Pregnant for the 4th time is not at all like being pregnant for the 1st time- for better and for worse.
Things that get better:
I know that spotting can be common and nothing to be alarmed by most of the time. I know what contractions feel like and how they differ from Braxton Hicks. I know what baby kicks feel like and can detect them as soon as 14 weeks now! I know that I can birth babies. I know what my body is capable of. Knowing these things makes pregnancy a lot less stressful most days.
The maternity clothes
First of all, thank God the fashion industry has moved quickly over the last decade to bring affordable, acceptable maternity clothes to the market. Have you seen Pink Blush? Signed up for a Stitch Fix maternity fix? Heck, even Target’s selection gets a little better every time I’m pregnant. And when it’s your first pregnancy and you have to start a maternity wardrobe from scratch, that’s just hard. And expensive.
The giving a shit
I just… don’t. I don’t give a shit if someone thinks I shouldn’t drink coffee or eat a sandwich or buy a bottle of wine while I’m 6 months pregnant. I remember these simple actions in public would make me so nervous the first couple times around. What if someone thought I’d be a bad mother? Welp, guess what? People are going to think you’re a bad mother no matter what you do or buy or eat while you’re pregnant. There is NOTHING you can do correctly after that baby is born, so embrace it now.
The ease of preparing
I have a lot of the great baby items I know we’ll need and use already. No stressing over a registry. (Side note- OMG registering for baby stuff for your first baby is the worst, right?) I know what other stuff to skip and what to stock up on. I know not to bother setting up a nursery for the first 6 months.
The confidence that I can do this
I know how to get a newborn to latch when I breastfeed. I know where to go and what to do if my postpartum anxiety comes back. I know exactly how long it takes to drive to the hospital at various times of the day. I know that once my water breaks, the baby is going to be here in a matter of minutes. I know that I can survive a med-free labor and delivery.
Things that get worse:
I. am. so. tired. I have 3 other children and they need me for things like school orientation, baseball & t-ball practice, and snuggle time after school. Plus, I’m bigger sooner with each one. It really should be the other way around, in a perfect world. The more outside kids you have, the easier the pregnancy should be on your body. Also, perhaps don’t move to a 2 story house before you get pregnant one last time. “Mommy, why don’t you just crawl up the stairs?” – something my kids have actually said to me.
I don’t know WHY it gets worse, but now that I’m on my 4th pregnancy, I’m waking in the middle of the night choking on my own reflux vomit. This happened the 3rd pregnancy, too, but I feel like it was later on.
The stretch marks
Ahhh… so cute, my first pregnancy, when I got my first stretch marks at 30 weeks. You’d think I would have expanded to capacity already, but I get bigger each time because I guess each baby is not happy unless it’s left me worse than it found me.
The knowing too much
Oh yeah, I know a lot by now. Too much. I am dreading another med-free birth because I know that every time transition kicks in I realize that I couldn’t possibly remember how bad it hurts. My brain won’t let me. (And yet, still going to do it again, or try to, at least… because I can, and I know I’ll be fine, and I’ve done it 3 times before, and I’ve always been happy I did. But dammit, I don’t look forward to it.)
My reaction to pain meds
If you’ve been reading me for a long time, you know that I get mysterious crotch rashes after each baby. Each time, it gets worse. The last time, it extended up into my stretch marks (not PUPPS), down my legs, and then even on my arms and lasted for well over a week. We finally cracked the case. I’m allergic to the prescription pain meds I get in the hospital after I birth my babies med-free. So this time around? Nothing but Advil for me. On my 4th baby. While my uterus contracts with the intensity of a thousand gremlins ripping me apart from the inside.