After I had my son, I was desperate for a sign I was doing something right. It wasn't hubris, mind you. It wasn't a need for attention or constant praise. Honestly, I was so afraid of screwing up and inadvertently hurting my son in some way, that I just wanted some assurance I could handle the whole mom thing. Thankfully, I started to notice more than a few signs I was kicking the fourth trimester's ass, and I held onto those signs for dear freakin' life. A new mom needs what a new mom needs, dear reader.
I had a difficult pregnancy, labor, and delivery, so to say I was sore and exhausted and emotionally drained after I pushed my son into the world would be a severe understatement. My self-confidence was shot, even though I had done something truly incredible, and I was too tired to dig deep and find enough strength to truly appreciate myself. I was unsure of this new life with this new human, and really had no idea what I was doing. Thankfully, I had a great support system that noticed I needed a little confidence boost and a helluva lot of encouragement, and pointed out a few things I was doing during the fourth trimester that proved I could handle being someone's mother.
Self-doubt and motherhood go hand-in-hand, unfortunately. Which is why society needs to collectively get behind mothers, support them, and encourage them when they need it. I know that a few kinds words, sincere gestures, and much-needed help went a long way when I was in my fourth trimester. So did pointing out the following signs, so I could lean in and realize that, hey, I got this. And so do you.
You're Finding Time To Rest
It's difficult, to be sure. I mean, I don't think I slept the first four days of my son's life. However, it also didn't take long for me to realize that if I was going to survive the postpartum phase, I was going to need to rest.
There's no question that you're dominating the fourth trimester if you're staring at the back of your eyelids.
You're Demanding Some Time Alone
I get that it might seem counterintuitive, seeing as you just birthed a human being that relies on you every hour of every day and who you like spending time with. However, for the sake of your sanity, spend some time alone. You've just been through a major change (physically, mentally, and emotionally) and will do you some good to collect your thoughts, sit in them, and sort them out.
My partner encouraged me to do just that, and it made all the difference. I didn't want to leave my baby's side, but that obsessive need to stare at him every single minute of every single day was only doing me harm. When I was able to sit by myself, I started to feel more like myself.
You're Finishing Netflix Series At Record Speed
This is just pure talent, my friends. Well, talent and some time on your hands (time taking care of a newborn, mind you, which is no vacation). I went through more than a few Netflix series in record speed and, yes, I can re-enact every episode of Orange Is The New Black with ridiculous precision and accuracy.
You're Finding Time To Shower
I had no idea a shower could feel like a trip to an all-inclusive resort but, well, here I am. If you can find some time to shower during your fourth trimester, you're doing just fine, my friend.
You're Giving Yourself Time To Recover From Childbirth
The moment your baby arrives, there's so much work to be done. Even though your newborn doesn't do "much," they require constant care. That can make it pretty damn difficult to care for yourself, too.
However, it's so vital that you do. You were pregnant for 40 weeks (more or less), went through the physical labor and sometimes trauma of labor and delivery (whether it was vaginal or via c-section) and your body is hurtin'. Take care of you, so you can take care of your baby.
You're Learning About Your Postpartum Body...
Just like the months I was pregnant, I learned a lot about my body during the fourth trimester. The abilities my body has — being able to expand and then shrink, create breast milk, and instinctively know not to move when co-sleeping — are truly incredible, and if you stop and pay attention, you'll notice how awesome your body is in the fourth trimester, too.
...And Saying One Kind Thing About Your Body A Day
I failed at this one. Miserably, my friends. I didn't particularly like my postpartum body, in that I didn't appreciate how it looked. Taking a gander at my postpartum stomach was difficult, and I didn't have a lot of kind words to say to the very same form that brought my son into this world.
Still, if you can say one nice thing about your amazing body, you're ruling the fourth trimester. After all, that body is why your baby is in your arms. Be kind to it. Be kind to you.
You're Asking And Receiving Help
Another failure on my part, my friends. Hey, I didn't say I rocked every aspect of the fourth trimester.
I was hellbent on doing absolutely everything for my baby after he was born. Hell, I didn't even let my partner put him to bed or change him or feed him. I was so afraid of anything happening to him, I wanted to do it all by myself to ensure my baby was OK. Yeah, that's not healthy. Eventually, my partner just took the baby from me and told me to get some sleep. That rest was the clarity I needed, and before I knew it, I was comfortable asking for and receiving help. Let people help you. You are not meant to parent alone.
You're Ignoring Condescending Unsolicited Advice
You don't have time for it. Seriously, you don't.
Focus on your new life with your new baby and healing your body. Focus on settling into new routines and learning about this little life you have brought into the world. Don't worry about what someone thinks, or what they're telling you you're "supposed" to do. You just find what works best for you and your family, and stick to it.
You're Letting The World Revolve Around You And Your Baby
The world will continue on without you, to be sure. Time doesn't stop just because you had a baby. However, for at least a little while, let it. Don't rush jumping back into the "real world." Don't worry that you're "missing out." Just enjoy this time of exhaustion and joy. Snuggle your baby, feed your baby, lay with your baby, get some rest, and settle into this mom thing. The world can wait.