One of my talented co-writers here at The Stir posted an article on how first pregnancies usually seem harder than the subsequent ones—primarily because once you've been through the inflate-to-elephantine-proportions-then-painfully-disgorge-a-small-human-from-your-body process once, the follow-up gestational activities aren't as challenging.
I can agree from a certain perspective. The actual physical effects of pregnancy weren't new the second time around, so everything wasn't quite as terrifying. I didn't spend my entire pregnancy worried about whether or not a briefly inactive fetus meant that the baby was DEAD, for instance. I also didn't bother with renting that fetal doppler thing so I could continually "reassure" myself that the baby's heart was still beating.
(Say, did I ever tell you about how when we used the doppler during my first pregnancy I accidentally picked up my own slow, plodding adult heartbeat and became convinced my child had some sort of CRIPPLING DISEASE which I had caused by helping my husband paint the nursery? WHOO GOOD TIMES.)
Aside from generally knowing what sorts of unpleasantries to expect, though (hey, here come the hemorrhoids, right on schedule!), I would say that second pregnancies are WAY harder than the first. While I can't speak from personal experience, I assume the same is true for third, fourth, and twelfth pregnancies.
The thing is, first pregnancies usually mean you can lie down and take a nap if you want, or spend 45 minutes with your head stuck in a refrigerator door scanning for the exact food you're craving. You can go off by yourself and dreamily browse the infant section of a baby store in order to select the perfect coming-home outfit. You can ask your husband to go to the store at 11 PM for chocolate-peanut butter ice cream and he'll actually go, because you're a special pregnant princess whose body is a sacred vessel.
Second pregnancies? Forget ALL of that. Now you've got a needy toddler running around breaking shit 24/7, and there will be no napping for you. Oh, you're spending every morning miserably barfing up everything you've eaten since 1987? Suck it up, buttercup, because Junior needs breakfast STAT. You're dying for a meal of pickled gherkins and salted-caramel donuts, but you're going to have to make do with a handful of stale cheese goldfish. You could drag your kid to the baby store and spend ten nightmarish minutes chasing him around while you huff and puff like a congested rhino, or you could just shop on Amazon.com. You'd ask your husband to get you ice cream, but he's passed out cold from an evening of trying to get a bed-resistant toddler to take a damn bath.
Everyone who constantly asked you how you were feeling during your first pregnancy will remain silent during your second, except for a slight widening of the eyes as you waddle past, because even though you're only 4 months along your belly already resembles an approaching submarine.
Did I mention the part about how there's no napping? And that the Great Unknown of Life with a Newborn will be replaced by a growing sense of dread over how you'll be able to handle caring for your existing child(ren) AND an infant?
So I say the first pregnancy is usually scarier, but by far the easiest in terms what the rest of your life looks like at the time. If pregnancy is a months-long hike up Everest, the second time is doing it without oxygen tanks.
What was your experience—was your first pregnancy easier, or harder?