Monday, March 4, 2019

Fourth Trimester Recap

{Jack post-bath at 10 weeks}

The first three months postpartum are referred to as the "Fourth Trimester" and it's an often overlooked time period for many women, but I wanted to share my experience and hopefully shed some light for my new-mom & mom-to-be friends.

Greg and I agreed to limit visitors for the first week, and only allowed our parents to come to the hospital when Jack was born. We wanted to fully enjoy that time just the three of us as a family, without feeling the need to entertain while I was recovering and we were learning about our new reality. Looking back, I wouldn't have done this any other way. After about a week at home, we were ready to have friends and family come by to meet him, and it was so nice to have one-on-one time with each guest, rather than the chaos of the hospital with multiple interruptions every hour.

{taking our little guy home from the hospital}

I was lucky enough to qualify for 12 weeks of maternity leave and decided to take the initial 8 weeks and then work part-time (3 days a week for 2.5 months) to drag out the last 4 weeks. This helped me transition well because leaving Jack is still so hard. My dad graciously offered to watch him two days a week so it’s a relief that family is taking good care of our boy. My parents’ condo is about 10 minutes from my office so I visit them on my lunch break to nurse him and get some mid-day snuggles.

Greg qualified for 6 weeks of paternity leave and chose to take the first 4 weeks and save the last 2 in case of an emergency throughout the rest of the year. Having him home with me for the first month was the biggest blessing. We were both in a new parent fog of sleepless nights but it was so special to spend that time to really bond with Jack, and each other. Watching Greg become a father has made me fall in love with him all over again. He is so hands-on with our son ( bonus: he changes every nighttime diaper!) and is beyond supportive of me. Knowing that I have the best teammate in this parenting game is the greatest feeling.

{Jack's first bottle of expressed milk}

Recovery was so much harder than I thought it was going to be. While I was pregnant, I created a kit full of postpartum care items but I was not prepared for how much pain I would be in. I had a healthy pregnancy and a relatively easy delivery (with a first-degree tear) but I felt like I had been hit my a semi truck for weeks! It wasn’t until a solid month postpartum that I started to feel “normal” again. I feel like postpartum care isn't talked about as much as it should be. Between the obvious physical changes and challenges mixed with the hormonal roller coaster, it's a struggle.  Thankfully I did not experience symptoms of postpartum depression but definitely had the “baby blues” for about two weeks. My best tip is to ask for help - no matter how big or small. Even the simplest task of Greg keeping my water bottle full was a life-saver.

After getting the 6-week all-clear from my doctor, I began going for walks around the neighborhood with Jack in the stroller. Getting some light exercise and fresh air did wonders for my mental state. I'm now back in my regular workout routine with weight-lifting which feels great! It's difficult to fit it into my ever-changing schedule, but squeezing in 15-20 minutes here and there adds up.

{Seminole fan at 6 days old}

One thing that I researched and felt so strongly about during pregnancy was breastfeeding. My approach was to give it my best shot for the first couple weeks and not beat myself up if it didn’t work for us, for whatever reason. I’m so grateful that I’ve had a wonderful breastfeeding experience so far. Jack latched on his first day of life and has been a great eater since (have you seen those cheeks?!) I enjoy it so much - the bond is indescribable. The middle of the night feedings are admittedly tougher but something about just the two of us being up together, snuggling and staring at each other is so special.  There’s nothing I love more than the moment he’s full and he slides off with his eyes closed, and the look of complete satisfaction on his sweet face. I could watch him sleep in my arms for the rest of my life.

Since I’ve returned to the office, I’ve had to pump which is a lot of work but I’ve gotten a routine down and it’s getting easier. We introduced the bottle when he was a month old, to ensure that my milk supply was established and that he was young enough to adapt. Jack doesn’t love the bottle while I’m at work but at least he’s being fed liquid gold. My goal is to exclusively breastfeed for at least the first 6 months. During my maternity leave I started a freezer stash, and it's comforting to know that we have a good reserve built up for those times when I’m unable to nurse.

{milk drunk}

Sleep has been the hardest part - shocker! This kid resists naps, with 20-40 minute catnaps being his sweet spot during the day. The old adage “sleep when the baby sleeps” is impossible to follow. I’m a notoriously bad napper - unless it happens organically and I dose off on accident, I spend the whole time laying down with my eyes closed thinking of the million other things I should be doing (dishes, laundry, workout, shower). After tracking his habits on a baby app, we are slowly getting a nighttime routine established. He tends to go to sleep around 6-8pm for a 5-8 hour stretch, which gives Greg and I some time to make dinner and actually eat together rather than in shifts. After that first stretch, he only sleeps for 2-3 hours at a time before he’s ready to eat again, but it’s progress.

Every cliché I’ve heard of parenting is so true. Some of the best advice I was given is that the days
are long but the years are short. The past three months have flown by and as much as I wish I could hit pause, I’m doing my best to truly treasure every day and stage. Watching Jack grow and his personality develop everyday is so rewarding. I am so lucky to be his mommy.
     
{chubby cheeks & chunky thighs}

Jack loves:
the boob buffet
sleeping on mama’s chest
bath time
naps in the stroller on outside walks
dancing to Jack Johnson with Mommy & Queen with Daddy

Jack dislikes:
red lights
tummy time
being swaddled

{little flirt}

A few things I never want to forget from this stage:

Our first Christmas morning as a family of three, eating cinnamon buns in our pajamas and staring at our little miracle.

His scent, which smells like sweet milk.

The sound of his coos and babbles.

How he fits perfectly in my arm when he nurses, with his head in the crook of my elbow and my hand over his little tush.

His gummy grin that lights up my life.

That feeling when his body melts into mine as he falls asleep in my arms when we dance.

1 comment:

  1. Ohhhh he s so cuteeee
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    ReplyDelete

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