went to Subway.

The first time around, any abdominal cramp was almost certainly my body miscarrying (OBVIOUSLY). This time around, I got the most savage cramp ever the other day, and instead of thinking "well, this is it," I thought "oh god I need to get to a bathroom this is going to be ugly." Turns out not everything is a miscarriage. Usually it's just diarrhea.

The OB appointments are no big deal

Pregnancy #1: Jesse attended all my OB appointments and ultrasounds until around week 30, when the appointments were basically lasting five minutes and consisted of me saying "everything is fine and I have no questions." 

Pregnancy #2: Jesse has yet to attend anything with me, as his work schedule is not as conducive to joining me at the clinic as it was last time. I could go out of my way to schedule appointments at times when he can be there, but why? I'll just schedule them for when they're convenient for me, and then text him a picture of the ultrasound with the caption "bub lives."

I suppose I'll try to schedule the Big Anatomy Ultrasound (the 19-week appointment where they tell you the gender and everything) for a time when he can be there, but if it doesn't work out ... ehh. I'll just text him a photo of a P or a V and he can text me back a smiley face. That's kind of where we're at.

I don't think about it all the time

Pregnancy #1: Hardly a moment went by when I didn't think "I am pregnant." It was bizarre and hard to explain if you've never experienced it. I'd wake up in the morning and think "omg I am pregnant." I'd get hungry and think "I'm so hungry because I am pregnant." It was just never more than an inch away from the front of my thoughts. I think that this is very common with first pregnancies.

Pregnancy #2: I often completely forget about it. I'll think something like "we should get some sushi as a special treat this Friday night," and it will take me an embarrassingly long time to remember that I'm not actually supposed to be eating sushi because duhh, I'm pregnant.

I often forget to look into my "pregnancy this week" update, which was my special treat every Monday morning the first time around. It was like Christmas morning every week, reading up to find how big the baby was that week and what changes I could expect. Now I often forget to read the updates until days into the new week. Oh shit, the size of a lemon. Uhh ... neat.

I haven't remembered to weigh myself in weeks. Have I gained any weight so far? I honestly don't know. Probably? Am I supposed to be tracking this?

Time is flying. A watched pot never boils, but a forgotten pot boils over in the blink of an eye. My first pregnancy lasted for at least two years. This time around, I'm already almost out of the first trimester and I feel like it's only been a couple of weeks since I found out.

It's strange.

Coming up with names is a chore, not a treat

Pregnancy #1: Jesse and I loved having name brainstorming time. We already had names picked out for both genders long before we found out if we were having a girl or a boy.

Pregnancy #2: Ughhhhh. We've got nothing. I don't think we'll have anything until it's almost time for this baby to be born.

If it's a girl, then I don't really want this baby's name to be in the same "category" as Audrey's name, because it makes it harder for people to keep them straight. For example, say we have a girl and decide to call her Natalie. Natalie and Audrey SOUND different, but they're in the same category (classic, pretty names that have been around for a long time). So if you met a family with two little girls named Audrey and Natalie, would you be able to remember who was who? It might be a challenge. But if you met two little girls named, say, Audrey and DREAMCATCHER FIRESTORM, you'd be less likely to call them by each other's names. (and no, I will not be naming anyone "Dreamcatcher Firestorm." If she wants to use that as her stage name for her one-woman sword-swallowing act later in life, she has my blessing)

Look, would I have preferred she actually finish medical school rather than washing out after three years and doing this instead? Maybe. But if she's happy, then ... I'm ... I'm happy too.

And then there are the boys' names. Jesse wants to go with the name we had picked for if Audrey had been a boy ... but I'm not so sure. Is it too much of a firstborn kid's name? Is it already Audrey's name in another dimension where she's a boy, in which case we can't use it again? Is it the male equivalent of naming the kid Natalie?

Eff it. Just name the kid Max Power regardless of gender.


So, in conclusion, being pregnant for a second time is a lot less interesting than being pregnant for the first time. Which I am absolutely fine with, because being pregnant for the first time was entirely TOO engrossing, if you ask me.

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