Starring: Papa J, Baby Joash & me with the help from family members!
‘’Fourth trimester”? Yes, the first 3 months after birth is known as the fourth trimester. I like this term way better than what we usually call, “confinement”.
I mean seriously, confined? Like house arrest? That sure doesn’t sound like what anyone would look forward to at all!
You've heard of first, second and third trimester. So what's the fourth trimester all about? When I was pregnant, Papa J and I were discussing if we should engage a confinement nanny for the first month. Being a first time parents-to-be, many questions were running through our minds. Such as, ‘what exactly does a confinement nanny do? Will we be able to cope during the first month? Will having family members around in the house be sufficient? Is it tough to cook post-natal recovery food?’
So, did we survive without a confinement nanny? And if so, how did we?
LET THE "GAMES" BEGIN!
Everybody's fourth trimester story varies. I will now share mine! During the first month, Papa J and I were readjusting to a whole new lifestyle with an addition to the family... BABY JOASH CHIA! *kisses* :D
Many new skills we had to learn. I am very thankful to have a hands-on daddy on board! A little on Papa J's background: He is a self-employed and even when he is entitled 2 weeks of paid leave by the government, he was still working from 3pm to 10pm. With the help I can get from him whenever he was around, we team-worked together on diaper changing, cord cleaning, baby bath and 2-3 hourly newborn feeding schedule.
I'd studied nursing a few years back so those skills sure came in handy. As a student nurse, I was attached to the labour ward and nursery room. While the labour ward presented anxious yet heart-warming moments, I'd certainly enjoyed working in the nursery...the best times! However, the main difference between those nursing days and caring for your own child? it’s a 24/7 instead! No 8hours shifts, just a BIG LONG one. You're 'working on call' everyday. You might start to ask yourself, "is it weekday or weekend, daytime or night time"? It doesn't matter after all because its all on one shift! Naps has never been so crucial. Whenever baby sleeps, it'll be best to rest too. Of course, with a nanny or family member, they’ll be able to help relieve some motherly duties.
NEW MOM'S NEEDS & BEING TAKEN CARE OF-
I am so blessed to have my mother-in-law (whom I call as Ma) and nanny as my caregivers during the first month (for those who doesn't know: she was with me since I was born! Yup, for 25 years!). Ma took the first 10 days to be with me and Joash, and she was the head chef! We learned about purchasing a 28-31 days of readily packed herbs specially made for mommies during post-natal. You can get it from any traditional Chinese herbal shop. How convenient! We are aware of the Tingkat-Confinement meals that are made convenient and available for moms. However, I had Ma's specially prepared nutritious meals for me. She'd also taught my nanny to prepare new dishes! My nanny helped me from day 11 to the end of the month. The diet and daily intake during this period is very crucial as the body is recovering from birth. This whole month, They had it all covered for me! From grocery shopping, preparing of dishes, washing and cleaning after meals, housework and laundry... I am indeed very blessed and grateful for them. The support during this time is crucial as it not only aids a speedier recovery for the mother both physically and mentally, it allows me to bond with my newborn baby.
NEW MOM CHALLENGES? I'VE GOT IT!
Speaking of 24 hours shift, what seemed to be a continuous cycle was the diaper changing and breastfeeding around the clock. We can now say we are pros at it! Papa J and I helped each other out as we took turns. Joash was feeding about 2-3hourly and whenever he slept, I would take the opportunity to catch up on sleep. Pretty much haphazard timing if you think about it! That's what maternity leave is for isn't it! Overall, though at times it may have been an exhausting experience, these moments are enjoyable and definitely irreplaceable. Till today, my heart is overwhelmed with love and all I want do is to spend time with him, reminding myself to be mindful and treasure every moment. They grow out of the newborn phase very quickly! There’s new changes every week, not to mention growth spurts and different milestones! All these changes meant a different behaviour of a child. So technically, moms are really learning to deal with something different through out the maternity leave. No kidding!
IN THE HEART OF IT ALL, WHAT DOES THE CONFINEMENT PERIOD REALLY MEAN?
At the end of it all, the confinement period means more than just herbs, food cooked with ginger, engaging a specific nanny or strange myths of rules. A confinement period is a time to nourish a mom, allowing her to recover and rest. Its reinstating her new identity, to be confident and gain strength physically, emotionally and mentally. To have support and love, instead of being frazzled and stressed by unnecessary household tasks or curt nonsensical comments. Most of all, its to allow the new mom to embrace this new beginning at her own pace, to indulge in the moment of bonding with her baby.
And so, if you're thinking to engage a nanny (be it specifically for the confinement period or babysitting) or have a family member to help you, it’s a personal choice to suit you and there ain't one right decision. Most importantly, this help has to be supportive and understanding. Hence, be it help from a nanny, family member, in-laws or husband, with all the positive vibes and support coming through, receive with open arms, love and thankfulness!
All 3 of us sisters will be sharing stories from our different perspectives. The good, the bad and the ugly, we're telling it as it is.