Last August, when my pregancy test turned up positive, I was thrilled. I knew this little person was going to rock my world. As Liam’s due date approached, I had mixed feelings because I knew the hard balls that motherhood can throw. I was dreading a long labor (Ab’s was 26 hours) and the other things like a horrible 20 stitch episiotomy or an emergency C-section. The possibility of these things happening to my vagina caused some angst and as a result, I obsessed a little, no big deal. With Annabelle, the first three months of breastfeeding was a nightmare. I had cracked and bleeding nips, mastitis, engorged breasts, milk blisters, and then thrush. Every time she wanted to eat, I said the F word, clenched my teeth and fed her. I thought about moving to formula and the only reason I kept breast feeding was due to the fact that I am an eternal optimist. Every day I woke up thinking, “Today will be the day my Boobs will get better!” I didn’t know if I could handle three months of boob pain with Liam. I was no longer afraid of formula and using it. I didn’t really want to, it’s just so much easier to breastfeed, but not with that kind of pain! On top of that, I was not looking forward to the brutal sleepless nights as I remembered the twitch in my eyeballs and emotional outbreaks from a cocktail of hormones and exhaustion. In addition to all of that was the literal heaviness of my body, the added weight I gained during the pregnancy. Instead of the pounds melting off, like it did for many of my momma friends, my body held onto every last bit of fat it could for as long as it could. Ugh. You know, it’s a miracle that second babies ever happen.
When I expressed these fears to Moms who have two kids, they all told me it would be nothing like the first.
I didn’t believe them.
Meanwhile, my parents arrived early to help us get everything ready for the baby. They helped us unpack (we bought a house during my third trimester), hung pictures, put a crib together, and investigated different ways to start labor (my favorite being the foot rubs which I got two in a week).
And we waited. I became the eternal optimist again. Today Liam will come. For a whole week, I couldn’t think of anything else but how horrible labor was and how I didn’t really want to do this whole give birth and have a kid anyways. I tried to steel myself with the idea of having a natural and unmedicated birth, but deep down I knew I’d have them shoot me up with petosin if the labor lasted too long. At 8pm February 26th, I started to get some minor cramping, nothing bad. By midnight, HOLY HELL, get me to the hospital. By the time we gathered my suitcase, my Mom, situated things with my Dad, it was 2am. We arrived at the hospital at 2:15 am. FIFTEEN MINUTES later that baby boy popped out. No time for epidural, no need for petosin, and a baby whose face was bruised dark blue because he torpedoed the hell out of there. I’ll bet he will take forever to make a decision and then once he’s made up his mind, his mind is made up.
It was nothing like the first time. I tell my Mom friends who are expecting their second and they look at me with doubt in their eyes.
The difference between the first and second, for me, is that I recovered much faster, both mentally and physically. We were out of the hospital in 24 hours (any Mom having her firstborn will tell you they stayed as long as they could at the hospital and begged the nurse to extend the allotted time). There was no picture of a teary eyed girl afraid to take the baby home. Instead of driving home from the hospital at ten miles an hour, we probably sped home. Unfortunately, we haven’t taken many pictures of the little man(25 compared to the 118 for Annabelle). Thank god the hospital offered a professional photo package. We accepted, of course.
When we arrived home, my parents and hubby were an incredible amount of help in different ways. My Dad and hubby were off fixing things around the house and helping with Annabelle while my Mom took care of everything else so I could spend my free time pumping because my milk hadn’t come (it eventually did in two weeks). I got to experience the ol’ bloody nipple revival. The funny thing is, I became the eternal optimist again and I kept at it every day because I thought that day would be the day it was going to get better. Three weeks later, my milk came and all my boob problems went away. I can’t imagine having to go at this alone.
This got me to thinking of women of new moms through the ages. Can you imagine being pregnant in a bumpy wagon crossing the frontier? Or being pregnant in the fifties when birth was viewed as a strict medical procedures and afterwards, everything had to look absolutely “Leave it to Beaver” perfect (How did they keep the baby quiet and then it becomes painfully obvious why there were so many closet mom alcoholics). In my opinion, the problem for todays woman is the onslaught of too much information and too many options that leave a person paralyzed as to what the right choice is. For example, take the subject of an episiotomy. One camp says that episiotomies are safe and a normal part of a delivery. You will want one instead of a huge ragged tear. The other camps say episiotomies are a butchery and unneccessary, often creating more pain than what a woman is already going through. Everyone’s an expert. How is any normal sane person supposed to have an informed decision about these things? I still have no idea what the right answer is.
Liam is here now. He’s a normal baby in the 98% ranking for size and lungs to match. People keep asking me if there is going to be a third. No. Let me rephrase, Hell No. We are done. I’m too fat and old to recover from a third baby. Besides, I like to have some personal time and with three, I hear its impossible do that, for YEARS before a pedicure is feasible again. While I applaud other people’s choices to have lots of kids, I respectfully decline.
Two weeks after Liam was born, my parents went back home. I was afraid to go to the grocery store, again. Well, I knew how, it’s just that I envisioned a crazy nightmarish scene of an inconsolable screaming baby and a whiny toddler yelling at the top of her lungs and throwing breakable things out of the cart. I stayed in the house for about a week until the self confinement drove me stir crazy and I had to get out of the house. It wasn’t that bad, it’s all about organization and deciding who goes first with the least amount of hassle. So far, Annabelle goes in the cart first and then I put the shopping cart seat buckle on, next the baby goes in his car seat (if he’s awake, I pop him in the Bjorn) and so begins my trek into the store. The funny thing though, was people reacted with much more kindness than I expected. Doors were held open and people made way. Until she got ahold of a glass jar of Stevia and threw it on the ground, then I got some very different looks. Second born mother fear is definitely something to be reckoned with, but not something to be afraid of. Life goes on and biceps get bigger.