Today my baby is 2 WHOLE MONTHS OLD, and we are over halfway done with the fourth trimester! Where in the world did the time go?! 50 percent of my fourth trimester has been spent saying "Oh my gosh, I cannot believe I had a baby!" and the other 50 percent is adjusting to my new role as Mommy.
The fourth trimester, for many moms, is arguably the hardest. And for many different reasons. The physical pain of postpartum, the hormones, the new emotions, and all the new responsibilities are overwhelming to say the least. It's exhausting, yet so very BEAUTIFUL!
My 3rd trimester was cut short as I delivered my baby boy at 31 weeks and 5 days. The reality of having a baby in the NICU coupled with feelings of missed moments and opportunities made his first month of life an emotional roller coaster for me. Imagine being discharged from the hospital and leaving your baby in the care of people you do not know. They tell you to rest after giving birth, but how could I rest when my baby wasn't home? For almost thirty days, I drove 35 minutes to and from the hospital to touch my baby little body through a hole in an incubator, obsessively watch his vitals on the screen, and listen to the NICU nurses tell me when I can hold and care for my baby. Every day for hours at a time, I listened to the nerve racking sounds of the NICU. The sounds of the monitors never stop, and hearing them made my heart drop every time. Even when it wasn't my baby's monitor. It was heartbreaking to see all the wires he had connected to his tiny body and I couldn't do anything about it. And when I went home all I thought about was driving back to the hospital to see him. The hours spent away from my baby were filled with watching him on the NICU app, pumping milk, and praying harder than ever for a discharge date.
Then Krue came home, and a new challenge began. The challenge of helping my baby learn to latch for breastfeeding, late night feedings, very early mornings, cleaning and sanitizing bottles, pumping milk, working (What's maternity leave when your'e a teacher?), and a host of other things.
And to top it all off I couldn't help but feel a sense of loss. I was so happy to have my baby, but I still thought of all the things I missed out on. I didn't get the professional maternity pictures I spent hours on Pinterest planning for. I didn't get to experience the large round pregnancy belly I waited for. My belly button didn't pop. I didn't get to breastfeed or even bottle feed my baby for the first few weeks of his life. I missed his first bath. And no newborn late night snuggles. It felt a bit selfish to complain of missed moments with a perfect baby in my arms, but I've learned happiness and sadness can exist in the same place. & that place was my heart.
The emotional toll of the fourth trimester is unexplainable, but I am killing it!
**Pats self on the back**
This is what has helped (& is still helping) me:
I celebrated every NICU milestone even the small ones & shared any and all good news with anyone who would listen.
Reminding myself of the power of YET. Saying "My baby can't do it, YET", made all the difference. His time was coming.
I never compared my baby's progress to the progress of the other babies & I learned to be okay with backward steps. I remember specifically the day he was removed from the incubator, but placed back in within 24 hours because he couldn't maintain his body temperature. I was devastated! I was then reminded everything was God's timing and not mine.
My mommy tribe. The sisterhood of motherhood is incredible & I am so thankful I had ( & have) other moms to lean on.
My supportive husband. Not only is he present, but he is encouraging as well. If I woke up to pump, he was up to. If I need reassurance, he's giving it. And if Krue has a poopy diaper, he's changing it. lol
Friends & Family. I am so grateful for the amount of love, kind words, sweet gestures, and gifts we have received. My love language is "Showing Up" & so many people have shown up for me.
Target. No really, just getting out of the house and enjoying the small things makes all the difference.
Realizing I don't have to be Superwoman. I have help and it is okay to accept it!
Last but not least, loving on my baby all day long! Baby snuggles can change your mood completely, trust me!
This is by far the most rewarding season I have ever experienced despite all that comes with the fourth trimester. I'm so thankful I get to be the mommy of the sweetest little boy ever!
Happy 2 months Krue. Mommy loves you!
To all the mamas feeling defeated, easier days are on the way.