Honestly, I didn’t expect to be feeling this good.
Everyday Papa B says ‘You are bossing this pregnancy!’
Because I always like to know the difference between encouragement and a compliment, I did ask him if he genuinely meant that or thought it was just something he should say to make me feel better.
‘No, you’re actually doing so much better than the first time around’ he confirmed.
And he is right. Like all things, the second time around is just not as scary. Whilst I can’t call myself a professional, I am also no longer novice and that fact has allowed me to melt into this experience and suck it up for all it’s worth, as it’s never happening again.
I will calmly go on record and say that I never wanted kids. I was never that young lady who sat and thought about kids names or tried to imagine what her offspring would look like. For a very long time, that wasn’t part of my plan. Children seemed expensive and exhausting ( my assumptions were spot on) and I just didn’t ever think that I would be able to deduct some of the very necessary time and energy I spent on myself, in order to raise an entire another human.
But then came Esme.
And once again I’ll be awkwardly obtuse and admit that it wasn’t all like ‘wow, I’m pregnant and I completely love this child, I've never met’ type pregnancy. It was a very, very slow burn. So slow in fact, I cried when I found out she was a girl. My heart was set on a boy. I did not have the best relationship with my own mother, which had completely skewed my visions of how I would cope being a mother to daughter. After sulking for the best part of a month, I sucked it up. But just to re-instate how uneducated I am regarding the red tape of motherhood, I tell that story to anyone that will listen.
Whilst it’s normally met with wide eyes, there have been few fleeting moments where other mothers have clutched their chests and declared ‘Me too!’ and we have then since bonded over our common ground of truth.
It was not until many months after Esme was born that I would look at her and begin to understand that the overbearing protectiveness I smothered her with or the stupidity of not sleeping whilst she slept but instead watch her sleep, was actually love.
But even that love wasn’t enough to erase the trauma of her birth. The outcome of an induction, emergency c-section, and postoperative septicemia, really rubbed all the shine off the idea that I would attempt to do that again. The kid was great, but if the future didn’t allow us to Amazon Prime the next one, then I just was not involved.
We were cool, the three of us. With her fourth birthday just two days away, it was safe to say we found a rhythm, which enabled us to keep her alive for this long. But I couldn’t dilute the feeling that I was doing her a disservice by her being an only child.
Now for the record, she has a half-sister and whilst at times, it seems like a fight similar to David and Goliath, I do my best at being a firm, fair and hopefully friendly, stepmother. But as a sister to half-siblings (we don’t really recognize that, but biologically that would be the outcome of any testing) I’ve seen and felt things that I know for sure wouldn’t transpire if myself and siblings shared the same father.
I longed to give her that - Kellog’s cover, nuclear family, same mother and father - sibling.
As the only child of my father, the pain of when he died is made even more acute as I have no brother or sister to ask, ‘Do you miss Daddy too?’ and sometimes, that loneliness makes my physical ache more than the loss of him itself.
Even though we can’t foresee the future, I take comfort in knowing I tried to provide a source of Love and friendship that speaking from a place of experience can not be found anywhere else but in siblings raised in the same house as you.
So perhaps this pregnancy is the ultimate selfish sacrifice. She didn’t ask for a sibling but I’m taking a chance on what I believe to be the best thing to do, which coincidentally is the only consistent theme in Motherhood; ‘Do what you believe is best’ because knowing is impossible.
So now I’m out of the first trimester, I’m able to see and think more clearly. Listen, nothing will arrest the mind of a human more than constantly feeling as if their gut has been turned inside out, put on a hot wash, ironed and stuffed back down their esophagus for fourteen out of twenty-four hours a day. Sometimes it felt as if the sickness had paralyzed me. Many days, I would allow Esme to parent herself with the help of Cebeebies, whilst only leaving the bed to heat up the food that Papa B had pre-prepared the night prior. I don’t think I ever felt more useless in my life. How terrible of me to be pregnant with another if it left me this incapable of caring for my first!
Of course, Esme remembers none of this. And now she’s able to feel the baby move and get involved in the planning process, it makes the exhaustion of those earlier days seem entirely worth it. And I will cling to the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ when the inevitable days of neglect arrive and I have to use NETFLIX for an entire day, just to be able to keep my sanity.
One thing I’ve been less concerned with ‘keeping’ this time around is my figure. I’ve allowed myself more slack than when pregnant with Esme as I don’t think I’ll ever get over the first real look in the mirror at my post-baby body. It took the better part of a year, for me to feel somewhat myself after having her. But the feeling of 'completion' never came back because pregnancy disrupts your body in more ways than the eye can see. So this time whilst I don’t over do it in the junk food department, I’ve decided not to do intense cardio workouts twice a day (can you imagine how fucking crazy I must have been?!) and work on my new body, once all has settled down. And if there is one thing the first time did teach me, it’s that nobody is able to tell you when that will be.
So for now, I ride the wave. I feel great for days at a time and then I’m so furiously boxed with a wave of exhaustion, I’m falling asleep at midday. The first time around I fought it and still ended up fighting for my life, which is a fight I’m so happy to have won that right now, all I want to do is enjoy it.