So, I’ve done the brief introduction.
You now know (if you’ve read it!) how I was widowed, and that I’m now expecting a baby with my 2nd husband….
(To be honest, every time I write or say “2nd husband” or “current husband” or “new husband” it makes me feel like I’m a 50-something with a lot more hairspray than is fire-safe, a smoking habit and a large glass of Pinot Grigio in my hand…none of those things are currently true!)
Mostly I want to use this space to chat about the idiosyncrasies of being widowed, remarried and pregnant, and about some of the things that are the same no matter what circumstances you find yourself pregnant in. To begin, here are some things I’m currently thinking about:
- It feels like about a million years ago that I was pregnant with Ethan. It was only back in 2011, but I have changed, the world has changed, and – obviously – the man I’m having the baby with has changed. All of these things add to the feeling of not-quite-de-ja-vu that I’m periodically having. There is also the added weirdness of having to remember that, although I’ve done all this before, he hasn’t and also has a say/opinion on various things. It’s very easy just to run with it and be a bit blasé.
- My children will have different surnames, may look very different to each other, and have quite a large age gap. To be honest, I’m not sure how much of a problem this will be in real life. We’ll have birth certificates and marriage certificates, and death certificates (something I may as well just laminate and put in my wallet it gets asked for so often). But I hate the idea of anything that may make Ethan feel different.
- Nick and I have been very careful, ever since the idea of a baby was mentioned, to ensure Ethan is as involved as possible. We talk about “our baby”, or “your brother/sister”. We have been a tight family unit for 4 years and we have no intention of that changing. We’re a team, and we’ll stay a team – just a slightly bigger one. We don’t want him to feel different, or shut out. We made the decision to tell Ethan I was pregnant in week 6. Partly because we are truly rubbish at keeping secrets and didn’t want to have to stop talking about baby stuff when he was in the room. But partly because I didn’t want him to freak out. In the last 4 months of his life Ethan’s Dad was sick a lot, tired and spent a lot of time in bed. Even though Ethan was small that was a scary time for him. I didn’t want him to think something was terribly wrong with me and have him worry that I was going to die like Daddy. Some people frowned at this, or told us it was a bit risky. One person even said “Oh well, fingers crossed!” as if something would obviously go wrong and we were being irresponsible. Well Ethan is a very logical and scientific chap. And the way to stop him freaking out about things is to explain them to him clearly. It’s what I did when his dad died, and it’s how we’ve worked ever since. If anything goes wrong then the 2 of us will explain it calmly and sensibly. And, as a team, we’ll move forward from that. As it happens, Ethan went into school the next day and told his entire class that we were having a baby…they got no work done for the rest of the day and everyone was ridiculously excited at pick-up! The whole year now calls the baby “the hatchling” like us, and I have to give regular updates to 7 year olds on how big it is this week! I’m also pretty sure I’ve sped up a few birds and bees conversations in various households…..oops!
- I am older (obviously) than I was during my last pregnancy. They seem to have moved the “geriatric mother” cut off to 40, so I don’t quite reach it! But I’m definitely more affected by symptoms, and I’m more exhausted than I remember being. Keeping fit for the last 10 years will help, but I’m fully expecting the third trimester in particular to be more of a strain. I also had a pretty terrible birth experience with Ethan. This time round I’ve been very clear that I’m having an elective c-section. I’m aware that recovery will be tough, more so as I’m 8 years older.
- I have an actual child to look after whilst cooking this one! I worked up until week 37 of my 1st pregnancy, so it’s not as if I could keep my feet up. But when I got home I could relax, and weekends could involved lie-ins and long baths. I could have afternoon naps and when I felt sick as a dog (pretty much all day from week 7-14) I didn’t have make sure anyone else had tea/entertainment/clean clothes/been washed in the last 48 hours. Being responsible for a 7 year old whilst dealing with, again, terrible all day sickness (I’m not calling it morning sickness. That’s a lie. So there.) is not as difficult as dealing with a toddler or pre-schooler, I realise. But Ethan is still quite demanding. And I’ve struggled through more Minecraft games than I can count whilst trying not to be sick over my phone. Cooking hopefully nutritious meals for him whilst only wanting to eat crackers and cheese is also tricky.
- There are times when it feels odd. Mark and I were trying for a 2nd baby when he got his diagnosis. It had taken about 2 and 1/2 years for both of us to get over the trauma of Ethan’s birth and contemplate the idea of doing it again. My father had recently passed away and the experience had made me value my siblings and our shared experiences even more. I wanted Ethan to have that, ironically in case anything happened to Mark or I when he was older. I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like to go through a 2nd pregnancy with him. And occasionally I do feel as if it should be him – as if I’m betraying him somehow – erasing the past and having a do-over. It is an odd mental space to inhabit – being deliriously happy about something new going on in my life – dating, falling in love, getting engaged, getting married, expecting a baby – whilst also grieving for a future that never was with a man who I will never stop loving… It takes a very secure person not to be jealous, and I am very grateful that Nick is that kind of person.
So, those are my initial thoughts. It’s still early days (currently 11 weeks and 5 days, actually), so who knows where my introspective, anxious brain will lead me from here!