Annie is nine weeks old!
Two months. Brian and I have been human parents for two months now.
(Here’s a recap from Annie’s first month. She crushed it.)
During her second month rocking our worlds, Annie has done all kinds of cool stuff. She laughed for the first time. She started reacting to us. She became super chatty. She definitely said “cow.” She started staring at things, like the zebra painting on the wall and the leaf print wallpaper in her room. She sticks out her tongue when we stick out our tongues. And, hooray, she learned to love the bath! (The first few bath attempts were rough. She screamed until she was purple the first time, and I was convinced we would just have to go through life with a dirty baby. But now, big fan! She loves it, and it’s way more fun for everyone!)
People love asking, “Is she sleeping?” It is, by far, the most common question people, including strangers, like to ask.
Annie has never been a bad sleeper. It’s hard to remember those first few weeks, but I feel like we’ve almost always gotten an initial 4–5-hour stretch, and then two-hour stretches after that. It’s not amazing, but it’s not terrible.
This month, though, there were definitely some steps back in the sleep department. Maybe she was growth-spurting, I don’t know. (Yes, I have the Wonder Weeks app.) But five-hour stretches became three-hour stretches, and the two-hour stretches afterward were reduced to hourly wake-ups.
Of course, to me, it seems like all the other nine-week-old babies I know are already sleeping through the night. Like straight through. No wake-ups at all. WTF?
I know a million well-intentioned (and absolutely right!) parents will tell me that’s “not common” or that their babies didn’t sleep through the night until much later. That’s all fine and lovely. But in the thick of it, when Brian and I are just totally exhausted, it’s hard not to wonder, “HOW?!” and “no seriously HOW???” and “what am I doing wrong?”
I have asked, “What am I doing wrong?” so many times over the past two months.
On the sleep front, I know all babies are different. The pediatrician told me this week that Annie probably won’t sleep through the night until she’s significantly bigger (she’s currently only 8 lbs. 9.5 oz.!), and that formula-fed babies tend to sleep longer than babies drinking breastmilk (Annie is getting breastmilk right now). So I’m not concerned, I’m not worried, and some nights are much better than others. Plus, sharing this post this week helped immensely. I felt so much better after reading all those wonderful comments, so thank you!
These updates are really about me, aren’t they? Sorry! Annie’s growth and development have been wonderful. And I am, perhaps predictably, wonderful sometimes and a total basket case other times. (Last week = wonderful! But last weekend = basket case!)
Of course I want Annie to be sleeping through the night! Who wouldn’t want that? That sounds awesome. Brian and I trade off doing the nighttime wake-ups with Annie every few nights (the perks of not breastfeeding, I suppose), but I don’t think either of us every really feel caught up.
It’s hard not to compare in these early days. I have a friend who told me she got her baby started on a schedule the second week she was home from the hospital. Now, her baby, who is the same age as Annie, is sleeping almost 10 hours straight through the night. WUT.
So I question myself: Have I waited too long to get Annie on a schedule? What even is a schedule for a nine-week-old baby?! There are so many to choose from on the internet. Which one is right? Who has time to read baby books and all those troubleshooting chapters right now? Why are there so many different opinions?! What happens if you try to follow a schedule and your baby laughs in your face? (We started attempting a bit of a “schedule” or routine on Monday — basically just an eat, play, nap routine every few hours) and it actually went fine most of the day, but by the evening, Annie was like, “nah.”) If the “schedule” says she needs a two-hour nap but is fussing 15 minutes in, then when? I’m trying to figure that all out. Or not figure it out and just let Annie call the shots because she’s a baby!
Sometimes it just feels like everyone else is crushing it and “getting it” and I’m still guessing. And I know that’s fine and normal. I know it’s “only” been nine weeks. I know not to compare! Seriously, I know better. But it happens. I am human. I want to be crushing it, too! I want to seem self-assured, and actually be self-assured.
In many ways, I am crushing it! Annie is healthy and loved. As much as I still dislike pumping (more on that in a sec), it’s nice to see her gaining weight properly and knowing she’s well-fed. She has little rolls in her thighs now! And her hair grew back on top! (She had a lil’ mullet for a while post-birth.) So I know I’m doing a good job in that she is so loved, she is fed, she is warm, and unless she has to burp, she is happy.
On Tuesday, I finally got over my fear of driving alone with her! I drove her to the pediatrician (she had to get her two-month shots!), parallel parked like a boss (eh, maybe more like a junior manager), and drove back home. We both did great!
Most of the time, when Annie cries or fusses, I can pretty easily figure out what’s up. Other times, and they’re more rare now, I have no idea.
On the boob front: I’m still pumping. I started out pumping eight times a day, then cut it to seven, and then six. Right now I’m pumping five times per day. (In pumping Facebook group speak: I’m 9 wpp and am at 5 ppd. New language!) A million websites and “experts” out there would say I cut back too soon. And IDK, maybe. But it was controlling — and, honestly, ruining — my life, and I needed to make a change. I could’ve enjoyed those very early days so much more if I weren’t so obsessed with pumping at specific intervals throughout the day. I’ve eased up a bit now, but it’s still on my mind all the time — when I need to pump again, scheduling my days around it, etc.
I’m not against formula. I just feel like I have this milk, and I “should” give it to my baby. But also, let me tell you about this one night a few weeks ago…
I had a clogged duct on one side. It was so painful. By nighttime, I felt like I had giant golf balls lodged in my boob. I tried massaging it, I did all the stuff the internet said, and I was texting my lactation consultant desperate for some secret, magical, will-work-really-fast solution. Everyone was in bed, but I was in so much pain that I told Brian I needed his help.
And then there I was, on the bed, on all fours, while Brian massaged my boob, trying to work out the blockage. I was screaming because it hurt so bad — but screaming into a pillow, so I wouldn’t wake Annie. I have never felt more like an actual cow in my entire life. No wonder Annie keeps saying “cow!” It was painful, it was ugly, and it was just…not how I pictured new-mom life! (But when I did finally get the clog out, OMG, it was so satisfying!)
Now that you have that beautiful visual… I don’t know how much longer I’ll be able to pump solely because we are out of room. We bought a deep freezer, and that’s full, and our regular freezer is full, too. And while I love the idea of having a big freezer stash to give Annie for a while, I don’t really know what to do. (There are women in these Facebook groups who have like…three deep freezers full of milk! But they also have houses and basements for those deep freezers. Alas, we do not.)
OK, so that’s pumping. Still doing it, but not letting it rule my life quite so much. It is, however, ruling out the option of ever having ice cream on hand, because we have nowhere to put it. Or, I guess I could just eat it all in one sitting!
One last thought for now: I’ve found myself struggling since day one with trying to return “to normal.” To my routine. To my life as it always was, but with a new buddy in tow.
It wasn’t until last week that I had to remind myself that I just need to create a new normal. That doesn’t mean getting to work out every day whenever I want. It doesn’t mean having the freedom to run to the post office whenever. It means being really strategic about when I schedule and record podcast episodes. It means learning to be selfless for a while. It means still pursuing my passions, but being creative about how and when.
That being said, I already have the first TWO Ali on the Run Show LIVE events on the calendar — February and March, both in NYC! — and have decided that, for the most part, Fridays are Ali and Annie days. No work. No distractions. Unless it’s urgent, Fridays are for just me and Annie, to play, go on walks, snuggle, whatever. Not trying to multitask.
In hindsight, I think I should have taken some planned time off work. It’s tough, as a freelancer, to do that. I still wanted to get out weekly podcast episodes, and I genuinely love getting to do that. But it weighed on me, and it still does some days. I wish I had given myself a forced maternity leave. If I worked a “normal” full-time office job and had maternity leave, I wouldn’t be checking my email constantly or trying to keep up to speed on things (ideally). So why was I trying to still do all that, and then some, in the immediate weeks following Annie’s birth?
I put a lot of pressure on myself. I’m sure I always will. But I’m trying to shift perspective, even if just a little bit each day, so that I’m not only doing what’s best for my family, but I’m also able to enjoy it. To focus on everything I’m gaining instead of what I’ve given up. To create a new normal that’s wonderful instead of mourning my “old life.”
Because the thing is, the new normal is wonderful. I get to work from home, to be with Annie, to have some flexibility. I have so much opportunity at my fingertips, and I think (fine, I know) I hold myself back from pursuing it all. Work in progress, always and forever!
Hopefully this didn’t all sound totally whiny. I promise, as much as it’s all hard sometimes, it’s equally incredible. Annie is so cool, and being a family of four is absolutely wild. It’s not perfect and I can’t make it look effortless. But it’s so cool, and Annie is so cute, and she said “cow,” so she is an A+ student.