Preparing for Baby No. 2, Part 1

We only have a few weeks left before this baby arrives, and the closer I get to my due date, the harder it is to concentrate on anything non-baby-related. Some things are starting to feel urgent – like making sure our hospital bags are packed! – but I’m also trying to make a conscious effort to slow things down and prepare for my eventual maternity leave, including gathering some awesome guest bloggers to help fill in here while I’m away! Today I thought I’d share some of the things weighing on my mind as we prepare to welcome a new family member – and share a few photos from a trip to a little beach along the Potomac River last weekend.

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This won’t be news to any of you more experienced mamas out there, but second pregnancies are a funny thing. Yes, there’s all the physical stuff that I’d heard about ahead of time – feeling tired all the time thanks to your rambunctious toddler, showing earlier, etc. – but, at least for me, I’ve been surprised to find that this pregnancy feels just as surreal this time around as it did when I was pregnant with Sophie. Perhaps it’s because our lives are already so full with Sophie, but it has been difficult to wrap my head around the fact that there is going to be another (brand new!) tiny human living with us. Which seems ironic since we know exactly what’s headed our way in just a few short weeks, but it still just feels kind of abstract.

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But having been through the experience once before already, I’m less focused on some of the things from my first pregnancy – like making sure we have all the necessary baby gear and signing up for birth classes – but I have more specific concerns this time around.

So here’s what we’ve done so far: switched from our previous OB to a midwife practice, hired our doula, and started both weekly chiropractor appointments and weekly acupuncture appointments. The decision to switch to the midwife practice was really easy; we’ll still be able to deliver at our preferred hospital, but without a million interns, residents, and attending physicians coming in to poke at me every hour or so while I’m in labor. The weekly chiropractor and acupuncture appointments were actually both recommendations of our midwives.

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I love this photo for so many reasons – but you can tell from Sophie’s expression that she was not thrilled to be near the water. My sweet girl is definitely proving not to be a water baby so far!

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At this point during my pregnancy with Sophie, I was diagnosed with a condition called cholestasis – a rare late term pregnancy complication that affects the liver and gallbladder. Last time, cholestasis came as a complete shock: I don’t fall into either of the ethnic groups for which the condition is most common, and to my knowledge there is no history of cholestasis in my family. But my liver levels skyrocketed and our OB was concerned about the risk of liver failure or stillbirth – so I had to be induced for labor at 37 weeks. That experience was really tough on both me and Sophie (more on that coming in a separate post soon), so this time around I’m doing everything I can to avoid a repeat experience, from acupuncture to diet changes. Cholestasis carries a recurrence rate of 45-75%, so fingers crossed that these things do the trick.

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Aside from cholestasis, my biggest concerns revolve around Sophie: making sure we have a plan for her when we’re in the hospital, carving out special time for her after the new baby arrives, etc. Caring for Sophie while we’re at the hospital and the first couple of weeks postpartum is probably my biggest concern right now. We don’t have a lot of family near by, and since we don’t know exactly when the baby will arrive (especially since I wasn’t able to go into labor naturally the last time around) it has been difficult to make plans for grandparents to come down and help. This has been a big source of anxiety for me. The grandparents are all willing to come down and help, which is great, but we’ll need to have short term plans for Sophie during labor and until family can get here – and we’re still not quite sure how to handle all of that.

So… more experienced mamas out there – how did you care for your older children during labor (especially if you don’t have family close by)? Any advice or tips to share? I’m all ears!!

All photos by me from my Canon DSLR

  1. I love these photos! Once baby #2 comes you won’t even be able to imagine life with just one! Luckily my parents are close by and were able to stay with my older daughter while we were in the hospital. I was very surprised at how quickly I felt normal after labor compared to the first time. Coming home to a toddler, you have to get back into the swing of things very quickly. Best of luck with your growing family!

  2. I’m almost 38 weeks with my second. I too am worried about care for our daughter, Ever. My family is 5 hours away and the only grandparent around from my husbands side is his dad. We have a list of friends to call but again, I’ve never experienced natural birth. I was induced at 36 weeks because Ever stopped growing (she also had a serious heart condition). So we knew when we were headed in. I’m so excited and nervous at the same time. One thing I changed this time around is getting weekly pregnancy massages by a certified massage therapist who is also a licensed doula. I’ve been loving them! Good luck and from all the questions I’ve asked other moms and midwives is you’ll know when your labor starts and you should have some time to call around to family and friends to let them know. I hope that’s true!

    • Thanks Somer! I’m totally with you on the not knowing what to expect – inductions are so different from natural labor! Everyone tells me second babies come much faster, but I have no idea what that means for me! Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly. And BTW – I love your daughter’s name!

  3. I was the friend who came and helped with the two year old when my friends went into labor. I know from my end I was so happy to help and “being on call” was not a problem for me at all. It often feels like when friends have babies or kids they sometimes are hesitant to ask and as the person without kids you feel hesitant to offer and overs step. But once asked you are so happy to help.

    So, I was on call to be ready for their labor, day or night I was ready to head over and call into work. They took their time getting to the hospital and labored for as much time as they could in the comfort of their own home. I headed over when their son was getting to be a bit of a handful and he started to seem to get worried and stressed about him mom even though they tried to prepare him. So, him and I hung out and it was a short labor so a couple hours after the birth the father picked him and brought him to see him mom and new brother. Afterwards he brought him back and I feed the two of them and sent the father back to the hospital. Easy peasy, I think the hardest part is getting over the fear of asking for help. Folks are out there ready and willing they just don’t know what you need or don’t want to overstep.

    • Thanks so much Amy! I always worry I’m asking too much of my friends – especially if they don’t have children of their own. It’s so good to know that people want to be asked! Your friends are so lucky to have you!

  4. How exciting! We didn’t live close to family when our kids were born, either. We did have great friends that were our “family” and we all took care of each other. Like Amy W. said, friends are happy to help. I know I always am – it’s a great feeling when a friends treats you like family!

  5. Oh, I sure can empathize with you right now, on some of this! Albeit this is just my first, so I can’t yet imagine the added worries with 2 babes in the family.
    I’m 32 weeks tomorrow, and in a new town, states away from any family or close friends, and we’re also not super sure when the grandparents should come, since you can’t predict when Baby chooses to appear!

    So while I can’t offer any advice on your specific trouble, I was wondering if you could share some with me. Right now I’m very anxious about delivering at the hospital with my current OB, and very much want to use a midwife instead, but insurance only covers one if delivered in a hospital. How do you get the hospital to let you forgo their doctors and let you use your own midwife in their facilities? I woke up to a bad dream about this whole issue this morning, and am still trying to figure out how to make this work the way I’d like; so it was nice timing today to read that you’ve made it work somehow. Any advice or detailed info on that would be So appreciated! Thanks so much and good luck with all that comes with Baby No. 2!

    • Hi Krystal!

      We’re actually very lucky on the midwife front – there is a midwife practice affiliated with our preferred hospital, so we didn’t have to worry about any bureaucratic red tape with either the hospital or our insurance. The midwife offices are even in the same building as my former OB just a block from the hospital! Have you tried talking to your current OB (or maybe another OB with privileges at your hospital) about finding a midwife to partner with during labor and delivery? Our midwifery practice prides themselves on having a very collaborative relationship with the OBs at the hospital – so if your OB is open minded in the same way perhaps there’s a way to work something out without having to fight the administrative system too much.

      BUT – even if you stay with your current OB, definitely DEFINITELY try to find a doula to hire in your area. We had a doula during my first pregnancy/labor/delivery and she was absolutely invaluable at the hospital, helping run interference with nurses and residents, advocating for us when necessary, and otherwise helping guide us through a difficult (induced) labor. Insurance doesn’t often cover the cost of a doula – but it’s sooooo worth it just for piece of mind, especially the first time around. You can usually find a certified doula in your area through the DONA website, but feel free to email me with any questions! xoxo

  6. I’m not an experienced mom, but when I was 13, our neighbor went into labor early in the morning. My dad went over till he had to leave from work, I played hoodie from school to stay with their toddler till grandma and grandpa showed up. I know it felt special to me to help. I hope you have friends who will be willing to jump in. I find, I, always scared to ask for help but people always want to. Good luck though and congrats!

  7. When I read this it was like you took the words out of my head. My second daughter is just about 6 months now. And my older one just turned 2. So it’s all still pretty fresh in my head! I can relate to it all. That surreal feeling, especially. I remember saying so often in the last few weeks that I couldn’t believe there would soon be another person here! Like you, my family doesn’t live near by. My parents are a 4 hour drive. So I had a line up of friends on call. I had various friends for various times of delivery. My first labor was 6 hours, so I expected the second might be even faster. So if I went into labor in the middle of the night I had my neighbor ready. If it was during the day I had my stay at home mom friend. If it was a weekend I had all my girlfriends at the ready. My parents would plan to drive out as soon as I called and relieve whoever was on duty. However…I dilated early and my doc stripped my membranes, so I asked my parents to come out because we anticipated labor would start soon. Well, a week and a half later she finally arrived. So in my case it worked out that my parents were here. If people offer to help, take them up on it! Even if it’s kind of an inconvenience for them, if they’re true friends they will be happy to help, and if they’re just acquaintances, then you at least got the help you needed! Ha. It’s not like you’ll be bugging them to do it again all the time, it’s a one and done type favor. Soak up these last few weeks with your daughter. I stressed out so much about how life would he with two. And it’s wonderful. It’s so much more natural the second time around with a baby. And although my older had some jealous moments, overall she’s adjusted so well. Girls become such little mommas with a baby around. Best of luck to you! I can’t wait to read how it all goes.

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