My sister and a handful of my extremely close friends have recently had or are so close to having their first baby. As I experience their first time pregnancies alongside them I often try to remember personally what it was like to be pregnant for the first time.
I don’t think I ever really connected my first pregnancy with actually having the baby. No matter how much I prepared I did not know what to expect. Yes, I read “What To Expect When Your Expecting” but in hindsight, reading about having an infant was very different than living and breathing it.
Experiencing pregnancy for the first time was so significant. It was at times difficult to register. “I am actually growing another human?” “Is that seriously a babies limb gliding across my stomach?” Watching the baby move around on an ultrasound and hearing the heartbeat was surreal. I will never forget the first time I heard the heartbeat. Tears of amazement and shock, just streamed down my face. I often worried about what was actually growing inside of me, hoping it was a human and not some other type of being. “Baby Chewbacca, is that you?”
Besides the fact that nine months of pregnancy seemed to last a lifetime there were so many other adjustments to be made as my body was rapidly changing out of my control. It was difficult to see past this endless, amazing, draining, body shocking, beautiful, ugly, phase of my life to actually imagine what life would be like when the baby was born. Don’t even get me started about watching the scale go in the absolute opposite direction than you’re used to every week. As a woman, I feel innately trained to make sure the scale either stays the same or goes down week to week. Preferably down. My general rule of thumb was that if the scale accidentally (of course the large pizza over the weekend had nothing to do with it) did start creeping up, go and fix it now. Oh, but yes, during these nine months it did go up. Up, up and up. Not for nothing, after all the pre-pregnancy years of being with my husband, Mark, and witnessing his lack of interest in diets and weight loss, he suddenly decided he wanted to go on a diet. I equally gained as he lost up to seventeen pounds. Not cool Martineau. Not cool. He did look good though. Don’t tell him I said that.
When the day finally came that the baby, now Presley, was ready to make her appearance, it was a surreal, amazing, breathtaking and really just an indescribable event. Learning how to be a new mom was exhausting, emotional, exciting and most of all scary. I remember a couple of months after her birthday I was sitting around with a couple of girlfriends and they asked me, “Would you have another?” and I didn’t even have to think about it. I said, “No, this is good.”
It’s hard to recall what it was exactly that went down during the first few months that made me feel so fearful to go through it all over again.
Was it the first night that we brought Presley home? Mark and I had her lying on the changing table with only a diaper on as we stood in front of her and bickered about what the hell to dress her in for bedtime, whenever that was supposed to be. I believe we ended up just putting the hospital dressing back on her and wrapping her in the hospital swaddle. It actually ended up not even mattering what she wore that night because she didn’t even go to sleep. Presley and I had traveled all over the house experimenting with different sleeping positions for her that, fingers crossed; she would hopefully fall asleep in. I remember looking at the clock when she finally fell asleep and it was 5am. I had tears ready to spill over my dark, baggy under eyes.
Maybe it was the nights she wouldn’t stop crying for reasons that we could not figure out. Did she eat? Yes. Did we change her diaper? Yes. Then what the heck is wrong with this defected baby?!
Maybe it was the ungodly hours of the night when I would get up to nurse her or in general the around-the-clock nursing. Nursing is not just the actual act of nursing your baby that you’re dealing with. With nursing came a plethora of other daily routines and challenges. It was my new full-time job. Store never closed. Nursing, pumping, timing pumping, storing milk, cleaning bottles, cleaning pump equipment, lugging around the ugly non-discreet pump bag everywhere I went, and worrying about how to get the job done awkwardly at the office. Two words. Not. Fun. There is probably more pain in the ass things about nursing that happened but I blacked it all out.
But I have to say, having gone through all of the above, here I am, pregnant with my second… and my third. The kicker is that this was all planned. Not the twin part, though. I did not have much control over the egg that spontaneously split.
I try to nail down the moment when the tables turned from horrified to excited to want another baby. It was most likely an evening out with Mark, babysitter at home, enjoying a bottle (or two) of wine.
Maybe it was when Mark and I would walk down memory lane and laugh about that first night we brought Presley home and had no clue what to dress her in.
Maybe it happened over the nights we worked together to get Presley through her (and our) crying for no reason bouts. When she finally would fall asleep we would endlessly just stare at her in awe. How peaceful and beautiful she looked when she slept. So tempting to want to pick her up and cuddle her. We made that?
Maybe it was the first morning I woke up and realized I had just slept through the night uninterrupted. When nursing during the ungodly hours of the night were not necessary anymore. I began to miss those nightly sacred moments alone together. Nursing her back to sleep. Rubbing her back as she slept on my chest. What an amazing bonding time we shared during those peaceful, silent hours of the night. Nevertheless, I was thankful for the new sleep pattern for the sake of both Presley and myself. Sleep and sanity became a very complimentary attribute to a first time mom.
Maybe it was around the time I decided to stop nursing. I was so proud to have made it through eight months. It was more than I had planned and expected. I felt really good about the benefits that I was able to provide her and I can’t lie, the money we saved during those first eight months was significant. Weaning off of nursing ended up being a really sad and difficult time. How was she growing so quickly and already moving onto the next phase? No! I wasn’t ready for that.
Maybe it was the first time we saw her smile, listen to her first random words and watch her do the most hysterical things like suddenly break out into dance moves. So many times I have had to walk out of the room so I could laugh at her when I was supposed to be stern and teaching her a lesson.
Maybe it was when she took it upon herself to give me a kiss or when she took her arm and wrapped it around my neck, pulling me in for a hug.
Maybe it was around the time she began to say, “mamma” over and over again in her cute little voice.
Maybe it was when she started to sporadically say, “I love you.”
Whatever it was that pushed us over the edge and decide we wanted to have another baby, I forgot about what it was that made me fear having another baby. I am so excited to have a family full of these amazing, perfect little people, each with their own distinctive, unique personalities. Presley changed our lives for the unexpected better and I couldn’t imagine life without her.
Now don’t get me wrong. I am totally not saying it was or is always rainbows and butterflies. There are days I want to rip my hair out, days that I feel so guilty for my lack of patience, days I want to sit and cry… maybe even sob, days I am tempted to burn all of our laundry rather than go through the pain of cleaning it all over again. Oops, where did that last one come from? Anyway, when these times of weakness happen and as frustrating as Presley or life may be at the moment, Presley will laugh, or do something funny, or just look at me and say, “Mamma, what you doin?” and I just want to melt.
So to all of my friends that are approaching the last days of your first pregnancies, all I have to say is enjoy the adventure. It goes by quick. Cry if you have to and laugh when you can. When you need to chat, call. I will most likely be sitting here crying too while I attempt to take care of twins.
Oh. Shit. Presley, do something cute. Quick.
“Babies are always more trouble than you thought – and more wonderful.” – Charles Osgood