On Motherhood: Fourth

IMG_0607The fourth trimester.  The first 12 weeks with baby.  I always assumed pregnancy and labor were the hardest parts of becoming a mother.  Turns out, no.  The breastfeeding, the hormones, the sleep deprivation, the anxiety; the sheer physicality of those first 3 months with a newborn is more intense than 9 months of pregnancy.  I looked forward to meeting my sweet baby girl, but cut to 5 weeks postpartum and I found myself wishing I could put her back in!  I mean, just for a few hours so I could sleep!   It’s extreme in the most exhausting way.  Extreme in the slowest way, sort of along the lines of Chinese water torture.  I did things, thought things, felt things, said things that I would not normally do, think, feel, or say.  In an effort to explain I’ve compiled a list of fourth trimester things.  Things you, if you are a new mom, also might do, think, feel, and say.

  1. Check if baby is breathing.
  2. Try to devise some method for weighing your baby.  I put my daughter in a metal bowl and tried to weigh her on my baking scale.  No joke.
  3. Clothesline your toddler or partner or grandmother who is rushing toward your newborn.
  4. Feel really bad for clotheslining your toddler.  Not so much for clotheslining anyone else.  Don’t touch!
  5. Check if the baby is breathing.
  6. Think that the baby is dying, or that you have accidentally killed or harmed the baby.  The first time my daughter slept 6 hours, I woke up, realized it had been 6 hours and thought for sure that she was dead.  She wasn’t, but I couldn’t get back to sleep after that.
  7. Love breastfeeding.
  8. Hate breastfeeding.
  9. Wonder how your baby could possibly still be nursing after 45 minutes.  (Where does the milk even go?  Aren’t their tummies the size of a walnut?)
  10. Wonder if there’s something wrong with your milk supply.  (There isn’t.)
  11. Wonder if you are really good enough for your baby.  (You are.)
  12. Want to yell at your partner because “You’re not doing it right!”
  13. Want to have sex with your partner.  HA! Just kidding.  You won’t want to have sex, but you might feel guilty for not wanting to have sex.
  14. Check if baby is breathing.
  15. Sell your ever-loving soul to the devil himself to get your baby to sleep for more than 3 hours.
  16. After 3 hours kind of wish that your baby would wake up so you can cuddle and play.
  17. Compare yourself to other moms. Don’t.  You are the best mom for your baby.
  18. Cry in your car or some other painfully public place.  My first trip to the grocery store with my newborn daughter ended with me abandoning a full grocery cart and running to my car to cry and nurse her.
  19. Hate your postpartum body.  Don’t.  Give yourself time to not care how you look.
  20. Debate whether or not you should wake baby up from wherever they happen to be asleep: While wearing them in the grocery store (you will continue to wander around the wine section. Hopefully they have samples), in the car (you will circle the block 100 times), on your arm (you will lose all feeling in your hand, but you will not move.)
  21. Feel frustrated, even a little mad at your baby.  (You are not a bad mom.  You are human.)
  22. Feel alone and isolated.  You are not alone.  Reach out to your tribe and if you don’t have one, I’m here.  I’ll be your tribe.
  23. Have scary, anxious thoughts when you leave the house like thinking that dog down the street will attack you and the baby.  Or being afraid that a train will somehow appear out of nowhere and hit you while you’re driving over the train tracks.
  24. Never ever EVER want to have another baby and go through it all again.  (You probably will, though.)
  25. Out of sheer desperation end up purchasing every known sleep contraption available for babies. (Luckily Amazon has a great return policy.)
  26. Get a permanent crick in your neck from spending so much time staring down at baby.
  27. Spend more time trying to get baby to sleep than baby spends actually sleeping. For example, one hour of rocking, bouncing, nursing, lunging, dancing, back to nursing, pacifier, swinging, back to nursing, back to rocking will result in approximately 20 minutes of baby sleeping. (Repeat the whole process in one hour)
  28. Take lots of naps. Ha! Just kidding. There’s no napping in motherhood. But you will want to throat punch the next person that tells you to “just sleep when baby sleeps.”
  29. Feel more overwhelmed by love than you have ever felt before.
  30. Check if baby is breathing.

I could go on with these.  Because I am currently in the thick of the fourth trimester I’m experiencing the new baby madness every day.  But you know what?  They start smiling.  And then they start cooing.  And then suddenly they are giggling and running and growing way too fast.  The fourth trimester is hard, maybe the hardest part, but it gets better.  So much better.  Hang in there if you are in it.  I stand in sleepless solidarity with you!  We’ll get through it together.


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