The fourth trimester is the time of recovery. It spans the three months after you give birth, and it’s riddled with post-partum symptoms, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and hopefully, bounce back. My fourth trimester ended a few weeks ago with my return to work.
The highlight of the fourth trimester is that you are no longer pregnant. The Caterpillar’s pregnancy was definitely the toughest on me versus my experience with the boys. I don’t know if it’s because I’m six years older than when I had Gadget, or if it was because she is a girl, but I’m glad it’s over. From the round ligament pain and shortness of breath, to all my other random symptoms, I gladly said goodbye and good riddance to being an incubation host for nine months. However, with the Fourth Trimester came a host of new dilemmas and challenges.
My Caterpillar was 8lbs 3.5oz at her two week appointment, so she had gained back her birth weight and was growing up quite nicely on her exclusive breastmilk diet. Someone once told me that the higher her birth weight, the longer she’ll sleep at night. Ha! The first night home was a little crazy even though she’d only lost a few ounces in the hospital. We were exhausted. Of course, she slept all day, and then during the witching hour she started her “grunts.” At the time, I had not properly identified the meaning of each sound, but now I’m savvy enough to distinguish between feed me, burp me, I’m cold, I’m sleepy, hold me, comfort me, or I have gas. Although, it took a good seven weeks before successfully learning how to decipher this chick’s code. Now, those days are behind me, and I’m grateful every minute she’s awake when the sun’s up, because that means more sleep for me at night.
The morning Miss C was born I weighed 164.5 pounds. About a week later I was 148, and today I am 136.5. I think I gained about thirty pounds this pregnancy, so I have about ten to go given the post-Lion pudge I started with. The numbers look exciting, but my doughy, postpartum belly, with what feels like are floating organs, doesn’t quite look like I only have ten pounds left to shed. I am itching to get into a cardio routine, and I’ve even completed one week of INSANITY. It really challenged my milk production, so I’m waiting a few more months before I dive further into an exercise routine. Pumping and feeding have been the only factors that’s contributed to my weight loss. I’ve pumped so much that we bought a deep freezer on Black Friday and it’s safely storing ounces and ounces for Miss C (I initially wrote this post in November and have an update about this soon). I also had a few serious headaches which were my body’s signal that I needed more calories. In the first few post-partum weeks I experienced migraine-like headaches that I never had with the boys. The combination of attempting INSANITY and cluster feeding left my body running on fumes.
These suckers will creep up on you. Poor Hubby has momentarily lost his wife. One moment, I’m fine and running errands with baby girl, and the next I’m crying because he didn’t change her diaper without me asking him to do and expecting him to read my mind. The swift change in my hormones also gave me nasty night sweats. I would wake up drenched and totally disgusted. The worst effect of the hormones is that my hair is starting to shed now. All the strands that I held onto during those nine months are finally starting their life cycle again, even though I did not have an epidural.
I gladly embrace these few Fourth Trimester symptoms, though. The pregnancy symptoms were far worse, and extended for a far greater length of time. As I reflect on some of the *highlights* of my past pregnancies there is one story that must be shared.
With Gadget, I experienced pregnancy gingivitis, insomnia, cravings for lemon tarts from Whole Foods, and after his birth, bowel incontinence. What is bowel incontinence you say? Well, it’s when you can’t hold your poo in. So gross. But you see, the doctor used forceps with the Lion, so things were a little rattled down there, and I had to take very seriously all cues for the bathroom. There were no warning signals, just a flash to alert me to high-tail it to the bathroom, or else…
Unfortunately, I experienced “or else.” One morning while in my fourth trimester with the Lion, I went down to Hell’s Kitchen to run an errand. Lion and I left so early that I didn’t have time for breakfast, so I grabbed a cup of fresh squeezed orange juice before getting on the subway to head back home after completing the errand. Now, even with a healthy functioning digestive system, fresh squeezed-anything will get your juices flowing.
I carried the Lion’s stroller into the subway, and we waited for the NRW train. And waited. And waited. And while we waited my stomach started to rumble. Now, had I known what would next transpire, I would have gladly carried the stroller back up the stairs, found a restroom, and not thought twice about losing my train fare or the germs in a public bathroom. But on that particular day, I decided to stay and wait for the train. By the time it arrived the rumbles began to come in waves. With each wave, I got a little flushed and dreamt of being in the comfort of my own home to end the rumbling. The NRW didn’t run up to my stop, so we had to transfer to the B train at 34th. So many trains arrived on the platform, but none of them were my train home. I sat on one of the subway benches, which was helping to keep everything inside me. I knew standing up and walking around would only agitate and increase the rumblings, so I sat and waited. And waited. And waited some more. And finally when the train came, all I could do was envision the relief of making it to the bathroom. The fresh squeezed orange juice had made its way through my system, and was pushing out everything is its way. I fantasized about sitting on the clean, private vinyl lined room in my apartment. By the time I made it to 116th street, I could only run home. I carried the stroller up the subway stairs, shuffled across the street and began to sprint-push the stroller along the block standing between me and home. I wasn’t going to make it. The rumbling had changed into bubbling, and the bubbling and gravity were working in cahoots to publicly embarrass me.
Flustered, I bustled through the door of the coffee shop just meters from my apartment door. I wasn’t going to make it home. I shoved the stroller into the single bathroom, but a gentleman stood up to help assist me with the door. He was moving too slowly, way too slowly, and the bubbling was coming out. By the time I got the stroller inside and the door closed it was too late. Way too late.