The Fourth Trimester
Picture this: You’re laying in your bed with a pillow propping your baby up to nurse. The baby will nurse for a moment and pull away. Sweet little bear. You try to reattach the baby. They reattach for 30 seconds and you sigh a sigh of relief, right before the baby detaches again. You repeat this process for about 5 minutes and finally, the tiny human attaches and stays there. You hold your breath, trying not to fuck it up. Once you realize that the baby is latched and feeding and this is maybe the only 10 minutes of the day that you will have to yourself, all of the emotions inside of you explode. The constant fear, frustration, sheer bliss, anger… they all come together and you begin sobbing uncontrollably, except you have to control it because you’re keeping a human alive with your tits.
So, you hyperventilate and try to stifle the sobs as best as possible as to not disturb the baby or alert anyone else in the house to your anguish. You open your eyes to check on the baby, and you make eye contact. Now, you worry that you’ve traumatized your infant because they’ll somehow subconsciously remember mommy sobbing while they tried to sustain themselves. You try to hide your face, but now the emotions crash harder, like waves, through your chest, in your throat, and your mind is only picturing how horrifically you have scarred your child and already thinking of therapists you need to hire to aid in their mental health, due to your failure as a mother. This. This is the fourth trimester.
To put this in perspective, my little boy is totally perfect. We have had zero issues. No sickness, no allergies, he immediately latched, he sleeps 5 hours, nurses, and sleeps for another 4 hours… And I am a fucking shit show.
When I first became pregnant, I pictured myself as the kind of mom who would immediately be back at the gym, getting my “body back” (whatever that means), after giving birth. Turns out, I am not that kind of mom! I’m more of the, I slept in my contacts, only brushed half of my hair, and I’m wearing pajamas in public, mom. Fucking killing it!
I decided early on to not fully jump on the breastfeeding bandwagon. I would be happy with myself if I could solely breastfeed, but equally as happy if I couldn't. I know so many women who have struggled to try to make breast-feeding happen and for one reason or another, were not able to. They would stress and beat themselves up over it and I never wanted to feel that way. In no way are you a failure if you don't breastfeed. Is your baby alive? Cool. Stop complaining. Fed is best, right? If you have no control over what your baby does, and it needs to eat, you just have to make it happen however you can. However, when I gave birth, the nurse laid Winston on my chest and the kid (this is not an exaggeration at all, by the way) opens his mouth, grabs my breast, and tries to lift his head to get that food. Great! He immediately latches and everything is good! So, we’ve been breastfeeding now for 4 months and its great and all, but it’s also really fucking stressful. Winston does not cry often, but when he does, the resolution is always my boob. Even if he’s just gassy, he needs, what I so fondly refer to as, “comfort booby.” So, this tiny human can do pretty much nothing if I’m not within arm’s length.
I should mention here that my husband if fucking incredible and insanely supportive. He tries so hard to help, but at the end of the day, he doesn’t have the boobies, and that’s a deal breaker for our baby. My husband is so excited to be able to feed him solids that he has already started making baby food and freezing it. He wants so badly to help, but he can’t yet.
I know that at this point, you’re probably thinking, then why don’t you just pump? If you pump, the baby will have bottles and you will have freedom! I thought this too. I was naive. When I pump, the only thing that changes is that instead of my baby feeding from my breast, I have a weird, sometimes painful sort of squid like machine sucking on one of the body’s most sensitive areas. And you can’t not notice this thing. Sure, you may be able to wash dishes or put on a TV show, but inevitably, the baby will start crying and then you’re faced with this choice of, do I stop pumping and feed the baby, or do I give my husband what I’ve already pumped to feed him and then I can keep pumping?” which means you’re back to square one. Everyone loses this game, every time.
And who can forget, the post-baby body? I have not lost one fucking pound since giving birth. Not one!!! And the baby weighed over 6 pounds, so I should at least have dropped that. If you breastfeed, you’re supposed to consume 2500 calories a day, but breastfeeding burns a ton of calories, or that’s what I was told. Now, keep in mind that I am vegan. I regularly just eat broccoli for dinner. I’m not stuffing myself with big macs and coke over here, but I can’t seem to shed a pound. My OB/GYN explained that sometimes your body will actually slow your metabolism in order to hold on to fat so that the baby has plenty to eat. Awwwwwwww does it??? Are you fucking kidding me?! Now, breastfeeding is making me obese?! This is some bullshit.
I wish I had more positive things to say about postpartum life, but the only thing I can bring to the table is that, for all the pain, the self-esteem issues, the wonder if you’ll ever pee without crying again… It’s 100%, beyond a shadow of a doubt, worth it. Whatever your experience is, just know that you’re doing an incredible job. We look at ourselves and pick out all of our “flaws,” but that child, that child exists only because of you, and their love for you is endless. Every moment is a gift, even the ones that involve getting peed on. You just keep on keeping on, mamma.
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