It was 5:00 am on Christmas morning. My husband was sleeping, blissfully unaware of the anxiety I was feeling as I laid awake next to him. I had just taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. No, this was not my first pregnancy test rodeo, but seeing that little blue line caused an old, familiar, mild panic to rise up in my body. Reality started sinking in; I was about to experience my fourth pregnancy.
The evening before, Christmas Eve, is when 2 of my siblings joyously announced their pregnancies to our family. Which caused me to pause, re-count the days of my cycle, and realize that my period was a few days late. I remembered that I had an old pregnancy test under my bathroom sink and figured I should take it in the morning. Surely it would be negative. Three weeks before, I had resigned from my job to stay home with our kids for a few years. We knew money was going to be tight with the income adjustment. Surely the stress of my last few weeks at work, plus the busyness of the holidays, had thrown my cycle out of whack. Surely.
But the test was positive. And here we were, about to ride the roller coaster of parenting yet again. As the past eight months have gone by, the anxiety I felt has (mostly) faded and I’ve realized a few distinct differences between my first pregnancy (I’ll call it Mama Version 1.0 just for fun) and my fourth pregnancy (Mama Version 4.0).
As Mama Version 1.0, I had NINE ENTIRE MONTHS to prepare for Baby’s arrival without the daily distractions that come with caring for other little ones. I’d come home from work, wolf down a bowl of Fruity Pebbles or Spaghetti-Os, and pass out on the couch for the rest of the evening. Pretty much all of my thoughts were focused on Baby’s arrival. We had an entire empty bedroom just waiting to become his nursery. We leisurely picked out each and every item that Babies ‘R’ Us told us we would need: the perfect bedding, bottles in 3 different sizes, the wipes-warmer, et cetera.
But those nine months were also filled with vital tasks I’d never done before: setting up the nursery, building Baby’s wardrobe, finding an OB, interviewing pediatricians and childcare providers, and of course, getting mentally prepared for the exciting yet completely overwhelming idea of becoming a parent for the first time. I soaked up everyone’s advice, I read every baby magazine, I pored over baby books.
Now that I’ve evolved to Mama Version 4.0, I’m a different parent than I was with just one child. I now have a bit of experience under my belt. I am seasoned enough not to concern myself with minor things or that which I have no control over. I no longer aim for perfection, plan extensively-themed birthday parties, schedule family pictures every 6 months, or make sure my kids avoid television, sugar, and food dye 100% of the time. Hand-me-downs are like manna from heaven. Heck, I sometimes even forget to pre-wash our fruits and vegetables. (Potential food-borne illness can only make us stronger, right?)
Those concerns are now completely swallowed up by the daily, real-life issues like potty-training my toddler, teaching my daughter to read, coordinating extracurricular activities, and calming my son’s fears after he watched a super-scary video game at his friend’s house. Besides the fact that I feel like I’m carrying around a 25-lb bowling ball in my stomach and I dry-heave every time I brush my teeth, I almost forget I’m even pregnant.
In most ways, the fourth pregnancy has been so much easier. It has basically come down to three actual tasks: 1) picking a name, 2) figuring out where to stick a crib that will be least-disruptive to the other kids, and 3) doing inventory of our existing baby gear and purchasing a few new items. Piece of cake, right? Now, speaking of cake, I need to start planning my son’s upcoming birthday party. Just kidding—there will be no party! His new baby sister will be making an appearance instead!