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.
Sounds like you and Brian are doing a great job with Annie. The pictures are lovely. Re schedule, that is tough. My experience was things were confusing, then I would figure it out for awhile and then the baby would grow into a new stage and the situation would repeat. You will learn a lot and you can do this.
You can’t really get on a schedule until they’re a bit older. They may have a routine of sleep, eat, play, repeat but that’s it. I nursed my babies at first and they were smaller and were up too and woke up once or twice a night until 6-9 months. The big thing to focus on is if she can self soothe herself to sleep. You’re still in survival mode and doing great. Comparing to others just makes you feeling frustrated. Hang in there!
Team “routine” all the way. Also, balance between nature and nurture–I’m convinced some kids are born with a lot of their own disposition/demeanor that you can only slightly influence. So when Annie grows into a sleep-longer phase and she handles bigger feedings better/longer, she’ll still have her awesome, sunny expressions, and you guys will be (a little) less tired. Some babies naturally adapt to schedules, and other babies INSIST on sleeping only with a nipple in the mouth, only with a thumb in the mouth until they are in middle school, or being held upright and preferably outdoors. Ask me how I know.
LOVE the daily Annie on insta, and it’s how I can tell you’re counting the wins, even through the tough moments, too. Merry Christmas to you all!
I feel for you, I remember having SO many of the similar feelings with my first. I heard all these amazing things that other moms were experiencing with their babies and just how easy everything seemed and I could barely take a shower without feeling overwhelmed!!
I also heard that I wouldn’t remember my past life because I would be so in love with my baby… while I was so happy she was happy, healthy, and thriving , I certainly missed my old life. The biggest parenting surprise to me was just how CONSTANT taking care of a newborn was – just zero breaks to “run out really quick”. I remember being at the gas station and wanting a bottle of water and just not knowing how to get my baby out of the car and into the gas station to buy some stinking water. A task that would have previously taken me under a minute in my pre-baby life.
All I can say is hang in there and take it day by day! It seriously took me nearly a year (not kidding – I remember the day where it all clicked and my daughter was about 11 months old) to feel like a mom and that I really got the parenting thing. Plus, after a year,their schedules actually stick around for longer than a week or two ?!
I’d say try not to be so hard on yourself, but that’s a total kettle black pot statement from me (I never can remember that phrase, but you know what I mean!). ❤️
Adorable – thanks for the update!! I had no idea that people bought freezer and used them all for breast milk! I feed both my kids formula, so I’m clueless in that department. Enjoy your holidays with that precious angel!
Please don’t ever stop posting your updates! I am being induced on Wednesday- and my girl is also super tiny at the moment, so I am religiously taking note of everything you say—- also being Type A, want to be in control 24/7, workout everyday when I want, and have both a regular job that I DO get maternity leave with, and one I don’t—- I’m super stressed and literally check your blog every day for updates!!!!!!!! Petrified of breastfeeding, but I am going to try it- and both you and my sister have the same Boob clogging stories, so that’s scary…. but good for you to keep going! Anyway- just know I love your posts, and Annie is the cutest smiliest baby!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you get another clogged duct, try dangle pumping, so basically what you were doing with Brian but hooked up to your pump. Totally LOL’d at the cow comment.
And OMG, can Annie get any cuter!?!. Such a doll!
P.S. You’re doing a great job. Honestly.
I did that! I think that’s what helped this most recent one get out!
I also have a teeny breastfed baby. 5-11 at birth and 8 something at 2 months. She is awesome but a horrible sleeper. So that must be it. Science. I realized I was making myself crazy so now I put my phone up when I go to bed and don’t look at the time till morning. When she wakes up she wakes up, I do no tracking of any kind.
Annie is precious and lucky to have such a loving devoted mother! You are doing great.
My daughter will be 7 months on Christmas and we have no schedule. I also don’t understand them. Routine, yes, schedule, no. When she is tired, i put her down for a nap and see if she goes for it. that’s our schedule ??♀️
Annie is doing great. She’s so smiley and expressive!
I think at this point a “schedule” is less about specific times than about understanding her habits. So (and this is just an example not meant to imply that I actually know anything) a 9-week-old baby might eat every 3ish hours during the day and go a bit longer at night, and she might stay awake about 90 minutes between daytime naps. If that’s your baseline, and she wakes up and takes a bottle at 7 a.m. (enjoy it because after the newborn months it won’t happen, ever, for years), she’ll probably be ready for a nap around 8:30 and hungry again around 10. So if she’s fussing at 8:45 it’s probably because she’s overtired or gassy or something and not hungry. Then you can try to soothe her with cuddles or rocking or a walk and not with a bottle. (Of course, she may actually be hungry even though it’s not time.)
YES, that’s what I’m starting to keep track of! I’m documenting how often she eats and how much, when she tends to nap, and seeing what sort of patterns we’re falling into. So it’s not a SCHEDULE, but I can see how it might turn into a routine somewhat naturally. Maybe. Hopefully. Haha. Thank you!
Ali, your gorgeous little girl looks happy, well fed and by all accounts is hitting all the right milestones. You are doing fine. In fact, you are doing exactly what Annie needs. Let others get lathered up about schedules if they want but I did not attempt that with either of my girls until at least 12 weeks (when I went back to work). Even then, a baby schedule is not exactly rigid like other schedules we create for ourselves. It is a good thing to take small, baby steps towards helping her fall asleep by herself (if that is an issue that becomes tricky) as helping infants and children sleep is a gift to them (and you) but there are numerous ways to approach this.
You are right in that you have a new normal to create and get used to and it is wonderful and complex and frustrating and magical. This time goes by so fast (my girls are 16 & 19) and Annie is changing so rapidly that soon you will find yourself looking back and wonder how you did it all but you are doing it. This age requires lots of hands on work and you are giving it your all.
Finally, can I just say that after having a tough week personally, your description of dealing with a clogged duct (been there myself years ago w/mastitis) had me spitting out my coffee and banana bread and doubled over laughing. Not that I laugh at the idea of you or anyone being in that pain, but holy moly, you know how to set a scene and share a difficult, painful experience that is also incredibly funny and realistic.
Also, your post is not in the least whiny and I admire your ability to share so much about your joys and worries about being a first time parent. I think you are writing things down that others go through and don’t know how to process or deal with and I think it helps lots of new Moms and Dads. So kudos to you!
Chicago 2 bedroom condo living mom to be- Where do you keep this deep freezer? In a corner or your kitchen? In your living/dining room? So curious!
We have it a the corner in my office. It’s not a HUGE deep freezer, so it doesn’t take up *too* much space (but also therefore doesn’t hold *too* much milk, ugh).
1. Seconding everyone who says LOL to a schedule at 9 weeks! I have a 3-year-old son and he’s never been a great sleeper. I vividly remember wanting to scream at every person talking about their 2-month-old taking predictable naps or sleeping for long stretches. My son was formula fed and STILL didn’t sleep well or for any length of time at that age.
2. Ali, I feel you so hard on the feeding dilemmas and on the trying to balance work and a newborn. (I couldn’t breastfeed — I tried everything including pumping ALL THE TIME, but nothing worked — I just didn’t produce more than a half ounce or so of milk at a time.) I’m also a freelancer. When I had my son, everyone was like, “oh, it’s great that you have so much flexibility!” And it is great, but it’s also a lot of pressure. If you take yourself out of the game, your clients might not be there in three months when you return. It’s hard and it’s a balance I’m still trying to hone.
3. I wish I had more posts like this to read when I was a new mom. I had a very hard time letting go of my old normal. What I know now is that I had to mourn the loss of my old life in order to embrace the new one. Three years in, I still sometimes get pangs of sadness when I think about my life pre-kiddo. I would never trade in my life now for that old life, but I was not prepared for how thoroughly parenthood burned my old life down to the ground. In these early years, I feel like I am clawing my way out of the ashes, brushing myself off and squinting at this new reality. Thank you for talking so openly about this.
4. I firmly believe that the only way to rock parenthood is to love your baby, keep him/her fed and clothed. That’s it! You’re rocking it!
5. Annie is ADORABLE.
Laughing very much at having a schedule at 9 weeks. That doesn’t exist!
Thank you for being so transparent. Every one on the internet makes motherhood look effortless – it is far from it, and you’ll find your new normal in time. 🙂
New-ish reader, recently had my second baby. I just wanted to let you know that my first babe didn’t take to a schedule (despite my best efforts, frustrations and tears) until 6 months when he started daycare. With my second (a baby girl) I’m not even attempting to schedule until 12 weeks, when babies apparently are first even able to develop “habits.” And it may not work even then! Just go easy on yourself, eventually Annie will adjust to whatever schedule your family keeps. Some (many? most?) babies just do it on their own time. Wishing you good sleep and an easy mind!!
LOL a schedule at nine weeks. LOLOLOL. That baby has very lucky parents.
We read the books and tried to get Theo on a schedule at 10 weeks and it was just a huge battle. He started sleeping through the night without much effort from us once he could eat some oatmeal (~4 months).
The only valuable takeaway from the schedule struggle was that it got us to try putting him down drowsy but awake, which we were too afraid to do before that. And behold: He would go to sleep on his own! Often with zero fuss! We just never let him try! And I think that has helped him be a much better sleeper than some of his peers.
Every day brings you closer to sweet, sweet sleep. You will get there! It’s so hard! You’re doing great!