Beyond the fourth trimester

Thomas is nearly four months old, which means we’ve been out of the fourth trimester for a while.

In the past 16 or so weeks I’ve learned a lot about taking care of three little ones. Here’s one bit of wisdom I can pass on:

It’s impossible.

If you’re currently pregnant, stop scrolling Pinterest for “unique jewelry for new moms” and instead go order your mother flowers. Trust me, you owe her an apology.

fourthtrimester 2

I started writing this post when Thomas was 12 weeks old, but I never finished it and the weeks keep passing and now I have to look at a calendar to figure out exactly how old he is. All I know is that he only woke up once last night, and so now I have brain power to string together a few words to finish a blog post.

Perhaps that’s why you stop counting in days and weeks — because, eventually, you’re not quite in survival mode. Eventually the weeks don’t feel so heavy or desperate because you’re finally stringing together a few hours of sleep. Every day is still an accomplishment, of course, but Thomas is smiling, and laughing. 

Things are beginning to look more normal.

fourthtrimester 1

The fourth trimester, this first chunk of time with a sweet newborn, was filled with sleepy joy and love. We were showered with meals and visits from generous friends and family.

I’ve cautiously ventured out, testing the waters of playdates and errands with three very young children. And I’ve stayed home. We’ve stayed home a lot, way more than normal, taking the day as slowly as possible with two toddlers who only like games with names like “runnin’ runnin'” or “wrestle-destle.”

One day I was completely out of patience with my big kids so I turned on the TV and gave them both marshmallows to get them to CHILL OUT for just a second. It was only 10 a.m. That’s how we’re doing.

One of my biggest challenges comes whenever Thomas is sleeping. I’m not normally the type that relishes getting things done (I’m just as happy with lethargy), but when Thomas goes down for a nap, I feel almost frantic about everything I need to do. But it’s also the only time I can completely focus on my big kids. It’s hard to slow down and give them the attention they’re desperate for — reading books, playing play-doh, building blocks — rather than giving my attention to the breakfast mess, laundry, my Facebook feed…

fourthtrimester 3

Nearly four months in, we’re still figuring it out. We’re not good at this, not at all; we’re still taking it one day — one mess, one load of laundry, one meal — at a time. Our days are still bursting at the seams with to-dos, and I every now and then 3 p.m. rolls around and I realize the only thing I’ve had to drink all day is coffee. Or worse, at 3 p.m.I realize I haven’t had a chance to finish my coffee.

The one benefit I feel as a mom with experience is that I know that it won’t always be like this, because babies grow so rapidly. As soon as we settle into a routine Thomas changes, or preschool starts, or Mary Virginia decides she MUST potty train. In other words, KA-BOOM!

Actually, in other words, I’m not as anxious to settle into a routine this time. It’s still hard, but the feeling that dinner is completely impossible doesn’t feel like failure. Instead, I know that we’ll fumble for a while, but slowly, and before we know it, things will start to fall into place.

They already are.

fourthtrimester 4

 

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5 Comments

  1. Katherine A. September 11, 2015

    Love.

    Dinner for us looks like: Earth Fare $6 pizzas on Thursdays. Earth Fare $6 Rotisserie Chicken on Fridays. Earth Fare $7 Pizzas all weekend. Earth Fare Chicken Salad Specials. Eggs and apples. Pancakes and apples. Sometimes I pick up a huge loaf of Breadsmith $4.75 Ciabatta and we all just eat that … with apples. Sometimes we go out to ice cream for dinner.

    It’s actually necessary for us to invite friends to dinner, b/c it’s the main impetus to actually cook!!!

    One mom recently gave me the rundown of places where kids eat free. I forget but it was like McAlisters one night, Chikfilet the next, Earth Fare the next. I forget! It was funny. Going out to eat is kind of stressful though, so we just eat bread! 🙂

    Reply
  2. oh that made me giggle, there were definitely days that felt like that but from a little further down the line with three little ones I can tell you what you already know. It gets easier. Or at least, it becomes normal and you suddenly realise that you’re doing it almost without having to think through every little thing. You’ll get there, it’ll be ok 🙂

    Reply
  3. Meredith September 14, 2015

    Awesome post, I think it sounds like you’re doing it all JUST right. 🙂

    Reply
  4. Emily September 15, 2015

    Yay, for you Mom! I only have one son who is 15 months old, but I felt like I was in survival mode for almost all of his first year of life. It is like you said though it all starts to fall into place, thankfully! Beautiful pictures of your little guy!

    Reply
  5. Steph September 15, 2015

    This was very much my life – some days it still is, and my youngest is 2 and a half! – I didn’t think I would make it through some days. We’re trying to decide if we’ll try to grow our family again or not, and this all too common feeling you describe is definitely one of our cons! We haven’t so gracefully come through growing from a family of 3-4. Hang in there mama.

    Reply

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