Saturday, September 3, 2011

Second Pregnancy Syndrome

I am tired. So tired that last week I fell asleep while watching a Red Sox game-in Fenway Park. I fell asleep standing up in the shower. I felt similarly exhausted during my first trimester, however that was expected. Now I am well into my second trimester-a time of supposed abundant energy and vigor. If I'm this tired now with 13 or so weeks left, how will I ever stay awake through my third trimester? Maybe I'll sleep through the entire end of my pregnancy and wake up when the new baby arrives.

I thought something was wrong with me. Maybe I am dehydrated. Maybe I do not eat enough iron. Maybe ice cream contains tryptophan. I shared my concerns with Midwife Suzy at my 24 week appointment a few weeks prior. While Midwife Suzy said my exhaustion could be due to any number of things, she said most likely I suffer from a very common, yet widely unknown condition called Second Pregnancy Syndrome.

I am not alone. Millions of women, usually after an extra glass of pinot noir or two, willingly, some with great diligence and determination, actually try to get pregnant for a second time. Women like us forget how physically and emotionally challenging pregnancy was the first time around. We actually had time to care for ourselves and not worry about a little tot running around underfoot. When I was pregnant with C, I took a nap almost every day during my first and third trimesters. I slept hard. I drooled. During one afternoon nap, a giant oak tree fell down on my street and landed on my neighbor's car, taking with it a telephone pole and power lines, and knocking out power to the entire neighborhood. My street was illuminated by the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. I slept through the entire thing.

Being pregnant with a toddler, I do not have the luxury of taking drool-inducing three hour afternoon naps. Sure, I could nap when C naps, but when would I do laundry, clean my house, pay bills, watch Bravo, or write infrequent blog posts? And now that C only naps once a day for about two hours, I spend most of my day chasing her from various place to place. She would rather play "Hide from Monster" or visit the playground, than play "Let's Watch the Inside of Mom's Eyelids and See What Happens."

All of this toddler chasing and lack of rest led to my diagnosis of Second Pregnancy Syndrome. The primary symptom of SPS is sheer, utter, mother effing exhaustion. The secondary symptoms of SPS are simultaneous sneezing and pants pissing, as well as borderline precarious caffeine consumption. Midwife Suzy recommends trying to rest as much as possible, knowing that in reality this will probably equal five extra minutes of rest per day. There is no cure.

I'm afraid Second Pregnancy Syndrome prepares second time moms for the chronic condition known as, Second Child Sleep Extinction, which transforms once semi-rested, content mothers of one, into night walking zombie mamas with gaping black holes where their eyes once sparkled. They may or may not eat their young, especially if it will buy them some extra shut eye.

I am also afraid SPS will initiate my downward spiral toward Crappy Parenting. Many days, I feel too exhausted to give parenting all of the energy it deserves. While I want to run in the park with my daughter, my body wants to lay down on the couch and turn on Sesame Street. I fear I am often too tired to put forth my best effort and my child will suffer the consequences of my fatigue.

My diagnosis of Second Pregnancy Syndrome leaves me frustrated and fearful, however whining and complaining will not remedy my situation. The only remedy is to make a concerted effort to get more rest. I began my course of treatment today and enjoyed a delicious afternoon nap. I may even go to bed before 10:00 tonight. If you see me night walking around the Boston suburbs, please send me straight to bed. Good night.


  1. Oh my goodness - I had that too! I would will myself to make it through the day and then turn sesame street on at 4:30pm and fall asleep on the couch waiting for daddy to come home. I also worried about spiraling down into crappy parenting. Baby #2 is 7mo old now, and I am happy to say that even though it is impossible to parent the second the same as you did the first (or even parent the first the same way you did before #2 arrived), seeing the two of them enjoy each other has convinced me it was worth it.

    But it took a while, several months, to get there. You will get there too! I promise! After all, you have no choice. :)

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