Two babies. Two pregnancies. One woman.
I taped the printed list to the back of the bathroom door just in case it happened in the shower—or if I were brushing my teeth. One front and center on the refrigerator, held strong by magnets asking us to ‘save the date,’ or to ‘call Cindy for all our real estate needs.’ There was also one taped to the mirror in our bedroom, in our hallway, in our family room. In total, I had twelve lists printed with emergency contact numbers in the event I went into labor and could move no more than three feet and needed to reach my husband while he was in the field.
I carried my mobile phone with me everywhere…just in case.
During my first pregnancy, I worried about how I would tell my husband I was in labor, and when I did, would it disrupt his work terribly and cause him problems in the field?
This time around I have one list and two phones, both of which are rarely charged because I spend too much time talking on them during the day.
I’ve mostly memorized the numbers now and know how to contact my husband and politely suggest, through gritted teeth, that he needs to come home immediately and drive me to the hospital because I am not interested in having the baby in the driveway, or worse, on the side of the interstate.
Such lessons are the curriculum of motherhood: Two babies. Two pregnancies. One woman.
Last time I had no idea how I was going to manage a little baby and a spouse whose job required him to be out in the field for weeks at a time.
This time around, I have no fears-either because of mania, arrogance, or through the insight gained when you’ve already had one child and know that life is rarely interested in following the schedules and lists you’ve meticulously crafted.
When I was pregnant with my first daughter, I had no idea what I was looking for in a doctor. And, I regarded medical professionals as a cross between the great and powerful OZ and Dr. Who. Which is to say, I was fearful, didn’t bother to question the doctor to see if we were a good fit personality-wise or care-wise, and was not a great (or even a good) advocate for myself.
This time around, I spent hours researching medical professionals and selected a wonderfully talented doctor that makes me feel comfortable, confident, and more like a peer than a nameless patient. Every visit with her and her equally bright nurse is a treat.
During my first pregnancy, when I received a message that one of my blood tests came back as ambiguous for a fairly benign illness and that I needed to come in for further testing, I ignored logic and spent six hours researching my ex-boyfriends to make sure they were all living and had not been killed off by some bizarre, foreign virus.
When I saw that one ex had married a nurse, I concocted a great story in my head that they met in a medical office where he was undergoing treatment for a rare, communicable disease and he had asked her to marry him on his deathbed. Being a sweet and humble Florence Nightingale, she agreed. (I’d like to blame this on hormones, but I’m not sure that’s giving enough credit to the twisted way my mind can work).
After all this, I called my doctors back and scheduled a follow up appointment. It was a false alarm, but I suffered through not one, not two, but three self-induced panic attacks in the process.
And I may have left some rather strange messages on my ex-boyfriend’s voicemails.
This time around when one test came back suggesting I could perhaps have gestational diabetes, I called them back, cursed myself for eating a hamburger before the test, rolled into the hospital a few days later and joked with the nurses, worked, and watched HGTV on one of the hospital televisions. Thankfully, I was again, fine.
During my first pregnancy, I scoured the Internet for confirmation that every thing I put in my mouth, every product I encountered, every space I visited was probably going to harm my unborn child.
This time around, I haven’t consulted the Internet oracles for anything —except of course, television spoilers and that totally does not count.
Last time I had just left my job and was, for the first time in my adult life, without full time employment. Despite this, I was scared and concerned that I would be overwhelmed. I was.
This time around I am a full time mom and a full time employee and all I can think is, ‘Pshaw, you got this, girl.’ I hope I do.
When I went into labor last time, I had no game plan.
When I go into labor this time, I have a little bit of a game plan: buy new slippers, don’t forget your computer charger, bring your own pillow and when the night nurse comes in at three am, a few hours after you’ve given birth and wants to talk about her upcoming plans to Vegas, it’s OK to tell her that you’re very excited for her but you’d really like to get a little bit of shut eye.
The first time around, there were books and ‘experts’ and talking heads.
This time around there is my voice, my instinct, and the wisdom that one can only hear in the quiet.
I have four weeks to go. Perhaps if my husband and I are blessed with a third (when I am sixty-four years old and have forgotten about the morning sickness and round ligament pain and my middle name) I will look back at this list and realize how much more I’ve learned since the second.
Two is different than one.
Two pregnancies. Two babies. One Woman.
As I head toward the end of this second journey, there is but one comparison that will not vary–I will love my second born daughter as I do my first: all encompassing, overwhelming, and with language that only a mother’s heart can convey in whispers.
Beat. Beat. Beat.
Two pregnancies. Two babies. One mother. And one great, great love.