The Fourth Trimester
Posted on November 03 2017
The Fourth Trimester is the concept of baby transitioning into the outside world and your continuing on that journey with baby for three months post birth as you assimilate to your new normal, heal, and grow together. While this has been practiced in many cultures for hundreds of years, it’s become more acknowledged in the US in the past ten years. I hadn’t heard of it until after the birth of my second child and the 4th Trimester Bodies Project was being photographed.
With the birth of my fourth daughter this fall I immediately adopted the super mom, ‘it’s not my first baby I can do all of the things’ attitude. This is a peak into my life at this special time and my attempt to do it all ….
Photo caption: The what was I thinking moment.
So what’s going on here? I decided I could take some super cute newborn photos myself and skip the photographer. Well, I should back up slightly … I had a photographer scheduled, she’s taken my kids photos for years but the date she was in town I was in the hospital. You see, I developed preeclampsia post-delivery and had to be re-hospitalized for treatments. So here I sit 10 days post birth, the majority of which I’ve spent in the hospital without my newborn baby. And I’m super mom of course, so I’m thinking I can just take those super cute newborn photos myself. Except I can’t. I don’t know how to photograph a newborn. All the hormones gang up on me and I’m sweating excessively, hence my lack of clothes. But my shades must be open to let in all the natural light! I try not to think about what the neighbors might have seen. And of course, my sleepy newborn refuses to sleep the entire photo session no matter what I did.
In this moment I took a photo of the mayhem surrounding me. A snap of the instantaneous realization that I can’t do it all. Something needed to give. So, I let go of my pride and called in help. I accepted the meals my neighbors had offered. I hired a newborn photographer and paid for two weeks of school lunch for the big kids. And while I may still be doing way more things than what I should I’m slowly letting go and defining a reality that is maintainable.
Photo caption: Behind the scenes during photos with the professional newborn photographer.
So these are my current life rules. One, I cannot volunteer for any new responsibilities even it is something I’ve done before. No new PTA committees, no new projects, no starting potty training with the two-year-old. Forget being a yes man, I’m currently a NO woman. Two, no cooking for now. I took my happy self, newborn and toddler to Costco (this is a blog post within itself) and bought all the things. Bulk volumes of cereal, toaster waffles, premade dinners, ready to serve salads and big bags of frozen veggies. I can microwave it all like a champ, or easily explain to my big kids how to ‘prepare’ dinner. It’s school hot lunchs or they can pack their own in the evenings under the supervision of Dad. Everyone eats and I’m way less stressed about life. Three, after homework time the three older girls and I spend 10 minutes working together to pick up the first floor or the house. The toy room and bedrooms need a match or a dumpster right now and I’m just not looking. Picking up the first floor gives a clean space to receive guests that want to meet baby and that’s all I can handle right now. Dad is assigned to do daily counter cleaning/floor mopping. For the record I’m not making him mop, he takes his commuting rage out on the sticky floors. Some people yoga, he mops his way to zen. For now, I’m thankful for this little quirk.
While this is all far from perfect and is an ever-evolving plan it’s what works for us right now. It’s our fourth trimester as a family. I’m not attempting to professionally photograph a newborn any more. You can find me on the couch, drinking cold coffee, newborn sleeping on my chest, because it’s the only place she will sleep. I’ll be taking life one … thing … at … a … time. And maybe a nap.
- Sarah *aka* Super Mom.
Lead in photo credit: Beautiful newborn photo courtesy of Emily Thies photography.