"This time around, it's been really delightful because I have the example in front of me of what happens when the child comes out," she explains.

After starting off her second pregnancy with severe morning sickness, Sarah Drew is now taking frequent trips to the bathroom throughout the night, has a strict feeding schedule and is constantly fighting a craving for sweets.

But looks can be deceiving. Despite the rough ride, the actress admits she’s enjoying the experience in a way that she was unable to when pregnant with her now 2½-year-old son Micah Emmanuel.

“The first time it wasn’t just the physicality, it was the emotional weight, too,” the Grey’s Anatomy star tells Fit Pregnancy‘s October/November issue.

“I was mourning the end of a massive chapter in my life … I knew I’d have to sacrifice a lot more than I was used to sacrificing, but I didn’t know how it was going to look and I didn’t know if I was going to be a good mom.”

Sarah Drew Fit Pregnancy Cover

Courtesy Fit Pregnancy

And no baby book or parenting class helped the mom-to-be move past her fears. According to Drew, it took seeing her first baby grow into a happy toddler for her to realize the joys of motherhood.

“This time around, it’s been really delightful because I have the example in front of me of what happens when the child comes out,” she explains. “And yeah, it’s changed my life, but I’m really happy with the way things have changed. Your desires and the things that you love shift.”

Drew, 32, adds, “The emergence of a child opens up this well of love that you just never knew you were able to have. And it’s empowering.”

The couple have chosen to once again wait until the delivery to find out the sex of their baby on the way. And although Drew secretly hoped for a daughter during her first pregnancy, she would be just as ecstatic with a second son.

“For me, I thought I wanted a girl and if I had found out that it was a boy before I’d met him — while he was still theoretical and inside of me — I could’ve been disappointed,” she says.

“But that’s just impossible when he’s placed on your belly. It doesn’t matter what the sex is! You’re just in love and that’s how it is.”

Despite there being no word on whether Micah will be getting a baby brother or sister, the toddler already has his bets on a girl — and has even picked out her name. “He has named her Moses,” Drew shares. “We’re not naming a girl Moses. It’s not happening.”

But that’s not the only thing Drew isn’t doing differently. After seeing how well her “very loose labor plan” worked during Micah’s delivery, the expectant star — who has seen many of her friends “devastated” after their birth plans went awry — is grateful for her ability to go with the flow.

“I wanted to try a natural birth, but I ended up having pregnancy toxemia. I was in horrific upper abdominal pain the whole night before he was born, and when I went to the hospital, they said, ‘We need to induce, ” she recalls.

“I cried about it. And then, dude, if I could get induced and get drugs and have every baby that way … it was amazing! I got the epidural and, within an hour, they gave me the Pitocin. He was out in six hours.”

Sarah Drew Fit Pregnancy Cover

Courtesy Fit Pregnancy

However, the last-minute change during her labor was only the beginning of Drew’s adjustment in her parenting plan.

“I had the worst time trying to breastfeed and it took me a really long time to bond with my son because of it,” she shares. “I have these memories of bouncing on a ball and him screaming at me and me sobbing hysterically trying to get him to latch.”

After 10 weeks of trying and visits with a lactation consultant, Drew’s prayers for peace were finally answered one day after church. “It was in a community of a bunch of different kinds of moms — some attachment parents and some who were formula feeding — all of them said, ‘Sarah, why would you torture each other? It’s not worth it. You’re not a failure.’ ”

She adds, “That day, I felt like a sisterhood had swooped in and told me it was okay. So, for a year, I pumped and Micah had breast milk from a bottle.”

Drew — who says raising children is “the hardest job on the planet” — admits she wishes more mothers would step up and support each other, instead of the judgmental attitudes she often sees.

“There’s no measure of success. There are no annual promotions,” she says. “So your accolade becomes: I breastfed for a year and a half, or I gave birth naturally and had no pain medication, or my kid goes to bed at 7:30 p.m. on the dot every single night. Who cares? How does your child’s sleep schedule affect my life?”

And, with that in mind, the actress is ready to sit back, relax and embrace the incredible experience.

“I honestly think the biggest trials end up teaching you how to let go,” Drew admits. “I was a control freak about sleep for the first six months of Micah’s life and now it’s like, okay, if he has a late night, he’s actually perfectly fine. His life isn’t ruined.”

The new season of Grey’s Anatomy premieres Thursday at 8 p.m. on ABC.

— Anya Leon