How To Survive the First 3 Months of Motherhood
The secret 4th trimester
During the first month of my firstborns life – I thought my life was completely over. Don’t get me wrong. I was utterly obsessed with him and felt like I had a renewed purpose. But I felt that was my only purpose. To be a mom. I lost myself – I lost the will to be an individual. I wanted to solely be a life source for him. But what I eventually came to realize – is that in order to provide growth to another life – one must continue to grow themselves.
In those desperate weeks of trying to get him to gain weight and literally surviving off of an hour or two of broken sleep – I was gifted a book called “The Happiest Baby” by Harvey Klein. The book revolves around the tenet that baby’s are born three months early. It is with this belief that Klein tries to explain the necessity to enforce “the fourth trimester.” Meaning, for the first three months of your child’s life you must attempt to recreate a womb-like environment. This means, whenever they fuss – implement the magical 4 s’s – swinging, shushing, sucking, and swaddling. By mimicking the womb like environment you may be able to create … The Happiest Baby.
I tried and tested Mr. Klein’s theory and let me tell you it most definitely works. But, it also sets you up to continue these four behaviours well into the child’s first year of life. Hence the reason I rocked my son to sleep until he was about two – not easy fitting a abnormally long boy onto your 5’3 body three times a day, everyday, on a rocking chair.
BUT- here’s the clincher, the newborn phase is all about survival. You must be able to survive in order to care for your offspring. And caring for your offspring is all about just getting through the day, and then the seemingly endless night.
You love them with every fibre of your being, but motherhood is also a desperately lonely and sometimes trying task. It can seem absolutely impossible to soothe your baby at times. It can be physically, mentally, and emotionally draining. Torturous almost – sleep deprivation can literally kill you after all.
BUT – to get through those first months, here’s he secret to survive – you just do what you got to do. You survive through any means necessary no matter what anyone else has to say about it. You must do what’s best for your child and for yourself – to save your sanity.
But here’s a few more tips I have discovered to be helpful in addition to the 4 S’s.
1. Trial and Error
3. Setting Goals
Trial and Error
Baby’s can’t communicate. So unfortunately, all you can do is guess what’s wrong when the baby isn’t the happiest. You try feeding, burping, diaper change, or putting them to sleep. Those four things are their basic necessities. Usually, if they’re bothered- you can settle them by addressing one of those issues. So just keep guessing and trying until you succeed. Until the next hour that is … lol.
I’m not going to sugar coat it. I let myself go with my son. I looked like complete garbage for about six months. And then I looked like I belonged in the recycling for the other six months. I only began to care about my health and appearance after he was a year old. Then I joined a yoga class and suddenly I got my groove back. I grew my hair out once again (never do a drastic physical change when pregnant – you WILL regret it) and I pulled out my makeup bag after allowing it to collect dust for the better part of the year.
This time around, with my daughter, first I get her and my son dressed – after feeds of course. Then I get myself ready – I’m not contouring and curling my hair everyday, but I do apply a tinted moisturizer, draw in my brows, and change out of pjs – which is a big win considering I don’t put much effort into my appearance if my moods not right. But that’s just the thing, even getting ready can improve your postpartum mood.
So don’t stop caring for yourself! Another mini tip is to splurge on some extra hair or skin care products at the end of your pregnancy so you can feel pampered during the few moments you get to apply them in the first few weeks of baby’s life. It seems silly but when even taking a shower becomes a luxury you will appreciate a rich creamy moisturizer on your face at the end of the day.
This one is crucial. Always, and I repeat ALWAYS have something to look forward to. You cannot get through the first year without setting both big and small goals. The small ones should first and foremost be to survive the first two days, then two weeks, and then two months. It’s a suggestion someone mentioned in passing and I didn’t get it at first – but deep into our first month I get it. You can’t think big picture at first. You just got to get through the first 48 and take it one step at a time after that. Your body is a wreck, hormones out of whack, and without the right support system and mentality you will crumble. Short term goals help you keep perspective for he long term. Which is why you must also set long term goals. For me, I decided in the first few days of my daughters life that I would come stay with my parents once baby was 2 weeks old for about 2 weeks. Envisioning the extra space, help, and change of environment kept me going. It helped me look forward to better days. Set goals for the first month then every few months. Don’t be afraid to take on new projects which keep your brain going. After all, I did write a work of fiction during the first year of my sons life and now I’ve started the new project of journal blogging (mostly on Instagram). There’s no rule that says maternity leave means leaving all aspiration behind. If you keep perspective, you can survive and you can do it all.
It is with the teachings of that wonderful book I read, and these small lessons I have stumbled upon during many moments of desperation that I have been able to keep going, and doing my best while doing so.
Motherhood is a challenge. Don’t let anyone make you think you’re being melodramatic or weak. Just do what you need to do, and accept all the help you can along the way. Your mind, body, spirit, and offspring will thank you for implementing these teachings – trust me 🙂