I Felt So Much Guilt While Pregnant With My Second Child Until My Friend Said This

Sometimes, all you need is a reminder that everything in motherhood is temporary.
second pregnancy

I laid motionless, in a fetal position, clutching my bloated stomach, trying to tune out my daughter, Josefine’s conversation with my husband in the next room.

“Mama, go to playground?”

“Not this time,” he said.

“Mama, tummy hurt.”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“JoJo miss mama.” 

We were two weeks into our big annual trip abroad to visit my husband’s family in Copenhagen, Denmark. It always takes a lot of preparation to spend a month in Europe, but especially when you’re bringing along your two-year-old. 

And to add another layer of stress, my husband and I found out we were expecting baby #2 a few days before takeoff. 

Unlike our daughter who was a surprise pregnancy, this pregnancy was very much hoped for and planned. After a life-altering postpartum experience that fundamentally shifted my identity, it took me a long time to feel ready to have another child. We were lucky to conceive within three months of trying—and we were excited to complete our little family. 

When I saw the positive sign appear in the early hours of a typical weekday morning, I rushed to scoop Josefine out of bed, telling her she was going to be a big sister. Together, we told her dad—and that family hug filled me with more joy than I knew was possible.

However, what I didn’t anticipate was the arrival of all-day nausea, bloating and gas, starting from the very first day of week six. Though I did have sickness with my first pregnancy—motherhood has a way of sugarcoating your memories with a rose-colored tint, and I didn’t remember just how debilitating the first trimester had been for me. (Or maybe, it’s tough to compare since having a toddler and being pregnant is a completely different ballgame than the long, daily naps I took the first time ‘round.)

But, here I was, unable to move without discomfort, trying to manage my pregnancy symptoms while also navigating a whole new intense layer of mom guilt. 

I had been looking forward to this trip, even though I knew we wouldn’t have childcare. With freedom to visit the many Copenhagen kid-friendly museums, countless staffed (!) playgrounds, cute cafes and parks, I envisioned sweet moments with my little girl—just the two of us.

Because my work is more flexible, my husband planned to work during the afternoons when the East Coast was awake, and I’d take Josefine out for adventures. Then, in the evening, while he did bedtime, I could play catch-up on emails and assignments.

In theory, this arrangement made sense. But with the curveball of early pregnancy, I was pretty much out-of-commission, leaving my partner (and his incredible sisters) to take on the brunt of childcare. After two weeks of laying in the bedroom of our Airbnb I nicknamed ‘the room of doom’, barely stomaching anything, far away from my comforts, we decided to cut our trip early and go home. It just wasn’t sustainable for any of us. 

Once we were stateside, unpacked and back into our routine (thank god for daycare!), my nausea subsided more and more each week. Even so, fatigue and exhaustion made me less like the enthusiastic, fun and present mother I aspire to be—and more like a walking zombie, somehow, still mustering up the courage and strength to care for my child. 

Though I’m passionate about breaking the perfection stereotype of motherhood and giving women the permission to not love every moment of every day (and still be good moms)—when I’m in the thick of it, it’s hard to give myself the same grace.

After a particularly rough day of trying to be empathetic to my toddler who (rightfully) can’t regulate her emotions, negotiating one tantrum after another, and turning on Ms. Rachel out of desperation, I burst into tears.

My daughter was fed, clean, loved and peacefully sleeping in her bed, and I was going over the afternoon’s events, nitpicking everything I could have done differently.

She wanted ‘up’, but my stomach was overextended and gassy from the hormones—so I bent down to her level instead. I should have just picked her up.

She wanted me to sit down and color with her—but I needed to lay down, since I was feeling dizzy. I should have just drank some water and spent time with her.

She wanted to read another book at bedtime—but I was so exhausted and we already read four books. I should have read another book, she misses her mommy.

Remember what she said in Denmark? ‘JoJo miss mama.’

Her sweet voice echoed in my head, only making the tears hotter on my cheek. I had finally come out of the cloud of postpartum and here I was, right back into another mothering journey no one could have ever prepared me to navigate. I wanted to be the best mother to my daughter—but the physical limitations of pregnancy were making it feel impossible. 

Breathing through my own tantrum, I sent a long, venting text message to my mom best friend. She’s a mom of two (with another on the way), and has a way of soothing my anxieties with words of wisdom. After expressing my feelings of guilt and inadequacy, she put it all into perspective for me:

“Linds, you’re not just a mom of one anymore. You’re a mom of two. It’ll be a transition for you and for Jo. She won’t always have your undivided attention and energy—and that’s okay. When you’re feeling sick during pregnancy, your other baby needs you. You’re a mom of two.”

Though I was 10 weeks along at the time, it hadn’t occurred to me yet that I was, in fact, a mom of two.

I said it out loud at that moment—’I’m a mom of two‘—trying on this title for size. It didn’t fit quite yet, but it made sense. More sense than anything else. 

To me, the pregnancy had been purely physical so far—something I wanted, but also created one challenge after another, from souring a long-planned trip to preventing me from spending quality time with my daughter.

Between working, parenting, wife and friend responsibilities, attempting to stay active and wearing all of my other hats, I often forgot I was pregnant until a symptom reminded me, “Oh right, that’s why your head [or stomach or any other body part] hurts.”

This was a stark contrast to my experience with Josefine: I spent hours dreaming of her, talking to her, writing to her, diligently filling out every page of her baby book. This is the first time I’ve written about my second child, and while I know it won’t be the last, I’ve given myself permission to allow my connection to him or her grow steadily. 

And I have to give myself the same permission to accept that my very best—on any given day—is enough for my first born. That I’m always the best mom for her. My friend’s words became my mantra when I would start to feel the guilt creeping back in:

You’re a mom of two. You can sit here and play tea time, you don’t have to do more. It’s enough. 

You’re a mom of two. It’s okay you’re feeling overstimulated hearing her scream for a cake pop from the backseat while in the drive-thru at Starbucks, starving and desperately needing egg white bites. 

You’re a mom of two. Quality time can be cuddling on the couch while singing along together to YouTube toddler songs. You’re resting, she’s happy, all is well.

You’re a mom of two. When dad says he’s ‘got her’ for the afternoon and they’re going on a dad-daughter adventure, it doesn’t mean you’re a worse parent. You’re just parenting your other child by laying down.

You’re a mom of two. 

And that doesn’t mean you love your first any less.

It just means, you’re a mom of two now. 


  • Lindsay Tigar

    Lindsay Tigar is the co-founder of Mila & Jo Media, an award-winning journalist, two-time entrepreneur and mama to Josefine. She's also a parental leave certified executive coach. She's a frequent-flier, Peloton addict, and a coffee and champagne snob. Her friends are her family and her lifeline. Lindsay calls Asheville, NC home but spends much time in Denmark, her husband's home country.  Follow Lindsay on Instagram. and visit her website.

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