{FEATURED} The Fourth Trimester – by Shannon McLaughlin

fourthtrimester

Baby Shower Dreams and Reality

I was sitting in my Mom’s lounge, surrounded by at least 20 of my girlfriends while I opened all the beautiful gifts for our new baby-to-be. One of my favourites was a stretchy wrap to ‘wear your baby’ with. The packaging showed a beautiful Mom staring down lovingly at her bundle of joy. “Aaaaaahhh!” everyone went, as I held it up and showed it around the room. “I can’t wait to walk on the beach with my beautiful baby all wrapped up close to my heart, this is going to come in handy!” I thought to myself…

Then, 16 days overdue, Mr Leo finally decided to grace us with his presence. Leo means ‘little lion’ which we thought was cute, but at that stage we weren’t quite aware of just how serious Leo was about bringing the meaning of his name to life.

For the first 2 weeks, it was as if we didn’t even have a baby in the house. He breastfed, pooped, burped, smiled, slept and repeat. He hardly ever cried.

And then…
in week 3…
the little lion roared.

Colic… a word I still don’t quite understand.

Wikipedia: Baby colic is defined as episodes of crying for more than three hours a day for more than three days a week for three weeks in an otherwise healthy child between the ages of two weeks and four months. The cause of the colic is generally unknown.

So I wouldn’t say Leo had colic per se, but he cried, a lot. So did I. And it made me feel like a terrible mother that I couldn’t make him stop crying. So I cried some more.

An inconsolable screaming baby on top of sleep deprivation, aching nipples and trying to recover from a 2 day long labour turned emergency c-section basically sent me over the edge. I remember sitting in that rocking chair in the darkness with my screaming baby in my arms, thinking that this is what life was going to be like now and forever.

I thought back to my happy little baby shower and the picture I had in mind of what life would be like. This was certainly NOT how I had envisioned my first few weeks with my precious child.

My body felt broken from constantly carrying him around. If he wasn’t in my arms, he would scream. I couldn’t understand it.

Was he still hungry?
 Did I overfeed him?
 Was his nappy wet? Was he too hot, too cold? 
Whhhaaaaat???
Whhhyyyyy are you screaming????

And eventually I realised, it was so obvious… because he just wanted to be held. By his mommy. Who he had been living inside for the past 9 (or in my case 10!) months.

Of course there were times when he screamed for different reasons, over stimulation and over tiredness being the main ones, but as soon as I discovered how to ‘babywear’ correctly, the crying subsided drastically as I was able to calm him down quickly by simply putting him in the wrap.

Before I worked out how to babywear, Leo would only sleep in my arms, which isn’t such a bad thing during the first few weeks of motherhood as you can get some much needed rest as well, but if you’re starving or need to get something done, it can become a problem.

photo by Shannon Mclaughlin
photo by Shannon Mclaughlin

The stretchy wrap took me a while to figure out, the first few times I literally landed up in tears on the floor after tripping over the long ends, watching YouTube tutorials while trying to work out what to do with the damn thing, while poor Leo lay on the couch screaming blue murder (it was certainly not the picture of the peaceful looking mama and baby on the packaging…) but eventually, I had it waxed! And my little lion slept peacefully.

photo by Shannon Mclaughlin
photo by Shannon Mclaughlin

As a first time Mom I’ve had to face many challenges, as all first time Mom’s do, but the one thing that has really stood out to me, is how effective babywearing can be, especially during the “fourth trimester“.

I think it’s so important for Mom’s and Mom’s-to-be to know about this skill – because it is a skill – and especially important for them to know the right way and wrong way to wear their baby – because if done incorrectly it can be a suffocation hazard.

Living in South Africa, I’ve grown up seeing many African women wearing their babies on their backs, but had never given a second thought to it until I had a baby of my own. And now that I think about it – I’ve never seen an upset African baby. It’s in their culture to wear their babies, not to push them around in fancy prams. Not that there is anything wrong with fancy prams, they definitely come in handy when needed.

Happy african babies

However if newborn babies could talk, I think they’d tell us that they’re crying because they just want to hear their mommy’s heartbeat for a few more weeks.

Leo is now 8 months old and he still loves to be ‘worn’. We can easily walk around markets or go for an evening beach walk without having the hassle of a heavy pram every time. Babywearing has given me the freedom to get back out there and live my life the way I used to – outdoors, enjoying nature with lots of fresh air!

photo by Shannon Mclaughlin
photo by Shannon Mclaughlin

~

Shannon Mclaughlin is a loving mommy to baby Leo, and owner of Ubuntu Baba baby carriers. With a mission to help you find your balance again, she has designed a simple, breathable and comfortable baby carrier to assist you, and make the huge life adjustment of becoming a Mom, a little easier. You can find out more about these organic baby carriers here. Follow Ubuntu Baba on Facebook to keep up with an amazing giveaway we will be doing soon!

xoxo

Leigh

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