First off I want to make a disclaimer: I’m not an expert on babies. Not my own and certainly not yours. I’m not a Pediatrician, Maternity Nurse, or “Baby Whisperer”. I’m just a new Mom in the thick of the special little hell known as the 4 month sleep regression, figuring out how to survive this s#!t show.
You may have already picked up from my tone that I’m not very chipper these days. I’m doing my best to keep it together and still enjoy the good moments when they happen, but I’m tired. So. Very. Tired. And after three loooong weeks of crappy sleeping, I’ve come to realize the two things that will help me survive this: patience and caffeine.
Yes siree, patience and caffeine. You’ve probably heard the saying that the reward of patience is patience? Well I think the reward is also that you don’t yell at your spouse, lock yourself in the bathroom to cry (but by all means please do that if you need to!) or worse yet, shake your baby out of frustration.
Any form of caffeine will do. I prefer almond milk lattes that I make at home, and fair trade dark chocolate. When my baby was newborn I was worried about the caffeine negatively affecting him. After the nurse at the breastfeeding clinic assured me that wasn’t the case, I haven’t had a second thought. This is survival, folks. That one latte somehow makes the rest of the day more bearable.
I’ve scoured the internet for advice and assistance on helping my baby sleep and I’ve concluded that:
1. Experts tell you that you should put your baby down drowsy but not sleeping but don’t actually tell you how to accomplish this feat,
2. I’m failing miserably at ensuring my baby is getting enough sleep (no matter how hard I try, some days he really only wants one 10 minute nap in the morning and 30 minutes in the afternoon),
3. Reading anything, especially information on baby sleep, on my iPhone during a night feeding only stimulates my mind more and inhibits my ability to get back to sleep quickly (bad idea!), and
4. A lot of Mommy bloggers, even the ones who are professional authors, have atrocious spelling and grammatical errors on their site. Sometimes I want to post a comment and correct the mistakes, but then I remember it’s 3:30 a.m., and I’m to tired too care about there speling problems. :-p
It’s important to put ourselves in our baby’s little booties and try to understand things from their perspective. Huge developmental growth is happening at this stage and it’s gotta be a bit overwhelming for them. In the last three weeks alone, my little guy has mastered precision grasping, rolling over from tummy to back, and two new vowel sounds! We can’t project mature emotions and motives on them yet- it’s not like they are waking up deliberately to piss us off.
Of course the other thing that gets me through is knowing that this sleep regression stage won’t last forever. After all, the mantra of new Motherhood is “This too shall pass”. Sounds too eff-ing Zen for me when I’m up lying on the living room carpet with a baby who decided not to go back to sleep after his third feeding at 5 a.m., but I still try to remember it.
Eventually he’ll get back to being a great sleeper with one or two night feedings. Right? Better yet, one day he’ll be a kid who sleeps through the night! Heck, years down the road he’ll be a teenager who won’t let me into his bedroom any more, and I’ll fondly reminisce of these “in arms” days.
But for now, patience and caffeine. For all you veteran parents, how did you survive?
(If you want to read a great article on the 4-month sleep regression from a certified baby expert, check out “Help – My 4 month old is sleeping like a newborn again!”)