What the fourth trimester of pregnancy was like for me…. wow it’s a loaded one. Carter is 7 months (closer to 8 months now!) and I can finally get to sharing my fourth trimester experience. It’s taken me so long because I’m having a hard time gathering my thoughts. I’ll definitely do my best. If you’re curious about my pregnancy, I shared my first trimester here, second trimester here, and my third trimester here.
What The Fourth Trimester Of Pregnancy Was Like For Me
Being a parent is exhausting and life-changing. A rest day doesn’t exist. It’s a different type of exhaustion though. It’s not like the fatigue I felt during my cancer treatments. I don’t even know how to describe this time of exhaustion. I’m exhausted and I somehow get things done. Even when Carter has the most perfect day – he takes all his naps without any issues (long ones too), finishes his bottles, and is generally in a good mood I’m still exhausted haha. It’s like even if I’m not running around doing things, my mind is constantly running.
Despite the exhaustion, motherhood is amazing! Looking at my Carter, I can’t believe I created this little human. How is he even real?!!?! Time seems to fly wayyyyyyy faster since Carter arrived. The rapid rate a baby grows is insane and I wish I could make time slow down. The deep love I have for Carter is something I never thought existed. I just knew when I met him I loved him and wanted to protect him and give him everything he deserves. My heart explodes and it makes all the challenges of parenting worth it. I may sound crazy but the moment I held Carter I knew I wanted more kids.
Before I begin, I hope that I’m not scaring anyone that is thinking about or wants to be a parent. I’m a realist and I’m just sharing what the experience is like (for me). I always have this saying, no matter what choices or decisions you make, and they can be the best thing ever, it’s never perfect. There is always something you have to give up and there are always some bumps.
What Is The 4th Trimester?
If you don’t know what the 4th trimester of pregnancy is, you are not alone. I honestly didn’t even know what it was until we decided it was the right time to have a baby and all of a sudden I kept seeing talks about the fourth trimester.
The 4th trimester of pregnancy is the first 12 weeks immediately after having a baby. In my opinion, I think the 4th trimester extends beyond the first 12 weeks of postpartum. I’m 7 months out, and there are constantly new experiences and challenges I’m encountering as a new mom.
Without a doubt, the first few months of postpartum I experienced physical changes and physical symptoms. But in addition to that are the emotional and lifestyle changes – the mental aspect of it all. Even seven months going on eight I’m still adjusting to this new life and my emotions are just everywhere.
What The Fourth Trimester Of Pregnancy Was Like For Me
To give more context, I had a C-section delivery so some of my physical experiences might be different than those who had a vaginal delivery. Also, I’m a cancer thriver. If you are new here, I’ve been open about my cancer experience and journey. So again, some of my physical experiences might be different to most women because of my personal health situation.
This post may be TMI, but it’s almost unavoidable. This is part of having a baby.
Fourth Trimester Experience
Tre and I talked about this a lot. We knew we’re going to love our baby. But wow, we are obsessed with him. We think he’s the best thing that has ever happened to us and of course he is the cutest baby ever. I never thought I could love someone so much. Carter just belongs with us. At night, we both look at photos and videos of Carter and adore him.
I knew that having a baby meant I’m responsible for another human being’s life. But I truly did not feel the weight of that responsibility until he was in my arms. I’m constantly questioning myself if I’m making the right decisions for Carter and wondering if he is okay. Is he breathing? Do I need to change his formula? Why does he sound off? Should I reach out to his pediatrician? I like to think I’m a competent person, but I felt so incompetent. Some days nothing works. The decision I make for Carter had to be right. I need to make sure he’s healthy and I’m not being negligent.
The baby blues are real. My OB constantly talked to me about it and normalized it and told me to expect that I might go through it. Baby blues is the feeling of sadness during postpartum. I thought I was going to surpass it because at the hospital I was just in awe of having a baby and totally in the “I can’t believe I’m a mom” mode.
Right when we got home, a feeling of heaviness immediately came over me. As I was walking around our house, I realized that everything in my home was before the baby. Even little things like a piece of notebook on the dining table, I didn’t want to put away because I almost felt like I was taking away my previous life. I knew immediately that my life had changed, and I can’t go back. It made me feel sad yet guilty. How can I feel sad when what I’ve been wanting for a very long time is now home with us.
I can’t recall how long it lasted. One day, all of a sudden I felt like myself. In general, it’s been an emotional roller coaster. I was feeling all the feels. What helped me through it was being honest about being emotional whenever someone asked me how I’m doing. It also felt good to know I wasn’t alone in this. I spoke with people I’m close with and they reassured me they had felt the same way too.
I find myself crying throughout the day and at random times. Honestly, I don’t even know exactly what I’m crying about. There are times I’m crying because I’m just so exhausted, I’m frustrated, or I’m so happy. It’s like every emotion came with a tear.
Gosh I was so envious of Tre. It seems like (and I say seems because it’s from my perspective) that he can just get up and do whatever he can for the day without feeling guilty. He didn’t have to deal with postpartum symptoms, his body is still fine, and no one expects much from him. All he has to do is show up. Even the workforce doesn’t have many expectations for fathers to parent (more on my thoughts on that later). To me, I envied his freedom.
On top of that, it drove me crazy when he would get praised for taking care of Carter. I do think Tre deserves to be praised, but man does the world make it seem like he’s walking on water. In my head I’m thinking, duh he’s doing this. He’s the father. Of course he’s going to watch the baby, feed the baby, change the diaper, etc. And then I would hear comments like people feeling sorry for Tre because he’s working and taking care of the baby.
Mothers do a lot. I always thought of Tre and I as a team. We divide and conquer. So this is what I didn’t expect …. it feels like I’m doing 95% of the parenting. Don’t get me wrong, Tre is an AMAZING father and he will do anything and everything for Carter without questioning it. I know he’s doing his very best.
But it feels like the rest of the world expects the mother to do it all and the father is just there.
Even if the father wants to be involved in every aspect of parenting. This is where I struggle the most about postpartum and felt a big life adjustment. We no longer felt like a team. The working world doesn’t seem to have any sympathy for fathers. While I’m grateful that Tre was able to take a couple weeks off (and I’m aware there are some jobs that don’t even have paternity leave), it just wasn’t enough.
After his couple of weeks were up, he had to get back to work as if he didn’t have a little human to take care of. His job made him work extremely long hours which led to him rarely having time to help out and spend time with Carter. So everything felt like it was all up to me. I was still recovering from my C-Section but I had no choice but to do more than what was medically advised. Even when he was working from home, he couldn’t be present because he was either on calls all day or last minute has a tight deadline. It drove me nuts! I remember when Carter was at a stage where he didn’t want Tre to feed him and only wanted me. It made me sad.
Again, I need to say this but Tre is a wonderful father. His hands were just tied and I hope corporate America will change that soon.
Fourth Trimester Symptoms
Lochia is the vaginal discharge after childbirth. It’s very similar to your period. However, in my case it was an EXTREMELY HEAVY flowing period. That first day (so the day I gave birth to Carter), I had no idea I was experiencing lochia. They gave me an epidural so I had no idea what was going on from the waist down until the nurse came in and told me she was there to clean.
I was kind of confused until she lifted the hospital sheets and I was laying down on a heavy padded mat and there was just blood everywhere. Not going to lie, it was gross. I also felt very uncomfortable because I couldn’t even clean myself. I had to have a nurse clean me up. At this point, I was not allowed to stand up at all because of the epidural and because I just had a c-section. So I was pretty much on bed rest for 24 hours.
After 24 hours when I was allowed to stand up with assistance, that’s when they switched me over to mesh underwear that’s heavily padded. Some people prefer wearing adult diapers. I didn’t care. I just felt gross and whatever could manage the lochia, I used.
During my hospital stay, which was 3 days, was when my lochia had the heaviest flow.
After that, it was a very light period that lasted for about 6 weeks. I used these disposable underwear with these pads. I know I’ve heard from other mamas that the heavy flowing lochia lasted longer than 3 days. So I’m not sure if my experience is different because I had a c-section or it’s just how my body is. Overall, the lochia lasted about 6 weeks.
I know I mentioned this already, but wanted to share it again since having the baby blues is a common postpartum symptom. Almost everyone I know has experienced this. I truly think because my OB talked about the Baby Blues often that I recognized that my emotions were not normal and this had to be Baby Blues.
You hear every parent talk about the lack of sleep and it’s true. The level of sleep deprivation is insane. It also came as a shock to me because when we were at the hospital, Carter was in the NICU. So we really didn’t experience a full day with him.
Everyone tells me to nap when the baby naps. But I struggled so much trying to nap during the day. Something about daylight just keeps me up. So I pretty much gave up on sleep. The first couple of weeks, Carter was waking up every hour and a half. Yes, that included during the night too.
Lack of Appetite
I was so surprised that I had a lack of appetite. From what I heard, it’s all the hormones that’s messing with my appetite. Nothing sounded appetizing and I was just eating because I had to. Eventually, my appetite came back after 8 weeks. And now I just can’t get enough of food.
Lumps in Armpits
Prior to giving birth, I was warned that my body will try to breastfeed even though I no longer have breasts. It’s just a natural part of child delivery. But I was told that it will affect mainly the nipple area. About a week postpartum, I felt lumps in my armpit area. I would have never ever thought to check the armpits if I didn’t have breast cancer. Checking the armpits is part of the chest wall exams.
I was terrified when I felt the lumps in my armpit. Since my cancer treatments were stopped because I wanted to have a baby, I was nervous that the cancer came back and had spread. With all the emotions I had already been experiencing, this topped it all. I would be crying in the middle of the night hoping it’s not cancer and praying that I can see my baby grow old. That fear was the scariest feeling ever.
I immediately told my oncology team. They told me to continue to monitor it. Going for scans right after childbirth can lead to false positives. If after a week it hasn’t gone away, then they would have to examine the lump. THANK GOODNESS! The lumps went away. It turns out my body was trying to create milk but since I don’t have any breasts it created these lumps and eventually my body figured out there was nothing to produce milk.
Postpartum Hair Loss
I didn’t experience postpartum hair l0ss until 5 months out, so this one took a bit longer. I’m used to my hair shedding a lot, but this was more than the usual hair shedding. When I would brush my hair, lots of hair would be on the brush. It’s not like chemo hair loss, but definitely more than your average hair shedding. I have thick hair and my hair feels significantly thinner. I’m still going through it and not sure when the postpartum hair loss will stop.
Honestly, the pain wasn’t too bad at all. I expected to be in much worse condition. Hence, why I was able to do more than I expected. The first couple weeks was where I felt the most discomfort but it was nothing that I couldn’t handle. Some days the pain was a little bit worse and that’s when I would take Tylenol. The belly binder also helped a lot with my recovery. If you know you will have a C-section or just want to be prepared, I shared my C-Section Recovery Essentials here.
Pregnancy & Post Child Birth Tips
All I have to say is be easy on yourself. It’s so much easier said than done, but definitely try to be kind to yourself. Parenting is hard work but it’s also very rewarding.
Constantly communicate with your partner. I’m glad I was open to Tre about everything I was feeling and what I want from him. But I know I also could do better. It’s a whole new experience for the both of us.
If you want more topics about post child birth and pregnancy, here are some related blog posts:
- Must-Have Newborn Products
- C-Section Recovery Essentials
- What To Pack In A Hospital Bag
- Pregnancy Product Recommendations
- Second Trimester Must-Haves
- First Trimester Must-Haves
- Best Pregnancy Workouts
- 1st Trimester Of Pregnancy
- 2nd Trimester Of Pregnancy
- 3rd Trimester Of Pregnancy
Also, I highly recommend the Sweat App’s post-pregnancy workout program by Kayla Itsine. This program helped me so much in re-building my body. Your body will not be the same as pre-pregnancy, but this program encourages me to regain my strength. It’s very low impact and C-section friendly. These exercises were designed specifically for postpartum. They seem like simple and basic exercises but you will be surprised how beneficial they are before getting back to your usual fitness routine.
Haha wow this is a long post. It’s been awhile since I’ve written something personal and I probably forgot some more things too. Maybe I’ll add more to this post as it comes along but I just didn’t want to wait any longer and plus I had a moment to write.
For all you mamas, what was your 4th trimester like?