In pregnancy, the days turn into weeks and you enter each new trimester with the passing of time. There’s no big event that marks the entering of a new trimester. The changes are so subtle. They’re hardly noticeable even, but as you reflect on the journey, (and see how big your belly has grown) there’s more changes than you realize. When you finish off the third trimester, there’s obviously the huge event of your baby being born and you begin all the changes of the fourth trimester. This is the first 12 weeks after your baby is born. It’s the time when the baby is now in your arms and adjusting to the outside world and the family is adjusting to the new baby. It’s a huge change for everyone.
Newborns take up a huge amount of time. All they do is eat, sleep, and poop but this is around the clock. In the first couple weeks they love to be held when they’re sleeping because they’re so used to being carried by Mom in the womb. You can’t beat the cuddles but after the first few sleepless nights, it gets a little old. In the beginning, their awake time is minuscule and I’m finding that if I don’t get Deacon sleeping within a couple hours of him being awake, he’s a grump and very hard to put down. When he only naps for half an hour, this means I’m trying to get him down four or five times a day! You feed them every 2-3 hours or sometimes more often, which takes a solid 20 minutes. We also seem to go through about eight to ten diapers a day. Squeeze in some tummy time and your day is full. It’s a good thing babies don’t do anything other than eat, sleep and poop.
The first few weeks are probably the biggest shock to the system for Mom. Your body basically moved mountains to accommodate this growing baby and then it’s ripped apart to get this baby out. It’s an experience like none other but almost instantly you feel like it’s worth it when you hold this newborn in your arms and your love starts to grow for this little person (thank you, hormones). With a little suffering, somehow your body eventually pretty much goes back to the way it was. Padsicles (frozen pads) deserve a special mention for aiding me in my recovery. Along with normal soreness from birthing a baby, there’s bonus ailments and changes like hemorrhoids, night sweats, boobs stretching to new limits, stretch marks, new lumps and bumps on your body, stretched skin, clothes not fitting, hygiene taking a back seat, stitches healing, hair loss, clogged ducts, hormones, donut pillows, brain fog, milk leaking. And this is just the list assuming you have no other complications. It goes on and on. All while trying to bond with your new baby. The love is real and you share a bond that no one will come close to. But when they’re screaming at you for reasons you can’t figure out, day after day- Man I love you but I don’t really like you.
While your body is healing, your milk usually comes in. This is an event in itself. Your boobs become these unrecognizable, scary, giant, milk-making machines. Not only are they scary looking, but they like to squirt milk out every time you’re not looking. A baby cries on tv, milk leaks. You go out in public for the first time, milk leaks. You put on a clean shirt, milk leaks. Milk leaks everywhere without you even knowing it. Shirts get soaked, your bed gets soaked, the baby gets soaked; it’s a fun time. With this and baby spit-up, the scent of old dried milk becomes your new aroma. And to continue on the soaking line, let’s talk night sweats. I didn’t know this was a thing until Deacon was born and holy smokes, it is something else! For about a month straight, I would wake up in the night to feed him completely soaked. My pants and shirt were just drenched every night. My husband really enjoys sharing a bed with me.
Hormones are also a special treat. Once you feel like you’ve got everything together, they’re just waiting to sneakily bring you back to reality. They send you on a rollercoaster of super high emotions- Tears of joy because you’ve just created the most perfect human and he could not be more perfect. Your whole life is beyond perfect! And in the next minute, the hormones bring on some very low emotions- intense anger at your husband for breathing too loud or sobbing because you ran out of peanut butter. It’s a wild ride and overall, there’s a lot of tears. Brain fog is another postpartum side effect and it has been a real killer for me this time around. I’ve messed up appointment times, forget to do things right after I say I will, forget what people tell me, and completely forget what I did yesterday or what I did even hours before. I wake up in the morning and barely remember when and how often I was up in the night feeding- I guess this might not be the worst thing? Combine the brain fog with the lack of sleep and it’s a wonder that I make it through the day.
The fourth trimester is a whirlwind but we all come out the other side, not completely but mostly, the same. The hormones can still be sneaky but they start getting quieter and quieter. Your boobs adjust and become less terrifying. The night sweats get less and less frequent and your body slowly gets back to normal. Even your clothes start fitting again. The fog begins to lift and you start feeling like yourself again. You appreciate the resilience of your body and marvel at the challenges you’ve made it through. Hopefully you see yourself as a pretty great Mom and know that you’re growing and learning through this experience.
You also see the beautiful changes in your family. Your daughter grows into this amazing older sister. Your husband becomes an even better Dad and your relationship even feels a little stronger as you’ve made it through another tough season. Your baby grows and grows. You watch this person develop their own features and see glimpses of you and your husband. As they become more awake you get to play and feel the joy in their beautiful gummy smiles that never get old. You feel so important when they look deep into your eyes, just trying to figure you out. The feeling when you’re the only one that can comfort them or you pick them up and they instantly stop crying is so special. It’s the best feeling when you realize they know you’re their Mom.
Time passes slowly and quickly all at the same time. The days all blend together. The house is messier, everyone is exhausted, but everyone has adjusted and your love for your family has expanded. You feel the love grow for this new member of your family and watch how it grows for everyone else too. The fourth trimester is probably the toughest one but the magic that happens in it makes it totally worth it.
4 thoughts on “The Fourth Trimester”
Beautifully written and so real. When you list all the things we do and have to deal with its like holy crap…our bodies are wild!
And the nightsweats! Lol…flashbacks to throwing the window open in the middle of the night when it was -30 outside and just standing there in the cloud of cold air with my husband wondering what the hell is happening! Haha. Thanks for your stories Bailey
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Haha that’s hilarious. I didn’t have nightsweats with my first but they were so bad with my second. I didn’t know what was happening! Thanks so much for your comment and for reading! Our bodies are amazing!
I needed this. It stays this way even when they are 20 months lol. But thanks for the reminder to savor the small miracles and let go of the messy stuff. xx Syl
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It sure can be hard to do sometimes!