I can only ever give you my experience of the thing. Just because I’ve done it twice doesn’t mean I am an authority. And that’s the thing about pregnancy, and parenthood itself. Yes, I can talk about it, empathise with it, have theories about it but I only know what it was like for me. Pregnancy is like a kind of club. But, much like a club for people who have, say, intentionally fallen down a staircase backwards, the club members can only ever share their particular personal experience, not eulogise on the thing itself. At least, they’d be foolish to.
So, here are some of my thoughts about it. Observational gripes based on my experience, my own special brand of hormonal lunacy.
My top five reflections on the second pregnancy:
1. People forget.
My best friend holds aloft a bottle of wine. Fancy one? Most definitely, I say. I most definitely fancy one. But apparently the thing I’m growing isn’t allowed it. I know, super-pants. Oh, Jesus, she exclaims. Sorry! I totally forgot.
Get used to people forgetting you’re pregnant, or forgetting to ask you how you are or how it’s going. There will be no baby shower (disclaimer, I’ve never had a baby shower and actually, it all seems like indulgent nonsense to me), and no one will drop round with beautifully ironed, teeny tiny hand me downs, because they assume you have everything you need already. And because it’s just not that exciting second time around. Think about your own friends who had their second babies before you; did you call for a weekly check in and send them booties in the post? No, didn’t think so. Everyone forgave you those nine months (let’s make it eighteen) of party poopery last time. Doing it again is just anti-social. But, talking of which:
2. People assume you don’t know how boring you are.
Here’s the thing: I know. I agree. I’m nuts for doing it all again. I never imagined I’d be a person with an actual brood. A person who would have to use the plural when talking about their offspring. And I know I’m dull now. But forgive me, because I’ll be back at the bar with a glass of Shiraz in about a year and will be able to hold a conversation about something other than indigestion and due dates. I promise. Because I did last time around. In the meantime, this thing is bigger than me, wider and more cumbersome than the bump itself and to not let it completely overtake me would be an insult to it.
3. Electrical appliances can f*ck off
This one is likely to be very specific to me and me alone. But here’s what I mean: If that washing machine beeps at me one more time I’m going to unplug it and strangle it with its own electrical cord. And not even metaphorically speaking. My patience during the second pregnancy is wearing as thin as the elbows in Grady Tripp’s dressing gown (I had to crowbar a literary reference in here somewhere). There is a toddler in the house now. I love him. Would stretch myself across a burning volcano for him. But gosh, he’s hard work. Because, like Frances Houseman, I’m carrying a watermelon (and a Dirty Dancing reference, naturally). I can barely reach my own socks and my son throws a hissy fit if I fail to jump off the bottom step of the staircase in a particular way each morning. And so when my effing washing machine chips in, when my microwave bleeps every ten seconds to tell me its finished, when my hoover gets trapped on the threshold and tips over, or my modem decides to crash, I throw a strop. A violent, anthropomorphic strop. And don’t get me started on the cat. Or, that treadling bitch, as I lovingly described her earlier today. In these circumstances, electrical appliances are designed to take the fall. There’s a statistic about the number of mobile phones broken during the third trimester from women throwing them across the room. It’s a statistic I made up but it’s none the less true.
4. You know what’s coming.
Yes, you remember labour. Yes, you remember the hysterical insomnia and the pain of let down, and the never-ending nappies and the desperate need for gin. But the difference is that this time around, you know. You know that this little person will grow, and amaze and entertain and challenge you every day and all those gushingly cloying things you read about children – the ones you snorted at with derision in the past – are true. It’s not always fun. But it’s life changing and forever and it’s coming. And somehow that makes it very exciting and much more terrifying second time around.
5. You feel invincible.
If you don’t remember this one then try to. Write it on a post it and stick it on your mirror, or something. In this weekend’s Observer interview with singer Adele, she described how she felt after the birth of her son as ‘invincible.’ And actually, it’s a useful thing to take away. Because you’re going to need it. Because you are invincible. You have survived so much. So okay, people do it every day and bloody hell, stop banging on about it. But when you’ve squeezed something out of you like that, or laid on an operating table, or however it is you brought your first child into the world, you deserve to feel invincible. Allow yourself it. Don’t bang on to anyone else about it apart from yourself. Bore yourself with how invincible you are. Remind yourself on a daily basis. Because some days you feel utterly un-vincible. You panic that you’re not fit to choose your own email password, let alone this. But you are. And yes, it’s only pregnancy, and it’s only parenthood. But it’s your pregnancy and your parenthood and that’s what’s important. To quote Bob Mortimer’s twitter account, This is my life. This is my song.