Adding a child to your family is a wonderful, exciting event. What a privilege to carry a new life around with you! And it’s great fun to share this enthusiasm with your older child. Recently, my three-year old finally clued in to the fact that we were going to have another baby. He jumped up, turned to his older brothers (who’ve understood this news for months), and exclaimed, “Guys! There’s a baby in Mama’s tummy!” The thrill on his face was just priceless.
While it is a joyful time for a family expecting a new little one, the gestation period can be exhausting for you as the mom. You want to be your best for everyone in your family, those you can see and talk to as well as the little one you haven’t yet met. However, it’s different the second or third (or sixth!) time around. You can’t just take a nap whenever you want. If you feel like indulging exotic food cravings by eating pickles and tortillas for dinner, that’s fine. But, you still have to make sure the rest of your family have their needs met – and something decent and healthy to eat.
It’s a great balancing act to manage pregnancy symptoms while caring for your family and attending to household and work responsibilities. The following are some easily-applied suggestions to help you manage these areas gracefully You will find that during normal pregnancy conditions, a little planning and organization will make the nine months a little easier and more enjoyable for everyone.
Store up provisions. As soon as you see that second little line appear on the testing stick, run, don’t walk, to stock your pantry, fridge and freezer with healthy, yet simple meal fixings. Nausea will hit in a few weeks or even a few days, so be prepared. If cooking is your thing, spend a few hours in a bulk-cooking session and prepare lasagnas, casseroles, stews, and soups for storage in the freezer.
Request transportation assistance. Cars, commute times and congestion can contribute to stress on your mind and body. If you have school, sports, or church events to drive to, enlist as much help as you can. Coordinate your schedule with your husband’s and the grandparents’ calendars so that you see as little drive time as possible. Investigate the possibility of carpooling with another family.
Don’t forget to say NO. This is a season when it’s okay to limit outside activities. Inevitably, the PTA or team mom will ask you to bring snacks or volunteer for some project. Be bold and resist the urge to say yes. Your body is already undertaking an extremely important task. Politely decline and offer to participate more in a few months when you will have more energy.
Maintain routines. As much as you can, try to keep the regular workings of your household consistent. Observe regular bedtimes and weekend rituals. It may be difficult as you fight morning sickness and the other aches and pains that accompany pregnancy, but do your best to keep things on an even keel. This provides a sense of security for your child and helps her get ready for welcoming a new little one to the family.
Get plenty of shut-eye. If you remember your first pregnancy, you know that this is a time when your body is using lots of energy and needs abundant rest. Plan your day so that you can take a nap at some point. If your older child still naps, commit to snoozing when he does, rather than trying to “get something done.” A little rest in the afternoon will see you through the evening hours.
Make date nights a priority. It might be difficult to remember the last newborn phase, but alone time with your sweetie may be compromised once this little one arrives. Set aside time each week to enjoy one another and just be “a couple.” It doesn’t need to be a fancy or expensive night on the town. Your relationship’s growth and success is key to the happiness of your family as a whole.
Enjoy the journey with your older child. Your family will feel and function differently on the other side of birth. Some have said adding a second child can change the family dynamics more than the first. Make the most of this season as your family exists today. Take the time to sit and read books with your little one or hop in the car for an impromptu run to the park. You may be curbing your activity once again in the postpartum season, so once the nausea and fatigue dissipate, get out and about with your child.
Increasing your family size is a thrilling time as you dream of what new little personality will be joining you. Plan and adjust, as you are able. You will not only survive this pregnancy, but you – and your family – can thrive!
Jessica Fisher is a wife, mother of six and a freelance writer. She regularly writes about family, frugality and the pursuit of a clean house at www.lifeasmom.com.