Fourth Trimester as Four

A baby wearing a woollen hat

Imp 2 is three months! It feels like yesterday that he was born and yet suddenly the fourth trimester has passed and he is basically a grown up.

When imp 1 was born, husband and I found the newborn phase to be surprisingly easy.

We didn’t have any sleepless nights. Yes, she woke up to feed multiple times, but generally fell right back to sleep – it wasn’t any worse than waking up from our cats fighting or from being pregnant and having to pee.

She didn’t cry a lot. Yes, we would get stressed when she did and fight over who would soothe her or what should be done.

Breastfeeding went smoothly. Yes, I had raw nipples, but back then I thought that was a given, so it didn’t bother me too much.

I recovered quickly from birth. Yes, in hindsight I should have rested more.

Yes, we googled every hiccough and every colour of poop and schedules and whatnot. But we never thought it was difficult or exhausting or scary.

The thing is, you tell people this and they say things like “you wait until she turns bla bla months” or “you wait until this or that regression” or “you wait until you have your second child” or something in that direction. And you start feeling bad about saying that it seems easy to you, so you start qualifying it. “I’m not tired, but she’s just an easy baby…”, “I don’t think it’s that hard, but I have a lot of support…”

Both of this is true and we are incredibly privileged, I won’t pretend that we’re not. And yet I still think it’s bizarre that I feel the need to justify thinking that the newborn days are easy. We are so brainwashed into thinking that it must be hard and sleepless and nerve wracking that somewhere along the way it became ok to say that you’re struggling and not ok to say that you’re not.

And then imp 2 was on the way and these doubts kept creeping in: maybe imp 1 really was a super easy baby? Maybe I’m remembering things wrongly? Maybe it was just dumb luck?

In some ways, imp 2 is a slightly more difficult baby. He’s gassier, he spits up, he can’t be put down for naps as easily, he sleeps less during the day, he cries more. But now that the fourth trimester is over, I stand by my assessment that I don’t find the newborn phase particularly exhausting or hard. They’re still so small and portable and sleepy, which makes them pretty easy to handle. I will say that I find it a bit tedious and boring and so far it’s my least favourite age.

Anyway… I didn’t set out to rant about this. What I really wanted to do was sum up our first three months as a family of four.

Imp 2 was born at home at 23:04 after a fast and easy (ha ha) labour of two hours. Then he went to sleep and we had a glass of champagne with our midwife and then husband went to sleep and they both squeak-snored so loudly that I couldn’t fall asleep myself. Imp 1 spent the night at her grandmother’s around the corner.

Imp 1 met imp 2 the next afternoon and much to our relief she immediately took to “mimi”, as she calls him. She’s had very few moments of jealousy, mostly when she’s tired or hungry or when she wakes up in the middle of the night to breastfeed and I can’t or won’t immediately give her milk. We still make sure they’re never together unattended, for she likes pointing out his eyes (or simply poking into them) or feeding him stuff.

I did two weeks of strict post-partum rest. I wore a post partum belt 24/7 and only left the bed to go to the toilet or to shower and brush my teeth. I didn’t fetch myself a drink or carry a book or wash a dish or anything (only once when husband was away I cheated and tied imp 2 onto my back). After those two weeks I went gradually back to lifting and walking and leaving the house. What seems the most incredible to me is that, despite us not owning a pram or a stroller, I managed to go five weeks without lifting imp 1, to let my pelvic floor recover.

Husband celebrated my return from post partum rest by contracting a stomach flu and so I was thrown right back into the deep end, having to take care of a toddler, a baby and, worst of all, a sick man. I’ll admit that those three days (and the two days afterwards when I had the stomach bug) were not the easiest of days. But since then it’s been pretty smooth sailing. Life is a lot like it was before, only that things go a bit more slowly now and the contents of my bag have changed. And there’s imp 2, of course.

A woman, a dog and two small children on a beach.
The imps and I on the beach

Imp 2 is a sweetheart. We’re still getting to know him, obviously, they don’t exactly have the strongest personality in those first few months. My guess is that he’s a bit more sensitive than his big sister, both stomach wise as well as personality wise. It’s harder for him to fall asleep and he gets scared by loud noises more easily. He’s also a lot smilier than her. He coos and gurgles when you look at him and sing to him. You can’t really just lay him down, unless there’s a mobile, which he can stare at for an hour. He recently discovered he can suck his hands, but he never sucks his thumb, only his other fingers. He won’t suck our fingers either when we need to calm him down and he can’t be breastfed immediately (say when I’m driving), something which always worked with his sister. He drinks loads of milk and already weighs 7kg, which is half what imp 1 weighs at over 2 years. Which also means that he’s huge and gets mistaken for older and can lend his clothes to his sister. And while his sister is a little nudist, he used to cry whenever he was naked and generally seems a bit more sensitive to cold, to which she seems impervious. He looks particularly handsome in dark blue and yellow, but he also pulls of a nice pink or purple. And he still squeaks when he drinks. And that’s imp 2 in a nutshell.

Meanwhile imp 1 is working hard at starting to speak more and at potty training. She loves taking out her aunt’s dog. She’s obsessed with animal poop. She both loves and fears insects. She will remember a scratched knee or bruise for months. She doesn’t like wearing shoes or clothes. She loves cars and bikes and excavators. She takes two hour naps and goes to sleep at nine or ten pm. Her bedtime takes two hours. She loves tomatoes and smoked fish and cheese and berries of all kinds. She looks like a wild little boy when she wears her hair down and like a posh little ballerina when she wears it in a top knot. Her current favourite song is Old McDonald. She’s happy to ignore me all day but will sleep glued to me at night. Never with a blanket. She loves drawing and puzzles and sand pits. She loves running and swimming and being outside. She’s goofy and funny and a little hero.

Husband

Oh and husband is currently into wearing slightly ridiculous pants, my late father’s cashmere sweater, and barefoot shoes. Not together. He enjoys slack lining, is reading the first book in a while and is trying to waste less time on phone and computer.

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