Monday, July 30, 2012

5 things I didn't expect about the "4th Trimester"

So there's two varying opinions about "the fourth trimester," otherwise known as the first 3 months of your baby's life.  It's called the 4th trimester because, in a lot of ways, your baby is still just sorta continuing exactly what he/she was doing in the womb - getting rest, getting nutrition, and growing.  Thank the Lord, however, that He allows us to actually deliver after 9 months instead of 12.  I don't think I could have handled 3 more months of Baby O inside me, nor could my pelvis have survived her birth at her current size!

Anyway, the two opinions are:
a) Stay home.  Rest.  Get to know your baby and yourselves as parents.  Take it easy.  Don't have a lot of visitors.
b) Go out.  Strap the baby on in a carrier and take her with you.  Pretend nothing's changed.  She doesn't have a schedule anyway and she'll sleep wherever you are.

Overall, while Ben and I did some of column A, we mostly did column B.  We went to church when baby O was only 5 days old.  We have gone out to restaurants, taken the train/bus, had friends over weekly for community group, and even gone on a weekend trip to Indiana in a 4 seater plane!  While I thought I was prepared for the "4th trimester," there are a few things I didn't expect...

1) How quickly my husband became a father.  Sure, I knew Ben would be a great dad.  I knew he'd love Baby O, think she was adorable, and even learn to change diapers.  I just didn't expect him to become a father instantly.  I won't even say "over night," cause it didn't take a full 24 hours.  On day 1 of her life, he was putting her needs first, changing diapers, and swaddling her like a champ... seriously, as if he'd been doing it his whole life!  I continue to be amazed by the ease with which he's taken on this new role and how little teaching he requires.  I'm truly blessed.

2) Wetness.  Everywhere.  Sure... babies are wet.  They have wet diapers, they spit up... but during the 4th trimester, it was not baby O who was such a mess.  She was little and predictable.  My wetness was outstanding.  This may be too much information for some of you who know me personally, but I sweat differently than I used to.  I leaked before, during and after breast feeding sessions.  My pelvic floor muscles weren't yet back to normal and I could have unpredictable accidents anywhere and everywhere... without notice.  I thought I'd be chasing after O and her messes, but I could barely keep up with my own!  So mothers-to-be, consider yourselves warned!

3) How well we would all sleep.  It's controversial, but Ben and I easily fell into the idea of co-sleeping.  He was convinced during pregnancy that O would never ever ever sleep in our bed.  So I quietly got a bassinet and agreed to talk about it later.  But on night 1 home from the hospital, in our groggy fatigue, co-sleeping is what made sense.  So we did it.  And it continued... sure, some nights she starts the night in the bassinet so that we have a bit of time and space to ourselves, but 100% of the time, she ends up in our bed.  And I have to say, I love it.  We all sleep REALLY well.  Ben sleeps, I sleep, O sleeps.  I can't believe how many times people make jokes about whether or not we're sleeping.  And the truth is, I can practically sleep through middle of the night feeds and we all sleep great, thank-you-very-much!

4) Limited Conversation. No one ever asks me about anything but parenthood.  Okay, I'll take it back, sometimes they ask about parenthood and working.  But it's as if I didn't exist more than 3 months ago, so any topic of conversation from before the last three months (aka, pre O) has disappeared from anyone's minds when I walk in a room.  And in some ways, I totally understand it.  And in others, I miss what life was about pre-baby.

5) How hard leaving O at daycare would be.  I've always thought that I'd go back to work after having kids.  It worked for my mom, it worked for my sister, it would work for me.  My career is important to me and I love my job.  Why wouldn't I go back?  But before the first week, I had the horrifying experience of my "Daycare Visit Day."  This is the day that I brought in O's sheets and clothes, diapers, health care documents, etc and got to meet the teachers, etc.  Almost instantly when the Daycare Director left us in the room with the teachers and the babies, I started to cry.  It was so weird, because cognitively, I got that it was a good thing.  But wow, my hormones were just not having it!  I only had 3 meltdowns in the first hour and a half visit (half of which I spent outside while O was inside with the teachers).  I say "only" 'cause I think that's actually pretty good! I figured it's better to embrace the emotions, tell myself that they're okay, own them, and move on.

Hey Moms, what were your surprises about those first 3 months of life?  

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