We did it!
We all survived the first month with a newborn!
I honestly can’t believe Annie is already one month old. But, and I know I keep saying this, it also seems like a billion years ago that I was in the hospital giving birth, and a billion-er years ago that I was pregnant.
I remember little things: I remember putting Annie in her car seat for the first time to bring her home, and I remember introducing her to Ellie. But the rest of this first month has been a total blur. I know I’ve cried more than I ever have. I know I’ve questioned every single thing I’m doing. I know I’ve stared at Annie’s sweet little face for hours at a time. And when I stop staring at her, I’m usually looking at photos and videos of her on my phone. I’m addicted to this tiny human.
All things considered, Annie is such a good baby. She’s pretty chill, and when she cries, I can usually tell why. And every day, I get a little better at learning how to calm and soothe her. (Thank you, Happiest Baby on the Block video. I didn’t read the book, but the video gets an A+ from me.)
I vaguely remember the first time Annie and I were alone. Brian had to run into the office for a few hours one afternoon, and it was just us. I was terrified. I think I cried the whole time. And spoiler: We did fine.
Even when, in the thick of things, I’ve thought the world was ending and I am the worst mom ever and that Annie must hate me and see how clueless I am, we’ve always been fine.
People talk about how parenting is hard. How new motherhood is hard. How breastfeeding can be hard. I never thought too much about any of that before I found myself in this position. And now, unsurprisingly, I get it. And I get what people mean when they say it’s hard, but it’s worth it. That never made sense to me. How can something that’s making you miserable be “amazing?”
But oh my god, Annie is amazing. And when I’m struggling, it’s just because we’re all new at this. We’re figuring each other out and getting to know each other. Sometimes that’s really frustrating, like when it’s 3 AM and she’s crying but she has a full belly and a clean diaper and just burped.
And as much as people tend to get weird when you compare babies to puppies, I have to say, for me it’s been pretty similar. I remember bringing Ellie home and feeling terrified and clueless and crying when Brian went to work because he was the smart, solid one and I was the idiot who had never had a dog and why does she keep peeing everywhere but on her pee pad?
For the first few weeks of parenthood, I felt like Brian was the perfect parent and I was clueless. I had no confidence. I was afraid to do anything to Annie. I didn’t want to hurt her or make her upset or be the reason she was crying. I wanted to be a natural, and I’m not, but I’m learning. One month in, and my confidence is already so boosted. I’m still apprehensive about many things — agreeing to meet someone at a certain time, driving alone with her (what if she cries while I’m driving?! how do I soothe her if I’m on the highway?! what if she needs me?), or generally venturing too far from the comfort of our home. But I’m getting better.
We go for walks every day. Sometimes she fusses or cries when we’re out, and I know how to settle her down. (She usually either wants her pacifier, she moved so her hat pushed down over her eyes, or she’s starting to get hungry.) And honestly, as the one person who is with her all day every day, I finally feel like I know her best. (IT’S A COMPETITION. ALWAYS. No, I’m kidding. But if it were, I would totally win. But it’s not a competition.) I know her cries, her cues, and all her little faces. And really, it’s like when I was getting to know Ellie. Now, Ellie can be three rooms away, and if she barks or makes a noise, I know exactly what she needs or wants (almost always a ball somewhere she can’t quite reach).
Thank you to everyone who listened to and responded to last week’s episode of the Ali on the Run Show. I went back and forth on that one, as I tend to do a bit with the super personal stuff. But of course, I always share. No filter Feller! I already feel so different than I did when I recorded that episode just a few days ago. And I’m sure a few days from now, I could go right back to feeling unconfident and terrified.
With all that rambling out of the way, here’s some more rambling, and some more things that are constantly on my mind.
I HAVE NO IDEA HOW I’M GOING TO TAKE CARE OF ANNIE AND ELLIE AT THE SAME TIME.
On the days I’ve been home alone with Annie, Ellie has either gone to school (it’s right downstairs!) or to the office with Brian. Ellie is a really good dog (duh), but she also requires a lot of attention and energy. I’ve tried walking Ellie while pushing Annie in the stroller, and it’s pretty much impossible. I’ve also taken Ellie out briefly while wearing Annie in the Ergo carrier, but that’s challenging, too. People with big, energetic dogs and newborns, give me your tips and advice! Also, what do I do if Brian is working late and it’s 10 PM and Annie is sound asleep and Ellie needs to go potty. We live in an apartment building, so I can’t just let Ellie out the back door. What do I do?!
I’M SO TIRED OF THINKING ABOUT MY BOOBS.
Right now, I am “exclusively pumping.” (Why does the word exclusively annoy me?) Pumping, for the most part, doesn’t bother me too much anymore. At first, I loathed it, but now that my nipples have healed from our attempts at breastfeeding (ouchhhhh), pumping is fine. I sit and play on my phone or watch TV or waste time on my computer. I pump seven times a day for 20–25 minutes each time. So that adds up for sure. I only really hate it when Annie needs me at the same time. I try to pump when she’s napping, but I’m also trying to stick to roughly every three hours, so it can get tricky.
I’ve read so much stuff about pumping — at least the first 19 pages of Google results — and there are women who say they feed their babies bottles while pumping. How? Annie needs to be burped every few minutes mid-feed, and when I try to pick her up and hold her between my pumping boobs, she inevitably kicks one of the flanges and just about rips off my nipple. Not ideal. She likes to be picked up if she’s a little fussy, and it’s impossible to do that mid-pump. Also, people say they lie their babies across their laps while they pump, which I did once, and Annie promptly got knocked in the face by the bottle I was pumping into. Sorry, Anno! (She has many nicknames.)
But generally, I feel like all I do is think about my boobs. About when I need to pump next. About making sure all my pump parts are ready to go. (Don’t worry, I have tons of spares.) About clogged ducts. (I’ve had two so far. It felt like having golf balls lodged into my boobs. Ouch!) About how I thought I’d be able to sleep on my stomach post-pregnancy, but NOPE. I can’t, because my boobs hurt, and because the other night I slept on my stomach and woke up with the most painful clogged duct. So no more of that. Maybe someday!
On Sunday, we all — Annie, Ellie, Brian, Ali — went to the park for a little hike and so Ellie could run around and have fun. I drove, and Brian sat in the back to oversee the kids. And I pumped while driving. (Hands-free bra FTW.) My boobs are just always out and on display. I am a milkmaid.
So yeah. Boobs. All day, every day. Oh also they are huge. Like porn star huge. And not really in a sexy way. All my clothes are too tight, and not even because of my “post-baby body.” Because of my gargantuan breasts.
Let’s move on!
I AM SO THIRSTY.
I have never drank so much water in my life! I am also eating terribly! I haven’t been able to get my act together enough to actually meal prep or grocery shop, which isn’t even exclusive to this time in my life. I’ve NEVER really done that! I’ve pretty much been living off Peanut M&Ms and Oreos, and while those foods are delicious, it’s…not great. I’m starting Blue Apron again in December, so we’ll see how that goes.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I DO ALL DAY.
I feel busy every day, but then it’s 5 PM and I look around and wonder, “WTF did I even do today?” I have no idea. I snuggle Annie a lot, which is most important. I pump a lot. And I watch a lot of Ellen, Jeopardy (LOVING Teen Tournament weeks!), and Wheel of Fortune (Vanna White, you are a queen). Also still watching This Is Us, and am very into A Million Little Things (though I always accidentally call it Big Little Lies or Pretty Little Liars or Big Little Pretty Things). And I’ve been sucked back into Grey’s Anatomy for the 17th time. I hate myself.
Oh, and while we’re on the topic of television, I am obsessed with this commercial. It makes me smile every time. I love Diana.
I know not to do it. I know. And I’m pretty good about it, usually. But I’ll be honest: I see posts from women who had babies around the same time I did, and they’re already running six miles a day (HOW? do their boobs not hurt like mine?!) or getting a ton of work done or making elaborate dinners every night. With a big smile on their faces! I have a smile on my face a lot of the time, but I don’t have my shit together all that much. Just a reminder, I suppose, that we’re all doing our best and some days my best is never changing out of my PJs.
I GET REALLY ANXIOUS AT NIGHTTIME.
During the day, Annie and I do OK. But as we near bedtime, I get really anxious. She’s been a pretty decent sleeper, but I still get nervous about nighttime. About getting into “a routine.” About the possibility that I’m doing everything wrong and she’ll never be a good sleeper. (She is a good sleeper for a one-month-old, at least I think she is! But I am really good at worrying about absolutely everything.) I see so many people who, a month in, already have these locked-down bedtime routines. We don’t, but lately we’ve been trying to feed Annie her last bottle around 9:30 PM and have her in bed by 10:00. People have suggested “dream feeds,” too, which I had to Google, and which we do when Brian is going to bed later than the rest of us. So far, so mostly decent. We get some good stretches most nights, but every night is different and unpredictable.
THE SOUND OF MY BABY CRYING IS THE WORST.
It makes me so sad. Yesterday was the first time Annie was crying and shed an actual TEAR, and it destroyed me. Babies shouldn’t be sad or scared or unhappy. They should always just feel loved and snuggled and safe. And dry.
I REALLY HATE THAT IT GETS DARK AT LIKE 2 PM.
I don’t think I need to expand much on this. I’m sure we all feel it. But it sucks when it starts to get dark and I realize there are still around four hours before Brian gets home, and the darkness is just a big ol’ bummer.
I CAN’T WAIT TO RUN AGAIN!
You know why? Because my Crohn’s flared during the majority of my pregnancy, so I haven’t just gone for a casual outdoor run in what feels like so long! My Crohn’s flare has evaporated like absolute magic, and I look forward to the day I feel up for getting out for a run.
But on the workout front, I mostly miss Orangetheory because it was such a part of my daily routine, and it’s where I got my social time. As a work-from-home freelancer, I don’t get a ton of IRL social interaction, and my workout buddies turned into some of my closest friends. So while I miss the sweat, sure, I mostly just miss seeing my people.
UPDATE: I broke my stupid pinky toe last night, so it may be a little while longer than I hoped before I’m back in action. Seriously, body, feel free to cooperate any time now!
I’LL BE HONEST: I KIND OF REALLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT BREAST MILK TASTES LIKE.
I spend so much time looking at it and dealing with it, and I’m just curious. I don’t think I’ll ever actually try it. BUT IF YOU HAVE, WHAT DOES IT TASTE LIKE?!
MY HORMONES FEEL A BIT MORE STABLE ONE MONTH IN.
I still have really intense moments. On Saturday, I ran out to go to Target quickly and I cried the entire time. I’m not sure why. It hit me like a wave. I still have intense highs and intense lows, but for the most part, I’m somewhere in between. The first two weeks were unreal, but I feel like I’m starting to normalize.
Every day brings a new challenge, along with a new smile, wiggle, or squeak.
And for every million times I’ve told myself, “You can’t do this, you suck at this, you’ll never figure all this out,” there have been at least two times I’ve reminded myself, “You’re doing this, you’re OK at this, you’re figuring this out. You got this.”