As of last week, Annie is three months old! We’ve officially graduated from The Fourth Trimester. What a wild ride, man.
I get to know Annie better every single day. And yet, she still throws me curveballs every single day.
Yesterday, for example. We’re still not in a totally locked-down routine or specific schedule, but Annie has started falling into some natural (and Ali-encouraged) rhythms. That means three naps a day. She usually crushes her morning nap. She is awesome at her morning nap. Two hours of sweet, solid sleep, most days at least. But yesterday, she was only an hour into said morning nap when Ellie barked at the door (it’s OK, Ellie!) and Annie woke up. It’s crazy to me that Annie will sleep through jackhammering from the construction next door, but that noises like the crinkling of a plastic bag will wake her up.
Anyway. She woke up. She was kinda cranky. And then it ended up being a crazy day of taking Ellie to the vet and some unplanned stuff. Cue Annie’s afternoon nap. Also usually a great nap!
She napped for an hour. And then another hour went by.
Then, Annie had been napping for 2 hours and 15 minutes.
All the internet sleep experts will say not to let your baby nap more than two hours at a time during the day. But all the grandparents of the world (and Phoebe and Monica from Friends, who were absolutely right that time) will say “never wake a sleeping baby.”
So there I was, with a sleeping baby. And I was torn. Let her keep sleeping, since her morning nap was shorter than usual and she was clearly tired? Or wake her so she doesn’t throw the rest of her day and night totally off?
I decided to let her keep sleeping. She took a three-hour nap. At that point, I went into her room and gently started to wake her because it was time to eat. I fed her and she was happy and rested. But then she refused her third nap of the day. She was so mad about it! She didn’t want to go in her crib. Didn’t want her swing. Didn’t want to cuddle with me. Didn’t want to be in the carrier. Didn’t want to be in the stroller. Kind of wanted to be held in a blanket, but only standing up.
By the time Brian got home, everyone was cranky. And I try really hard not to do the whole “HERE, TAKE THE BABY” thing as soon as he walks in the door, but… Yeah.
And then, after two nights of pretty good sleep, Annie (and I) slept like total trash that night.
It was just one day. One nap. One night. So obviously not a big deal in the grand scheme of things.
And to counter all that: Last Friday, Annie had a “perfect” day. She finished every bottle and barely spit up all day. (She usually spits up quite a bit.) She took three perfect naps, two of which were in her crib. She was happy and loving life! By bedtime, I was so stinkin’ confident and proud of both her and myself. We had crushed it! I kept her on a little schedule and she was primed for a night of great sleep!
And then she (and I) went on to sleep zero hours that night.
I texted my mom yesterday when I was frustrated Annie wouldn’t nap. I was upset that I couldn’t figure out how to make her happy. She had a clean diaper. She wasn’t hungry yet. She was definitely bordering on over-tired, and we know how that goes. I hate hate hate hate hate when I can’t make her happy.
“No one is suffering,” my mom wrote. (Ugh, why am I crying?!) “For all the good hours you have, you will hit some rough ones. Give yourself a break. Annie likes the bath, so give her a bath and take it from there.”
So I did. I got her bath ready while I held her. I put her in the tub and she was thrilled. She loves the warm water and splashing around.
And yeah, it was a long, tossy-and-turny night for both of us. But she’s a baby. That’ll happen. I keep thinking that one good feed, one good night, one good milestone means we’re on an upswing, when I know that there will be so many steps forward and back and to the left and right along the way.
Yes, I am a perfectionist. And yes, I know that’s a horrible thing to be as a new mom! I keep wanting things to be, to feel perfect. Brian hates that word. He tried to ban it from our house once “unless I could define what I meant by perfect.” (I think it was because I was leaving one morning and asked him to please “make the bed perfectly” on his way out. OMG I am the worst.)
With all that, three months is a pretty awesome time. The first month was cool because Annie was just so teeny tiny and sleepy and snuggly, and I already miss when she was that tiny. But she was also so small and felt fragile and I was terrified of her.
Now, oh my god. Now.
She’s the best. She laughs and smiles and talks and has started rolling over. She actually looks at the books when I read to her. (The first two months, everyone kept saying to read to my baby, and I would, and it felt useless because she wouldn’t even look at the book and I was like, “Am I doing it wrong or something?”) Now, she stares at the pictures and laughs at all my silly voices. (I love a captive audience.)
Annie doesn’t feel quite so fragile anymore. She’s small, but strong. She has fuzzy hair and I call her my baby chick. She loves the bath and loves her “big girl seat” in the stroller. (We used the bassinet attachment for the first two months. Now she sits up in the stroller and loves looking around at stuff.)
A few more updates…
BY THE NUMBERS
As of last week, Annie is 9 lbs. 12 oz. (She was born 5 lbs. 10 oz.) She’s in the 1.8 percentile, and even though I often think those numbers mean nothing, it does mean she’s a bit of a peanut for her age. She’s on an upward trajectory, so the doctor isn’t concerned.
Feeding was a bit of a struggle with Annie for a little while. She was definitely a snacker. She liked to eat 1 or 1.5 ounces at a time instead of hanging out for a nice, full feeding. But we worked on that, and now she eats 5 ounces per feed. She does spit up a bit (not reflux, fortunately), which we are also working on, by going slowly, burping (which she hates!), and keeping her upright for a while during and after eating. But it still happens. (Again, the doctor isn’t concerned because she’s a “happy spitter-upper.” But I want her to keep it all down!)
As I’m sure I’ve mentioned at some point (many points), I’ve been exclusively pumping for Annie pretty much since the beginning. Over the holidays, I got several bad clogged ducts in my right boob. I was eventually able to work them out and haven’t had any since (yay! sunflower lecithin, people!), but those clogs pretty much killed and deflated my right side. Pretty much nothing comes out of it anymore. I am visibly lopsided at all times. It’s very strange.
So my Christmas gift to myself was the promise to start weaning. Pumping was killing me. I hated it. I resented it. I had an oversupply, so I have built up a substantial freezer stash, and that’s cool, but it was time consuming and was ultimately more of a stressor than anything else.
When I started pumping for Annie, I was pumping eight times a day for 25 minutes at a time. At my peak, I was producing 65 ounces of breastmilk a day. That’s a lot of milk, especially considering Annie was eating like 15 ounces a day. Hence the freezer stash. It was too much.
Now, I’m down to pumping three times a day, which is totally manageable. I still don’t like it, but soon I’ll be down to just a morning and evening pump session. And I’ll go down from there. Between The Great Clogs of 2018 and eventually going from four to three pumps a day, my output took a major hit. I’m now down to around 25 to 30 ounces a day, and it dwindles a bit more each day. (I know some people hate the breastmilk / numbers talk. Others ask about it all the time. I absolutely understand that for some, this is a sensitive topic, and so please please skip this part if it’s frustrating to read. As always, I’m just sharing my story.)
Part of me still feels a tiny bit guilty for deciding to cut back on pumping after just a few weeks or months. Women go on to exclusively pump for a year or more! But I know it wasn’t serving me well, and in turn, wasn’t serving Annie. (Stressed mom = unhappy baby!) I remind myself of that constantly. So this is where we’re at!
I hate talking about baby sleep. I think I’ve shared plenty there! But since lots of people have asked, YES, I do recommend the Taking Cara Babies newborn class! I found it super helpful. I definitely prefer watching videos over trying to read a book, so this was great for me.
We did move Annie into her crib, so that’s a transition we’re working on. I am currently sleeping on her bedroom floor. It is luxurious. Unclear why my back hurts. (I don’t bother with an air mattress. I’m literally just on the floor with a pillow.)
HOW I’M DOING
I’m OK. I know it probably seems like I’m constantly clawing my way out of the trenches. And some days that’s true! Other days I feel pretty great. It fluctuates a lot. Overall, I’m trying to take new motherhood one day at a time. I’m trying to only add positive things to my life. I’m not following the perfect Insta Moms anymore. I stopped following those women who had babies the same week as Annie and were gifted free Snoos and who have Dr. Harvey Karp on speed dial and who are constantly done and make it all look glamorous and never seem to mention whether or not they have any help. (Maybe they don’t have help! Maybe they do and it just goes unmentioned, which is totally their prerogative. I was just getting frustrated feeling like they all had it all together, and it was effortless, and they were flying solo. In lipstick and heels.)
And I’m grateful for the help I have! I may not have a free Snoo or all the other “magical” products that will make your baby sleep 12 hours by 12 weeks (oh LOL), but I have the most amazing nanny who comes a few days during the week to watch Annie while I get some work done (or bake muffins!), and while Brian was traveling, I was able to have a night nurse come stay with us. I wasn’t comfortable being alone overnight with Annie and Ellie and we don’t have family nearby, so I decided to hire a pro, and I’m so glad I did. I learned so much that week. (Though I very quickly got addicted to her and I am very interested in any sort of get-rich-quick scheme so I can bring her back and keep her with us forever!)
I think I’ll write more about this another time, so if you have questions, let me know! But basically, the best week I had was the one when I had the help of both a nanny in the morning and a night nurse helping navigate the sleep stuff with me. (And thank goodness, because Ellie was super sick that week and I ended up having to take her out every hour on the hour for what looked like puppy Crohn’s!) I know many men and women can and do do this on their own, and do it gracefully. But that’s apparently not me. I am someone who needs help right now, so I’m getting it and am grateful for it.
THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES
I want to figure everything out. Sleep, mostly. I always feel like, when presented with a problem, I should be able to find a solution. But as I keep reminding myself and the world, Annie isn’t a problem! Not sleeping perfectly (“don’t say perfect”) isn’t a problem. She’s a baby. Babies are unpredictable, allegedly! So the biggest challenge is rolling with that. And not comparing myself, my parenting, my baby to anyone or anything else.
Other challenges: I’m behind on work stuff. I kind of feel like it’s all falling apart, to be honest. It’s hard to keep up with everything. I do my best to take advantage of the morning hours when Annie is with our nanny (LUV HER), but it goes by so fast, and every day I still have this to-do list that barely got touched. I have a bunch of writing assignments on my plate and the deadlines are looming. I have gotten a little scrappy with my podcast stuff. Instead of having a bunch of episodes locked and loaded, I’m going one week at a time, because finding time to record has been challenging. And I have all these live shows on the calendar, but have fallen short when it comes to planning.
And then there’s Ellie. My sweet first baby. She’s being such a good girl, but I know the transition has been hard for her. Brian and I are doing our best, but between the bitter cold and the whole newborn thing (and, for a while, my too-rigid, self-inflicted pumping schedule), we just haven’t been able to go on as many big adventures with her, and that’s been hard for everyone. I’m hoping that as soon as it’s a little warmer out, we’ll be back to doing our beach trips and big hikes and stuff. That’ll be good for everyone.
So yeah. All normal new-parent challenges, I’m sure!
THE BEST PARTS
The smiles. The giggles. The funny words. When Annie notices Ellie and watches her.
WHEW! That was a lot. I could write about this little nine-pounder forever.
If you made it this far, wowza, congratulations! Thank you for being a part of our extended family. And also let’s talk about Fyre Festival.
Yes, I agree. Never compare yourself to anybody else. You are doing great. I had recurrent clogged ducts. The only thing is, like you, my supply dropped so much on my right side that my little girl refused to breastfeed from that side altogether. I ended up breastfeeding her for two years! With one boob, and yes, I was lopsided 😉 But things are back to normal again. https://breastfeeding-problems.com/refusing-one-breast/
I don’t comment much but have been reading your blog for a number of years. I just want to say how impressive it is that you continue to create such awesome content year after year! To be completely honest, I usually lose interest in blogs if the content changes toward motherhood and babies, which is only a fault of my own because I don’t personally relate to that as much not having kids myself. But I’ve absolutely loved your blog throughout your pregnancy and up to date. Annie is freaking ADORABLE, and you’re hilarious and open which are qualities that keep things interesting no matter what the content. I hate seeing you give yourself a hard time about your parenting decisions and struggle not to compare to yourself to others, because seriously – having a mom that cares as much as you do is already the biggest win you can get as a kid, and all of these little decisions you (seem to be) stressing over are not going to matter in 10 years (I’m pretty sure…). Also, those clogged ducts sound AWFUL. As always, thanks for being so open and honest and I hope you keep sharing! 🙂
OMG, that photo of you and Annie before shots was super cute. Annie is so expressive!
It sounds like you’re doing a good job rolling with the punches. Seriously motherhood is half Mary Poppins and half MacGyver sometimes.
Oh Ali! I admit I have been a bit out of the loop and not on social media as much in the past months, but when I read this it was like staring in the mirror with both my babes. I wanted perfection and schedules and to do it all, and that is just so the opposite of a baby’s world! You WILL get there. It will seem like you never will leave sleepless stage, but it will happen. Just don’t compare yourself with all those others who have perfectly sleeping babies at 2 weeks. (They’ve got to be lying, right?!) Take the small accomplishments and joys each day. (Yay! I drank a warm cup of coffee/tea/whatever before it got cold!) It’s so cliche to say, but it’s very true…the days are long, but the years are short. Love on yourself and give yourself a break…multiple times a day! You and Brian are Annie’s “people” and she loves you, and that’s really all that matters!
I’ve been reading your blog for many years and LOVE your podcasts, but am not sure I’ve ever commented. When I see your updates about Annie, all I keep thinking is “Girl, give yourself some GRACE!”. You are doing your best & that is enough. Annie is loved, fed, safe & healthy – anything else is icing on the cake. I’m super glad to hear you’ve unfollowed a bunch of social media that wasn’t serving you – comparison is the thief of joy!
Ditto: how DO you take a dog out at 10pm with a sleeping baby?! I usually just keep the baby up a little later and take the dog out at the last possible second (close to 7pm), come back, and put the baby down. And hope the dog can hold it until the next morning when the baby wakes up. My baby is one year. And so far so good. ? but if the dog ever has diarrhea and my husband isn’t home, it’ll be a gametime decision.
I so much look forward to your blog and posts on IG/FB. Annie (and Ellie) are so cute and those expressions are awesome! It’s great that you’re finding a groove, that you’ve asked for and received good help, and that it feels less impossible. Spoiler alert: nobody has it all together, and even when it comes together, it will still tilt and possibly fall apart sometimes. Totally unsolicited thought: maybe latching on and breastfeeding would be easier for Annie now that she’s older and bigger? Related: maybe you’ve been down that road or don’t want to or lots of other things that are none of my business 🙂 She’s clearly thriving, which is what matters.
Apartment dweller with a dog and babies…it’s the worst. But lock the door and run. Especially if you have a door man. I feel like it easier when they are little and there’s no risk of them getting out of bed to look for you.
And, you’re doing fabulously! Annie loves you and you love Annie so you’re winning.
So I have a 5.5 year old and almost 3 year old and am 18 weeks pregnant so I’m like a mom pro right?! But sleep can still be an issue for us (you just have different issues at these ages than newborn ages – but you’ll find sleep is an up and down cycle with good times and brutal times). I’m also a perfectionist and with my first I kept these INSANE meticulous notes about my daughter’s day (sleep focussed, but really included everything) looking for ANY kind of pattern so that I could duplicate the ‘good’ days/nights. So I’d nearly kill myself to replicate those good days to get a good night and it wouldn’t work. And it was not good for my mental health. There is no rhyme or reason sometimes. My husband and I took on the motto ‘just babies being babies’. So when you think you’ve done everything right and it doesn’t work out, or when you skip a nap or are late to bed and they do great, just say ‘babies being babies’. I promise she’ll get there with sleep, so try not to go crazy like I did in the meantime! 🙂
Congrats on making it through the first three months! I’m a first time mom to an almost six-month old and it has been without a doubt the hardest and best time of my life. My daughter is also a peanut–she was born 6 lb 11 oz at 41 weeks and is just barely getting into six month sizes!
Can you get a baby monitor that reaches to outside your building, or set up a camera for Annie that you can see on your phone? That might be a way to take Ellie outside for a quick pee but still know that Annie is okay.
You’re doing great! it is a life changing event to have a baby and be caring for a newborn. I also would have so much trouble with an “off” night or nap when my now 15 month old was a newborn. I felt like things were good and I knew what to expect and then it all went out the window!!
It did get easier to deal with the unexpected. It’s still happening that I get caught off guard or discouraged a little bit with an off night/day and I’m sure will happen with all the ages and stages… but the “newness” of the worry and concern and feeling like you don’t really know what you’re doing does get better!! And honestly it wasn’t until 3-4 months when I really believed that things would get better. Until then people told me it would and I thought I was going to be in the newborn phase forever!
Hi Ali, I have been reading your blog on and off for a while and I just wanted to reach out to you and let you know that I understand what you are going through and that it gets so much better!
Going from complete freedom to taking care of a newborn and an active dog, with no help from family, is incredibly challenging. I know that it looks like other women have it all together, but LOL, not true!
Annie and Ellie and you are looking great and even though I know that you feel anxious and not good enough, please let me tell you that you are doing just fine.
My child is no 7 years old and I actually miss the newborn days, which seemed unfathomable at the time 🙂 I would say the entire first year was very challenging for me, between the lack of sleep, the weight of someone else depending completely on me, figuring out who I was post baby and missing my “old” life. I love my kiddo, but man nobody has ever pushed me beyond what I can take than baby did that first year. No breaks, no set schedule, no end in sight. Days stretching on forever, knowing that morning blends into afternoon into witching hour into endless nights. There seemed to be no end in sight. I remember so clearly one day taking my 2 months old baby to the playground, in winter, and there was this beautiful women with her children (or maybe she was the nanny because no one could possibly be so effortless haha) and I cried, by myself, sitting on that cold bench holding my baby in my arms because I felt that would never, ever be me.
And yet….I love my child and have, from the very first moment. Love beyond imagination. It got so much easier after the first few months, then the first year, year 2. You get more used to it. You start to have a life outside of baby. You get an identity that is richer because of your child, and for sure being a mom is how I most identify, but it is not everything.
You will get through this. You are not drowning. Of course you get help. It takes a village, they don”t say that for nothing! And I want you to know that all. I wished I could give you a hug, beautiful stranger. Keep on keeping on!
Hi Ali, You are doing a great job. I can’t imagine how difficult and scary the first few months with a newborn are (despite the joy and happiness and all of that- I’m sure there’s that too) but the perfection thing? I totally get it. I’ve been listening to your podcast for a while now and loved the running stuff but now that I am 23 weeks pregnant with my first (a girl- yay!) I’ve been totally looking to you for allllll the info! Loved all of your weekly pregnancy posts and am also really excited when you post about your post- partum journey. And of course, your two babies are perfect (I shouldn’t use that word but they totally are). Thanks so much for continuing to write openly and honestly about the struggles and the joys. You are doing great! Seriously- you are.
Since you are soaking all the information in, I was the same! I just had my first, she’s 5 weeks. One piece of unsolicited advice (sorry!) get the Snoo. I bought it when she was 3 weeks (it was on sale 45% off, still pricey but so much cheaper.) I was so worried about SIDS that I never slept through the night. Now I sleep and she’s been sleeping 5 hours at a time since getting it. It’s the one purchase I wouldn’t go without. It goes on sale several times, watch for it!
I know many men and women can and do do this on their own, and do it gracefully. But that’s apparently not me. I am someone who needs help right now, so I’m getting it and am grateful for it. << That applies to not just baby stuff, too. Just because someone else can do something on their own and you can't doesn't make you a bad person, and getting help for whatever that may be is a smart and responsible thing to do, so good for you for doing it.
I have a 10 week old baby boy, and I agree with not following perfect instagrams anymore. I was getting nervous when other babies the same age were smiling, lifting their head, etc. before my son. Babies do things on their own time. I also truly believe babies can only tackle so many things at once. My baby just started rocking the sleep through the night thing (6-10 hours before needing a feed and another 3 hours after that) and he is VERY talkative, but he is not smiley snd he is not very good at lifting his head during tummy time- YET! He gets better everyday. And look at Annie rocking those things! She just chose different tasks to rock out at. Also, people told me there typically is a magic number when babies start sleeping better, somewhere around 11-12 pounds. My baby was 12.5 pounds and something clicked. We also had turned the heat down in our house around the same time (could not take the postpartum hot flashes anymore!) and maybe he sleeps better with the house cooler like his mamma! You’re doing a great job! I don’t have family nearby either and I know how hard that is and I think people take that for granted for sure!