Seven Little Things No One Tells You Change With a Second Baby

Wednesday 16 May 2018

As anyone who is onto to their second pregnancy will know, things tend to be a little different the second time around. I’m not just talking physically, although that has undoubtedly been a different scenario this time around. There are lots of other little things you do when you’re expecting your firstborn that aren’t quite so straightforward when it comes time to produce a sibling for them. 

Here’s what no-one tells you is different, second time around...

Firstborn child: Going to the gym until 7 months pregnant
Secondborn child: Not moving off the sofa from 13 weeks

When I was expecting Theo, I was the picture of pregnancy health. There was no way I was letting a bump slow me down or make me give up my gym membership. Instead, although I adapted my routine, I was happily pounding away at the treadmill until seven and a half months pregnant. I actually used to look forward to my Sunday morning sessions, and firmly believed my gym going was contributing to a happier, healthier pregnancy and baby. In fact, the only reason I stopped going was because other gym goers kept looking at my warily, as if I might give birth on the yoga mats. That and the fact my gym clothes no longer covered my bump! 

This time around, things have definitely been different. Working full time and with an active toddler to look after, exercise has been much harder to fit in. I cancelled my gym membership when I went back to work after maternity leave, as time was too precious in the evenings to spend an hour trekking to the gym and back - I didn’t want to be away from my baby that long after being in the office all day. I took up running instead, and found an appreciation for it I’d struggled to find before. I liked the fact Is was so low-maintenance- just strap on your trainers and go, any time of the night or day it happened to work around Theo. But getting pregnant again, I was so tired and low at the beginning I barely had enough energy to make it through the day! Since then, although I’ve been going to a once a week pregnancy Pilates class, my workout routine is virtually non existent and mainly consists of picking up mountains of toys and cleaning the house each day...

Firstborn child: Not letting the beauty regime budge an inch
Secondborn child: Embracing leg hair and messy buns

I’m the first to admit I’m at the higher end of the maintenance scale. The type of woman that just feels better and more herself when the warpaint is firmly in place and the hair is looking good. When I was pregnant the first time, I remember a colleague taking that kind of gleeful delight parents have when a new initiate presents themselves to the club, and warning me about all the things I could kiss goodbye to now I was about to have a baby. But it wasn’t the loss of a human amount of sleep or never getting to drink a hot cup of coffee that horrified me. Oh no. It was her dark pronouncement of the slow march of body hair as you stopped being able to reach new parts of yourself. 

Body hair is, of course, entirely a matter of personal preference, and no woman should feel obliged to be a hairless Barbie doll by society. However. I’ve always been on the camp that would happily have every last unwanted hair lasered into oblivion. I just don’t feel clean unless I’m like a baby seal! So her words struck mortal fear into my soul. So much so that I even shaved my legs DURING labour while in the bath at hospital. Probably just so I could tell said colleague I had. 

However, not that I have a toddler, a full time job and a bump to contend with standards have slid somewhat. I can’t see my legs in the shower any more, and since this baby has decided to sit on my sacral nerve, I can’t bend down either. That means a quick defuzz in the shower is a thing of the past, and I have to wait until I manage to squeeze time for a bath to be able to take care of things. Reluctantly, I’ve become that person with the chipped pedicure and less-than-smooth legs. 

Firstborn child: Buying minimal maternity wear
Secondborn child: Needing elasticated trousers the minute you see a blue line

It was almost as if I saw buying maternity wear as a sign of defeat. Perhaps it was some psychological reluctance on my part when I was expecting my first child, but I was slow to embrace those tent dresses and elasticated waistbands. I saw all maternity clothes as mumsy, over priced or both, so I didn’t really go there. I made do with the looser items in my wardrobe, wearing dresses as tops and pairing them with leggings. This was only possible because I didn’t have a significant bump until around 24 weeks, but by the end I was in a rotation of about two stretchy dresses, some loose vests and three pairs of leggings that I was sick of and pretty much wanted to burn by the end of it all. 

This time, it was all different. The minute those blue lines appeared, my jeans were feeling tight. I had a mini bump at 13 weeks. It was clear that a few pairs of leggings weren’t going to do the trick this time around, so I’ve embraced the maternity wear and managed to find some stylish, comfortable basics that suit me for work or play. I’ve also invested in a few pairs of pregnancy jeans. This time I know that you actually end up wearing them for a few months afterward, it seemed like less of a waste of money!

Firstborn child: Measuring each growth stage in weeks, and fruit and veg
Secondborn child: Not knowing or caring if it’s a runner bean or a watermelon

Ahh, the rosy glow of the firstborn child. Each morning, I would wake up to an alert on my phone, informing me cheerily ‘Your baby is the size of a bell pepper today!’. I would gleefully share this useless information with my husband and there would be much excited discussion about it. Every cough and kick was analysed in minute detail. We even referred to the baby as ‘Olive’ for a while because he was that size when we first found out about him. 

This time? I couldn’t tell you if my daughter was current a cauliflower or a cantaloupe! I’ve looked at precisely zero information about whether she has eyelashes yet or is beginning to see shades of light. And while I still love the feeling of her fluttery kicks letting me know she’s there, there’s just no time to indulge in the magic of it all. Perhaps that’s a little sad, but it’s more than made up for everything my son asks to give my tummy a goodnight kiss for the baby.

Firstborn child: Having a carefully drawn up birth plan
Secondborn child: Winging it all the way 

How misguided can you be? With Theo, I had a birth plan like it was a military operation. I knew exactly what birth I wanted, and I clung to those words written in my birth plan as if they were a magic talisman that could make it all happen. Having given birth once, I now know that a birth plan really isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Literally not one midwife or doctor even glanced at it, and I was too far gone to think about it all. The truth is, labour is full of variable and inter related factors. It’s quite literally a force of nature, and hoping to impose your will on it can only lead to disappointment. 

Although I know what I do and don’t want this time in an ideal world, there’s no knowing what the situation will be at the time. You just have to cross that bridge when you come to it. If you’re one of life’s epic planners, like me, that isn’t a pleasant thought, but get comfortable with it and you stand much less chance of feeling disappointed when the birth you wanted doesn’t happen. 

Firstborn child: Spending quality time with your midwife
Secondborn child: Being shuttled in and out in under 10 minutes

Perhaps this one is just me, but this time around I’ve been a little surprised by how much less cared for I feel by my midwife. Just because I’ve given birth once, doesn’t mean I have all the answers. But not only do you get far fewer appointments with number two, mine have seemed somewhat perfunctory this time around. It’s barely worth the hassle of going, as I’ve been shuttled in and out in under ten minutes. Perhaps it’s down to the rather less friendly midwife I’ve been given this time around, but there’s a definite feeling that I should know what I’m doing. But carrying my daughter has been a very different experience from my son and I would definitely have appreciated a little more support than a 2 minute blood pressure check and sent on my way! 

Firstborn child: Planning your baby moon
Secondborn child: Falling asleep in your toddler’s bed every night 

Ok, perhaps this one isn’t very realistic. But around about this stage in my pregnancy with Theo, Sebastian and I were on an idyllic baby moon in Italy, eating gelato, exploring Venice and sitting by the rooftop pool of our hotel. We were in a complete bubble of happiness, chatting excitedly about all our hopes for our little boy. 

And now, the contrast of finding myself laid out night by night on Theo’s bedroom floor while he battles night terrors and bed wettings is decidedly less glamorous! But although there is much less time to focus on this baby, we are so excited to cement our little family with a new addition - it gets you through a lot!

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