Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The fourth trimester

I was thinking back this weekend about pregnancy and the whole crazy process of becoming a mother.  It was a year ago on Mother's Day that I found out I was pregnant after taking about 15 pregnancy tests.  The day I went into labor I don't know that I realized how quickly things were about to change.  I really couldn't picture not being pregnant.  I had no idea what it would be like to be a mother but I knew deep down life was about to take on a whole new meaning.

September 2013 when we found out we were
having a girl!
I remember the first days home with Jeanette, they were terrifying.  We took three bags of stuff home from the hospital because we had no idea what to expect.  We never let Jeanette out of our sight.  We were totally consumed in learning how to care for her and it was not easy.

I've heard some people call the first three months the fourth trimester and they are right!  Learning to adjust to parenthood does take a good three months, learning what each cry means, how to adjust your schedule to the needs of your child, learning how they like to be held and snuggled, how to keep up on housework, there are so many things that happen during those first three months.  Here are a few of my tips for first time moms during the fourth trimester:

Do what works for you: We started putting Jeanette in the crib from day one.  I didn't mind getting up and walking to the room next door to feed her in the night.  We bought a good video monitor (such a good investment) and watched her to see if we needed to get up with her.  If having the baby in your room works better, then do that.  There were nights where Jeanette would only sleep in her Rock and Play sleeper so I rocked her and layed on the couch.  We took turns staying up with her on the nights she didn't sleep to keep our own sanity.  Try not to beat yourself up if breastfeeding doesn't work, I only made it for three months before I wasn't producing enough.  Don't let the advice and judgement of other people keep you from doing what is best for you, your baby and your sanity!  

Jeanette at one week old
If people offer you help, take it:  We had lots of people bring over food, my mom came to hold her so I could clean the house and watched Jeanette so we could go out alone for an hour on Valentine's Day.  It's okay to take a little time for yourself and to allow others to help.  Everyone loves a cute baby and any excuse to hold one is good for most people, especially aunts, uncles and grandparents.

Eat and sleep when you can:  You will need your energy to take care of the baby.  Be sure to keep easy to make meals on hand like microwave breakfast sandwiches or cereal for the morning, soup and sandwich supplies for lunch and easy pre-made dinners (or send your significant other out for Jimmy Johns or to pick up a pizza).  If you're not breastfeeding, have an extra cup of coffee in the morning and be sure to drink lots of water!!!  I found that staying hydrated was not only helpful with breastfeeding but also with my general energy level.  I tried to nap for at least part of the time Jeanette was napping if I didn't get any sleep the night before.

Listen to your baby:  People are going to give you a lot of advice when you are a new mom, so take it with a grain of salt.  Your baby is going to be the one who makes the decisions at first!  It's okay to let your baby cry, they may not like a pacifier.  They may want to eat every hour or you might have to wake them in the night to get them to eat (the later is what happened to us).  Jeanette loved to be swaddled at the hospital, but when we got home it just made her mad so we moved on to the sleep sack.

Sometimes there is nothing you can do to soothe your baby:  From about 8-9pm every night, Jeanette has what we call fussy hour.  There is nothing you can do to soothe her.  She will calm herself down after a while, but I think it's just her time to crab and cry.  I know she's not hungry and that her diaper is dry so I just hold her and rock her and try to offer the pacifier (it's never been her favorite thing so I don't force it).  I've heard that babies do this and I think it helps wear her out for the night.  I know it won't go on forever and that eventually she will calm down.    

Make time for your marriage:  Sounds pretty impossible right?!  Well, my suggestion is to do your best to make this a priority.  Andrew and I went out alone for the first time when Jeanette was about 2 weeks old, it was only for two hours on Valentines Day so we could enjoy a dinner together.  We didn't do anything fancy, but it was nice to just be together.  It's so hard not to be completely consumed by your baby, but remember that your relationship with your spouse was the start of it all and they are still an important part of your life.  If you don't feel comfortable leaving your baby just yet, wait till you put them to bed at night and snuggle on the couch together for an hour or two, enjoy a glass of wine and talk about your day.

Our wedding day, where it all began.
What worked for you during the 4th trimester?  What advice were you given that just didn't work for your baby?

1 comment:

Lindsay said...

The fourth trimester is SOO true! Sometimes I feel like I have it figured and then the next day something new happens and we have to adjust again. Not going to lie, I have this stage but I am looking forward to a normal scheduled life again.