“I can't wait to get my body back!”
“I can't wait to have this baby on the outside!”
How many pregnant women have your heard making statements like these? Like most women, I found pregnancy physically challenging, to put it mildly. The first trimester was torture. Like having the flu for three months. And during the last trimester, I was horribly uncomfortable, like my body was slowly being pried in every direction. I looked forward to holding my son in my arms. To having my body, which felt like it had been invaded by an alien parasite, “back to normal” again.
No one told me about the FOURTH trimester. If you haven't heard that term before, it's a way to describe the first three months postpartum. The baby might as well still be connected by the umbilical cord. My son (like any newborn) relied completely on me for every basic need. He was one of those babies that you couldn't ever put down. He constantly wanted to be in physical contact with me. When he fell asleep, he would keep one hand on me to make sure I didn't go anywhere. And forget this idea of feeding every three to four hours. I nursed my son whenever he seemed to want it, which was usually on the hour.
Even if he had been an “easier” baby, I don't think I would have wanted to put him down. I could never lift him towards me or place him in his crib without taking a deep inhale of the magical baby smell on the top of his head. I rarely felt as as peace as I did with him draped across my chest as we both napped. I knew I would love my baby, but I don't think I really comprehended how all encompassing that love would be. The closest thing I can compare it to is being in junior-high love for the very first time, to that boy who you dreamed of at night. The one who you asked for one of his t-shirts so you could still smell him after he was gone. The one whose name you doodled endlessly.
I thought surely after my son was weaned I would feel that my body was my own again. But as newborn turned to infant, my body still belonged to him. Babies have no idea of their strength or that they could hurt someone else. He was constantly kicking me, pulling my hair, and head banging me. All my accident, of course. But I marveled once again at how my body was still not my own.
He's almost four now. Though he's independent from me from long stretches while I work, when I come home he runs into my arms. He loves to snuggle. If it were up to him, he'd sleep “in the big bed” every night. I try to soak up every cuddle because I know that all too soon, he'll be one of those adolescent boys squirming out of their mama's hugs.
In this episode of “Blabbermom,” a very funny new mom, Caroline, shares her fourth trimester story.