the fourth trimester

09 June 2014

The fourth trimester? But TRImester. As in three. What do you mean there's a fourth? The baby is born! All is well. Mostly. The fourth trimester is a very sweet time full of precious moments and maybe I'm alone but for me, it's also difficult and it can hit you where it hurts and it can hit you when you're down because babies come with a whole (cute!) luggage set full of needs. Some might affectionately refer to this time as, "the babymoon" but I'd like to put my vote in for a name change to, "crazymoon" because every day is different and completely unpredictable.

I didn't quite subscribe to the idea of the fourth trimester when Julia was a newborn because look at me! I can walk around the kitchen and nurse Julia with one hand while I make my coffee and nothing is really that different. I knew my clothes wouldn't immediately fit after she was born so that was no surprise and it turns out that med school is a lot more generous with paternity leave than residency is so Simon was around to help with our one baby for a couple of weeks. Fourth trimester? HA. Maybe for you but I've got this, thanks!

But then Simon went back to school and the help slowly dissipated (as it should, natural progression and normal way of life and all of that) and I was left to care for an infant all by myself like millions of women have done before my time. And it was a lot harder than I had anticipated. I figured out a way to nurse and type on the laptop at the same time and sent frantic emails to my friends with more than one kid and wondered, "how does one go about taking care of MORE THAN ONE?!" because it was rough.

After several weeks I still couldn't get my jeans up past my knees (something I've learned is a curse of girl pregnancies for me - the boys' gestational periods were a lot less fluffy, to put it mildly) but I was getting really sick of wearing the same stretchy black dress that was actually a maternity swimsuit coverup and it was a good thing I never went anywhere that required me to look relatively presentable because the child never ever let me shower.

Ah ha! The fourth trimester reared her pretty little head and let me get a good look at her tangible laughing face because she was real. And I was living with her.

As soon as I faced the blaring music and admitted that life simply was not the same with a baby in tow ... things got easier. I was less frustrated when it took me six tries over the course of two days just to run to Target to get more wipes and a brief second of socialization a la conversation with the cashier about the whereabouts of my receipt (yep, the bag is fine). I stopped obsessing about getting back into my pants and became a loyal friend to Jillian Michaels (on mute) and eventually tossed my black coverup into storage. And then before I knew it, the fourth trimester came to a blessed close and was happily replaced with a permanently slower pace of life.

The same thing happened after Sebastian was born but this time I was relatively prepared. Sort of. The baby duties doubled and I caught a long and nasty case of cabin fever that simply would not break for several months but I kept the expectations incredibly low for myself and for the kids because I knew it was temporary.

And then Theo. Again, I knew the crazy was coming and I welcomed it with open arms as we settled back into, "lots of frozen pizzas, lots of Netflix, and repeat!" mode. Things got easier earlier on as I learned what worked and what didn't.

So ... now we're almost seven weeks into life with four kids.

my denim is unbuttoned and the zipper is getting a workout that would make Crossfitters cry, but hey! all the kids are smiling.

And I've still got some time before my fourth trimester is over. So I'm taking it REALLY easy. Sebastian wants popcorn for breakfast? DONE. The kids are wearing comfy clothes and I'm exhausted and craving silence on the couch no, not in 7 minutes but right NOW? To bed they go, clothes and dirty faces and all! All the time. There are eight loads of laundry in the dryer because I just keep washing, and drying, and not folding but Phoebe wants to be held when she sleeps and I know that this sweet little phase is fleeting so the laundry settles in for another evening of stagnant living in the basement.

Eventually a new normal will emerge amidst the crying and the Phoebe fawning and the chaos. But in the mean time I'll keep rocking my updated version of the black coverup (this one buttons! I'm so fancy) all day and all night and pretending like I've got this gig figured out.


because I totally do.

;)

51 comments:

  1. Oh the 4th trimester was NOT good to me!! Thanks so much for this post. I need A LOT of encouragement from mom's of more than one because thinking of going through that again is enough to make me want to close up shop for good (but really I want more kids). I am hoping that my experiences post-birth with Henry will have adequately prepared me for the next time. Fingers crossed.

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  2. Thanks for keeping it real, Grace. It's so hard to remember to be easy on yourself after the baby is born when it seems like everyone else has it so together - or at least that's what they want the internets to think!

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    1. Well said, Beth! And thanks from me as well, Grace!

      SSG xxx

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  3. AWESOME post...when I go to baby showers (for first time parents...do people do showers after a first child??) I seriously want to tell the mom all the craziness that will/may be post baby and it is ok...that she will be ok. Thanks (again) for sharing. There is so much peace when you know you are not alone in the journey...

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    1. People DO do showers. They are called sprinkles ...

      Ha. Thank you

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  4. I needed to read this. I'm currently 2.5 weeks in with baby number 1, and boy, has she done me in. It's nice to know that it's not only me who finds this time very difficult. Really can't wait until the 'life slows down' phase kicks in.

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  5. Yes! I needed to read this today, or maybe just right this second. I always ask myself is it getting easier? Or am I just embracing the crazy a little more each day? And today of all days with Ace and his newly broken arm which has reverse aged him to a glorified newborn in the needs department. Kind of reminds me that with one or three kids, I got nothin. haha!

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  6. Love your writing Grace. And your beautiful family!

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    1. Aw thanks Nora! Fun to see your name on here!!

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  7. Ah yes. The lowered standards, they are the key. The state of my vegetable garden post-baby #2 nearly brought me to tears, but I was trying to keep something more important alive, so the tomatoes surrendered to the weeds. And it was okay. Not fine, exactly, because we all have things that are important to us and my garden is one of those things for me, but it was okay.

    Keep on keepin' on.

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  8. Preach on Sista Grace!

    My motto is expect the worst and maybe it might be better. I'd go stir crazy in the house so for me getting back into 'our routine' was crucial. I took the kids to school the day after I got home from the hospital and people called me crazy. Hello I have a newborn who has to go to the pediatrician so duh I'm going to take my kids to school on the way there, CALL ME CRAZY. So what? It was how I rolled.

    4th trimester brings out the best of mothers survival mode and I say whatever you need to do to get through it, DO IT!

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  9. We have a saying in our house.... Are the kids still alive? Then the day has been a success! If youve also managed to brush your teeth and taken a crap then youre winning!

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  10. Ooo, the fourthmester. I hated the fourthmester, with both kids. Sure cutie squawky baby was great but emotions and pain and needs and whatdoyoumeanyouregoingbacktowork!?!? Ugh it wasn't fun. I disliked that part more than the 20 weeks of all say sickness I had with both pregnancies! (But i would do it again, gladly!)

    Btw, you look like you're holding it down (&you probably are in actuality!) so that counts for many, many something's! :)

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  11. All I can say is...it gets SIGNIFICANTLY better...:)

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  12. Hey, I'm in St. Louis! I will come and fold your laundry and make your kids dinner. How does next week sound? :)

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  13. Loved this Grace! I'm 7 months in with baby #3 and I sometimes feel like that fourth trimester get a liiittttllleeee longer with each lovely addition ;)

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  14. You got this girlfriend. I know you do. One hour at a time. One day at a time. You will get those jeans buttoned in time I know you will. Enjoy the sleeping baby needing to be held and power through the folding when you can. Babies grow up so take your time getting used to the new you. It will all turn out as the Big Guy int eh Sky intends. Blessings friend!

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  15. You do keep it real and that is awesome. I still have terrible times and my youngest is 10mo, (the others 4 & 5 often go without socks) 4th trimester last a year right?. I look at people who are having their first child and are jealous because you never appreciate how amazing it is to only have one kid, until you have second.

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  16. Oh, I love this! Girls make you fluffy! So true. I was about 3/4 of the way to my pre preg weight at my 6 week appointment with my daughter and I was below pre preg weight at 6 weeks with my son. That doesn't mean I fit in my clothes though. Things have to "move" around a bit. I would say I am just out of the 4th trimester with baby number 2. I will say this adjustment was 100 times easier than with my first. I don't know if it is that he is so much easier or if it is that I have done this before. Probably both. I wish I had read this after I had my daughter it would have been so encouraging.
    You are my hero and a saint. You rock 4 kids. It can't be easy.

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  17. 4th Trimester, oh so true. I was caught unawares with my 1st, I had no idea. It can be a wonderful but rough time!

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  18. Yup, it's true. One little baby shouldn't be a big.deal when you have three other (bigger) babies, but they are. It's not just the baby, it's the everyone else adjusting, it's the body recuperating, it's the night waking, it's the finding-the-new-normal. We need to be kind to ourselves. Consider it a mental "maternity leave" even if, ha, there's no 'returning to work' or actual time off. It's time to be nice and compromis-y and not so hung up on all the things that don't actually matter. Reminder to self to re-read this in about .... 12 weeks' time.

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  19. The crazymoon haha love it!

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  21. I really needed to read this. My little guy just turned 2 months old and so far everything has been great and wonderful (that's what we tell everyone, right?)! And really it has been great, he's not that fussy and he sleeps 6-7 hours (I know most moms will shoot me on sight for admitting that). But I'm living in leggings and nursing tops and my "roomier" jeans won't go past my thighs. I'm a work-at-home mom so it's hard to see when things will change to something different. I honestly don't know how I will do things when we have another child (someday). But for now we're happy and surviving. So it really is great and wonderful.

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  22. Have I mentioned that I think you're the biggest rockstar in the world?

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  23. Reminds me of this sweet quote:
    "Cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow.
    For babies grow up we’ve learned to our sorrow.
    So, quiet down cobwebs, dust go to sleep.
    I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep."

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  24. This is why I say I dislike the baby stage. I am a person that thrives on getting things accomplished, whether that be a clean house, or dinner on the table, or interactive play with the kids, and having a baby makes me feel so unaccomplished. Yes, I birthed a baby and am keeping him alive, but NOTHING ELSE IS GETTING DONE! At the end of a long day of being productive, I go to bed happy....at the end of a long day with a newborn, I go to bed frustrated. It's not the baby's fault, it's just my personality that makes me feel that way. Some people's personality is way more conducive to just letting everything else slide while they take care of their precious baby, and I wish I could be more like that!

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  25. One of my many, many favorite posts! A definite re-reader for sure. The picture of you and the kiddos is so great. Such a gorgeous, happy growing fam!

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  26. Standards around here are pretty low... Second tri with number five. I'm trying to focus on the kids being happy rather than the house. The hardest balance I might ever try and find. I never know if I'm picking the right thing... Net flix so I can clean? Net flix so I can nap? Snuggling on the couch among the piles of clothes? Who knows. I guess we will all survive like all those before me. Great post!

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  27. I wish more first time families were aware of the fourth trimester! I have seen so many Mom's depressed because they thought the baby arrived and "poof" instant happiness, bonding, etc. I believe that they need to know that as you said "a new normal" WILL arrive. It will sneak up on you and poof... there it will be :0). Hang in there fellow St. Louisan!

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  28. You really do "got this" because -- let's face it, we have no choice, do we? You are doing great! Love the pictures. :)

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  29. I adore this, and you. I am not a mom but I hope to be some day and it's nice to know there are some people keeping it real on the internet about motherhood.

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  30. Love how you keep motherhood real. Women go into it thinking it's all bliss and then get the big slap in the face and feel like they failed. You are doing a fantastic job and yay! for all the kids smiling in a picture!!

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  31. After reading a post full of newborn photos on Young House Love, I declared I wanted a baby. Thank you for the much needed dose of reality.

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  32. You did such a great job of showing how hard it is along with how wonderful it is. It REALLY DOES go by fast. Keep the expectations VERY low, and savor the days when they are little. Once you hit elem school, things will fly along at warp speed. In the meantime, remember that this really does pass, and all of the time that you spend with them makes the difference of a world with their little souls. You are a GREAT mom!

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  33. may i please show this my husband? he does not share my philosophy of picking my battles: meaning, kids are fed and healthy so forget that they haven't taken a bath or brushed their teeth and they can go to bed. come on, just one evening. give. us. a. break.....

    also, unbuttoned denim -- totally my get-up... until i finally gave in and bought bigger sizes. but now im still a tweener. the loose ones are TOO loose and the double 0 (kidding...) will have to be sold on ig/ebay or donated.

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  34. LOVE! Low expectations and giving yourself a pass card is the absolute best recipe for 4th trimester. And of course, still making a few semi-realistic goals like that lovely Jillian Michaels workout (DEF on mute!) and all that to keep yourself still slowly moving forward toward that light in the distance when a semblance of a routine returns once more. A great post-definitely sharing this far and wide!

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  35. I'm so there. Our first baby was born 2 weeks ago and even with a husband who is dutifully helping with laundry and friends bringing meals over I don't really get how you do it with more than one?! It's been 2 weeks and I haven't left the house with the baby yet. Mainly because I am scared.
    P.S addicted to your blog now :)

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  36. The fourth trimester, that is the best way to put it that I've heard. The first three months with a newborn scare me so bad. The survival mode is just rough. Obviously worth it and filled with cute pics, but so so so so so hard.
    Loved this, you totes have it all together.

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  37. I've got a lot of love for your blog, but we just crossed a new level of fake-one-sided friendship when you talked about watching Jillian Michaels (on mute). Bhahaha! Samezies, girl! If she says "phoning it in at the gym" one more time, I'll lose it!

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  38. I'm probably odd woman out here but I really loved my fourth trimester. I mean, besides the excruciating pain and panic attacks that accompanied every.single.breastfeeding session. I enjoyed the other parts though :-) I keep trying to visualize what it might be like if we have another child and....nope. Some sort of mental block. Go you for making it work!

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  39. Thanks for sharing this! After a bad day with two (3 and 1 year old) - this is what I needed to read...think you are great with the four - very inspiring! Great blog btw!

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  40. Thanks for writing this! The "4th trimester" was so much harder than I expected! It didn't help that my 1-week-old, my husband, and I all got the flu from hell thanks to a very sketch visit to a random pediatrician for the 1-week visit. I also had the worst constipation known to woman (almost called an ambulance a few times...). and I was living in the in-laws basement. NO SUNLIGHT. NO SUNLIGHT. and it was the dead of the coldest winter in years of DC history. anyway, now he's 5 months old, we are all healthy and pooping fine, and we live in our very own house with large windows that we haven't hung enough curtains over, so we still have at least two loads of laundry in the dryer, and towels hanging in the windows. :D but mama is much happier, so everybody's happier.

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  41. I'm 11 weeks into the 4th trimester with my fourth kiddo. I hear you!

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  42. Don't ever worry about material for your blog. We love any stories and pictures of the leetle keeds!

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  44. You do! Embracing and expecting it is 97% of the battle. Hoping I can read this on repeat all September as we count down to #3 due early Oct. We have a move and (pharmacy) residency beginning in there (much more forgiving schedule I am told, and only 1 year....sorry!) so there's a lot going on, and in the midst of it I'm going to be tempted to get my expectations up tooooo high thinking "I've done this before!" Neeeeed to remember that a tiny human demands total tyranny of the schedule for the first few months - experienced momma or not! :) You guys all look great. Enjoy!

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  45. Love your honesty! And your kids are CUTE.
    Ronnie xo

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