Holy shit no one tells you about these! Or if they do nothing can prepare you for it.
As mentioned previously Zak has always been a pretty good sleeper from the start and would go every 4 hours between feeds throughout the night. When he did wake in the night, he hardly woke properly he would just stir and chat a little, I’d hear him straight away, pop a bottle in his mouth and then back to sleep he would go. So, a feed and pumping would probably only take me 30 minutes! From 3 months he was sleeping through the night 7pm – 6am but then about a week before he was 4 months old, we hit it. The sleep regression. The first night it happens you think its just 1 bad night because let’s face it the most frustrating thing about being a parent is not knowing what is wrong with them. So, I wondered if he was teething or poorly when he woke the first couple of nights; then after a few nights I realised we were hitting the regression.
As someone who likes to have all the facts and information google quickly told me that the 4 month sleep regression is apparently the most common of all of them as typically babies are having a growth spurt, learning new skills like rolling over but also learning the 4 sleep cycles – who even knew they were a thing – and they last from 2-6 weeks! Unfortunately google could not tell me how to avoid/stop it instead offering a few tips of surviving it – one of which was to work as a team and you and your partner take shifts, so everyone gets some sleep – really fucking handy for someone who’s husband just left them, thanks google!
There was one night where Zak woke every single hour on the dot just for 10 minutes, that nearly killed me. Having gone from him sleeping 12 hours a night to that was a nasty wake up call, literally. Other nights he would just wake once but be up for 90 minutes and wouldn’t even let me rock him back to sleep which was generally a guaranteed go to. I had never felt the need to nap when he did but funnily enough I soon started sneaking in half hour naps when he was snoozing!
As they are learning so much it is advised not to let any bad habits slip in as this is the routine and sleep habits they learn for the long haul. Easier said than done. There were definitely a few nights where I co-slept with Zak and had him in with me (controversial subject I know) purely so I could survive and, in the hope, that we would both get a little bit of sleep. A couple of times I worried he was hungry so would give him a bottle only to find he was taking a couple of ounces and that was it and then I was annoyed at myself for giving him a bottle! Fact of the matter is I think you must do what’s best for you and to survive because it sure is a bloody test of patience!
The only advantage to sleep regression was that napping was easier, there was basically no protest at each nap time as he was so tired and 1-2-hour naps at lunchtime became regular daily routine at last - hallelujah! After a few weeks it suddenly all starts to click and you can see the light at the end of the tunnel with naps and full nights sleep established. But when you’re in the middle of it, it feels like forever! I thought we had been in the sleep regression for nearly 2weeks then when I realised the date it had only been 6 days – lack of sleep makes you delirious!
Thankfully now we seem to be the other side of the sleep regression albeit the odd night of waking at 5am (mainly due to poor napping in the day) and I have a bit of sanity back. Napping seems to be a bit of a challenge again recently as Zak is on the move more now by rolling etc when you put him in his cot, he will do anything but sleep and fights it for a good half hour sometimes! Hopefully just a bit of persistence and we’ll be back in the swing of things – particularly as we are weaning, and he starts nursery in a couple of weeks so will naturally be more tired. Next challenge is moving him into his own room overnight…