Welcome back! Here’s more or less what to expect when you’re expecting again. No, it’s not like the first time.
But before you even get to the point of expecting, here’s what you can expect just before you’re expecting again.
Getting pregnant on purpose is work. It’s not like conceiving accidentally during shower sex where lust, alcohol, and marijuana leads you to mistakenly believe you are close enough to the start of your last period to forego the condom.
So to get the job done, first download an ovulation app to keep track your menstruation cycle. You may think you know when you’re about to have your period because your cycle used to be like clockwork. However, the first pregnancy has thrown off your cycle a bit (like it has thrown off everything else in your life from your figure to your sense of identity and self and ego, etc.) So you’ll have to track it to get your new bearings. And that toddler running you ragged will keep you from remembering anything as non-essential to your day as the arrival of your next period.
Then start having sex as early as three to five days before the first possible day of ovulation. You do not need to have sex everyday. Was that a sigh of relief? It sure was. According to Squeezable Companion, sperm count is maximized when the testes are allowed 48 hours to regroup between ejaculations. Also good to know: sperm can live up to a week in your body. So there will be plenty of his little guys still skulking around for the ovum to enter the fallopian tube the day after an insemination session.
And stop calling your baby making sex “insemination sessions.” It’s not sexy. And if you think exhausted-at-the-end-of-the-day-I-don’t-know-if-I-can-do-this sex couldn’t get any un-sexier, it can if you keep calling it “insemination sessions.”
Foreplay helps. Sheeeat, you say. Foreplay? Sometimes you don’t even have time to take a shower in the morning, you say? Who’s got time for foreplay? You do. You do! The post-baby variety looks different from pre-baby kind, but it can seriously whittle the sense of drudgery in baby making sex. Watching SC vacuum the house, for instance, or play with H, say thanks for dinner babe, this is delicious will get you hot. Tell him these things get you hot. Being explicit will get your guy going. Tell SC he looks delicious and slap his scrub covered butt on his way out to work. When he shaves, tell him he looks so young it makes you feel naughty and that you want to have his babies. This will stay on SC’s mind all day and encourage both of you later that night.
So then you get pregnant.
* * *
Nausea and misery.
The first trimester nausea is relentless. From the moment you wake up in the morning to shut eye, you are under siege. It’s like a bad case of motion sickness that never stops.
This didn’t happen with the first one so you are bewildered and then resentful at biology, SC, society, life, the cosmos.
Compounding your misery is insuppressible fatigue. You actually start to nap, which you’ve never done before, not even after the first one came along and you slept only to three hours at a time at night. Now, you look to 1:30 pm, when H goes down for his nap, like a life raft.
You start to wonder why you agreed to do this, making another baby. What are you doing with your life? Who are you? A fetal incubator and baby sitter. Depressing thought. You get philosophical about it as a distraction from the irrational resentment you feel for H and the fetus. What does it means to have an identity, a self?
There seems to you two seemingly contradictory and yet complementary theories at work.
One is that your identity is largely defined by what people reflect back to you. How people talk, look, treat you shapes how you see yourself. Without other people, in other words, you can’t know yourself. Assuming the social construct of identity as true, then spending every hour of your day with a toddler offers a small, warped, greasy fingered mirror that reflects a small, warped, smudged image of you. Life becomes a page in Benjamin Buttons smuggled into your book: you become old and infantile at the same. The bon vivant intellectual, the writer and blogger, the bff, the sexy, funny, karaoke loving, dinner party throwing hostess with the mostess, the cocktail shaker, the traveler, the smoker and toker, wine drinker, the sex-everyday lover–that you fades in memory. Replacing her is a mom and a maid and a wife.
The other theory described best in a blog essay published by The New Yorker on Virginia Woolf’s idea of identity. She believed that people have within them some innerness beyond the reach of others, even yourself. “What interested Woolf was the way that we become aware of that innerness. We come to know it best, she thought, when we’re forced, at moments of exposure, to shield it against the outside world.” So according to Woolf, it’s not society that shapes your identity, but your innerness is discovered in contrast to society.
Your society, of course, is largely made up of a party of one: H. You think how much you love him and wish he would disappear at the same time while curled up in a fetal position in middle of his room, unable to get up because the nausea and fatigue have you pinned to the foam mat while he climbs over you giggling and saying mama, mama. How much of your innerness can you discover with your toddler as its main foil? How much can you shield it for some privacy when you can’t even take a dump without the kid wanting to crawl up your lap while you’re sitting on the toilet, and then insist on watching the loaf spin down into the netherworld of Cambridge sewage system? Innerness seems like those fabulous pair of jeans in your closet that you cannot hope to fit into for another twelve months at the very least, if ever; a figment of your imagination. You remember a line from a Jeremy Irons’ movie: “imagination is our last sanctuary.”
While you obsess over the two ideas of the self–both of which acknowledge it as a function of others, one as a reflection of and other as distinction from, or to put more succinctly in the words of Somni-451 in the star studded film Cloud Atlas, “To be is to be perceived”–you try not to dislike your kid, the toddler. You don’t hate him, you just don’t want to bother with him. He bothers you when all you want is to barf and be done with it.
You write a bitter email to friends with little prompting: “I’ve been hating my life, as in actively despising it for over two months. Granted the nausea doesn’t help, but more to the point, the chronic, endless, relentless illness has brought into very sharp focus my discontent with being a full time homemaker. It is the most thankless, unrewarding, unsatisfying, diurnal job. There are no paychecks for keeping the house clean or career satisfaction from a meal well made. There will be yet another piece of crap to pick up or wipe up or launder or scrub, yet another meal to prepare and wash up after. Nobody, including myself, gives a crap about the inanities of daily life stuff. There is no progress in homemaking. There are no ups or downs or forwards or backward. Inanity is all there is in being a homemaker. A perpetual flat-line of blood sucking boredom. I’m mixing metaphors to emphasize my point.”
And then one day the nausea and fatigue go away like rain at the end of a monsoon.
What to expect when you’re expecting again during your second and third trimester coming next week!