The Light at the End of the Fourth Trimester

Sugarpie is quickly approaching her 3-month birthday,  and the official end if the newborn phase. And, oh my gosh, what a phase it has been!

For those that don’t know, the first three months of a baby’s life are now often referred to as the “fourth trimester”, a period when baby wants and needs to be kept close – preferably to Mom – under conditions that closely mimic life in the womb. The idea is that this period is a time when parents gently help a baby transition to this big, loud, bright world we live in.

Every baby is different, and so it has been with Sugarpie and her big sister. To be fair, I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about Babycakes’s newborn days. But their temperaments have been different from the start.

We have dealt with mild colic and gassiness (which thankfully seems to be abating for the most part). We have dealt with inconsolable crying, which is now termed “purple crying” (perhaps to make parents feel better). We went from ridiculous all-day sleeping to “We don’t need no stinkin’ naps!”

The sleep is one area where Babycakes and Sugarpie have some similarities. Babycakes was a crap napper, and we struggled with night sleep for a long time (those of you who have been with me for a while will recall my lamentations on sleep training, etc.). While Babycakes was sleeping 10-11 hours straight at night by about 10 weeks before going back to multiple night wakings from about 4 months until 15 months, Sugarpie still wakes once or twice a night to eat. I usually get a big chunk of 5-6 hours (once she went 7!) at the start of the night, so that has helped me immensely. But the lack of good naps (I mean, longer than 10-20 minutes, I kid ye not) makes it hard to get anything done during the day. I know naps will get better, because they did for Babycakes, but it does make it hard.

Temperament is very different, too. Babycakes was a content baby who displayed almost no interest in moving on her own for the longest time. I would put toys just out of reach to entice her to roll over, watch her get 3/4 of the way from back to tummy, and I could seriously see the moment when she decided the toy just wasn’t worth it. She didn’t crawl until 8 months and didn’t walk until 14 months. Sugarpie, however, is in constant motion and, other than that first bought of night sleep, isn’t really completely settled when she’s asleep. And she is just now starting to play reasonably well on her own for a little while (which gives me time to, you know, attend to nature’s call).

I don’t mean to sound like I’m complaining, or trying to compare my kids. Both of my children are amazing blessings that I honestly didn’t think we would have. Maybe it’s because we were so far removed from the baby phase that it feels harder. And I know it will get better. Within a couple months, the naps will start consolidating (and I can perhaps get a regular schedule going for myself and my writing!), and life will become normal again – at least, whatever normal will be for us now.

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