Here we go again…

Being pregnant for the second time is a rather different experience to the first. Completely, utterly different in fact, despite the obvious similarities. Not everyone experiences it of course, and for many it’s just the same second time around. But for me – and many of my friends – it’s a completely different beast.

For a start, let’s talk motivation. There was no mystery second time around, no particular feelings of broodiness or excitement at the idea of creating a human life. Rather more practically, we had decided we didn’t want J to be an only child, and thought 2 1/2 to 3 years would be a nice age gap. We didn’t want a Christmas baby, so we started trying in May. And got pregnant. In May.

Now, just to stop you there, we were not being complacent, nor taking it for granted in any way that we would have an easy run of it. But it was carefully, almost clinically planned. And it all worked, (so far, touch wood, cross fingers etc etc etc) according to that plan.

In the first three months, it was very easy to forget about almost entirely. Now, the first time, I could think of nothing else. I didn’t mean to be so obsessed, but it absolutely consumed my every waking hour. I spent more time scrutinising pregnancy sites than on anything else, gleaning every tiny detail about my tiny baby’s development and growth, at what stage he or she grew fingernails or what piece of fruit or vegetable matter they were the same size of in any given week. We both cried at the scan. This was the biggest event in either of our lives.

Second time around, it’s all rather less emotionally charged. We told some people much earlier, for once thing, out of sheer practicality, and a little laziness. The first scan was still lovely, but I didn’t shed a tear, and was far more concerned about whether my son was enjoying himself and could see the picture on the screen. The triple test came along to try us yet again – a higher risk result than last time turned out to be low risk thanks to the NHS lowering its cut-off rate in between pregnancies. So, more risk, with no option of reassurance through testing. Great. And yet still I feel less than last time. Our amniocentesis was awful, one of the hardest things we ever decided on, and fortunately it all went fine. This time I had been building up to it, so not to have one felt anticlimactic to say the least. Now I sit here waiting for the 20 week scan, still with very little bump (though around a stone in unsatiable-appetite-generated unwanted extra weight) to show for it. It’s next week. Perhaps once that is over, if it all goes OK, I can start to relax and maybe enjoy it.

But here’s the thing.

It is absolutely impossible to imagine loving another baby even a fraction as much as I love my son. I am taking it on good faith from every mother I know who has more than one child that I will feel the same emotion again, but I can’t imagine it. The first time you can’t imagine it either, yet it magically happens, so perhaps all these other mothers know something I don’t. A friend’s (very wise) mother described it as opening another room in your heart you never knew you had. I quite liked that idea. I suppose the human capacity to love is not finite.

Enough cheese. Quite apart from the love issue, there’s the rather more overwhelming feeling of guilt. How can I possibly share my son with anyone else? He’s mine, he’s perfect, he’s my entire life. And yet. Things will change, move on, and our relationship will change. And that terrifies me. I don’t want things to change, I don’t want to share him. I want our cuddles to last, our little private jokes, our arguments. Our life together, that, as I gave up work to be with him, is everything, for both of us.

Most pregnancy sites and magazines are aimed at first time mothers. Second time around, you get fewer appointments, fewer things aimed at you, and you don’t really mind. You have the same worries and concerns that things might not go well, and the fear of the birth itself is, to be honest, immense. But none of it is as all-encompassing, as emotionally involved. I still forget about it, from time to time, and feel very little about the whole thing, if I’m honest. I am taking it on faith that it will all change when the new baby comes along. Perhaps when my friends have their 2nd babies I’ll start to appreciate how it all works, and maybe even muster some excitement. All I think about at the moment is how tired I am already, how little I look forward to those awful nights in the first few weeks, how tricky it will be doing the simplest thing, like nipping to the supermarket. Oh I know it’ll all be fine in the end, and that it’s what we all want, that it’s not just for me and my husband, that J will love his little sibling. I know it all perfectly well. I just don’t feel it.

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~ by DelightingintheDetail on September 29, 2010.

2 Responses to “Here we go again…”

  1. Maybe it’s easier to say this now that I’ve had my other son, but you will love this baby, and you can share your time with your son. There will be times when baby sleeps and you get to play with J. And on the other side, I really enjoy my time with my youngest on his own, because he’s never known any different than sharing mummy.

    I think if the gap gets too big between siblings that’s when the older child can experience jealousy. They have been the only one with mummy for a lot longer.

    My two have a two year four month age gap. At times they fight like cat and dog, but most of the time they play wonderfully together. They really are the best of buddies.

    Kieran has learnt to play wonderfully on his own, too – seeing that’s how his big brother played. He was a contented baby from very an early age. (I was extremely lucky – I had two good babies – I think it’s a mix of lots of chocolate during pregnancy, and being able to breast feed – they get more chocolate!).

    I would do the first six months again in a flash… just don’t want to put my body through it all again, and once they start chucking food from the high chair, the fun (stress) begins! Two is enough for me – you can cuddle each child in each arm 😉

    Good luck. And – touch wood – second time labour is a breeze for you.

  2. I remember fearing that my second child would be a “dark sinister baby” who would spoil all our happiness, and ruin the life of my adored perfect son. I absolutely couldn’t imagine loving another child as well. I don’t think anything except experience can really convince you otherwise. But try to trust that it will be OK.

    Susan Peterson

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