This is my second child but my partner's first — how do I refrain from comparing the two pregnancies?

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By: Eden, Janine and JimCC BY 2.0
I was super excited when my husband and I decided to start trying to have a baby. When we got pregnant the first month we tried I was a little scared — and not just the normal, "OMG we created life… are we crazy?!" scared. This will be my second pregnancy but my husband's first — when we met I was a single mom to my son.

My first pregnancy was very lonely and confusing, and I spent a lot of it with very dark thoughts and very little enthusiasm. The love I have for my son is strong and amazing, but when I found out I was pregnant for a second time I was excited to erase those memories of a dark pregnancy and to build this new experience with my son and husband by my side — to be proud of myself and this new baby.

I'm struggling with remembering that while this is my second pregnancy it's my husband's first — I was initially going to skip out on a baby shower, birthing classes and a weekly belly book because of my past experience. My first pregnancy isn't ruining my second pregnancy, but the memories are definitely present. I don't want my second pregnancy to be dominated by fixating on the past. How have other families handled the extra emotions that come with this kind of situation without constantly comparing the two pregnancies? — Jess

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  1. I'm really interested to see responses to this, I'm in the same situation. I have a 5-year old, and now my fiance and I are pregnant with his first/my second. I'm also concerned that I'll treat a lot of things as kind of… old hat. Since I've been down this road before. But he hasn't.

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  2. I am currently expecting my second child and my partner's first as well. I…do compare them. My first pregnancy was, like yours, emotionally challenging, but physically it was smooth-sailing. I compare the two pregnancies and talk a lot about my first experience with pregnancy and childbirth with my fiancee because it actually comforts him to know that I know what's happening and am sort-of old hat at it. He likes to lean on me when he's going through this all for the first time. I like to let him. =) Don't forget about your first pregnancy, because it IS informing your second, whether you want it to or not. But don't dwell on the negative things. When you're talking to him, just focus on the purely biological (ie. this week the baby is [thing])and the positive memories (how awesome feeling those first kicks was, hearing the heartbeat, knowing that at the end of it is a beautiful child, etc.) You don't need to shut off your past.

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    • I was going to say all of this, but this put it so well already! There is absolutely a place to compare the pregnancies-isn't that the point? This one has the support of TWO extra people at very least. And don't forget, every mother compares her pregnancies, even if her experiences weren't as bad as yours, so use this opportunity to rediscover the good parts, and to learn from the bad parts, not just for you, but for our partner and child.

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  3. Pregnancy can be kind of a scary mystery to some people, maybe your husband included? He might even be relieved that this is "old hat" to you. I don't know how you'd be able to not compare your two pregnancies…I think it's only natural. I think your best bet is to face your memories–nothing good can come of trying to deny it's happened to you before. Hopefully, you can talk openly to your husband about it and get his reaction to your fears and, in the process, make sure he feels included in *this* experience with you. I don't think you can really mess this up if you talk honestly about it with him.

    Also, every single pregnancy is as different as the children born from them. I think you'll be surprised by how many things won't seem like old hat. Like, the kicking!

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    • I just wanted to second the comment about talking this through with your husband. Maybe having a shower, taking birthing classes and making a belly book are things that your husband isn't all that interested in anyway (although since you're asking the question maybe they are?)… My husband is a little old-school, but there must be some other men like him out there! He wanted nothing to do with my shower, didn't enjoy the birthing classes, and it was an effort to make him take interest in my growing belly – the kicking grossed him out! The only thing he really got excited about was the ultrasounds. I think he wanted to spend our pregnancy enjoying our time as a couple before the baby arrived. Despite his lack of preparation he threw himself into fatherhood the minute our baby was born and has been a dedicated father ever since. So I guess my thought is that everyone's hopes and expectations are different and maybe your husband will be fine skipping a few traditions and and doing things a little differently?

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  4. I had to look at it as a new experience- this is the first time I've done this with him, this is the first time I've had the support of a husband and child through a pregnancy, so therefore, it's new. Every pregnancy and birth is different, too. You'll still compare, can't really help it. But try to recognize it as the new experience it is.

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  5. I am also in a similar situation. I want nothing more then to become a mommy one day but am engaged to an amazingly awesome man that has 3 of the coolest kids I have ever met.

    We are not talking about having children, but I think the most important thing for me would be to share the excitement and the adventure of having a baby WITH him. I don't want to be thinking that he has been there and done that cause he hasn't. He has had children, but this would be the first one with me. I think it would be a totally different experience.

    Long story short and my opinion in a nut shell 😛 :

    This is exciting for us first timers. We are excited about you and have chosen you to start a family with. If you are worried about taking some of the fun out of it because you have already had a child, do something a little different to make it fun for you again as well. The experience will be different, but it is up to you to make it special.

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  6. So, my husband has a seven year old from a previous marriage. I love her and adore being her step-mom. We are in the process of planning for my first pregnancy. I'm embarrassed/ ashamed to admit it, but I get upset knowing he's already been through all of this before. I'm definitely not proud of it, but I'm not sure how I can deal with it.

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    • It's ok to be upset or a little jealous… I hate to admit it, but I am sometimes jealous of my step daughter, even though I adore her, because his attention shifts from me to her.

      It is kind of weird that it won't be a first for both of us together when we have a kind, but I am actually grateful though that my husband has been through all the pregnancy and child raising stuff! When we have our own child, he will at least have some idea of what to expect throughout everything. He's already prepared for me to be an emotional wreck who needs a lot of love and support. He already expects to be up several times a night at first with a newborn, and he already knows how to feed, clothe, bath and diaper a baby. His experience is gonna make the whole thing easier on me.

      Hopefully your hubby's previous experience with the baby thing will come in handy for you too!

    • I am in the same situation. I've been raising my husband's 3 year old since he was 14 months. I felt the same way as you at first and I would get my feelings hurt when he would talk about the day his son was born.

      After I actually got pregnant, those feelings completely went away. My husband is also very good about not acting like this is his second go around with the whole pregnancy thing.

      I don't really have any advice except to say that it will get better, but if it bothers you a whole lot maybe a talk with your partner would help?

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  7. This is interesting. My husband has a 12 year old (awesome) daughter, and I'm pregnant with our (my) first. He hardly ever mentions anything about his first pregnancy (well, his ex's, you know what I mean!), which I appreciate. He was also in boot camp and deployed during much of it, including the birth and the first weeks of her life, so it's kinda like some of it IS "new." But I do still sometimes have those feelings of, well he's done all this before.

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  8. I have a 4 year old son from a previous relationship, and a 3 month old daughter with my current partner. My first pregnancy has a lot of bad memories associated with it, because my partner at the time was very unsupportive and was unhappy about the pregnancy. Because of this I had a hard time with my recent pregnancy. Many of those feelings kept coming up, and at times the feeling that my partner might not want the baby bubbled up without provocation. I was able to explain to my current partner exactly what I needed by reflecting on my past experience. I also did a lot of comparing the pregnancies but tried to focus on the positive difference that my partner was making. For example telling him how much I appreciated him coming to all my appointments with me, and how supported that made me since I didn't get that support the first time.

    My current partner became a regular part of my son's life when he was 6 months old, and has been his primary caretaker for quite some time now. He's an awesome dad, and neither of us thought it would be much different when our baby arrived. We were both surprised to find that it was a huge adjustment for him to care for a newborn. During the pregnancy when people asked him if he was nervous about becoming a father he always replied that he's been a father for years, so this was not scary at all. We both failed to consider that he missed that newborn stage the first time. It was hard on him to not have it all come naturally, and to have to work at it.

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  9. My husband also has a 7 year old son from a previous relationship, and the thought did cross my mind that when I get pregnant, it will not be my husband's first. I have a great relationship with my stepson, and my husband is a great father, but it does make me a little sad that we won't share that "first." On the other hand, this will be our first together, and our relationship is quite different than his relationship was with his son's mother, so I have tried to let it go. You are definitely not alone in your concerns, but what has helped me is voicing the way I feel to my husband, who has provided constant reassurance that this experience will be unique and special regardless. Continue to talk to your partner about your feelings. I am almost certain that you will eventually have your mind eased! And good luck with the new addition!

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    • My husband also has a son from a previous marriage who I have been involved in helping raise for four years. We had our first child together in April and as much as he did compare them and could be a bit of a know at all at times, he does say it was a completely different experience with me. He is in his 30s instead of 20s this time around and I had a totally different kind of pregnancy. The best part has been that he has been so supportive. He stayed home with his infant son 10 years ago so he understands how much care our newborn needed and tells me all the time that my only job is to take care of our daughter and myself while I am staying home with her. Super helpful on those days I can't get laundry done or sweep the floor because our girl is having a rough day.

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  10. Each pregnancy is completely, different an totally new experience whether it is the first, second, or tenth. I don't think there is a way not to compare. The classes will be good to both prepare your partner and refresh your memory of the
    facts. Plus a way to built new positive memories. A belly book is not just for you, but you partner and the baby a he or she gets older. I didn't keep a belly or baby book for my second and I regret it terribly. There is so much that gets lost. If someone want to throw you a shower do it, free stuff is always nice. Especially if you don't have much from the older sibling. Also, from a birth psychology stand point. the feeling about your first pregnancy will come out one way or another. It is better to face them head on now, than during labor and delivery and postpartum. HUGS

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  11. I have no children, so I can't give any personal experience advice.
    But how about you do the fun pregnancy stuff as a couple.
    If you're not too fussed for a baby shower – make this one a couples shower.
    Maybe your partner can be in charge of helping you record a belly book (i don't know what one of those is, but I'm guessing its the weekly updates/photos of how big your bump is?)
    And go to couples birthing classes so he isn't totally freaked out at the time of labor!!

    I wish you all the best, and as a 2nd child myself – please make sure to take as many pictures and fill out the baby book for your 2nd child as much as you did the 1st one!

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  12. I could be WAY off but I wonder if the feelings are not centered around leaving your husband out of the joy but rather, your first child. No doubt that pregnancy was a crisis that you dealt with and probably leaned on your circle for support, more so than you excitedly called them to squeal. And if that is true then the best thought I can offer is that there is no way that your son can have any memory or feel slighted by the pregnancy he was born into and that part is over and you do love him with your whole heart even if you were not sure what to think at first. I sometimes think that is the bonus of second time Moms. Now you know the joy.

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  13. I feel like you may need to mentally reframe your first pregnancy. You were stronger than you thought; you made it through. You learned so much. You became a mother through that experience. Stop thinking about it in terms of what you felt then, or what guilt you may have for feeling the way you did. You made it. You did it! And thanks to all that you learned, all that you experienced and all that you managed to survive, you're able to go through this pregnancy with less confusion and with more enthusiasm.

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  14. My husband had a bad pregnancy experience with an ex-partner, and we were in a great place together when I got pregnant.

    The fact that he "knew everything" really dampened my excitement in the beginning. We handled it by setting some parameters on how we addressed the old feelings together.

    1. We aimed to not bring up the negative stuff from before during a positive moment.
    2. We aimed to not bring up comparisons in general during the Big Mushy Moments, even if only one of us were having the Moment.
    3. We discussed EVERYTHING. This is important. He had the freedom to say, "This is different from last time so I feel lost." And I had the freedom to say, "I want us to do something special because I feel shortchanged on some of the surprise of it all."

    We also chose some special happy things that tied us each into the same moment. For example, doing a belly cast was a new experience for him, so he could enjoy it free of old memories. Same goes for choosing not to know the gender: before, he knew what to expect, and this reintroduced a lot of unknowns that helped give us plenty of comparison-free conversation topics.

    On an individual basis, I know he wrote a lot in a journal, mostly in the form of letters to his unknown child and to his old self. He asked me to read it a few months later, it was pretty eye-opening. But it helped him manage his side of things in order to give me more emotional space to process what I was going through.

    It worked for us.

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  15. My husband and I had the same situation. My first pregnancy – I was really young and alone. I had a completely opposite experience with my second and third child. My husband was incredibly supportive and always there as excited as I was. I did compare the two. I think it is impossible not to. But they were night and day. When I would mention it to my husband, I would always make sure to let him know that I appreciated him and his support.

  16. Oh snap!

    I'm 36 weeks into my 3rd pregnancy with my husband's 1st (AND ONLY!!!).

    One q – what's wrong with comparing pregnancies? It's inevitable and an important source of learning for you both.

    I had a miserable time with my first pregnancy and not such a fantastic time with my second either. Both times I sort of didn't realise how hard it was because putting on a brave face took all my effort.

    Grieving for the support I didn't get has been an important part of this pregnancy so although physically it's been a big pile of ass emotionally it's been fantastic.

    It is what it is. Avoiding comparing is practically impossible so just try and use those comparisons for good.

    🙂 Good luck and enjoy your pregnancy and your family.

    xoxo

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  17. 12 years ago I had a harrowing pregnancy, I hated everything about it except the result. All I remembered was the morning sickness (all day for 7 months) and the goofiness of my body & emotions- though I did have an amazingly positive birthing experience and fell had over heels in love with mothering… which my daughter knows so truly. I have a harder time with honoring her feelings when it comes to comparisons than I do to my husband's.

    So the only thing for us to do is what we always do- be really honest and imperfect and own our mistakes, missteps and emotions when they rise. Hubz had never thought to have children and I thought I was done- he is so excited and making this pregnancy SO incredibly wonderful- and I'm so excited to birth again knowing how great the other side is. With my daughter, I regularly talk with her about how lucky her brother is gonna be to have her as a big sister and the benefits of our combined experience… it helps that she's old enough to be accountable for her feelings too!! She's talked through being jealous and left out, which I appreciate A LOT because just her expression of those things is really healthy-

    And hubz is very cognizant that this baby will be a very different experience with his own identity and environment.

    hurrah!

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  18. I am in the same boat: expecting my second but my husband's first. However, I think my bigger issue is not acting like this is my first! As strange as that sounds….see, when I was pregnant with my daughter (an unplanned pregnancy at a young-ish age)I had a very unsupportive partner who wound up leaving us some time after she was born. The whole pregnancy was filled with guilt that I did something wrong and long nights crying and always going to dr appts alone. I love my daughter, but the process to get her was traumatic. Now I am in a great, loving marriage with an extremely supportive partner…and at times I find myself acting like this is my first! This is the first time I could feel proud about a pregnancy, the first time I can share everything with the dad…and I feel like that's a huge insult to my daughter (even though she doesn't see these thoughts in my head or know any of this). I just feel like this is the first time I can enjoy a planned pregnancy without fear, and I want to go through all the fun stuff like pre-natal classes and baby showers, even though I went through some of it before. I do feel bad about this feeling, but I also think I deserve it. What are your thoughts on this?

  19. I am in a slightly different situation. I am with a man with a daughter from a previous relationship. Now I am expecting my first baby and his second. His experience with his daughter has been very traumatic, as her mum took her away from him to another country when she was 8 and he hasn't seen her for 6 years now. However, he has contact with her every day through the phone, and he is so completely obssessed in love with her daughter that I am so scared that he will not love our child as much as his daughter. I don't think there it's possible for him to adore our child the way he does with his daughter. First thing he said when I told him I was pregnant was: she will be very happy, it has to be a boy (because she wants a boy). In other occasion he said that the first one is the special one because it's the first one to tell him Papa and there is nothing that can be compared to that.. He is looking at her pictures all day. At the beginning I was fine with the situation, but as he is saying comments like this, I am every time more concerned about the day she is old enough to come to visit us or live with us at some point, and over all, about the role that me and my child will have in this family. I am so scared of him not loving our child or not as much as his daughter. I has never loved anyone the way I love him, and I know he loves me too, but I just can't help think sometimes that I don't deserve this situation and that I should have never got involved in this, but now it's too late.

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