It Gets Better: The Fourth Trimester

It Gets Better: The Fourth TrimesterI distinctly remember a moment in both of our sons’ lives when my husband and I looked across the room at one another with a confident look in our eyes. Our gaze spoke of an acknowledgement: we made it; we got this! It was a combination of comfort in the routine, more sleep (for all of us!), and an overall confidence in my nursing and our diaper-changing and swaddling and humming skills. The milestone came at about three months for both boys, though every babe is different.

Those first weeks and months of a new little one are glorious, full of doe-eyed gazing and deep warmth in your heart. They are also tearful and exhausting. Even if you made it to “full term,” your little one has much still to accomplish in these first few months. The fourth trimester for your babe involves adjusting from the comforts of the womb to life outside; for mommy, this post-partum time is filled with fluctuating hormones, sleepless nights, and the new uncertainties that come with being responsible for another’s life.

It’s easy to be overwhelmed, frustrated with a baby or child or partner that isn’t acting how you expected. In those discouraging moments how easy it comes to belittle your body and the hard work you put into each day. After all, some days it seems you just sit on the couch while the house messes itself up around you! Don’t let that voice win in your head. Swaddle and shush and rock your baby gently all day long if you need. The utter shock of entering the world needs a comforting response, so hold that baby close as long as you’d like.

And don’t forget about yourself. Your body has had a busy year. If you enter into motherhood with more weight on you than you’d like, be amazed at what your body accomplished this year. If you fit right back into your skinny jeans, remember that your body too is still in full swing of fluctuation—of hormones adjusting and sleep depriving you of putting together full, coherent sentences at times. Be kind to yourself; ask for help.  Give people the opportunity to love and support you.

Last, though they may not have had as obvious of changes as you or your babe, remember that the rest of your family goes through the fourth trimester, too. Children stumble into their often unrequested roles as the older child and sibling; partners adjust to their roles as parents and your support system; grandparents enter into a whole new stage in life as parents of parents; and friends learn to be with you in a different time of your life. Oh, what a time to be you! How rocket-flying high and mood-changing low it is! Embrace it, mama. Know it gets, if possible, even better.

Lynette Moran shares her life with her husband and two sons, ages 1 and 3 years. She has cloth diapered both since birth and enjoys all things eco-friendly and mindful living.

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