About two months ago, I gave birth to my beautiful daughter, Hope. We were lucky to have our second rainbow baby. This pregnancy in particular was not easy, and even the journey to the delivery was a scary and traumatic experience. However, as a mother of two children, I thought I was ready to tackle the journey once the baby arrived. Oh, let me say . . . I WAS WRONG!
The 4th Trimester
The 4th trimester is a period that is not really talked about. You are not only coming home with a little human being but also with a bundle of emotions, pain, incisions, lack of sleep, and much more.
Arriving home to a two-year-old and a 10-year-old after having an emergency C-section was not easy. The saying “It Takes a Village” is very true. Whether you have one child or three, you need help. My mom and my husband have been hands-on. From taking our son to school and football practice, washing dishes, changing diapers, cooking, you name it. The first days were hard to adjust to. My hormones were all over the place. And the pain from lack of sleep and breastfeeding was making me miserable.
As a Mexican mom, I am on the bad list for not following the Quarentena (the 40-day diet), which is sworn by our moms and grandmas as the proper way to recover from any delivery. That process includes being covered up head to toe, no cooking, no driving, staying in bed, no lifting, no showers, always wearing a postpartum belt, maintaining a diet that is perfect for making sufficient milk, etc.
I do have a history of depression and anxiety. As I saw myself heading down the path of postpartum depression,* I started using some techniques that have helped me in the past. I started by making a small list of goals. These goals helped me feel like I could have a plan and I could get back to my motherhood routine, even though I have a strong team with me.
My Small Goals
- Do a morning prayer and read some uplifting quotes during my morning pump.
- Brush my hair.
- Take a 5-10 min shower to help my body freshen up. (If not doable, at least wash my face and apply day cream.)
- Drink a cup of juice in the morning. Do not skip on drinking water.
- Sit down for family dinner.
Now realistically speaking, all these goals didn’t always happen. I am dealing with helping my son adjust to 5th grade, my two-year-old daughter adjust to the idea that there’s a baby in the house, dogs barking at any noise, a newborn crying because she’s cluster eating, a sore incision from healing, sore breasts, and 1,000 tabs open in my head.
But setting these goals allowed me to feel like I am on a positive path of healing by feeling useful. My mom and my husband still provide so much support, and a lot of people ask me if they can help, and they do . . . A LOT! But for me, it lifts me up, helps me to feel better, and reduces my anxiety and depression by making me feel busy.
Almost to the Finish Line
The 4th trimester is not over. We are almost done. In one more month, I’ll be going back to work, and that will be a whole new journey and adjustment to work on. I’ve always said we need to be kind to ourselves and acknowledge how amazing we are. I am cherishing this experience as I know that each time we have a child, the journey is new. The chaos of the million things happening and not having it together will go away soon.
The Moral of My 4th Trimester Journey
As I write this at 2:30 in the morning after I have fed the baby and I am trying to pump because I am suddenly feeling insomnia, all I can say is WE GOT THIS! Mama, don’t give up and don’t stress yourself out adjusting to any trimester or any time in life because it is your OWN journey. We must embrace the fact that we are all different, and we are all amazing at being mothers. We face difficulties and succeed every single day in so many ways. But don’t forget in order for your family to be okay, you have to be okay first.
*I do strongly recommend you seek support from a professional if you struggle with depression and/or anxiety.
Originally published October 2022.
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