How To Survive the First 3 Months of Motherhood

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

2. Self-Care 

3. Setting Goals

4. Perspective 

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.

Self-Care

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.

Goals

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 🙂

Behind the Scenes of Birth

I neglected to fully prepare myself for labour and delivery. It was a fact of female life that I just refused to accept. I had been terrified of having to give birth ever since I learned where from and how babies arrived into this world. But that didn’t stop me from wanting one, and eventually going through it myself and conquering my fears. I still do wish I had looked over some tips and “insider knowledge” which only women who have given birth are privy to. So here goes a few random tidbits of labour and delivery advice based on my personal experience. Hope it helps anyone it’s relevant to!

First and foremost trust your body and just accept and don’t be afraid that it’s do or die, or more importantly push or die.

You have to be your own health advocate, sometimes a hospital can be the least caring environment you could possibly be. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion if something just doesn’t feel right.

Nothing goes as planned, so don’t even bother having a strict plan. A general idea of your birth wishes is good to have though. I outlined who I did and didn’t want present (incase an unwanted audience showed up), which medications I was okay with receiving, and how I wanted the first moments with my son to be.

Do not feel bad about requiring pain relief. You are a modern woman in modern day in a modern hospital. You are not in a third world country where surely if such pain coping mechanisms existed they would be used so have no shame in doing so if needed!

The pain will surprise you, but it will pass. The urgency and seriousness of the moment will also surprise you, but this too will pass. Just roll with the punches (or pushes) and keep on going.

Imagery, deep breathing, and positive self talk really does do wonders.

You absolutely must have at least two people by your side (for leg holding and verbal encouragement). Make sure it’s two people who can handle things getting gory and unpleasant, as well as someone who won’t mind taking a few verbal and physical abuses.

You will be forever completely changed the moment they place your little one on top of you so try to keep that in mind during the entire process, especially near the end.

The rush of hormones which come charging in shortly after will make you insane – certifiably guaranteed.

Once it’s all over visitors will arrive almost immediately. And while you feel as though you’re on death’s doorstep the exhaustion caused by forced smiles and incoherent small talk will give you that nice little shove into the direction of full blown crazy new mom territory – take it in stride.

Last but not least, be prepared but not regimented, vocal but not lost in shouts and screams (only wastes your energy), be focused but not solely honed in on the pain and be sure keep perspective. Just remember your body was MADE to do this. When in doubt stay strong and just keep pushing!

My Birth Story

My Birth Story..

Everyone says you forget the pain involved with labour and delivery and the memory becomes more about finally meeting your little baby. While I do feel the most important and powerful part of this whole experience was holding my son for the very first time – there is NO way I could ever forget the ongoings of those 48 hours! Putting it all down in writing really makes me stop and think wow, did all that seriously happen – and I survived?! Yes, I survived and now I have a beautiful baby boy!

A woman’s body is made to endure some pretty unreal things during labour and delivery. I remember thinking to myself “oh my god – how am I going to get through this.” But I did, and my body did a whole lot of the work on it’s own, this was what was most surprising to me. How a woman’s body is pretty much hard wired to give birth and bounce back from it – slowly but surely.

It all began on February 11th at around 2pm. My husband and I both agreed it would be best for me to stay as active and mobile as possible up until my due date which was February 15th. So on that day we were gone to do some last minute baby shopping but mostly distract me from the extreme discomfort and anxiety I was feeling at that time. As we were walking around – or more so snail pace waddling, I started to experience mild stomach cramps and I just didn’t feel right. I didn’t mention anything to him because I thought it must be Braxton hicks contractions. I had heard from everyone that since this was my first child I would most likely not go into labour until after my due date and even then the entire process would be long and drawn out, not a quick dash to the hospital as dramatized in television and movie land. Boy were they all wrong.

By about 5pm the “mild stomach cramps” weren’t feeling so mild anymore. Gradually the pain started becoming more and more intense – but still bearable at this point. When we got home around 9pm I had my “bloody show” (sorry if this post entails tmi but labour ain’t pretty there’s lots of bodily excretions and unpleasantries involved). This is when I started feeling super excited and told my husband things were definately getting real now – our baby was on the way. But I wasn’t sure if it was going to be days, or hours before I would meet my little one. I took a few baths to take the edge off which worked fantastically for a short while. Then I decided to do my prenatal workout to help speed things along and distract me from the pain. This must’ve done the trick because a few hours later low and behold we were in that classic TV show scene rushing to the hospital because I could definitely feel that my son in a hurry to be born!

I laboured at home until about 4am using pain coping techniques like deep breathing, a heating pad, and a whole lot of cursing. When I called in the hospital staff told me to stay home for a few hours more since it was my first baby and I hadn’t been feeling contractions for that long yet but the amount of pain and pressure I was feeling was absolutely unbearable by this point. I went with my gut and went there anyways. When I got there I was receiving the same message, “go home we have no rooms here” and by the time I am in “real labour” maybe they will. I wasn’t having any of that because I knew if this wasn’t real labour I wasn’t going to survive whatever they were referring to. So after much commotion, screaming, and once again cursing (on my part) they finally checked for how far along I was. This is the point I started being taken seriously. They realized I was not being overly dramatic and I was in fact well on my way to meeting my little bundle of joy, who at this point was in a major rush to meet us as well and wasn’t doing too well so the entire situation became rather frenzied and a little bit frightening too.

My husband did wonderfully through it all, keeping his cool and attempting with his very best efforts to help keep me going as well. It was the moments in which the nurses would speak amongst themselves (as if we weren’t there) about my sons dropping heart rate and a potential need for an emergency c section that I would catch little glimmers of panic in his eyes but he remained composed and reassuring on the surface.

The real fun part began next. I was now in the throws of labour dilating at a rapid pace and my contractions were coming in strong and hard one on top of another with little reprieve in between. But of course, the hospital still didn’t have a room for me, so I was put into a teeny tiny examination room packed with medical staff tending to me and the walls and ceiling felt like they were beginning to close in on me. I just kept thinking “this isn’t right, this isn’t how it’s supposed to be.” I believe I voiced that a few times to which one of the nurses responded rather condescendingly “that’s labour honey.” Looking back I realize yes that is all apart of the process and you just roll with whatever happens and keep on going because that’s the only choice you have. Luckily by the time I was at the “pushing stage” they managed to throw a out of order room together for me because of the shocking protests of an older nurse who walked in to the exam room saying me giving birth in that situation was just was not acceptable and she did not feel right with what she was seeing – to her I will be forever grateful! At last someone with at least a shred of human sympathy.

After about an hour of pushing and several moments of feeling like I just couldn’t go on any longer I finally had the moment I had waited 9 months for (or maybe longer and I just didn’t know it). They placed him right on top of me and I looked down at this brand new being with awe and absolute shock. I just could not believe that was him, I could not believe he was mine. They rushed him away rather quickly as he needed his lungs cleared of fluid and to have his vitals checked – I was strep group b positive so this was another worrisome factor to take extra precaution about.

Everything worked out miraculously and just like that we went from two anxious adults to two clueless parents with a surprisingly alert newborn looking up at us as if to say “and now the REAL fun begins.” Parenthood is a whole different ball game and that is an entire different post I’ll save for another day.

Although my birth experience was stained by the poor organizational behaviour of Surrey Memorial Hospital (don’t ask why I went there, the answer to this I will never know). That will never be what the entire experience will be about to me. I won’t allow it. What I take away from the day my son came into my life is growth, resilience, a feeling of completeness, and the realization of my powerful inner strength which I never even knew I had in me. So this was my story about how I met the love of my life, and if you ask me if I would do it again, I am not sure. But I do know I have learned ALOT and feel like I would be a lot better equipped to handle the process much better – super speed labour, sarcastic nurses and all.

Introducing.. My son – the love of my life ❤️

During my entire pregnancy I fretted about what I would teach my child. How I would mould him into the best possible version of himself he could be. Now that he’s here the opposite has occurred. In just one week he has taught me the meaning of love and life. Reached to the depth of my soul to show me what it really means to truly understand the bond between mother and child. He is an extension of me which I cannot believe I ever lived without.

My heart already yearns to freeze little moments in time which I know I will one day look back at and cherish forever. This time is the beginning of something beautiful. The past two weeks have been the most challenging but rewarding days of my life.

Gazing into his eyes is like looking into the tiniest holder of all the love in the entire universe. He is truly something special and I can’t believe he is all mine. I do not feel familiar with the person I was before this – everything still feels a haze and I know I am now forever changed – I am now utterly and solely complete based on this little beings existence. <3