chasing sleep

21 weeks

Here’s a life lesson for you: Don’t be smug. Or: Don’t count your chickens.

Daddy and I had gotten so blissfully used to your herculean sleep patterns. With very few exceptions, you’d slept through the night since you were four weeks old when we stopped waking you to feed you. You weren’t a half-bad napper, either, often giving us a break of a couple of hours, even a couple of times a day, to get things done while we were home with you.

When others would ask us how you were sleeping, we’d puff up our chests and proclaim with great pride that you’d been sleeping through the night since you were a month old. We knew how fortunate we were, how rare it was to have such a cooperative newborn. We were so pleased with ourselves. Clearly were were doing something right.

Then, right around the December holidays, you got a cold and you had trouble sleeping because you couldn’t breathe. Totally understandable.

But your naps never recovered; we’re lucky now if we get 45 minutes out of you. This didn’t bother me much, though, because you were sleeping through the night. And I’d gladly trade marathon naps for a solid night’s sleep.

But then, about 10 days ago, the nights went out the window, too. You started waking consistently at 1 a.m. and then again toward morning: somewhere in the 3 o’clock hour, somewhere in the 5 o’clock hour, definitely before the alarm went off. And we, so used to having to wake you once we were up ourselves, started panicking.

I got through nearly a solid week of this before the lack of sleep–on Saturday night, you were up at 1, 4:30 (after which I never fell back to sleep), 5:30, 5:45 and finally 6:15–reduced me to a crying, sputtering mess. Mamma needs her sleep, perhaps more than your average bear; she’s always been an excellent sleeper (perhaps you got those genes?), and she loves sleeping. So it takes very little lost sleep to wreak havoc on her system.

In addition, you were very fussy this weekend. It’s probably related to your not sleeping, but since we can’t ask you what’s going on, it’s a bit of an enigma. You are an adorable (mostly) puzzle that we have to solve. We ran through some hypotheses:

  • teething (possible, although we haven’t seen anything erupt; still, you seemed to respond positively to the Hyland’s teething tablets we tried on Monday morning, and you went to town on the teething rings we introduced you to)
  • growth spurt (definite; I tried to put you into 6-month footies the other night, and they were a full 2 inches too short–and you’d just worn them last week!)
  • overtiredness (duh)

There’s also this pesky “4-month sleep regression” that we’ve heard so much about. Apparently, you’re undergoing a huge cognitive and developmental leap this month, and it’s throwing your whole world into disarray.

Your sleep cycles are maturing, meaning you’re spending more time in REM (as opposed to the lovely deep sleep you enjoyed as a newborn), and when you surface from a sleep cycle, you’re not quite sure how to self-soothe back into restfulness. That would explain the 1 a.m. wakeups; all it takes is us popping your paci into your mouth (if we have to get up at all; sometimes you cry for a minute and then put yourself back to sleep), and you drift off again. But the later wakeups are trickier; you might fall back to sleep, but you don’t stay down as long.

We’ve also been planning for some time to begin weaning you off of your “dream feed,” your last meal of the day, served promptly at 9:30 p.m. Until now we’ve been too scared to do it, as it’s always been our insurance in support of a full night’s sleep. But we have to wake you specifically to feed you (a travesty), and it’s getting to be time to transition you to an appropriate bedtime for a baby, sometime in the 7 o’clock hour. The thing about weaning from a dream feed, though, is you have to be confident in your baby sleeping through the night. Because if your baby isn’t doing so, you have no way of knowing what’s causing your baby to wake if, after eliminating the dream feed, you’re faced with middle-of-the-night wakings. And you definitely don’t want to start reintroducing night feedings. That’s a whole other nasty can of worms.

If you’re not sleeping through the night consistently–so consistently we’d be shocked if you weren’t–the dream feed needs to stick around. Sad for you and sad for us.

Luckily for all of us, Daddy and I got a little bit smart Tuesday night, despite our sleep-deprived states. You’ve been using a Baby Merlin’s Magic Sleepsuit (or the MMSS, as we call it) since you were three months old to help you nap, as it keeps you from doing that typical baby flailing that inevitably wakes you up once you’ve drifted off. We’d never put you in it for your overnight sleep, primarily because you’ve never really had trouble sleeping through and also because we’ve been wary of encouraging sleep crutches. But you know what they say about desperate times. So in you went, and through you slept–all the way to 5:50 a.m., just 10 minutes before the alarm went off, without so much as a peep. Night Two of our experiment confirmed the results; we had to wake you at 6 a.m. We are converts–and if this is what it takes, so be it; we’ll just have to wean you off the MMSS eventually. For now, three uninterrupted nights’ sleep in, we’re enjoying the rejuvenating rest.


This Week in Guppy Growth

  • You’re now blowing raspberries, which is the cutest thing ever. You smush your lips together, motorboat them and spit everywhere.
  • You’re supporting a lot of weight on your legs and can push up to stand if we’re holding your hands. Still no sitting by yourself yet, but your core is extraordinarily strong. My guess is that within two weeks, you’ll be sitting unsupported.
  • You’re even more obsessed with your feet than ever.
  • You talk. A lot. It’s a lot of hard G sounds right now, but I’m training you on those M’s. (Can you say Mamma?) Daddy is doing the same with D’s. You also squeal, squawk, grunt, roar and generally sound like a baby dinosaur.
  • You had your first ride in a real swing–not just your little baby swing at home–and on a carousel!

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One thought on “chasing sleep

  1. Pingback: goodbye dream feed, hello food-food | The Life of Guppy

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