The Fourth Trimester: My Experience
Seeing as it's nearly the end of the year, I thought it would be good to look back over the past three months of having this silly sausage in our lives. We're technically been out of the fourth trimester for a couple of weeks now but funnily enough it's been pretty busy so I'm only just getting round to writing this post (and devour a mince pie) as Eva naps!
I didn't even realise there was a fourth trimester until I was about 8 and a half months pregnant, it's what the first three months of a baby's life is referred to as they develop from a newborn into a fully fledged baby. Eva's now three and a half months old (madness!) and is turning into a delicious little girl with plenty of personality. I wanted to gather a few thoughts on different areas and how we're getting on so we can look back in the future to see how things have changed and if it helps anyone too, that's great!
We thankfully got off to a great start with feeding, Eva latched on perfectly first time and I’ve never had any pain or mastitis but I know I’m very lucky with that! We had a stressful few weeks a couple of weeks ago where she wasn’t feeding properly, she basically discovered the world existed so wanted to look at everything or chat to me instead! Feeding her in public was the worst as she was so distracted, also stressful because everyone is watching you and you have a boob out... But thankfully that doesn’t seem to be a problem anymore and she’s back to her usual milk monster self!
We also found out that she's allergic to dairy which means sadly I've been on a dairy free diet for about 6 weeks but it has made SUCH a difference to her digestion and sleep.
I'm still exclusively breastfeeding as she is refusing to have a bottle. She used to have a bottle every night when she was tiny but we somehow got out the habit and she now refuses to have a bottle which means no cheese or chocolate for me over Christmas, SOB. But I shall continue to persevere!
I've been really worried she wasn’t putting on enough weight but found out last time I got her weighed that one of the health visitors had plotted a couple of her weights incorrectly so it looked like she’d dropped too much weight which she hadn’t at all, just some extra added unnecessary stress I didn’t need. She is just a small baby but she's very healthy, happy and strong so that's all that matters.
The muslin over her head in the photo above is to keep her from getting distracted by the way, I am in no way bothered about whacking out a boob in public anymore! I used to hide in the bathroom if we were out but now I couldn't care less.
Miraculously she’s been sleeping through the night for the last month or so which is a VERY welcome change from the 4 or 5 wake up calls during the night before that. Most of those wake ups were because of the dairy issue, her tummy and trapped wind would wake her up all the time, I'm so happy we figured out what the problem was and that it was something easy to fix. RIP my festive cheeseboard.
I had the 7pm to 7am Sleeping Baby Routine book recommended to me by a friend so I read that during my sleepless nights to try and find a solution. It was a bit intense but I took bits and bobs from it and she now sleeps from 8pm to about 6.30am so I will 100% take that!
We're now in a pretty good routine but I'm not too strict with it (apart from at bed time) because sometimes the monotony of it all takes all the fun out of having a baby. At the moment we're doing sleep, eat, play as a routine without any set nap times to keep it consistent but easy to change if we need to, it also gives her time to digest before she goes to sleep so we don't have any tummy problems. At bed time I give her a feed from one boob, then she has a bath, a massage, a feed from the other boob and then a little song and I rock her to sleep. Joe generally has dinner ready for when she's in bed and we have the evening together which is lovely. I used to be so tired I'd have to go to bed when she did at 8 but now I can manage a chat and an episode or two of something, I am WILD.
Another thing that really helped was finding out that most babies her age can only stay awake for 1 and a half to two hours so it makes it really easy to predict what she's going to do and when. That is definitely a tiny bit of knowledge that I'd pass onto expectant or new parents as it made a world of difference to me, even if it's just being able to plan your day.
ActivitiesI try and get us out of the house at least once a day or have people come to visit, it's good for me to get out of the house and for her to interact with other people, she's a right flirt at the moment!
We do baby massage every week and I either get her weighed at the clinic there or go to baby social afterwards which is nice for her to meet other babies and for me to meet other mums. We also go to The Whitworth every other week or so, they have Art Baby which is a sensory session from 10-3 every Monday, it's so good to be in a place like The Whitworth and for her to be involved in art so young. They also have a play session at the same time for older children too.
My favourite thing to do is take her to the cinema, Odeon do a 'newbies' showing every week where the lights are on a little, the volume is quieter and no one minds if your baby screams. Going to the cinema was always one of my favourite things to do so I'm so glad I can keep going! It's a bit annoying it's on a weekday so Joe can't come too but he came with us when he had a day off so we can do that for any films we need to see. It's every Tuesday at 11am at the Manchester Trafford Centre one but check your local one for more details! I know Vue do Mini Mornings at the weekend across the UK too and Home in Manchester has a baby friendly cinema screening and theatre showing once a month.
We bought her swimming lessons for Christmas and I cannot wait to start them in January! We managed to get a session on a weekend so Joe can come too. I think she's going to love it, she loves the bath so fingers crossed! We have a little Happy Nappy wetsuit* ready to go, it was very kindly sent to her by the lovely people at Simply Swim who I've worked with before, they also sent me a swimsuit and some kids swimming goggles for when she's older so we're all prepped!
What we're getting Eva for Christmas
We're well aware she's a baby and has no concept of Christmas or much else at the moment but we had to get her a few little things! We tried to go for practical things like the swimming lessons so she enjoys them for more than a day. We have got her a few garish sensory plastic things but there more to keep her entertained in the car on the way home from London to be honest!
Her main present is a passport as we're planning a few little trips for next year but she's got a passport holder to open (slash just chew) on Christmas day.
We also donated some money to Crisis in her name to make sure at least one person gets to enjoy Christmas when they wouldn't otherwise be able to. You can help here too if you have any spare money after Christmas shopping!
Joe's also adopting her an owl (we really like owls so we're forcing them on her too) so a little owl will be looked after too.
She seems to be developing well despite her being on the small side for her age! She's very alert, happy and sociable most of the time, her new hobby is crying when anyone else apart from me holds her though so that's fun.
She discovered she can stand up (with our help of course) a couple of weeks ago so that's all she wants to do now, we can feel her little legs getting stronger every day! She's also getting better at sitting too, she's not able to sit up on her own yet but practice makes perfect. She's really trying to roll to which is very cute to watch, she sticks her legs right up into the air and tries to catapult herself over but it's not working just yet.
She's chatting away and has definitely found her voice, her cries are different depending on what she wants too so I can tell whether she's hungry, tired or bored thankfully. Why on earth do babies get bored? There's so many things to look at!
She loves playing with toys now too and she's mastered putting everything in her mouth so there's a few teething and chewable toys under the tree! Her current favourites are Freddie the Firefly ( I thought it was a butterfly, apparently not!) and the Skwish Colour Burst that was recommended by a friend which is what she's holding in the photo above, I am a bit worried she's going to get tangled in it though!
I'll be honest, very little progress has been made! Though she's sleeping in our room, we're getting so much use out of our Little House Furniture cot (we have the Brampton Cot bed which is currently on sale) as we're using it as a bit of a playpen which has been so useful! It's filled with things to play with or chew on, but she also has a baby gym so I tend to alternate between the two so gets different surroundings throughout the day, and tbh, so I can have a sit down. She's quite happy amusing herself now too so I can potter around her room sorting out her clothes or put my make up on while we sing Disney songs, she's probably better at singing than I am already to be honest.
We've also got lots of prints for her gallery wall ready to go with a few from Junique, one from a local artist and a few that friends and family have made for her. It is definitely a project for the new year! You can see which prints we have ready to go here.
How I'm Feeling
Last but not least is about me! It's been a mad few months with a lot of ups and downs, thankfully far more ups though. We're lucky as we seem to have a very well behaved baby (for now...) who is pretty chilled out, sleeps well and feeds well most of the time. I am so in love with her it's stupid, she makes me so happy and I'm loving being a mum so far, it feels like it comes naturally-ish with A LOT of googling.
I was very stressed out over the couple of weeks when she wasn't feeding properly and I thought she wasn't putting on enough weight, I felt like a failure and that I wasn't able to give her what she needed. It was a horrible couple of weeks but as soon as I realised she was fine and chilled out about it a little bit, it was absolutely fine. Silly mummy.
I've also been feeling really exhausted (more than just new baby exhausted, and no, I'm not pregnant again) so I was advised to get a blood test, it looks like I'm lacking iron but have to go into the doctors in January to chat about the results so hopefully they'll sort me out.
Her sleeping properly is so, so good as it means I'm getting about 6 or 7 hours of sleep a night, still broken as I conveniently wake up to check she's breathing every now and then but it's probably more sleep than I was getting when I was at work! She has a habit of waking up at exactly the same time every morning (6.23am if you're interested) which is pretty much when I used to get up for work so it's not too difficult.
I feel like I have no time to myself or to do things for myself so I am SO happy that by best friend Ash who is over from Canada at the moment and has bought us a spa day as my Christmas present, I cannot wait for! We're going on the 30th and the need for a massage, a baby free few hours and my first dip in a hot tub in a year is REAL. Body wise everything is pretty much back to normal, my confidence in clothes is absolutely fine but I'm not keen on the idea of being in a swimsuit with my wobbly tummy and milky boobs next week, we'll have to see how that goes... My other friend Sophie has also arranged for us to go for one in early January so I am VERY excited. Just need to get Eva drinking from a bottle before then... Wish us luck!
If you want to go back in time and read my first, second and third trimester posts as well as my birth story and a post a month into motherhood, click on the links! I'm going to go and have a read of them myself before she wakes up for bath time to see how things have changed!