The Fourth Trimester

If there’s anything I’ve learned as a new mom, it’s that you have to GO WITH THE FLOW. I’ve been surrounded by social media, friends, family members who tell me “you have to do this,” and “don’t do this.” For the most part, everyone means well.. but let me tell you something.. MY BABY IS NOT YOUR BABY. And – SURPRISE – every baby is different and every parent is different. That’s great if something worked for you, but it may not work for us (and trust me-I’m a try everything kind of gal), so please continue along with your “exepertise.” 😉

Now don’t get me wrong – I appreciate little tidbits here and there because I am a first time mom and, frankly, I have no idea what I’m doing (ha!) But please take the, “you’ll regret it if you do that,” and walk yoself outta our lives. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

The first few weeks of the “4th trimester” were certainly challenging. I am so happy I made people wait 2 weeks before visiting AND to be honest, if we have another kid, I am only allowing people to come the first 3 months if they’re willing to help. Like – I am going to leave a list of dishes, food prep, laundry. If ya don’t want to help out, don’t come until later, easy as that. It might seem harsh or mean, but truthfully, trying to cook for everyone, run around for everyone, impress everyone, all while trying to regulate a baby’s schedule – making sure she takes naps and doesn’t get overtired (because babies less than 3 months really can only stay awake 45-60 minutes which includes feeding time) + breastfeeding constantly (the first 6 weeks at least).. It’s just not worth it. I’m sorry if that takes people’s joy away, but that’s how I feel. And frankly, I am the one doing all the recovering and who put in the effort for 9 months so — sorry bout ya luck. Come visit a few months later.

I recorded my birth story and my breastfeeding journey on my instagram if you’d rather listen – @jennpalmer19 (will also link here soon). Things I learned about breastfeeding: it’s a commitment, it’s hard work, it’s worth it. Those first 2 weeks are ROUGH as you’re sleep deprived, trying to recover from birth, in pain, trying to feed every 2-3 hours, etc. ROUGH. Then each 2 weeks I felt like got better. By 6 weeks I felt like I really had the hang of it and it’s only gotten easier since!

During all of my breastfeeding time, I found a lot of different websites and social media sites that I would look up. There are SO many and I felt like I had to find what resonated with me. In the end, I decided I am more of an “attachment-based” parent and I really try to mother by my intuition instead of what books or other things say. So far, so good (I hope-ha!) I actually feel that I really love a few on Instagram that seemed to really speak to me: @islagracesleep and @ontrackbaby were the two big ones. They speak more to parenting via developmental age, watching cues, keeping the baby out of “baby containers,” and letting the baby explore the way they were intended to. Again, their accounts just seemed to fit for me- but are likely not for everyone else.

I have to say one of the toughest things about my transition into motherhood is adapting to a new me. I’ve always considered myself to be mentally strong (I feel like that’s necessary to give birth naturally-haha). It’s such a weird and difficult spot to find yourself when you’re trying to merge the old you with the new you. I know it may seem silly, but for me, it’s tough. You see, old me loved working out, eating healthy, my career, my websites, staying busy and productive ALL the time (plus naps). New me loves hanging out with my daughter, watching her grow, teaching her how to reach milestones. I still love working out and eating healthy. I still love my career. I still love being productive, BUT there’s just not enough time for everything. Giving certain things up is HARD because I’d love to do it all – that’s just my personality. But I can’t, and that’s something I have to accept. This is WAY easier said than done.

Sure, some of you are probably like, “just give ____ up.” Sure, I could quit my jobs if I wanted (it would be tight with these student loans, but could be done). But truthfully, I loved being away to teach for my first day at work (one of my jobs). I felt like I had another purpose. I missed my daughter and husband but I was SO happy to come home to them. I felt like it made me appreciate being with my daughter more. And that was just one day. The problem is, when at work, I had to pump multiple times a day because I chose to breastfeed (and won’t let work stop me). I then felt like I slightly failed my students. I wasn’t there the whole time, I missed out on parts of the lab where I would normally jump in, I felt kind of useless. To top that off, I felt guilty feeling happy about being away. What a crazy mind, right?! HELLO POSTPARTUM AND MOTHERHOOD – ha!

This is the part of the 4th trimester and motherhood that has got to me the most. The physical pain and healing is temporary, but the rest of this is tough. I know eventually I’ll be able to get back to doing more – this is all only temporary. But man is it hard. And sure, I could stay up late and work on more things after she goes to sleep..but I need sleep too (I don’t function well without it haha). One thing I have learned to do, which is becoming easier as she gets older, is do at least one thing for myself each day. Make a matcha latte, do a few exercises for 5-10 minutes while she plays independently, get outside.. All of these have made a tremendous difference for me and help me so I don’t “snap” on Scott (which has happened a few times already, I won’t lie.. It’s hard to not feel resentful at times when you’re the feeding machine and the hubs gets to sleep haha – yes he would get up if needed, but he’s working and I’m not so I’m okay with this).

Anywho, now we’re at 13 weeks as I type this. Little homie is 3 months old and she is wild! She has gone from being able to nap easily on me, to having to be nursed to sleep at times, to not falling asleep and fighting everything, to needing to be worn in a baby carrier, to needing to be walked in a stroller.. the whole nine yards! It’s all trial and error, folks! At least for us it has been. And not one thing works one day that will work the next (except the ErgoBaby carrier …right now – ha!) It’s a battle for sure figuring out what you want to sacrifice. Do you want the baby to sleep in the crib but then risk her not getting enough sleep that day because she wakes up in 5 minutes? Do you want her to wake up constantly all night or do you want to sit on the couch and let her sleep in your lap? Do you want to let her nurse to sleep or do you make her go down drowsy but awake? We have tried SO MANY THINGS and let me tell you — whatever works for YOU and your family is what is best. The AAP can say one thing, billy bob Joe can say another, the lactation consultant can say another… but it is up to YOU with what works best. Listen to your instincts, that’s what I’ve come to realize 🙂

I don’t think I have more to rant about.. so if you made it this far, cool! I hope this opens your eyes up to what the journey into motherhood is really like 🙂 If you need some recommendations on postpartum things and pregnancy essentials – check out those blogs 🙂

Feel free to comment or message me if you have any questions! I’m not very experienced but I like to think I’m an open minded person 😉 And mothering really takes a village – you can’t do it alone.

Until next time,

Jen

Published by Jennifer Palmer PT, DPT

Instagram: @jennpalmer19 Twitter: @x3jennyfur Global PT Connect Instagram: @globalPTconnect

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