Dear Fourth Trimester Mama,
I see you. You are overcome by so much joy, yet so much grief. You delicately wear a new set of bags under your eyes. You own a more natural look. You receive a hundred concerned answers when you ask for advice online. Your emotions now resemble a thrill ride. You are in the season of the fourth trimester and you are struggling. Maybe it is your postpartum body and learning to wear the new shape or marks it now has. Maybe it is your bulging chest and getting comfortable learning how to follow what Motherhood has intended for you, whether that means from a bottle or your very own breasts.
You are stretched thin in this season.
You begged for your tiny bundle of love to come earth side, but you resent the time you watch go by as the clock turns at night when you are up with baby. Maybe in a year you will be sleeping comfortably again, or maybe you will still be up getting uninterrupted time with your precious human. You are forgiven to feel exhausted and unappreciated as you give and give and give, only to get back fussy nights or long days in return. You are allowed to question if you are doing it right. You are allowed to fail.
You try, and try, and try.
You are throwing every ounce of energy into everyone else. You are spared little for yourself by the time the sun sets, and the household is asleep. You give everything with little to nothing in return. You put everyone else’s needs before your own. Don’t forget to fill your cup, mama. Don’t forget to love on you, so that you are in the best condition to give that same love back to your family.
You want to be touched, but unsure how to let those moments happen.
Your significant other wants to love on you like they are used to, before your body worked miracles to grow and bring your child into this world. What you once craved that came so easy, you now neglect. Your body is a stranger that you are learning to embrace. Forgive yourself when that takes time. Communicate to your partner that you want to be touched, but you are sharing your body with more than one person now. Just as it took you time to share your aching body with another, you are learning how to share for two. You are healing. You are a new person. You want to be close to your lover, but your new silhouette and fourth trimester emotions have you showing otherwise. Be patient sweet partner, you will be touched again.
I pray the world stays kind to you.
I hope that the women who surround you to support you in this stage of life, of motherhood, are only kind to you. I pray that you follow your heart when your baby gets sick, because your gut will always be the right answer. I wish that the world online would leave their judgment behind, because you are an amazing mother already.
You miss your people.
Your days revolve around feeding and dirty diapers. Any spare time that is left you are hustling to play maid or heaven forbid you lay yourself down for a rest. This leaves little to no time for your social calendar for your friends you devotedly spent time with before birth. Remember that it’s okay to reach out and see them, even if that means you’re in sweats and wearing an infant. Schedules now need coordinating and meet ups are harder to plan, but are ALWAYS worth it. Be sure to find the one mama friend that welcomes wine at noon. You need adult time. You need your people who get you. You need people you can be real with. In a world of labels and sarcasm, you will need these people to laugh and cry with.
It’s okay to feel all of the “feels”.
Give yourself grace to feel the good, the bad, and the unsure. Learn from your failures and mistakes because they will happen. Oh, will they happen. Seek out help if you have nowhere else to turn, or you aren’t feeling better. Even the mama who portrays she has it all together has been a mess at some point. Find your compassion that you give to others, and share it with yourself. Some people are more open with sharing their hard ships than others, but we as mothers have all had them. Feel your intuition as a mother and follow it no matter where others try to lead you.
This season won’t last, mama.
This phase will fade, and you will blink. Your tiny bundle will be moving mountains, and barking demands that need translating before you will even realize. This season you are in is the hardest most draining time in your life, yet all too quickly you will miss it. Soon you will be worrying about milestones and nurturing their minds and hearts, not the cobwebs on your ceilings or who changes the next diaper. The arguments will be over homework and staying out to late, not whose turn it is to get up at night. You will find yourself again, and you will be a better version of you.
Sincerely, A Fellow Struggling Mama.