Friday, February 5, 2016

twelve things i've learned in twelve weeks.

There is a concept surrounding childbirth and newborn care called the fourth trimester. This is the idea that, in addition to the three trimesters of actual pregnancy, there is an additional trimester, which is the first twelve weeks of baby's life where she is virtually as needy as she was in the womb. Experts say that the secret to a happy, healthy newborn is to recreate the comfort and quiet and coziness that your baby experienced in utero as much as possible for those first three months. No crying it out, no self soothing, no sleep training, no schedules; just comfort your baby and meet her needs and everyone will be happy.

Well, we have recently emerged from that fourth trimester and I have to say, I don't think Eva was the only needy soul around here. I feel like the last three months have been my newborn mama stage, my needy underdeveloped season of finding my footing as the mother of this sweet little tater tot. I've needed a lot of comfort and gentleness, but I'm slowly growing in my confidence as a new mom. 

So, in an effort to acknowledge just how far we've come, I've compiled Twelve Things I've Learned in Twelve Weeks. 

1. How to Swaddle Like A Champ
Babies like to feel like they're back in the womb. The trick to keeping them happy when they get out is the swaddle. I didn't really buy it at first, but the minute the nurses at the hospital handed me a tightly wrapped eggroll of a baby, sleeping soundly and happy as a clam, I was a believer. I've mastered the straight-jacket tightness and you can watch Eva go from fussy to blissful in just a few tight tugs and it's the best feeling ever. 

2. How to Live on Two Hours of Sleep at A Time
This one was hard earned. The first month I felt like a Navy SEAL in Hell Week. I would be talking and halfway through a sentence just forget what I was saying. I would daydream about sleeping while I was awake and cry when I was woken up from actual sleep. I honestly started to understand why they used sleep deprivation as a form of torture. But then my body adjusted a little and slowly Eva and I fell into a sleep/wake routine and now I wake up every two hours all night long and I can wake up and operate a vehicle without endangering lives. I consider it one of my life's greatest accomplishments. 

3. How Important My Core Is
Once upon a time I was in college and I did yoga and Pilates four days a week and my body was pretty much the bees knees. And then I got pregnant. And I had a Cesarean birth. And then I tried to swing out out of bed using my legs and I almost died. Oh core, I will never underestimate your importance again.

4. How to Use Ridiculous Vocabulary
"Can you grab the Wub A Nub?" "Put her her in the Boppy." "Do you think she's ready for a Bumbo?" These are actual things I've said out loud. I feel silly saying them. I've thought about a concept bar just for parents of small kids where the drinks are all named after these products. I think I would much rather order a Boppy on the rocks than talk about it in any other context. 

5. How to Accept Help
I used to hate admitting when I needed help. I like to be in control too much to let people help me. Then our friends and family loved on us in such practical and generous ways (and they still do all the time!) and I realized that accepting help not only makes me feel sane, but it also makes the helper feel useful and needed. Win win for everyone. A special thanks to the friends who have loaded my dishwasher- you know who you are. 

6. How to Nurse In Public
I decided that unless I wanted to be locked in my house all time, I would need to figure out how to feed my baby out in the world. You would be amazed at the contortionism I have to employ to make sure I don't show the world everything God gave me, but I've mastered it and it's a little victory each time!

7. How to Do The Five Minute Makeup Routine
By the time I get Eva fed and changed and dressed when I'm headed out, there isn't much time for a full on hair and makeup session for me. Gone are my days of listening to music and sipping my coffee while I leisurely put my face on and pick out my outfit. Now, I've mastered the art of concealer-blush-mascara and putting on my outfit right before we walk out the door to avoid spit up. 

8. How Not To Be So Judge-y
Okay, can I make a confession? I used to judge just a little. Now I am genuinely judgement free. Every mama is just doing the best they can and we all want the same thing for our kids and every kid is different so I lay down any self-righteous judgement I had before and I commend you, Mama because you are probably doing a good job and we are in this together. 

9. How the Smiles Change Everything
I truly believe my kid's smile could melt even the stoniest of hearts. It certainly gave me a renewed sense of hope in this whole parenting endeavor. Those first few weeks were so rough and the moment she looked up at me, really looked at me, and smiled a big, wide, toothless grin, my heart exploded! I won't go so far as to say it makes it all worth it because if I'm being honest, I would still rather have a scowling kid and sleep eight solid, blissful hours. but those smiles certainly do sweeten the whole deal.

10. How to Keep My Lunch Down
This Just In: Babies are super gross. The things that come out of them in liquid form are disgusting and they acquire lint mysteriously and they drool like St. Bernards and you have to clean in between their fat rolls. If that last one made you gag, then you are not ready for the science project that is caring for a baby. 

11. How There is Strength In Numbers
A good friend gave me the advice to make Mom friends when I had a baby. I mean, that makes sense in theory, but no biggie if I don't follow through, right? Wrong! It is super important! Other parents are the only other people who care about cloth diapering and tummy time and when to start solids and teething and the color of poop and blah blah blah and all the other things that I could not have cared less about before I had a kid. They are the lifesavers when I feel like I'm going a little crazy with the day to day minutiae of raising a person. The solidarity and encouragement is so real with my mom friends. But to be fair, my non-mom friends are also super important because they remind me that the world is bigger than tummy time and teething and they pull me out of the minutiae a little and back into the world of, well, everything else. So basically, there is strength in numbers. 

12. Finally, I asked R what he learned about being a Dad the last twelve weeks. After all, I might be the newborn mama, but he's just learning the ropes here, too. With no further explanation, he simply said, "I didn't think I could love someone else as much as I love you." 

I think it's been a successful fourth trimester for everyone. 

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