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.