second_pregnancy_syndrome

Second Pregnancy Syndrome

Second Pregnancy Syndrome (or SPS as I like to think of it) is definitely a thing.

During a first pregnancy, you’re in a honeymoon period. Whether you feel sick or fantastic, you’re constantly aware of your pregnancy.

You get weekly update emails from websites like babycenter.com or pregnantchicken.com (these were hilarious and a personal favorite).

When people ask you how far along you are, you can tell them exactly how many weeks and days.

You have time to lie around the house, feeling those little movements that make your heart glow, and do all the nesting you want.

Your baby room looks ah-maaaaa-zing, like something off of Pinterest.

When you get home from work, you can collapse into bed without a care in the world.

Fast Forward to Your Second Pregnancy

This is an entirely different ball game. And it’s not as much fun.

You may still feel sick, or perhaps you feel fantastic. But you’re definitely TIRED. The fatigue of the first trimester hits you like a mack truck coming full speed out of the fog.

You think, “Ok, I’ll lie down and take it easy.” But as soon as you lie down, a little voice says, “Mamaaaaaaa… Let’s plaaaaaaay…”

Oh Right. You have a Toddler.

Your first kid is likely somewhere between 20 months and 36 months old. This is a notoriously difficult age: the Terrible Twos.

Any kind of change is a huge drama to your toddler. And at this point, your toddler’s emotional brain is hugely over-developed. So everything is ALL ABOUT THE EMOTIONS. They’re overpowering. They’re overwhelming. They lead to meltdowns and tantrums at the drop of a hat.

You’ve got to manage a tantrum, or somehow go through the mechanics of your routine without being sick all over your kid, or falling asleep in your chair.

Second Pregnancy Syndrome Symptoms: Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That

The symptoms of Second Pregnancy Syndrome are as follows:

All that time you had during your first pregnancy? Gone.

Regular nap time? Dream on (unless you’re lucky and your toddler still naps).

Knowing exactly how far along you are? HA! “What? I’m pregnant? I’d have forgotten if I hadn’t just barfed in the kitchen sink.”

Reading weekly email updates comparing your foetus to fruit and vegetables? Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Doing your stretching, pregnancy exercises or labor breathing practice? See above.

Preparing that perfect baby room? Dang, this kid will be lucky if he/she gets a bed to sleep in!

Some Solutions for SPS

It’s not all bad news, though. There are ways to combat SPS, and to make life during a second pregnancy a little easier to handle.

1. Convert your toddler to a big girl/guy

Kids at this age love to be helpful, and to feel like they are trusted with responsibilities. Make your little one feel like a big girl/guy by asking for his/her help. Whether it’s help making breakfast, tidying up, getting dressed on their own like a big kid, or brushing their teeth, every little bit helps.

You can even take it a step further and potty train your kid. According to Jamie Glowacki (potty training expert and the “pied piper of poop”), 20-30 months is the ideal time to potty train your kid. We took that to heart and seized the opportunity to potty train and get one kid out of diapers before another one starts out with them.

We found that potty training our son gave him confidence, made him feel proud of himself, and spurred on his desire to be a “big guy.” He now climbs into his car seat on his own (hooray for not having to pick up 15kg of toddler while pregnant!), no longer sits in a booster seat, brushes his teeth on his own and gets himself dressed. All helpful.

2. Ask for help

No one is going to judge you for hiring a regular babysitter to watch your kid while you take a nap.

If your toddler isn’t in daycare, look into options. If you’re working and your toddler is in daycare, find a reliable babysitter who can come in on a regular basis to help out. Sometimes it helps just to have someone play with your kid while you throw some dinner together.

Get your partner involved. Work out a schedule whereby you can both be home at the same time in the evening (prime toddler meltdown hour), so you can work together to get that kid to bed before you collapse.

If you have family around, ask for help. Even if it’s your overbearing mother-in-law (I cannot speak from personal experience here, but I’ve heard they exist), bite the bullet and ask if she can watch your toddler for an afternoon a week, or maybe even do one overnight a week.

3. Remember to take care of yourself

This is the hardest one, and I’ve definitely failed at it.

Being diagnosed as dangerously anaemic reminded me that I need to eat better and take care of myself, not just my big guy.

Do what you can to eat well, and get plenty of rest. If possible, try and get in a gentle walk a few times a week. Getting outside will help both you and your toddler (and you can’t really do anything but gentle walking when you’re with a toddler).

It’s so much easier said than done, and I’m still struggling with this one. As moms, we often worry about everyone’s well-being but our own.

Remember: when you’re pregnant, it’s not just your well-being, but also that of your baby. So just do it: lie down for that nap instead of putting on a load of laundry. It’s good for you.

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Pregnancy Is A Waiting Game

Hooray! I’m 37 weeks pregnant! For those who don’t count pregnancy in weeks, that means I’m 8 and a half months pregnant, or 2.5 weeks away from my due date. As of 37 weeks, this baby is officially full-term, meaning he could come ANY MINUTE.

Any minute.

Any minute now…

Has it been a minute?

WHY ISN’T MY WATER BREAKING OMG??!!

First and Second Trimesters: A Breeze!

thebraininjane.com 34 weeks pregnant
Believe it or not, at this point things weren’t too hard.

When you’ve had a pregnancy as easy as mine (I swear, I was BUILT FOR THIS), trimesters one and two are a breeze.

If it hadn’t been for my getting slowly fatter (and knocking over wine glasses with my belly), I could have forgotten I was pregnant. It wasn’t until I started feeling the baby’s movements that I could really believe it.

Even at the start of the third trimester, things weren’t that hard. Yeah, I’d get winded quickly, and I was starting to feel quite a bit bulkier. But nothing compares to the past week or so.

Third Trimester: The Waiting Game

Suddenly, I feel like I have BALLOONED. Standing for long periods of time is uncomfortable, but so is sitting because all my vital organs have been shoved up into my ribcage, making my lungs feel a bit crowded.

pregnancy is a waiting game
I may be smiling but I’m struggling to breathe.

Normally an active person, getting out of the house has been difficult. The weather doesn’t help (thank you, Montreal), and the fear of slipping on the sheets of ice that cover the sidewalks makes my ventures tentative and short.

So what to do? Low on energy, feeling huge and lumbering, I spend a lot of my days indoors, knitting, reading, sewing, finishing off the last things on my to-do list.

But mostly, I feel like I’m just waiting. Yup, pregnancy is a waiting game.

The Worst Is Not Knowing When

People wait for their delayed flights at LaGuardia Airport in New York
This is what the last weeks of pregnancy feel like.

I’m an organized person. I like to plan things out and get my logistics in order. I’m not obsessive or anything, but I am not the best at improvising (unless, of course, I have planned to improvise…).

Waiting for this baby to come is like waiting on a delayed flight. You know your flight will be leaving at some point–it’s inevitable–, but you don’t know when. You don’t want to wander too far from the waiting area at the gate in case they make an announcement, but the all-knowing voice over the loudspeaker isn’t giving you any information. It seems that only God knows when your plane will start boarding.

At this point, only God knows when this baby will decide to get the party started. Braxton-Hicks contractions are like the movements of the airline personnel up at the gate desk: you think something is getting started, but then it’s always a false alarm.

And so I wait.

What to Do? Be Ready.

The only thing that I can do is try as best as possible to get on with life, and be ready. My organized self has prepared as much as possible. Here’s a helpful list of what you can do to be ready:

  • Have your hospital bag packed. You can find some useful lists of stuff here and here.
  • Get hubby to pack a bag! Several friends have pointed out that they completely forgot to prepare PJs or anything for Dad.
  • You need a hospital bag for baby, too!
  • Cook up some food and freeze it. I hear you’ll be glad you did this when you get home from the hospital.
  • Keep your phone charged and have your charger with you ALWAYS.
  • Carry around a maxi pad. Okay, this may sound weird, but what if you’re out and your water breaks? It can happen in a gush, but it can also happen in a trickle, so have a maxi pad ready on hand, just in case.
  • Download a new ebook, some podcasts or episodes on your phone or tablet, for distraction purposes during long hours of labor.
  • Have all your documents, birth plan, ID, etc., ready to go.

Other than that, the only thing you can do is distract yourself. I’ve decided to do so by hosting a dinner party. Because, what could go wrong, right?

What It’s All About

Honestly, what it all boils down to is this: I’m really excited to meet this kid. I’m impatient to see his face, to hear his voice and to get to know him with my Chico.

That’s what makes this waiting game so difficult. Delicious anticipation.

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pregnancy-miscarriage-support

Let’s Talk About Miscarriage

This story has a happy ending, I promise!

After suffering a miscarriage myself at the end of 2013 (accursed year), I am currently happily expecting our first baby. Fingers crossed that all continues to go well.

This topic, though, is something that needs to be talked about. So, here goes.

pregnancy-miscarriage-support
Image sourced from BabyCenter.ca

(For the record, I am not a doctor and I am using my personal experience and trustworthy online resources and written materials to compile the information for this article. If you suspect you might be having a miscarriage, contact your doctor immediately.)

My Miscarriage

I was probably 8 weeks pregnant last December when my pregnancy ended, but I didn’t know about it until about a week later.

That’s called a sceptic miscarriage, or when your pregnancy stops but your body does not expel the fetus. You eventually develop an infection in the uterus, the symptoms of which can be fever (yup, had that), body aches (yup), chills (yup) and other unpleasantness.

After a trip to the emergency room and a night in hospital, the doctor performed a D&C (a suction dilation and curettage) and within 24 hours I was ready to go home. Heartbroken.

What is a Miscarriage?

A miscarriage is when a pregnancy ends before the 20th week. According to the Mayo Clinic online resources, this happens in about 15 to 20 per cent of pregnancies.

Basically, that’s why you hear you’re not supposed to announce a pregnancy until you’ve made it through the first trimester (or 14 weeks). The risk of miscarriage drops dramatically after that point.

In addition to a sceptic miscarriage mentioned above, there are several kinds of miscarriages:

  • Threatened miscarriage: Where you’re bleeding but your cervix hasn’t dilated. With rest, these often don’t actually result in a full miscarriage.
  • Inevitable miscarriage: You’re bleeding, contracting, the cervix is dilated and there’s no way it’s not happening. Bummer.
  • Incomplete miscarriage: You’ve lost some of the tissue, but some is left behind in the uterus.
  • Missed miscarriage: Placental and embryonic tissue is still in the uterus but the embryo has died (or never actually existed).
  • Complete miscarriage: You’ve passed all the pregnancy tissues and everything is cleared out of the uterus.

Source: Harms, Roger, M.D. & Wick, Myra, M.D., Ph.D (eds) 2011, Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy, Good Books, Intercourse, PA.

Your Choices of Treatment

In my case, I was offered two choices: I could do the D&C (as mentioned above) in the hospital, or I could take a pill at home that would cause my body to expel the fetus at home.

For the D&C, you are put under general anesthetic and uses a machine to gently suction the pregnancy tissue out of the uterus.

The medical treatment may involve an oral pill that will cause you to expel the pregnancy tissue later (probably at home). I had heard of people choosing this option and it sounded absolutely horrifying to me. That’s why I opted for the surgical procedure.

Normally, your care provider will outline the risks of each procedure to help you make your decision.

Miscarriage is NOT. YOUR. FAULT.

Yes, there are certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of miscarriage. These are:

  • Age: If you’re older than 35, you have a higher risk of miscarriage. Apparently, the age of the father can also influence the likelihood of miscarriage.
  • More than two previous miscarriages. If you’ve had two or more miscarriages, your chances of having another increase.
  • Smoking, drinking and doing drugs. This one is pretty obvious, I should think.

Source: Idem.

What is important to remember, though, is that unless you are abusing your body horribly with drugs and alcohol, having a miscarriage is absolutely not your fault.

Usually, pregnancies end in miscarriage because the fetus is simply not viable. It’s not caused by having sex, exercising, or lifting heavy items. And, unless it’s a case of toxoplasmosis, it’s probably not caused by anything you eat (even those “forbidden foods”).

Remember, too, that unless there are other physical issues, most women who have a miscarriage go on to have healthy pregnancies and babies.

Seeking Support

BabyCenter.com and .ca offers resources for expectant mothers who have suffered a miscarriage. You will find any number of online forums where women (and their partners) share their experiences and offer words of support and comfort.

Chances are, too, that you know someone who has had a miscarriage. Talking about it with family and friends helped me to grieve, but also to understand that what I had experienced is (sadly) quite normal. Surrounding me were women of all ages who had had the same experience (for some, it was more than once).

They shared their stories of heartbreak, but also encouraged me with their stories of joy about how a healthy baby almost always followed a miscarriage.

Your healthcare provider can also recommend resources for you. If you find you are deeply grieving, you may want to speak with a mental health professional. There is no shame in this, and it is, in fact, a smart and proactive move to seek out assistance.

You’re Not Alone

The most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Your partner is likely suffering and grieving along with you. Grieve together, and give each other all the time and support you can.

  • Don’t be afraid to cry, even in front of or with your partner
  • Plan something you can look forward to: for my Chico and me it was our honeymoon
  • Seek counseling together

However you cope, try to give yourselves something to look forward to together as a couple. Eventually, as the grief and disappointment fade, hope and optimism will return and you may feel ready to try again.

Feel free to contact me on the About TheBrainInJane page if you have questions, or to write in the comments below.

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