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Dear First Time Moms in Their Fourth Trimester

Um. Hey. I’d ask how you’re doing but I’ve got a pretty good idea. You’re exhausted. You’re bored. You’re stressed. And probably worst of all, you are pretty deep into a serious existential crisis.

Most of your energy is being poured into this mewling flesh potato. Whatever is left is spent on just trying to keep the basic hierarchy of your own needs from completely collapsing. You are permanently sleep deprived, and some combination of malnourished or dehydrated. If you have a partner or spouse, even the idea of doing anything for the sake of your relationship may like a massive overask.

Top that off with you are starting to feel less like a person. People spent 9 months worrying over you, fretting over you, showering you with attention. Once that little meatball popped out of you, you ceased to be you. You don’t have time much less energy for your hobbies, your friends, the things you loved before baby. And when people do interact with you, it’s about the baby. You’ve become your offspring’s mom; walking milk bar, professional formula shaker, and shit wiper. And literally nothing else.

Here’s the real kicker. Were I a betting woman, I’d put money down that you’ve looked down at that tiny human you made with your fucking body, and seriously questioned why you wanted this. And that’s the bit that stings like a mofo. You did want this baby. Even if the pregnancy was a surprise, you made a conscious choice to carry on, birth it, and keep it. So obviously the doubts you experience for a tenth of a nanosecond as to whether that was the right choice means you’re an absolute piece of burning garbage. That’s how it feels anyway.

And all that is assuming you didn’t get postpartum depression, anxiety, rage, or OCD slamming into you like a Mack truck. If you did get that any of that nightmare, it all feels so much worse.

You probably want to scream at every mother you’ve ever known “WHY DIDN'T YOU FUCKING WARN ME?” And we, the experienced mothers of the planet, want you to know, we’re sorry. But we couldn’t. If that feels like a cop out, we know. We felt that too. But we really, really couldn’t.

Depending on how long ago our fourth trimester was, we may have forgotten. More aptly put, we may have blocked it out. Evolution has this tricky way of making us forget the worst of that shitshow in hopes we might elect to breed again. Also, sleep deprivation is a hell of a thing and really does one over on your ability to commit stuff to memory. Seriously. That’s science.

Even if our most recent fourth trimester is still a part of our working memory, we still couldn’t tell you. It would have been wildly unfair. To look at a mom deep in the throes of making a whole other human being, begging for it to be over, to not be pregnant anymore, and describe in vivid detail the literal torture methods she was about to endure, that’s just cruel. Hopefully, we gave you what we could; sharing the preparations that actually helped, the products we simply couldn’t have survived without, the things we’d wished we would have done differently. But to spew out the violent, honest reality of the fourth trimester, that wouldn’t have helped anything at all.

Lastly, would you have believed us? Could you have believed us? For forty weeks(ish) you imagined your baby, planned for it, fell in love with the idea of the what he would be in the real world. You began shaping yourself to be her mom. You researched, prepared, hoped. You endured countless pokes and prods and discussion of your own urine. Your pelvis became a medical playground. And you willing let it be that. You focused on the things you could control because so much of pregnancy is a wild tailspin into the unknown. Plus, you still had to come to terms with the baby exit strategy, the inevitable trauma that is infant ejection.

If we’d sat you down and outlined what you're feeling now, it would have sounded like pure fiction. You probably couldn't have heard it for anything more than bitter, old women trying to steal your thunder and dampen your spirits. You weren’t ready to hear it. It wasn’t fair to share.

It does get better. And yeah, go ahead. Roll your eyes. I earned that. That fucking phrase was enough to send me into a near murderous rage when I was in your shoes. But it does. It will. And you’ll be one of those women watching a first time mom fight the good fight sooner than you think.

You’ll find your new normal. And you’ll find the new you. You’ll be fine. I’m so sorry it all feels like empty words. But you really will be fine.


Gwenna, on behalf of all the moms who understand what you're going through.



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