When I found out I was expecting a second child I almost couldn’t believe it. It was the day before my husband and I were throwing a New Year’s Eve party at our house and I was sure the at-home pregnancy test would read negative. My husband and I always wanted multiple children, but after a miscarriage last winter and nearly a year of trying without any luck, I thought secondary infertility might be the hand we were dealt. I had no pregnancy symptoms that raw December morning and didn’t want to deal with the disappointment of another negative test, but I figured I’d take it just to make sure. I was planning on enjoying my share of champagne, wine, and cured meats the next evening to help ease some of the holiday-induced stress. As luck would have it though, I found myself sipping sparkling water and suppressing a pregnancy-induced smile throughout the party.
This pregnancy started out much like the first, with equal parts disbelief and joy coursing their way through my body as I tried to wrap my mind around the idea that I was growing a poppy seed-sized embryo. But within a few short weeks, I quickly realized this pregnancy would be very different. Here’s what I learned from the first time around and what I’m doing differently.
1. I refuse to freak out about toxins.
Yes, toxic chemicals are real and they’re scary, but there’s so much noise about toxins being in everything from drinking water to furniture that I risk driving myself crazy trying to avoid them all. During my first pregnancy, I wouldn’t even go out in the sun because I was worried about potential baby-harming ingredients in sunscreen. This time around, I know to steer clear of things with retinoids, tetracycline, parabens, phthalates, and salicylic acid, and I’m leaving it at that.
2. I’m not buying anything.
As I learned with my first baby, people will practically trip over themselves to give you hand-me-downs and gifts, especially relatives and friends with young children. As a result I had close to 25 newborn onesies, and some of them my daughter outgrew before she could even wear them. So I plan on doing zero shopping before this baby arrives.
3. I’m signing up for prenatal yoga.
Self-care. The mere idea of it makes me feel funny. Put myself first? Why would I do that?! It doesn’t come naturally to many women. But if there’s any time to prioritize it, it’s when you’re expecting. During my first pregnancy, I thought walking my dog three times a day was good enough exercise and time to clear my mind. But while getting fresh air and sunlight with a furry friend has its benefits, it pales in comparison to the experience of attending a prenatal yoga class. The camaraderie you can build with other women in the same life situation is beyond description. Imagine being about to embark upon the most wild ride of your life, and having nine new friends to do that with? It’s almost priceless.
4. I won’t fight the “wisdom” of family and friends.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I became so sick and tired of people telling me what to do that I started pushing back. If a relative told me I shouldn’t “be a hero” by trying to give birth without any medical interventions, I would lash out with statistics about fetal monitoring, epidural risks, and C-section incidences. Now that I’m expecting my second child, I plan to just smile and nod, and maybe try to change the subject when someone offers a nugget of wisdom. There’s no point in going to the mat with well-intentioned friends and family.
5. I’m wearing a bathing suit.
When I was pregnant with my first summer baby, I flat-out refused to slather myself with sunscreen and squeeze into a swimsuit. This time, I have no choice, being that I’m in charge of a toddler who wants desperately to swim and needs close supervision. So I bought a super-cute maternity swimsuit and plan on rocking it from June to September.
For all I know, this could be the last time I’m pregnant. So I fully plan on soaking up all the prenatal poses and pool time I can before Labor Day (and my labor day) comes.
Whitney C. Harris is a freelance writer living in Westchester, NY, with her husband and young daughter. Find her at whitneycharris.com.