(Photo via Frank de Kleine, Flickr CC)
I’m officially 23 weeks and five days pregnant today. That’s over half way to the end!
When it hit me the other day that I’m almost to the third trimester (week 28), I began to think about the difference between this pregnancy and my first. It’s true what they say that no two pregnancies are identical, even for the same mamá. And, this mom has matured and changed a lot since her first pregnancy.
Here’s how I am preparing for bebé número dos (which, by the way, is a boy!):
1. Forget the “stuff”! –
During my first pregnancy, I spent hours putting together the perfect baby registry, pining away at gorgeous Pinterest posts of carefully coordinated baby outfits, swoon-worthy nurseries, and adorable baby gadgets and must-haves. Not this time! And not because I’m having a boy or because I’ve bought into the cultural belief that “boy things” aren’t cute. No.
Rather because I’ve realized that feather headbands and cute onesies and tribal print crib sheets and gold baby moccs are really meant for the amusement of the adult, not the benefit of the child. Now don’t get me wrong: I love a gorgeously curated outfit and an aesthetically-pleasing home! But, when it comes to children, particularly infants and toddlers, less is more, and child-led is always more meaningful than adult-imposed.
So, yes, I have a short list on amazon of essential items I think we might need, like diapers and plain summer onesies and a baby wrap for carrying and nursing. I’m just passing off the “cute” stuff to the abuelos and friends. (I used this Montessori blogger’s baby #2 registry as inspiration for my own practical preparation.)
2. Birth and labor preparation –
Doula: The one thing that is the same for this pregnancy is that D. and I have hired a doula for my labor. The word doula comes from the ancient Greek word for “woman who serves.” Today, it literally means birth coach or labor assistant. Although she does not have medical training like a midwife, a doula is trained in how to emotionally and physically support both mother and partner through the birth experience. Having a doula present for E.’s birth was the best decision D. and I made as first-time parents. She was present for the entire labor (in fact, she came to our house when my labor began), coached me through an intense active labor (helping me labor without an epidural for most of the delivery) and helped us understand all of the medical jargon thrown at us by the doctors in the hospital. The story I tell people to this day is that E. would have probably been born at home had we not had a doula! Although we have hired a different team of doulas for this birth (being in a different city), I feel confident that D. and I can handle whatever might come our way in the hospital because we will have our own personal birth coach.
Hypnobirthing: The other way I am preparing for birth number 2 is by reading and studying a birthing technique known as hypnobirthing. “The HypnoBirthing™ program is built around an educational process that includes special breathing, relaxation, visualization, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning. Most importantly it fosters an air of mutual respect for the birthing family, as well as the health-care provider in a traditional health-care system or an alternative setting.” It is my hope to have as peaceful and pain-free a delivery as possible.
3. Preparing E.-
This pregnancy is also different from my first because I have a toddler to care for, so it’s not just about me (or, D.) anymore. While she may be only two years old, E. definitely deserves to be part of this birth experience. One way I’ve begun to prepare her for the arrival of her brother is by speaking honestly and regularly about him, saying things like, “Oh! I can feel him kick!” or “I have a baby inside my belly.” or even, “Today my back hurts because your brother is growing so big. I’m sorry I can’t pick you up right now.” Additionally, now that we know it’s a boy, we’ve given him a name (sorry, it’s a secret until July!) and regularly incorporate him into our routines with E. “Would you like to read a story with me and X.?” Lastly, we’ve purchased a few books that talk (positively) about the upcoming arrival of a new baby. Here are a few recommendations: I’m a Big Sister and Hello in There!. I’ve also been reading blog posts about siblings on Janet Lansbury’s (RIE blogger and author) blog.
4. Self-care planning –
During my first pregnancy, most of my preparations centered around the actual pregnancy (i.e., taking pre-natal yoga, reading every pregnancy-related article about health and nutrition) and the birth day (i.e., finding a doula, devouring this book on labor, taking a breastfeeding class). Those are all important and necessary parts to preparing for a new baby, but I’ve realized that they are short-term preparations. Now, I want to think more long-term with baby #2.
Establish a regular and sustainable routine for E. – Since the arrival of bebé #2 means that I will have two children to care for instead of just one, and since there will be lots of moments when I need to give baby 2 my full attention, I want to have a game plan in place so that E. is ready (as much as possible) for the transition. If you remember from this blog post, I wrote about how D. and I started a regular routine of independent play for E. based on RIE principles. For the past few months, E. has spent time both in the morning and afternoon playing alone in her room. My hope is that this predictable routine will help us both long-term as we transition from being a mother-daughter dyad to a mother-daughter-son trio.
Childcare help – I remember all too well how difficult the first few months postpartum can be for parents: the lack of sleep, the sometimes difficult transition to breastfeeding, colicky new babies. So, in an effort to take care of me, the primary child carer of the family, while at the same time provide a fun play routine for E., I decided to reach out for childcare help when the new baby comes. Call it luck, call it providence, or an answer to prayer, a good friend recently offered to watch E. twice a week at her home with her two toddler girls. Starting in a few months – before the baby arrives – I will slowly transition E. into this new routine.
5. Philosophical change in parenting –
All of the above plans and preparations that I’ve laid out in this post are a result of trial and error, I guess you could say, with E. I am not the mother today that I was a year ago, two years ago, or even before I had children. While I’m not saying I have regrets or that I feel guilty about my parenting decisions with E. (I’m not and I don’t), I am saying that I have grown and matured and changed, and that I am eager to continue forward on my parenting journey when bebé 2 arrives.
About a year into my adventures in motherhood, I discovered Montessori education and RIE parenting, both of which have radically transformed how I view children, discipline, learning, and parenthood. As I look ahead to the arrival of bebé, I am eager to put into practice many of the principles I have learned over the past year, principles related to infant sleep, feeding, care, play, and so much more. So, stay tuned for the months to come!