demphoto/Fotolia

10 Fourth Trimester Feels Every New Mom Will Eventually Experience

By
Share
Ad failed to load

I might have gone a bit overboard preparing for the arrival of my first child. I read everything there was about taking care of a baby. What I failed to do, though, was prepare to take care of myself postpartum. As a result, there were some feelings in that fourth trimester that took me by surprise. Actually, all of them threw me for a loop since I had, well, never been a mom before. And while I felt confident about my diaper and crib bedding choices, I was much less secure about fitting into this new identity as a parent.

Part of the due diligence I should have done was to talk to other new moms. If I had sought more women out like me, who had already experienced what I was experiencing, I would have realized that it’s completely normal to endure a wide range of emotions in those first few months after becoming a parent. My 12 weeks of maternity leave left me rather isolated, as my first baby was born in November. Being home, often alone (after the initial rush of visitors), compounded my nervousness and made dealing with the onslaught of strange new feelings more challenging.

I don’t want other moms to unnecessarily shoulder the burden of scary emotions that the fourth trimester brings. Acknowledging these feelings, talking about them, and identifying them as part of the process of motherhood helped me work through them, the second time around. Here are some of those fourth trimester feelings every new mom will experience, but the good news, for me at least, was that they taught me to ask for help when I truly need it:

Ad failed to load

Hope

Giphy

My firstborn was a chance to redeem myself for any missteps I might have taken in life (as in, the way I spent most weekends during my 20s). This was a clean slate; a chance to start over with a brand new person and help shape them into a perfect model of humanitarianism and altruism… until the overwhelming responsibility of that task sets in.

Fear

Becoming a mother for the first time, I was gripped with fear. Although there was a chance my partner and I could cultivate our baby into a magnificent human being, there was just as good a chance (in my mind, at least) that she would become a nightmare thanks to our terrible parenting. This little newborn was positively helpless, and no matter how many hours I had logged as a babysitter in my teens, there was nothing that abated all my fears about being somebody’s mom.

Anxiety

Giphy

When fear came to visit in those first few postpartum months, anxiety wasn’t far behind. Whatever I was afraid of — my baby not thriving, my baby not sleeping, my baby not smiling at my jokes (this was a particularly big blow to my ego) — set off a chain reaction of endless worry. The fear and the trepidation festered into an anxiety the likes of which I had never experienced before.

Ad failed to load

Insecurity

Because I was so afraid of negatively impacting my newborn and the future I had envisioned, I was convinced I was never going to be a good mother. A good mother wouldn't second guess her instincts, like I was doing when I wasn’t sure what my baby’s cries meant, right?

I really needed to be told I was doing fine, and that my baby was fine, even though I had friends, and family, and the pediatrician assuring me, in that first stretch of time adjusting to life with a newborn, I felt untethered. Only as time went on, and my baby thrived throughout the fourth trimester, did I take it as evidence that maybe I was an OK mom.

Helplessness

Giphy

As fear and anxiety and insecurity mounted, I began to feel like I couldn’t manage it all. Though I didn’t seek out a diagnosis at the time, I am pretty sure I was showing the symptoms of postpartum anxiety, depression, or both. I would hold my newborn tightly to my chest, and press myself into the wall of the dining room, which was the furthest point from our living room window. For some reason, I thought that, even though we were over 20 feet away from it, my child would fly out of my hands and through the glass, plummeting six stories to the concrete below. No amount of logical self-talk could convince me this wasn’t a possibility.

These helpless moments, though they were brief until I was able to find calmness, were some of the lowest points of my nine years of parenting.

Annoyance

When the phone would ring, just as I was stepping in to the shower after trying to put my newborn down for the last hour, I would be seized by annoyance.Then I would feel guilty,for feeling that way, especially when it was just someone calling to check if I needed anything while I was home alone with the baby.

It took me a long time, but I had to make peace with the fact that I wasn’t always going to feel amazing and fulfilled by motherhood. I was just as entitled to being pissed off and irritated by parenting-related things, especially as I adjusted to life with kids, as anyone else.

Ad failed to load

Frustration

Giphy

Another diaper blow-out. Another outfit change. Another load of laundry. Having a newborn made me feel as if I were trapped with Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. It just didn’t end.

Overconfidence

With the endless repetition of diaper changes and nursing sessions, I got pretty good at the manual labor part of parenting. So good, that I challenged myself to keep things interesting. Let me be the first to warn you that the one-handed eating of a sandwich over a nursing infant’s head will not go as planned. I got a little cocky in my abilities at times.

Boredom

Giphy

Also a symptom of the mundane repetition of caring for a newborn is complete and utter boredom. These stretches wouldn’t last long, as babies have a knack for changing things up with unexpected hunger pangs and sleep strikes, but no fourth trimester is complete without experiencing parental ennui, even if it’s brought on by the umpteenth repeat airing of a Flip of Flop episode while you’re folding yet another load of laundry.

Ad failed to load

The Vice-Like Grip Of Fierce Parental Love

Even though I cycled through this list of prickly feelings, there was one constant I felt every single day: crazy love. Buried under a landslide of strong emotions, and sometimes hard to discern through the chaos, was the purest, deepest love I’ve ever felt. Different than romantic love, it didn’t give me pause that it would some day flame out. It is almost scary how an emotion can be so strong, and now that I live with that love, for my two children, I can’t imagine a life without it.

Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:

Ad failed to load
Must Reads

The Entire Family Can Enjoy These Movies & Shows Coming To Netflix In June

It's just one of those sad facts of life: every month, shows and movies vanish from Netflix, their varied excitements no longer at your fingertips. But luckily the streaming service is always prepared to fill that content void with lots of new things…
By Megan Walsh

The Reason Why Babies Smile At You Will Seriously Make You Smile

Whether you're currently the recipient of your own baby's sweet smiles or you just seem to be a magnet for baby grins in general, you might find yourself wondering why babies are always smiling at you. Sure, you could be a 'smile whisperer' but scien…
By Kate Miller

8 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say That, Yes, You Are Their Favorite

For a baby to show a preference for a specific person is not only normal, but an essential part of their development. Babies need to form strong attachments to their caregivers for their emotional, social, and physical wellbeing. Usually, but not alw…
By Kimmie Fink

10 Reasons Why I Won't Apologize For Giving My Toddler A Pacifier

My first child had no interest in a pacifier. I tried a couple times to get him to take one, but he always spat them out and gave me an incredulous, judgmental look. But my second? It was love at first suckle. And after a while, the incredulous, judg…
By Jamie Kenney

Being A Dog Parent Prepared Me For Having A Baby, Really

I’ve always wanted kids; I was never as sure about raising a puppy. Then I spent six months living with someone who brought home an eight-week-old golden retriever puppy, and I see no way to make it out of that experience claiming not to love dogs. I…
By Heather Caplan

20 Of The Most Popular Unisex Names Of All Time, That You'll Be Hearing More Of For Sure

You might think of unisex names as a fairly recent trend, but the truth is these versatile monikers have been commonly used throughout history (well, some more commonly than others). That's why the team over at Names.org recently compiled a list of t…
By Jacqueline Burt Cote

How To Have A Date Night With No Babysitter, Because It's Easier Than You Think

After having children, many couples feel that their love lives immediately go out the window, but it's so important to make your romantic life a priority so both you and your partner can be the best versions of yourselves you can be. As we all know, …
By Abi Berwager Schreier

9 Ways Baby No. 3 Made My Family Feel Complete

My husband and I decided to have another baby right after we got married and, well, we had no idea what we were getting into. I got pregnant right away, endured a high-risk pregnancy, and, before I knew it, my third baby had arrived. Together, we emb…
By Steph Montgomery

8 Stereotypes About New Dads That Are *Totally* True

Much like new mothers, new fathers have a lot on their plate. Parenting can be scary and complex, especially at first and regardless of your gender. People want to do right by their kids, after all. And since all new parents are a hot mess, dads are …
By Priscilla Blossom

8 Differences Between Being Pregnant In Your 20s Vs 30s, According To Science

Whether you're planning a pregnancy, or just thinking about your future family, it's typical to think about things like child-spacing, how many kids you want, and when to start trying to conceive. When making your pro/con list, you might also conside…
By Steph Montgomery

16 Moms Share Remedies For Their Most Intense Chocolate Cravings During Pregnancy

For better or worse, pregnancy is usually synonymous with odd cravings. Sure, there are the stereotypical combos like pickles and ice cream that plague gestating women the world over, but there are other mind-boggling combinations, too, including but…
By Candace Ganger

Putting Sunscreen On Your Kid Doesn't Have To Be A Fight — Here's How To Do It

I am almost translucent, so me and sunscreen are basically besties at this point. Even though my children are beautifully deep brown thanks to my husband's genetics, I still slather them like biscuits being buttered because I refuse to take risks wit…
By Cat Bowen

19 Moms Share The Way They Cured Their Pregnancy Comfort Food Cravings

I was obnoxiously sick during the first trimester with, "lucky" for me, both of my pregnancies. For the first three months I lived on saltines, lemonade, and fresh bread. Once I was able to eat, however, all I wanted was savory and sweet comfort food…
By Dina Leygerman

8 Fascinating Facts About Babies Born In May, The Luckiest Month Of All

The height of all things fresh and springy, May is an excellent month to have a baby. It's a time of growth, graduations, and outdoor celebrations. And these fascinating facts about May babies will give you more reasons than ever to appreciate childr…
By Lindsay E. Mack

I Used To Judge Formula-Feeding Moms — Until I Became One

The other patrons in the hip Brooklyn restaurant probably couldn’t care less what I was feeding my baby, but I’ll always remember the shame I felt as I quickly mixed up his bottle of formula in front of them. I admitted to my childless friend that I …
By Katherine Martinelli

7 White Lies It’s Necessary To Tell To Keep Your Relationship Healthy

Telling lots of lies typically isn't associated with a healthy, strong, lasting relationship, and that's still certainly true, but not all lies are exactly the same. Though you've probably heard from someone at least once or twice that the lie they t…
By Lauren Schumacker

The Skinny Jeans That Saved Me Postpartum

Accepting my post-pregnancy body is hands-down one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It’s something that I still work on every single day. During my first pregnancy, I was 20 years old, so I managed to bounce back quickly. In fact, I dropp…
By Allison Cooper

7 Ways Your Baby Is Trying To Say They Feel Safe

In those first weeks of new motherhood, it can feel like you need an interpreter for your newborn. With their limited means of communication, figuring out what message your baby is trying to get across to you can be a challenge. With time, however, y…
By Kimmie Fink

Here's Why Dogs Are Obsessed With Babies' Poop, According To Science

Most family dogs seem to understand babies, and they're more than happy to make friends with the newest member of the pack. It's adorable... for the most part and until you go to change your little one's diaper. Suddenly, you're wondering why dogs ar…
By Lindsay E. Mack

6 Signs You're Meant To Have A Big Age Gap Between Kids

There's a five year age difference between my two children, to the day. Their age gap wasn't planned but, for a variety of reasons, works well for our family. And since I was so focused on having a second baby, I totally overlooked the signs that wou…
By Candace Ganger

My Dog Knew I Was Pregnant Before My Family Did

Growing up, I was 100 percent sure I'd be a mom one day. To a dog, that is. My baby plans came later. And once my husband and I were sure we wanted both a dog and a baby, we'd add to our joint dog-and-baby name list over Sunday brunch or on date nigh…
By Melissa Mills
)}