The Miracle of the Fourth Trimester
When I was pregnant with my first, I was so in tune with every stage of his growth during every week of each trimester. I loved being pregnant. I know not every woman has that story, and it wasn't that way for me with all three of my pregnancies, but with my first, I was in awe. I took such good care of myself; I stayed active, kept a super healthy diet, and prepared as best as I could for the kind of labor and delivery that I wanted.
And then after he was born, I hit what we now call the fourth trimester. This was the part I was not as prepared for.
I remember spending so much time in the bathroom of our tiny apartment. We had friends and family coming periodically to visit, and I felt like I had to schedule my pumping and pad changes in between visits. One time I ended up in the bathroom cleaning up my bloody mess when friends came
by to see us. My husband talked with them in the living room while I fumbled with my underwear, and pad, and wipes, and spray. Somehow I ended up with blood all over the toilet seat and floor. It felt like time was crawling, and I was so embarrassed to make our friends wait. But I didn't feel like I could ask for help from my husband. I looked at the blood on the floor and said out loud, "Why didn't I know about this?!" Somehow I managed to clean up myself, and the toilet, and the floor, but I won't forget how isolated I felt in that moment.
I really wanted to get through it, for recovery to be over, to feel normal, to "bounce back." But I know more now than I knew then. Healing takes time. Healing is miraculous. Healing is hard, but such a gift. My body that felt so foreign to me in that moment was wisely and patiently mending itself back together. It's hard for our brains to be as patient, but if we can embrace the fourth trimester as another phase in the miracle of creating life, it helps. Part of what I want to do is help reframe our mindset around postpartum. Not to give the false assumption that it is easy, but to accept the difficulties of healing as miraculous, just like pregnancy and birth. To be extra kind to our bodies as it heals, to revere the process, and to be patient.