The fourth trimester is no joke. Your body just underwent a(nother) colossal change. You have a brand new person to take care of and a new role to adjust to. It's beautiful and exhausting in equal measure.
As a first-time mom, I felt a lot of pressure to do it perfectly immediately. I spent a lot of time feeling anxious and uncertain of what I needed. And if/when I did figure it out, I wasn't exactly sure how to communicate it.
Now that I'm here for the second time, I have a different perspective on the fourth trimester. And there are some things I am just not going to fight this time around.
1. Like naps (for myself)
Whether you love naps or not, napping can feel difficult when you have a short window to do all the things—chores, errands, any sort of relaxing, etc. But they are a game changer with a newborn around.
With my first baby, I had the hardest time choosing to take a nap when I finally had a moment to myself. There were a million other things I wanted and needed to do that felt so much more important than a nap. But taking a nap when I can has made me happier and healthier in this postpartum stage. This time around, I am saying yes to naps and rest, knowing that it'll keep me saner and more available for those around me.
2. And food
Taking care of a baby, especially if you are breastfeeding, is a physical job. Your body needs fuel to do it. It can be hard to look in the mirror. And although your babe isn't in there anymore, your body still doesn't feel like it is yours and yours alone. But this isn't the time for judgment, mama. It's the time for some TLC.
This time around, I am fully trusting that my body knows what it needs. I am saying yes to middle of the night snacks and treats throughout the day when I need them. Because I need stamina to take care of my baby and body well.
3. And help
Asking for and accepting help isn't easy for most of us. It makes us feel vulnerable and can often leave us feeling like we owe those who helped us. But what I've learned is that when people offer help, they actually want to help. So let them.
From meal trains to household tasks to a friend offering to hold my newborn, this time I am saying yes. No guilt about feeling like I should have it more together or that I am unworthy of assistance. I am saying yes to any and all the things that the supportive people around me offer.
4. My role
I always wanted to be a mom, so I wasn't expecting how much the new role would wear on me. I loved my baby, but I was often overwhelmed with how much I was needed all. the. time. I had to stop and remind myself that I wanted this, but honestly, some days that just didn't feel true.
Now that I have a second child, it's been a little easier to accept and not fight some of the changes and restrictions that come with having a newborn.
This time, I know this season won't last forever (even when it feels like it may). My older kiddo is living proof of that. This newly realized truth of motherhood has helped me feel more confident than ever before.
5. My instincts
It's easy to feel like everyone out there knows better than I do (especially if you're a new mom.) I was blessed with a supportive family and an iPhone, so options and advice were literally at my fingertips—but there is something to trusting the instincts you have as a mother. That motherly intuition we hear about? It is so real.
So, take Google and well-intended advice with a grain of salt. You may not be perfect, but you are the perfect mother for your baby.
That doesn't mean you know everything or have all the skills or all the experience you need this instant, but it does mean you are capable and that you should trust your gut when it comes to making decisions about your baby. This time around, I'm remembering my instincts are valid.
There are new complications now that I am navigating having two kids instead of one, so I am no pro, but I am trying to own the mistakes I made with my first and stop fighting what doesn't need to be fought this time around.