The fourth trimester.
When it comes to motherhood, there are things that nobody tells you. Things that nobody talks about, or things that some might be scared or ashamed to bring up. An uneventful pregnancy on the other hand, is more straight forward. For over 9 months you have been carrying human life inside of you. Crazy, isn't it! If it's your first child, you feel a handful of feelings. As soon as you enter your third trimester, you are most likely thrilled and can't wait to give birth not knowing what to expect. You might be scared or experience some sort of anxiety at some degree, but you kind of feel like everything is under your control -more or less. Your hormones are giving you a really hard time for most of this 9 months -whether your symptoms come and go noticed or unnoticed. Eventually, you get used to your new self; it becomes your new 'normal' only with a growing belly. You gradually fall in love with your belly, with every kick, the sound of every heartbeat, each and every black and white impression of your little baby during each one of your scan visits. It's a beautiful journey.
All of a sudden, on a random day you become a parent. In the wink of an eye you forget the chapter pregnancy. It's as if it never existed in the first place. As if you just finished the book of 'Pregnancy' and you are now starting a new book, the one of 'Motherhood'. The two are connected and follow one another, but they are based on a completely different storyline. Similar to how your hormones are treating you in the meantime. From being under the influence of a hormonal delirium, your hormones instantly drop to almost 0. Think of the period blues multiplied by 100. You immediately feel more like your old self. Has everything really gone back to normal that quickly? Your skin is recovering, the accumulated water is receding, your weight is gradually getting back to normal, all the pregnancy symptoms had just disappeared! You don't need to wee every other hour, neither to sleep on your left side anymore. As a matter of fact, on day 1 you have already forgotten that you used to wee that often.
The first couple of days you will experience something unthinkable. At first, it may feel as if you are daydreaming; you are hypnotised by this new baby. This little human being that had just made an appearance into this world will make you feel like a goddess for a while. You and only you can sooth this little human. It's in your hands and only that this baby will be able to calm down and feel safe and at ease. She or he will only recognise your smell, your heartbeat, your voice. This little one will make you feel so special. The experience itself is so unique and so powerful it is only incredible what a miracle your body had just created almost out of nothing! Every single minute of what you are experiencing this first few days is pure godsend unconditional love and devotion. And there it goes!
Bringing life into this world is the most natural yet such a remarkable out-of-this-world thing. Being pregnant -while challenging for some- it is also highly empowering. It makes you feel capable of overcoming all difficulties and roll through motherhood with the exact same strength for when the time comes. Soon after, your birth experience with what it comprises arrive just on time to make you feel human, vulnerable, mortal once again. No matter how many books you've read, how many antenatal classes you'd attended, how many pregnant friends or couples with children you may know of, it still feels like you don't have the slightest inkling of what it signifies to be a first time parent. You spend hours trying to sooth the needs of an upset or a crying baby. Sometimes sleep deprivation cannot be comprehended. Yet above and beyond everything else, you still have to cope with your postpartum mental and physical well being.
From my personal experience, during the first couple of weeks following delivery I had undergone an initial baby blues' phase as expected. Hormonal changes did the trick for me too and I ended up feeling lonely, tired with ups and lows as soon as day time was over. I was however mentally prepared for this, so I was constantly reminding myself that it's just a phase, that it's absolutely normal to feel that way and that soon it will be long gone. In the meantime, in my case anxiety also kicked-in and all of a sudden everything seemed like it couldn't have been any worse. We've all heard about postpartum depression, but not that many know of the postpartum anxiety per se. I haven't been diagnosed with it, neither have I actually been that bad, but I briefly concluded that this disorder explains best some of the thoughts and feelings I started developing. I was constantly scared thinking about how anything could happen to my little one. I suppose loving someone -so tiny and seemingly vulnerable- deeply and truly can cause anxiety thoughts. I want to believe that most first time parents must be going through similar phases.
A few weeks postpartum I decided to take action and change my mindset towards a more positive approach. I realised that as the days were passing by I was already missing every single moment that me and Carlos shared with our little one so far. I found myself nostalgic thinking of our first days as a family of three. The more I was thinking about it the more frustrated I was becoming with myself for allowing my emotions to put me down and prevent me from enjoying those incredible moments in full. And this is the moment it hit me. There lies the beauty of parenthood. The challenge. In the acceptance that we human are imperfect, fragile, but resilient. In understanding that there is nothing a parent can do to provide an eternal and safety proofed life as they would wish for their children. That day I decided to stop believing everything I think. To embrace life as it is, let go and try to enjoy every single bit of it as much as I possibly can. It isn't easy. I am still having my crazy freaking out moments. Thinking about it, our bodies are capable of miracles, why not training our brains to do so too? Those little moments are simply too precious to be wasted worrying.