Sunday, 4 June 2017

The fourth trimester comes to an end

They say that human infants are born too early. Some of the least developed of all mammals at their birth, you won't see them standing up after a few hours like a foal, or leaving their mother for the wide world after a few days. Human babies are frighteningly fragile and dependent for a very long time. 

The Fourth Trimster is the term used to describe the first three months of a tiny human's life. In this time they are so helpless. They need you for everything. At the start they cannot move much, have no circadian rhythm to speak of, have tiny stomachs that need filling constantly, and can't tell who you are much more than recognise your smell. I was unprepared for just how alone my baby seemed in the first few weeks. I felt mournful for her. I felt bad for bringing a tiny human out of her comfortable dark place and into a world of smells, noises, discomforts. 

When Anna was 5 weeks old she looked up at me with big eyes and smiled a big smile as we nursed. That was the most definite sign of forward progress. During our Fourth Trimester we did all those things they call 'attachment parenting' that I just call being a decent adult to an infant you gave birth to. I wore her in a sling, she slept near by and gradually just beside me. I fed her around the clock, whenever she seemed even the slightest bit restless. I never let her cry if I could help it, because there was no need. She slept in my arms during the day, and we were never apart.

I kept her close to me at all times, at first, gradually introducing more people into her life so that now, at 12 weeks, she spends several days a week being held and talked to by various relatives and friends. I want her to feel part of a wider unit than just her immediate family, so this feels like a natural step. It's also important for my sense of self. I don't want to be the only person who can make my baby happy. Knowing she can feel safe around other people is crucial because I want to be a lot of things, not just a mother (although that's a Very Important Thing). 

Now here we are. Standing at the edge of a new place, a wide open space full of light and rolling grass. This is the future. Anna isn't a tiny, helpless newborn anymore. She's a little baby, three months old, who lies on the ground and kicks and swipes. She smiles and gurgles at anyone and everyone. She sleeps with her arms above her head, loves when her dad holds her stretched out. She's growing so much, and will continue to do so at breakneck speed until my little baby is able to do all sorts of incredible things. 

Becoming a new parent is scary as hell, but I'm sure being born is too. We now look forward to what's to come with impatient anticipation. 

Here's to the future, with love.

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