When you’re pregnant, information finds you. Somehow, you’ve subscribed to every baby bump e-newsletter out there so you can compare your growing baby to a new piece of fruit each week. When you type a few characters into Google, a question auto-populates that has to do with pregnancy even if you thought you were searching for something completely unrelated. Everything you see on Facebook is an advertisement for a pregnancy product, a nursery must-have, hot new maternity clothes or a sale on diapers. So why is it that as soon as your baby is born, you’re left wondering what to expect when you’re NOT expecting?
Just two weeks after my son, Crosby, was born, I joined an amazing mommy/baby group at Honey, a local space that caters to mamas new and old, that focused on the mom in the “fourth trimester.” The fourth trimester, as defined by Baby Centre, is the time from when your baby is born until they’re about three months old. During this time, there is so much change for both you and your baby that it can be a scary and overwhelming yet magical and exciting place all at once. For whatever reason, it seems like the apps, the Facebook ads, and even Google can’t provide the answers you need. I felt lucky to find a place for me and others to listen and ask questions about everything that was going on with our brand new little ones — and ourselves.
On the outside, my growing baby was obviously the most significant change in my life, but internally, my body was also a lot to keep up with! I thought I would feel light and free and so much more in control now that I didn’t have another human growing inside of me, but my body felt so confused. I missed my baby inside, because then I didn’t have to worry about how much he was eating or sleeping. He did his thing, I did mine and it all happened automatically and subconsciously.
In addition to eating and sleeping, exercising, for example, didn’t change much for me during pregnancy. My body adapted wonderfully and I felt stronger than ever on the day I delivered. After delivery, though, everything changed and it took a long time to feel like I did before pregnancy. Not being “allowed” to exercise until a certain point was difficult for me, especially as a fitness studio owner. That transition was tough.
I wanted to hop back into my regular life and routine right away, but I just couldn’t. I needed to sleep and recover, and I also needed to think about all of Crosby’s needs because they didn’t get accomplished automatically anymore. For a good part of the fourth trimester, every time I walked up and down stairs, I bled and I felt my insides shifting. My body felt completely foreign to me. I was so happy when I got cleared to exercise again, but that brought on a new challenge: leaving Crosby, even if just for an hour. I definitely wasn’t ready for that.
I was so happy to find other woman in my same stage of life who were equally interested in a workout class for postpartum moms where babies were more than welcome! The mommy/baby class at Fuse45 helped me regain my strength and confidence in my body.
Your body goes through so much change after birth. There’s not a cute app to show you the way or help you navigate and understand all the changes. I guess app developers would face a lot of backlash if they came up with one that let you know what fruit shape your body should look like each week postpartum! Of course, it’s not just about how your body looks. There’s so much else to worry about to even care about that!
When I type questions or keywords into Google, I am often overwhelmed with articles and photos that scare me and fill me with doubt. But how do you not ask these important questions?!
“What color should my baby’s poop be?”
“What does mastitis look like?”
“How many ounces should my baby be eating at X weeks old?”
“How much is too much alcohol when breastfeeding?”
“When should my baby sleep through the night?”
“How much is too much spit-up?”
“What temperature should my baby’s room be?”
Ask Google any of these questions and you’ll get thousands of different opinions. It can be a scary and lonely world! Often I’m told that the best thing to do is to “check with your doctor.” However, this can create even more anxiety because “Who is my doctor now?!” Your OBGYN doesn’t want to give you answers because you are no longer pregnant, your pediatrician will only answer questions about your baby and you haven’t seen your primary care physician in over a year and feel weird asking him or her what’s going on with your new, strange body. While it’s so tempting just to ask Google, I’ve found the most helpful answers come from close friends.
It’s been 5 months since Crosby has been born. In this crazy, scary, yet still incredible and exciting fourth trimester (plus), I’ve found three important resources to help me through it. First, finding mom groups like the ones at Honey and Fuse45 has been incredibly important for my mental and physical health. Second, identifying a few close friends with slightly older babies who I trust for opinions has been better than getting passed between doctors or scared on the internet. Lastly, and above all else, finding the confidence inside to trust my own instincts is the best tool I can give myself. Nothing is constant after you’ve had a baby, and while that can be scary, that’s also what keeps things exciting. The question of what to expect really never goes away.