Hold up. How can I be writing about how the fourth trimester is going two years later? Well, because time flies, you forget to write about it, then you find yourself in it again. 😂 How apt?
Time flies so much, you even forget about how it went the first time and you only remember when you Google the exact same thing that had you stumped the first time.
Now, the fourth trimester is something of a trying time for mummy. You are home with this precious baby that can’t do anything on their own, except breathe, pee and poop. And even these, they struggle with for a while. Let’s get started.
The first time, the famous sleep deprivation hits you good. Your baby may not even cry or have colic as you have heard from other mothers, but they grunt and stretch for what feels to you like the better part of the night. Funny enough, you only doze off when holding them. You fear being so tired you might drop them. The moment you put them down, sleep magically disappears. I’m writing this at 1am on a Saturday night.
At some point, you decide you are going to throw the no-co-sleeping discipline out the window and go with the flow, because he sleeps better with you. The downside of this is the aches and pains you will impart on your body from sleeping in all angles trying to breastfeed and sleep at the same time and also ensuring the baby has sufficient space and is not covered. If anyone took a pic of the three of you in that bed in the wee hours of the night, that would be the funniest picture of all time.
How about that myth about sleeping when your baby sleeps… Rolls eyes. You’ll just have to accept this new reality. And the fact that, yes, it does get better as they slowly get used to the difference between day and night. But no, there’s nothing like a new baby sleeping through the night, if we’re being honest. In fact, from my experience, the only time my daughter officially started sleeping through the night is after I weaned her off the boob. And even then, you wouldn’t say she sleeps through the night. She just knows how to go back to sleep without a fuss.
With my boy, I discovered something I had never heard of before. This happened around the 5-week mark. The witching hour. Somewhere between 6pm and 9pm, some babies, including my newborn, decide they are going to fight sleep with all that they have. So they want to be held in a certain position, preferably on the shoulder while you are upright the whole time. They will fall asleep for a bit, but when you put them down, they discover something is off and wake up again. So you will have to literally sway them the whole time with all the techniques in your book. Taking turns with the dad is the first lifesaver. A rocker does the trick for when you are absolutely tired. For me, the totowrap I bought the first time has been my saving grace.
I have to dedicate a paragraph to the totowrap. I remembered it days after this fussy phenomenon started. Initially I would only use it when I left the house. With a wrap, your hands are free to do so many other things, including, most importantly, eating. Also, you are wearing your baby, making that bond tighter. No wonder women would carry their babies at the front back in the day. Our forefathers were so wise, but somewhere along the way, we were made to believe the western world knows everything we need to adopt. Check out this Kikuyu woman carrying her baby with a ngoi.
A few weeks in, when their limbs are stretched out, they get really heavy for your arms. So when they are fighting sleep, your arm is fighting for its life. With experience comes better tricks to contain the fuss, but it can still wear you down. Not to forget that your own body is going through its own recovery drama, whichever way you delivered the baby into this world. Eventually, they outgrow it. My son is more or less over it after two months.
Another tip: try the manœuvre below any day and your baby will instantly calm down. It's not just for burping. It is tiring, but it does restore calm when you hang in there for a few minutes. And of course, it’s when they are lighter that it is comfortable to do.
When they are bigger, you can do a version of it where you are both seated. I never took it seriously the first time until this witching hour manenos happened.
Did I mention the boob pain in the first days of latching? Initially I thought you only feel it with the first baby. I mean, why would I feel it the second time when I’d just weaned my daughter a few months ago? Nii reke ngwire! Did I mention your uterus contracting at the same time? 😂 Ah. Then the pain that comes when the milk really comes through and threatens to turn your boobs to stone. Wueh. Sometimes you will even feel some pain that feels like that lymph node pain. Eventually, you get used to it and the first pain goes away in some weeks. This is not to say you will still not crack a nipple or two even months after this trimester is over. 😂
Staying on this topic, the way my boy feeds is on a whole other level from my girl. I only pumped and stored excess milk for like three days this time. After that, he empties me completely. With his sister, I stored milk for weeks. Also back then, I was sweating all the time, especially when breastfeeding. We would both generate pools of sweat. Not so much this time, in all this crazy heat. (Clearly, I started writing this post in February. Don’t mind me.)
Let’s talk about the spit-up. No-one really talks about this and the projectile vomiting that occurs some few weeks in. I had even forgotten about it myself this second time. The clothes you will change! And the bibs! And not just the baby’s clothes but yours too. At some point, you just decide to stick with the white marks for the day.
Mummy Tummy and other stories
Your body in the fourth trimester is a mix of hormones running around trying to get back to what they were before you were cooking someone inside you. For starters, if you ask me, breastfeeding hunger topples pregnancy hunger any time. Or maybe it’s just psychological for me to eat and enjoy food now that there is no one pushing against my tummy and intestines. I looooove food. I do my best to eat healthy but I can assure you I am one hungry woman.
Now on to how the body changes. Everyone is different, but regardless, you change. You look at your tummy in the mirror and you laugh at the fact that you used to think you had a big tummy before this. At the beginning, you still look like you are six months pregnant. It shrinks gradually before your eyes, but you can just tell that it will never be the same again. And I am not complaining by the way. I feel good on this side of motherhood.
As expected, when you have a toddler already, the game changes. When they are not running around trying to be helpful, grabbing diapers, nursing pillows and wiping the spit-up off their sibling’s mouth, they will want to be held too. They will cry too, prompting the new one to cry. Or vice versa. They will play with all the baby things. Drag blankets across the floor. Fiddle with the rocker and mobile until the batteries die. All with her adventurous little hands full of chocolate, dust and God knows what else. So while you were overly careful with her things the first time, this second time, cleanliness is not out the window, but it’s on its way. 😂
We cannot call this a newborn conversation without talking diapers. Nothing prepared me for the difference in diaper experience when it’s a boy. I knew about the peeing on you and surroundings once the diaper is out. What I didn’t know is the side leaking when the diaper is wet at the front. I have Googled solutions, including the hack where you ensure his penis is facing down when you put the diaper on, but I’m not sure it works yet. Still observing. Also, the sheer number of diapers you change in a day at this stage is crazy. They literally pee and poop all the time. And still maintain their adorability when they stretch and fart mid sleep. 😂
What has somehow worked at the two-month mark: Pants. I hated pants with the girl. They seem to be my saviour with the boy. Even with the poop bursts that begin around this time too.
I don’t know about yours, but my babies don’t enjoy water at this stage. A bath is crying time, unless I make it super fast and ease them in very gently. And can we talk about that scary umbilical cord stump that seems to take forever to fall off? Anyway, just make sure you clean it as advised at the hospital. Don’t fear. Otherwise you might end up back at the hospital with an infection. Eventually, they get used to the water and start to enjoy the experience. Or perhaps it was you who was not introducing the bath nicely in the first place and only got the hang of it after a few weeks.
Let’s leave it there. The way things are going, maybe I will find myself writing more about this trimester with another one. To baby number three! 😂
Some quick takeaways
- It only hit me the second time that newborns don’t shed tears.
- Clothes will be outgrown fast. Stay alert.
- Second time round is mostly easier because you know a lot of things. No major shopping. However, it could still surprise you. Kaa chonjo.
- You will raise your babies differently, however you look at it. I watched something about this on Twitter last year. I am seeing it unfold in my own life.