Young and pregnant. Or not. Sometimes it’s all the same.

Deep in the bowels of my blog’s unpublished entries, there’s a post from 2006 that will forever remain in drafts, if I don’t delete it entirely.

It is untitled.

The opening lines:

This is the post where I am scared to hit “publish.” The one I fear will be permanently archived on these here internets and I will be powerless to erase my words.

When I think of this pregnancy, I am not excited. That is not the adjective that comes to mind.

I am terrified.

I could have been happy with one. I am happy with one. I never saw myself as “mother of two.”

 Mother of two. Oh my God, what have I done.

It was early in my second pregnancy. So early, that I was still justifying sips of pinot noir despite breasts that had prematurely swollen to the size of two twin Hindenburgs.  So early that I was wondering about my magic ovaries and whether I was deserving of them, when so many women in my life who wanted babies yet were struggling.  So early that I didn’t know the things that could go wrong during my pregnancy–and the things that nearly did. I was simply scared of whether I was up to the task. Whether I could get through it again. Whether I could love the second one as fiercely as I loved the first.

I haven’t thought about the post in years. But then, two things brought it back to me this week.

First, was a beautiful email from a woman named Sarah who found Mom-101 after desperately searching for blogs that might help talk her down from her panic at being pregnant at 22. She wrote a PS:  Do not do a google search for ‘blogs young mothers’ or ‘young and pregnant’ – I made that mistake…only to find inappropriate pictures with absolutely no advice.

I’m kind of hoping that this headline and the SEO gods will bring a few women like Sarah here instead, so they know that being scared and pregnant is not  limited to the young. When I wrote that post, I was 38.

(Ooooold, I know. Magic ovaries. Magic ancient ovaries.)

However the second thing that made me recall my original post was this picture:

portrait of sage with portrait of sage

It’s a portrait of Sage, with a portrait of Sage through the eyes of her older sister.

(Pretty good, eh?)

Hello, my name is Sage. I have a sister named Thalia.

One of the things I feared when I was pregnant the second time, was that I was having a baby for my baby. I was enduring another 40 weeks as human incubator (I am arguably a terrible, no-good grumpy pregnant person) to provide Thalia with a sibling.

What I never realized at the time for some reason, was that I was giving them each other.

Now I can imagine it no other way.

When they call each other best friends; when they draw pictures at school, never one without the other; when I tuck them in together at night, side-by-side under the same quilt, wondering why the heck we got a bunk bed anyway, I can now answer my pregnant self’s oh my God, what have I done? question.

The answer makes me smile.

We talk a lot about writing letters to our teenage selves, telling them everything will be okay–but really hoping that other teenage selves will see it and believe it, sooner than we did ourselves.

Maybe we need to write letters to our formerly pregnant selves too.

What would you say to yours?


87 thoughts on “Young and pregnant. Or not. Sometimes it’s all the same.”

  1. You know that I totally get this, except substitute mother of three and age 35.

    Stuff works out, and it’s better than we anticipate. My pregnant self knew the first part, but I’m still surprised by the awesomeness of the second part.

    1. I am currently 36 weeks pregnant and absolutely have the fear of “the second child.” My 3 1/2 year old daughter is my buddy, and I, too, love her so fiercely that it is hard for me to imagine loving another just as much. This second pregnancy didn’t come easy. I experienced two miscarriages before this one “stuck,” and he is absolutely 100% wanted, but that doesn’t take away some of the fear. You saying the following: “What I never realized at the time for some reason, was that I was giving them each other,” is beautiful and I’ll need to remind myself of that over the next few weeks when the anxiety trickles in….

      1. I had that “oh no, what have I done” feeling when my newborn was placed in my arms and my 3 1/2 year old looked at me with a semi smile. It all turned out wonderfully! My oldest is so loving and helpful. Don’t get me wrong…she has her moments! But my favorite thing is when they sit in their carseats and giggle back and forth! It will melt your heart!

  2. I want to give Sarah a hug! I too was pregnant and panicking at 22, and I had never felt so alone. If I could write a letter to that 22 year old, I’d tell her, “You’re stronger than you think. You will do this, and your life will be all the better for it. Your daughter will be your savior.” I’d also tell her not to feel like a failure. I did for a long time, and you know what, I wasn’t and I’m not and I’m not a disgrace to anyone. I rule. And so does Sarah. And you. And Sage. And Thalia. And and and!!!

  3. If I could go back when I was pregnant with my first (in a completely unplanned pregnancy), I would tell myself that even though this wasn’t planned, this will be the most rewarding thing I will do and that even though I don’t understand it yet, one day having my children run up to me at the door and hug my kneecaps when I come from work will be the highlight of my week.

  4. I wonder sometimes if we were crazy to have two kids, especially at our age (almost 35 & 38), so it is a good reminder that they will be there for each other. The baby is nine months old and loves her sister fiercely. She is motivated to get to her, to be with her, to run with her. The big girl is almost five and loves telling the baby what to do, how things work in our family, and how much she loves her. It is awesomeness, and I know it will only get better.

  5. i’m 30 and pregnant with my second. having so many of the same thoughts and fears described here and in some of the previous posts about this subject. it really is wonderfully reassuring to read all of this. also? i feel way too young to be a mom of two. i never planned on getting married before the age of 30, let alone thought i’d begin having kids before then. granted, it wasn’t far away (married at 27, pregnant with #1 at 28), but it still varied from how i had always assumed things would go. turns out you can’t necessarily plan this stuff, and i’ve found–at least for myself so far–that things tend to work out the way they’re supposed to. best of luck to sarah, and thanks to mom101 for these posts.

  6. If I could go back to my pregnant at almost 36 with my first self, I would say, stop worrying so much about losing the baby. Enjoy the pregnancy and don’t panic at every little twinge. I would tell her that glass of wine at Christmas and the glass of Champagne at New Year’s were not that big of a deal, so listen to Dr. Z. I’d also tell her, trust your instincts. When you didn’t like Dr. A, you should have run in the other direction rather than seeing him several more times and letting him tell you that the baby (now a health 6 1/2 year old) had died in utero and then making you wait THREE days for an ultrasound.

    Of course, my 36 year old self would have slapped me for saying that, so perhaps not a wise course of action to engage that person. She was terrified. She wasn’t supposed to be able to get pregnant. Hadn’t gotten pregnant in 11 plus years of trying, and was so irregular that missing a period was a non-factor to her. She was so scared and so desperately in need of support that she saw a doctor who ignored all her risk factors, gave her drugs that nearly killed her, and, charmingly, told her the baby died in utero (the above referenced 6 1/2 year old). She refused to tell anyone she was pregnant until she was 28 weeks (she wore baggy clothes and worked near constantly from home, so no one really saw her). And honestly believed that she would lose the baby because of something a “friend” told her (that it’s child abuse to have a baby after age 30).

    So, young mother, I know you’re scared, but you’ll be okay. You will. I have faith in you!!!!

  7. i am a mere 3ish weeks away from giving birth to my second child, and the petrifying sense of “OMG, i am ruining my 4 year old son’s life” has just set in for me recently. i love this idea of writing a letter to my pregnant self… writing a letter to my ________ (fill in the blank) self at varying stages of life.

    thank you for this, liz.

  8. Against all good judgement, I wrote a note to a pregnant-with-her-first woman who commented on my blog. I did so remember exactly the inner monologue every time a Lowe’s clerk would spit, “Best time,” pointing at my belly, “They don’t talk back and you can keep them safe.” Those commenters ruined for me a lot of the tender, well-intentioned pearls.

    If I could whisper in the ear of my pregnant self I would say, “Manda, you are always going to be you, honey. And that, that strong, goofy self is good enough to be a mom. The things that make you not fit will be the perfect harbor for little people. Running instead of walking, not having it quite together; these things leave room for imagination. Your girls, yes, girls, not sons, I swear, will love them. They’ll love you and learn from you. Just quiet your voice long enough to hear your joy, because at long last, it’s coming.”

    1. I love that. I know it’s annoyingly Stuart Smalley-esque, but I think the vast majority of us are good enough. Just the fact that we’re introspective enough to wonder, makes it so. Thanks Amanda this really is beautiful.

  9. I needed to read this today.

    I have a four year old. And a six month old. And guess what? A positive pregnancy test.

    But you know what? Everything is going to be ok.

      1. Oh Keri. This made me teary and gave me chills.

        Thinking of you with joy! And mayhem! And then more joy!

  10. I would tell my pregnant-with-my-second self that the sight of my two little girls hugging each other will be able to fix almost any sort of bad day. Also that the chance to watch the wonder of early development again will be both humbling and comforting- I didn’t have as much to do with the good things as I thought, but on the flip side, I didn’t have as much to do with the bad things as I thought, either. And that going from 1 to 2 isn’t as hard as going from 0 to 1, particularly if the 1 was a really challenging baby (and my pregnant self was already pretty sure that baby #1 was particularly challenging, even before baby #2 came along and proved it).

    And now, can me from the future please send me a letter reminding me that I will, in fact, get to sleep through the night in my own bed again at some point. And that I’ll miss these toddler cuddles some day? That would be a big help.

  11. I remember finding out I was pregnant with my 2nd when my first was only 5 mos old. Panic would be an understatement. We were lucky medically to have one, I had just started feeling minimally confident with my mothering skills and was TERRIFIED at what I would do with 2, and 2 under 15 months to boot. On top of that, add the guilty feelings of what this poor 5 mos old would be missing because I was adding a whole new person to his world so quickly.

    5 years later, all those things you said today about the best friends, tucking in together, picture making, dirt digging (boys on my end of course) – the moment Duke entered our family of 3 I never had a doubt, best thing that ever happened in our lives. Period.

    1. That’s really beautiful Sarah. I think my sister-in-law would tell a similar story, about a similar situation.

  12. I had the same feeling when I was pregnant with my 2nd – despite being a totally planned pregnancy, sometime in those last few months especially I got a huge case of the “Oh god, what am I getting myself into?” Totally doubting that I could handle two kids at once or that I’d find enough love in my heart. These are the lessons we can only learn through experience. No matter how many times you hear that the heart knows no limits, I don’t think you really believe it until it’s true.

  13. I admit to similar thoughts now, while pregnant at 33 with my third. Then this morning, while my husband and I attempted to sleep in, we listed to the two kids run and play together in any manner of imagined games. They entertained and loved each other and we knew it was right for us and that we were gifting them and us with this one more. It still isn’t easy and I still worry, but feel more comfortable for them and we that this third is a richness not something to be feared.

  14. Liz, thank you so much for posting this today. I currently have a four year old. Loving hubby (who is 42) wants a second, and I just turned 38. I told him he had until my birthday to get me pregnant again (said birthday was yesterday). I am not sure I can handle a second one. Not sure I’m “up for it”., convinced I cannot “start over again now”. This gives me hope that I can do it. (I may give him until June now! 😉 )

    1. The best part, you’re actually starting over. You already started, 4 years ago. I think that’s the part I didn’t quite realize either. Good luck, whatever happens.

  15. Dear Sarah,

    I was just 22 when I found out I was pregnant with my first daughter. I was scared and worried — there were so many things was going to DO before having kids!! I was so young, barely married and this was not in the plan.

    It is 16 years later. As a parent I have found more love and more strength in myself than I thought existed. My daughter is a wonderful person in my life – someone that inspires me and keeps me young. We laugh and talk get our eyebrows waxed together. I listen to the”cool” music in the car and read all the cool books.

    As a young-ish mom, I had a gret time volunteering at her school. At first I was intimidated, the other moms were so much older and wiser – or so I thought. Turns out we were all trying to figure out the parent thing. They did not have more answers than I did — especially when my daughter needed me to be her biggest advocate. Because of her I found an inner strength and passion my normally low self confidence could not have envisioned.

    There is a hidden benefit in all those pregnancy hormones running around in your system — nausea, big boobs, and an inner strnegth that can tackle the world for your child.

    All the best,

  16. I got goosebumps reading this! So beautifully honest. I cannot imagine life without Sage. Amazing Sage. Beautiful, loving, smart, funny, creative Sage.

  17. I love this post. When I found out I was pregnant with my now-four-year-old, I had just gotten married after spending seven years as a single mom of one, inherited with my husband two young stepchildren, and was about to become a mom to yet another.
    I had also been on Lexapro (an antidepressant) for 3 years, and quit taking it the moment the pregnancy test turned positive. Little did I know at the time that quitting a drug like that cold turkey can throw you into the most awful of depressions. It did. I lived my darkest days during that pregnancy – I wrote about it here:

    Now, I would say to that devastated woman: Relax. You will love this, your second biological child, just as you loved the first – with complete and utter devotion and awe. He will comfort you as you heal from your depression and he will bring laughter back into your life and into the life of your family. He will unite the two broken families that have come together to create him, and you will learn through this time of despair to lean not on your own understanding, but to trust in God.

  18. Everything is okay, even though I wish I’d had the opportunity to choose to have had a second. But when you have your first baby at 42…

    1. I wish someone had kicked me in the butt and said to not wait until finances were in order to have a second. We had savings when we had our daughter, but that was basically gone by the time we were thinking of another…and my husband was finishing up his PhD and no job in sight. By the time he got full time work, we weren’t willing to try anymore. I sometimes regret that. Though my only child is an awesome one, and she is enough for us, I know it has sometimes been lonely for her, and she would have gotten so much out of a sibling. I sometimes wonder if she’ll marry someone from a HUGE family, to make up for it. I kind of hope so.

      1. I think there’s no right or wrong. While I’m really happy with my two kids and my ovaries are waving the white flag, I know people who can’t believe I don’t want more. I also know people who are just so happy with their family of three.

        Sometimes I believe things are meant to be as they are.

    2. I see you as the type who is grateful for what you have and not resentful of what you don’t. Besides, do you know how much easier it is to get in and out of the car with one kid?

    3. I could have written this post, magpie! I had my son at 42 and I wish that we had tried right away for a second — my acupuncturist told me not to wait. We didn’t think that we were ready and now it’s too late. I’m fine with a party of 3, but it hurts my heart a little when I see my son playing by himself (we don’t have any little kids in the neighborhood yet). I hope that he won’t have to deal with aging parents by himself, so I echo J by saying that my fervent wish is for him to marry someone from a huge, loving, close family!

  19. I’m so glad to see this post. I try to tell people all the time, it is completely normal to freak out. I was 28 when I was pregnant with my first. it was completely planned. I’m a lesbian, no accidents at our house. I had wanted to be a parent for my whole life. I was so excited we were actually finally trying to have a child, and then I saw the positive test. I freaked. I had the very same thought you did with your second. “What have I done?” I think I was around 9 or 10 weeks when I finally confessed to my wife that I was totally freaked out. She nodded and said we will be fine. I told her I was so freaked out I had considered asking her sister to take the baby. My wife again nodded and said, it will be ok, we can do this. Now I’m 33 and we are planning to finally add to our family. We are considering both foster care and trying for another biological child. I have never regretted my daughter. We were fine, we can do this, it is all ok and as I had hoped prior to getting pregnant, it is the greatest joy. When our dauther was about 9 months old someone asked my wife if being a parent is what she thought it would be. She said it’s better. To the 22 year old, yes, young and pregnant is scary, especially if it is unplanned, but take a deep breath and take heart that it is scary no matter if it is planned or unplanned, if you are young or old, if it is your first of fourth. It is still scary, but it is all worth it in the end. It will be great, you can do this. I still think there is something about those pregnancy hormones that mess with your head.

    1. I love hearing “you can do this.” We need to hear that a lot more in general. I’m kind of tired of “motherhood sucks,” frankly.

      It doesn’t.

      There are hard parts, but there are hard parts about any job. All we can hope is that the good outweighs the bad and that our houseplants are no indication of our caretaking abilities. Congrats to you both! However it works out.

      1. I love what you said that “our houseplants are no indication of our caretaking abilities”. SO true!

        This post also gave me the push I needed to pursue a particular sibling group for potential adoption. It might be a terrible match, but I finally quit wondering if it could work, and sent the first e-mail contact to actually find out. I’m so excited just to see what could come of this. I need to keep this post on my favorites so I can come back to it when the freak out hits me. And, your comment that “you can do this” is what we all need to hear more of. So I’m going to remind myself that I can do this and not only will it be ok, it will be amazing, however it works out.

  20. My third was a tad unexpected. But after the initial shock was over, I wanted that baby more than I could have ever imagined. And now she is 2.5 and the light of our lives. (although, she is currently 2.5 so… ahem….)

    I think we all have these feelings at some point.

    I would tell my pregnant self to drink even more milkshakes. Because after the baby comes out? It’s ALLL over…. ;P

  21. What a fabulous post. I hope that Sarah and many more young moms – and not so young moms – read this when they are scared, emotional, uncertain, anxious, excited, and nervous – all rolled in together.

    Our first child was uber-planned. It was an IVF cycle so I knew the minute that he was conceived, when implantation occurred, and exactly what the due date was. We were planning for a second — but it happened way faster than expected – like the first cycle after I stopped breast-feeding. Naturally! Our son was only 8mo at the time. Talk about a shock! We were *so* excited but let me tell you it was a holy sh*t moment!

    The first 18mo, they were a blur — but let me tell you, I could not have asked for anything more than our two little boys. They are best of buddies. They will grow up with an incredible bond.

    If I had to step back and tell my pregnant self something – it would be — it all works out. Life will adjust. It was meant to be. It will be hard, and then get easier. It is a wonderful miracle.

  22. Thank you so much for this post. I am six weeks pregnant with twins and am freaking out over the financial impact that three children in full time childcare will have on my family. This is helping me see this for the (expensive) blessing it is.

  23. I would tell my pregnant self to chill the heck out! I only have one kid, so of course being pregnant with my first, a soon to be new mom, I freaked out over everything. Not only that, I was too confident, thinking I had read enough baby books to get me through. So when the baby arrived, I couldn’t accept that it’s okay that I didn’t know what I was doing, and I got miserable.

    Not sure if/when we’ll have #2, but I will definitely be much more relaxed about it this time.

  24. I would say, “I know you feel fat. You have never waivered in your weight so this sudden change is dramatic, yes, but fat? no. Enjoy the fullness. Take weekly photos of your belly. Wear something even slightly clingy. Don’t hide it under tents. You are not fat.”

  25. I had those exact same fears when I became pregnant with Boy Child. We were completely shell shocked after our daughter was born, because she had a birth defect that we were not anticipating prior to her being born, and that time when we didn’t know what her birth defect meant for her and her life was some of the darkest I’ve ever experienced. We couldn’t even think about having a second child for a long time. We were too scared.

    Then, one day, I looked at my husband and said, “Somebody’s missing.” A short while later I was pregnant with The Boy. All the ‘what if’s’ and “holy smokes, what have we done to ourselves?” washed away as soon as he was born. He was like a salve on our still-aching wound after our daughter’s scary start. He’s what made our family complete, and I wouldn’t trade any moment of any of the experience of raising my kids for the world. You find strength you never knew you had. You find joy you didn’t realize was even possible.

  26. I am almost seventy (What? You don’t look seventy! Then why can’t I use the numerals?), but the memory of living in fear for the 9 months I was pregnant with my second is still palatable. I though-I was sure- I could never love another as much as I loved my perfect, 13 month old first born. I cried every day, filled with guilt and remorse.

    Guess what? I learned almost right away that love is not finite. It grows exponentially with each child. And to hear my daughter come to her brother’s defense, offer her support when he needs it, and send him unconditional love time and again……I rest my case.

  27. I would say-
    Don’t wear that strapless top and those white pants at 8 months pregnant.
    You CAN tell from the back, despite what anyone told you.
    You’re getting ready to breast feed for five years straight! You are a superstar!
    You’ll lose yourself, and find yourself, and lose yourself, and find yourself…againandagainandagain. And every time you’ll be wiser, and weaker and stronger all at once, and better, and more equipped to love than you ever thought possible.

    I’ve loved reading everyone’s comments-what a great reminder of an awesome community.

  28. Two weeks after my 40th birthday I felt a little off and then a few days later realized my boobs hurt – surprise, I was pregnant with my 4th child. I have to say that I was not excited for a long time; I didn’t want to tell people about the pregnancy when in the past I told people right away. Finally my other 3 kids (now 11, 8, and 6) were in school all day and I could focus a little on myself!

    But now that we have our 9 month old bundle of cuteness and the other 3 kids’ adoration of him is only matched by his adoration of them, I know it was meant to be all along. It’s hard, really hard but I would tell my self of a year and a half ago to stop being so selfish and welcome this wonderful gift you’ve been given. Now I do.

  29. I was 17 when I had my first, and 33 when I had my last. I would say to her that even though it is hard not to worry about things… we all do, but she should try and put her worries aside. Enjoy every last moment of pregnancy, birth and all the stages between. I would also tell her not to listen to negative things people will have to say. My children are now 22, 19, 18, 16 and 6 and I am 39. With my first four children I worried about everything.. Was I a good mom? Did I eat well enough during my pregnancy? Was my house clean enough?? It went on and on. Now that three of the five have moved out to go to college I find myself being sad that it all went so fast. I did enjoy watching them grow up, but always with constant worry. With my youngest I have learned to enjoy every second, because I know with a blink of an eye he will be grown and gone. My oldest daughter who is 22 had my grandson when she was 18. She still went to college and now works in a well known hospital and is still in school for nursing. Sure, life has ups and downs, but I can say we did it and our children are happy and healthy! One of the best things that can happen in a woman’s life is becoming a mother!.

  30. This is a beautiful entry and you know I love your blog, so I’m just going to skip to the other part which is to say that I genuinely hope that your reader Sarah finds the support she needs to feel comfortable with and excited about this pregnancy. I was 22 when I found out that I was pregnant with my first. My baby died. Until the moment when we found out that our pregnancy wouldn’t end happily, I was scared and uncertain and worried and confused, but that changed everything. That pregnancy is the REASON that I have my daughter – my beautiful, crazy, wonderful, life-affirming daughter – who was born when I was 23. Being a young mother has it’s challenges, but I wouldn’t trade this journey for the world. I hope your reader finds the strength within herself to embrace her new adventure – and the confidence in her community to lean on others too.

  31. I thought with #1 that there was no way I could bond with A BOY. And when a newly pregnant-with-a-boy friend reminded me of that fact, after son #1 was born, I had no memory of that fear, and looked at her in disbelief–I was completely in love with my baby boy. So much so that I was only marginally aghast when I found out that #2 was ALSO a boy (the gods have a larky sense of humor). My kids hate each other pretty regularly but they are also at the epicenter of one another’s worlds. I remind myself that one of the best reasons to have multiple children is so that when they’re grownups, they can have witnesses who will testify to how completely loony their parents were. Otherwise there’s no corroborating evidence.

  32. My biggest fear while pregnant with #2 was the pain that my eldest is going to feel, how am I going to love them both, to find time for them both. Until I found this poem online

    “Loving Two

    I walk along holding your 2-year-old hand, basking in the glow of our magical relationship. Suddenly I feel a kick from within, as if to remind me that our time alone is limited. And I wonder: how could I ever love another child as I love you?

    Then she is born, and I watch you. I watch the pain you feel at having to share me as you’ve never shared me before. I hear you telling me in your own way, ‘Please love only me.’ And I hear myself telling you in mine, ‘I can’t,’ knowing, in fact, that I never can again.

    You cry. I cry with you. I almost see our new baby as an intruder on the precious relationship we once shared. A relationship we can never quite have again.

    But then, barely noticing, I find myself attached to that new being, and feeling almost guilty. I’m afraid to let you see me enjoying her–as though I am betraying you.

    But then I notice your resentment change, first to curiosity, then to protectiveness, finally to genuine affection. More days pass, and we are settling into a new routine. The memory of days with just the two of us is fading fast. But something else is replacing those wonderful times we shared, just we two. There are new times–only now, we are three. I watch the love between you grow, the way you look at each other, touch each other. I watch how she adores you–as I have for so long. I see how excited you are by each of her new accomplishments.

    And I begin to realize that I haven’t taken something from you, I’ve given something to you. I notice that I am no longer afraid to share my love openly with both of you. I find that my love for each of you is as different as you are, but equally strong.

    And my question is finally answered, to my amazement. Yes, I can love another child as much as I love you–only differently. And although I realize that you may have to share my time, I now know you’ll never share my love. There’s enough of that for both of you–you each have your own supply.

    I love you both, and I thank you both for blessing my life.

    ~Author unknown”

    And this is so true, everything is OK 3 years later (except when it is not)

  33. By the way today is Mother’s day in Lebanon 🙂
    so it is the perfect post for a perfect day
    Happy Mothers Day

  34. When I got pregnant with n°2 my eldest was not even 8 months old and I had just started a new job. I was absolutely terrified. Firstly because my previous employer was less than nice about the fact that I was pregnant (I nearly sued them for harrasment) and second because I could honestly not picture me as the mother of two children.
    After all this time I’m beyond glad that n°2 came into our lives when she did.

  35. I think I’ve actually had the chance to say things I would have told my formerly pregnant self, only to friends who are expecting their second. #1: yes, it’s as chaotic as you think it will be. Maybe more so…BUT #2: you quickly learn to deal with the chaos and #3: it passes…and then you get to that magical place where they are 4 and 6 and both sleep through the night and don’t need you every second of the day and love being with each other and where the older one reads to the younger one and…and…and. Oh and #4: it’s totally worth the momentary, hair pulling chaos.

  36. My currently non-pregnant self is blinking back tears, and considering forwarding this to the hub that does not want a second child.

    I think maybe, just maybe I’ll write a letter on my blog tonight. There’s a lot I’d say to that clueless wonder.

    1. I look forward to it.

      (And be easy on the hub…it was me that didn’t want the second, and possibly even the first.)

  37. Oh how I remember that feeling – the fear and horror. Most of all, that sense that I could never love another child like I love my first – that love was so all-consuming, I couldn’t see how it could stretch any further.

    And yes, of course, it has. You are so right when you see them as a gift for each other. That adoring look my one year old gives her older brother. His joyous laughter when she copies him saying “Daa-aaad”. It’s magic to see, and worth all the extra work that a second child brings.

    If I was writing to my pregnant self that second time I would say “It will be hard, but you are up to the task, and it’s worth it. Most of all, your well of love is more than deep enough. Just remember to save a bit for your husband… PS Miraculously, you will forget what labour felt like the second time around too, and start considering a third child. Don’t do it.”

  38. A few months ago I did this exact thing–except I’ve never been pregnant. I am a mom, however, to two kiddos by way of adoption. One adoption was of an older, special needs child. When I was younger, I never dreamed I would even have children, let alone adopt a special needs child. Had I known waht was ahead, I might have chickened out. But now I couldn’t imagine life any other way! You can see my post here

    1. Thank you Lauren – what a great story. I hope you connect with Tannis from Redneck Mommy. I love her story too.

  39. I was 42 when I discovered that i was pregnant with our second child. I’d been 38 when I had our first and we’d decided that we wouldn’t risk having a second because of my age. You’d think that by the time I was 42 I’d figure out how NOT to get pregnant, but I apparently missed class the day they gave that particular lecture. We’d just sold our house and downsized to a smaller one (we wouldn’t be needing those extra bedrooms!) and life seemed perfect. Next thing I knew (on Valentine’s Day, no less), I was pregnant and very scared. Every woman i knew had some story about “the perils of being over 40 and pregnant.” And it’s like the carnage on the side of the road after a crash-you know you shouldn’t look, but you can’t help yourself. So I listened to every story and by the time I had my CVS, I was a wreck. And…..did I REALLY want a second child? We were the perfect threesome. But, you know, in the end, everything was fine. I can’t imagine life without both of my girls. I am a different person, a better person, because I have the two of them. As my 16 year old says: I never wanted a sister. But I’m really glad I have one…….

    1. That’s really great. I think there are a lot of things we are grateful for that we didn’t know we wanted. Good to remember.

  40. Wow. It’s so comforting to see that I’m not the only one that is/was terrified to have their second. I am 24 weeks pregnant with my second, another girl, and feel guilty often for not being as excited about her as I was about my daughter. The only thing that scared me when I was pregnant with number one was our finances. We were newly married and still in college, but I was calm and excited about everything else and already felt such immense love for a little bean! I was 24 when she was born. This time we are not in college and financially secure, but I don’t feel calm and excited about it. I want so bad to feel that same connection with my second as I do with my first. I will be almost 27 when she’s born. But I am glad to hear from you and many of your followers that the love and connection does come. Thank you for having the bravery to share your thoughts on the matter when so many of us are afraid to “write” how we feel on our own blogs.

    1. Oh man Jessica, if only you knew the rest of my unpublished post.
      I can only say from my experience–and that of so many others (a lot of them expressed here) that you will be amazed at your heart’s capacity to love two children with all your might.

  41. I had that fear throughout my first and second pregnancy, “What was I thinking??!!” I now have two beautiful little girls (3 1/2 years and 20 months). They are so lucky to have each other, and I am so lucky to have them. Even though, there are days when I still ask myself, “What did I do?”. It’s still difficult sometimes to realize that I will never have another moment to myself again, which isn’t the worst thing 🙂

  42. Liz,

    Thanks so much for this.

    I had my 2nd 5 months ago and I still sometimes wonder “what the hell was I thinking?” I’m an only child. My husband is an only child. We have NO FUCKING CLUE what to do with siblings. I agonize over Rhiannon (my 5 month old) crying longer, not getting mommy & me classes, and what have you…because her sister did. Or who I should prioritize in any give second. It’s just so hard.

    This was what I needed to read…thanks

    1. I’m an only child too. I like you have no clue how this whole sibling thing works! But like with your first child, you figure out how to manage, juggle, be fair, and trade off. It gets easier – alot easier! And to watch their little sibling bond grow… is priceless. <3

  43. This is a great post. All these comments are making me cry.

    I’m 36 tomorrow, and 31 weeks pregnant with my first. I’m terrified and excited and worried and ecstatic. I know I should be enjoying every moment of this pregnancy, but the worrying steals some of that joy. I wish it didn’t.

    1. Good lord, in what handbook does it say that you are supposed to enjoy every moment of pregnancy? There are aspects of it that are hard–and not all of us make for happy, glowing, perky pregnant women ever minute of the day. Don’t feel guilty–there is plenty of time for mom guilt after the kid is here (heh).

      By the way, if you weren’t at least a little worried and terrified I’d worry about what kind of mom you’d be. Clearly you’re someone who cares, and wants to do right by that baby of yours. I have a strong suspicion you totally will.

      Good luck in these last few weeks Terry!

  44. Thank you for this post, it was what I needed to read today. I too am 38 and pregnant for the second time in a year (have an 11mo old). I also have an 19yr old off to college. When I had my 11mo old daughter I felt complete, but my SO didn’t want her to grow up an “only” even though my 19yr old daughter grew up an “only” and did wonderfully. We didn’t plan this pregnancy, but we weren’t as careful as we could of been preventing it. I’m scared to death… but your words help. So, Thank You.

  45. I would tell myself that I will be a better at this whole “mom thing” as a single mom than I was a married mom. That while this is how I “planned it” or how I “envisioned” things would be – it is what it is. *sigh* And, honestly, I’m more focused, I’m more relaxed, I’m happy – which in the end, allows me to be a better Mom.

    and, while being a single parent is very scary, I am ok. Sometimes I get angry that there is no one to “take over” or ” to rescue me” when things just spin out of control at the end of the day or daycare calls me right before a conference call – “Madaline is sick…please come get her” – but, I wouldn’t change a thing of how our lives are now. I can truly say that it will all be ok. “We”, as in Madaline & I, are ok.

    If that make sense.

  46. When I got pregnant with my second child, I wanted an abortion. My 1st child was only 10 months old and I wasn’t ready to be a mom to two. He has never been an easy child and he has development issues, and I’ve often blamed his special needs on my initial reaction. But his special needs make him unique and he is unlike any child I know. He is amazing. While life isn’t always easy, life would not be the way without him.

    1. Thanks for your honest perspective Holly. I’m sure it’s one that a lot of special needs parents share.

  47. I absolutely remember the panic you described. Even though I had my second asf a gift to my first, I somehow still felt like I was ruining both of our lives as we knew it. I wrote my then 18 month old a letter describing how great our life and been together and how much I would miss being with just her. I also explained that my hope for the future was that this new addition would be “worth it” to all of us.

    Now all that seems silly to me. Of course we couldn’t live with out her.

    Somehow considering a third seems equally as terrifying.

  48. I had these fears when I was pregnant a second time. I couldn’t imagine loving another baby like I did with my son. I felt guilty that I was taking away love from my first born, it wasn’t fair to him and I felt like a horrible mother. Then you realize that your love just multiples and does not divide, your heart grows bigger somehow and it is amazing. My little ones, 4 and 2 now, have this bond and love that only they can share. The way they look at each other is incredible as if they have this “secret” that only they know. Your post will show that we as mothers have our fears and there is nothing wrong with that!

  49. When I got pregnant with my second child, I was terrified that I had ruined our happy little family. Not that I didn’t want another child. I did. Badly. My son had survived a major surgery. Then I had a miscarriage. And all I could think about was getting to be a mom again, just one very last time and then I would stop. Then I got pregnant. And I worried about my son having more medical problems and would I be able to handle everything… maybe he deserved my full attention? Was I just ruining everything — my son’s happy world — and perhaps being a little selfish?

    And it turns out I could handle things (and I worried WAY more than I needed to), and while my son occasionally gripes about his sister getting into his stuff (and vice versa), I know that they care about each other. While balancing my time with each of them and giving them the attention that they need can be tricky, I can’t imagine my life any other way.

  50. Loved reading all these comments. I am 29 weeks with my third and although this was totally planned and very wanted, I have moments of freaking out. For me, it is that my second is almost 2 and not so much of a baby and now we are about to start. all. over. again. What were we thinking? I feel like our life is on hold these days, just need to get through the pregnancy and newborn stage and then we (I) can move forward…lose the weight once and for all, make more friends in the neighborhood, etc. Bottom line is it is hard, this pregnancy has been so much harder and more emotional than my others, but i have adopted the ‘one day at a time’ motto and we will get through it and next year at this time the weight will be gone, the three kids will be playing outside and life will be grand, right? (please don’t burst my bubble!).

  51. I was an only child in a small family. I didn’t grow up with siblings to play with, fight with, laugh with, share with, not want to share with. I can still remember those times when as a kid, I thought to myself that I wish I had a brother or a sister.

    Fast forward to the future where I have my first child at 23. He was conceived by conscious decision, all promise and happiness. Things change, of course, and I realize that rosy dreams have grey in it as well. I swore to myself that I will have one and only one child, that this is it. I was swayed by the economy of time and money, thinking that having another one will mean less attention to my first. In terms of money, I was thinking that one child meant that I could give him the best opportunities to pursue his passions and interests, simply because I could afford to give him the best classes, equipment, etc, instead of dividing funds between two children and being only able to afford just the regular. I thought I had it all planned out. I could not have been so wrong.

    Ours is a small family, just me, daddy, and him. We don’t really have a lot of extended family to speak of. I watched my son play by himself and I can’t help but feel loneliness. I think to myself that years from now (goodness knows I may not even be around that long), who will be there for him? I do not wish my son to feel alone in the world. Ever.

    So screw my rationalizing with the economy of time and money.

    When my OB tells me in the middle of my pregnancy that Baby#2 looks like he has ventriculomegaly (google explains it better than I can but basically, that’s not something you’d ever wanna hear during a pregnancy. I think it’s as bad as toxoplasmosis.), I am devastated. And I felt guilty. Was this my punishment for thinking to make Baby 2 for Baby 1?

    Baby 2 is born and I am relieved beyond words that he is a normal, healthy boy. When I first held him, I realize the truth: that no, he was not made just so my first can have someone to play with, fight with, laugh with, share with, and not want to share with. He was born for me, and there is so much of me in him. And life is so much more wonderful and meaningful when I see him smile.

    I now have to divide time, attention, and savings. Somehow, we manage. But love? My cup of love and all around cuteness is full and overflowing.

    I would not have it any other way.

  52. I only had momentary worries about my second birth; they were mostly at the end of the pregnancy when a health problem was detected in ultrasound. What worried me more was the first baby. I have since wished that I could have the second experience first. I was more relaxed even given medical worries.

    It’s not possible, though. Experience was my teacher and nothing I could have told myself would have mattered without it. Honestly, the thing I wish I could do most for my former pregnant self would be to just go back and give her a hug and let her know we all find our way.

  53. Sometimes I think we think about what we could have done differently so often, we search for answers so exhaustively, that we forget life is a process built on missteps and failure. We understand ourselves best through experience. We trust ourselves best for having gone through it. We want to spare people something they maybe shouldn’t miss.

    1. That’s a really interesting point. I think all I want, especially after that email, is to offer some more resources for reassurance and support.

  54. i know someone who lost her father today. all she could say when she shared her sad news was that she needed to get home to be with her sisters. it’s funny—my immediate reaction was not about how i’ll feel when i lose my dad, but how sad it will be that my brother (who passed away 5 years ago)—the only other person who knew what it was like to be raised by our two crazy nut parents—will not be there with me.

    like you, liz, i was terrified of having a second baby. and, also like you, i told myself it was good for my son that i was giving him a brother. strangely, since i’m a younger sibling myself, i’d forgotten that i was giving my unborn son a (very cool!) older brother, too. i was just thinking of my older son, who was already there in the flesh, instead of thinking about siblings. so i guess i’d remind my pregnant self that we were giving each of our sons a chance to have each other even when we were long gone. and, sadly, having lost that for myself, i know, deep in my bones, how profound that is.

  55. I wrote a post to reassure mothers who were going to have their second child. Because I was utterly terrified when I discovered I was pregnant with my second (youngest and last too). If you’re ever interested in reading it, it’s here:

    I had those same, “what have I done” feelings. If I could go back and tell my pregnant self anything it would be, “listen to your mother. She’s right. Your heart will double in size to make room for another.”

Comments are closed.