Pregnancy is fairly predictable in some ways. Your belly grows. You become slower and more achey. And, pu pu pu, after nine months’ time, you’re cradling a tiny new person.
Yet, it takes being pregnant at least twice to really appreciate the countless ways that pregnancies can vary. Now pregnant with our third daughter, I’m feeling not only older, but also wiser about the whole process of creating a miniature human. Here are seven of my recent lessons:
1. Time flies. The first pregnancy felt like an eternity. I had time to notice every strange physical change and worry whether everything was alright (you know, The Pregnancy Experience). The second moved faster because I was simultaneously caring for a preschooler. This third pregnancy is flying because I’m now preoccupied with two energetic girls who keep me so busy, I can forget that I’m pregnant. That is, until I try to chase them and remember I’m as slow as molasses.
2. What Second Trimester Bounce? The second trimester definitely felt heavenly the first time around, when my morning sickness subsided. I could finally eat, and I had energy to do stuff. Of course, it also helped that I took regular naps for the first time since preschool. But this time? Naps are a rarity. I’ve learned how to power through each day because I have to—after all, the big sister and big-sister-to-be still need to eat.
3. Pain? Meh. After two pregnancies, I’ve learned to take my bodily aches in stride. Sure, they’re annoying—and even quite painful—but these typical pregnancy pains signal my baby is growing as she should. So, I’m actually sort of grateful.
4. Let the Strangers Stare. I’ve discovered that Pregnant Me can be an object of fascination. Strangers regularly stare as I waddle by on the street. Or they take a long sideways look after successfully zooming around this slow-poke, often doing a double take when they see my sizable belly. It’s true. I’m a tiny person who seems to carry only large babies. C’est la vie.
5. Pregnancy Isn’t Necessarily Predictive. While pregnant with Daughter #2, I assumed it was notable that she kicked less frequently than Daughter #1, queen of the 3 a.m. dance parties, had. Since Daughter #1 had become a whirlwind of energy, I excitedly told my husband we could expect a mellower little sister. Boy, was I wrong! Life on land has revealed that Daughter #2 is an exceedingly busy little person, constantly running somewhere. So, I’ll make no bold predictions about Daughter #3, who moves so regularly that taking clear sonogram pictures has been a serious challenge.
6. I Feel Prepared. Unlike with my first pregnancy, I’m not worried about whether I can handle a newborn or which parenting style suits me. Unlike the last pregnancy, I’m also not concerned about how I’ll manage a newborn along with a preschooler. Truth be told, I’m still not entirely sure how the Three Kid Juggle will look, but I feel confident that I can handle it. Experience brings a level of peace.
7. Readying the Big Sisters. The best part of this pregnancy has been talking to my girls about it. When my husband and I first broke the news to our 5-year-old, she thought we were pulling her leg. But since we persuaded her that the news was indeed real, she’s been thrilled. That enthusiasm also helped kindle excitement in our 2-year-old, who can’t wait to become a big sister (just like her big sister!). Each week, the girls eagerly anticipate my reading aloud from Baby Center’s pregnancy update and learning which fruit or vegetable best approximates the baby’s current size. I love this shared ritual, and I can’t imagine a better way for us to prepare for our new status as a family of five.