Guest Written By: Shila Zand
The fourth trimester: the first and most precious three months of a baby's life outside of mommy’s womb.
The ninth month of my pregnancy seemed interminable. Swollen ankles, acid reflux, restless legs, always needing to empty my bladder and more. Nine months or 40 weeks sounds like the perfect amount of time to occupy my very comfortable uterus, right? I used to think of it as more than enough time for a baby to get ready for this wild world of ours and vacate the premises at the end, because I, your mom, have been waiting patiently to hold you in my arms.
Come to my surprise, I was told that babies would be much happier if they could stay in that velvety soft and fluffy place they made their home even longer than nine months. I don’t know about you but just thinking about keeping him inside for another week makes my uterus scream.
I gave birth via C-section at exactly 40 weeks. The first few weeks were all about surviving and bonding for me. I wanted to hold him, smell him, squeeze him and take every moment in. This is the stage I have come to call, the learning curve. Feeling so in love but at the same time scared to death to hurt this perfect little human.
I remember the first few weeks, he didn’t want to sleep. He didn’t know night from day, and all he wanted to do was cry, and cry more, louder and louder. His cries had an affect on me and they hurt me deeply. His cries made me feel like a failure as a mother, not knowing what to do to soothe my baby, feeling helpless. Having had a C-section I was very limited in what I could do, but I tried anyway.
All I wanted to do was to make him feel better and more comfortable and feel at home in the nursery that I had worked for nine months preparing and probably my entire life planning in my head, being so excited to finally be a mother. To make a perfect, cozy, happy and let's be real super cute nursery for him. None of that seemed to matter, nothing was consoling him and I felt more and more like failure as a mom. I tried rocking him back and forth, shushing, playing loud ocean sounds, white noise, I did everything that I had read about in all of the books and to my surprise nothing worked. Until finally one night I was so exhausted and sleep deprived that I fell asleep with him crying in my arms covered with my cozy blanket.
For the first time after weeks, we both slept for a good four hours. You might think, “FOUR HOURS?” That’s not a lot, but going from waking up every 20-30 minutes to four full hours is pretty awesome if you had asked me. This was a much-needed sleep and bonding for both of us. I woke up staring at his big brown eyes staring back with a big smile and that made me feel whole again.
I have learned to listen to my instincts with my boys while raising them. The fourth trimester is all about welcoming our baby and making this transition as comfortable as possible for them. Creating an environment that resembles where they came from and in order to make that happen, you need to learn what your womb felt like for them. In the womb, everything was so easy and their most important needs were always met, but it doesn’t feel like that when they’re on the outside. Noise, allergens, bright lights, and not being attached to mommy is a very scary thing to go through.
Process of separation is not easy for a helpless little one. Create an environment that is warm, secure, and comfortable.
By crying they are trying to communicate that they need to be warm and feel that you are near, and they are still loved. The best thing we can do is to ease them to this crazy world of ours. Keep them close, cuddle them, wear them, let them feel your body warmth, your breath, and by doing that you will raise a secure and happy child.
As mothers we know when to follow ours instincts. So stop doubting yourself and follow it. You are amazing, you are a creator, and you are everything that your baby needs and more. Take this 10 to 12 stage in stride. Enjoy every moment, all the cries, all the diaper changes, all the throw ups and the sleepless nights. They shall pass and at the end you will look back and wish you could do it all over again.