Just like my pregnancies have been night and day physically, they’ve been polar opposites emotionally, too. So follow me down this rabbit hole if you dare. It ain’t pretty, but it’s real.

Little Y was very much planned. Like, taking-Clomid-and-stalking-Fertility-Friend planned. After I found out I was pregnant, I was the typical first-timer: I had the “Mayo Clinic Guide to Pregnancy” dog-eared on my bedside table and a spreadsheet of must-have baby gear growing ever longer on my computer. I had all the apps warning me what not to eat and what not to do. Baby stuff consumed my thoughts and most of my free time. I had no idea what to expect, so I prepared like I was an Olympian who wanted to medal in motherhood.

This time? Oh man. As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I sank into a deep quagmire of numbness and denial. Nothing dangerous – I kept my OB appointments and refrained from BASE jumping or downing five margaritas with dinner – but mentally, I just wasn’t able to turn the corner from “oh s—t!” to “yaaaaay!” Frankly, I’m still not sure I’ve turned that corner … and I’m entering my third trimester.

My one and only at the beach recently. We’re starting to read big-brother books, and he likes to “kiss baby” whenever he can.

Allow me to make a more direct comparison:

  • Last pregnancy: I read at least four books on pregnancy and newborn care.
  • This pregnancy: Errr. I still have them somewhere. I think.
  • This pregnancy: Make me set foot in a Babies ‘R’ Us and I’ll punch you in the face.
  • Last pregnancy: I am 7 weeks! I am 15 weeks, 2 days! I am 31 weeks, 5 days!
  • This pregnancy: I’m due in mid-October. How far along? Uhhh … did I say I’m due in mid-October? That far.
  • Last pregnancy: Endless discussions about baby names from Day One.
  • This pregnancy: Bit husband’s head off for even talking about names before the 20-week ultrasound.
  • Last pregnancy: Baby is the size of an appleseed! A papaya! A cantaloupe!
  • This pregnancy: No idea about fetus size, but I’m hungry.
  • Last pregnancy: No soda, no deli meat, no sushi …
  • This pregnancy: I’ll have a turkey sub with an extra large Diet Coke, please.

Humor aside, I know this is all fairly typical the second time around. Or at least I hope so, because I absolve myself of all this. When you’re absorbed in the day-to-day care of a toddler with infinite energy, pregnancy loses a lot of its magic and becomes an uncomfortable means to an end.

Here’s the thing that makes me feel guilty, though – I just haven’t been excited. And trust me: I hate thinking that, let alone writing it. But it is what it is. I’ve always required a long grace period to fully deal with big life changes – even the ones I initiate. Basically, I’m not the person you want to throw a surprise party for, because I would probably hide in the bathroom. So you can imagine the freak-out a surprise baby has caused.

Part of my reluctance is knowing – not simply suspecting – what’s coming down the pike. I’m talking about the nitty-gritty here: The crushing fatigue. The never-ending diapers. The feeling that I’m nothing but a pair of boobs. The hot stab of rage that comes when Papa Y snores loudly and soundly through four night wakings. The struggle to maintain some sense of self as a SAHM who never actually wanted to be a SAHM. And the knowledge that all of that will be accompanied by the demands of a toddler who is used to being the center of my universe.

But all of the good stuff – all the stuff that makes parenthood so, so worth it even on the worst days – seems as abstract as ever. Everything I love about motherhood stems from watching my son’s personality unfold over the past two years. It’s so hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I’ll get to do that again, but with a completely different kid who has completely different quirks. During my first pregnancy, I wondered how I could possibly love someone so unconditionally. This time I wonder how I can possibly love a different someone so unconditionally.

And yet, I know I will. I have to trust that though the road has been different, the destination will be the same. As any avid traveler can tell you, sometimes the best trips start without a guidebook, without an itinerary. Completely, utterly unplanned.