Thursday, August 23

we survived the fourth trimester! & weekly victories.

A phrase that is currently gaining traction in the world of pregnancy books and blogs is "the fourth trimester." I first saw the phrase in The Happiest Baby on the Block, which I read before Connor was born. Dr. Karp uses the phrase to explain that a newborn isn't totally aware that he/she isn't still in the womb, and anything un-womb-like is a shock to the little one's system. As the moms in my online support group would say, they're still potatoes for the first three months. Then there was a popular New York Times article and there are at least two books with that title.

I spent a lot of the "fourth trimester" mentally processing my emotions after Connor's birth did not go the way I had envisioned. In my job as a school director and instructional coach, I work with a lot of data. I like statistics. My pregnancy had felt average; I'd experienced symptoms right along the timeline the Ovia app said I would. I'd read that with most first pregnancies, the baby comes after the due date, so I expected to be able to start my maternity leave and have a few days of downtime before going into labor. I would prepare freezer meals and postpartum care items, finish doing some crafts for the nursery, and select books to read during my break from work and society. I knew that the majority of births aren't via Cesarean section, so I didn't expect to need one. Despite giving birth in a state of the art hospital surrounded by kind doctors, nurses, and my family, I had a rough time just dealing with the fact that the experience I'd envisioned - feathering my nest and then giving birth like some kind of woman warrior - had slipped away.

C-section recovery seemed to go on forever - I was still losing blood a few days before my 6-week check up.  Those freezer meals never got cooked and the meal train kindly set up by friends only lasted for the first week home, after which point I lived on microwaveable French bread pizzas, chicken pot pies, and canned tuna. Nights with the baby could be rough - latching to breastfeed was a struggle for Connor and there were tears from all three family members sometimes when it didn't seem like peaceful sleep would ever come. The nursery still isn't "done." I wish I had written more down, taken more pictures, but the truth is I was exhausted.

We survived the fourth trimester. I have returned to work (the self-help book about that is, of course, called The Fifth Trimester). Connor spends the day with a babysitter who he greets with a huge smile every morning. He is making eye contact and laughing and just generally less potato-y and more of a person. My hair isn't in a messy bun all day anymore, but it is falling out, right on schedule for a new mom. And every day feels like running a marathon.

During the haze of maternity leave, Mr. Q would leave for work when I was still in bed, usually with a baby attached to me. He would come home to find me on the couch with a baby attached to me, ask what I'd done that day, and I'd get kind of confused - what did I do today? There was nothing to actually show for my days (other than a tiny human who was still alive). For one week, I recorded what I did meticulously to figure out what my average days were actually like. Taking a shower, feeding the baby, putting on clothes, and feeding myself were all accomplishments, and seeing them written down was therapeutic.

My blogging friend Micah regularly posts the goals she has set for herself and uses her blog posts to track her progress toward those goals. As I've started to feel a little overwhelmed with this "fifth trimester," I thought it might be a good idea to do something similar. I'm going to call it my "weekly victories" post. We'll see if I have enough energy and/or time to keep it going every week.

this week's victories:

  • went to the YMCA for a 30 min. workout
  • went to Bible Study (C was super well behaved!)
  • J gave C a bottle of formula for the first time so I could pump - he seemed to digest it just fine and it helped him sleep better
  • sent C to day care with 4 bottles of pumped milk every day
  • cooked a meal
  • developing a new morning schedule that gets us both to work on time
  • the bridesmaid dress I ordered online for my SILs' wedding fits my lumpy postpartum body!
goals for next week:
  • take C on a walk outside
  • go to the YMCA
  • take C to meet my yoga friends
  • start building up milk stash again (currently only have 1 oz. extra)
  • prep 3 lunches, buy lunch 2 days
  • attend virtual workshops for my job
  • do something nice for my mom who is watching C while the babysitter is on vacation
  • go to the chiropractor