the fourth trimester

As we approach June, summer solstice is not far from my mind. The sun rose at 5:19 am this morning and will set tonight at 9:42 pm. But this time the sun’s extended duration has a different meaning to me as it revolves around my baby boy’s sleep schedule…and mine (when I get some).

Levi and I named our baby Jasper Eliott Collinge. He was born on Jan 7, 2016 (two days after his due date), at 7 lbs and 14 ounces, with a full head of hair (thank you extreme heartburn). I was incredibly apprehensive prior to his delivery, but once my contractions started the closer it came to his arrival the more prepared I became. Although 32 hours of labour would make anyone ready for delivery. When I arrived at the hospital at 7 am I was 6 cm dilated and was luckily able to take an epidural – which was the BEST thing. I was happy, calm, I took a nap and could still feel the contractions without any of the pain. I was telling jokes, the staff were amazing – including my obstetrician, I didn’t yell once at Levi and finally when it came time to push I was beyond excited to meet our little boy. Jasper was born at 1:54 pm later that day. Delivering was one of the most unique feelings I had ever experienced. I met my baby. Something I had created over a period of 9 months and finally was able to hold now that he had left my body. He was born jaundice due to our blood incompatibility so we stayed in the hospital for 3 days as he recovered. He is now 4 and half months, at 19 weeks, doing great and full of smiles (most of the time).

The first three months are a bit hazy due to the unfortunate bout of sleep depravation. Luckily I have taken a billion photos and videos so I can relive those moments but for the most part I would agree to the term the fourth trimester as I felt Jasper was still an extension of my body during that time. Where his dependence on me for survival was never felt so acutely which included my smell, my breast milk and my care for him. As he transitioned to 4 months I saw him transform more dramatically from a newborn into a baby where he is now able to more directly vocalize his emotions, can stand sturdily on his feet with the help of our hands, brings everything to his mouth and desperately tries to sit up on his own. And now that he is rolling over and squirming mightily crawling does not seem so far away at this point. The smiles and giggles is my most treasured thing. It really helps when you are changing his diaper for the 3rd time in a row in the middle of the night. You have one eye open, one foot asleep, and grogginess surging through your body. Then you hear a small giggle or glimpse a sneaky smile, and suddenly the dark clouds and the exhaustion (momentarily) melt away. As his small body develops, I feel mine erode as I share and provide life for him – but when I think about it, the contributions feel more than worth it as I experience the life cycle first hand.

Among my many apprehensions I was incredibly worried about postpartum depression. But it seems instead of the sad hormones I got the “life is amazing and I want everyone to feel as amazing as I do” hormones – which I assume people will also feel by looking at my baby, holding my baby, or listening to me describe how wonderful my baby is regardless of whether they have children or not. I try to restrain myself as best as possible from sharing photos when he is not around, but I’m not sure how much longer I can hold of on that impulse. I just keep thinking about the time I was on a flight from LA to Edmonton and a father showed me photos of his children for 30 min and I was polite about it. But in my mind, the entire time I asked myself -who cares. But here I am close to doing the same thing – the wonders of life. My obsession with him I’m pretty sure is healthy, but possibly annoying. But hey if I can’t be myself, then who else will I be.

One of the many things that surprised me was how my world opened up once he was born. There is this huge network of resources that becomes available once you have a baby. I had visions of sitting in my house alone with a crying baby, feeling trapped into domestic life while on maternity leave, but there are plenty of opportunities to leave the house, groups to join, health professionals to consult with and a multitude of family and parent friends to hang out with which never makes me feel alone or desperate for a solution to a problem. My friends without children are extremely supportive, offering what ever they can, when they can. And Levi’s and my parents are overwhelmingly helpful and full of enthusiasm for us – giving us a whole new perspective on all they have and continue to do for us. I bring Jasper to 99% of all of my meetings (as I still continue professional obligations) and everyone is overwhelmingly welcome to his presence, never indicating that they are bothered by his crying, my breastfeeding, or my extreme lateness, which is helping to build my confidence in this new adventure. It is the complete opposite of how I thought it would be. I could continue to go on and on about all of my epiphanies but instead I will share a few photos of Jasper’s first three months which I will naively assume will make you feel as happy as Levi and I do.