My Fourth Trimester ~ by Beth
I have known Beth for over 20 years since we started high school together (yeh that makes me feel old) and I'm so glad she shared her story with us.
I might have to trade her some Throwback Thursday photos for her blog hehe
"I spent my early 20s not entirely sure that I would ever have/want kids and I was okay with that. I like order, neatness, occasional alone time, reading, sleeping, a quiet home environment and kids aren’t generally (ever) conducive to those preferences, not mention the small issue of a massive aversion to poo and spew. Could be a problem.
Then I met my husband and decided that having kids with this person might be quite nice so we decided to give it a go.
For five years.
Finally, after two rounds of IVF, a dream pregnancy where my worst symptom was grossly swollen feet and a calm and empowering elective c-section birth, we found ourselves at home with Lila Isobel, an Actual Live Baby.
I still remember going in to her room to check on her and make sure she actually existed.
Recovering from the c-section was okay. A little “grabby” with a bit of pain and stiffness from time to time. To this day I can still feel it if pressed in the wrong spot. Not being able to drive for the first six weeks was frustrating. I mean, I *could* have, but you do what you’re told, don’t you? Online shopping became even more of a thing than ever and I had the same Australia Post delivery driver on my doorstep every morning, delivering shopping or presents from various friends and relatives . . . I don’t think she ever saw me out of pyjamas either.
As someone who had very little to do with babies in her former life, I went from never changing a nappy to being a dab hand. Mild gagging and eye-rolling pre-pregnancy at the very mention of touching someone else’s excrement became, “Ah, it’s just a little bit of poo.” Lila was a spewer from around four weeks old until she started solids properly at around 5 months. One of the best tips I read on Bub Hub prior to birth was to get a 12 pack of terry cloth nappies. We ended up having them strategically placed all around the house, lining her bed and bassinette and in the nappy bag. I still use them today as mini towels and household cloths. It’s something I pass on to every new mum I know. Preach!
Breastfeeding never really felt like it was working properly, except when I was in the lactation consultant’s office with a pair of extra hands to help and a decent chair. In the hospital, I pumped and fed with formula top-ups, trying to wring out that colostrum and get whatever we could into her. It hurt like a bastard, I was taking Motillium to improve supply, I felt nausea and dread along with the let-down and worried that she wasn’t getting enough because I wasn’t doing it right. We eventually got into the routine of feeding, expressing and topping up which helped me when my husband could take over a couple of the night feeds. At three months we moved to full formula feeding and a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders.
Settling was mildly challenging in the early days and sleep became a tradeable commodity in our house. I remember one night I noticed she was content to suck on a bottle which, unbeknownst to me at the time, had a blocked teat so she wasn't drinking and then settled to sleep. So the next morning when she fussed after feed, change, burp etc. I tried a dummy and she took to it happily and sucked to sleep. Although I would have been happy to avoid dummies if we could, I also want her to be soothed and settled. Now - at 2 and a bit years old - this approach is ongoing although now we’re trying to keep her off it during the day and use it only for bed time. One thing we also struggled with was keeping her under wraps, literally. She would fight to wriggle her hands out to have them up by her head, just like she was in utero. A friend of mine lent me a Love To Swaddle Up suit with the wings. That night, she slept through for the first time, which is why I quite often give one as a baby shower gift! Share the love (and the sleep!!)
My husband went back to work after four weeks off and I was anxious about being on my own during the day and not looking forward to it. He was proactive, hands-on and helpful – how was I going to survive on my own?
During those first weeks, I felt frazzled - as though I had done nothing all day yet had no time to do anything. I felt the need to frantically run around and do housework the minute she nodded off, had no time to eat, shower or look after myself and just felt overwhelmed at the thought of "this is my life now".
Then I remember having a really good day, like I'd not only got a lot done but also interacted well with her. I was worried it was all just feed, burp, change, settle, sleep with no "play" or stimulation, so I made an effort to show her some toys, lay her on her mat and hang out. I can do this! I thought. Sundays would loom up with the feeling of “What am I going to do all week?” so I made the effort to get out and about each day. We would go to appointments and visit friends and relatives. We regularly walked to the shops, post office, McDonald's, service station or just around the block.
I didn’t suffer post-natal depression or really bad anxiety but there were times when I felt completely overwhelmed, like I had no idea what I was doing, that I was struggling and just needed some reassurance and support. Luckily, I had my mother-in-law to visit and my own mother, who lived three hours away, came down often – once for a whole week – just to be there. This made a huge difference. I also had a good friend who had a baby 8 months prior to me who was my go-to expert and delivered helpful advice in a keeping-it-real format.
I didn’t join a mother’s group but did go to a few coffee mornings and Mums and Bubs yoga. It was good for the company (if not almost unbearably polite and stilted once we got past the swapping of birth stories) but I found myself stressing internally if she cried. I worried about being judged. To this day, I still feel a bit clumsy with prams and bags and all the things that go along with toting a child. I know it's silly to feel embarrassed about collecting a doorway with the pram wheel but there you are. I also give less side-eyes and more sympathetic smiles to people with fractious kids (unless they’re deliberately being terrors, in which case, *full glare*).
There was a point where everyone I spoke to - family, friends, strangers - wanted to know if we were going to have another baby. (I’m talking like when Lila was about seven weeks old). It took about a year to fully decide that we would be stopping at one. Although I have learned a lot, done much better than I thought and Lila is a great kid, we feel our family is complete at three.
My overarching feeling about having Lila is one of luck. Lucky to have access to and afford the IVF process, lucky for it to work so quickly, lucky to have a good pregnancy, lucky to have the birth I wanted at the hospital we chose. Lucky that Lila was and is a generally healthy, happy little girl. Lucky for the ongoing support from family, friends and the healthcare system. Lucky for the workplace flexibility that allows me to work 3 days per week. Just plain lucky."
About the Author:
Beth is a thirty-something suburban mum and part-time executive assistant who blogs about life, style, beauty and the never-ending pursuit of cute at www.almostposh.com
Would you like to be part of the My Fourth Trimester Project? Your contribution needs to be between 250-1200 words and can include up to 2 pictures and 1 link to your personal website/blog in your bio.
Contact me through my website for submission details or more information.
Prepare for an easier fourth trimester with these 25 Secrets From A Postnatal Doula!
Kelly Harper is the owner of Elemental Beginnings Doula & Placenta Services in Adelaide. She provides sleep consultancy, placenta encapsulation and doula services to families during pregnancy, birth and in their fourth trimester.