This past December we learned we were expecting Baby #2. The excitement was unreal — I had been carrying around a deep-seeded fear that it wasn’t going to happen for us again so the thought of my son becoming a big brother shot me to the moon. And then, just as quickly as I found myself floating in the clouds, the reality of pregnancy hit me with a true punch to the gut. Appropriately enough, the onset of my nausea, vomiting and extreme fatigue aligned perfectly with the uprising of some new thorny demons in the life of my two-and-a-half-year-old. Someone was ready to take toddlerhood to a whole new level, and Mommy’s head in the toilet bowl wasn’t going to stand in the way.

Being pregnant while parenting a toddler with an endless supply of energy and obstinacy is no joke. Here are some of my favorite experiences so far:

Potty training. What better time to be constantly discussing and monitoring the bodily functions of a tiny human when you can barely control your own?

Playtime. Nothing twists my mother’s soul more than hearing my son ask to play with me multiple times a day. Yes, I want nothing more than to feel like I can chase you around the house following the strangely cute storylines you create with your vibrant, tireless imagination. Unfortunately, Mommy can barely lift her head off the couch. She probably just got home from work and is exhausted from trying not to puke in the one shared bathroom all day. All Mommy can play for the foreseeable future is dead.

Personal space. The rough-and-tumble nature of toddler boys has been illuminated for me over the past seven months. Don’t get me wrong — I love hugs and snuggles from my son more than anything, but elbows and headbutts to the tummy are a different story. (How do we give Mommy hugs? With a running start and a head to the uterus? Sure, why not.) Although mostly unintentional, these erratic bumps and jabs can really make a lady start to feel like a worn out punching bag, battered and bruised with half love and half iron toddler will.

Meals. I used to prepare perfectly portioned three-course breakfasts for my son, even on workdays. After the nausea monster hit, it quickly shifted to whatever I could pour into a snack cup. Cheerios? Old standby. Sliced apple with animal crackers? That’ll work. Cold toaster waffle? Gross, but okay. Even now that the nausea has calmed down, I still find myself falling back on the trusty snack cup on especially harried work mornings. Never would I have imagined feeling like “Mom of the Year” when pulling out the waffle iron and whipping up some batter from a box.

Discipline. This is by far the most exhausting part of the whole deal. Our little monkeys need boundaries and consistency is crucial during such formative years. Throughout this entire pregnancy it has been a daily temptation of mine to let my son off easy when it comes to things like manners, picking up toys and bedtime. With a fetus simultaneously pushing up on my lungs and down on my bladder, I only have so much patience (and oxygen) to expend. Throw in some additional hormonally-driven emotions and suddenly I feel like a cantankerous old woman who should be sitting in a worn-out rocker shouting at the TV during “The Price is Right” instead of playing wife and mother to my beautiful family. Consistent parenting is challenging, especially when all you want to do is Netflix and sleep.

Heat. The dog days of summer are here, I can’t reach my toes, and hunger and heartburn are in a never-ending battle for my attention, along with my son who can now sense that change is coming. My full-time work schedule doesn’t allow me the luxury of slapping on my sweet one-piecer and splashing in the pool all day. Instead, allow me to slip into something less comfortable and plod off to work while the morning sun roasts me from the inside out, leaving my well-meaning child pleading for me through the doggy door as I drive away. Being in your third trimester during the summer is tough — having 40 pounds of love hanging off you and (almost) the same amount added to your innards is a real treat. If you see me around town and want to comment on any sort of glow, please know that I am sweating profusely and have been since May. (I’m also experimenting with non-aluminum deodorant, so sorry.)

Being a good mother and decent human during pregnancy often feels like a constant struggle. There are moments with my toddler when I just want to sit down and cry — and I often do. However, it is through these seemingly insurmountable moments where I’ve learned (and am still learning) a few things:

  1. Perfection is baloney — kids are resilient, floors eventually get swept, and those extra episodes of Paw Patrol are not going to make-or-break anyone (except my sanity, on occasion).
  2. It’s good for your babies to see you smile — so sometimes laughter is the best response when they accidentally pee on the floor or call your name 20 times from the other room. You’ll know when it’s the right move.
  3. If it weren’t for my husband none of us would be alive.
  4. Life is full of seasons, and this too shall pass.

And let’s not forget: We’re having a baby! The plan for the rest of this pregnancy is to laugh when I want to cry, shower my son with love (always) and praise (when applicable), take it easy on the chore chart, and lean into the joy and blessing of a bringing a new life into the world.

(Oh, and I may try to freeze my bras…does that really work?)

(Photos by Jordan Head of Ascend Graphics in Leavenworth)