Have you heard of the fourth trimester? According to the new-parent Bible The Happiest Baby on the Block, babies could really use another three months in the womb, so the best way to help them adjust to life outside is to recreate that cozy abode. Cliff notes: Stock up on swaddles and get a white noise machine for every room of your home. I’ve also heard the fourth trimester refer to the adjustment period for moms, too—because even though the baby is out, the little nugget is still pretty much attached to you. Throughout my pregnancy, I shared what I hadn’t been expecting during each trimester (see one, two and three), so I’ll finish things off with what surprised me most from the so-called fourth trimester.
Warning: If you’d prefer that the post-childbirth experience remain a beautiful mystery, you should stop reading. Or if you’ve had babies and amnesia and want to keep it that way, you should also stop reading. Additional warning: I’m going to mention hospital-grade pads and my boobs. Dad, you should really stop reading—or just scroll down to the baby pics. Without further warning, here are five things that I wasn’t expecting while I was no longer expecting...
1. The first diaper change was terrifying—and I’m not talking about the baby’s. After pushing a human out of my body, I soon discovered how little I knew about what it takes to recover from this tremendous feat. Why didn’t anyone mention the diaper-sized pads, ice packs and stacks of disposable, mesh underwear that would be waiting for me in the hospital room, or that I’d need to sit on an inflatable pillow for weeks? Maybe my friends didn’t want to scare me. Maybe my mom wanted to be sure that she’d be a grandmother. Either way, I’d say that some aspects of the post-delivery days were just as intense as labor—if not more so because by then, that epidural was long gone.
2. Breastfeeding was the only thing I did for the first month. Or at least that’s what it felt like. If a tiny human wasn’t attached to my chest, the thought of breastfeeding still consumed me. I was either ordering stronger nipple cream, looking online for a new wardrobe of shirts with easy boob access (not in the sexy way), or Googling whether my baby was normal (does he really need to eat this much? Yes. Will I ever get to do anything else? Eventually).
3. My balance came back and then some. Instead of the clumsy, uncoordinated feeling that lasted throughout the second half of my pregnancy, I was suddenly a ninja. I could open a jar with one hand while holding a sleeping baby in the other. I could sneak back into bed—avoiding a death trap of swings, bouncy seats and laundry baskets—in total silence. I could balance both a nursing baby and a plate of tacos in my lap, successfully feeding two people at the same time. Boom.
4. Confession: Immediately after delivery, I didn’t feel the overwhelming sense of love for my baby that everyone talks about. I felt lots of other things: pride, happiness, relief, more pride—oh my God, I did it! And it was awesome! I’m awesome! But love, well, I needed a little more time to get to know this new person first. Now, I fall more and more hopelessly in love with my son every day. His head smells like heaven and his eyes are so blue and, okay, you get the picture.
5. Babies are amazing. That might sound obvious to most, but I’d never spent much time around them. Even though many of my friends have babies, I’d often pass on holding the tiny things for fear of revealing just how clueless I was. But now that I’ve spent almost every waking hour (so, all of the hours) of the past three months with one, I’m just in awe. Whether it’s with a new word (okay, sound), smiles that have turned into laughter (cutest thing ever), or an arm around mine that suddenly feels purposeful, our little guy amazes me in new ways every single day.
And now, pictures! Don’t worry, cute parts only...
Does it get any better than a baby in bulldog pajamas?
Another adorable thing about babies? They love being read to, so we keep adding more books to Will’s collection. Spoiler: Almost all baby books end with the main characters—be them dinosaurs or dump trucks—going to bed. Variation for animals: Hibernation.
A recap from Will’s first months wouldn’t be complete without a picture of this swing. No baby—or new parent who wants to remember what sleep feels like—should be without one.
I love spending time in Will’s animal-themed nursery. Photo by Meg Perotti—can’t wait to share more!
Our other baby loves hanging out in the nursery, too.
And then there’s this face. The end.