Today my TimeHop showed me a pregnancy test that I took one year ago today that confirmed that I was pregnant.
Fast forward a year and Finn turned three months old on August 18 and my fourth trimester officially came to a close. I’ve been putting off writing this post for two weeks because I haven’t felt that I have the words to adequately capture what this period of my life has been like.
It’s difficult for me to write about my fourth trimester experience because the lines between adjusting new motherhood and dealing with separating from my partner at two weeks postpartum are so blurred.
There is a parenting podcast named “The Longest Shortest Time.” That is exactly what the fourth trimester felt like to me. I could also call it “The Hardest Best Time.”
It was nothing like I thought it would be and more than I ever dreamed it would be, all at the same time.
I think I could ramble on for a while so I’m going to try to touch on a few of my biggest takeaways from the fourth trimester.
IT’S OKAY IF YOUR BIRTH DIDN’T GO THE WAY YOU THOUGHT IT WOULD…AND IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH THAT.
I wrote a post early on about Finn’s birth and the emotional recovery from a c-section. To be completely honest with you, while I have made peace with the way that Finn came into this world (through the “sunroof” as one of you so perfectly put it), I haven’t made peace with the whole experience of his birth and I think it will take the passage of time and a lot of healing before I do.
Over the course of this weekend while I was out and about I saw three very pregnant women. It is still very hard for me to see expecting mothers who are “about to pop” because it brings up so much emotion for me around what my birth wasn’t.
I don’t want to go into more detail than that because it feels extremely private but I guess I want to say that it’s okay if your birth experience didn’t go the way you thought it would and it’s also okay to have some trauma associated with it.
I WAS SURPRISED BY HOW MUCH CAME INTUITIVELY…AND HOW MUCH I LOVED IT.
When I was pregnant I felt so overwhelmed by how I was going to learn all the mom stuff. Having a baby showed me that I was 100% capable of figuring it out. The connection that I had with Finn’s needs along with my drive to care for him was something I never anticipated to feel on the level that I did. I accessed a strength and trust in myself that I had never tapped into before. I also couldn’t believe how much joy I felt over being a mom and how much I loved it. I wasn’t one of those girls who grew up dreaming of being a mom and honestly wasn’t sure if I had it “in me.” I think that’s okay to say here.
Now, don’t get me wrong…I have no idea what I’m doing. I have totally been there at 3 a.m. rocking a crying baby, reading Happiest Baby on the Block and wondering why the 5 S’s weren’t working for me. Being a mom is all about trial and error and every day I am just doing the best I can with what I know in the moment…but trusting my instincts has served me well so far. I guess I would encourage other new moms not to doubt yourself. As women, we were made for this. It’s the hardest job in the world but we have the tools within ourselves to do it.
BECOMING A MOM INSTANTLY TRANSFORMED MY RELATIONSHIP WITH MY MOM.
My mom initially wasn’t supposed to be in Charlotte for the birth but as I inched closer and closer to being induced, we knew how to time it so that she could be there. It was hands-down the best decision to have her with me for the birth and I cannot imagine going through it without her at my side. She arrived at 4 p.m. the day before I was scheduled to be induced. I ended up going into labor on my own that same night at 10:30 p.m. I truly believe her presence allowed me to relax enough to let things happen on their own.
I swear to you that for me the experience of labor and delivery instantly transformed my relationship with my mom. Not that we didn’t have a great relationship before, but I feel so much more deeply bonded and connected to her now. And I have SO much more respect for what she did for my brother and me in carrying us, birthing us and raising us.
I have been grateful for her continued unwavering love and support in my fourth trimester.
OTHER MOMS ARE THE FREAKING BEST.
I wrote a whole post about the support I received from other women, specifically moms, during my fourth trimester and I just have to say again that it was amazing and continues to be amazing. I have never felt so seen, supported and connected. I am so inspired to carry this forward to other new moms.
HOLY BABY BLUES.
I’m an emotional person but good god, nothing prepared me for the “baby blues.” I spent the first two weeks of Finn’s life crying ALL.THE.TIME. I cried over how perfect Finn was. I cried over how nice my friends were. I cried over how grateful I was for my mom’s help. I cried when my mom left. (Still doing that these days too.) I cried when I read Finn his first book. I cried when he choked on spit up and I thought something was wrong with him. I cried when I was breastfeeding. I cried at his first pediatrician appointment. I cried sometimes for seemingly no reason at all.
The baby blues did lift and I felt like my hormones leveled off and more like myself after a few weeks!
BEING A NEW MOM CAN BE LONELY.
The transition from my very busy life to the reality of being home with a new baby was difficult. Before Finn’s birth I told myself that I was going to really soak up the opportunity to slow down but it was harder than I anticipated to actually put into practice. When you have a baby your whole life changes in an instant. Your identity shifts. Things will never be the same. That’s a lot wrestle with as it is but layered onto that I also had the ending of a relationship and leaving a job and a community that was a huge part of my life.
I was alone with a baby and my whole world had changed. It’s been the hardest and the best thing for me to have to walk through and it has completely shifted my views of what is important and what I want out of life. COMPLETELY SHIFTED.
Regardless of whether you’re doing it partnered or single, being home with a baby can be lonely and isolating. It’s really helped me to travel to be with my family or to have them here. I’ve also been pushing myself out of my comfort zone to make plans with not only my friends but other new moms. Getting myself out of the house regularly is key to my sanity. I have never been so excited about running errands in my life.
THE FEMALE BODY IS INCREDIBLE.
Pregnancy, childbirth and the fourth trimester have given me a new appreciation and deeper love for my body. I can’t get over the miracle of Finn growing inside of me and that he now gets the nourishment he needs to grow and develop from my body. Breastfeeding has been hard but one of the coolest things that I’ve ever done. I’m also awed by my body’s ability to heal from major abdominal surgery. That has been an experience that I still want to write a separate post about.
NOTHING CAN PREPARE YOU FOR THIS RIDE UNTIL YOU’RE ON IT.
Last thing. You all were so incredibly helpful and open with sharing your insights and experiences in the comments you left and emails that you sent during my pregnancy. That being said, nothing prepared me for childbirth and the transition into motherhood until I experienced it for myself. I mean, I thought I had an idea of what this would all look and feel like. I had no idea. I SO APPRECIATE your brutal honesty in sharing pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood because it’s helped me more than you know.
I think that’s why other moms are so supportive of new moms. Because YOU KNOW. It’s just a whole new world.
Now that I got myself started on this end of the fourth trimester post, I’m having a hard time stopping. I just don’t think there are enough words to adequately express what this journey has been like.
Is it crazy that I’m sad that it’s over? Even though the days were brutal at times, I want them back. There was so much sweetness in the struggle. I remember being in the hospital and thinking, “I can’t believe I have so many friends who have done this more than once…I’m never doing this again.” And now I want to do it all over again. Being Finn’s mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I’m constantly being given the advice to soak it up because it goes so fast and it really, truly does. I’m trying so hard to be in the moment and to love every single day with Finn. Even though this is never what I dreamed being a new mom would be, it’s time I will never get back if I don’t choose to open my eyes and my heart to the gift that is right in front of me.
The fourth trimester…the end.