First up, I guess I should start with a quick sentence on what the fuck the fourth trimester is.
According to a v speedy Google search, it ‘begins the moment the baby is born, and ends when he/she is three months old’.
It’s a term which explains the immediate aftermath of pregnancy, those early newborn days, the part where your baby is all sweet Jesus I am not living in a warm, dark cave anymore and WHAT IS GOING ON AND WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT IS SLEEPING AND EATING AND OMG TOO MUCH TOO MUCH.
Atti is, at the time of writing this, sixteen weeks and four days old. He is, well – we are – well and truly no longer in the fourth trimester.
We are out in the big wide world.
And it’s been a bit of a shock to the ol’ system.
Partly because we’ve also had a few other changes going on over the past few weeks.
Firstly, we’re in the midst of his forth developmental leap (a developmental leap for non-parents is basically where he learns to process the world differently or something who knows, I have an app to tell me these kinds of things). Secondly, DUN DUN DUN, our breastfeeding journey has come to a close, and thirdly lord almighty I’ve had my first period (and big ol’ whoosh of period hormones) in over a year. It was 3576573465 kinds of hideous.
Now, I gotta say, I heard a lot of great, juicy, sexy stuff about this stage of parenting.
I have had many a hushed whisper of ‘OK, so now is when it gets really good’.
That actually, once you’d got your head around the ol’ WOAH I HAVE A BABY thing and worked out your routine and what works for you and your baby isn’t so shocked about y’know, being alive, it’s much more manageable.
But let me be brutally honest here, this part, this delicious OMG he smiles at me all the time and he really knows who I am part, well… I’ve found it really fucking hard.
Maybe it’s the developmental leap, maybe it’s some weird no-longer-breastfeeding-guilt masquerading itself in other ways, or maybe – hear me out here – it’s the fact that I am no longer living in the newborn bubble.
Y’see, everyone accepts that the newborn bit is a bit of a shit show – quite literally.
Your entire world has been turned upside down, your body has done the most beautifully traumatic thing it ever will, and there is a plethora of support basically hovering on your doorstep. YOUR MIDWIFE COMES ALMOST DAILY. The health visitor. Parents.
Heck, even the postman came every two seconds with deliveries of flowers and parcels from friends once forgotten and distant relatives.
And my phone! OMG MY PHONE! It was constantly a-buzz with ‘DO YOU NEED ANYTHING?’ and ‘hello when can we visit plz’ and ‘hi me again can you send some more photos’.
But once all of that has died down and the congratulations cards have come off the mantelpiece and you’ve packed a load of newborn clothes into a box in the loft and finally eaten through every pack of biscuits and gourmet freezer meal, well, things are a little different.
it feels as though this is the time when you are supposed to claim back some level of normal.
When the reality is that everything feels so far from normal.
When Atti looks for my face, finds it, and then smiles, I am so flooded with love that my eyes water and I praise the sweet universe for bringing such simple happiness into my life.
And in the same breath, he will scream and it will pierce my soul and I will wonder, how, if ever, I will get through it.
Parenthood has the ability to make you feel such intense emotions at both ends of the spectrum and it will leave you crying and laughing and smiling and struggling to breathe all at once.
It is so deeply, overpoweringly incredible, but it also challenges you, pushes you, forces you to question everything.
I know it will get easier, the same way I know there will always be a tough day for every three sunshine-y ones.
I also know that it will all be entirely worth it. That every tear and wail of ‘I CAN’T DO THIS’ will be rewarded with memories that make my life just feel like the most breathtaking journey I’ve ever been on.
But it doesn’t stop it from feeling hard in those moments, for making you feel like you’re struggling to stay afloat, like you’re treading water for dear fucking life.
So here’s a big up to every other not-quite-brand-new mums out there. You’re doing amazing. Every single day you are doing amazing.
You are doing amazing when you’re putting on lipstick and heels and you’re feeling like the pre-baby you.
And you’re doing equally – if not more – amazing when you’re in belly-button-high pants and a t-shirt that’s stained with baby sick, lasagne and your tears from the last three days.
And, no matter what it sometimes feels like, you have got this more than you’ll ever realise.
Big love, gal. You’re a super hero, you.