I’m a big fan of sleep. BIG fan. And prior to the past two weeks, my husband and I were under the impression that our daughter did as well. LMAO. Yeah. We were the standard first-time parents, naive in our well-slept bliss. We thought, “Wow, we got really lucky! Our kid started sleeping through the night at 2 1/2 months and we feel so much better for it!”
(But then the darkness creeped in.)
Sorry for the dramatics, but for reals this phase sucks. We started noticing some crankiness a few weeks ago, and I’m already aware of the Wonder Weeks explanation of how babies go through developmental leaps at certain times and are prone to fussy/fighty/discontent behavior around then, but I shrugged it off ‘cause we’d gone through a couple “leaps” already and fared well, so I expected more of the same.
Well it turns out that this particular leap is kinda gigantic. Between three and four months is when babies start the development phase where they’ll become more fluid with their movements, connect single events together to understand processes, typically learn to roll, and—cue the title of this post—their sleep patterns become less “baby” and more “adult,” meaning instead of falling almost immediately into deep sleep, they now enter light sleep first, making it not only more difficult to fall asleep, but also to stay asleep for long periods of time, especially during the day when melatonin isn’t in effect as strongly as it is at night.
The stay asleep issue is because sleep occurs in cycles, with almost every single one ending in a brief wakeup. As adults, we’ve become so accustomed to putting ourselves back to sleep that most of us don’t even know we’ve woken, we just drift right off again. Babies, however, don’t have this skill set yet, and now that their waking is followed by light sleep instead of deep, it can be very difficult for them to fall back asleep after each cycle. For example, I learned over the past couple weeks that M’s sleep cycles are 37 minutes long. How do I know this? Because she woke up after 37 minutes over and over and over again. Once in a while, she’d wake up after 1 hr 14 minutes. Guess what that is? (Yep, making you do math right now.) You got it! Two 37-minute cycles that she managed to string together.
As for falling asleep, that’s just been a matter of trial and error. Another thing we learned is that she no longer likes to be held horizontally (like in a lying down position) or rocked in our comfy recliner, two things which used to be standard practice for bedtime. (You get screamed at in your face enough nights in a row and you figure out a different plan.) Now we hold her vertically while standing and lightly bounce or sway side-to-side. She still doesn’t fall asleep easily, but our eardrums are generally less traumatized.
But those are just naps. We haven’t even gotten to the real fun yet. Sunday night I got five hours of sleep from 10pm-6:20am. There’s a rather large gap on my sleep tracker from 12:32am-3:25am, courtesy of baby girl. And last night I got six hours from 9:40pm-7:10am. You might be thinking, “Six hours is actually okay! That doesn’t sound bad at all.” The problem is when those six hours are accumulated in hour-long or sometimes even 45-minute long increments. My “deep” sleep has been practically nonexistent. So, I’m tired af, and so is the poor hubs who has not only been dealing with all of this, but has also had to get up early and function at work every day. And believe me, we’ve tried it all…we’ve rocked, swayed, bounced, snuggled, nursed, swaddled, binkied, sung, hummed, shushed, left her to cry…we’ve exhausted our entire toolkit, usually multiple times in succession, only to be completely exhausted hours later, eyes bloodshot and hubs and I close to tears. I’ve actually developed auditory paranoia where I think every. freaking. sound. is the baby waking up. Like I legit hallucinate lips smacking and baby whines when it’s really just the fan gearing up or the cats eating. My own little mild PTSD manifesting itself, super funsies.
I know it gets better. I’ve been promised that by enough people that I have to believe it (or I’m just gonna have to unfriend a lot of big fat liars for getting my hopes up). We finally got a real crib and a sleepsuit that’ll make baby look like a cross between the StayPuft Marshmallow Man and an astronaut, so maybe those will help? Maybe? But like I said before, this phase sucks. Sucky suck suck suckedy sucks. Somehow I’ve managed to still work out almost every day, even when my body is carrying an extra 50 lbs of fatigue, because I know if I don’t I’ll be even more miserable. I can’t operate on shit sleep and stress alone, there has to be some reprieve. Some of that comes in the form of M laughing her head off at something stupid and me completely melting ‘cause she’s so damn adorable, and the rest of it comes from knowing that I’m still taking care of myself as best I can. (And a bit of it also comes from Mississippi Mud Pies and brownies that hubs brings home from our local BBQ joint.)
If you’re the juju-sending type, feel free to send some of the quality-sleepies kind our way. I’ll let ya know how the crib and spacesuit work out, and in the meantime I’ll be here, doing burpees and battling a four-month old who I’m still somehow more in love with every day.