Part of me wonders if because this seems so obvious, perhaps it really should go without saying and I should skip this post altogether. But then I remember that nothing about motherhood occurs in a vacuum and therefore deserves a voice, which brings me comfort as I boldly (and perhaps redundantly) state: no baby is the same as any other, which very much applies to them later in life, but certainly from the womb as well.
Did you already know this? I am sure I did because I am positive I have said and probably even written it before, but as a mama expecting her fifth babe, I find it astonishing just how many times I still need reminders of this truth. And trust me, this baby (at 21+ weeks) remains happy to give me all the “Ummm, Hello!”s I need to keep that thought front and center in my very pregnant, very tired brain.
By Baby No.5, it might be easy to assume I understand and have seen pretty much everything there is about to know about pregnancy in my body. But of course you know that’s not actually the case because pretty much every mama friend and I have never had two pregnancies that were exactly alike. Take for instance the magic of Week 14 and how with every other babe of mine, I started to feel human again, had more pep, could eat again, and it was just glorious. Now compare that to this go and being at the 20+ week mark and still – always – being tired as all get out, unsure of what to eat because nothing sounds good or like it will even stay down, and you have a slight glimpse of how I am still – always – learning how to do this mama gig I love so dearly, and how each one of my babies continues to teach me in new ways.
In the midst of all this continued education, I have come to find that perhaps the real universal truth here is that no mama is ever the same from one baby to the next. It is all well and good and accurate to say every baby and their pregnancy is unique, but the very same woman who carries each of those babies is also a new and developing person. You can chalk these changes up to age (oh, wow, can you ever!), experience, exhaustion – whatever you like, really. But I know I am not the same woman I was when I carried and had my first-born eight years ago.
And the other truth tucked away here? That is OK.
It is OK to grow and age and change and learn, in all facets of life, but especially as mamas. No matter how many years (or months) you place between pregnancies, it is OK to acknowledge and accept that they are going to be different experiences. You are going to feel and look and behave and believe your way through it as you are now, not as you were then.
This is where grace becomes a factor and it is something you can give yourself every day. Especially on the days when it feels like just getting from morning to night is an effort, honor the fact that you are doing that and you are rocking it, no matter how many times your eyes closed briefly in sighs, frustration, or sleepiness (or how much cheese your other children may have consumed with lunch). Give yourself the grace and space to be exactly where and how you are in these moments as well as in the others where you laugh so hard you made your extended belly muscles twinge. It takes all sides to gain the knowledge and perspective we need to sustain us as we grow and raise our Littles, and the more grace we practice giving ourselves, you better believe the more grace we can give and instill in them.
So, no, none of your babies will be exact duplicates of each other, and neither will their pregnancies, but most importantly, neither will you be the same woman or mama for each of them, because being who and what you need to be in this moment is what giving grace and receiving grace are all about. Mama, you are totally worth giving and receiving such a beautiful gift.