Fourth Trimester Reflections

Updated: Nov 20, 2019

One of the best decisions I made in the last few weeks of my pregnancy was to sign myself up for a parent-baby group. My husband and I attended one for couples and babies after Talia was born and we got a ton out of it (advice, commiseration, enduring friendships). This time around, it’s just the moms and it’s been just as significant.

During one of our first meetings, amidst the narration of our various highs and lows of the week (which were, those early weeks, a little heavy on the lows), one of the moms pointed out something so simple and obvious but perhaps not always fully appreciated:

That this is supposed to be hard. That if it’s hard, it means you’re doing it right.

I’ve come back to this idea frequently. Particularly in the thick of things (sometimes in the literal thick things) because it reminds me that if nothing else, I am at least exactly where I am supposed to be.

Max turns three months old in a few days which means we’re just about clearing that infamous Fourth Trimester- the extra months baby needs to adjust to his new life in the outside world. There’s no sugar coating the fact that this has been a tough one for us. Max had tons of reflux, backwards days and nights and a hair-trigger nervous system. I had a uterine infection, the worst GI bug of my life, and no more than 2-3 hours sleep in a go since he was born. But as the weeks have worn on, he’s starting to chill out. I’ve cleared all the various infections (thank gaaaaawd). He’s started smiling a lot more. And the past two days (it’s like he knows he’s at this magical fourth trimester gateway to being a fully outside-world-adjusted baby) he has slept for a couple 5-7 hour stretches (what?!). Okay, so I think we see the light at the end of the tunnel. Assuming the last few days haven’t been a fluke, life is about to start getting a whole lot more manageable. Well, maybe more like: we’ll have mastered the current situation, and then he’ll throw something new and different at us just to keep us on our toes!

But back to the fourth trimester. Overall, there have been many many sweet moments. The hours spent cuddling a baby who wanted to be nowhere other than on his mom or dad. The overwhelming waves of love and affection. Watching his siblings fall in love with him. The first smiles. The coos. The more and more frequent bright-eyed wordless conversations we have over boob milk and diaper changes and bath time. Those bits have been stellar.

Looking back, I think one of the biggest challenges was one of mindset. It’s that I thought I had this in the bag. I’ve done this before. My husband has done it twice before. But of course, every baby is so very different. And we’re different. We’re a few years older. My non-baby life goals are in a completely different place. And not least of all, we have a toddler! On its own, that is a total game changer for one’s sanity during the sleep deprived days and nights of the fourth trimester.

I’m already a little nostalgic for some of these early days. And I know I’m going to find my rose-colored glasses buried somewhere in the piles of junk that have piled up around the house these past months. But I put this out here so that if you find this and you need to hear it, you know that this time is not supposed to be easy. And despite the challenges, you’re doing it. This time is short. And it is also incredibly meaningful and memorable and full of many sweet moments. But we should also keep in mind that it is real. It is hard. And we can’t control how it will go, even if we’ve done this before.

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