I’m sorry it has taken me so long to post- but now you know why! Surprise! Baby #2 is cooking!
Holy whirlwind, where to begin.
(I want to warn you, I wrote most of this post in the first trimester when my spirits were at their lowest. I re-read it in the second trimester and edited it a bit but it still has a very “woe is me” undertone. I almost didn’t post this (it was almost embarrassing to read !) but decided that if I had/have these thoughts and feelings, someone else probably has too! Enjoy!)
Let’s see, I (we) are excited and extremely GRATEFUL to have another little bundle on the way and especially without the help of modern medicine this time around but also slightly apprehensive! Don’t get me wrong, we were actively “trying” and wanted another little one, but even though it was planned, I think a part of the magic about pregnancy is that all the planning in the world will not stop the news from knocking you off balance a little.
When we conceived our daughter, we were desperately waiting for a child and wanted her so badly. We had been through 3 losses, a year of trying, and a slew of fertility tests when we finally had a pregnancy that stuck. I welcomed and wanted every bit of pregnancy. If someone would have said to me, “Tara, you just have to live in this 1 foot by 1 foot cell and eat nothing but oatmeal for 9 months and then you’ll have a baby” I would have happily obliged. And boy, did she change my life forever. But this time was completely different, I had just gained some freedom with nursing and the shackles of infancy had been unlocked now that my daughter was a toddler. It is kind of scary to think that I will enter the labor intensive “baby period” all over again. And although we always knew we wanted another baby, it just seemed so far off in the future for some reason. I did not feel that pressure to be pregnant right away like I did the first time. And instantly, things had changed. Things I didn’t foresee or think about when thinking of being pregnant again came into play. The morning sickness and lack of energy, but also the biggest one being the change in my nursing relationship.
Morning Sickness hit me with a vengeance this time around. From the positive pregnancy test on, it was like my body said “Oh Hey, I remember this” and slammed me with every pregnancy symptom imaginable. From about week 4-12, it was extreme fatigue and nausea and overall malaise, like could not get up from the couch to go to the kitchen kind of malaise. The second trimester welcomed daily headaches, a ravenous appetite, back aches, and grosser symptoms (I’ll spare you). It is hard with having a little one and honestly, depressing at times. Feeling awful for weeks on end and not being able to do the things you normally do wears on you mentally. On the days I felt good in the first trimester, I was just so relieved to know that it wasn’t all in my head! But there was one positive- I was too sick to care about anything! Which included worrying about miscarrying. I remember thinking to myself… Oh, this is how normal pregnant women get through the uncertainty of the early weeks… they are too busy throwing up ha! But strangely, from the moment I took the test, I knew things would be okay. Unlike with my losses, where my intuition was already warning me.
In these last few weeks, I have thrown myself into preparing for the birth. If you remember, I wrote about Why I Want An All Natural Birth before I even had the return of my fertility!! That’s how strongly my daughter’s hospital birth left an impression. I have learned so much since her birth, and only wish I wasn’t so naive then. However, there is no sense in regret or beating ourselves up over what we did not know. We all learn and grow as we navigate through life. (PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: If this is your first pregnancy PLEASE research what you want for your birth and how to minimize interventions, explore out of hospital options and HIRE A DOULA!). I plan on writing a post about this experience soon. We toured two birth centers and interviewed with midwives for a homebirth. We decided on a home/water birth with a doula, and we are not finding out the sex! We are so excited – look out for that experience soon!
And on to the biggest challenge; I am still nursing my daughter who is now 22 months (was 19 months when we conceived – yes, you CAN get pregnant while breastfeeding and trust me Masilyn was still nursing night and day) and everyone knows how important my nursing relationship/breastfeeding in general is to me. So I was a bit unprepared for the nursing aversion (negative feelings associated with nursing) and the sore nipples/nausea nursing while pregnant would cause even though I had heard of all of it before. After doing some research, I learned that in a lot of other cultures and with other large mammals even, pregnancy is actually a biological thumbs up to wean which many follow through with, basically saying…your body can only handle so much and your instincts go along with mother nature.
Ever see a female dog wean her puppies? She will either stand up and run away completely or even nip at them if they try to nurse. Well, we as mammals are not all that different. Women experience the same impulses (which typically only happens during pregnancy or during the end of the nursing relationship if you continue to a more biological weaning age) You even can experience something titled “maternal aggression” towards your toddler -how nice. Your milk/breasts even go through the physical changes during pregnancy that it does during weaning. However, in other traditional cultures, sibling spacing is closer to 3 years so the children are more ready to wean- which I cannot figure out how births are spaced so much if average return of fertility is 15 months?! My theory is that nutrition plays a part. It is all fascinating to someone like me, but the bottom line is my basic primal maternal instincts are telling me to wean even though it goes against how I feel philosophically about extended breastfeeding. And as far as my daughter is concerned, she doesn’t always handle it well… she has always been my booby baby, and I really feel is not yet ready to wean. I am still her main source of comfort (which is totally normal and healthy). There are no pacifiers or bottles in my household- it is me, and me alone-like it would have been back in the jungle days. So let’s just say my sudden aversion to nursing has been a big wrench in our daily routine and stressful for us all. And then when there is a day when she doesn’t ask to nurse for a while, I start to get a little panicked thinking that this part of our relationship could be over soon. The Madness!
So what am I going to do? Am I going to wean? Stick it out? A lot of women push through the aversion and go on to tandem nurse (nurse more than one child at a time) because they feel the need to their older child is that crucial. However, I have always been about following my instincts as a mother and listening to nature when it comes to parenting and this leaves me at a crossroad. I always decided that if I felt the urge to wean, I would (although gently)..and if I did not, I would not let outside (oftentimes uneducated) opinions affect my decision. But for now, I am taking it day by day, trying to respect my own feelings and instincts as well as my daughter’s feelings and needs. I am not making any hard decisions at this point. And honestly, as time goes on… she seems to be adjusting well to the fewer nursing sessions and life has become more manageable. We will see how it goes!
Okay, getting deep here for a second.
You know, I have friends, friends who are either going through or went through infertility and I can’t help but wonder; Is there anything worse? I am in every sense heartbroken watching their journeys and feeling so helpless. The disappointment these women (and men) feel and have felt is deep and profound. I had a vivid dream of one friend in particular where we are on our knees, holding each other sobbing in grief. Her grief, turmoil, injustice, and disappointment is visceral. I felt it in my soul in that dream, I was connected to her there and felt her pain as my own. Yet, she perseveres, and somehow stays positive. And I admire her deeply for it. I would do anything for these women to have a child, even if that meant carrying it myself.
I am very aware of how lucky I am and I do not want to ever forget that.
A part of me feels pride that I am one of those who experiences “hard” pregnancies. Almost like I have to earn it. I get to experience fist hand pregnancy full-throttle and this hazing period will make me that much more grateful (Just let me think this at least). But even though I am extremely grateful, that does not mean it is easy. I make a miserable pregnant woman. The anxiety of all going well is always there in the background, keeping me from truly enjoying the pregnancy and bonding with it. I never truly relax. For someone with my history, 40+ weeks is the amount of time it takes to know everything will be okay. The lack of energy means idle time, which I have never been great with and I often feel like a bad mother for not stimulating my daughter and being a super stay at home mom who does crafts and other fun things all day. In truth, some days all I can muster is sticking her in front of the iPAD in hopes that she will be occupied long enough for me to rest. I went from eating healthy and exercising (which I am convinced contributed to the success of this pregnancy) to only wanting terrible, comfort food which leaves me feeling guilty, anxious and sluggish (Imagine pregnancy as an everyday hangover!). I find myself wondering that if I can’t handle being pregnant with a toddler, how in the world am I going to handle ANOTHER BABY with a toddler?! My daughter has always been the type of child who needs constant attention and the thought of having to balance her needs with another is overwhelming. I feel the distance from my mom and sister, and wonder how I am going to handle having two small children without them close by. I sometimes miss and yearn for my old social life.
But now that the first trimester has come to a close, the bad days are becoming fewer, and my mind is available to welcome all of the joys and wonders of pregnancy. At night while my sleeping family (dog and all) lay snoring beside me (thank you pregnancy insomnia), I can’t help but look at my daughter’s face in the moonlight and remember that she was once too a small beating life in my womb. I picture her there and it hits me that this soul I cannot see will be here one day sleeping peacefully beside me just as she is now. What will you look like? What will you be like at her age? I rub my belly and I fall asleep with a smile on my face as the joy of this moment follows me in to my dreams and I thank whoever is listening up there for this incredible, marvelous gift.
I remember what I am working for, however far away it seems. I remember that there is no greater gift on this earth, a gift that can only come from somewhere much larger than ourselves; that transcends all we know. I will get to experience love’s purest form physically, spiritually, and emotionally all over again, and my heart and soul will expand that much more.