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Pregnancy is different second time around

It's an immutable law of nature that when you get a group of pregnant women together, the conversation will quickly turn to nothing but morning sickness woes, delivery horror stories and way-too-detailed discussions of body parts.

I was reminded of this pregnancy law at a "Baby Bump Brunch" this weekend for a group of my friends who are all pregnant at the same time. Some of us are pregnant with our second, some are working on their third and most are going through the ups and downs of pregnancy for the first time.

As we sat and talked about our leg cramps, contractions and hormonal mood swings, I noticed just how different the attitude of those on their first pregnancy was versus those who had already been through the miracle and roller coaster of giving birth.

First, all of the first-timers were wearing maternity clothes, even if they were not even close to showing yet. I, however, was squeezed tight into my pre-maternity clothes because I am not about to step into maternity wear one second before I have to.

But on my first child, I was all too eager to start showing and start wearing maternity clothes. I was pregnant and I wanted the world to know it immediately! I thought my maternity clothes were adorable and I thought I was adorable, too.

Ah, to be so naive again. This time around, I'm perfectly happy putting off those maternity clothes as long as I can because I know now that in nine months I will hate the sight of them. I will hate having only three shirts to choose from that each have a food stain directly in the middle of the belly.

I also now know that I was not as adorable as I thought I was. I remember taking a picture in the driveway before heading to the hospital and thinking I really looked pretty good for being nine months pregnant.

I now shudder when I see that picture. Seriously, why did my friends let me walk around in public like that? My face is about as round as a moon and my ankles probably chafed each other as I waddled amid normal women.

The second thing I noticed about the first-time moms is that they talked about their upcoming delivery day as if they have any control over what happens. They discussed birth plans, whether they want parents in the room or if they are OK having a C-section.

I, too, had such a plan on my first child. And what I learned about two hours into labor and delivery is that plans are great, but they get thrown out the window pretty darn quick. In the end, there are two people calling the shots: the doctor and the baby.

Well, unless you're me and then your mother is also calling a few shots like when I agreed to let her in the delivery room as long as she stayed in a specific spot and didn't get in the way. That lasted all of 2 seconds. I vaguely recall a moment when my mom was actually holding up my leg while I pushed and I said something like, "Hey, you're out of your corner."

And the final attitude difference I noticed between the first and second-time moms is that the first-timers envisioned delivery day as the day when everything gets easy again. The back pain goes away, the 30-point turns to switch sides in bed and the fatigue all fade away after that baby comes out. Moms can breathe easy and slip into a fantasy land of maternal bliss. Right?

Wrong. Oh so wrong. I can't tell you how many times during the first few postpartum days that I wondered if there was any practical way to just shove that baby back into my uterus. Trust me, moms-to-be, those little babes are a lot easier to take care of when they are inside.

And although the sheen of pregnancy might not be as glossy the second time around as moms get a little wiser, we still choose to do it again. We knowingly embark on a journey of maternity wear, sleepless nights and delivery nightmares because we know those aren't the memories that last.

Those aren't the memories that adorn the pages of a ridiculous number of scrapbooks or fill the pages of our pregnancy journals.

Sure, the obstacles of pregnancy will come screaming back to our memory the second we see those two pink lines on the next pregnancy test. But even then, we will smile because we know that every stretch mark and every horror story is worth it, and we'd give anything to go through it all again.