As I drove to my 36-week appointment last week, the butterflies in my stomach started taking over. So much so that I called my bestie because I knew her inappropriate jokes and excitement would take the edge off the anxiety. At first I couldn’t put my finger on why I was so nervous. The OB was planning on checking for dilation…could it be that? No one warns you how uncomfortable that little milestone is. But it’s a temporary pain. I think it was something deeper.
I was no longer driving to OB appointments every four weeks, looking forward to hearing the heartbeat of a little bean I could only imagine was tucked in my belly. Nope. These days, No2 makes her presence known all day. And if all the crazy baby-ninja-moves weren’t enough, I keep running my belly into the corners of kitchen counters, into doorknobs, people….basically anything at belly-level. I’m not just a little pregnant anymore.
Reality is suddenly staring me in the face. We’re about to have a second baby.
I know anyone would be nervous about adding another baby to their family, and my current mix of excitement and anxiety are completely normal for the last few weeks of pregnancy. But I’m on guard. My birth experience the first time around was traumatic in many ways. I’ve deliberately chosen (with the guidance of my therapist) not to rehash the first time. It no longer makes me angry to think about – I know I did the best I could with the information I had at the time, and I have a wonderful, healthy three-year-old daughter. I’ve moved on, but the memories linger. Rationally, I know that this time will absolutely be different. Maybe better, maybe worse, but different. But those memories certainly don’t make me look forward to experiencing birth again.
And then there’s the postpartum period. The sleep deprivation. The constant diaper-changing. That newborn scream. Oh, and breastfeeding. What a disaster last time around. But I’m confident we’ll figure all that out, just like we did before. The only thing that makes me really nervous? Is that the PPD will come back. And yet….This is not my first rodeo. This time, I have so many tools at my disposal: a neighborhood of support, a local best friend I can be myself with, the ability to ask for and accept help, my online #ppdchat army, and KNOWLEDGE. I am a wiser, calmer, more introspective woman because of my first experience with PPD and my success battling antenatal anxiety this pregnancy. I have learned that all you need is a tiny nugget of hope – and from that you can regain your life. I know now how strong I am.
I don’t expect myself to get through these last few weeks of pregnancy, or childbirth, or that “fourth trimster” gracefully. I don’t need to do any of it perfectly. I’ve told myself all along that all I have to do is grow a baby, get her out somehow, and then feed her and keep her clean.
I can do this. But even better? I think I can do this and be happy.