The Dreaded 4th Trimester
My little guy is two months this week! Oh how time flies. A few months ago, I was all aglow and thinking solely of nursery decor, tiny baby clothes and finally getting to meet this little nugget I'd already fallen in love with.
I wish I could say everything has been amazing since the day he was born and I wake up every morning with a huge smile on my face ready to take on every hardship motherhood has to offer. While many things are undoubtedly wonderful, a few aspects of postpartum life definitely caught me off guard. Big time. There are things I never even thought about or had the capacity to understand prior to living them.
When you're pregnant, there's a massive amount of information about exactly what's happening at every minute of your belly's growth. There are countless books and classes about pregnancy and giving birth itself, but very little is said about the fourth trimester. Here are 5 things I wish someone had told me about postpartum:
1. You'll feel sad.
Yep. Sad. Sad as in crying for 15 minutes straight not quite knowing why. Sadness after your baby is born is the most peculiar thing. Like most people, I succumbed to googling what in the world was wrong with me. Deep down inside, I knew it was just my hormones, but my sadness seemed so unwarranted that I felt guilty - which just perpetuated the feeling. I had a beautiful healthy baby boy, a loving husband and was surrounded by lots of help those early days. Why was I feeling so down?
Pregnancy leads up to such a climactic end. Few things in life go out with such an extreme high note. After the amazing moment that is the birth of your baby, it's understandable to feel a bit of loss. After all, pregnancy is over—now what? Will motherhood forever consist of diapers, nonstop feeding, no sleep and an essential loss of everything familiar? Last month, Chrissy Teigen came out with an article in Glamour Magazine opening up about her postpartum depression. For those who haven't read it -- I've linked it here. It was nice to see someone in the public eye open up about something so personal. Teigen detailed her bouts of “spontaneous crying” and explained how she couldn't wrap her head around the overwhelming feeling of sadness despite having everything a new mom could ask for. She mentioned the lack of conversation around postpartum depression - because of which she never expected to experience it after having her daughter.
Although I didn't get postpartum depression, that first week when I experienced those baby blues were enough to shake me to my core. It took me about 10 days to feel like myself again. Expecting those feelings and knowing that they, like everything else, will pass, will certainly help me cope next time around.
2. Breastfeeding is not easy.
Breastfeeding seems like it should be the most natural thing on the planet, but for some women it just isn’t. It's painful at first and super demanding. Babies are milk monsters, and if you are nursing, you have to be readily available to feed them anywhere at anytime. Which means I now have to be strategic with what I wear. Tip: if you're currently pregnant and buying maternity clothing, make sure it's nursing friendly as well. I'm not sure why I thought nursing a baby every 2-3 hours would be a breeze and I could learn to multi task while I did it - It most definitely isn't easy, nor have I learned to accomplish anything while I nurse.
3. The no sleep thing.
Yep. No one's exaggerating. You get no sleep. No sleep despite all the help you'll have. No sleep even when baby is asleep. No sleep even when you want to sleep.
4. Pain - everywhere.
Yes, labor is no joke. I expected a sore back and pelvic area, but little did I know my entire body would ache for days. Waking up with aching wrists, feet and ankles was no fun. Childbirth is a workout like none you have ever experienced. You use muscles you never knew you had. Abs, lowerback and glutes from bearing down. Thighs, calves and even my feet from being held up. I now think about how much physical work goes into giving birth and I'm not so surprised or concerned about the pain I felt.
4. The constant worry and fear you will live in.
No one told me that it will take a while to sleep soundly or have rational thoughts again. The innocence of your baby coupled with the craziness of this world is a recipe for mental disaster. Phantom crying is real, people. Whenever I got a moment to myself when Zidaan was sleeping, I would run to the bathroom, try to get a shower in, or get some tasks done until I heard his cry again. I would sigh and go to check on her only to realize that he was still sound asleep. I thought I was going crazy until I realized, like everything, this is also normal. You hear your baby in your head constantly. Mama instincts are out of this world.
5. Joining the mama club.
Lastly, no one told me that I would have an instant bond & connection with other moms after becoming a mom myself. There’s something incredibly humbling about giving birth. Perhaps because it's quite possibly the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. Knowing that other women have also gone through similar experiences gives me reasons to instantly connect and have so much respect for them. There’s little words to describe what you just went through, and the only people that can truly understand are the women that also have gone through it themselves. There’s this instant bond knowing that you’ve gone through the same thing.
Bonus –> 6. You will be amazed at how you could possibly love someone so much – Your constant crying won’t just be from bad things. You’ll look at the face of your sweet sleeping baby and cry because you're so overwhelmed with love. Amongst the frustration and exhaustion, he will bring you so much joy.
Thank you for reading!