Everyone told me that having a second baby would be different. Different pregnancy, different labour, different baby. But given that they come from the same dad, I was expecting to see at least some similarities.
I couldn't have been more wrong. Arthur was a dead easy pregnancy. I glowed. I exercised. I ate healthy food. Esmée, meanwhile, almost made me regret getting pregnant a second time. I was ill for 8 weeks with severe morning sickness (incidentally the same condition as the Duchess of Cambridge, not that that made me feel any better). My midwife was concerned about the size of my bump (too small) and so fortnightly growth scans ensued. Then they thought I was diabetic, ignoring the fact that I'd actually just become addicted to banana and walnut muffins from Starbucks. And mentally I wasn't in a great place either. I didn't want to exercise. I wanted to eat cake and pizza. I forgot to take my vitamins. I developed pregnancy rhinitis (pregnancy equivalent of man flu) at 34 weeks and blew the equivalent of a volcano's worth of snot out of my nose for the next 6 weeks. And I had chronic insomnia, averaging 4 hours a night towards the end.
But then, after all the shit pregnancy had put me through, labour was a revelation. With Arthur it dragged on for 48 hours. I was wired up to everything and ended up demanding every drug they had. To the extent that by the time I was told to push, I had pretty much forgotten I was pregnant. Esmée, meanwhile, was textbook. Waters broke at 6.30 in the evening. Contractions at 7.30. Hospital at 8.30 and born in the birthing pool two hours later. I would like to say it was pain free but I would be lying. It f-ing killed. But it was at least quick.
So, I am now 7 weeks in with my second baby. And how is it going? Well, it's different again from the first time round. First of all, in the sense that it is marginally easier for many different reasons. Capacity to adapt, being one. It's as if your body remembers what happened the first time and kicks into gear that much quicker. Whilst you can never prepare yourself for the agony of sleep deprivation, however many times you experience it, you have more coping mechanisms at your disposal this time, and a body that is used to disrupted nights. Secondly, you develop a calm acceptance that your life is going to be different for a while. With Arthur, I battled to keep my life as close to what it had been before I had a baby. I stubbornly stayed up until 10pm, went to my best friend's birthday house party when Arthur was 3 weeks old, tried to keep the house clean and tidy. With Esmée, I am restricting social activities to lunches, going to bed at 8pm and only tidy before the cleaner comes. As a result, I am a happier, less stressed person. And thirdly, something else you develop second time round is self confidence. Both in respect of the little things (ability to pack a nappy bag) and the bigger ones (faith that you won't kill your baby if you leave the house).
So all in all, now that my pregnancy trauma is behind me, second time is definitely better. And I haven't even come to the most important point. By far, the most wonderful thing about having another child is simply the realisation that you have created another completely unique human being. With Arthur, though challenging, I believed that no other child could be as fun. As full of life. As downright nuts in the best way possible. I almost wondered if I could love another child in quite the same way.
It was therefore an utterly amazing feeling when Esmée was born to discover that her character from the start was equally as lovable. To realise that I didn't have a finite amount of love. To feel the same adoration for the second as I felt for the first.
So, does that mean I will have another? Just to see what other little character I can produce?! You must be bloody joking. There's only so much sleep deprivation this woman can handle. And only so much self confidence I need. And, at some point, it really would be nice to go to bed later than 8pm.
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