pregnancy

"I told my husband I hated him." What no one tells you about the fourth trimester.

It has taken me weeks to finish this brain dump. It's 1,200 words. I used to finish 1,200 words in a day and now it takes weeks. 

Why? Because I'm now a mum to a three-month-old absolute dream-boat named Elka Joy, which means my life is all consumed by every moment she isn't sleeping (and even then, I'm consumed by her too). 

She brings me the most pure sense of inexplicable joy and every time she does literally anything new; I feel pride and excitement all at once.

While you're here, watch Laura Bryne share the pressures that mothers face in their daily lives. Post continues after video.


Video via Mamamia.

But the other truth is that the last 12 weeks have been the most terrifying, emotional times of my life.

In 12 short weeks, I have lost my prior sense of identity and found a whole new one, Elka's mum. 

The fourth trimester - the first 12 weeks or so of a newborn's life - hit me so hard and I'm only now slowly accepting the old me is gone and a new one is starting to exist. 

I decided to write this for cathartic purposes mostly, but also because I wanted to be honest. I truly believe women are doing a disservice to one another by not being honest. 

Aside from the fact that pregnancy was not all glowing beauty and cute bump outfits like I'd been sold, people don't really give you their stories about what to expect once the baby is actually here, other than 'newborns sleep loads' or 'enjoy the time, they grow so fast'.

Part of me thinks that's because mothers block out a lot. But I didn't. I wrote it down as things happened that took me by surprise and threw my mind, body, and soul through the ringer. 

So here are some truths to know about the fourth trimester

1. You will get really frustrated hearing that breastfeeding gets easier.

You are being told that breastfeeding will get easier while your nipples are bruised and blistered and heavy and burning. But mostly, it really does get easier. And then when it is easier, you get annoyed that you didn't listen. 

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Also, if you choose not to breastfeed for literally any reason, that is okay too. Don't feel anything but confidence that you are doing what's best for you and your little one.

2. You might have night terrors for weeks, or insomnia, or both.

I dreamed of everything from drowning a baby bird in a bath to leaving a baby (not my own, though?) in the middle of an empty street. I learned later these dreams actually mean you are bonding with your baby. 

After the terrors passed, I went through two weeks of waking to feed and then simply not being able to go back to sleep, which was a new type of cruelty. Sitting up at 3am knowing your baby is fast asleep for another few hours, and you're staring at the ceiling, eyes wide open. 

Oh, and there are night sweats too, from the hormones, so don’t worry, that’s normal too.

3. If you have a partner, you will very likely resent them, or even think you hate them. 

I told my husband I hated him. It felt like I did. It felt like we would never get our harmony back, and I've said things to him I never thought I'd say to him. This father of my child that I am supposed to be in this newborn love bubble with. 

We still have moments now, but he never wavered, and now sometimes I think there is nothing we can't handle. 

4. In the five minutes you have alone, you will care so much more about your appearance.

All the while, everyone is telling you to love yourself. I'm trying so hard to love the new wrinkles, the extra lumps, my newest scar, but it will take time, and society tells you one thing but expect the complete other. 

So I'm going to take my time with this one, and you should too.

5. Your Google history will be literally hundreds of versions of the same question every other new mum has searched.

You'll be searching through forums from 2004 trying to find guidance, and just like pregnancy, you will find any answer you want. 

So I won't tell you to stay off the internet because it's impossible, but take everything with a grain of salt. (Yes, even the sleep consultants).

6. You will often feel truly helpless.

I felt really, really alone and like I wasn't enough for my little one for many weeks. When she first started smiling, I honestly believed it was just her reflexes, because how could I be enough to make her smile? 

Even this morning at 4am I broke down in tears because I still don't know if I'm getting it right. 

7. Your attention span and memory will change.

What used to be long catch ups with friends will turn into two hours maximum and you won't remember half of what you talked about. And then you'll need a nap, which you won't get.

8. You'll question every moral fibre of your being and whether you were ready for this at all.

You'll feel so guilty for even thinking you weren't ready, or that you were. You can't win this one either, because I don't think you can ever be ready.

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Listen to This Glorious Mess and join Naomi Chrisoulakis, a postpartum doula, to answer all your burning questions about the fourth trimester. Post continues after podcast.


9. You'll feel really nervous going out with your little person for a while.

You might be thinking that people might judge you if she cries or you might forget something. But I promise you, keep at it, it gets easier, and it becomes the most lovely thing to see your baby take everything and everyone in around you. 

This goes for breastfeeding in public too if you choose to breastfeed. You'll feel like the whole place is staring at you, horrified at your now size E boob poking out. But no one is looking, and no one is bothered. Except for that one guy who was horrified, so I squirted some milk out in his direction 'by accident'. 

Never apologise for feeding your child and do it where/how it feels comfortable for you. 

10. Finally, as the weeks roll by, you'll think that maybe you're doing alright. 

One day, you will stop yourself in the middle of the chaos and think about who you used to be and who you are becoming. The pain leaves your body; you learn to keep your mind calm even during the stress and you know what your little one needs so much sooner than before because that connection has been there the whole time. 

It just takes some mamas more time to find the roots of it. You might even feel some love for your husband rush through your body (but absolutely don't touch me yet). 

I know we have more of the road to go, and really the road just keeps going without an end point, but now that I have some time to look back I can't believe how far I've come, and how much this little lady and I have become this team, this duo, that I just simply cannot imagine a life without. 

So yes, like everyone says, it is all worth it. Talk about it as much as you need to, and hang in there (eye roll I KNOW but I promise), you are doing amazing.

Tiarnie Gilbert is a 30-year-old freelance writer and new mum to a wonderful little girl. She writes about fashion, sustainability and more lately she writes brain dumps about being a new mum and what that even means. She has also never contemplated Botox more before the last few months.

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