Here we go again.

I entered my last trimester for this pregnancy a few weeks ago. It was startling. How am I already two-thirds along with this kid? The advice is not to compare your pregnancies (or children), but it’s hard not to. I think back to when I was pregnant with Beaner. Sometimes I think it was easier – more naps, no toddler, no pandemic or house move or spousal job change – and sometimes I think it was harder: the great unknown of pregnancy, labor, and birth; the fear of doing or eating something wrong; the pressure of having your first child. And there’s a lot I’ve (conveniently) forgotten.

The less glamorous bits of pregnancy are, while hilarious to outsiders (my husband), actually quite hard to empathize with unless you’ve been through a pregnancy before: weighing more than my spouse, sneeze-pees, holding my breath while putting on socks, making a 47-point turn to get out of bed, waddling around with a kicking basketball stuffed up my shirt. And this time, I’ve hit all my milestones early – my ballooning baby bump, early weight gain, the exhaustion and mood swings and heartburn, my aching back and ribs, and the ever-more frequent trips to the bathroom when I should be sleeping soundly. I’m convinced forgetting these details is nature’s way of making sure humans procreate.

And, oh… this kid. This kid is not like our first. Not by a long shot. He or she has been active from the moment I saw the black and white squiggle on the ultrasound doing The Worm at my Week 12 check-up. There’s been no nicely-placed head down baby in my uterus this time (Bean was cephalic – textbook fetal position – for half my pregnancy), but instead a ton of hip-tickling and rib-squishing action. And come midnight, it’s party time. Arms, legs, butt, head; everything goes nuts. This kid has been consistently awake at night over the past few weeks. Much like Cinderella, but once that clock strikes twelve, it’s off *to* the ball. It’s hard to describe that weird feeling of having an alien growing inside you, except to say it’s sort of like having ridiculous indigestion and bloaty gas that has a mind of its own. And that feeling never quite goes away.

The pandemic hasn’t helped. My poor husband hasn’t been able to attend a single appointment with me, ultrasound or midwife check-up, and I know it’s frustrating for him. Fortunately, I’ve not received bad news, but still, it’s hard to be supportive when you’re told to wait in the parking lot while your wife puts on a mask and heads into the hospital on her own. Shoot, he hasn’t even had this opportunity – to drive me to any appointment – because of both his work/study schedule and the pandemic. He’ll maybe get the chance next week at my Week 32 scan, but he’ll still be banned from entering the hospital with me. And when I go into labor and finally get to the hospital (here’s hoping I don’t give birth in the car), he’s only allowed to be with me if I’m in active labor. If we lived closer to the hospital instead of nearly an hour away, I’d be seriously tempted to have a home birth this time.

I guess one of the benefits of being pregnant right now is that my nesting instincts are giddily holding hands with my task-master personality, speeding up the millions of things we need to do for this house. We’ve ticked off so many projects – the flooding cellar, the roof, the toilets, the fireplaces, the guest bathtub, the nursery, the shed, the side gate, the handrail, the loft furniture – that I have to remind myself how well we’re doing three months in. But I also have a tendency to add just one more project to that never-ending list (most recent: the dripping hot water tap in the loft bathtub). To be fair, I think the only major projects we have left are the two rotting beams in the cellar (scheduled for January) and figuring out our soft water system. And yes, the money is almost out. Which is cool, because we’re about to add another person to our family.

I feel ready for another child (especially as the nursery is pretty much set up, though it’s still Beaner’s bedroom right now), but I’m also still feeling anxious. How will I cope with two kids (a newborn and a toddler)? How will my husband cope being away most nights from his newborn? How soon will I be able to drive after the birth so I can get my toddler to preschool? Will I have enough downtime to still telework? How am I going to get back into shape? Will breastfeeding be easier? Shoot, will labor and birth be easier? I know these are mostly pointless questions because I won’t know until it happens, and I’m sure we’ll find a way and make it work, but I still think about them.

I’ve set up a solid schedule of help from my mother and my in-laws, and I’m really grateful for their time and effort. I would have soldiered on and made do with just me if I had to, but I’m learning to ask for help when I need it. And right now, I really need it. It’s like my husband told me for this birth, “Oh, you’re getting the epidural at four centimeters, honey.” I went through the escalation of pain management last time, ultimately getting an epidural, but he had to live through me screaming one four-letter word starting with “f” for eleven hours straight in the hospital. There’s no reward for being brave for no reason. Get the epidural if you need it; ask for help if you need it.

What I’m saying is that despite all the craziness of 2020 – deployment, pandemic, lockdown, potty-training, new job, house move, election, pregnancy – it’s kind of nice to know life keeps going. And I’m excited to meet this little person and get to know a new personality all over again. Except, I would appreciate less jumping on my bladder. Which reminds me, I need the loo.

Oh, how rock star my life is while I incubate another human.

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