What am I most excited and scared for this time around?
- feeling/seeing her kick - I just love this part of pregnancy when I (and Michael) can finally feel her kicks on the outside, and even start to see some of the bigger ones. We talk/sing to her and that will usually get her kicking, but I've also noticed she kicks a lot at night when I'm reading bedtime stories to Annalyn (or when Annalyn reads them to us). Hard to imagine that soon I'll have two little ladies sitting on my lap for story time!
- meeting our child - with the first, there's so much wonder about how you and your spouse will mix, what he/she will look like, how their personality will develop. Honestly, the second is no different. Think about your siblings and how different/similar you are. How will this little lady be different?
- seeing Annalyn meet her baby sister - lately, she and I talk a lot about "tummy baby" and what it'll be like after she's born. Annalyn says things like "I want to put her in a stroller" and "I want to dress her up", but I'm not sure she really grasps the whole we're going to have another baby in the house idea. My prediction: she will love her like crazy and be insanely proud when she gets to hold her, but at the same time crazy jealous of the attention baby will get.
- maternity photos - my BFF has once again offered to take my bump pics and I can honestly say I'm just as excited, if not more, than I was with Annalyn. Shawna always works her magic for us, and I can only imagine adding a cute little toddler to the mix will make them even more fun/special. Plus this time, it will be spring when we take them! (last time we took them outside in January!)
- being a family of four - Michael and I have talked a lot about how in a lot of ways, Annalyn didn't change everything for us. We could still go out to eat, over to friends' houses, run errands on a whim and she just tagged along. We were Michael and Ashley, plus a baby. Granted, the older (and more stubborn/independent) she's gotten, this has gotten harder, but still doesn't keep us from doing too much of what we want when we want. I can only imagine that a 2 year old plus a newborn will do the trick. Instead of one little lady tagging along, there will be two. Going out to eat will be a thing of the past. We will definitely have to invite friends to our house more often because going to theirs will be an even bigger imposition. But somehow, despite knowing all this, Emelina already makes us feel more complete. Maybe because we've always imagined having 3-4 kids and she gets us one step closer. Or maybe because, just like with Annalyn, our hearts just expand a whole lot more each time we welcome another member to our family.
- baby wearing - I am admittedly a baby wearing fanatic. I cried when Annalyn got too big for the Moby wrap, and again when she outgrew pouches in general (granted she'd still fit in one that I have, but wants no part of it now that she's on the go). I am beyond excited to dig these old friends out of the closet and use them again. And to be honest, I'm sure I'll need to!
- holding baby while she sleeps - This is one of those things you don't realize you'll miss until you do. Annalyn wouldn't sleep on her own for the first 6-8 weeks of her life, and at the time, I loved/hated it. I never got good sleep propped up in a chair/couch with pillows, but I couldn't bear listening to my newborn cry either. When we finally tackled sleep training, it felt right. Judge all you want, but every new mom is entitled to her own timeline, and for us, 6-8 weeks of sacrificing sleep was worth it. The funny thing about Annalyn was that once we convinced her to sleep alone, she preferred it. It's rare that she'll sleep with us even now, and I secretly cherish those middle of the night wakings where she just falls into my arms and sleeps while I rock her. I can't wait to hold Emelina during naps and any other time she needs some mama love.
- new baby smell - just like puppies, there's something about babies that just smell soooo good. Sure the soaps and lotions don't hurt, but even without them, newborns have that special scent.
- itty bitty everything - teeny tiny clothes, socks, diapers, shoes. Need I say more?
- matching outfits - two little girls, two years apart... yea, it's going to happen. A lot. They can laugh at me for it later... (remember that scotty dog outfit, sis? Girls, just to be clear, Aunt Lindsey bought the first ones - blame her!)
- maternity leave - 12 weeks at home with the family will always be a gift, even if the first few are spent recovering. This one will be extra special because most of it should be when Michael's on summer break. With my vacation policy, we are usually doing good to get one week a year off together, so this will be a really special treat!
- labor/delivery - because even if you've done it once/twice/eight times, it's scary. I honestly had a good experience with Annalyn but I remember stalking her heartbeat monitor and constantly asking for reassurance that she was ok.
- being away from Annalyn - call me crazy, but this will probably be the first time I'm away from her all night. Something about that just bothers me. Like really bothers me. Now, I've let other people put her to bed - I gave in to that some time after her first birthday. But never have I spent a whole night apart from her, let alone a couple, and although I'll be a little busy, I'm pretty sure I'll miss her.
- transitioning Annalyn to a bed - this one won't have to happen right away, but the thought of giving my crazy Peanut free rein to her room is a bit scary in itself. I'm worried it will mess up her stellar sleep schedule and wreck havok on life as we know it (as if another baby won't already, right?). Then again, she keeps surprising me with how grown up she's getting, so maybe it won't be a big deal at all.
- pregnancy paranoia - for whatever reason, pregnancy makes me incredibly paranoid/worrisome. I constantly worry about everything, but especially the safety of my kids/husband/self. Granted all this crazy snow doesn't help, but even without it, I continue to worry. Sometimes to the point of meltdown, others I can talk myself back to a more logical(ish) place.
- support belt and compression socks - ugh. Make that double ugh. I can feel myself getting closer and closer to this point all the time. I honestly don't remember the exact week I started needing these with Annalyn, but first came the support belt around my waist to help with the sciatic nerve issues. Then the compression socks to cut down on the Flintstone feet. Apparently my pregnant self doesn't tolerate 13 hours on my feet so well. Luckily, my blood pressure stayed great in spite of the crazy swelling/pain, so there was never a need for bedrest. In fact, I still had my belt/socks on the night my water broke with Annalyn (also the reason I asked the on-call doctor if I could take a quick shower before coming in since I wasn't having major contractions yet). I dreaded these accessories almost as much as my dear husband who had to get up early every day to help me put the socks on. That's right, the carpal tunnel syndrome (also pregnancy induced) was so bad that I didn't have the dexterity or strength to even put those crazy tight socks on. So definitely not looking forward to the return of those friends...
- breastfeeding - this was a major struggle for Annalyn and me. She never did figure it out well enough, and because she was early and slightly jaundice, she needed to eat so her body could clear the bilirubin. So, I settled for pumping and continuing to try breastfeeding, and after a month and a baby who wasn't gaining weight, decided to make the switch to formula. Honestly, she preferred formula and grew like crazy once we switched. As a pharmacist, I obviously know breast is best, but it just wasn't best for us in that case. Sometimes you just have to feed the baby! The second time around, I'm struggling to decide if I want to try breastfeeding again (probably will at least try in the hospital) or exclusively pump for awhile then make the switch to formula. To be real honest, I hated breastfeeding. It was not natural for us, and I hated how much time I spent struggling to feed her, then trying to pump while someone else fed her a bottle, then dealing with clogged milk ducts and everything else. And since it felt like we always had someone at our house those first couple weeks, I was constantly having to go to a bedroom to feed her/pump, and just felt like I missed out on a lot. I'm hoping round two will be a better experience, but if not, I think I will feel less guilty this time around making what I feel to be the best decision for us.
Seems like a pretty balanced list right? Yet anyone who's experienced parenthood firsthand will tell you it's hands down weighted heavier on the excited side. All the aches, pains, worries, and fears are so worth that first little cry and finding that little piece of yourself you never knew was missing. I am so anxious for Miss Emelina to get here, but in the meantime, I'm trying to remind myself to enjoy the journey, too. Because I remember all too well how quickly pregnancy came and went (especially my favorite cease-fire weeks between the hurling and hurting ones!).
Little Aboo, I am just eating up every second of carry you inside me. I love that you kick all the time. I hope that it doesn't mean you'll be as active as Peanut, but then again, you might need to be to keep up with your crazy big sister. Today at our 24 week appointment, while listening to your heartbeat, you kept "running away" from the Doppler. Just like big sis, the doctor commented on how active you were (though she used to attack it, not run away). We are dying to know what you're like. Perfect, sure, but the details we just can't wait to see! Love you like crazy little one.