Fourth trimester


They call the first three months after your baby is born, the Fourth Trimester. Developmentally, it is supposed to be as important as the nine months in gestation. Like with any change, there's a period of adjustment as baby transitions from womb to world. Treating this early stage as an extension of the previous three, helps the infant to mature into a baby that can respond to the outside world. This theory has been popularized by the Happiest Baby on the Block franchise and endorsed by people like me who have bought into the concept. I cringe at trends - and I hope Dr Karp didn't have some sort of subliminal, brainwashing message running during the DVD adaptation if his book - but the concept just makes so much sense to me. It is instinctual and natural, so it should be of no surprise that it totally appeals to the new age hippie in me.

Basically you try to re-create an environment similar to what baby enjoyed for 40 weeks in mama's belly; making the outside world a veritable uterus, as it were. Think about it, baby spends all that time floating in a dark, warm sac. The magic water within: an all-in-one miracle that provides a constant food supply, while also buffering sounds and movement (Ponce de Leon's allusive Fountain of Youth had nothing on amniotic fluid). It's pretty quiet in there too, aside from the hypnotizing rhythm of mama's beating heart and, perhaps, the digestive tunes of her stomach. Put it this way, it's like the most luxurious and relaxing spa on steroids. Then one day, someone pulls the plug and the mystic fluid is rudely swindled as baby is thrust into a relatively cold, bright, and noisy world. I'd be wailing on entry too.

So I figure that, being six weeks removed from the great birth event and halfway through this fourth trimester, it is a good time to reflect on our so called metamorphosis. For one, I can definitely appreciate how treating this time as a continuation of those pregnancy months is essential not only for the baby's development but also for the mother's sanity (there's nothing like an unhappy baby to send a parent into desperation). It takes a sensitivity to tune into a baby's needs; you have to try and perceive the world as they do, which requires Jedi-like mind-reading. So when my husband is too hot and drops the AC below 70, after also having stripped the baby of his onesie, swearing that he too was "burning up", I remind him (for the gazillionth time) that our son been used to living in a one hundred degree jacuzzi. That, and he can't regulate his body temperature so quit taking all his clothes off! It really brings to attention how as adults we are in many ways de-sensitized. Sure, you need to develope a tough skin to get through life, but that development doesn't happen overnight.  

The next challenge is to stay ahead of the aforementioned needs - we'll call it "mother's intuition" because let's be honest, daddy practically needs written requests from baby. Like I said, if it were up to my husband, our son would be naked and making a huge fuss before he realized that the baby was cold. I don't want to completely throw my man under the bus though; he's shown great potential as a father but, with my help, he could be the best. Be it mother or father, you really need to be on your "A game" all the time to stay two steps ahead. Maybe this'll eventually come as second nature, but right now, I feel a bit in the hole so i'm practically tripping over myself to keep pace. Each day I'm learning from my child and picking up on his cues, so I'm hopeful we'll get the hang of things. Stay tuned for part two where I'll explore my own transition and touch on mama's perspective to this period.


Katie F said...

I firmly believe in the 4th trimester! How shocking it must be to be out in the world after such a cozy home. This is when I learned the power of a good sound machine :) Maddie would be upset and not able to get herself to sleep and I would put on the sound machine on the "ocean" sound and BOOM instant peace.


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