Congratulations! You survived the “fourth trimester”!
Your baby is now getting the hang of the basics. You don’t have to set alarms through the night to feed them, they’ve probably got that breathing thing down, and you are starting to get a sense for your new normal. Which is to say you are getting used to everything changing every week or so. That means cool stuff—Intentional smiles! Rolling over! Wordlike sounds! Solid foods! And less cool stuff—Four-month sleep regression! Solid food poops! The realization that you will be comparing your kid to everyone else’s forever and ever! Why do we have to baby-proof already!?
Bright Side: New levels of cute
However adorable your baby was when they were a newborn, this stage increases that cuteness by an order of magnitude. Here’s where they start to notice you. Here’s where those smiles get deliberate. Here’s where they start to realize how interesting the world is. Here’s where you can feed them a lemon and watch what happens! Everything that was cute about your little one is cuter because they’re interacting in all kinds of new ways.
Dangers to Productivity: Google
We’ve all fallen prey to a Wikipedia hole—you start out hunting for resources about ancient underwear or how fast you die if you get shot in the lung or the name of that thing that ancient Romans carried around with the ear pick in it, and four hours later, you remember you’re supposed to be writing a book (but you probably have ideas for six more).
This tendency is dangerous when coupled with the fast arrival of needing to think about “milestones.” When should they roll over? When should they sit up? When should they start babbling and is my child going to Harvard because she definitely signed “more” two weeks before she’s supposed to and if so how do I save for that? Should I take my baby to the hospital because he can’t stand up, but the baby in the library storytime, the one who has the same birthday, is walking? I get it, it’s soothing to read, to gain all the information, but it takes on a whole new level of madness when it’s your kid you’re googling about. Corral it. Avoid it. Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned, but remind yourself that your baby is going to do all of these things eventually.
Mantra: THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
Good or bad, all of this is temporary even though it will feel like there’s no chance of that happening. But they aren’t going to be waking you up in the middle of the night to be fed when they’re twenty. They won’t go off to their first job in diapers. They won’t insist on eating soup with their bare hands at their wedding. You also won’t get baby snuggles forever, and the days of fleecy footie pajamas are short. If your schedule gets derailed or your focus isn’t what it needs to be, don’t despair. Savor the good stuff and remind yourself the bad stuff goes quick, especially at this age.
(Don’t think about teenagers yet.)
Perfect Project: Start Small
If you don’t have anything going already, this can be a good time to take on something relatively self-contained. Your kiddo is changing rapidly, so it’s hard to count on your writing time not changing, but since you’re likely starting to feel a little more yourself (although, if not, don’t beat yourself up! This takes time!), you might have an easier time rolling with it. Start working out what your new normal can reliably look like, and work on some short stories or essays or poems, or maybe a novella, if your sleep regression goes fast. It will feel good to finish something, and start setting goals in this new chapter of your life.