First, we were definitely "trying" to get pregnant, but we had a deadline in mind. We were going to continue trying until a certain date because we're a military family, which means global moves are inevitable for us. I am NOT going to be a billion months pregnant as we move our family from Japan back to The USA! And I'm not traveling with a teeny, weeny 2-week-old and a 2-year-old either! So we set a deadline to beat PCS (moving) season, and time had run out for us.
My husband had a vasectomy scheduled, which is a 2-month process with military medicine. My husband had his doctor's consult, 30 days later we had a couple's consult with the doctor, then 30 days later he could have the surgery. He had the surgery in June.
We found out we were pregnant on Father's Day. It was like my body had a Hail-Mary Pass to the end zone to get this guy in there before we shut the system down forever. And on Father's Day? Like it was a big joke just to spite us and our life decisions! I was shaking as I brought the home pregnancy test out to the living room where my husband was entertaining our 18-month-old. Why was I shaking? Honestly, I was terrified!
Emotion 1: Sheer Terror
I had been given 60 days' worth of waiting, reading, researching, and doctor's consults to come to the conclusion that we weren't going to have any more biological children. That's a HUGE family decision to make! We were certain we were finished, though, because adopting a child had always been a goal of mine. And then.... wait a second.... REVERSE EVERYTHING YOU'VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT!!
I had truly come to peace with our decision because I hated motherhood when my son came into the world. Read my article about Motherhood Angst to get a better picture of what I went through. Postpartum Depression is tough. Acid reflux and colic are both tough. Severe sleep depression is tough. Complete isolation and lack of family help is tough. Motherhood turned out not the same pretty little picture I had always dreamed it would be, and I hated it. I hated my son. I hated my life.
[Note: most of my hatred toward motherhood was due to Postpartum Depression. I'm MUCH better now and I absolutely ADORE being a mom!!]
So that's exactly why I was terrified to find out that we had actually gotten pregnant again. Did I think about these things when we were trying to get pregnant? Of course. But they don’t come glaring you in the eye the same way as the when you find out it’s really happening. It’s more of just a hypothetical situation in your head until it’s really real.
Emotion 2: Preparedness from past experiences…?
I learned a couple of things from having my son and going through PPD that I think I’d be able to change for baby #2.
First, we asked my MIL to come out and join us for the first two weeks. My mistake with my son was thinking that my husband would actually be granted his 10 days of paternal leave from the military. Wrong. He went back to work the second day after my son was born. If he was home, he was on call. The stress of his job plus the stress of his home life changed him. Neither one of us could recognize ourselves, much less each other. So this time, we’ve learned to ASK FOR HELP!!
Second, purchase anything that could even potentially bring more sleep. I am a thrifty spender, so we didn’t purchase all different kinds of pacifiers or white noise machines or anti-reflux pillows. We just put up with what we had available. This time, though, we’re going all out. I have a lower tolerance for sleep deprivation than many people, I guess. I turn into a negative, self-depreciating, hateful person without sleep. This time: I’ll hire a babysitter for a few hours, I’ll take my newborn to daycare so I can get a morning nap, I’ll hire a Mama-san to clean our home, WHATEVER!! Any amount of money that needs to be spent for my sanity is worth it! Just let me get some peace in my life.
Third, I've learned (the hard way) that I'm not going to harm my child or ruin their life by letting them cry from time to time. I was extremely sensitive to my son's needs (by that I mean I never just let him cry) and in so doing, I wasn't sensitive enough to MY needs. I needed a shower? Wasn't going to happen. I needed to eat? Fageddaboudit. When my husband and I finally started letting our kid cry for longer than 5 minutes, we went through serious self-shaming. Ya know what though? My son is 18 months old now and absolutely FINE. Actually, he's finer than "fine." He's super smart, extremely energetic, loves all kinds of food, laughs, loves giving hugs, and has a rampant imagination.
Emotion 3: Cautious Optimism
All of the above emotions I am putting out there with the caveat that I completely understand that no two babies are alike. They say that the second one is the complete opposite from the first. Man, if that’s truly the case, I'm going to be sleeping like a log every night.
I do have some cautious optimism that this baby will be milder and gentler on me. Mostly because my son was SO AWFUL that I can’t picture it being any worse than that. I think my husband is better prepared to balance his Dadly duties and his work life. We’ve talked about it a couple of times, and he seems to think he’s better prepared for it. He also poops rainbows and butterflies, so I know to take his statements with a little grain of salt.
We are still isolated from our families, but baby #2 will be just 4 or 5 months old when we move back to The States. We’ll be a heck of a lot more accessible to have friends and family visit (aka – leave the kids with the grandparents and enjoy our quiet solitude!)
I realize I'm still a novice with parenting, but hopefully I’m not being completely naïve here. I feel like parenting is a beast of a job and you really just have to bulldoze your way through the first few months, knowing that you'll make it out alive... eventually.