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The Second Time Around

Having a second child is no small move. (Hello, sleep deprivation… again.) But whether you loved being pregnant or counted down every second till giving birth, doing it all over again can be a totally different experience than the first time around. From workouts to weight gain to lessons learned, three women—Gabby Etrog Cohen, SoulCycle’s vice president of public relations and brand strategy; Nicole Glor, fitness expert and founder of NikkiFitness; and Carol Adams, owner of the TriBeCa boutique Torly Kid—share their stories.

Gabby Etrog Cohen (SoulCycle, Vice President of Public Relations and Brand Strategy)

Kids: Cece (3½), Max (1)

Describe each of your pregnancies in one word.

Easy. Enormous.

How did your fitness strategy differ between your first and second?

I was much easier on myself in my first pregnancy. I still exercised, but not as often and did less intense workouts toward the end. I remained active throughout, but was not as regimented. I was incredibly active during my second pregnancy. I gained more weight much faster so I wanted to be super active, exercising six days a week. I literally exercised until the last day. I went speed walking the morning I delivered.

How did you feel during both pregnancies?

I was quite nauseous during the first four months of both, but even more so during the second. I just felt bigger during my second. Like the Stay Puft marshmallow woman starting at three months.

How did the births differ?

Sadly, I had two emergency c-sections. The first time I was so excited to have a natural birth and found out the baby was sunny side up, which made it nearly impossible to deliver naturally and also made the labor incredibly painful. The second time I was pumped to VBAC [vaginal birth after c-section] and labored for about 12 hours before the baby’s heart rate dropped and we had to do another c-section. I will say, I recovered from both c-sections pretty quickly, mainly because I stayed active throughout both pregnancies.

What is your biggest takeaway?

Don’t use pregnancy as an excuse to totally slack off and eat whatever you want. You are building a human being in there. Eat well! Listen to music, dance, exercise. Your kids can hear the music and feel the movement. Both of mine love to dance and I think it is because I took them SoulCycling the entire time!

Nicole Glor (NikkiFitness, Founder and Fitness Expert)

Kid: Jack (5). Pregnant with a girl (due June 17).

What did you learn from your first?

I wasn’t mature enough at 32, and all the freedoms that were taken away then were harder to deal with than this time. Now, at 37, I am content and know there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Plus, knowing how much I love my first baby makes it better to look forward to having a second.

Describe each of your pregnancies in one word.

Torture. Acceptance.

How did you approach fitness during the first?

I was so afraid of not losing the baby weight that I worked out a ton, doing almost 90 percent of what I did for workouts before I was pregnant. And I wasn’t nauseous like most women. I just wanted to eat a lot more right from the beginning. Afterward, between working out, eating right and breastfeeding for 14 months, it came off easier than I thought.

And now?

I am not killing myself. I work out four to five days a week doing yoga, running, walking, spinning and weight training. I teach boot camp, but I don’t run as fast, do less work when I teach classes and don’t push it as hard in other classes I take. I enjoy doing my new Slimnastics Anti-Aging Walking Workout video and app. I had a herniated disc last year so I thought a walking workout was a good idea to create. Now it’s perfect. I also let myself have a cupcake now and then, when last time I only would allow fat-free Jell-O chocolate pudding. I normally crave salt, but in pregnancy I crave sweet. Probably from lack of wine!

Are you planning for a different type of birth this time?

This one is a planned c-section and I am hoping for no surprises! Last time he was a week late, then an emergency c-section because the cord was wrapped around his neck twice after I went through labor pains. Then I had a numb leg for three months afterward and thought I would never run or teach class again. I could barely walk. After painful neurologist appointments I was finally sent to physical therapy, which worked. I also had a hematoma of the c-section. They left the wound open for three weeks after the birth and I had to have a visiting nurse come every day to clean and change the dressings. It delayed healing. I still have nightmares about the c-section and am scared to death of being cut open while awake on the table. But I hope that with luck, a different doctor and a little yoga breathing I and the baby will be O.K.

What advice do you have for women preparing to have their second child?

I planned this pregnancy so that my first child will be in kindergarten. I know that having two kids in diapers at the same time would have been too much. I enjoyed having my life back for two years in between. Now I am mentally ready to do it again. I would encourage other women, if they are not sure about a second child or about being in the trenches with two, that it’s O.K. to wait until the other one is five or six to do it again! My love-of-my-life five-year-old will actually be able to help me, as opposed to being a “terrible” toddler that I have to watch like a hawk.

Carol Adams (Torly Kid, Owner)

Kids: Victoria (12), Carly (11)

Describe each of your pregnancies in one word.

Indulgent. Prohibitive.

How was the first?

I spent the first trimester constantly feeling sick to my stomach if I ate anything other than carbs. So I ate a lot of carbs! After the nausea went away, I put on 45 pounds and pretty much continued to eat whatever I wanted. At the same time I was very active physically and continued my workouts with a trainer twice a week until late in my term. I played volleyball every week until the end of my seventh month, when my team gently told me I was slowing them down because I couldn’t move that fast any more.

And the second?

Very different. I was determined to have a healthier pregnancy because I still hadn’t lost all the weight I put on when Victoria was born. I ended up having gestational diabetes. It wasn’t severe, but after my fourth month I couldn’t eat any sugar or carbs. I tried once or twice and it made me sick, which acted as a good deterrent. I stayed active this time around, too, with a trainer and volleyball. I only put on 19 pounds and I came out of the hospital without much to lose at all, aside from the weight from baby number one!

Describe the births.

Victoria decided to come out exactly three and a half weeks before my due date, surprising all of us. She was born in five or six hours and I had her with no drugs and no epidural completely au naturel, with a doula at my side. Pushing went on for longer than I would have liked and I ended up pretty torn up from her delivery. Carly was super easy. She also came out exactly three and a half weeks early, which was weird. I was only in labor with her for about an hour. I asked for the epidural right away, had contractions and she popped out in just a few pushes. Recovery was so much easier. 

What is your biggest takeaway?

I cannot tell you how many times over the past 12 years I have said to myself, I endured the labor of two children—I can surely handle this! My labor experiences have given me the strength and courage to get through so many ups and downs in life. Women are extremely lucky to have that experience in their toolbox. I believe it really strengthens us as people.

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