Monday, May 5, 2014

The "Fourth Trimester"

I'd heard people refer to a baby's first 3 months of life as the "fourth trimester" due to all the work involved in having a newborn. They aren't smiling or laughing or cooing or babbling at you yet. They are eat, sleep, and poop machines and have many demands. The first few months are just outright hard, but if you know and expect that going in, it's much easier to handle doable! Having just gotten through one myself, I thought I'd jot down some notes to review if there is a baby Houston #2 down the road, once the trauma of giving birth fog of baby #1 clears. Considering it took me 2 years to get on a bicycle again after having an accident with my 10 speed in 5th grade... I suspect clearing a child through the birth canal will take some time to get over.

1. Showers will take you from zero to hero. In the first couple weeks especially, taking a shower was the only time I felt like I really had my wits about me. It was the only time I wasn't on call and could relax- albeit for 5 to 10 minutes max. Invest in the time to get yourself cleaned up. On the same lines, the first bubble bath post child will seem as if you've checked into Grove Park Inn & Spa. Even if you only get to relax for a spell before your little monster sweet newborn needs to eat again (afterall, it's probably been a whole 30 minutes since you fed her, wink).

2. Dry shampoo is your equivalent to salon hair status. Let's face it, try as you may, sometimes it's not feasible to get your glam on. Even with the best intentions to get said shower, there's going to be days where that doesn't happen, but you still need to leave the house. In order to do so and disguise the tornado of a bird's nest that's happening where your lovely pregnancy hair used to live- let dry shampoo be your friend. I used it pre-Evans, but man I swear by it now. You'd never know my locks hadn't been washed in several days, my clothes were covered in milk stains and there was possibly fresh spit up running down my back.

3. Speaking of spit up- have a change of clothes in your car at all times. And I don't mean for the babe. I mean for you, Mommy. I had to learn this the hard way. Somehow Evans was mighty good at completely missing whatever cutesie outfit she was wearing, but drenching me in a shower of vomit. Lovely.

4. Go outside every single day. Cabin fever causes insanity. It can become quite Shining-esque if you don't make it a point to get out of the nursery. You don't want to be staring at your sleep deprived self reciting red-rum over and over. Even just poking your head outdoors to soak in the world outside of what's become your new life with child- it helps. This was hard for me to do because Evans was born in the coldest winter we've had in Atlanta since I moved here 7 years ago. However, I did it anyways. Even just a walk down to the mail box helped me SO much in the early days. It sounds so crazy, but sunshine helps.

5. Your baby will eventually sleep in her own room, in her own bed, through the night. Looking back, I should have stressed less about this and trusted that it would eventually happen. Evans started sleeping through the night at 15 weeks, and in her crib at 16 weeks. I spent so much time worrying over her swing-sleeping habits and wish I had accepted it more. She'd eventually grow out of this. Be patient.

6. Breastfeeding hurt at first, but it was worth it. Your nipples might resemble asphalt by the time you've passed week 1 and 2, but the bond with your child is so worth the initial pain. And I love to remind Hubs how much money we saved not using formula. $$$$.

7. Embrace your  mommy-friends. It is more important than ever to have friends with older children that can advise you, or friends who are having babies around the same time that can talk to you at 2am because they are up, too. Honestly I wish I had been more supportive to my gal pals that had kids before, as I had no idea at the time what life with a newborn was really like. I wish I had checked in on these girls more often to see how they were doing and offered a helping hand. Live it, learn it. I'm SO grateful for all my girls that I can turn to for advice and been-there-done-that conversations. Love you ladies!!

8. Your own mom is now your best friend if she wasn't before. My mom and I have always been close, but now I don't know what I'd do without her. ESPECIALLY during those first 3 months.

9. It's just a blip in baby's life. Soon she won't be crying 6-8 hours a day. Before long she'll be smiling when you enter a room, paying close attention to her surroundings, trying out new tricks like rolling over and crawling, and eventually she'll be moving out and into her college dorm. That newborn that loved to sleep in a swing and demanded to nurse every hour on the hour will be gone in a blink. Take a few moments each day to remind yourself of that, and soak it all in.

10. It gets better awesome. So many people told me this from day 1. It'll get better. Trust me. It gets better. I wandered around in a sleep deprived stupor not believing them. However, being on the other side now, I know it to be true....

You'll go through those infant days and still feel like the luckiest human being to ever walk the earth. 


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