We’re overjoyed at beijingkids for our current Schools Editor, Jessica Suotmaa, who is expecting her second child in June. Below she shares her expanding perspective on the uniqueness of each pregnancy. Meet her here.
When we read or hear about what to expect when pregnant, we often overthink the guidelines. When I was pregnant for the first time, I had weight charts, nutrition guides, and even baby kick schedules. I worried over weight gain, weight loss, and any change in my energy levels. I even worried if my hair and nail growth didn’t live up to the descriptions I had read about.
Granted, a lot of my worries had stemmed from my lacking mommy network–I just didn’t know enough women (or any) who had given birth or who could remember what it was like, and I didn’t want to worry my family (who fuss more than I do as it is). But even when I listen to the experiences of others, I find discrepancies with my own experience. In the end, I concluded that our experiences are not the same because of our body types, ethnicities, or cultures.
I was wrong. It’s not that we, as women, are significantly different (at least we all get pregnant the same way), but pregnancies vary greatly. My second pregnancy has been nothing like my first–from hormone and energy levels to food intake and weight gain. Every month, I have an expectation that things will change, and it’ll be like it was the first time (after all, it was only two years ago–I’m not much older). This is just temporary. It will pass. But as I enter my third trimester, I must face the fact that my second pregnancy is not a repeat of my first–a good reminder that my second child will also not be the same as my first.
And that’s OK. It’s normal.
I’ll end with five examples of what’s been different:
- Hunger levels: I was always starving with my first. I had gained at least 10 pounds in just my first trimester, and yes, I was one of those women who kept nuts and other snacks by my nightstand because I’d wake up in the middle of the night with hunger pangs, which then woke my baby, who then started kicking like crazy in protest. With my second, I’m hardly ever hungry and merely eat out of habit (or when prompted).
- Energy levels: During my first pregnancy, I had a ton of energy and may have actually felt better than usual. I slept less, exercised more, and most of the time I was clear headed and productive. This time around, I think I spent most of my first trimester in bed, heavy with lethargy and too weak too exercise. My condition has since improved, but it’s not comparable to my original energy levels.
- Morning sickness: Years ago (when I first got married), my mom told me that I wouldn’t be able to do anything while pregnant (study or work), which is actually why I only worked freelance during my last pregnancy. In reality, I only had about a week of real morning sickness where I felt nauseated, laid on the sofa, and ingested nothing other than tasteless crackers and soda water. I did also feel sick every time I smelled Chinese food on the street, and actually had to wear a mask to avoid the “stench”. With my second pregnancy, though, I haven’t been sick, so much as just woozy and weak, and although I still prefer eating western food, I can somewhat stomach Chinese food.
- Heartburn: The one aspect of my first pregnancy that I remember seriously disliking was the heartburn. I avoided all citrus fruits and anything that could be counted as acidic, but still I laid awake at night, haunted by heartburn. I remember asking and researching for herbal home remedies, buying and trying everything, and concluding that either I had heartburn, or I’d be disgusted by whatever I ate to rid of the heartburn (Note: ginger works if it doesn’t make you puke). But this time I have been lucky! No heartburn despite drinking juice and lemon infused water while eating fresh oranges on a daily basis, but of course I have no idea why it’s so different from before.
- Belly shape and size: When I was pregnant with my son, I had a much larger belly in the shape of an egg that dropped quite early on. Because I wasn’t very round, I could mostly still fit into my normal clothes and didnt need to purchase special maternity clothes. With my second, perhaps also because I still had baby weight to lose, my midriff is round like a barrel and the shape of my belly seems to change day by day. On some days, I just feel round like a ball, and on other days, I look down to discover that I cant see my toes because of my egg-shaped belly. This of course affects my clothing options (the most annoying part)，and I have found a need to buy more tent-like clothing to accommodate the changes.