On the Eve of the End of the Fourth Trimester

"I believe / And I believe cause I can see / Our future days / Days of you and me." - Pearl Jam

Tomorrow my daughter turns three months old. Some experts call the first three months of an infant’s life the “fourth trimester.” After making her way from the comfort of my uterus, having floated around in the soft amniotic fluid, listening to the constant swoosh of my heartbeat, and getting used to the rhythmic rocking of my body walking for nine months, she made her way into some bright, loud, wide open, unknown world. Every single thing is new. It has been my responsibility, as her mother, to help her transition into this new space. I’ve learned a lot during this “fourth trimester.”

I learned about the 5 s’s – shushing, swaddling, sucking, swinging, side/stomach position- all to help soothe my child.

I learned about waiting 20 minutes after my baby closes her eyes to actually put her down to sleep to ensure she doesn’t wake right up again.

I learned about the nosefrida contraption to clear the boogers out of her stuffy nose.

I learned about tummy time and how she is just one of many infants who hate it.

I learned that even though I have little to no musical talent, I have the ability to quickly make up songs on the spot to help calm my little one.

I learned that seeing my darling daughter smile makes any frustration or feeling of being overwhelmed disappear in seconds.

I learned that my body is capable of sustaining more than just my own life, but her life as well.

I learned that my daughter is a total combination of her father and I, yet she is her own unique person with quirks, new ones revealed to us every day.

I learned I could love another human being more than I’ve ever loved anyone before.

I learned I can put someone else’s needs before my own, while continuing to make my health a priority so I can be a strong mother for my baby. Yes, it’s ok to let her cry for two minutes while I make myself lunch. Food for me means nutrition for her.

I learned I was meant to be her mother, and she was meant to be my daughter, and we’re in this life together, learning how to love and live.

Someone's having a pretty good day

Someone's having a pretty good day

There’s so much more I can say about the first three months of motherhood, but honestly it comes down to one thing:

I learned I can do this. I AM doing this. I am Eliana’s mother. She is my daughter. This is our life together. It’s full of love and fear… exploration and frustration... joy and sadness… laughter and tears.

This “fourth trimester” has been a whirlwind. I’d be lying if I said I’m sad it’s over. It was tough, really tough… especially the first month of sleepless nights, days without a shower, some depression while learning what “productive” now meant in this new life, and weeks without any real adult conversations. But it’s a necessary transition to this next amazing phase in my child’s life: Discovery. Now she’s grabbing toys, making eye contact, responding to our voice, finding her own voice, she’s discovering the world, and I’m so excited to be a part of that. I can’t wait to discover the world again, now through her innocent fresh eyes. What an honor, what a joy! The wait to be in her life was completely worth it.

Rich, Eliana and I are right where we are meant to be, we are family.

What did you learn in the early months as a new parent that surprised you?