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Week eight


You’ve made it to the two-month mark—congratulations! Keeping a tiny human safe and healthy for 2 months is no small feat.

This week, we’re talking about how you can build a bit more predictability into your baby’s day. It’s so important to remember that very few babies are ready for a by-the-clock schedule at this point; however, you can establish a little consistency by using something called “fixed points.” To use fixed points in your baby’s day, simply establish a few key points in your daily routines and make sure they happen at about the same time each day - within the same 30 minute window. You can start by getting your baby up for the day at approximately the same time; from there, you can make sure the first morning nap is happening at the same time each day, and so on. Building in several fixed points is a gentle way to move towards consistency without jeopardizing your baby’s sleep and feeding needs.

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Sleep totals for your 8 week old baby are about 14-16 hours each day, with a bit more of that sleep happening at night than during the day.

Week three

Three weeks tends to be the point at which the “newness” of parenting your newborn wears off, and you run smack into the brick wall of exhaustion.

Don’t worry—you are not alone in this. After all, a woman can only take so much fragmented sleep before she starts to fall apart! Don’t forget to ask for help, and to lean on your partner and surrounding community for help.

At this stage, your newborn is still sleeping about 14-18 total hours each day. It’s still too early to see any sort of real “schedule” emerge at this point; your baby will still be sleeping in cycles. You may, however, start to see a bit more awake time, which is great! Don’t forget to encourage tummy time each day; when placed on his or her belly, you may see your baby start to try and lift his or her head by week three.

9 months old

At this point, if your baby is not yet sleeping through the night, you may be feeling like you’re seriously going to lose your mind.

9 months is a long time to endure fragmented sleep, and even getting up just once to feed your baby at night can feel like an excruciating task by the 9-month mark!

Here’s something to keep in mind: 1 night feeding is still normal for breastfed babies at 9 months old. In fact, a small percentage of breastfed babies need to feed once per night until they’re about 12 months old. However, if your baby is still waking to feed at night, an attempt at night weaning around 9 months of age is usually a good idea. Why? Simple: by this age, some babies continue to wake and feed out of habit, and not necessarily because they need the nourishment. It’s true that some babies will naturally night wean without any nudges from mom, but others won’t. If your baby is still feeding at night, it may mean you need to offer a little night weaning help.

Signs your 9 month old may be ready to night wean include:Your baby isn’t eating as much during the day. Your baby isn’t really eating during night feedings and is treating them more as playtime or comfort time. Your baby has started solid foods and is getting plenty of daytime nourishment.

These signs together are a strong indication that you can work on night weaning your baby and encouraging sleeping through the night.

As for sleep totals: your 9 month old baby will sleep 13-14 total hours, with 11-12 of it happening at night and 2-3 hours happening during the day over 2 naps. Both of these naps should be at least an hour long. You can see a sample 9 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

Five months old

By the time your baby is 5 months old, the worst of the 4 month sleep regression has likely passed, and you can really start to work on sleep coaching, if you haven’t already.

This is usually a great window of time during which to sleep coach: your baby isn’t as mobile as he or she will be in another few months and is still young enough that sleep associations haven’t yet become deeply-rooted habits. But remember, only sleep coach if you want to - sleep coaching is by no means a mandatory thing! If you’re happy with your child’s sleeping patterns, and if they work for your family right now, then feel empowered to keep doing what you’re doing.

One issue that typically crops up around the 5-month mark is teething. If your baby is suddenly fussy and seems in pain, and if he or she is waking too early from naps or waking more than usual at night, check for bumps and redness on the gums. Teething pain is usually short-lived, but if it’s becoming very disruptive, talk to a healthcare provider about how to alleviate the discomfort.

At 5 months old, your baby will be sleeping about 14 total hours each day: 11-12 hours at night, and 2-4 hours during the day, spread out over about 4 naps. The last nap of the day is likely more of a short catnap, which is normal at this age. Night feedings are still very normal at this age, too; many babies will still need 1-2 feedings at night. You can see a sample 5 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.


Week seven

It’s still too early for a strict schedule, but you might find that your baby has some feedings and sleep sessions that are pretty consistent. If so, that’s great! If not, don’t worry; in the next few weeks, we’ll talk about ways to build predictability into your child’s schedule.

This is also the time when some parents start seeing a predictable long(ish) stretch of sleep emerge at night. If this is happening in your home, then hallelujah…enjoy it! If it isn’t, don’t fret; you’re not alone! We’ll be sharing tips in the upcoming weeks that can help you get there.

As for sleep totals, you can continue to expect 14-17 hours total each day, although you may start seeing a bit more nighttime sleep at this point.

One year old!

Welcome to toddlerhood, parents!

That’s right—your adorable baby is now officially a toddler.

Fortunately for you, this doesn’t have much of an impact on sleep at this point; your 12 month old will still sleep about 13-14 total hours each day. You’ll most likely get 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, in 2 naps. You can see a sample toddler sleep and feeding schedule here.

At the 12-month mark, we do tend to see a little mini-nap regression. This is nowhere near as disruptive as the 4 month sleep regression, or the 8-10 month sleep regression, but it does have an impact. The 12 month nap regression happens when your toddler suddenly seems ready to give up the afternoon nap, and transition to just 1 nap during the day. Many parents notice that for several weeks, their 12 month old babies refuse one of their naps altogether. However, bear in mind that 12 months is a bit too early for most babies to transition to 1 nap; it’s usually better to wait out this regression and stick to offering 2 naps until your baby is about 15-18 months old. At that point, you can transition to offering just one afternoon nap. If you wait out this little “nap strike,” you will probably find that in a week or so, your 12 month old goes back to taking 2 naps without a fuss.


Emily DeJeu is a writer with The Baby Sleep Site, a leading resource helping mamas—and their babies—get their rest.


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The 4-month sleep regression is real.

The 4-month mark is a big milestone, because it marks the first (and usually the most disruptive and challenging) sleep regression of your baby’s life.

At 4 months of age, your baby undergoes some major brain developments that impact her sleeping patterns.

She becomes more aware of the world around her.

And simply put, at 4 months, your baby starts sleeping less like a baby and more like an adult.

This usually means that a baby who may have been sleeping fairly well is suddenly waking up every 20 minutes during the day, and almost as frequently at night.

There is really no “fix” for this 4-month sleep regression; these changes to your baby’s sleeping patterns are permanent.

But don’t despair. You CAN reclaim your nights by simply teaching your baby how to fall asleep without the use of any sleep associations, like rocking or feeding to sleep.

That process is called sleep coaching.

Four months is generally the earliest you should work on sleep coaching, and it’s best to use gentle, gradual methods at this young age.

By no means do you have to try sleep coaching—it’s not for everyone.

But if sleep is a real problem in your home, then sleep coaching can be a nice option.

Sleep coaching includes methods like putting baby to bed drowsy but not asleep, picking up your baby for a bit when she cries and then putting her back down, sitting in a chair to provide a reassuring presence, or even allowing baby limited time to cry-it-out. There is no one size fits all method for babies and families, you need to contemplate and test what works best for you. (For more details about how to implement each of these methods, see a brief overview here.)

As for sleep totals, you can expect about 14 to 15 hours total each day: 11 to 12 hours at night and three to four hours during the day spread out over four or five short naps.

Some babies are able to sleep eight straight hours or more at night by 4 months, but the large majority aren’t; one to three night feedings are still considered very normal at this age.

Your baby may be ready for a more by-the-clock schedule at this age, but many aren’t, so be flexible.

You can see a sample 4-month-old sleep and feeding schedule here.

Week two

Holy growth spurt, Batman!

Sometime over the next two weeks, your baby will start to show signs of his or her first big growth spurt. And it. is. a. DOOZIE for many parents.

Plan to park yourself on the couch and do some Netflix binge-watching, because that baby of yours is going to be eating. A LOT. During this growth spurt, it will feel like your baby wants to feed constantly for 24-48 hours. You’ll no doubt get alarmed (because this need-to-feed drive is so new and unexpected), but rest assured that it is normal.

As for sleep - sleep is essentially the same this week as it was last week. Look for 14-18 total hours of sleep. Most babies are still very sleepy at two weeks of age, and while you would no doubt like to see more active-and-alert time from your baby, don’t worry; that is coming. For now, be sure that your baby is feeding every 2-3 hours, if not more (for breastfeeding babies; formula-fed babies may be able to go slightly longer between feeds). If your baby has regained his or her birthweight, then one longer stretch of sleep is okay, but don’t hesitate to wake your baby from an overly-long sleeping session in order to get the appropriate number of feedings in, especially if you are breastfeeding.

For sample newborn sleep and feeding routines (for both breastfed and formula-fed babies), click here.

7 months old

At the 7-month mark, you can expect your baby to sleep about 11-12 hours at night and 2-3 hours during the day, spread out over 3 naps.

These naps are likely becoming fairly predictable at this point, which means you can coordinate feedings around nap times. This is especially important because, by this stage, you have probably introduced solid food meals into your baby’s diet. For tips on how to coordinate feedings and naps, you can check out this sample 7 month old sleep and feeding schedule.

By 7 months of age, most babies are able to sleep 8 hours or more at night without feedings; however, your breastfed baby may still need 1 nighttime feeding, and this is perfectly fine. If your baby is still waking multiple times at night, however, it’s likely you have a sleep issue on your hands. If that nighttime waking is becoming problematic for your family, you may want to work on sleep coaching, if you haven’t already. Remember, it’s very normal for your child to wake between sleep cycles at night (even we adults do this), but if your baby is used to you putting him or her to sleep, via rocking or feeding or holding, then your child won’t be able to fall back to sleep without your help. That is the root cause of excessive nighttime waking, and that’s why some parents find it necessary to teach their babies how to fall asleep unassisted.

Week 10

Now that your baby is a little older, we can start to talk about ways to guide your little guy or little gal towards healthy sleep habits.

Keep in mind that 10 weeks old is early to do any “sleep training”; at this stage, we focus more on gentle techniques that can lay a foundation for healthy sleep as your child grows.

One gentle technique you can try is to lay your baby down drowsy but slightly awake for one or two naps during the day or at bedtime (not both). An eat-play-sleep cycle is helpful when you’re working on drowsy but awake: feed your baby, keep him or her up for a short playtime or tummy time, and then put your child down sleepy but still a little awake. At first, do this for just one or two naps - you don’t want your baby to get fussy and overtired. If it goes well, you can gradually do this more and more.

At 10 weeks old, your baby will still be sleeping about 14-16 hours total each day. Ideally, 9-10 of those hours will happen at night, with the remaining 5-6 hours divided up into naps throughout the day.

Week nine

By this point, you may be starting to wonder when (or possibly if!) your baby will sleep through the night. This is a natural question; with 2 months of sleep deprivation under your belt, it’s understandable that you’d want your sleep-filled nights back!

A few things to remember about this: the technical definition of “sleeping through the night” is 5 straight hours of sleep - so it’s possible that your baby already IS sleeping through the night! However, most moms define sleeping through the night as 8-12 hours of sustained sleep without feedings. If that is your goal, know that you will likely have to wait a few more months (at least) until you get to that point. At 9 weeks old, your baby will still need to feed several times during a 12-hour nighttime stretch. Hang in there, though….sleeping through the night WILL happen. We promise!

Speaking of sleep, you can expect sleep totals to stay at 14-16 total hours each day, with about 9 of those hours happening at night and the rest happening as naps throughout the day.

3 months old

Your baby is getting so big these days!

On average, your 3 month old baby will likely sleep 14-15 total hours day day: 10-11 hours at night, and 3-4 hours during the day. You may also notice that your baby’s sleep is starting to organize itself a little better; you may be getting one nice, long stretch of sleep at night, and you may find that your baby’s daytime sleep is sorting itself into a series of semi-predictable naps. If that’s happening in your home, congratulations! If it’s not, don’t worry - some babies take a bit longer to consolidate their sleep. Hang in there!

By the time your baby is 3 months old, you can (if you choose) continue your work on building healthy sleep habits by trying to lay your baby down drowsy but awake much of the time. You can also encourage longer stretches of sleep at night by offering plenty of daytime feedings. Just be careful not to keep your baby awake too much during the day; it may seem counterintuitive, but this can make your baby overly tired which will actually lead to less sleep at night, not more.

To see a sample 3 month old sleep and feeding schedule, click here.

Week 11

If you’ve been working on healthy sleep routines for your baby, then you’re going to like this week’s news! 

By the 11-week mark, you baby is ready for a more predictable bedtime and bedtime routine. The actual timing of bedtime should be flexible, but in general, it should fall somewhere between 8 and 10 p.m. Having an official bedtime is the first step in differentiating nighttime sleep and daytime sleep, which will become important as your baby grows.

Along with carving out a bedtime, you’ll want to start implementing a bedtime routine. Your routine should be relatively short (most young babies get overtired if the bedtime routine is too long), and it should consist of a few relaxing, sleepy activities, like singing a lullaby and reading a simple bedtime story. You may want to skip an evening bath as part of your routine; while some babies find baths soothing, others tend to get riled up during baths, which is counterproductive at bedtime.

At 11 weeks old, your baby will still be sleeping about 14-16 hours total each day - about 10 hours at night, and 4-6 hours during the day.

Week four

The name of the game this week is day-night confusion.

This term is just what it sounds like - newborns who struggle with day-night confusion have their days and nights reversed, and are sleeping all day and feeding all night. While some day-night reversal is understandable in the first week or two after birth, by the four week mark, it can feel downright excruciating!

Fortunately, this problem is fixable. You can start by feeding your baby regularly during the day, and feeding in a brightly-lit room. You may even want to have your child nap during the day in a sunny room. Exposing your newborn to sunlight during the day will go far to help reset your baby’s inner clock. After daytime feedings, keep your baby up for a few minutes: do a diaper change, read a book, have some tummy time, etc. Conversely, keep nighttime feedings dark and quiet, and put your baby right back to bed after you feed. Do this for a week, and you should start to see improvement.

Sleep totals at the 4-week mark should remain around 14-17 total hours each day, and at this stage, sleep continues to be more cyclical than scheduled. Ideally, once you sort out day-night confusion, sleep totals will be pretty evenly split between day and night.

8 months old

Get ready, mama - another sleep regression is on its way! You may still be feeling scarred from the 4 month regression, but don’t worry: while the 8-10 month regression is tough, it’s not permanent. Within a few weeks, all should be back to normal.

So what is the 8-10 month regression? Well, at some point between 8 months and 10 months of age, your baby will go through a significant developmental leap - his or her mobility will just explode! But while this newfound mobility is exciting, developmental leaps like this wreak havoc on sleep. You’ll likely find that your baby suddenly reverts to taking short naps and to waking more than usual at night. Separation anxiety is also a part of this sleep regression; your baby may suddenly seem super clingy and wail loudly every time you leave the room, making naps and bedtime a nightmare.

Fortunately, the worst of this regression should be over in a few weeks. While the regression is happening, do your best to offer plenty of comfort to your baby without creating any new sleep habits you’ll have to undo later.

You can expect your 8 month old to sleep about 14 total hours each day: 11-12 hours at night and 3 hours during the day, spread out over 2-3 naps. If your 8 month old takes 2 naps, each should be at least an hour long; if your baby still needs a 3rd nap, it will no doubt be a short (30 minutes or so) catnap in the later afternoon. You can see a sample 8 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

Week six

The 6-week mark is full of good things - by now, your baby may be starting to smile and make more eye contact!

But there is also a challenge at this point: 6 weeks brings a peak of fussiness. Around 6 weeks, newborns are outgrowing their “sleepy” state and begin to perk up and notice the world. And while this is a good thing, it can also be overwhelming and can cause noticeable—and uncharacteristic—fussiness.

Even worse, this peak of fussiness can also overlap with the growth spurt that happens between 4 and 6 weeks, which can make the crying even worse. The good news is that this “peak of fussiness” is relatively short-lived, and things should return to normal within a few days to a week.

Sleep totals are 14-17 hours total for the day, with sleep still happening in eating-sleeping cycles, rather than in clearly-defined naps and night sleep.

Sleep may actually feel like it’s falling apart around the 6-week mark, due to the peak of fussiness; know that this is normal, and that once you’re over this developmental hurdle, sleep will likely improve.

Week five

It’s that time again—time to be on the lookout for another growth spurt!

At some point between about 4.5 and 6 weeks old, your newborn will have another big burst of growth, so again, be prepared to camp out in a comfy spot and feed your baby for what feels like forever. Be prepared also for an extra-sleepy baby….even if your baby was beginning to seem a bit more awake and alert before this growth spurt, he or she will probably seem extra sleepy again for a day or two.

Sleep totals are still hovering around 14-17 hours per day, with sleep happening in cycles. However, by the 5-week mark, you may begin seeing a longer stretch of sleep emerge (hopefully at night!), especially if your baby is formula-fed all or part of the time.

Having a baby is a wonderful blur of sleepless nights and smooch-filled days. We’ve got your expert guide to helping baby (and mama) get their ZZzzs during those long days and nights. You’ve got this, mama. ?

Week one

You’ve probably heard this about a million times by now, but let us say it again—congratulations on your new baby!

By now, you are likely home from the hospital and still reveling in your soft, snuggly, darling wee babe.

Your baby’s sleep, however, may be less darling. As you’ve probably begun to notice, your newborn’s sleep is nothing at all like yours. Newborn babies tend to sleep in short cycles, waking frequently to feed and then drifting off to sleep again. This is absolutely normal. In fact, your 1-week old baby needs to feed often in order to gain weight and grow properly. Remember, your newborn will ideally get back to his or her birthweight by the 1-week mark, so it’s important to feed around the clock at this stage.

At 1 week old, your baby will sleep about 14-18 hours a day, on average. At this age, sleep isn’t really divided up into “naps” during the day; instead, think of your baby’s sleep in terms of patterned cycles.

It’s normal at this age for some cycles to be short (30-45 minutes of sleep, then a feeding, then 30 minutes of sleep, etc.).

At this point, don’t worry too much about how your baby is sleeping—your goal in week one should be to get acquainted with your newborn, to figure out the basics of infant care, and (most importantly) to enjoy your precious baby!

11 months old

At 11 months old, your baby will sleep about 13-14 hours each day.

You can expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, spread out over 2 naps. You may find that your baby’s appetite for solid foods is increasing these days; this is normal (most likely because your child is moving around a whole lot more these days!).

You can compensate for this increase in appetite by offering several healthy snacks throughout the day. Timing up these snacks around your child’s usual mealtimes can really help ensure that naps stay nice and long, and that your baby doesn’t wake up hungry in the middle of the night.

Learn more by checking out this sample 11 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

6 months old

By the time your baby is 6 months old, sleep will most likely have consolidated into 3-4 distinct naps, with each nap being about 1 hour long and any 3rd or 4th nap being about 30 minutes long. By this age, the majority of your baby’s sleep should be happening at night (11-12 hours).

If your child is still struggling with short naps at this age, it’s likely you need to work on teaching your baby how to fall asleep independently, without any sleep associations like rocking or feeding. Short naps at this age usually happen when a baby wakes briefly between sleep cycles during the nap (something that is very normal and developmentally-appropriate) but then is unable to fall back to sleep without your help. If you notice your baby always wakes 20-30 minutes after falling asleep at nap time, this is likely the problem. Correcting this short nap issue can go a long way towards helping your baby naturally adopt a predictable, clock-based schedule. You can see a sample 6 month old sleep and feeding schedule here.

As for nighttime waking, keep in mind that while some babies are sleeping through the night by 6 months, others aren’t, and that’s okay. Formula-fed babies are usually sleeping 8 hours or more at night by this point, but breastfed babies may continue to need 1-2 nighttime feedings.

10 months old

Good news: if you haven’t yet worked on sleep coaching your baby, and if short naps and nighttime waking are still a problem, this is another ideal time to work on healthy sleep habits.

By now, the 8-10 month regression is likely over (thankfully!). And while you may have felt reluctant to work on sleeping habits earlier, when your baby was young, by this point, you can trust that your baby is more than ready, developmentally, to sleep through the night (possibly with 1 feeding) and take long, restorative naps. Again, by no means do you have to sleep coach; if your child’s night waking and shortened naps aren’t really a problem for you, or for your baby, then no worries - keep doing what you’re doing! But if sleep deprivation is taking a toll on your family’s health and happiness, then sleep coaching can help resolve that issue.

At 10 months old, your baby will sleep 13-14 total hours, most likely. You can expect 10-12 hours of sleep at night, and 2-2.5 hours during the day, spread out over 2 naps. You can see a sample 10 month sleep and feeding schedule here.

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We've all been there. You first hear those cries that don't sound like any other cries and immediately know what's happening. It's like our mama hearts know when our little ones need us the most. Having little ones feeling under the weather is hard. They can't tell you exactly how they feel. You can't explain to them that they'll feel better soon, and all there is for everyone to do is to take it easy and stay cuddled inside until you can get them to the doctor.

The issue, by this point, is that my son is old enough to know what's coming when we open the medicine cabinet, so giving him something for his throat ends up being like a wrestling match without the fun and giggles. My son especially likes spitting out anything as a way to protest how he's generally feeling, so we both end up covered in sticky syrup feeling defeated. Because, seriously, who thought that using a syringe or pipette to squirt out gooey liquid down an unwilling toddler's mouth was a good idea? (Probably not a parent.)

That's why when I found out there was an easier and more fun way to make these dreaded sick days better, I was all about it.

Enter: Lolleez.

Lolleez are organic throat soothing pops for kids—and adults!—that are made with organic ingredients that you can pronounce and understand like honey and natural fruit pectin. Plus, they're non-GMO as well as gluten, dairy and nut-free i.e. worry-free for all kinds of kiddos. The pops help soothe sore throats while acting like a treat for when kids are feeling under the weather. I also appreciate that the pops are actually flat and on a stick, as opposed to a lozenge or round ball lollipop. They were also created by a mom, which makes me feel a million times more confident about them since I know she knows exactly how hard sick days with a little one can be.

loleez

When I introduced my son to Lolleez pops, everything changed. Suddenly the battle to get him to take something to feel better wasn't... well, a battle. In the few times he's been sick since, he's been more than happy to pop a Lolleez, and I've been more than grateful that soothing him is now as easy as peeling open a wrapper. And, since they come in watermelon, strawberry and orange mango—strawberry is the favorite in this household—he never gets bored of getting a soothing lolly.

Also, they're easy to find—you can get them at stores like Target, CVS and online so I never worry that I'll be caught without in a pinch. After the sick days have run their course and my son starts feeling better, there's nothing like seeing that glow in his eyes come back and have him greet me with a big smile when I come into his room in the morning, ready for the day.

While our littles not feeling well is inevitable, as a mama, I'll do anything to make my child feel better, and I'm so thankful for products that make it just a little easier for the both of us. So here's to enjoying the snuggles that come with sick days, while also looking forward to the giggles that come after them.

This article was sponsored by Lolleez. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and Mamas.

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I tried to numb the stress and emotions of being a new mom with weed and booze. I didn't know how to face it all. I had so much grief, rage and regret stuffed down, so much heaviness, guilt and shame I was lugging around.

I would live my days looking forward to when I could drink or smoke to take the edge off, to finally relax, get rid of the anxiety, find fun in the endless playing with baby toys and get through the fits of crying and sleepless nights.

What I didn't realize until it was almost too late was that all that self-medicating with my substance addictions was actually making my issues worse.

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Even though the tequila or wine or gin would take the edge off at the moment, it led to more depression.

Even though the marijuana in the middle of the day would take the intensity of my anxiety down a few notches, it led to more anxiety because it suppressed my real emotions.

And all of it made me more exhausted than I already was from the sleep-deprived reality of early motherhood. After a few months, I found myself in a deeply engrained cycle of weed, alcohol and coffee to keep it all going which led to severe depression, anxiety and panic attacks.

Eventually, it all broke down.

The panic attacks got too frequent and extreme. My self-loathing soared to unbearable, suicidal levels. The alcohol and marijuana no longer did much to suppress anything. The can of worms was open and either I had to face it, get some help and get sober, or lose my mind or life.

It didn't get better overnight. I stopped and started again a few times before I found my way to true sobriety. It was a process.

I found a great therapist that helped me understand my cycle of suppressing feelings with substances and helped me to look underneath the addiction, anxiety and depression to understand what I was actually feeling. I found anger, rage, grief, trauma, shame, resentment, sadness and so much more. I had to actually look at, allow and feel the feelings in order to get through the need to cover them up with addictions.

I also learned mindfulness meditation, which was one of my biggest saviors. I learned how to be with all the anxiety—the tracking, planning, scheduling, worries, endless lists, to-dos and thought loops that come with being a parent. Almost everything I was trying to do with alcohol and pot, meditation did better and without side effects. Then I started going to recovery meetings and quit for real.

Parenting got so much better after I got sober. Not right away though. At first, I hit a serious period of boredom. Life with a baby without alcohol or marijuana seemed so bland to me. The stark reality of the mundane was hard. But over time I learned to find enjoyment without any substances.

There's no more cracking open a bottle of wine, sipping it to relax while I cook dinner. There's no more stepping away to slyly hit my vape pen, returning with bleary eyes and a goofy smile. There's just me, my daughter, my husband and more of myself—breathing, playing, bathing, laughing, dancing, singing, going to bed, waking up early and doing it all again.

Now that I'm sober, I don't have any panic attacks at all. I am way less anxious in general, and when I do feel anxiety I know how to work with it. Depression is almost non-existent, and even though I still feel tired often, I am not utterly exhausted. It's manageable, and I know how to recharge myself.

I'm a better mom now, too. I am more present, patient and kind. I am able to process my emotions faster. I am in a better mood more often. I have more energy. I enjoy our time together and show my love for her more. I am more responsible and available.

I'm not trying to escape anymore. I'm here.

One of my favorite things to do now as the sun sets and I cook dinner is to crack open an audiobook and savor that sweet time in the kitchen. My husband often bathes my daughter and gets her ready for bed and I have that time to myself, listening to something interesting, enjoying the smells and textures of the food, the rhythm of the chopping and my own breath.

I don't need alcohol or drugs to endure parenthood, to get through it, to cope with it, to escape from it. This is my life, after all, and it will be for a very long time.

Instead of using some external things to change how I feel about it, I let myself actually feel my feelings about it. I talk about it. I write about it. I dance about it. I sing about it. I work on it in therapy. I communicate authentically with my husband and other mothers.

Learning how to truly relax and deal with my emotions instead of faking it with wine or weed was the most important thing I ever did for myself as a human and parent. I no longer have to make myself go numb to make it through the days. I get to give my daughter my full attention, love and a childhood she truly deserves—one with a genuinely present, calm and sober mother.

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Life

The news cycle moves so quickly that the good news stories can speed through your feed quicker than you can see them. Yes, stories like Meghan Markle admitting that she's not okay or the Johnson's baby powder recall are important, but so are the good or funny stories happening to non-royal women every day.

It's important to keep up with the news, but it's also important to smile when we can. Luckily we track the best viral stories for you every week.

Here are the viral stories that made us smile:

Identical twin nurses go viral after they delivered identical twin babies together

Identical twins Tori Howard and Tara Drinkard both work at Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center in Georgia— Drinkard in the labor and delivery unit, Howard in the neonatal intensive care unit. They hadn't worked together on a delivery, but they knew it would happen eventually. They just probably didn't predict that the first time they'd team up would be to deliver another set of identical twin girls.

Brannan and Rebecca Williams couldn't believe they had another set of identical twins in the room when they welcomed their daughters on September 25.

"We found out 10 minutes before Rebecca was wheeled into the OR for an emergency C-section," Brannan Williams told Today Parents. "I couldn't believe it. What are the chances? It's crazy."

The elder set of twins was just as surprised at this turn of events. "We knew we'd cross paths in the delivery room eventually," Howard writes to Today Parents. "But we never imagined that our first experience would be with twins girls!"

As a mother of twins, I know how overwhelming it can be to welcome two babies on the same day, but Brannan and Rebecca definitely had an advantage thanks to their experience with Tori and Tara. Brannan and Rebecca's daughters, Emma and Addison, were born at 32 weeks and spent three weeks in the NICU, so the parents presumably spent a bit of time with the nurses. They plan to keep in touch as well.

"They have given us so much good advice," the parents tell Today Parents. "The biggest thing they told us is to remember that the girls are individuals and even though they look alike, that doesn't make them the same person."

This viral #boymom is finally a #girlmom after 11 births 

Have you ever noticed how some families seem to produce way more of one sex than the other? Well, you've probably never seen anything quite like this. Alexis Brett, a mama from London, had 10 (yes, 10!) boys in a row. How crazy is that? But the streak was recently broken—Brett just welcomed her first daughter.

According to The Daily Mail, Brett and her husband welcomed their first son when she was 22 years old. Over the next 15 years, the mama gave birth to nine more sons, making them the first known British couple to have 10 sons in a row.

Brett just gave birth to her 11th child on August 2...and to her astonishment, it was a little girl.

"We're over the moon. I'd been expecting to hear we were having another boy but when I found out it was a girl, my face was a picture. I was shocked but delighted. Now she's here with us, it's a fantastic feeling," the mother tells The Daily Mail. "Curiosity did get the better of us [and we decided to learn the baby's sex before the birth]. When the results came in the post, [our son] opened the envelope because I was too nervous. When we realised it was a girl, we were amazed. It sounds silly because it's a 50:50 chance, but we were surprised anyway."

Brett named her daughter Cameron after actress Cameron Diaz. Cameron joins siblings Campbell, 17, Harrison, 16, Corey, 14, Lachlan, 11, Brodie, nine, Brahn, eight, Hunter, six, Mack, five, Blake, three, and Rothagaidh, two.

It appears the couple's first daughter will be their last child.

"No more! I remember saying that last time, but this time I absolutely mean it. I love my family as it is now...We've been asked a lot whether we've had so many children because we were hoping for that elusive girl. But I can honestly answer no. Cameron wasn't planned, but I was happy all the same, and if another boy had been on the way it wouldn't have bothered me," says Brett. "I'm an only child myself and I'd never planned to have a large family, but now that I do, I love it. I always joked I wouldn't have a clue what to do with a girl anyway but that's all changed now, of course, and I have to admit that we're having a lot of fun buying pink things for the first time."

This mama's viral 'ghost story' is too 😆

It's not Halloween yet but mom Maritza Elizabeth is going viral for her own hilarious ghost story.

She posted a spooky photo of her baby monitor on Facebook. It shows one of her kids in their crib and through the black and white of the baby monitor, it clearly looks like there is another baby in their crib with her son. It would be startling to any parent, especially in October.

"So last night I was positive there was a ghost baby in the bed with my son," she captioned her pic, which has now been shared more than 300,000 times.

"I was so freaked out, I barely slept. I even tried creeping in there with a flashlight while my son was sleeping. Well, this morning I go to investigate a bit further. It turns out my husband just forgot to put the mattress protector on when he changed the sheets 😂😂 I could kill him."

We're so glad Maritza solved the mystery of the ghost baby (without waking up her sleeping son).

This mama gave birth during a tornado and her story is going viral 

As a tornado hit Rowlett, Texas a group of women took shelter in a laundry room. As sirens wailed outside, and by candlelight, a mother delivered her baby.

The Bump Birthing Center shared this story to its Facebook page, captioning a photo of the mother and baby: "Baby girl born in our laundry room with the tornado sirens going off, a tornado on the ground half a mile away, and no electricity.....by candle light!! Welcome to the world beauty!"

The chief midwife and owner of The Bump Birthing Center, Kasie McElhaney, told the New York Daily News: "She had just started pushing when the power went out and the sirens went off, and we had to shuffle to the laundry room.

"It's the only room in the center that has no windows, and it's centrally located. So that's where we went. One wall is brick—it's probably not even big enough for a twin-sized bed. But we made it work."

They made it work and now the photographic evidence is making the rounds on the internet, with many commenters suggesting weather-related names for this baby girl. Her parents (who are protecting their own privacy as well as her own) are not releasing their last name or their baby girl's first. But they will say it isn't Stormy.

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News

It was never my goal to be a mama and a wife. As a teenager, I was completely fine with my decision not to have children. When someone would ask me how many children I wanted, my response would always be none. In my 20's, I traveled the world and focused on building my career. A family of my own was far from my mind. And I was okay with that. Then I hit 30 and something inside me changed.

I'm not sure what exactly changed. Or why it changed. But I started to long for a family of my own.

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Then as if my heart's desire had been answered I met him. We fell in love. And within a few years, I was married to this incredible man. Then we received the best news we could have hoped for. I was pregnant—with a baby boy. The family I had longed for was right here in front of me. I had become this child's mama.

Just like that my whole life's focus changed.

My mind wasn't on my career progression or where in the world I was going to explore next. It was focused on this little human. This little human, who was safely cradled in my arms. This little human who now relied on me to provide him with care, with comfort, with love.

I became defined by my motherhood. And that was okay.

Now I won't lie, as my son grew and we welcomed our second child to our family, there were moments of exhaustion. Moments of frustration. Moments of tears. Moments where I desperately needed some me time.

But here is the truth. Yes, right now I am defined by motherhood. And that's okay. I spent many years longing to be here at this moment. To have my family. To be my children's mama.

I know this is a finite period in my life. So I am choosing to embrace it. I am choosing to find joy in my motherhood journey.

I know my children need me now in a way they won't ever again. And I don't want to miss out on all the beautiful moments right here in front of me.

You see, one day they won't need me to rock them in my arms or lay with them every night till they fall asleep.

One day they won't need me to pick them up and carry them everywhere. In fact, one day they will be too big for me to do that even if I wanted to.

One day they won't need to help them get dressed and put on their shoes.

One day they won't ask me to sing them that song for the 10th time.

One day they won't need me to do all the things for them as they do now.

You see, right now my children are only little. Right now they need me. Right now they choose me.

I am their safe place. I am their comfort. I am honored to be the one that they turn to. I am honored to be the one they call home.

That is why, first and foremost, I am defined by my motherhood. And that is more than okay with me.

This article was previously published here.

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Life

Your to-do list is kind of under control. The kitchen is mostly clean. You just finished that big work project and to celebrate, you scheduled a lunch out with the girls tomorrow while your little one is at school. As you rest your head on the pillow you think to yourself, “Okay! I might actually sorta-kinda have this whole thing under control!"

And then you hear it from down the hallway: cough cough.

Your eyes shoot open. No. It's fine, just a little tickle in her throat. She's fine.

Cough cough cough.

Nope, it's fine. If I lay here and don't move nothing will be...

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“MOOOOOOMMMMMMYYYYYYYYY I don't feeeeeeel goooooooood."

Sigh.

You break out the humidifier, the Tylenol and the snuggles. And then comes the inevitable question—can they go to school tomorrow? It's not an easy question to answer, for sure.

On the one hand, kids are basically walking booger factories at all times—if we kept them home for every sneeze and cough they'd never go to school. On the other hand, we don't want to put our kids in a situation where they could get sicker—or make other kids sick.

When in doubt, you should always give your pediatrician a call for guidance. Most schools have policies on it as well.

But as a general rule of thumb, here's what to know when your child isn't feeling well:

On fevers

The most clear cut of all symptoms are fevers—if they have a fever, they stay home. A fever is any temperature of 100.4 Fahrenheit or greater. A child needs to be fever-free for a full 24-hours before they can return to school.

Note: If your newborn has a fever she needs medical attention right away. It could be an emergency.

On stuffy noses and coughs

A mildly stuffy nose, or an occasional cough isn't enough to warrant a day off from school. But if the mucus is really thick and/or the cough is frequent, loud, or just sounds “gross," it's probably best to keep her home.

Coughs can linger for a long time in children, but if it persists for several days, or she has a fever with it, give your doctor a call. If the cough sounds like a seal barking, and certainly if she is having any trouble breathing, get medical attention right away.

On tummy troubles

Or as my daughter's preschool teacher called it, “intestinal mischief." If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, they should stay home (and should stay home for 24 hours after the last incident). Make sure everyone at home washes their hands really well, as stomach bugs tend to be very contagious.

Remember to encourage your child to drink lots of fluids. If they aren't drinking, call your doctor right away.

On skin issues

This can be tricky—between marker explosions, dry skin and rashes, it seems like my kids' skin looks different every day. Rashes are almost impossible to diagnose over the phone, so if you are concerned, they'll need to be evaluated by their doctor to help determine the cause (and contagiousness) of the rash.

If you suspect your child has lice, they should stay home as well—and you'll probably have to give the school a call so they can ANONYMOUSLY alert the other parents.

Along the same lines is the dreaded conjunctivitis, or pink eye. Usually your child (or lucky you) will wake up with their eyelids crusted shut, or they'll have a very pink eye with lots of goop (sorry—but we're all moms here, we can handle the eye goop convo right?)

This is highly contagious, so they should for sure stay home from school. Depending on if it's viral or bacterial, you doctor may prescribe medicine that clears it up quickly.

On pain

This one is tough—kids often complain about various boo-boos, especially when it means that they get a Frozen Bandaid out of the deal. If they complain of pain persistently, if the pain prevents them from playing, and of course if you witness a bad injury, keep them home and get medical help right away.

Remember that you know your child best. Ultimately, you get to make the decision. Your pediatrician will be there to guide you, and one day, ONE DAY, you really will get that whole to-do list tackled... we think?

You've got this.

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