When you find out you’re expecting your first child you immediately want to wrap yourself up in cotton wool and protect yourself from the world.
Sleeping on the bedroom floor of a toddler you’ve soothed back to sleep at 2am at nearly 34 weeks pregnant wouldn’t even cross your mind, and you’d probably give the death stare to anyone who even suggested something so ludicrous. And what about clambering onto a toddler bike with your knees up in your chest and your belly resting on the handlebars while a tiny dictator yells “go mammy, go!” Not a chance.
Well it turns out pregnancy number two doesn’t come with the same luxuries as the first … As I’ve found out over the last seven months or so.
With baby number one, the chances are your life will have changed slightly before you’re even pregnant as you’ll have been advised to take folic acid for three months before trying to conceive. Of course, you do this religiously – why wouldn’t you?
When you’re already juggling a full-time job and a toddler, it’s enough to remember if you’ve brushed your teeth before leaving the house … The daze of running around after a whirlwind, plus the inevitable baby brain, makes pill-popping more haphazard than a daily routine, as much as you know it’s for the best.
When you get that much wished-for positive pregnancy test, you immediately turn mama bear over your as yet non-existent bump. Nobody is allowed within five yards of it, you’re wary of situations where it might get a bit squished, and you even sleep on your left side as recommended (for some unknown reason) by the baby books.
Try telling a two-year-old to stop climbing on mammy’s tummy because he’ll dent his baby brother or sister … You’ll get nowhere fast! This little bubba certainly isn’t enjoying a peaceful cocoon.
Speaking of baby books, What to Expect When You’re Expecting will become your bible as you count down the weeks until you meet your lovely first born. You’ll read a chapter a night, keeping up to date with baby’s developments, what fruit they’re the size of and what you should be doing to prepare at that particular time. And why not? You have the luxury of time to absorb all the information you can.
I think my two-year-old copy is now being used to prop up the bedside table. I’m so knackered by bedtime I’d probably be snoring after page one anyway.
And there’s always One Born Every Minute … The oh-so-reliable source of every first-time mother’s birth expectations. You’ll cover your eyes through the gruesome bits (that’s not going to happen to you anyway) and sob as the parents cuddle their tiny little baby.
The second time around you can watch safe in the knowledge that you’ve been through it before and will breeze through it again. Oh wait, I only have six weeks to catch up on four more series of Pretty Little Liars before hormones and sleepless nights turn my brain to mush. I know which I’m choosing to watch this time around!
One thing that inevitably changes when you find out you’re carrying a little one is your diet. Your iPhone notes will contain lists of banned and best avoided foods – goats cheese is off the menu, you’ll throw away a slightly runny egg, and you’ll cut out caffeine cold turkey.
No caffeine plus full-time work and a toddler? No chance!
By 30 weeks you’ll start the countdown to d-day, with your maternity notes and carefully constructed birth plan close to hand at all times, your midwife’s number on speed dial and your immaculately packed hospital bag ready to go.
I somehow only have six weeks left and haven’t got my bag back after lending it to my mother, let alone packed it with mini toiletries and a nighty I’ll never wear. The baby has enough clothes to last around two days, and our list of potential names is non-existent.
Yep, pregnancy with a toddler is definitely different to the first time around! I’m sorry baby number two. This pregnancy is no less enjoyable, of course, but time definitely flies when you have so much else to think about!