4th Trimester and how to survive

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I remember going into my maternity leave thinking it would be a three-month long vacation. I planned on reading books, working on my “snap back” and hanging out with friends. I would be the cute little mom who was a part of the ladies who lunch society, and we would all dote over my new little bundle of joy. I couldn’t wait! A new baby and unlimited free time sounded like a dream come true!

Now that I have my sanity back, I can’t help but chuckle at my fourth-trimester naiveness. I wasn’t even aware a fourth trimester existed! I thought the most challenging part of this journey ended with the physical pains of the third trimester. So what exactly is the fourth trimester you ask? Well, it’s basically the point when mommyhood gets real! LOL Your pregnancy is over, you’re home with baby, and you’re adjusting to the beginning stages of parenting.

During my hospital stay, Livvy hardly ever cried. She slept by herself, breastfed like a pro, and just went with the flow of our routine. As a matter of fact, my husband and I actually pitied the parents in the room next to us whose baby cried all night. Poor them. We were the lucky ones. Then we got home, and it was our turn. Livvy went from staying put when placed down, to a roaring little person when placed in her bassinet. What was going on? This wasn’t the plan? It was like trying to hop onto a moving train, and I couldn’t quite keep up.

How does this thing work? I don’t care how many baby books you’ve read, or how many times you’ve babysat, nothing truly prepares you for the reality of your own baby. Every odd noise Livvy made and every strange move that came from her drove me into a state of panic. My husband eventually said, “You need to chill, and we’re not going to the emergency room…..again.” I thought he was cold and heartless, but he was actually right. Livvy was just fine, and there was absolutely no need to worry. However, as a new mom, I just didn’t know. It’s also important to know that your little one is unique and requires different needs. This is the time for you to learn him and begin to develop your own bond. Remember, this can take time. Also, don’t beat yourself up because yesterday’s routine isn’t working for today. There was one point when I just knew I had everything figured out. Round the clock feedings were tough, but I thought I’d adjusted (as well as one can with limited sleep).Then one night Livvy began to cluster feed! Cluster feedings are when the baby eats more frequently than the normal feeding times. This means that instead of feeding every 2-3 hours, she wanted to eat every hour! It caught me completely off guard and added to the intenseness of my sleep deprivation.

Round the clock. Before Livvy was born, I can’t really say I ever thought about the amount of feedings babies needed. It just never crossed my mind. It was a major shock to learn that I (and only I) would be feeding Livvy every 2 hours. While at the hospital, it wasn’t so bad. I was still on cloud nine, and there were times when the nurses had to take her for testing. This allowed me to get a little extra rest between feedings. However, when we arrived home it was all on me. Once you’ve gone a few days of having your sleep broken every two hours, it can become very taxing on the body (and mind). I now understand why sleep deprivation is sometimes used as a torturing technique. In order to help with this, I started pumping and allowing family members to help out with feedings. Some people frown upon bottle feedings at such a young age, but I had to do what was best for me and my family. Plus, it allowed others to bond with Livvy. With a few extra minutes of sleep, I felt a little more refreshed, I could think a little clearer, and I felt a little stronger to take on the day.

Help Wanted. This one was easier said than done for me. Like any new mom, I was extremely attached to my baby and wanted to do everything for her by myself. I grew up fantasizing about my daughter, and she was finally here. There was no way I was just going to hand her over to anyone because she was mine. All mine! Well, this approach almost drove me crazy. I’m now convinced that this part of mommyhood isn’t meant to be traveled alone. Both my mother and my mother in love were heaven sent angels. They did things like made sure I ate, took over 3 a.m feedings, and tidied up the house when needed. Every superwoman has powers to combat challenges. Mine just came in the form of eager grannies! Remember, it takes a village, and you’re not proving anything by doing it all on your own.

Isolation. Now, about those lunch dates and exercise plans, I intended to partake in with friends. LOL None of that happened. For one, I was highly attached to my baby and didn’t want to leave her with anyone. She was much too young for me to just drop her off. Also, the majority of her feedings came from me breastfeeding, so she needed to be with me at all times. Then I realized that everyone else was at work! LOL What was I thinking? In the beginning, it was ok. However, as time went on, it became extremely lonely. It was just me and a little person all day and all night. Now, don’t get me wrong, I was head over heels excited about being a new mommy, but the feeling of isolation from my former life was tough. I’d just spent nine months watching everyone around me travel, have fun, and engage in activities I couldn’t participate in due to pregnancy. I was under the impression life would be back to “normal,” immediately after giving birth. This was far from the truth and a challenging adjustment. Especially since I was tackling the emotional and physical challenges of being a new mom. I’ve had friends who handled mommy isolation by joining postpartum breastfeeding classes or other mommy and me groups. They were able to make new mom friends and discuss the common challenges they were all experiencing. It’s never ok to allow yourself to feel alone. Pick up the phone, call over some friends and get some girl time in for yourself. It helps a lot!

Talk it out. Let your spouse know what you need from him both physically and emotionally. Livvy was our first child, and the newness of parenting was a learning process for both of us. My needs as his wife changed drastically, and I couldn’t expect him to automatically understand how to help me (but I did). I didn’t truly understand how to help myself, but I did know that I needed him in a different way.  Sometimes it was to vent, sometimes it was to cry on his shoulder, and other times I just wanted to be reminded that I was awesome. I was a little more emotionally needy around this time, and I needed that to be ok too. My husband (who is amazing by the way) was all ears once I explained these struggles to him. We’re all different, and your needs during your fourth trimester may be different from mine. Just be sure to express this with your spouse, and it may even be a good idea to discuss the fourth trimester prior to having your little one.

It all seemed impossible until it was done.- nelson Mandela

During my fourth trimester, I was terrified that the challenges I was facing would last forever. I thought I would experience an eternal tiredness and that I would never have a social life again. Livvy’s now 9 months, and I’m proud to say life is better! It’s true that I’m never truly fully rested, but it’s nothing like the beginning stages. My Livvy’s fun now! She’s sleeping through the night (for the most part), and I’m even able to join my friends for happy hour every now and then. My new normal isn’t anything like my life prior to mommyhood, but it has given me access to a part of life I didn’t know I would enjoy so much!

 

 

7 Real Pregnancy Truths

7 WEird facts Pregnancy facts (2)

Why is my neck getting darker? During my pregnancy, my neck and chest were covered with dark gritty spots. It felt like a thin layer of sand was just sitting on my skin.  I later learned this was called chloasma. It was totally harmless but looked (and felt) really strange. I remember scrubbing away at my neck because I originally thought my neck was covered with dirt. I was afraid it would linger on after I gave birth, but it went away almost immediately after my Livvy arrived.

 Metal mouth. Soon after I found out I was pregnant, I developed a strange metallic taste in my mouth called dysgeusia. It changed the taste of everything I ate and stayed with me at all times. Just imagine sucking on a copper flavored lollipop. Ugh! As a lover of food, this was a no-go for me, but there was nothing I could do about it. Luckily, it faded away after my first trimester, but my taste buds continued to turn against me when I ate my favorite foods. Nothing tasted the same, and I could detect ingredients in foods I’d never noticed prior to getting pregnant. This is also one of the ways I developed horrible eating habits while pregnant. I was just trying to find something that didn’t taste like copper!

Tiger stripes all over. Honey, I thought I was doing something with my cocoa butter lotion and my cocoa butter oil. I mean I was doubling up, so I was sure to prevent myself from gaining any type of stretch marks. Well to this day, my belly is stretch mark free. My inner thighs, however, now look like they’ve been mauled by a tiger. No one told me to grease up down there! I couldn’t even see down there! How was I to know my skin was stretching like an old rubber band? They’re not even the little cute kitten paw stretch marks. These are straight up wild vicious tiger stripes. Needless to say mommies, grease up all over. Some people think stretch marks are hereditary. They feel either you get them or you don’t. Next time, I’m bathing in cocoa butter just to be on the safe side!

 I was told there would be glowing! My adult acne was horrible while I was pregnant. It was my understanding that my skin would have a natural glow, and I would prance around fresh-faced while a cool breeze brushed against my face. Welp, I quickly learned that was a lie. My face usually breaks out with painful pimples around “that time of the month,” and that’s exactly what happened during my entire pregnancy. I gained new pimples at least 3-4 times a week.  By the I gave birth to Livvy, my face was covered in acne scars. Needless to say, the only glow I was getting was from the heavy makeup application I applied every day.

 Hemorrhoids. Umm yeah, I’ll just leave that one right there.

She’s a handsome woman. This was a crazy one. I had hair growing in places I never would have imagined. I’ve always been a fan of laser hair removal, but most medical spas strongly advise against the procedure while you’re pregnant. Thank God for razors because my manly hairs had to go!

Morning and night sickness. So I’d heard about the dreaded morning sickness, but mine lasted all day. I had it all planned out. Since it was morning sickness, I’d just do all of my upchucking before I left the house. Then the rest of the day would be just fine. This would be simple, right? WRONG! I was sick from sun up to sun down.  It was like a permanent hangover, and I couldn’t even drink! Once I hit my fourth month, I started feeling a little better, and my sickness changed from nausea to physical challenges. (We’ll get to that in a later post. LOL) The only thing that brought me even just minimal relief was to rest up in bed at every chance I could get.

It's all worth it

Now, I know this all sounds rather umm interesting, and it is. When you’re pregnant, your body undergoes a LOT of changes. You’re creating the most precious part of yourself you’ve never met. The stretch marks, pimples, and everything else will be a faint memory and worthy sacrifice once you lay eyes on your bundle of joy. For me, the most difficult part of pregnancy was my fear of the unknown. It can be scary, but you’re not alone mommy. I’m right here with you.

Perfect Patty (1)

Every mom is doing it her own way, and every mom is constantly trying to find her way. As moms, we’re constantly comparing ourselves to one another as we scroll through social media. We see the Kodak smiles, the priceless moments and the gourmet meals all made possible by everyone else. Then there’s you (and me lol). You haven’t straightened your hair in days (ok, weeks), you’re satisfied with wearing anything that isn’t stained, and your little one knows just the right time to poop as you walk out the door.

Everyone’s situation is different and everyone’s support system is different.  No two moms are the same, so why are we comparing ourselves?! Some spouses travel for work, some moms travel for work, and then you have the stretched thin moms who are just trying to make it. So again, I’m asking, “Why are we comparing ourselves to one another? We put everyone else before ourselves, and we still lay our heads down at night concerned that we haven’t done enough. Yet, we’re the ones who have cooked dinner, given baths, tamed the kids, washed loads of laundry, and anything else that requires lifting a finger. We kiss the scraped knees, tend to the broken hearts, and provide the gentleness within our households that only we can provide. Trust me, you’re doing more than enough.

You may envy your yoga wearing, PTA president neighbor because she appears to have it all together. But honey let me tell you, everything that glitters isn’t gold. I’m pretty sure if we did a pop-up visit to Perfect Patty’s house right now, we wouldn’t find anything even remotely close to perfection. Patty only reveals what she wants you to see. Constant comparison only kills your joy and robs you (and your little ones) of precious moments that are reserved for you and your family.  You’ll never become Perfect Patty. Patty’s not even Perfect Patty. She might have figured out what works best for her, but that doesn’t make her mommyhood any better than yours. She’s just found her way.  Now it’s time for you to find yours, but you’ll never find it if you’re busy highlighting her showcased successes while dwelling on your failures. You’ll never be a perfect her. You’ll only be the perfect you.

Comparison (1)

Stop beating up on yourself. Know that you are already doing an amazing job. Look at just how powerful you already are at this point. You’re the glue that keeps it all together in your home. Without you, exactly how long do you think your household would last? Of course, there’s more than can be done. There will always more that can be done, but take a look around and know that you’ve already done enough!

Step by step. Let’s face it. We’re not going to change our entire lives overnight, but we can focus on one thing at a time. I’m very aware that I need to tackle the mountain of clothes that need to be folded, I also need to focus on my tardiness. Then there’s my frozen meal routine that my husband always thinks is made from scratch. Oh, and then there’s the fact that I don’t feel I spend enough time with my Livvy. Child, the list could go on, but I know I’m not going to turn all this around overnight. This week, I’ll start by focusing on my fashionably late trend by planning to leave by trying to prep Livvy’s bag at night.

Mommy Motivation  If you’re not using another mommy’s strong points as motivation, you need to change your mindset. If someone is making mommyhood work for her, let that be enough reason to say, “Hey, I can do this too!” It’s probably even a good idea to ask how she’s getting it done. Don’t hurt yourself by envying from the sideline. Get out there, talk to other mommies, and get stuff done!

Prioritize> Balance>Perfection. You’d be surprised at just how many moms are feeling overwhelmed with life. Prior to Livvy, I thought everyone was running households, careers, and marriages flawlessly. This was until I sat in on a conversation with a diverse group of women from my church. Our backgrounds ranged from single mothers to seasoned grandmothers. That’s when I was hit with the truth bomb. NO ONE had the answer to achieving a perfect life and having it all. This so-called “balanced thing” came with fine print, and the idea of perfection was a straight up LIE! On this day, the word prioritize became my best friend. By the end of the conversation, I’d realized there are different seasons in life, and different seasons require different attention. Life will always throw something new our way. It’s up to us to decide how to prioritize these curveballs on our list of life’s demands.

 

My New Normal

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Picture this….you take a pregnancy test (you know, just in case), so you can enjoy a glass of wine. The box says it will take two minutes, but before you can blink it reads, “POSITIVE!” Your heart starts racing, and your mind is filled with confusion. How did this happen?! I mean, I know how this happened, but how did this happen?! Ohhhh….that’s how it happened. You suddenly remember that night. In a nutshell, that’s pretty much how I was introduced to mommyhood. Fast forward to sixteen months later, and everything is back to normal. My house is in order, my career is thriving, and my body is better than ever! Talk about bringing sexy back! Did I sound convincing? Chiiiile please…..my house is a mess, my boobs are leaking, and making it to work on time only happens in my dreams.

Addicted to Mommyhood wants moms to stop aiming for perfection and start aiming for balance. We’ve all had our moments of frustration and allowed guilt to beat us down. But guess what? It okay to be #addictedtomommyhood and still want more for your career, relationship, and even enjoy a night out with the girls! It’s also okay to admit that you have no idea what you’re doing, and barely making it day by day.  We’re all walking this journey. So why not walk it together?

This is my new normal, and I’m just trying to find my way!