I remember a time long before motherhood when I thought the process of having a baby went like this:
1 – Get pregnant
2 – Have baby
3 – Bring baby home
4 – Put baby in crib
5 – Baby sleeps, mom and dad go along their merry way
I will now pause for a moment so you can recover from the stomach cramps you got from laughing hysterically at my ignorance.
Obviously, that was my impression of motherhood when I was like 13, waaaay before people I actually know started to have children. And as I got older and watched moms around me adapt to new motherhood, I realized that the idea that babies come out ready to be their own little people is, well, misinformed.
They need us. A lot. And oftentimes, this takes the form of needing to actually be on their moms for a large part of the day.
Why so much snuggling? A lot of research shows–to put it simply–that babies aren’t ready to be pushed into the world when they are.
“Although newborns of other primate species rely on caregivers, too, human infants are especially helpless because their brains are comparatively underdeveloped. Indeed, by one estimation a human fetus would have to undergo a gestation period of 18 to 21 months instead of the usual nine to be born at a neurological and cognitive development stage comparable to that of a chimpanzee newborn.”
“I always tell my patients that babies are born too soon. I know what you’re thinking: Are you kidding? Too short?! For many moms, the last month of pregnancy seemed interminable. Heartburn, puffy ankles, stretch marks and peeing every 2 hours can take all the shine off that pregnancy glow.
But while you couldn’t wait to finally hold your baby in your arms, your baby would definitely have voted for a few extra months inside if you had given her the choice.
Remember—your baby’s brain was so big that you had to ‘evict’ her after 9 months, even though she was still smushy, mushy and very immature. As a result, she isn’t quite ready for the big, bad outside world.
So, for the first months, it can help to think of her like a fetus…outside the womb.
In fact, grandmas, nurses and nannies who are gifted baby calmers all have one talent in common: they’re really good at mimicking a baby’s life in the womb.
To be a good womb impersonator, you first need to know: ‘What was it like in there?’ Warm? Sure. Dark? Actually, fetuses see soft red light as the rays of the sun pass through your outer skin and muscle. Quiet and still? No way!”
The Fourth Trimester. Think of it this way: It’s the first three months of a baby’s life, where he or she is most comfortable being carried and cared for in ways that create an environment similar to his/her in utero experience.
In no particular order, this can include being held tight and close to mom, enjoying “white noise sounds,” being wrapped snugly, warm baths, and movement. Here’s even more.
Well, I am here to say that I officially have the Fourth Trimester-est baby that ever babied.
My little angel loves being held, being snuggled, and being ascloseaspossible to Mama, all day, every day. See that picture above? This is my life.
Don’t get me wrong; she’s not fussy, and I all sorts of love having her close to me, this being our last baby and all. But given her nonstop desire to be plastered to my chest in some way, shape or form, I have given her a nickname to befit her behavior.
She is The Barnacle Baby, and I am her ship.
We are always attached.
(It’s kinda awesome.)
I wrote before about some awesome products for moms that can keep baby close to mom in the most comfortable way possible; check it out here. These, in my opinion, are a good buy if you’re going to try to keep your baby close during the Fourth Trimester, unless you’re looking for a serious bicep workout. Because 13 pounds doesn’t seem like a lot of weight to tote around, but when you do it for 18 hours a day, trust me, IT IS.
But I’m soaking up every beautiful moment with The Barnacle. When she’s sleeping on my chest at 4am; when she’s sleeping on my chest at 8am and I’m making breakfast for the Bigs with one arm; when I’m shopping and pushing around an empty stroller because she’d much rather be near me than in there.
I’m okay being her ship; she can be on me as long as she wants. Someday she won’t want to stick so close. And that’s when I’ll look back with a pang on the days she never wanted me to put her down.
Did you have a barnacle baby? How did you keep him or her close? I’d love to hear more in Comments below!