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.
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.