The first three months postpartum is the most ridiculous time in a new mother’s life. If you follow me on Twitter you know that I have a breakdown every other day. I think the word ridiculous perfectly defines the fourth trimester.
definition: ridiculous [ri'dikjules]
- worthy of exciting ridicule; absurd, preposterous, laughable, or contemptible
Yep, that sounds about right.
Firstly, there’s the hormones. The hormones that are out of whack and playfully breaking you down and building you up in the same minute. After having a baby you are slowly getting “back to normal”, this includes hair shedding, weight loss or gain, skin outbreaks, and crazy outbreaks of insanity about all of the above. And with breastfeeding comes some more hormonal craziness – sweating. I am always, always hot. The room is freezing, my family is under blankets, and I’m sweating like a madwoman. And realize that none of this includes the baby.
Oh, that lovely, lovely baby. The one who is all smiles at strangers who tickle his belly, when dad comes home he giggles and coos, and when alone with mom he screams bloody murder for two hours straight until he falls fast asleep. For twenty minutes. And then starts the whole thing over again. But that’s not how the baby began – oh no! The little newborn baby was adorable, this tiny thing that was miraculous and amazing – you discovered something new about him every day, even every hour! Something new, all the time! You began to understand his cues, the cry for hungry is different than the cry for “I pooped!” and is different from the tired cry.
It’s astounding to you that you finally are starting to understand this baby. You start to get into a groove of sorts, even if he’s not on a schedule, per say, he gets his own rhythm – he even starts sleeping through the night! You start getting a full 7-hour block of sleep and you feel fantastic! It’s amazing what sleep can do for a person.
By the end of these 3 months, although you’re still sweaty and sometimes moody, you start feeling like yourself again, like you can handle everything that life is throwing at you, you’ve got a grip on things, and on top of that you’ve discovered an extra weight loss of fifteen pounds – which is surely an excuse to buy some new clothing (yay! no more stupid nursing tops for me! you know, the ones I’ve worn for THREE MONTHS STRAIGHT!***) – but your body is still squishy and not necessarily in shape, so you can’t just buy clothes online as easily as you used to. So you take a trip to Aritizia, with a six-year old and a three-month old baby in tow.
A three-month old baby that is now TEETHING and a bloody mess. A complete and utter mess – it’s as if all my hormonal craziness, all my anxiety about weight and appearance and feeling like myself, ALL OF THAT has somehow wrapped itself in a little package called MY BABY.
He starts slowly. The little noises, little frustrating noises that go “ugh” and “eee” and “aah”, just over and over again. A little annoying, but nothing you can’t handle. But these noises get louder. And he’s drooling, oh is he drooling! His shirt is wet, his hands are covered in goober, and you look in the mirror and see wet spots on your shoulder, on your top, and even on your pants! Yay, me. His hands start flailing – into his mouth, grabbing his ear, back in his mouth – oops he missed and scratched his nose! Now he’s crying because he scratched himself. His legs start kicking, his arms still flailing, trying to grab onto anything to shove in his mouth. His face is giving the “I’m going to erupt like a volcano” look, and then it’s just non-stop, uncontrollable madness. Even his favourite position – holding him with both my arms, in front of my body, facing OUT – is not helping.
And this all happened while I’m trying on clothes in the Aritzia change room.
Surrounded by thin girls shopping, cute ladies who work there and are so in style, and then there’s me – overweight in skinny jeans looking for “flowy” tops to hide my belly and give easy access to breastfeeding. Holding a screaming baby and a six-year old who is trying to help by shouting this baby’s name over and over, and poking at him to get him to look at her.
These past few days have been tough. It seems a switch has gone off in him and he’s gone from happy, smiley baby to a angry, scary, mess of a man. Walking around the village, with this baby who I can’t comfort in any way, shape or form – forget breastfeeding! He’s stopped eating as much because it’s too painful, I guess. Usually if he cries it’s easy to comfort him with a breast (if nothing else would work, that would), but now that just makes him angrier, makes his screams louder, and if you’re trying to feed in public and it just gets worse, I start to feel even worse. It’s hard. I have put him in the stroller while crying because I don’t know what else to do, I take the five-minute walk back to the Jeep, him screaming and my sunglasses covering my teary eyes trying to avoid the stares of people who I just pray aren’t judging me for having a crying baby in a stroller.
And I start to feel a little crazy. I mean, I had finally got him down, finally understood most of his cries, been able to comfort him, figured out his favourite ways of holding, of cuddling, even eating positions! And now, everything has flipped itself on its’ head, it seems. No longer can I comfort or cuddle or do anything right. Teething tablets and homeopathic teething gels, Infant Tylenol, rubber teethers, cloth teethers, his blanket – these things help a tiny bit, but not for long.
I can see the culprit – I can see that little tooth starting to come out on his bottom gum.
I just hope when it finally makes its’ appearance, and another starts coming through, that it won’t be nearly as dramatic. Please. Don’t be as dramatic.
There are many words to describe motherhood (humbling, challenging, amazing, revealing, rewarding, indescribable!) I choose to describe the first three months as Ridiculous. Don’t take life too seriously, make sure to have a laugh
***This pregnancy I purchased many tops that became ‘nursing tops’ for when baby arrived. These tops are super! They all have hidden flaps and compartments to make breastfeeding in public super duper easy – just open this flap and your boobie is free to feed! But I only bought four or five tops that would be considered “summer heat tops”. And I’ve lived in those tops for almost 3 months. And then I discovered something that I didn’t even realize – I can wear a normal top. A NORMAL top – somewhat flowy or stretchy – and just wear a tank top underneath. Top goes up, tank goes down, easy peasy access to boobies in public. Without flashing the world. You’re welcome.
***You can purchase the “Manifesto for Mums” at The Smile Collective.