The Hoped For, Yet Unexpected Second Baby

We trudged down a long, rugged road to conceive our son, and while future children were always in our hearts and hopes, we had anticipated a similarly turbulent course to further expanding our fam.  That disheartening path of our family-building past has undoubtedly shaped my parenting ethic and has emboldened my aspiration to be an attached, gentle mama. One specific element of my personal parenting ethic–breastfeeding–grew to become a profound and potent combination of attachment and empowerment.  Becoming a mama was such a long-held dream, and breastfeeding had become so meaningful; I made these things–dwelling in my blissfully realized motherhood and nurturing my nursing relationship with my son–my priorities.

When discussions about adding to our brood would crop up between me and my husband, these conversations were always left open-ended. I wondered about child spacing. Worried that we’d get lost on that too-familiar, dark and long path again, I wondered if it’d be prudent to wean my son altogether in order to get a jump-start on trying for another baby. In the end, I found peace in focusing my energy and attention on the relationship with the child I was already so fortunate to have. (Zero judgement towards anyone who has decided differently. That is some seriously heart-wringing stuff, and I have the utmost respect for people who have to contend with making that decision.)

Life, as it tends to do so masterfully sometimes, demonstrated disregard for our difficult decision to table growing our family. My period returned on its own at 14 months postpartum, and after three postpartum cycles, I discovered I was pregnant. It was a surprise that spun my head and world around, one that filled me with a jaw-dropping, Niagra-sized waterfall of disbelief, awe and question.

I was saturated in competing emotions: joy and trepidation; peace and anxiety; gratitude and ambivalence. I suppose these confusing feelings are par for the course when life grants a hope you long ago released. As I now trek into the 17th week of this pregnancy, that deluge of conflicting emotions has evaporated, leaving only faint water marks in its wake–now nearly invisible reminders of how stunned we were by this deeply wanted, yet entirely unexpected bit of fruit in my ute.   

In so many ways–from conception to morning sickness to support system–this  pregnancy has been strikingly different from my last. Though I’ve experienced pregnancy and childbirth before, I feel like I’m learning entirely new lessons this time. It’s exciting. And humbling. 

If you’ll join me, I hope to take you along for this journey. This pregnancy has already thrust us into big changes–my toddler is now fully night-weaned (I will share that story soon). I’m currently navigating the decision about where to birth this bundle of bebe, preparing emotionally and physically for a new bambino, and hoping to learn what attached, natural, gentle parenting looks like when you’ve got two to snuggle and wrangle. I hope that we can trade insights…

How about you? Did a struggle to conceive/sustain a pregnancy influence your parenting ethic? Have you ever debated altering your attachment tools in order to grow your family? Ever had your world rocked by a pregnancy–first, second or otherwise? How did you manage these experiences?

Rhianna blogs from her adopted hometown of St. Louis. She gives thanks to the Goddess of Elastic-banded Pants for her roundly unattractive, but so, so comfortable apparel.  Now if only the Goddess of Morning Sickness would heed her pukey pleas…

22 thoughts on “The Hoped For, Yet Unexpected Second Baby

  1. I also worry about being attached to two (although #2 is still in the planning stages here). I’m looking forward to sharing your insights as you blaze the trail yet again. And I’m still super jealous (in a good way) of your surprise pregnancy! To have a baby gifted from the universe, rather than scratched from the Ether tooth-and-nail, well… it sounds wonderful. Maybe it’s best to experience both kinds of conception, as you have done. One definitely really, really appreciates a baby that was worked so hard for. But the whole Universe-gift thing, well, it kinda sucks to miss out on that! 🙂

    1. Hey, Lesley! It’s so strange–already I feel like I give this baby less attention. With Arlo, I navel-gazed (literally) my way through pregnancy. And now? Well, let’s just say that a certain boundlessly energetic toddler keeps me very occupied, with little time for daydreaming. It makes me very nervously curious about what the future will look like… Still, you’re right, it has been wonderful. Still unbelievable and surreal, but wonderful. I’m so glad you stopped by to say hello!

    1. Thanks, Sarah! I’m a little anxious myself to see how this story unfolds. Sending good thoughts out to you as you prepare for your second little one!

  2. I’m really looking forward to hearing more about your journey with two little ones. I have days where I feel 100% ready to have a second one, while other days I realize I am not ready yet. I also struggled with some hormonal issues, but thankfully, they have passed. I just had my first post-partum period, an occasion that was wholeheartedly worth celebrating, in my book. Now that my body is physically ready, I’m waiting for my mind and heart to catch up.
    A (wise) friend of mine, with two little ones of her own, told me to listen to my heart, and when I wish for a baby everyday for weeks on end, it’s probably time. For now, I’ll enjoy hearing your stories and wait for the right time to unfold.

    1. You know, I can go from “Dude, I got this. It’s going to be awesome!” to “OHMYGAWD, it’s going to be INSANE! I am going to shrivel up into the most exhausted and impatient version of myself!” in mere minutes. And then back again. Goodness.

      I think your friend’s perspective is solid, too. If parenting has taught us anything at this point, it’s to listen and trust what your heart tells you. I think it will be bright and clear to you when the time is right for you guys to add to the pack.

  3. every mother I know wonders how she can love a second child as much as she loves the first. Then the darling is born and that thought never crosses her mind again. I also had a surprise second pregnancy after a workup for the first. it was not as difficult a path as yours, but was still hard enough. The beautiful baby girl that God blessed us with, is still a joy in our hearts.

    1. Thanks for the encouraging perspective, Judi! I often remind myself that I had no clue how deep and enveloping my love would be for my son before he made his way into our family; I remind myself that I just can’t begin to imagine–at this point–just how much that bigger love can get with two, and that I’ll be just as bowled over by the breadth of it. Thanks for reading and saying hello!

  4. Congratulations! Surprise pregnancies are so exciting!! Our first was a surprise, and then when she was 2 years old I had a miscarriage at 6.5 weeks. Then we easily conceived again when she was 3 and her brother came along, healthy as can be. When he was 4, and again when he was 6, I miscarried in the first trimester…again. Last Sept I gave birth to another boy ( a surprise, for we had stopped TTC) and I have a profound appreciation for him. I think both having to WORK so hard (when conception is a problem), and also when loss is a pattern, you can’t help but become different than most mothers. Not to say there is anything wrong with how a “regular” mother would feel (heck-I was one of those and I adore my daughter!) but there IS a difference. We are praying that the Lord blesses us with another. We have just stopped using birth control, but I am still breastfeeding our littlest (I have had reg periods since he was 3 months old, though). Fingers crossed!

    1. Hi, Valerie! I have often said the very same thing–the journey to my son has clearly deepened the sense of appreciation I have for motherhood. Which, you know, isn’t to say that others with different journeys don’t feel that some kind of gratitude, of course. But there is no doubt in my mind that it colors who I am as a mother. I’m sorry to hear about your losses. I’m not a “everything happens for a reason” kind of gal, but I do believe, now that my son is a part of my life, that all the crap we went through before him became very meaningful. If not for all of it, I wouldn’t have this exact awesome little creature in my life. Hoping good things for you, Mama.

  5. Your story rings so true with me. We struggled for years and sought fertility treatment with our first (now 2 years old). We were totally surprised by becoming pregnant with our second which turns out, are now 3 month old identical twin girls. How’s that for one of life’s curve balls. It took me (and us) a long time to get our heads around that one. We are so overwhelmed but so appreciative of our babies. This second pregnancy, birth, attachment parenting experience has been totally different and if there’s one thing it’s all taught me, it’s to relinquish control and take it as it comes (still a struggle for me most days). An incredible journey.

    1. This is some serious food for thought for me, Sarah: relinquish control and take it as it comes. There are days I feel quite capable of this, and then, well, you know, there are the other days. Hah. Isn’t this second surprise pregnancy thing just…bewildering? Good, exciting, relieving, spectacular…but yeah, bewildering. I am thankful for the company of other mamas who get it. 🙂

  6. This is a story that I can relate to in the most literal sense. I struggled to achieve, and then maintain pregnancies before finally having my son. At 11 months, while breastfeeding, I was surprised with a second pregnancy. I *knew* I wanted a second child someday, but not this soon. It has been a tremendous shock, not only to my mothering and our family dynamic, but to my identity and relationship with my body. I vacillate wildly between panic and elation…and forgetting. Being so busy with my toddler that I have to consciously remember the fetus I am also nourishing. And this nourishment has led to the end of my breastfeeding relationship with my son long before I was ready. It has been a a whirlwind.

    In my moments of panic, I try to remember that though it is earlier than we thought, this second baby is everything we always hoped for: a healthy, surprise, miracle, intervention-free pregnancy. It is an oasis after trudging down a long, long road to family. And also, a downpour. Either way, water is water. 🙂

  7. This line of yours has brought ME some peace this morning, “I found peace in focusing my energy and attention on the relationship with the child I was already so fortunate to have.” I am continuously waffling between weaning my 14.5-month-old to begin trying for a sibling (still no period due to PCOS) and giving her (us) another couple months of breastfeeding. Sometimes I feel selfish for even thinking about weaning her before she is ready. And other times I feel foolish to be putting off something that very well may take much longer than I anticipate. It seems as if there is no winning. But for now, when I am leaning towards giving us that extra month or two, this post of yours has calmed my nerves. Thanks.

  8. You are totally welcome, friend. It wasn’t an easy peace to arrive at, if I’m honest. But one day I decided, “I am not going to focus on the ‘what if’; I am going to focus on the ‘what’s now.’ And it was liberating. It’s trite, but true: there is no one right answer, only the answer that’s right for you. Whatever feels right is right…

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