4th Trimester Recap
Beware: novel ahead 😆You wanted details, I give you details!
I thought I’d have had this done and shared at 3 months postpartum, but lo and behold, life had other plans. Actually, Theo had other plans. The whole fourth trimester was SO much harder than I ever expected. And that’s saying a lot because I expected it to be difficult, I just didn’t realize how difficult it would actually be.
Just like any human being, babies have different personalities. Some are super chill (apparently me and my husband were that kind of baby) and others are more active and “high touch” as some say, haha. Theo is beyond healthy and his pediatrician declared him “the perfect baby,” but he definitely falls into the latter category. Once or twice I mentioned on social media that Theo had colic for the first few months of his life and it was truly torturous. And by “colic” I do not mean gas. I mean unexplained crying for hours and hours every single day and night for months. This topic will get its own post, but I wanted to give you some context for my experience.
So, let’s get into it!
Though there were plenty, I found the physical changes to be the least of my complaints! You can read my super detailed birth story here where I talk more about those first few postpartum days.
I had a superficial tear from delivery, and even though it was minor, the stitches and healing from that was pretty uncomfortable for a solid 10 days. It actually got worse each day, and then magically got a whole lot better after day 10 and continued to heal super fast after that. I couldn’t even really sit-down comfortably so I always sat a little off to the side. Weirdly enough, going to the bathroom wasn’t uncomfortable at all! I think this must depend on if and how you tear, because I heard horror stories about going #2 after delivery, but truly, I felt no difference. That was a relief 😅(how about that pun?)
I was prepared for a lot of heavy bleeding postpartum as well, but that wasn’t as bad as I expected. The first few days were like a heavy period, then it tapered off quickly and lasted a solid 7 weeks for me, but it was pretty light.
Here’s a list of all my personal favorite postpartum essentials too!
I didn’t end up with any stretch marks anywhere after pregnancy (here’s what I used), though I’m pretty sure I’ll have some after I finish breastfeeding because my boobs are SO EXTRA. I’ll be shocked if I don’t end up with some after this! More on that later, haha.
This is SO SO SO REAL! For me it didn’t start until 3 months postpartum, and then 12 weeks TO THE DAY, the flood gates opened. I lost insane, alarming amounts of hair multiple times a day until about a week ago (5.5 months pp) when it finally started to slow down.
Hormones & Baby Blues:
All the literature the hospital sent me home with along with everything I read during pregnancy prepared me to experience some normal baby blues in the first couple weeks postpartum. Surprisingly, I felt the opposite! I was on cloud nine– I felt amazing, proud, close to my husband, energized despite the lack of sleep, and even productive. I felt like I was totally winning at mom-ing. I had zero baby blues immediately after birth, so you can imagine my surprise when I sank into a serious depression soon after that for the first time in my life. Again, this needs its own post entirely, so I’ll revisit this topic later. I’ve actually been working on that post for the past 2 months… it’s been difficult but cathartic to write so I’m looking forward to sharing that one too.
HOLY COW breastfeeding was SO much harder than I expected! Let me count the ways…
- It’s painful
Yes, it was painful. But not just because your nipples get sore, but because your boobs themselves can become SO MASSIVELY huge, it’s excruciating. I remember reading that some women barely notice when their milk comes in, whereas for others, it’s more of an “event.” “An event.” That’s adorable. I had a huge oversupply for a solid 10 weeks, so about twice a week, I was dealing with clogged ducts (when one of your milk ducts gets backed up, the milk gets stuck but you continue producing… so it gets more and more backed up which means more pain, swelling, and tenderness– SO FUN!). And my boobs were SO painful even wearing clothes was unbearable, let alone needing to let Theo breastfeed. It was horrible and didn’t let up until I hit the 10 week mark and my supply leveled out.
- T had some trouble latching.
He grew super fast, but he was actually a pretty small baby. Totally average in height and weight at birth, but his mouth was teeny tiny so we ended up using shields at first. I feel weirdly embarrassed talking about this, but this was honestly the only way I was able to breastfeed right away, so if it helps other women do the same, I’m fine with being embarrassed. It was the ONLY thing that allowed him to latch. I started to wean him off of those at 5 weeks which was another torturous process because we were already dealing with colic, so adding yet another thing to try felt insane. But I was adamant about wanting to continue breastfeeding and to be able to do so without any shields. So I really REALLY insisted on him latching without them for every.single.session. I’d insist stubbornly until he got it OR he got frustrated. If he got frustrated at the breast, I stopped and would try again later. But after a couple weeks, he wasn’t using shields at all anymore and it was 100% smooth sailing without them from about week 7 onward. Still going strong with exclusively breastfeeding at 5.5 months now! Everything they say is true, too– it gets easier and easier as time goes on. Stick it out if you can!
- It’s time consuming.
Of the 10,000 reasons I cried in those early weeks, here was another: I felt like I was breastfeeding 24/7! T would eat for 45 minutes at a time, then 15 minutes after we finished, he would be hungry again and would eat for another 30+ minutes. This went on for WEEKS. It was like he cluster-fed for the first 3 months of his life. I swear I was shirtless and tied to the sofa 24/7– it was SO claustrophobic. But since I was SO committed to getting breastfeeding down without the shields, I also didn’t want to introduce a bottle or any feedings from anyone else yet. So I know I did it to myself, but it was like being imprisoned. The good news is that around the 3 month mark, he got a lot more efficient, and his feedings went from taking an average of 30 minutes to now taking about 10-15 MAX, but usually they’re more like 8.
- Everyone has an opinion.
Here’s a small sampling of advice I got about breastfeeding:
I should feed on demand.
I should stop feeding on demand.
I should put him on a schedule.
I should let him create his own schedule.
I should never feed him more often than every 3 hours. (Our first of 4 pediatricians told us this… we switched from him quickly, haha.)
I should never skip a feeding.
I shouldn’t have to burp a breastfed baby. (A nurse told us this. Definitely false in our case…)
I shouldn’t have dairy.
I shouldn’t eliminate any food groups.
Babies know when they’ve had enough.
Sometimes they stop eating prematurely and you should offer again in 20 minutes.
Offer both sides each time they eat.
Offer one side each time they eat.
There’s nothing wrong with feeding your baby to sleep.
NEVER feed your baby to sleep.
Don’t pump if you don’t need to increase supply.
Pump if you’re uncomfortable.
That is NOT an exaggeration. Seriously, EVERYONE has an opinion when it comes to breastfeeding and how you should do it, but it’s 90% trial and error and will almost definitely vary between babies. There’s some basics to know (mostly how to take care of yourself while you’re breastfeeding– your boobs should become your legal dependents during those early weeks because they need so much attention, lol), but overall, the “right” answers will depend on your baby.
What’s been true and best for me and Theo when breastfeeding?
I fed him on demand for about 4 months and now he eats approximately every 3 hours during the day with zero feedings at night. This was led by him– I still consider this feeding “on demand,” it’s just that his demand is less frequent now. I also fed him to sleep every night for 3 months until I started weaning night feedings and sleep training close to 5 months (with Taking Cara Babies ABCs of Sleep– full review on that coming soon). I gave up dairy for a couple months and saw no difference with him, so I stopped being overly cautious. I always feed him from both sides. I ALWAYS burp him. Even since I weaned his night feedings, I still wake up once in the early morning to pump with the Haakaa (a true lifesaver!) but now never need to use an electric pump.
When some people say “colic” they mean a fussy baby who’s uncomfortable because of gas and tummy troubles. This was never Theo’s issue. When I spoke about his colic, I meant the medical definition which is “frequent, prolonged and intense crying or fussiness in an otherwise healthy infant.” An average baby can cry up to a couple hours a day for seemingly no reason. It’s just their way of coping with a new environment. A colicky baby cries at least 3 hours a day, at least 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks. Our baby cried almost every minute he was awake, every single day, every day of his life until he was about 4 months old. We saw a slight improvement at 8 weeks old when we could get about 10 minutes of contentedness after a nap before the crying picked up again. Then another slight improvement happened around 3 months old, but he really turned a corner at 4 months and it’s been much easier ever since.
Unless you’ve had a baby like this, you truly cannot understand what it’s like and the toll it takes on your mental health. It’s not as simple as “well, babies cry!” No. I mean, yes, babies cry, but this is very different. During one of my desperate Google searches to figure out what was wrong with my baby, I stumbled on this quote: “Navy SEALS are trained to endure torture by putting them through sleep depravation with the sound of crying babies blasting through the speakers.” I felt so validated! I wasn’t crazy for thinking this was torturous– it was exactly as awful as I felt it was.
Anyway, I’m writing about this in much more detail in my PPD post which I’ll finish writing soon, but for now I’ll just tell you that he no longer has colic!
Thank GOD we went into this with a super strong relationship, because a baby can definitely put a strain on your marriage. Again, I bet if you have a super easy baby, things are, well, easier. But when you’re both running on an hour and a half of sleep and your baby is screaming so loud at 2:30am that it’s hitting decibels I don’t even think have been discovered yet, believe me, you want to LOVE the person in this trench with you.
We definitely struggled to cope with the reality of having another human in our home and no longer having all our time to ourselves. Newborns are just difficult. They’re truly all consuming, and it’s hard to see a light at the end of that tunnel, but I promise there is one. I know it’s hard, but there’s an end to the mayhem.
Adrien and I work together from home, so we had a lot of opportunities to regularly check in to see how the other was doing. He was INCREDIBLE in the beginning (I mean, he still is, but this was exceptional). He was as hands-on with the baby as I was and taking over so I could get extra sleep whenever possible. We’ve both had to work on being clear about what we want and expect from the other as well as accepting help when we need it without guilt.
Best advice I can give on this front is to be clear, communicate often, and let go of guilt.
Everything you’ve heard about the “4th trimester” is true: it’s so so so hard. It’s mostly about just surviving and getting through it, but like with so many other things, it DOES get better. I remember one time asking Adrien how many days it had been since T was born, and he said 93. I was like, “THAT’S IT?!” It felt like a lifetime and the blink of an eye all at once. Time warps in this period.
Now that we’re past that phase, motherhood has started to feel less intrusive, if that makes sense. It’s still a LOT, but I love being Theo’s mama and even though it’s still a hard job, it’s one that I’m proud of and happy to be doing.
Now, this is the kind of work I expected. It’s hard, but like a normal level of hard 😉
Phew! I’ll put a cap on this 4th trimester post for now but I’ll be revisiting the mental health aspect later on.
Over to you! If you have children, what was the hardest part about adjusting to a baby in your life? If you don’t have children, does this scare you away from ever wanting them?! 😂
DanniJanuary 20, 2020 at 8:07 am
Oh my gosh I feel this Soo much. The crying non stop. The hormones on top of it. As far as the noise relief. My kids are 8 and 5 and I’ve just discovered work rated noise reduction muffs. Oh my gosh total game changer. I can hear everything but it is so much easier and less loud. Some things are silenced totally but I can still hear normal conversation. I get some looks but I love the relief from preschool noise. Thanks for sharing your story. It was a lovely read.
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:33 am
haha that’s brilliant!
SarahJanuary 20, 2020 at 9:31 am
I really appreciate you writing this so truthfully. We also had a child who cried and cried and All.The.Advice was so frustrating to us as already exhausted parents who had tried everything. But it does get better and I think the best takeaway for any potential parent (or grandparent 😉) reading this is every baby is different!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:33 am
KarenJanuary 20, 2020 at 9:34 am
I have been waiting for this post 🙂 only because it’s nice to hear we aren’t alone in the things we are going through. I was extremely lucky that my kid didn’t have colic (gas or otherwise)… he had his witching hour each night but an hour or so a night was doable compared to what you guys had. I can’t imagine surviving that so just know that you guys (and anyone else who goes through it) are saints! As my husband and I are trying for baby #2 right now, I read your post and I am reliving my 4th trimester and ALL the emotions are rushing back. I too had to use shields for a while and I HATED IT WITH A FIERY PASSION! I wanted breastfeeding to work without having to tote around a shield and dink around with using it. I would try my darnedest to get him to latch without it until we were both frustrated and gave up. I was so happy the day he latched and, after a couple days, I threw away one of the shields just because I wanted it out of my life haha! I had about 5 of them though as backups just in case… Erin, you and Adrian are amazing. I love that you are sharing your story with all of us. I started following you because of the yoga and was sucked in with your writings. I’m SO happy you are blogging again and can’t wait to read more!!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:32 am
hahah omg YES to all that shield nonsense! SAME! so glad we were able to ditch them. thank you so much for the love and support… it means the world!
AshleyJanuary 20, 2020 at 9:39 am
wonderful post and insight into the 4th trimester. with both of mine that time was so hard for me, and I had “easier” babies! I am looking forward to your PPD post. I dealt with that both times too, and it’s something that needs to be talked more about! <3
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:31 am
thank you, ashley! <3
DawnJanuary 20, 2020 at 9:50 am
You both have been so visible and honest about this journey. For your followers you have done a fantastic job. For your family, even moreso. You can definitely be proud of yourselves for how you have survived and how you have shared your whole experience, from announcement day to this point. Love n badyogi family hugs!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:31 am
thank you so much!
LesleyJanuary 20, 2020 at 10:11 am
I so appreciate your honesty! When my youngest was a newborn he had colic and the screaming for hours on end every day was so incredibly hard. I felt like I was isolated and no one else had this experience with their baby. I still remember just how difficult those months were and he’s 8 years old now!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:30 am
feeling like no one else was experiencing this, YES!! exactly! it’s soo lonely sometimes!
JillianJanuary 20, 2020 at 10:18 am
Thank you so much for sharing. You are about a month ahead of me and having a very similar experience so it’s been comforting to read where you are at! Thanks for your frank and encouraging style,
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:30 am
it’s so hard, jillian!! but soooo many of us have been through it and it DOES get easier! you’ve got this <3
DionaJanuary 20, 2020 at 10:42 am
Your baby sounds so similar to my first! I used to say “I think my baby just hates life” she cried almost every waking moment but only for about 2-3 mos. she was a bad nurser from the beginning. We used a nipple shield as well but for 9 wks!!!! It was torturous! What I learned is that she was such a weak nurser she was only getting the fore milk and not the hind milk when she was feeding which is why she was basically Constantly hungry! I wonder if yours might have been the same! She did eventually get better but man it was a struggle! I wasn’t sure I could handle another but now I have 2 and my 2nd was a champ at sleeping and eating! Thanks for sharing the real struggles!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:29 am
ahh that’s crazy, so glad others can relate to this! how cool that your second was so much “easier” comparatively!
AlexJanuary 20, 2020 at 12:13 pm
My son is about a month younger than Theo, so all of your pregnancy and post-partum posts have been so helpful and comforting!! My son also had colic and the first 3 months were so hard! And I’ve also dealt with some depression too. I already suffer from seasonal depression because winter in the Midwest is pretty brutal, so that combined with post-partum hormones and anxiety about returning to work in March has been tough. Motherhood is so crazy because it’s so much harder than you think it’s going to be, but it’s also somehow so much better than you think it’s going to be too! Thank you so much for your honesty and insight. Theo is lucky to have such a great mama! 🙂
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:27 am
i can only imagine! it really is tough but you’re right– soo much better than i expected too! thank you for the love 🙂
Marisa TomasellaJanuary 20, 2020 at 1:24 pm
Thank you thank you 🙏. I’m home with my 4 month old and it’s so amazing to hear women going through some of the same challenges with newborns. It can be terribly isolating. So thank you for sharing your struggles and wishing you all the very best with your beautiful healthy baby boy. ♥️
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:26 am
i’m so with you! it makes the whole experience feel less lonely when we can read baout others’ experiences
AlisonJanuary 20, 2020 at 3:07 pm
Thank you for sharing! Just wanted to say, breastfeeding is insane and there’s nothing to be ashamed about with using a nipple shield. My baby also had a small mouth (I think the bigger problem was that her chin was small…I read somewhere that can affect the ability to latch). So I had to use a nipple shield too. I tried so hard to wean from it but countless tears later, it just never worked and it ended up affecting my supply which turned into supplementing with pumped milk and formula. For a month (from 6-7 months pp) all I did was feed my baby (nurse, pump, bottle feed, make formula, bottle feed again, clean bottles/ pump parts, repeat). It was so hard and so miserable. In the end, i decided to exclusively pump. And doing that, i made it to 18 months of giving my girl breastmilk. It still makes me sad to think about how our breastfeeding journey turned out but it also makes me really proud. Anyway, i hope that you’re able to be really proud of yourself at the “end” of all of the difficult stuff. Now I’m in the toddler stage and it’s next level difficult in its own way… seriously…I hope my sassy, opinionated, strong- willed daughter keeps all of these traits for later in life but they’re really wearing me down right now 😅.
P.s. at 2.5 yrs in, my favorite time has been 9ish-18 months so you’re getting to the (imho) really good part soon! It’s so fun when they start crawling and then walking- watching their works expand so much. And when they start talking (but before they talk back 😅)
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:26 am
wow, what a journey! and thank you so much! i know there will always be challenges when raising children, but the fun stuff makes it all worth it <3
Shannon MahaneyJanuary 20, 2020 at 4:24 pm
Thank you thank you THANK YOU for sharing this post! I am due with my first baby in June and I am terrified of what to expect. I find reading other experiences help me feel a little bit better about what life will be like once baby is here.
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:23 am
it’s so intimidating but you don’t have to be terrified! everyone’s experience is sooo different, and even though this will be a challenging phase, you CAN do it! wishing you a happy birth & happy baby! <3
AmberJanuary 20, 2020 at 4:49 pm
Thank you so so much for this post and your honestly! It’s so refreshing to read right now as I am deep in the midst of the 4th Trimester with my son first child, Theodore. I wish I could pinpoint one thing to comment on but honestly all of it resonates with me right now deeply. I cannot wait to read your post about PPD next – I think the biggest surprise in mother hood so far was the ‘baby blues’. Everyone talks about it like a day of feeling a little down but when it hit me I felt like I’d been hit by a truck. Definitely so much worse than pregnancy hormones, and compacted 100 fold by sleep deprivation and cluster feeding. Anyway, I really admire your work and can’t wait to keep reading.
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:22 am
ugh i understand you!! it really will get better though! hang in there <3 thank you for the love, too!
MelissaJanuary 20, 2020 at 5:10 pm
Haha – about to go through IVF… so, no, it hasn’t put me off…
I think being the eldest of 6 girls, being present at the birth if the younger two (at the age of 12 & 17) and helping to raise them has given me a pretty good insight into what we are about to get ourselves into. I know it isn’t the same as first hand experience – but it’s better knowledge than what most people have going into the pregnancy/baby raising stage 😬 I’m still nervous about it – but also cautiously confident? If that doesn’t sound too cocky?
Hearing/reading others experiences is something I still enjoy though 😊 *sometimes* the knowledge is good 😊
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:20 am
what an amazing thing to witness! so cool that you feel so prepared– all that experience will definitely help you so you should feel confident! 🙂
Beth HenningsenJanuary 20, 2020 at 5:33 pm
First baby refused to breastfeed as soon as my milk came in. I pumped every two hours for 6 months. The second baby breastfed like a champ if I wore breast shields to help with the inverted nipples, but didn’t sleep through the night for 5 years (Gas issues, ear infections, snoring – his adenoids and tonsils ended up being removed, he was always cold so slept next to me to keep warm, then it was the bedwetting that no toddler overnight diaper could contain) They are both grown now, I have grown used to the empty nest, but I still have days when I really miss being a mom (Yes, I know, I am still a mom, but they can take care of themselves now) Looking back I can say without a doubt that the newborn year – 2 years old is the most difficult. And since the kids are 2 years apart we were in that for 4 years. Even the “dreaded” teenage years were not that difficult. Be good to each other – kids do grow up and leave home and start living their lives on their own and it will be just the two of you again.
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:19 am
great insights, beth! i’ve heard that a lot too which is nice– this will likely be one of if not THE most difficult phases and we’re getting through it!
KellyJanuary 20, 2020 at 6:46 pm
I hear you on the clusterfeeding! Oh boy that was my life for my son’s first 10 weeks, the nipple shields and gel pads were a god send. Now that my son is 17 weeks old I still can’t believe I get a couple of hours at night to myself, it honestly felt like it was never going to end. And I can eat my dinner with two hands again!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:17 am
yesss! i don’t think anything can really prepare you for that!
ElinaJanuary 20, 2020 at 9:08 pm
The first 6 months were brutal, my son also had colic and I remember one night, I was so frustrated because I didn’t know what was wrong with him, I took him to the dr and we were both crying – colic is awful! I don’t think I was mentally prepared for how needy newborns are and I struggled with ppd for a little bit but it eventually passed. My son turns 4 this fall and just now, I am slowly starting to entertain thoughts of a second child but thinking back to the first year always makes me hesitate a little. I really appreciate you guys for sharing your parenthood with us!
Erin MotzJanuary 21, 2020 at 2:16 am
oh yes, i remember how many times we swore to a doctor that something was wrong! at least now you know it gets better 🙂 those early days are HARD
AmberLynnJanuary 21, 2020 at 7:03 am
I was the first to breastfeed on either side of our families. It was torture to listen to everyone try to convince me to give the baby a bottle with rice cereal in it so they would sleep longer. Or to hear them tell me that I gave the baby “lap colic”….which is a Southern term for when your baby cries if you’re not holding them…..or, more specifically, when one of your Southern in-laws decides to pick up your sleeping baby when you just settled them and then doesn’t understand why they want their mother back.
Thank you for being brave enough to share with your tribe! Asking for help is the best “advice”!
MarijaJanuary 21, 2020 at 8:17 am
I don’t have any kids, but I *was* that baby. There are literally stories in my family about how neighbors would come and ask if there was something wrong with me. I was screaming non-stop, and in a desperate attempt to save some scraps of their sanity, my parents eventually packed up and went to stay with my mom’s parents and my uncle for support, I think we all stayed there for a month at least. I remained a fussy sleeper for two whole years. I’ve never had romantic views of parenthood due to a lot of different reasons, and her stories about the horrors of those first few months are, in a small way, a part of that, too. She still says it’s the most horrible sound on Earth 😀 However! If it’s any consolation, your baby boy is likely to have great lung capacity, and a nice singing voice 🙂
DianaJanuary 26, 2020 at 2:23 pm
It’s crazy how different and alike each mom’s postpartum experience can be. Thank you for sharing yours. I’m always interested in learning your perspective. It is validating and educational because you give me new ways to approach some things.