The first four weeks of the fourth trimester

I wish I was here telling you how easy I have found adapting to becoming a mother but I’d be lying if I said that. In fact, it’s been much harder for me than I ever anticipated. Even though I always knew I wanted to have children and even though I breezed through the pregnancy and the birth, nothing can ever quite prepare you for what those first few weeks at home are like with your new bundle of joy. I thought that the first week would be what everyone describes as that ‘newborn bubble’. I kind of imagined it as a restful week after giving birth, where baby would sleep lots and we’d learn the ropes of becoming new parents but looking back it was all quite the opposite. My body was sore from giving birth, breastfeeding was taking me a while to get the hang of, my emotions were up and down, I’d cry whenever it got to 6pm from pure exhaustion, just dreading the evenings because I knew I’d be up half the night and the house was so untidy I felt like any chance I got I needed to be tidying up. As much as I wanted to enjoy this time, the lack of sleep was just taking over. We ended up introducing a bottle of formula just so I could get a couple of hours sleep alone. It did make a big difference for a short time but in week 2 we think Mali developed colic, so I started cutting out certain foods from my diet. On top of everything else, I was now depriving myself of all my favourite things, like milk, cheese and butter, hoping it would help Mali’s stomach. It did seem to get better but not being able to comfort her was torture. I’d feed her, change her, wind her, cuddle her, but she’d still screech in pain. Thankfully that didn’t last too long!

The weekend before Mali turned a month old, I made the decision to stop breastfeeding. It was a hard decision because I so wanted to continue and I really enjoyed those special moments where I’d hold her so close to me and was able to feed her and comfort her without the need of anything else but myself. I’d watched her grow and put on tonnes of weight from my breast milk alone which was so rewarding but at the same time just making me feel like I couldn’t be the best version of myself for her and for those around me because I was so exhausted, which is why I decided to stop. I felt a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders ever since. I’m now able to leave her with Josh or another family member for longer than an hour without worrying whether she needs feeding and my bed sheets and clothes are no longer getting drops of breast milk all over them! In fact, my Mum has been brilliant and has had her to stay for the odd night which has meant I’ve been able to get a good nights sleep which really helps make me feel normal. I also think it’s good for Mali to be passed around as much as possible, so that she feels comfortable with other people and doesn’t just feel safe with Josh and I.

Every day is different, some days Mali sleeps for a little longer alone in her pram and some days she just wants to be in your arms. I’ve realised that although it’s hard at times, it doesn’t last forever and I will miss it when she’s bigger and wants/needs me less, so I’m going to soak it all up and enjoy it whilst I can. There is a huge part of me that misses what life was like before her. The freedom of just being able to nip to the shop, or take Erik for a walk without needing to pack a bag for her. Of course, I wouldn’t have it any other way because becoming a mother has been so rewarding and, to me, is the biggest life event I will experience. What’s been good for me is having my family and friends so close by who have been able to give me those extra few hours to shower, go for a walk, clean the house, pop to the shop, cook tea etc. I really wouldn’t have been able to get through the first 4 weeks without them and I take my hat off to all the mothers out there who do this alone because you really are something else!