Getting ready (or not) for number 2….
It's hard to believe that this week I'm entering the third trimester of my second pregnancy and it'll be 12 weeks, give or take, until we meet our second faraway baby. 12 WEEKS? How the hell did that happen?! Compared to first time round – when I religiously read and re-read the weekly updates in 'What to Expect...', had a colour-coded, multi-tab spreadsheet of all the 'essentials' we needed to buy, and had signed us up to the equivalent of a degree's worth of antenatal classes – I'm a positive slacker this time. With an energetic 18 month-old occupying my head and my arms, I feel like I've done nothing for number two – and, of course, the cloud of mum guilt is creeping in.
In reality, it's not that bad. Of course I've kept up to date with all the blood tests and scans, and have carefully selected my lightest possible outfit choice each month to attend the check-up with the midwife (cue surreptitious removal of heavy belt and winter boots in the clinic waiting room in the hope of minimising monthly gain at weigh-in time. Like that will undo the days of snacking on peanut butter M&Ms under the deluded pretence that I'm 'eating for two'). I've kept up the exercise and restarted prenatal yoga, enjoying the space to pause, stretch and breathe all the more this time for not having a snotty-nosed toddler hanging off my leg. I've re-booked the wonderful doula we used first time around. And, crucially, we've also navigated the upheaval of a full move from our 2-bed apartment to a 3-bed house to give ourselves the space we need to accommodate the new addition and resulting slew of visitors over the subsequent months, without feeling the urge to hurl each other from the 32nd floor balcony to escape the claustrophobia. Maybe I'm not doing so badly, even if I haven't yet road-tested double strollers, sorted all the baby clothes in to piles for a girl / 'boy could probably get away with it', or managed to cajole my husband in to a single conversation about possible name choices.
As D-day draws closer this time, the things keeping me awake as I desperately try to find a comfortable configuration of pillows are different too. I'm less nervous about the stages and pain of labour, as I have a better idea what to expect, and more anxious about what we're going to do with my daughter when it all kicks off (particularly if, as I know is often the case for second-timers, things get going much more quickly this time round). I know I can handle the mechanics of feeding, swaddling and constant nappy changing (last time I was that rookie mum that had literally NEVER done a nappy change), but how will my firstborn respond to the new baby with whom she will now have to share my attention? And how am I going to adjust to compromising what I can give her because of that inevitable split?
Looking beyond the initial few weeks, there are other concerns too. If travelling home with one kid in tow – with all the paraphernalia, jet lag, and upheaval of staying in multiple places involved – already requires military preparation, having two is surely going to be at least double the ball-ache. I'm wondering how our little toddler's already willful personality is going to evolve as she hits the 'terrible twos', and how that's going to be compatible with trying to establish a routine for the baby. And, I’ll admit, I’ve given more than a second thought to how my body's going to shape up second time round, and how much choice there'll be for a breastfeeding friendly bridesmaid's dress for my sister's wedding at the end of the year. All things I didn't have to give two hoots about last time around.
But there are other, bigger things I feel more confident about this time, too. Home remains the same distance away, but I know that with FaceTime and WhatsApp our families will still get to be part of the new arrival's life from the get-go, and that they won't feel any ounce less love for them despite the distance. I am so grateful that we have a much stronger support network here than we did with our first baby, owing largely to the amazing friends I've made since having my daughter, some of whom are also entering second-time motherhood in the coming months. There will be plenty of people with whom to share a middle-of-the-night text, or enjoy that much-needed glass (or several) of wine. And I’m sure that, just like last time, my husband will miraculously drop the 'give a shit' exterior around 38 weeks as his Papa Bear instincts kick in and he will do the most amazing job of looking after us all.
Above all, I know that despite the seeming lack of preparation, despite the nervousness, despite the concerns about how on earth we're going to juggle it all, we are once again about to have our world turned upside down and inside out with love. What a very fortunate place that is to be.