1.NEW-FOUND STAMINA FOR SYMPTOMS: If you’re 98.99% sure this is the last time you’ll be pregnant, you might find yourself whimpering less about the poorly named “morning” sickness. You’ll also face the exhaustion, constipation, and heartburn like a champ because A. you’re feeling nostalgic about the finality of it all B. you’re such a pro by now you hardly notice it’s happening or C. (and most likely) nobody has any sympathy for you anyway so there’s no use complaining.
2. STRANGE REACTION FROM OTHERS: Once your baby bump is noticeable, you’ll get the occasional question: “Is this your first baby?” Expect eyes to grow wide with both admiration and disappointment when you say “No, my fourth.” People love to share tips with first-time moms-to-be. When you drop the four-bomb, you’re cutting off their expertise. Also brace yourself for defensive comments resulting from people who see you and your bump as an affront to their two children.
3. LOOSER EATING HABITS: You’ll shamelessly eat soft cheeses, deli meat, sushi, Caesar salad, cookie dough and all the other things the first-timers and even second-timers avoid with a badge of honor. You might also enjoy the occasional quarter-glass of wine. Don’t hide in a shame pit. A friend of mine who had her two kids in Paris told me that her French friends followed this rule while pregnant: one glass of wine on weekdays, and a cocktail on the weekends. And just ignore the people who stare in disgust when you have the tuna roll two inches from your lips. It’s not a crack pipe, people.
4. APATHY ABOUT THE NURSERY: Remember the first time you were pregnant and you shopped for the crib bedding like world peace depended on the decision, like your baby would be the miracle kind who never vomited in her bed? Times have changed. Between the gnawed crib and the chewed board books, it looks like you’ve raised woodchucks and raccoons rather than human beings. But here’s the truth: you won’t care how tired and faded it all looks. After three babies, you finally understand that when it comes to the nursery nothing matters except the healthy baby inside of it and keeping the room from smelling like poo. If the nursery is pink and you end up with a boy, you’ll get around to changing it if that’s what you want. You’re a pro now. You know these petty details really don’t matter and you’re not wasting precious time sweating about it like you did when you were pregnant with baby #2. Besides, you need to save your funds for baby #3′s new bed and big-kid furniture now that he’s getting booted from the raccoon den.
5. DECREASE IN ANXIETY: You already have a mini-van or an extended SUV. You own eighty-four car seats for every size child imaginable as well as strollers for any potential excursion (thanks to your ridiculously thorough research on strollers the first time around). Most importantly, you’ve let go of any attempts at the perfect mom thing a LONG time ago. If you haven’t, now is a good time to ditch that race and take a nap. There are no medals for the most exhausted and martyred among us.
6. INCREASE IN VANITY: If you planned on four kids, then you treated the physical insults of three pregnancies with a sense of humor. Deflated boobs, areas of your hairline that are practically bald, dark circles under your eyes—WHO CARED? You had no choice but to accept it all when you still had one more pregnancy to go. But if you’re (98.99%) sure that number four will be your last, you might find yourself saving up for all the treatments, lotions, shots, and lasers you avoided until your reproducing years were behind you. It can’t hurt more than childbirth, right?
Unfortunately, this increase in vanity will not result in a slow and steady weight gain. You know you’ll spend the rest of your life forcing yourself to take it easy at Dairy Queen so you’ve taken your foot off the brake for this one last ride.
7. BABY NAME DESPERATION: By now you’ve used all the ideas you love for first and middle names and mocked everything else. You’re so desperate for suggestions you’ve taken to the internet. And it’s ugly out there. A couple recently named their child Like. As in the Facebook term. Lord help us.
EDITED TO SAY: For an update on baby #4, look here!