Three Months In (And What They Don’t Tell You)
There's a lot of hype for the fourth trimester (that three-month span just after you had your baby), but what nobody seems to talk about is what happens after those three months. For me, that's when life really starts getting interesting.
During those first three months, everyone is still in the newborn haze. People gawk, coo, and swoon over the little baby, and if you're lucky, you're licking your lips from the all the delicious meals friends brought over, and possibly finishing up some pre-made frozen meals. New moms basically get a free pass (assuming it's your first baby and you have help around) to just relax, recover, and bond with your new baby. As for the baby, during that fourth trimester she was (hopefully) fairly easy to take care of. Unless she has colic (been there, done that, and have several spit-up-stained T-shirts to show for it), her routine probably went something like this: eat, sleep, and poop. Basically, the first three months of life are all about surviving: keeping the little baby alive and keeping mom and dad sane are the top priorities. So much easier said than done, of course, but in reality, the baby doesn't do a whole lot. She's immobile and truly sleeps like a baby. That fourth trimester, is actually pretty great, all things considered.
But then month four rolls around … literally.
Your immobile baby will probably start (if she hasn't already) rolling all over the place. She may not crawl yet, but she can certainly get from point A to point B by inch-worming her way across the floor. Worry will also most likely set in when she sleeps on her stomach for the first time*
*True story: My husband went on a month-long business trip when my first-born daughter was 3.5 months, aka the exact time she started sleeping on her tummy. I didn't sleep for an entire week, because I kept checking on her; I was certain something would happen the second I closed my eyes.
On top of moving around a lot more, she's also very curious about the world around her, so when nursing sessions were running as smooth as butter, now they're full of interruptions, because there's so much more to see everywhere. I can only speak about breastfeeding, but it's not uncommon for her to wrangle herself into the most interesting positions while she eats. Baby gymnastics is in full force and every little thing easily distracts her.
Then there's the sleep issue–or the not-sleeping issue, rather. If you've heard parents throw around the “four-month regression” phrase, it's because babies have an internal clock that goes off right around four months. It's like they realize they're not in the lovely womb anymore, and chaos ensues (in the form of them not going back to sleep easily).
I thought I won the baby lottery the first time around, because people always told me that I should sleep when the baby slept, but during those first three months I was actually a little bored since there wasn't much going on. Dare I say it, but I actually read books (plural) during those newborn months. Once she starts moving around, you have to keep both eyes on her while simultaneously searching the floor for any and all chocking hazards. “Sleep when the baby sleeps” is for after the three-month mark, because you're not sleeping at night anymore, so you need to nap during the day, when the baby sleeps. This is much easier said than done if you have more than one kiddo. These days I definitely give myself a gold star on the days I get both kids to sleep at the same time.
On the bright side, what they also don't tell you is how wonderful things are after the fourth trimester. Your newborn starts becoming a full-fledged person. Their personalities start emerging, and you can see them transform and grow right before your eyes. That glossy-eyed little one will start seeing things more clearly–literally–and will begin recognizing familiar voices and following you around the room. Before, you'd have to hold them all the time, but now they're becoming more independent and are even starting to sit up on their own. Their “gassy” smiles will turn into genuine laughter, and trust me; there is nothing in the world like hearing a baby's giggle.
They may start demanding more attention in that fifth trimester, but that's also the sweet spot. That's the point when you can still rock them to sleep and they'll fall asleep on your chest. It's the time when you may start hearing them babble “mama” or “dada,” and they'll start reacting to your tickles and raspberries that you blow all over their belly. The fifth trimester may be more demanding and exhausting, but it's all totally worth it.