Every once in a while, when I was carrying Biet in my belly, I used to forget that I was pregnant. Aside from the obvious bowling ball protruding from my midsection, my body felt, most of the time, more or less unchanged. I would enjoy working on my feet for 8, 10, 12 hours a day. And the dreaded morning sickness, cravings, swelling- they never happened. And then I gave birth, and my body recovered pretty quickly, and I was once again on my way.
Boy was I lucky.
This time around began just the same, and, I was sure, would remain just the same. Morning sickness did show up, but barely. Then came little aches and pains and stretching, fatigue (oh the fatigue!), and slightly more rapid weight gain before, and it slowly began to become apparent that this pregnancy would be a whole different experience than my first. But being a stubborn strong-headed girl, I refused to listen to my body. I would be fine, I thought, continuing to run and run and run.. working shift after shift at the restaurant, lugging the stroller up and down subway stairs without help, and sleeping just enough. My body is strong, and, just like last time, could handle it...
About two weeks ago, Biet's molars began growing in. I had heard about how tough they can be on little mouths when they first appear, but I was not prepared for the all-night marathons of tossing and turning and screaming that would ensue. Suffice it to say, Gaby and I have been more sleep-deprived in the past ten days than ever before. Yes, Biet's perfect little pearly whites have been rough on everyone.
The lack of sleep turned out to be the breaking point for my 26-week pregnant body. A few days ago I "threw my back out." Not pulled a muscle or strained it- but full on threw it out. I lost normal mobility in my neck and arms as a result, and could hardly turn my head or roll over in bed, let alone pick up a toddler. Suddenly, standing up, making food, walking the dog, or taking a shower all became tedious painful endeavors. And I finally realized that I must slow down.
This boy in my belly is growing and shifting and moving at such a rapid and healthy rate that my whole body has been thrown for a loop. It was hard to admit to myself, but this time around, keeping my body balanced and healthy will take a lot more work. I must stay conscious of how much I am pushing myself physically, how much sleep I am actually getting, and what each ache and pain is trying to tell me.
Its not easy when you realize that you are not superwoman, and its even harder to accept that its ok to not be a superwoman. I have restrictions, I have limits, and balance is more important than getting everything done. These are all lessons that I must learn. It certainly helps to have a husband who quietly picks up the slack- who makes breakfast for everyone while you sleep that extra hour, who insists that you carry nothing while lugging fifty pounds of groceries home, who encourages early bedtimes (for the adults!) and nightly massages, while you keep thinking that you can do just one more thing at the end of the day. I really couldn't do this without him.
My back and shoulders and neck are still sore and getting back to normal, although, thankfully, the major bouts of pain have ceased. I am now treating this pregnancy as something completely unpredictable and unique, and attempting to pace each hour of each day. And I'm slowly getting used to being the one to sit on the sidelines and watch while Biet and Nico and Papa roughhouse on the bed. I can be the big, pregnant, slow-moving Mama for awhile if that's what this baby boy needs. I'm even beginning to appreciate the stillness.
Now I'm wondering if my labor and recovery will be completely different from the first time as well. I'm curious to hear about other women's experiences with their second pregnancies. I'd love to hear your thoughts!