“The Fourth Trimester” - we’ve all (probably) heard about it, but what actually is it? It’s described as the first few months with your baby. And personally, this ‘trimester’ was the toughest of all. But before we get there, we have to get through the first three trimesters and bringing baby into the world. On May 26th, 2022, that’s what happened. Our Jackson arrived!
I didn’t have the traditional labor. Past trauma made that something I just wasn’t able to handle. Was that something I should have thought more about before getting pregnant? Maybe. However, Jackson might not be here today if that were the case. Thankfully, the option of an elected c-section was an option, and after discussing that option further with the doctor, it was the best route for delivery.
We arrived early in the morning to begin surgery prep, because that's what a c-section is: it's major abdominal surgery. I’ll spare all the details here, but the prep took longer than the actual procedure. Delivering Jackson took about 20 minutes tops, and since we were able to have music on in the background, Jackson was born to “Blessings” by Hollow Coves. And a blessing he truly is.
The days following were a blur - long days and nights, a lot of diapers and nurse visits, and general recovery. Trust me when I say I’ve had my fair share of 1am pop tarts during sleepless nights and late night feedings! Remember your own(and favorite) fuel, mama!
I went to the doctors earlier this week, and I needed to be weighed. “Ok” I thought, no big deal. But it was. Only when I stepped on the scale and saw the number. Ever since then, I look at myself and I’m disgusted. But then I stop and think: three mere months ago, I delivered an 8 pound 13 ounce, 19 inch long perfect little boy.
There’s a disgusting expectation that immediately following birth, mothers are supposed to bounce back like nothing happened at all. Like we didn’t just spend 9 months sick as heck, growing a human being inside of us. Like our bellies didn’t just rearrange all its organs to grow this other life. While our bodies are “made” to do this, that “bounce back” expectation just isn’t realistic. Our bodies undergo so many changes, and not all of them “go away” after your baby is born. That includes weight and the shape and size of our bellies.
I’ve struggled with my weight and body image for as long as I can remember. And sadly, postpartum has made it worse. What else has postpartum made worse? My previously existing depression/anxiety, and hair loss. care.com shows that 40-50% of women suffer from postpartum hair loss. So while it’s extremely common, it’s still disheartening to actually be faced with it.
So how have I been handling all of these postpartum struggles? Leaning into the help of other mom friends, following positive mom accounts on social media & with postpartum counseling. I knew coming into having Jackson that I would struggle with postpartum depression (PPD). So it was a no-brainer for me when I was asked if I would like to talk to a PPD counselor. Having someone else validate my feelings and emotions, as well as how to evaluate triggers and reframe my thoughts has been beyond beneficial in this journey.
Becoming a mama can also feel like an out of body experience. Suddenly, your entire world - days and nights - surround this little being. Who are you these days? You’re still not only a mama, you’re still you! PPD counseling has also validated this for me and has reminded me to still make time for myself, separate myself from always being on “mom duty.” While this isn’t always something every mama can do in this season, remember to take care of you the best you can. After all, you’re giving your all to your baby/babies - why not give a little bit of that to you, too?
Another journey after baby? The feeding journey. There is so much stigma around breastfeeding being the “superior” way to feed your baby. But in reality - it’s just not the way for some. My breastfeeding journey lasted maybe two weeks. I was determined to make it work, but when I got an infection that made just walking nearly impossible, my husband and I started to supplement with a little formula & I started pumping. But the pain, time & frustration surrounding pumping started to get to me, and we switched to formula full time. It’s time we realize that “fed is best” and not mom shame those who do formula feed. And mama, don’t compare your feeding journey to someone else’s or put yourself down for doing one thing vs. another. A happy, healthy mama will lead to you being able to give your all to caring for your baby.
The point of this post & showing my own vulnerability is to show you, mama, that you aren’t alone. We have to stick together; we’re all in this together.