The Fourth Trimester
The fourth trimester is a real thing. Simply explained to me, and perfectly understood after experiencing it, its the 3 months that start from the day baby is born where every day brings about new learnings and changes in their development and growth. According to a few pieces I’ve read, due to the average baby’s weight, these 3 months are completed outside the womb but the baby responds to and needs similar cocooning and comforting (heartbeats, sleep, warmth) as if he/she was still inside mum,
Noah has changed so much since the day he was born. Apart from his appearance (which I still don’t know how people can see so easily) his habits, patterns, responses and needs have morphed literally daily – leaving a new mum like myself constantly guessing. Maybe sharing my thoughts may help/support your experiences, and as always I’d love to hear from you.
When Noah came home from the hospital he slept like an angel – day and night. To be fair, he still sleeps extremely well at night, waking once for a feed and nappy change at around 2:30am and again at around 7am which I hardly count, as I would normally be getting up around then too. From that time on, he will sleep until 11am if I don’t wake him – which I’ve had to do regularly to start our day and be on our way. His day sleeps are where I find myself guessing. Strangely, Noah sleeps far better when I have him out and about with me between meetings and work stops, than on a normal day at home. The first two weeks aside, when he’s at home, he fights his sleep and when he does go down, it’s short bursts and he is easily woken. The hustle and bustle of malls and hotels, aircons and talking seem to have little impact on his sleep when out, but the slightest variation to sound at home has him easily unsettled. Andrew and I were determined to try and make Noah adaptable to many environments so we have him sleep in different areas at home (couch, moses basket, cot and bed etc), and from the start around all sorts of sounds from the kitchen, TV and chatting over dinner. So far he adapts perfectly, and we hope it stays that way.
Breastfeeding was the most challenging part of having a baby so far. I’ve found my rhythm now, and did about a week in but the start was painful and frustrating. While in hospital, the midwives were great with teaching me different ways to hold baby, and how to get him to latch. Noah drank far more on one side than the other, and by the time my milk had come in properly, my left breast was getting engorged from him not drinking enough on that side. One evening it got so large and sore that I had to take a warm towel and manually express. I hadn’t bought a pump before having him as I wanted to see how he went in order to decide which one was best for my needs. But that night, I ordered up anything they had at the local pharmacy and had immediate relief. We were quite concerned about mastitis. Seven weeks in and he drinks like a dream on both sides and I don’t dread it at all. I love our time together, bonding over a drink. As he grows he gets more interactive – holding on to my top, fiddling and pulling faces as he drinks.
I’ve had some epic poos so far… a few explosive ones that oozed out on to the couch and surroundings, and other smaller mustard supremes. In the last few weeks he has been less regular, going every 2-3 days, by the end of which he is really unhappy and uncomfortable. We’ve had a few bad nights of him squirming and fussing, and it breaks my heart not being able to help. He isn’t constipated – when he does go its soft and mustard yellow so all normal, but I have been told to just buckle in over those few days as breastfed babies do have these issues. We do our leg exercises, air bicycles and tummy rubs to help things along.
I know that getting any child, no matter how old they are, into a routine is important. Generally speaking Andrew and I are pretty relaxed as s couple. He has a rigid routine that prefers sticking to but that keeps him calm and happy, and I’m very much an ‘as the day needs’ kind of person, largely due to the job I’ve had for so long. With Noah we’re a bit in between. I try to stick to some sort of routine but we are both adamant that he shouldn’t run our lives, but rather we all fit into each others. He has his big bath in the morning when we get up. Most mornings he is quite happy to keep sleeping but with me needing to get to work, and wanting to make sure I give him his bath before I leave, his slumber has to be disturbed. Bath time involves a bit of play time without clothes or a nappy before the bath, and a massage and feed after. If I’m heading out with him as I often do, I then feed him and give him a chance to settle and (hopefully) sleep while I get ready and we then head off. He sleeps as and when he wants to during the day, and feeds much the same. In the evenings he has an ‘express-bath’ which is a more of a warm water rinse of sort, with an longer baby oil massage before PJ’s go on. Depending on where we are and what we doing, bed time starts from 9pm and can be as late as midnight by which time he’s probably asleep on the couch anyway. His average seems to be about 10pm, keeping in mind he usually gets up from his last nap some days as late as 7:30pm.
Survival of T4
Noah loves to be held. I used to beat myself up about bad habits until I read up and spoke to loads of friends who had the same issue. I thought it was me, or his grand parents that held him too much as a newborn but the more I read, the more I realize there is no such thing. The takeaway from a lot of it was that if a baby is crying to be held, hold them. If they settle in your arms, carry them. If they want to be close to you, snuggle them. And I intend on doing just that. Yes, it’s a bit tough that he doesn’t lie on a mat or in a cot for ages while awake, but when I think about how fast the first 7 weeks have gone I almost feel this way I am forced to have him with me all the time and not miss a beat. And that’s something I love. He is getting better at lying next to me while I am on my laptop, or with his dad is doing some work next to him, but not for long. We’ve tried sounds and mobiles but not long after being quite happy playing away he squirms to be picked up. I have mastered the art of one-handed everything, the fastest showers imaginable and dressing or applying make-up with him strapped to me. At the end of it all, I’ve had to develop a lot more patience and accept it for what it is. He’s my little buddy and I wouldn’t have him any differently.
Getting out and about has been pretty interesting too. Read all about stepping out with him for the first time and all the times after on my post: First steps out as ‘Mum’ – coming soon. You’ll hear all about my travel trauma so far!
Please let me know about your experiences in the comments below. I’ve taken such comfort and learnt so much from my friends, of which all of you are too, so do share what you’ve gone through in the comments below.