I am THAT Mom: Thoughts on the 4th Trimester
Baby girl Audrey is no longer a newborn, we’ve survived the fourth trimester! Meanwhile, with every baby giggle, babble, and coo, I find myself turning more and more into THAT mom.
Let me explain. I was never a baby person. Sure, I found kids cute in an “all small things are cute” kind of way, but I was generally frightened of them. I had no idea how to handle babies, I didn’t know how to act around kids. In public places, they were at their best quiet background decor, and at their worst shrieking annoyances. While I was pregnant, I didn’t really “connect” with my baby the way books and websites described. Sure, I felt excited at the first kicks, I daydreamed a bit about what she might look like, but I never felt the sort of profound love for my gestating fetus as I felt I was expected to.
Then there was the fourth trimester. Newborns are a lot of work. I read quite a lot of literature on baby care, breastfeeding, etc. but I always knew the immense amount of work really couldn’t be fully anticipated. And I was right. Between the challenges of breastfeeding (feeding every 3 hours around the clock, figuring out all the nuances of milk production, worrying about baby’s latch techniques, weight gain checks at the pediatrician) and figuring out how to soothe a needy little human who didn’t exactly know what she wanted half the time was more like boot camp than any sign of blissful motherhood. Sure, there were those quiet moments when Audrey fell asleep nursing and I could cuddle her close and feel an immense amount of pride to be providing for her. In that sense, I loved her in a nurturing way. But for the most part, she was simply feeding, sleeping, soiling her diapers, and largely non-interactive with the world around her. And while I loved her instinctually, I was in survival mode.
Then between 6 and 12 weeks something shifted, I quickly became THAT mom. Audrey gave us her first social smile at 6 weeks, and from that point on, her personality has come through more and more every day. She gradually became more vocal, responding to my talking with her own baby language. She smiles and coos when she sees one of her parents, she laughs when you tickle her belly, she giggles when she sees herself in the mirror… When I wake her for her first feed in the morning before going to daycare, she’ll nurse calmly until she slowly wakes up and realizes it’s mom, then she’ll pull off and give me the biggest smile and the most darling giggle. And in that instant, I am THAT mom, a mom who is so incredibly head over heels in love with her baby that she can’t be mad at this distracted nurser in front of her, instead I just want to be in this moment forever.
I am THAT mom. I take a bazillion pictures of my baby, I look at the bazillion pictures of my baby when I am not with her, I do a million squats while lifting her up and down in the air to get a good baby chuckle, I dread waking up early in the morning after getting 6 hours of interrupted sleep but forget all that when I see her eyes light up when I enter the nursery, I’m addicted to my baby’s smell, I want to hold her all the time, I want to pretend tummy time doesn’t exist and just hold her some more…
Do babies magically get easier at the 3 month mark? Or do parents finally “get it” around this time? I’m not sure. As Audrey leaves the 4th trimester and into babyhood, I realize how much learning I have in front of me. In the next few months we’ll be introducing her to solid foods, and I will no longer be the sole provider for her nourishment. At some point in the far yet not too distant future, she’ll be weaned completely, therefore marking the end of her babyhood. And as happy as I will be to be free of the beast that is the breast pump, that thought makes me extremely emotional. Sometimes the days are long, but this babyhood is short, and so much of it has already flown by. So, for now, I intend to fully indulge in being THAT mom, because baby Audrey won’t be a baby forever.