This pregnancy is different in almost every way from my pregnancy with Ruby. The main way, of course, is that I am not pregnant just weeks after a second-trimester loss, when I was still reeling with grief and fear, as I was with Ruby.
Then, too, I have many fewer complications: With Ruby, I was diagnosed as hypothyroid and anemic, and she had three different Down syndrome markers. This time, thankfully, none of those applies.
I think the biggest difference, though, is that I now have Ruby to occupy my time; when I was pregnant with her, I spent my free time Googling every possible bad outcome, reading blogs about stillbirth (PSA: Don’t do this), obsessively counting Ruby’s kicks and having periodic hormonal meltdowns. This time around, I am still given to occasional bouts of compulsive Googling, but otherwise, my so-called “free time” is spent watching My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, coloring pictures of puppies and princesses, helping Ruby with her homework, attending PTA meetings and pretending to be a mountain goat at the petting zoo. I am feeling much more even-keeled emotionally, but even if I weren’t, I don’t have the luxury of a huge meltdown because I have to stay calm for Ruby.
In the beginning of the pregnancy, when I wasn’t showing and I couldn’t feel the baby moving, I could go whole days not really remembering I was pregnant. I mean, I knew in the back of my mind that there was a reason I wasn’t having a glass of wine with my dinner and that I was throwing up every time I brushed my teeth, but it wasn’t really front-and-center in my consciousness. When I was about eight weeks along, I ate an entire Greek salad before realizing that it was covered in potentially hazardous feta. I simply just straight-up forgot that I was pregnant.
Now that I’m in the third trimester, though, strangers are asking me when I’m due, and the baby is wiggling and head-butting and kicking all day and all night. And suddenly, it’s hitting me that there is an actual person coming at the end of this. And I feel completely unprepared.
It’s not just that I no longer have any of Ruby’s baby things, besides a few outfits that I kept for sentimental reasons. It’s true that I am basically rebuilding a nursery (I gave almost everything away to a coworker when I moved from Missouri), but I have the benefit of prior experience to know what I need to get this time around – swing, yes; wipes warmer, no – and I already went through the nursing-and-pumping combination, so I am not overly worried this time around that if I don’t buy the exact right bottles, the baby will get nipple confusion and starve to death. I already know, too, that I want to cloth diaper again and what brand and style I like. I already know what daycare I will use. I already understand the pros and cons of a travel system versus a convertible car seat.
What I am worried about is the idea, basically, of starting from scratch. Ruby is pretty independent now. She is potty-trained and can dress herself. She sleeps through the night (mostly). Best of all, she can tell me when she wants something or when something is wrong rather than just screaming incoherently for hours every night. I have friends who built their families quickly, with three kids under 3, and I thought they were crazy at the time. Now I can definitely see their logic; you just get the whole thing over with in a kind of blur of pain, and when you finally get a chance to look up from the craziness and the crying and the spit-up and the diapers – voilà, you have a whole family of functional little kids!
Don’t get me wrong; I cherish the years I had to devote solely to Ruby, and I am looking forward to bringing this baby home more than I can even express. I am just feeling a little scared at the idea of having a newborn again.
Has anyone successfully navigated an age gap like this? Words of wisdom would be appreciated.