The first 12 weeks following the birth of a baby, sometimes referred to as the fourth trimester, is a time of major adjustment for new and experienced parents alike. For me, the fourth trimester was extremely difficult. So difficult, in fact, that I didn’t think I would ever venture down that road again. Yet, here I am, 3 years later and just a few months away from welcoming another little nugget. To say I was terrified about the idea of another baby is a major understatement. I’m slowly getting over my fears and embracing the opportunity to have a fourth trimester do-over.
There were many, many things that contributed to my rocky start to motherhood. I don’t remember a lot from the early days, but one thing I remember clearly is day 12. This was the day that things started to spiral downward for me. We were having a newborn/family photo shoot, and I couldn’t get C to stop crying, which made me start crying, breastfeeding wasn’t going great, I wasn’t sleeping, and I was just a hormonal mess. I remember looking at the pictures with the photographer and thinking how miserable I looked. It was like a slap in the face. I was a complete disaster, and to me, the pictures said it all. Later that same day, my midwife was over for a home visit and she asked to do a baby blues quiz with me, as she thought that I might be experiencing a bit more than the blues. Another slap. I knew something was wrong at this point. It would be another few weeks before I started to receive professional help for postpartum anxiety and depression.
Trust me when I tell you that I’m the last person to think that I would have more children after what I went through. The shock of motherhood was completely overwhelming to me. There was nothing comforting about welcoming home a new baby and trying to figure it all out. Lack of sleep, non-stop unsolicited advice, visitors, self-doubt, guilt, and hormones – all while struggling with my mental health – it was too much for me. It took a long time to recover mentally and to feel like myself again. I think that is the only thing that made me even consider the idea of another child. I survived the fourth trimester. Surely I could do it again?
The good thing about having another baby is that you generally know what to expect in the fourth trimester. On the flip side, you know what to expect. The sleep deprivation scares me beyond measure. What I keep telling myself is that “it can’t be worse”. I literally hit rock bottom once before, so it can only be better this time around. I need a do-over. A fresh start, only this time I’ll be seeing things through my experienced Momma lens.