Pregnant With Number Two: Expectations vs. Reality

People are surprised when I tell them I am way more nervous this time around.

When I was pregnant with Liam, I didn’t know many moms, or many babies for that matter, and the whole nine months was one big adventure. I didn’t know what to expect, so I rode the wave until delivery.

Ignorance is bliss, I guess.

These past two years, I’ve met many, many moms. I’ve heard terrible stories about scary ultrasound findings, chromosomal abnormalities, miscarriages, stillbirths, and bumpy deliveries. Many of these stories have haunted me. Many of them I still think about, now and then, wondering what I would do and how I would cope, if I was in that Mom’s shoes.

I was lucky enough to have a healthy pregnancy, delivery, and baby once with Liam. Could I be this lucky twice in a row? Could everything go as smoothly the second time around, too?

Early on in my pregnancy, I felt very uncertain about this, and it terrified me.

It still does.

Granted, I am now past a few of the scary milestones: the first trimester and daily fear of miscarriage is behind me, and so are many of my genetic tests and anatomy scan. A small weight has been lifted off my shoulders… but as many moms know from experience, I’m already anxiously awaiting the next milestone, the next confirmation that everything is still okay. For now.

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When I found out I was pregnant with Liam, I was 24. I am now 27. What changed?

Well, I became a mom, that’s what did. I am now an expert multi-tasker, accustomed to early wake ups and tantrums in crowded supermarkets. I stay calm. I do not panic. I share my days with Mickey Mouse, Dora, and Bubble Guppies. I am an expert toy organizer, professional snot sucker (only Moms know), and “toddler palate” chef extraordinaire. I make lists all day long, and my brain never shuts off. I have become acclimated to the roller coaster that is newborn-hood, infant-hood, toddlerhood. That’s what changed. I graduated baby bootcamp.

I know I have less time for myself with a toddler on my hands, so I listen to my body when it tells me to stop. When it’s had enough for the day, and it’s time to sit my butt down. I’m in tune with what my body tells me so I can preserve that much needed energy. Our house would literally fall to ashes without it (ask my husband, he’ll confirm.)

Although I have not given baby #2’s nursery a single thought and haven’t settled on a name yet, I do project myself more, imagining myself as a mother of two. The biggest changes are on the way, and I think about them often: Will Liam be jealous of his little brother? Will the lack of sleep be as difficult as the first time? How will I handle nights when Joe has to work? How different will it be to have a winter baby?

I always said I’d be an expert when baby number two came around, but I have to admit I forgot what it’s like to have a newborn. Kids evolve, transform, every single day. I now get why even my own mother could never answer my month-specific questions about infants. Your focus shifts every single day: you follow your child’s lead, leaving the past in the past.

My reality, today, is that this bump is way bigger than my 20 week bump with Liam, the pressure and bloat is getting real, and I’m a little nervous that I’m only halfway and most of the weight gain is ahead of me. My toddler could not care less about his baby brother, but I’ve been told that’s normal.

However, I’m lucky enough to feel energized during the day and still sleep eight hour nights. That I feel those flutters, kicks, and hiccups as I lie in bed at night. So many blessings and that’s what I’m focusing on. Although it’s safe to say 2017 has been a pretty evil year so far, throwing way too many obstacles my way, I continue to focus on my two little miracles, the two best distractions on the planet.

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Johanna Riehm teaches in the department of Communication and Media at Manhattanville College and in the department of English at Mercy College. She teaches courses in the history of communication, public speaking, and social media, as well as creative and technical writing workshops. Johanna’s work has been featured in Graffiti Literary Magazine, The Write Place at the Write Time, The Bangalore Review, Cactus Heart Press, and the LaMothe Review. She is working on her first longer work, a creative nonfiction novel called We Carved Our Names in Tamarind Trees.

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