Updated: Aug 3, 2018
I had not heard about the 4th trimester until my second child. For those who may be in the same boat as me, allow me to inform you…
Most of the information you will find regarding the 4th trimester is related to your baby’s development. This is an integral 3 month period that your child will establish sleep patterns, identify body parts, develop early communication skills, and connect with caregivers. I wanted to devote this blog post to the parents who have quite a different experience during those important 3 months!
While all these wonderful things are happening to your child you will most likely experience the sleep deprivation of a lifetime. Unfortunately our country doesn’t do the best at supporting new and growing families so most likely you have returned to work within the first three months of your child’s birth and are learning to operate on “E”. Let me share a little of my experience and how I learned to survive this trimester.
Pictured here is my beautiful chubby daughter at about 2 weeks old. This was our life for the first month. She needed to be on me 24/7 which was a little bit of a different experience from my first child. She napped on me, was awake on me, nursed from me, and was soothed by me. She would socialize briefly with others but would want to return to home-base rather soon. Let me just say, this is absolutely normal for a newborn. This however did not feel normal to me. Although I loved the skin to skin time and loved feeling needed, there was a point where all I wanted was to go to the restroom alone or have a stretch of 4 hours of sleep uninterrupted. Since my situation was not going to change immediately, I needed to change my perspective. Here’s what helped me.
This period of time will not last forever
I am loving my daughter by providing her with cuddles, kisses, milk, diaper changes, baths, and lots of physical affection
Its ok to: shower, ask for help, allow others to help, and express when I have reached my limits.
I don’t have to do it all
Life is no longer the same, a new normal is being created
I am able to accept change and adapt to it
These mental shifts were and still are huge for me in adjusting to the newness of our growing family. I have found more enjoyment in each stage of parenthood when I learn to let go of the way life was before and create new standards for the present.
That means I had to accept that we were not going to be on time anywhere until we learned how to juggle getting ready with our now family of four. I also have had to adjust to function on disrupted sleep and going to bed at 8pm to compensate for lost hours of sleep due to several night time feedings. Accepting the changes in our social life were also key for us and our friends.
Speaking of friends. With my second child I implemented a rule that if anyone wanted to stop by to see the baby and/or just hang out they had to complete one small chore before they left. This rule included family and friends. On my refrigerator I wrote on index cards: load the dishwasher, unload the dishwasher, sweep, change a load of laundry, fold one load of laundry. Initially my husband and I felt bad asking people, but the truth is we needed help! To our surprise everyone was more than willing to help and would usually complete more than one task! After 3 months, things typically level off and routines become more realistic. I hope that reading this will help you survive what can be a grueling 4th trimester.
Peace and love.