The Fourth Trimester

I am a big fan of Dr. Harvey Karp’s material. I have read and used both the Happiest Baby and Happiest Toddler on the Block books and I value a lot of what he has to say about how to approach parenthood. And I am happy to say that we are approaching a milestone in the coming week – the end of the Fourth Trimester!

Dr. Karp’s idea is that all babies are born “prematurely” and that it takes the first three months of their lives to adjust them from the womb to the world. He calls this time period the Fourth Trimester and his baby book is aimed at teaching parents how to help calm their little ones (and get over colic) as they make this transition. Basically you swaddle, swing, (hold on) side, (allow to) suck, and shhhhush (use white noise for) the babe as much as possible in the first three months.

We have done all of these things for Raegan and even though we’ve had some rough nights/weeks when she seemed pretty fussy during the evening, we are happy to report that she really is such a happy baby! Her personality is really starting to shine and she grins and smiles at us all the time. Like her brother (and my brother) she has the greatest, most expressive eyebrows; you can only imagine what thoughts are behind each little raise and wrinkle! Her gummy smile is wide and while I don’t see any big dimples, there might be a hint of one on her left cheek. She is also cooing more now and telling us all kinds of stories. I love that it feels like we are already conversing with each other.

Raegan’s hands are some of her favorite things. She loves to have one or both up by her face or, preferably, in her mouth. This makes swaddling a challenge at times, but we still manage to keep her pretty well wrapped for sleeping as that seems to keep her sleeping for longer stretches. Speaking of stretches, she loves to do that as well. You have to be careful when holding her because you never know when she might arch her back and lurch away from you a bit. Her daddy says she is already practicing for the high jump. 🙂 And speaking of sleeping, she’s doing really well with that, too. Most nights I only have to get up once with her and then she goes back to bed for several hours. This is nice because it also allows me to have some special time with just Harrison each morning.

The other exciting development as we enter our last week of the Fourth Trimester happened last night. My parents were here visiting and my mom had Raegee on her belly on the playmat in our living room. My dad was helping me move boxes around and as he walked by he made a comment about how she looked like she was trying to roll over. Sure enough, not two minutes later, she did! She flipped over her right shoulder, landed face up, and immediately started crying. Poor thing – we think she startled herself and was wondering exactly how she got where she got all by herself! So Mom put her back on her tummy and it took no more than 20 seconds and she was over again. Such a big girl!

Altogether, these have been an interesting three months. We have had just a bit of commotion in our lives lately and now that we’re finally out of the old house and into the new, AND moving out of the FT, I am hoping that we can just kick back and enjoy daily life. I’m so excited to see how Harrison will react to his baby sister as she continues to grow; my hope is that, like my own brother and I, they will be great playmates and good friends for years to come.

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