Stop The Clock


I’m not sure I could have found more fitting thoughts for my 100th post. (because it’s all about numbers in the end..)

Motherhood, for me at least, can boil down to something a simple as a number or two. Or twenty.

In the first few postpartum months I developed some OCD-like habits. I had read about postpartum anxiety and depression, so I figured a little postpartum OCD wasn’t too far out of the norm.

My top habit was the tendency to count when things got stressful.

EZ wouldn’t go to sleep? I’d strap him in a baby carrier and go for a walk outside, or around the kitchen when the weather was bad, and begin to count.

100, 99, 98, 97, 96, 95, 94, 93, 92, 91…

I’d start with a whisper, then slowly continue to count down in my head until he fell asleep. The rhythmic counting was soothing for both of us.

As an newborn, I would place him on the couch next to me while he napped and I would sit, entranced, as I counted his breaths, watching the steady rise and fall of his chest.


At night, I would count the amount of times he woke up, and then would count down in between them until I fell back asleep.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…

Right from the start I counted as he nursed. I still remember my doula instructing me to count to make sure that he was taking enough sips. Was I feeding him enough? Did he get enough milk? Was he growing? Was he satisfied? These thoughts would squirm around in my brain as I counted.

25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30… sips

I came to rely on my various countdowns, ticking off numbers in my head like it was second nature.

While my counting seemed to evolve around stressful situations, they soon began to bleed into other areas and I had (what I would consider) good countdowns as well.




As EZ grew and changed, I found that my countdowns changed with him. Now I find that my countdowns have more to do with increments of time.

“10 minutes until dinner’s ready!”

“5 more minutes of TV then it’s getting shut off!”

“We’re leaving in 2 minutes, get ready!”

EZ seems keen on this type of countdown as well.

“1 more minute? pleeeeeeeeeeease?”

Gone are the days where I would walk around, counting down almost 500 times over to get EZ to sleep. No longer do I worry about how many sips of my milk he needs in order to keep growing, as he is more than capable of inhaling 3 course meals. I now only count his breaths when he has the rare illness, sleeping in my arms and flushed with fever.

I don’t want to know how many seconds tick by when we’re hanging out on the couch, all snuggled up and reading together. Sometimes I even keep him up a minute or two later when it’s bedtime so we can chat a bit longer about our days.

The time seems to move too quickly for my liking now, so I’m do my best to actively stop focusing on it when the urge arises. While I know that I can’t always stop the clock, I can do my best to ignore it for the time being, seeing as it will only speed up with each passing year.


6 thoughts on “Stop The Clock

  1. aw, thanks Sarah! I definitely think it’s helpful to know I’m not alone in these thoughts. Sarah Manley (aka Nerdyapplebottom) over on Google+ (yes! i go all out with the social media buzz, ha!) shared her own counting story that resonated with me, and again, made me feel that we’re all in this together…

  2. When O was born I found myself counting constantly as a way to manage my frustrations and anxiety. Especially when sleep time was at hand. I must have counted to a hundred a dozen times over some nights. But recently I’ve been able to find some zen in it, and recognize that these moment are fleeting, and wishing them away is fruitless. I still do it, but now I feel like it’s more to keep track of time, so I don’t spend an hour awake in a rocking chair, than it is to help me through a frustrating moment.

  3. Anne-Marie – you might not count anymore than delicious fingers and toes…or you might find more things to count – but at least you’ll know you’re in excellent company 😉

    TMae – it’s definitely interesting to see how our own coping skills evolve as our kids do. It’s so amazing to me to hear of more moms who have done similar things, and I wonder why things like this aren’t talked about more often?

  4. I am a counter by nature too. I count my steps while I walk, I count stairs, I count candy, etc, etc. I am glad that I am not counting too many things with the girls though. I am learning to just appreciate each moment as they come. 🙂

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