the end of the fourth trimester

Percy is 11 weeks today and so begins the transition into the next stage of babyhood. While I don’t remember the details all that well, I do remember that both Che and Poet went through a distinct unsettled stage around this time. There’s generally lots of feeding, lots of waking, not much contented sleeping.

Oh, that’s what’s going on.

Percy has slept really well up until now but lately there’s been a few nights where he has fed two-hourly and had trouble settling back to sleep.* And so begins the sleep deprivation that imbues early parenthood. It’s not as much of a shock third time around but there’s a familiar heaviness in my eyes and a definite lack of patience.

When the newborn bubble bursts there are chipped nails, hair loss (so long, farewell, pregnancy hormones) and, dare I say it, the hard work of life with a baby. Being here now, I am so grateful that I put everything aside to indulge and savour Percy’s first few months. What a precious time it was; peppered with cuddles, deep inhalations of his pure scent, mammoth snooze + feed sessions, tea, banana bread and warm homemade-by-others meals. The house was light-filled as we cocooned inside, watching summer fade to fall. It was as special as it reads.

And now the pace has stepped up a notch. The shift was imminent and I’m ready; let’s go! A beautiful friend of mine, a mother of three, was impeccable with her timing last week when she messaged me to offer some sound “been there, done that” advice. “The physical and emotional work of it (the first year with three children) was enormous,” she wrote. “The relentlessness, the washing, the night-waking, the work of trying to be present and kind to your partner (let alone shag them as well!)…” She’s witty and hilarious, that one. But yes, I agreed with her! And as I said to Daniel yesterday: “I’m busy, I’m really busy, and I’m not glorifying it, or trying to sound important. The fact of the matter is, there is always a lot to do and it’s never going to get done, not all of it, anyway.”

And I know, in my heart, that therein lies the key to happy motherhood.

Che was raking the leaves on Saturday afternoon and he swept them into piles before we went out for a drive. “But what if it gets windy and all the leaves blow away again?” “Well, if that happens, you’ll probably understand my relationship with the washing,” I said. “I wash the clothes, dry the clothes, fold the clothes (rarely put the clothes away) and then I wash the clothes, dry the clothes…” It was the perfect time to share Buddha’s analogy: “Before enlightenment: chop wood. After enlightenment: chop wood.”

This coming year may/will be my busiest to date. But I venture into it knowing that at the end of every day, there will still be chores to do, stories to write and clothes to fold. I can make a decision in that moment to either keep working or get some sleep.

Tonight, if the stars align, I choose sleep.

*for the last two nights Percy has worn a Swaddle Up from Love to Dream and the difference in his sleeping has been phenomenal. I was skeptical at first but I can tell you that it definitely makes for content slumber (many mums agree).

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Showing 9 comments
  • Kathy

    Beautiful photo and oh how he looks like your daughter. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane

  • Veggie Mama

    We had the Love to Dream swaddles too. I don't think either of mine were out of them for that whole fourth trimester! I hope you get some sleep x

  • melroazul

    I had already tried to write you a comment, weeks ago, but never entered…
    My 3rd is at the end of his 4th month, I can totally relate! last 3 weeks have been the worse with the sleeping, but far better with cries and screaming. oh, and the glorious laughs he gives!
    Today I started the milk cereals without gluten, hopegfully he'll stop nursing every 2h, even at night (I stopped counting when I reach 11 breastfeeding in 24h a few days ago…)
    and his brothers?! oh so hard, crying for toys or dumb things and being quite aggressive (lack of pacience here too…)
    but I wouldn't trade it for anything else!
    all the best from Portugal!

  • Unknown

    That Buddha… I swear he was a mother in another life. 😉 Well done on making it this far!

    Linda. x

  • Hannah J

    I wanted to get one of those Swaddle Me zippy up bag thingies when Jaxon was little but Chris didn't see the point when he'd learnt how to swaddle with a muslin. Is clearly not got the knack though as Jaxon would somehow wriggle himself out when he was little and shouldn't have been able to do it lol.

  • Emma Steendam

    I will try to pretend to know how busy life with 3 must be, life with 1 is busy it seems! But I'm sure one day I'll look back at life how it is now and marvel at how 'unbusy' I truly was! Could not agree more with your wise words that the key to contended Motherhood is letting go, or rather knowing when to let go. Happy sleeping Percy, we're Love to Dream graduates here.

  • Reply

    I have just passed the 12 mont mark of being a mother to four, the first year of being a mother to two babies only 12 months apart. Those first 12 months were busy, chaotic & I'm not sure how I made it through with a husband who was only home one week out five but we all made it through. We survived & thrived. Funny thing is it's only now with a 15 year old old, 12 year old, 2 year old & 1 year old that I'm feeling the weight of parenting. The washing is never ending, the fighting/screaming/tantrums are never ending, the mess is constant & the need/want for my attention is ever present. It's tiring, so very,very tiring but ever so often I get to sit quietly & I know just how soon there'll be no little hand to hold onto, there'll be no more night waking, there'll be no more footy clothes to wash, no more lunch boxes to fill & I'll look back on these extraordinarily busy days through eyes that aren't heavy & a mind that is clearer & better able to see just how lucky I am.
    Right now though there are five loads of washing waiting, floors that need vacuuming & a dinner that needs planning. Most days I choose a little time to myself over the housework because it'll be there in half in an hour & again tomorrow. Moments to myself are too few & far between to give up for a clean house 🙂

  • ::The Beetle Shack::

    I can't believe it's that time already. The first 3 months truly are their own kind of sacred.


  • motherwho

    My number three is due in 1.5 weeks and I have followed your story with intrigue and delight! It is with each baby that I have come to appreciate the need to savour all of the moments (even when the moments don't enthuse you to). I am now ready to welcome another baby into the fold, and am going to try my absolute hardest to cuddle up and rest as I know only too well how quickly the fourth trimester will be over and real life will once again begin! I am rather pleased with the timing as the baby is due in the first week of Winter. The perfect time for being warm indoors and not worrying about what we are missing out on in the big wide world. Percy is lovely 🙂

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