It’s happening again: the weight gain, the exhaustion, the bizarre cravings for a cheeseburger at ten a.m. Also there is the excitement, the anticipation, the noticing of strollers and baby carriers, stopping strangers on the street to ask, “Which one is that? Do you recommend it? Is it easy to steer?”
I’m pregnant with baby number two, which means the summation of the DiFelice family is rapidly growing. As is my middle. And sadly also my backside.
This pregnancy is different than Molly’s for a lot of reasons. For one, when I found out I was pregnant with Molly it seemed as though the world had been knocked off its axis and was wobbling and stuttering instead of maintaining the Earth’s smooth rotation. It was totally unexpected and I was very scared, not just of becoming a mom but of resenting becoming a mom. All I could imagine were the things I would have to give up: free time and independence and sleep and wine. I spent a lot of my pregnancy wondering why I wasn’t more sentimental about the whole thing, especially as dear friends of mine posted weekly photos of their growing bellies next to hand-lettered blackboards.
It took me the entire length of a pregnancy to come to terms with the fact that I was becoming a parent, that my life was changing and that this change was for my good even if I couldn’t yet name the ways.
But soon we did have a name.
And knowing her has changed everything.
Now I wish I had given myself permission to celebrate Molly more before I knew her. I wish I had allowed myself to get a little more sentimental, to take the bump photos, to be excited even at the risk of being cheesy. Because now that I know her I’m absolutely certain— even on the hard days— that she has improved our lives immeasurably. She is worth celebration, commemoration. We cherish her so much.
Yes, we travel less. Yes, the Vespa barely gets ridden and there are yogurt fingerprints on our TV and I go to the zoo far more often than I’d like. I mean, honestly. Don’t all monkeys look the same?
Rarely do I leave the house after seven pm. I tell people it’s because of Molly’s bedtime. But also it’s because I’m very tired and cannot wait to take my contacts out after dinner.
I meal plan now and schedule play dates and have a life so intensely domestic that I would have scoffed at it three years ago.
But you know what? This life is good. It was just too foreign to embrace from a distance the first time around. But now I’m here in the trenches— already living in a life that is disheveled and interrupted and littered with stray legos.
When I was pregnant with Molly I thought sacrifice would be a cumbersome choice, when really it’s an instant, mindless reaction: waking up in the night, cutting chicken in bite size pieces, wiping up spilled milk on the floor. I thought raising a child would be like learning Chinese, abstract and difficult and counterintuitive, when it’s steeped in far more intuition than I imagined.
Don’t get me wrong: it’s not easy. But it is somewhat natural. I love being a mom, even in the moments I’m faking that I know how.
So this pregnancy is different in the rightful ways I’m compelled to celebrate it more.
It’s different also because it was planned.
After having one kid, you start talking about if you want consecutive children and then how far apart you want these children. In our military world you also discuss things like possible deployment cycles and upcoming move dates and how to orchestrate both a pregnancy and delivery date that can be both witnessed and attended by the father. So what has also been new and strange about this pregnancy is that from the beginning it was loosely calendared. The opposite of a surprise.
You could say we saw it coming.
Mike and I found out I was pregnant the first week in January. Conveniently, he was slated to leave for several weeks of training across the country a few days later. Because the Marine Corps specializes in impeccable timing.
Although my morning sickness and exhaustion never reached catastrophic proportions, Molly did get in the habit of bringing me a pillow every time she asked me to play with her on the floor. “Mommy lay down,” she would say. Quickly followed by “Mommy, keep eyes OPEN!”
There was a little more television in our house those months and a lot more Ginger Ale. At the park every afternoon, I spent valuable reserves of mental energy trying to figure out how I could push Molly on the swings while sitting down. Also, I frantically called my mom-friends to ask if they, too, started showing almost immediately with their second child.
And by “call” I actually mean I sent close-up belly profile shots with the caption: “IS THIS NORMAL.”
The most challenging symptom for me, though, was the distinct lack of writing. I had no energy, no creative gumption. Namely I had very little coffee, which I believe was the ultimate cause of the block. The blog suffered. Progress on the book slowed drastically. It was a window of time when I had to adamantly choose to be kind to myself on principle rather than on measures of productivity. Because growing a baby is exhausting.
And you know what else is exhausting? Giving up a three-cup-a-day coffee habit while your husband is gone and your two-year-old is going through a hitting phase.
Just a dream, I tell ya.
But here’s the awesome part about being pregnant with a child after having already had one: I’m positive there’s much joy ahead. I’m less afraid this time. I’m more excited. I know that the upcoming change is abundantly good, in spite of— or maybe even because of– the ways it is hard.
Molly kisses my belly sometimes when we talk about the baby. She also kisses her own belly, because apparently we are both growing offspring.
I’m due the first week in September, which means that the book should be done and Mike will be home and my pregnancy will consist of one eternal summer. I hear that maxi skirts will become my staple attire and that our air conditioning bill will be through the roof.
But I feel expectant, maybe even ready, or as ready as anyone can be for this sort of thing. And that alone feels like a victory— that I can wholeheartedly risk and celebrate and lean into the chaos, joy, and subsequent nausea of a family that is all of a sudden and very much on purpose growing.