If there’s one thing I’d like today, it’s sleep! I think that as a new parent, you hear a lot of things like “Uh oh, you’re not going to get a lot of sleep!” but I don’t think you actually know what it means until you really experience it yourself.
Jacob was born at 8.00am – I laboured overnight and was a little bit tired by that morning, though I didn’t really feel it due to the euphoria and adrenaline of finally meeting my little baby. I remember the nurses asking me to sleep as they put him into the little crib beside me – and I couldn’t sleep! All I could think about was him (and all I was doing was taking photos of him!). I was told that he and I were fine and that I had the option to go home in the evening if I wanted to. Feeling a bit gung ho and like I was on top of the world, we agreed to be discharged at 6.00pm.
Oh my goodness, was I crazy? That night, Dan and I were taking turns cuddling our beautiful newborn baby who was just shrieking his head off all the way from midnight to about 6.30am. And that’s where I learned the meaning of “You’re going to lose some sleep.” It was only a few days later that we realised what would soothe him – this baby was a dummy-sucking baby! But anyway, on began our journey of interrupted sleep.
With this new “dummy” of his, Jacob was quite easily pacified. He did cry quite a bit (as babies often do) but we were able to get him into a 3-4 hourly routine (feed, sleep, wake up 3-4 hours later and repeat). And then he started sleeping 6-7 hour stints in the night (11pm to 5am/6am) which was quite a relief. And I thought, oh wow – have I actually got a baby that sleeps through?
I think another thing that new parents are not really told are the specifics of lost sleep – when it happens, why it happens and what on earth we have to do about it. Yes, I know I was supposed to do my homework before the baby was born, but nobody told me about things like wonder weeks, growth spurts, sleep regressions, etc. And so many times, people tell you that babies don’t go by the book (but I believe this is one area where they do go by the book, or at least it appears to be the case).
So, before anyone like me gets the impression that their child is a sleep guru, I just wanted to share some resources about these difficult periods of time. I’m not saying that your child will not be a good sleeper – I seriously hope and pray that he or she is, but it’s always good to know what to expect in case he or she isn’t.
Firstly, wonder weeks – at first I thought this was a good thing (and in a way, it is) like he’d become a wonder baby and suddenly learn how to change his own nappies or something. Wonder weeks are actually weeks of rapid mental development, where they make huge discoveries such as understanding cause and effect, recognising faces, mobility, etc. I know that I’ve looked at a number of resources, but this one from Essential Baby is quite a good one in explaining when and what happens in each wonder week phase.
Jacob is now about 39 weeks so he’s not really in a wonder week phase at the moment, but perhaps there are other things to explain his sleeping issues. When I say issues, I just mean interrupted sleep patterns at night. This time last week, he used to go to bed around 8.30pm and wake up around 3am for a feed, and then be fresh and happy the next morning at 6.30 or 7am. However, the last few nights, he’s been fighting off sleep so bedtime is usually after 9 (and it was 10 tonight because he crashed out at 5pm, so couldn’t sleep til 10) and he wakes frequently, only to want to wake up at 4.30am to play. No, 4.30am is NOT playtime.
Anyway, another thing close to my heart are sleep regressions, because Jacob seems to be quite “by the book” in terms of timeframes. So, I thought I’d worked everything out by 3 months and then when he turned 4 months old, sleep went haywire again. And I was asking myself “What am I doing wrong?”, “Is he teething?” (yes, he was actually – the teeth were moving under the gum), “How do I get him to sleep through again?”
It didn’t help that it was the heart of one of the hottest summers we’ve had in Adelaide for a very long time! But anyway, with a bit of perseverance, we got through it somehow (and it did help that Daniel was on school holidays, so he was here to back me up). Here is a good link with a bit more information about the 4 month sleep regression (and how to deal with it).
Next up, we had teething. Jacob was an early teether and his teeth were already moving around 4 months, but it was when he was about 5 months that his teeth actually cut through and we had a lot of tears (and a lot of Panadol). All the sleep routines we had were thrown out the window and a lot of cuddles were offered.
Anyway, when he was 6 months old, he was learning to crawl and probably had a growth spurt somewhere that ruled out all his 00 sized clothing. I remember when I was caring for him alone when Daniel was away on school camp, and I’m not sure why but he chose that week to put into effect his hourly wake-ups. It was quite a painful week, I have to admit, but we got through it!
And now, I believe we’re into the next sleep regression – the 8, 9, or 10 month regression coupled with a nap transition. So, basically he’s going through quite a few developmental leaps lately (and I notice them too – it’s really amazing). Here are a few things I’ve noticed happening in the last few weeks:
– He has sped up rapidly with crawling. Like, he’s pretty much walking pace if not faster. So if I put him somewhere and try to run off to do something, he’ll just catch me by the heel. When he’s in the bedroom (which is in the back of the house) and he hears Daniel open the front door, he heads all the way out there to investigate. I wonder if there’s such a sport at crawl-sprinting?
– He is always looking for me or for Daniel. If he sees me walk past the room he’s in, he’ll come looking for me because he knows I now exist even if he doesn’t see me.
– Before, he would only say “Bababa” and “Gagaga” but lately he makes all these weird different sounds. It’s hilarious talking to him – he babbles things and does long “Ohhhhs” and “Aaaahhs”, or blows raspberries and makes rasping sounds. I love it when he’s noisy because I know he’s discovering new things that he can do vocally.
– He’s increased so much in coordination! The other day, I think he just discovered how to transfer things (in this case, a strawberry) from one hand to the other, and spent a good long time testing this theory. He also is much better at picking up things with his pincer grip, hence he can feed himself much more effectively now (unless he deliberately wants to squish something).
Aside from that, it seems as though he’s changing his own nap schedule. He’s been on two naps a day most of the time (and was relatively regular with them – 10.30am and 3.00pm) but now I’m finding he’s trying to skip his morning nap and will go down to sleep around lunchtime (which is a pain if he hasn’t had lunch yet, and then I end up feeding him lunch at 2pm!). But he’ll have a long sleep instead and power on until around 8 something at night. It’s still a transition so we still have struggles – I still try to put him down to bed at his old naptimes, but we can only wait and see what happens.
I read this resource which provides a bit of an insight into this particular sleep regression. This is another one from The Sleep Lady which helped me to pinpoint what he’s actually going through and how to handle it. This one is a blog post about sleep regressions in general, and I am looking to try some of her techniques (will report back on it later).
If this all sounds like gibberish to you, don’t worry – if you’re not in that phase, I’d say don’t worry about it too much because really, there’s nothing much you can do to prepare for it (except to stock up on lots of chocolates and coffee). For now, just savour some beautiful shots (courtesy of mum in law) of Jacob playing in autumn leaves.
“Maybe I’ll just chase the cat instead.”
To all the mums out there – I wish you a restful night full of sleep and sweet dreams. ❤ Over and out (like a light!).