fourth trimester. 

by chelseakyaw

what’s life with a (new) baby like? basically all of the adjectives ranging from blissful to frustrating to exhausting to amazing. it’s for sure been a whirlwind and i have been so lucky to have spent this time learning about my boy and also learning how to become a mama.

our first night home and snuggled skin-to-skin with my world – in the throes of learning how to breastfeed and care for this little one while also trying to heal from birth. my belly still soft and my baby so tiny. i was drunk with love and didn’t care that i had no sleep.

flash forward to now – a smiley little boy who coos and laughs when his mommy and daddy do a little bit of nothing. we are both “experts” in breastfeeding and are getting a *little* bit more sleep every day. my how time changes everything. each day i look at him and wonder where my little baby went and start to see more of the little boy that he will become.

two weeks postpartum – my belly is littered with stretch marks that weren’t there when Forest was still living inside of me. i was feeling very proud of myself but still sensitive to my appearance. i was 195# before i gave birth and when i left the hospital, i had already lost 25#. i look at my body and feel a sense of accomplishment but also a bit of heartbreak knowing that it will take time and work to get back to my pre-baby appearance. i know that my scars and stretch marks will never leave me, so i try to embrace them as a trophy of my journey. i’m waiting until i get down to my goal weight before posting a photo of my “now” belly – only 25 more pounds to go! 

it’s hard not to compare myself to other mothers. i’m not perfect and i’m not back to “normal” yet, but i’m trying. i spend my time making sure Forest is happy and that i have a little bit in my “cup” to share with family and take care of myself. i’d like to develop a routine with exercise and healthy eating, but it’s just not as much of a priority as it is soaking up all of my snuggles.

breastfeeding. what a thing that is. so many women talk about breastfeeding like it’s NOT something that takes practice and is a struggle, but it is. it’s true what they say – don’t quit on your worst day. hang in there and keep trying. what’s helped me the most is to put aside all those thoughts where i compare myself to others and feel shame for having to have supplemented formula and relish in the fact that i fed my baby and he grew and was healthy. i overcame a low supply and my baby started getting cheeks and leg rolls and that’s the most rewarding feeling.

we are experts now ;) we’ve overcome clogged ducts, long nights of cluster feedings, sore nipples, and shirts stained with breast milk. being able to nurse my baby and feed his body with my own is probably one of my most proud accomplishments and also one of the most special bonds i’ve shared. it’s us time – time he doesn’t get with his dad. i’ve got magic powers and the ability to soothe him without anything else.

our first family selfie. me still bloated from being pregnant and the slew of IV fluids from the hospital, arnold with his handlebar mustache (that’s now gone because Forest hated it), and our little Forest – a few days old and still a roll-less little babe. we have changed so much in these last twelve weeks. so much so, that i don’t feel like the same person. 

we went hiking as a family (with some friends) not too long ago, which is something that i didn’t think i would be able to do for a while with Forest. though he be named after a… Forest… he’s not the best at long times away from the house so i assumed it would be a while before we got to do that! 

in a whirlwind of the last six weeks, Arnold returned back to work and so did i. we work opposite schedules in order to NOT have to utilize a daycare. it’s a sacrifice, but so worth it. i couldn’t take the heartbreak (and hit on my wallet) of working and sending him for someone else to take care of. this is what works best for our family, so if you have to utilize daycare then i feel for you! working and trying to stay up on breastfeeding has proven to be a challenge. i barely get enough time during work to pump enough to break even for the day. my biggest goal is to work hard enough and to hope for some changes as a result of our persistence to be able to be a stay at home mom and nurse our boy as long as he will let me! 

i love being a mother more than anything in the whole world.  it is both the most rewarding and challenging role that i’ve played in my life. now that the fourth trimester is over, i’m feeling more like myself and can’t wait to see what this adventure brings next.