What to Expect When You’re Expecting Again

After being pregnant once, each subsequent pregnancy is a completely different experience than the first.

The first pregnancy is the Honeymoon. You are a human-creating Goddess. Everything is new and beautiful. Even the uncomfortable moments like morning sickness are nature’s pleasant reminder of the miracle growing inside you. Strangers look at your belly adoringly, and comment how lovely you look. Second (or third or fourth) pregnancy has lost the romantic novelty factor. You don’t glow anymore…you’re just crazy tired because you’re waddling around, taking care of your firstborn. Strangers give you pitying glances at your stomach in the grocery store as you try to console a crying toddler. 
I’m currently in the second trimester of a third pregnancy. Which means that I have done extensive research on the differences between first and additional pregnancies. Here are a few things to expect when you’re expecting again:

First pregnancy – You take notes when your O.B. runs through the list of pregnancy dietary rules, and obey them with vigor. No sushi, no alcohol, no soft cheese. You up your intake of folic acid and omega-3, and dutifully take your daily prenatal vitamin. Only the best nutrients for your little fetus. 
Second pregnancy – You realize that 9 months is way too long to abide by all those nit-picky eating rules. You eat some raw fish and have a few sips of wine, and feel free to not go crazy about the outside possibility of contracting a food-borne disease. If you’re lucky, you remember to take a prenatal vitamin once a week. Mostly, you just hope that your baby can glean enough nutrients from ramen noodles and ice cream, because that’s all you can stomach.

Shopping for Baby Stuff:
First pregnancy – There’s a whole world of new things to get for your new baby. And people are excited to give them to you. So you spend hours upon hours researching the best strollers, carseats, and baby carriers out there. You create a baby registry, and get to open loads of cute baby stuff at your shower. 
Second pregnancy – No big baby showers. You have most of the stuff you need, albeit used versions with pasta sauce stains. All you really need at this point is to wipe down the high chair, and buy some new pacifiers because the old ones are in some sandy crevice in the car. Second baby has to be content with hand-me-downs. It’ll build character, right?
Body Changes:
First pregnancy – Every change is an exciting milestone. You take photos of your growing belly each week. When you finally have enough of a bump to buy maternity clothes around week 20, you go on a special shopping trip with your girlfriends. People encourage you to rest and nap as much as possible; you happily comply. Your husband offers to give you massages and get you your favorite ice cream at your whim. 
Second pregnancy – Your stomach is so huge by the end of your first trimester, people think you’re about to go into labor. You forget to take belly photos until maybe halfway through the pregnancy. But by then you don’t feel beautiful; you feel huge and bloated, and you don’t want to document your chubby face and butt. No naps for you, because you have a young kid to tend to. You pass out around 8pm every night from sheer exhaustion.

Birth Preparation:

First pregnancy – You research the birthing process extensively, reading every book and website possible. You watch videos on the Bradley method, write up a very detailed birthing plan, and discuss said plan with your O.B. Hospital bags are packed and doula services are procured months in advance.

Second pregnancy – Your water breaks before you even have a chance to think about the baby’s birth. You and your husband scurry around at the last minute, getting someone to babysit your older child, and installing the carseat at the hospital.

General Emotions:

First Pregnancy – Every single milestone is exciting and momentous. You’re anxious about being a first-time parent. Joy and anticipation are shared between you and your spouse. You feel overwhelmed with love for your baby.

Second pregnancy – Each milestone is barely noticed. You’re so uncomfortable, you wonder if you can even make it to the end. You’re anxious about being a parent of multiple children. Joy and anticipation are shared between you, your spouse, and your kid. You feel overwhelmed with love for your baby (again). 

We’re Expecting Baby #3!

Our family will be growing by one more! A baby boy should be arriving in March 2015.

We’re all excited. Aaron is the most thrilled, especially after praying every single night for at least 6 months for a baby brother.

I just passed the first trimester, and for anyone keeping record, this third pregnancy is rough times. I’ve been constantly nauseous and tired, way more than I ever experienced with the first two pregnancies. The baby’s due date feels like a marathon finish line that’s 20 miles away. Hopefully I’ll reach that pleasant second trimester upswing soon.

We’re in a new home, new city, and now with a new baby on the way. Why not, right? Can’t wait to meet our baby boy!

Alexandra’s Birth

On the morning of Tuesday, August 7th, I was rudely awakened at 5:48am by my water breaking. This came as a surprise, since our due date was still over three weeks away.

We called the doctor, who told us, “Okay, pack your bags and come straight to the hospital.” In a flurry, we packed our things, ate a quick breakfast (I gobbled up cereal, cherries, and a leftover slice of cold pizza, thinking that this might be the only meal to get me through labor), and phoned my parents who were on call to take care of Aaron. Steve dropped me off at the hospital and took Aaron to my parents’ place.

After checking into the hospital, and having Steve rejoin me, I was told that since I wasn’t having any contractions yet, we could wait for up to six hours after the water breaking for contractions to begin on their own. At the six hour mark, I would be given Pitocin (a synthetic form of the naturally occurring hormone, oxytocin) to induce labor, since waiting any longer would heighten risk of infection and other complications. Since I wanted to have a natural, non-medicated birth again, I hoped that contractions would start without having to receive the Pitocin.

So we waited. We also decided on her middle name. The hours went by, and no contractions.

At noon, I was hooked up to an IV, and given a low dose of Pitocin. Contractions started slowly and infrequently. Every thirty minutes, the Pitocin dose was increased. We watched an episode of Hoarders (which I’ll now and forever associate with pelvic pain). Around 4:00pm, contractions began to come every 2 minutes, and were incredibly intense (more than with Aaron’s birth; most likely because of the Pitocin). Through each contraction, I took deep breaths, and mentally went into focus mode, just trying to get to the next one. I was nearly at the point yelling for them to give me an epidural, when I started to feel the urge to push. I think I may have shouted something incoherent at that point.

Suddenly, everything was in high gear. Several nurses and doctors appeared, the bed was adjusted, Steve was instructed to help by holding one of my legs (probably more for my own sense of moral support than any practical purpose).

A nurse called our doctor on the phone, telling her it was Go Time. Then I heard the nurse on the phone say, “Oh, you’re 20 minutes away?” Um…yeah. Our doctor, who was supposed to be the one delivering our baby was out running errands. My inner voice told me, “You DID NOT just hear that.”

I vaguely recall having one of the other doctors tell me, “It’s okay, we’re here…just push.” So that’s what I did. I pushed through about four contractions. There was primal screaming and burning pain (again, more than with Aaron’s birth).

Then, after 12 minutes of pushing with every ounce of effort I had, someone told me, “Look down, Larissa!” And there she was, our little baby daughter. She was purplish, cheesy, frail, and completely perfect.

Alexandra Li Wan (Chinese for strength and grace) Marks was born at 5:42pm, about 12 hours after my water broke. She was a small 4 lbs. 13 oz. and 18 ½ inches long. Living up to her Chinese middle name, she is strong and healthy. We got to bring her home about 24 hours after her birth.

Compared to Aaron’s delivery, this second one was a little more difficult. Even though she was smaller, the Pitocin made labor more painful. But my own recovery has been way easier this time; I didn’t need any stitches like with my first birth. After about a day of dull pain, I felt pretty much back to normal.

Several days later, we are all resting and enjoying our new addition. She’s eating and sleeping a lot like a typical newborn. Aaron is a great older brother, and loves to hold and kiss his sister.

Throughout Alexandra’s birth, I was keenly aware of all the hope, prayer, and waiting that preceded her arrival. We had two miscarriages before she was conceived, making this healthy, beautiful baby an incredible miracle. For that, we are so thankful.